Greetings, friends, and welcome to this guide. My intention is for this guide to provide you with the following:
- A handy reference of abilities, what they do, and how they interact
- Some in-depth commentary on strategic use of abilities and spells
- The opinions of a midcore raider who strives to play at a high level in all content
This is not a leveling guide, or a guide for the Heavensward Main Story Quest. I will also not be going into detail on the Astrologian Job Quests.
Counting the Stars and Naming Each One: An Overview
Astrologian (hereafter: AST) is a healing class in FFXIV. It has two main mechanics: stance based heals that provide either Heal over Time effects or Shields, and randomly drawn cards that can be cast in a variety of ways to improve your party’s performance.
AST, as a whole, is a very fast class. You have four single target heal spells. Two of them are instant, one is instant 15% of the time, and you have an ability that makes all your spells instant for a duration, at a potency cost. You have two instant damage spells as well. This is all good, because you can use all that extra time to Draw and deal with your cards.
Your two stances come into play at level 50. From 30-50, you only have one stance available, and you should always be in it. There is basically never a benefit to having neither stance up. Diurnal Sect, the level 30 stance, decreases your cast times globally by 5% and adds a HOT effect to your Aspected spells. Nocturnal Sect, the level 50 stance, increases your cure potency by 5% and adds a shielding effect to your Aspected spells. Both are very useful.
Your cards are the real utility the job offers. AST is the only job in the game that provides this level of party support. Every 30 seconds, you can Draw a new card and make decisions to play it, burn it, or save it for later.
The Power of the Stars: Your Spells and Abilities
Let’s discuss the actual spells you can cast. An asterisk indicates you must complete a quest for that spell or ability.
- Malefic – Your spammable damage spell. Essentially equal to Stone, though slightly weaker. 150 potency.
- Benefic – Your bread and butter healing spell. Has a 15% chance of making your next Benefic II cast instant. 380 potency.
- Combust – A damage over time spell. Instant cast, and requires no accuracy to hit. 240 potency in total.
- Lightspeed – A self buff that reduces all cast times by 2.5 seconds, while reducing potency by 25%. This essentially makes every spell in your arsenal instant; even the long casts like Stoneskin and Helios will go off while running. The only exception is Ascend, your resurrection spell. 150 second recast, 15 second duration.
- Luminiferous Aether – Your mana regen ability, as well as an enmity lowering ability. This functions like Quelling Strikes, in that it reduces the enmity you generate, not like Shroud of Saints, which cuts your current enmity down. 400 potency in total, 120 second recast.
- Helios – Your group heal spell. Slightly longer cast time than your GCD, but will still cast while you run with Lightspeed up. 290 potency.
- Ascend – Resurrects your target at a hefty mana cost. Essentially identical to Conjurer’s Raise.
- Essential Dignity – The first unique offering of Astrologian. Essential Dignity is an instant heal with a small recast time that scales based on the target’s lost HP. Testing has been done by those wiser and more patient than I to find that the potency of this spell scales linearly; the more HP the target needs, the more ED provides. 400 base potency, scales up to 1000 base potency at 1HP.
- Exalted Detriment – Cleanses one detrimental status. Identical to Leeches.
- Stella – This is a damaging spell, but its potency is very weak. It is primarily used for inflicting Heavy. I would not ever bother going into Cleric Stance for this spell; if you need to do damage, cast Malefic. 100 potency, 40% Heavy for 20 seconds.
- Benefic II – Your large heal. It can be instant if you get a proc from your base Benefic, but it is never free. 620 potency.
- Draw – This ability Draws a card, then when used a second time casts the card onto your current target. The recast time begins once the card is played. We’ll discuss strategies in another section. 30 second recast, card expires after 15 seconds.
- *Diurnal Sect – Puts you into your Diurnal Stance. Aspected Heals add heal over time effects, and attack speed is increased by 5%, lowering cast times globally. We’ll discuss strategy in another section. 5 second recast, infinite duration. Removed upon Level Sync. Cannot be removed or changed during battle. Can be entered from no stance during battle.
- Aspected Benefic – An instant cast heal that applies either a 190 potency heal with 18 seconds of 100 potency regen ticks or a 262 potency heal with a 262 potency shield based on your Sect.
- *Royal Road – Burns your Drawn card to ash in order to alter the next card you play. Note that it is not the next card you Draw. Once you’ve burned a card, you receive a Royal Road buff that lasts indefinitely til your next play. 15 second recast, indefinite duration.
- Disable – Similar to an Arcanist’s Virus, this ability reduces the target’s next attack by 10%. It is much more precise than Virus and is easy to waste. 10 second duration or until monster’s first attack, 60 second cooldown.
- *Spread – Saves your currently drawn card for later use. Can only be used while you have enmity on a monster. Cooldown timer begins once the card has been played. 60 second cooldown.
- Aspected Helios – Casts an area of affect heal that provides a 140 potency heal with 30 seconds of 50 potency healing ticks or a 147 potency heal with a 147 potency shield based on your Sect.
- *Shuffle – Returns the currently Drawn card to your hand and redraws a new card. 90 second recast.
- Combust II – A Damage over Time spell. This one has a cast time, but it is still accuracy free. 450 potency in total.
- *Nocturnal Sect – Puts you into your Nocturnal Stance. Aspected heals provide a shield effect, and all cure potencies are increased 5%. 5 second recast, infinite duration. Removed upon Level Sync. Cannot be removed or changed during battle. Can be entered from no stance during battle.
- *Synastry – Connects you to another party member; all heals you cast on others (that is, NOT you and NOT your Synastry target) will also heal your Synastry target for 50% of the heal total. 20 second duration, 120 second recast.
- *Gravity – Your AOE damage spell. Inflicts 200 potency damage to the first target, with decreasing returns for every additional target. No maximum target limit.
- *Malefic II – A single target damage spell. Essentially replaces Malefic in all content level 54 and higher. 200 potency.
- *Time Dilation – Extends the duration of any beneficial effects you have cast on your target by 15 seconds. Aspected effects, Cards, and Synastry are all affected. 90 second recast, cannot be cast on self.
- *Collective Unconscious – Channels a protective bubble around you. This bubble is dispelled if you move or cast while it is in effect. This bubble will either add a 150 potency heal over time effect or reduce all damage taken by 10% for 18 seconds to everyone within it based on your Sect. 90 second recast.
- *Celestial Opposition – Stuns all nearby enemies in a radius around you (slightly smaller than your Helios radius) and also extends all beneficial effects you’ve cast on your party by 5 seconds. Aspected effects, Cards, and Synastry are all affected. 4 second stun, 150 second recast.
Notable Cross Class Abilities
- Cure – At low levels, you may want to set Cure, as it is stronger than Benefic. Once you’ve gotten Enhanced Benefic, however, set it aside.
- Cleric Stance – This ability is essential for AST’s damage.
- Stoneskin – When combined with Lightspeed, this is a quite useful spell.
- Swiftcast – Less useful on AST than WHM or SCH, this is still a gamesaver when combined with Raise or Benefic II.
- Protect – Equal to a WHM’s Protect, it’s good to have this for the beginnings of fights or dungeons. You can swap it out once cast in most cases.
- Aero – At 200 total potency, this is equivalent to a cast of Malefic II, at much lower mana cost, and also gives you an oGCD window to Draw or play a card.
- Blizzard II – Useful in FATEs, but not really relevant in instanced content. Your only AOE damage spell below level 50.
- Surecast – Situationally useful, give up either Protect or Aero for it if you feel you need it.
Preserving a Fate Cut Short: Your Healing Spells
As fun as the Drawing mechanic of Astrologian is, your main purpose in a party is to heal. Your cards can’t buff corpses, unfortunately.
Your go to spell should be Benefic. It’s difficult to run dry on mana using this spell, and it will suffice for basic damage. If you feel like you need to, don’t be afraid to swap to Benefic II for a few casts. You can recover the mana from casting Benefic II three or four times; it’s much harder to recover the mana from an Ascend.
Use your mana restore sooner rather than later. You need that mana more than you think. The enmity is rarely an issue. If you can hit yourself with Spear prior to using Luminiferous Aether, that’s always a good thing, but don’t force yourself to wait for one. Luminferous Aether restores roughly 20-25% of your mana bar at low piety levels, but as your piety increases with item level, this percentage will shrink.
Trust your heals over time in Diurnal Stance. Party damage is rarer than you think; a single Diurnal Helios will often be enough to fill up the party. Your judgment matters, of course; if you think you need another Helios, hit it, but don’t waste mana. Diurnal Benefic is worth a little more than two Benefics but only takes one GCD. Diurnal Helios is worth almost two Helioses. Don’t clip your HOTs; if Diurnal Benefic still has more than 3 seconds on its timer, use another heal if necessary. Remember: as long as someone with the HOT status is not at full HP, it isn’t being wasted.
Shield before a hit, not after. Nocturnal Helios is not an effective recovery move; it’s a preventative measure. Nocturnal Benefic is instant; this is a huge advantage.
Lightspeed is a decent emergency button, but it’s better used on stoneskins and raises than cures, just because they don’t take potency hits. Don’t be afraid to hit it if you need to spam Benefic II, though.
Synastry is great to heal DPS who take random damage, or OTs in high damage situations. It does not activate when you heal the person with the Synastry buff or yourself, so it’s rarely good on the MT. Synastry does NOT transfer heals from Helios, Aspected Helios, Essential Dignity, or the heal over time effects, so cast appropriately.
Celestial Opposition and Time Dilation only work on your own buffs. Card effects are likely the best use of these extensions, but HOTs, shields, and Synastry are also affected.
Following the Sun or Tracking the Moon: Your Sects
The most important rule to keep in mind with your Sect selection is that you cannot change Sect while in battle. In nearly all boss fights (with two exceptions that I know of), you will never be able to make this change. There is a lull during King Moggle Mog XII fights (while the moogles summon their king) that you do not have enmity, and there are a few seconds during the final boss fight of Halatali (Hard) after you’ve defeated the gladiators where you do not have any enmity.
Each Sect provides distinct and useful effects. Diurnally Aspected Benefics and Helioses leave behind ticking heals over time, and your spellcasting is globally reduced by 5%. Nocturnally Aspected Benefics and Helioses leave behind shield equal to the amount they healed, and your heal potencies are all increased by 5%. In Nocturnal Sect, your base Benefic and Benefic II are essentially equal to a WHM’s Cure and Cure 2, with lower mana costs. Benefic II is actually 1 potency higher than Cure II in this stance. Nocturnal Benefic is 30~ potency weaker than Adloquium and does not have a doubling mechanic on critical hit, but is an instant cast. Nocturnal Helios is essentially equal to Succor.
When paired with a WHM in 8 man content, use Nocturnal Sect. This is, in my opinion, the best pairing possible. WHM provides the muscle you do not, while your shields are very nearly up to par with a SCH, plus the utility of the cards. Let WHM HOT spells do their work, and focus your efforts on preshielding with instant Benefics and party-wide Helios when necessary. Nocturnal Field (the AST equivalent of Galvanize) overwrites it self the same way Galvanize and Stoneskin do; the highest potency effect wins.
When paired with a SCH, use Diurnal Sect. You’ll need to work a little harder, as you don’t have quite the muscle a WHM does. However, SCH has received a lot of group heal options in Heavensward, so between the two of you, you can recover from any group attack.
When two Astrologians are paired together, one should be in each Sect. This will be a tricky pairing, so be on the ball with your heals. Nocturnal and Diurnal effects do not overwrite each other. You cannot stack Diurnal Benefic or Diurnal Helios effects with two Astrologians, so being in the same stance is a bad idea.
Cutting the Thread: Your Offensive Spells
When soloing, obviously you’re going to have to use your damage kit. Combust, Combust II, Aero, and Malefic/Malefic II are all fairly simple to use. Don’t bother with Stella unless you’re pulling from afar and want to give your DOTs some time to work before the mob is in your face. Gravity is great for groups, but notably does NOT apply heavy.
Card rules when soloing are generally: get Bole, Balance, or Arrow on yourself, while Royal Roading Ewer and Spire and Shuffling Spear. If you can’t do anything with a Spear, it’s better to cast it and burn Swiftcast on a Gravity or Malefic II than let it expire, but your abilities are of limited use while soloing. This changes with Celestial Opposition, however; Spear the heck out of that one. If you can squeeze it in, Spread any card that you Draw at the end of a mob’s life bar for later use. Extend card buffs if you can, but don’t bother Extend Spear.
Disable is limited in use, but it has one great advantage: it does work if you cast it while the mob has a cast bar charging. If the attack does not hit anyone (like a floor telegraph that is successfully dodged) the Disable won’t be consumed until the next attack hits.
If you’re fighting something that uses a long cast bar, or you notice it’s not attacking, throw up some DOTs! Cleric Stance is obviously better, but damage is damage and Combust cannot miss.
Malefic II is .68 potency per mana spent. Gravity is .25 potency per mana on 1 mob, .49 ppm on 2 mobs, .69 ppm on 3 mobs, .87 ppm on 4 mobs, 1.03 ppm on 5 mobs, 1.15 ppm on 6 mobs. Groups of three or more, use Gravity. Avoid using Lightspeed with Gravity spam; you take a huge damage hit for no real speed gain.
Celestial Opposition is great to give you more time to spam Gravity. It also extends any card buffs you may have up. Collective Unconscious is a powerful defense, but paralyzes you; use it with caution.
Laying the Threads Straight: Your Divining Deck
The big draw of Astrologian, and the largest unique utility you bring to a party, is your Divining Deck and the buffs it provides. Let’s dive in with the card effects.
Nophica’s Bole, the Earth Card: Bole decreases a target’s damage taken directly, in the same way Rampart or Shadowskin do. Base amount is 10% damage reduction.
Azeyma’s Balance, the Fire Card: Balance increases a target’s damage output directly, in the same way Raging Strikes or Fight or Flight do. Base amount is 10% damage output increase.
Byregot’s Spire, the Lightning Card: Spire reduces the amount of TP consumed by weaponskills. Base amount is 20% TP cost reduction.
Oschon’s Arrow, the Wind Card: Arrow increases attack speed, lowering the GCD and cast time of spells. This does not affect damage or heal over time effects. Base amount is 10% attack speed increase.
Thaliak’s Ewer, the Water Card: Ewer reduces the mana cost for all spells, including Dark Arts and other Dark Knight and Paladin spells. Base amount is 20% mana cost reduction.
Halone’s Spear, the Ice Card: Spear reduces the cooldowns of all abilities cast while it is in effect. It does not affect abilities that were used before Spear was applied. Spear does not affect your own Draw command when it has been Drawn, but it WILL affect your Draw command if you Spread it and use it prior to a new Draw. Base amount is 20% recast reduction.
When you Draw a card, you get one of these six randomly. You have 15 seconds to play the card, or it expires and Draw goes on cooldown. Draw’s cooldown does not begin until the card is played or expired. This rule also applies to Spread.
Royal Road burns your currently Drawn card to ash and applies a buff to you. You cannot use Royal Road to burn a Spread card.
- Balance and Bole will Enhance the next card you play, increasing its potency to 150%. The Royal Road buff will have a +. These cards last 15 seconds.
- Arrow and Spear will Expand the next card you play, applying it to party members in a radius around your target at half base potency. This seems to be about the same as your Helios radius. The Royal Road buff will have a circle. Arrow will last 15 seconds, while Spear will last 20 seconds.
- Spire and Ewer will Extend the next card you play, doubling its duration. The Royal Road buff will have a clock. These cards last 20 seconds.
You’ll note that I do not say the next card you Draw. That’s because of the next ability, Spread. When you Draw a card, you have the option of Spreading it while you are in battle. While Spread, a card is stored in your hotbar until you choose to play it. If you play a Spread card while you have a Royal Road buff active, the Spread card will consume that buff.
Here’s an example. While running between trash pulls, your Draw comes off cooldown. You hit it, and Draw a Bole card. You use Royal Road and burn it to ash, gaining the Enhanced Royal Road buff. When you get to the boss, you Draw again and get Arrow, which you play onto the Ninja. His attack speed increases by 15%, and you lose the Enhanced Royal Road buff.
This is where strategy comes into play. In Haukke Manor and Brayflox’s Longstop, you simply want to play every card you get. Once you get Royal Road, you’ll want to start considering when to burn a card and when to play it. Generally, it’s better to play a card while in battle, and to burn a card while between pulls, with the exception of Spear. This card has, arguably, the least effect on a typical duty finder dungeon group. If you do not have a Bard, Machinist, or Ninja in your party, it is very likely a Spear will be completely wasted. If you are able to hit a group with it before a battle starts, definitely do so, but midbattle, it’s great fodder for Royal Road to make your next card Area of Effect.
Remember, a card that is Spread is never wasted. A card that is burned for Royal Road, however, sometimes is. Try to avoid Royal Roading more than once in a row midbattle; it’s better to play a weirdly strengthened Spear than to go more than a minute without a single card played.
Shuffle is a nice ability when you’re hoping to get a particular card, or when you’ve gotten the same card more than once in a row and you need a different effect. Never hesitate to use it; the 90 second cooldown isn’t so long. It’s nice to hit when you’re trying to burn an Arrow or Spear in between trash pulls, or if you need to Spread a Balance card to be played at a more opportune time.
Bole is obviously meant for your main tank, though it has some niche use protecting weakened characters from party-wide attacks. Expanding this effect dilutes it considerably; a 5% reduction is very small, though when stacked with Collective Unconscious or Sacred Soil it’s noticeable. Extending the effect on a tank is fabulous for large trash pulls or boss fights, and Enhancing the effect gives you breathing room if needed. It is better to burn a Bole than a Balance if you want to Enhance your next card.
If you are able to Spread a Balance card and burn an Arrow or Spear, you can start a boss fight with a group-wide damage increase of 5%, on top of the opening burst all jobs are capable of. Balance is generally not a good candidate for Expansion mid battle in 4 man content otherwise; that is better spent on Arrow. Balance is best spent on your strongest DPS. That tends to be Monk, Black Mage, Ninja, or Summoner; Machinists and Bards can lag behind in damage output. However, if you are in a group you know, use your knowledge of the players to apply this card. Extending this card is always good, and Enhancing it even better. In 8 man content, however, Expanding Balance is by far the best use of your cards; any chance you have to do this, go for it.
If you have melee DPS in your party, they will love getting Spire during extended boss fights or large trash pulls. If you don’t, the tank is always a good recipient of this card. I would recommend avoiding using any Royal Road buff on Spire; they are better spent elsewhere. Spire is also a good candidate for burning, as Ewer is always something better spent than burnt, unless you have two non-casters as your DPS.
Arrow is another extremely powerful DPS card. Lowering a MNK or NIN’s GCD even further ramps up their damage considerably. BLMs, who do not worry about resource management, also love this card. DRG, SMN, BRD, and MCH all benefit as well, but their damage is more drawn from DOTs and Abilities, neither of which are affected by Arrow. Extending this card can be detrimental to a melee’s TP management, but a BLM will love it. Enhancing this card is never a bad idea. Expanding this card is excellent at the start of a fight, as is Expansion. I do not recommend ever burning this card during battle, the increased attack speed is far too valuable.
Ewer has a lot of potential uses. Dark Knights under its effect can use Dark Arts more often, powering up their offense and defense, while Paladins can Flash more and use Clemency with less restriction. Black Mages can extend their Astral Fire phase, vastly increasing their damage output. Healers and Summoners need this card as well, but it is more of a quality of life issue; having more breathing room in their mana pools is not to be ignored, but it won’t affect their output. Because of this more passive effect, Extending this effect is by far the best choice. But if you have two BLMs in your party, go ahead and Expand it! Burning this card is an option if your DPS are all melee, but if you have casters, it’s more useful on them.
Spear is a strange card. It is potentially gamechanging, but requires extremely precise timing that is unlikely in a typical duty finder PUG situation. Spear can reduce the cooldown of Hallowed Ground by over a minute, or Benediction by exactly a minute. But it must be in place before those abilities are used. For this reason, it’s very difficult to apply effectively without very good communication or familiarity. Spear is often best used on yourself, to speed up Essential Dignity, Celestial Opposition, Luminiferous Aether, and Swiftcast, or burned to provide your next card with Expansion. However, Bards, Ninjas, and Machinists all use abilities as part of their core rotation enough that you can safely hit them with a Spear and see gains from it; reducing Ninjutsu, Reload, and Bloodletter will make their lives better!
Please note that, while I make these recommendations based on my experience with the job and my experience raiding in general, your judgment is always the most important thing! If a MNK has just raised and you have an Extended buff and Draw Spire, lay that card on the MNK to help with TP management! If you’re on TeamSpeak with a Paladin and she tells you she’s about to need Hallowed Ground, get Spear on her ASAP. The fun of the cards is how often you’re able to apply them, and the flexibility and liveliness they add to your healing duties.