Playing Archer throughout Final Fantasy XIV has been something of an emotional rollercoaster. Fundamental changes have been made a few times to our playstyle and how our damage output breaks down between normal attacks and weaponskills. With the implementation of patch 1.20, however, balance between the physical DPS classes has never been better, and ARC takes full advantage of the combo system by bypassing positional requirements and relying solely on distance, a far easier variable to control for the most part. The fast-paced nature of combos reinforces a focus on strict timing and prioritization, which means that gaps in player skill are all the more noticeable. By equipping yourself with as much knowledge as possible, you can supplement your button-pushing skills with the ability to make the right decisions at the right time.
What You Need
Gear and Stats
For some gear selections, there is no absolute best-in-slot. Use your best judgment based on your damage output breakdowns.
Weapon: Ifrit’s Bow > Mischievous Mogbow > Ul’dahn Composite Longbow > Crab Bow HQ > Ul’dahn Longbow > Crab Bow NQ
Until further testing can be performed, I have purposely excluded faster weapons. Base damage is, by far, the most important stat on a weapon and should be the primary consideration. With the implementation of combos and the action overhaul of 1.20, ARC’s total damage output favors weaponskill damage to non-Barrage Light Shot damage at 60%/40% or more.
Head: Paragon’s Crown > Woolen Turban of Invoking ~ Felt Cavalier’s Hat > Rainmaker’s Hat ~ Silver Tricorne > Mercenary’s Pot Helm ~ Helm of the Lone Knight
Body: Raptorskin Harness
Waist: Flame Sergeant’s Sash > Tarred Velveteen Longsash
Hands: Felt Bracers > Fingerless Raptorskin Gloves of Slaying
Legs: Raptorskin Subligar > Woolen Sarouel of Invoking
Feet: Sipahi Crakows > Cobalt-plated Jackboots ~ Cobalt-plated Caligae
Accessories: Amethyst Ring x3 > Mythril Choker + Amethyst Ring x2
DEX → ranged damage and accuracy
PIE → ranged damage
Attack Power → ranged damage
Critical Rate → ranged critical hit rate
Critical Attack Power → ranged damage on critical hits
Accuracy → ranged accuracy
Accuracy with the 8-person party Strength in Numbers buff averages around 99.9% over several hours’ worth of fighting against L60+ targets, making it a non-issue. When choosing to allocate points or looking at different pieces of gear, use the above stat prioritization to maximize damage output. DEX is more valuable than ATK, point-for-point, at a 2:3 ratio. The other thing to consider about gear is whether or not it is meldable with materia. For example, although Woolen Sarouel of Invoking has better base stats than Raptorskin Subligar, melding a tier IV materia to the subligar pushes it beyond the sarouel, which can only hold tier II materia.
Weapon: Dexterity / Heaven’s Fist (ATK)
Head: Manaflight (M.Eva)
Body: Piety / Savage Might (C.ATK)
Waist: Bloodthirst (HP) / Touch of Serenity (-Enmity)
Hands: Dexterity / Heaven’s Fist (ATK)
Legs: Swordsman’s Cry (STR/DEX) / Watchman’s Vigil (VIT/DEX)
Feet: Bloodthirst (HP)
When melding materia beyond the first, consider that the chance for adding a materia is based on the individual point value, and the lower the value is (on both the materia already added and the materia being added), the higher the chances are of success.
Skill and Trait Selection
Your skill and trait loadout is always going to be a work-in-progress. You must adapt and improvise based upon a number of factors, including but not limited to: event type (primal fight vs. dungeon vs. stronghold), group composition, personal performance, and support class availability. What follows is only a basic guideline based upon my experiences, observations, and analysis. Not every player will have access to every non-exclusive skill, though that should certainly be a goal to maximize your personal versatility.
ARC Skill Selection
1: Heavy Shot
4: Piercing Arrow
10: Leaden Arrow
30: Gloom Arrow
38: Quick Nock
50: Wide Volley
1: Light Shot
6: Hawk’s Eye
14: Raging Strike
22: Quelling Strike
8: Enhanced Physical Accuracy
12: Enhanced Physical Evasion
16: Enhanced Decoy
20: Enhanced Physical Crit Evasion
24: Enhanced Physical Accuracy II
28: Enhanced Hawk’s Eye
32: Enhanced Quelling Strike
36: Enhanced Raging Strike
40: Enhanced Physical Crit Accuracy
44: Enhanced Barrage
48: Enhanced Chameleon
Recommended Cross-class Skills
* Blood for Blood (L6)
* Invigorate (L14)
* Keen Flurry (L26)
* Bloodbath (L6)
* Featherfoot (L2)
* Second Wind (L6)
* Sentinel (L22)
* Sanguine Rite (L30)
* Cure (L2)
* Raise (L18)
* Sacred Prism (L34)
Blood for Blood
Barrage → Light Shot
Heavy Shot (>8 yalms) → Quick Nock (Keen Flurry)
Heavy Shot (>8 yalms) → Leaden Arrow → Wide Volley (Blood for Blood)
Piercing Arrow (>8 yalms) (Blood for Blood) → Gloom Arrow → Bloodletter
Heavy Shot (>8 yalms) → Leaden Arrow
Piercing Arrow (>8 yalms) → Gloom Arrow
Shadowbind (if TP >=1250)
– Ideally, as an ARC you will be desperately trying to hit 1000 TP on time to make sure everything is on cooldown. That is the overriding principle of the prioritization system: trying to keep every combo WS on cooldown.
– Quick Nock outdamages every other WS by far, and Keen Flurry should be saved so that it can always be applied to Quick Nock.
– Blood for Blood adds a flat amount of attack power to your next ability, and WSs and Light Shots receive the same proportionate benefit from that flat increase. So ideally you should use Blood for Blood on every cooldown and simply attach it to your next attack, whatever it happens to be. Its benefit will decrease against high-defense targets.
– Choosing not to use Bloodletter is now detrimental to ARC’s overall damage. In a party situation with multiple ARCs, you shouldn’t worry about overwriting the debuff (which, as of 1.20a, properly incurs damage over time in addition to damage upon wearing). However, there are extenuating circumstances in which you should use your best judgment to determine when to use or not use Bloodletter: if a mob is going to die in under 30 seconds and there is another valid target; if you have few enough ARCs in the group to coordinate staggered prioritizations to prevent/mitigate Bloodletter overlap (which includes solo and low-man situations). Further testing needs to be done to confirm what, if anything, affects Bloodletter’s debuff accuracy.
– Shadowbind is a great TP dump for damage when used outside of combos since it only costs 250 and does similar damage to Leaden/Gloom Arrow. However, you shouldn’t use it if it will prevent you from immediately going into a combo. So, if all second- and third-step combo actions are on cooldown and your TP is at 1250 or higher, use Shadowbind.
– Quelling Strike returns 450 TP when it lands with an attack. So, if you use it with a weaponskill that costs 1000 TP, you will only lose 550 TP; if you use it with a free weaponskill as part of a combo, you will gain 450 TP.
– In 1.20, tanks do not have access to Accomplice, which was a percentage transfer of enmity. Because of this, enmity distribution is far more sensitive. Chameleon should be used regularly once you’ve established enmity on a target in order to allow you to maintain full-time damage output.
With the changes made to the availability and power of AoE WSs in 1.20, the focus on damage output has shifted more toward single-target DPS. You can add Leg Sweep from LNC for an on-demand WS, but beyond that, you can prioritize Heavy Shot -> Leaden Arrow -> Wide Volley over all other WSs.
To reiterate, finding the optimal methodologies and setups and loadouts is a continual work-in-progress, a task that is never finished. Please respond with any questions, corrections, comments, points of discussion, etc.
Keep in mind that things may change drastically in forthcoming patches. I will continue to update this guide as mechanics are modified or become better understood.
Special thanks to: Blue Garter’s Archers, especially Peng and Rich; Tachi Koma for his work on BGParser; everyone who rates up my doe-abuse picture on ffxivpro