Overview: There have been many guides on dedicated to the general strategy one might employ for Frontlines. As such, this guide will not focus on topics like movement and strategy, but rather on providing tips for class-based combat tactics.
Team Composition: While there are no hard and fast rules for building an ‘optimum’ team for Frontlines, I feel there are several important pointers that can significantly increase your chance of victory.
Team A and C are generally required to have a good balance of firepower and endurance as they are primarily entrusted with holding nodes. Thus, the team should ideally have at least 3 healers and at least 1 caster for Limit Break (to be explained in greater detail later). While it is possible to run with something like 5 healers, the danger lies in being unable to displace enemy occupying forces and essentially being forced to fight a stalemate on a point held by the enemy.
Team B is the mobile counterpart to the other forces, and should prioritize higher damage to ensure that they can 1) reliably take drones and nodes, 2) ensure that they can decisively turn a battle and move off quickly (long engagements on a single node hampers their ability to contest other objectives, like the node). Thus, I would recommend 2 healers and at least 1 melee (for limit break).
Of course, if you find that your team is lacking in heals or dps at any point of time, it should be noted that you can change your job while in the respawn area. Being flexible and adaptive is always important. All of the above points toward a strong recommendation that each player be capable of playing at least 2 different roles, so one may complement their team’s composition, especially when solo-queuing. (Note you can also reset your PvP point allocation)
*As a side note regarding the Limit Break, it is important to note that the bar actually drops rapidly when no member of a team is engaged in combat. Thus, it is absolutely crucial that members find some way of ‘poking’ nearby foes once in a while to keep their Limit Break bar up.
Considering that most priority targets in PvP are casters and healers, the role of the tank has changed significantly in Frontlines. However, the Paladin, Marauder and Warrior all differ significantly in their playstyles. In all cases, however, a dps gearset is strongly recommended (such as the one from the new expert dungeons). Full Swing, if coordinated with one’s own dps cooldowns and the support of fellow physical dps, can help bring down a target rapidly.
Paladin: The paladin is the most support-oriented of the tank classes. With a combination of Tetsudo and Cover, a good Paladin can counter the occasional burst attempt on healers and casters. Cover in particular allows the Covered caster to continue casting without interruption due to physical attacks (it does not block casts like Scathe and disables, however). Furthermore, the Paladin’s reliable stuns and 30 sec cd silence can help to shutdown healers or dps trains (though subject to diminishing returns). Glory Slash can also be used to remove offensive or defensive buffs, removing critical damage cooldowns or Protect.
Warrior: Straight off the bat, one of a Warrior’s strongest tools (especially for groups A and C) is Mythril Tempest. Rotated with Aura Blast and Blast Shot, the resultant displacement can allow one’s team to capture a point and hold it even if the combat is a stalemate. Holmgang can be used to lock down priority targets as well, which can be invaluable in a messy melee.
Marauder: Deserving of a special category of its own, the Marauder trades the defensive power of the Warrior for extremely powerful burst from cross-class cooldowns (all while retaining the fantastic Mythril Tempest). Knowing when to use this burst is key, and it is important to survey the battlefield and note the status of the opposing healers – if they are not disabled or preoccupied, they may counter this burst.
Melee DPS excel at hounding enemies, locking down priority targets, and of course, the melee limit break. The melee limit break is generally extremely important in ensuring credit for the interceptor node. While parties can use them to take out a single player (usually a healer), the widespread availability of instant resurrection means that it is usually outclassed by a well-placed caster Limit Break.
(Edit) As mentioned in the comments below, Weapon Throw is a potent tool in catching up with casters and healers who have just used their Sprint.
Dragoon: When targeting casters or healers, applying Slow with Feint can help make interrupting them significantly easier. Careful use of cooldowns can allow for reliable and powerful burst-on-demand. Jumps are powerful tools both for damage and utility, but it is important to note especially with Dragonfire Dive that the resultant AoE does not break Sleep on surrounding targets. Elusive Jump can get you out of Bind/Heavy, but depending on positioning can lose you precious distance from your target.
Monk: Monks bring to the table a very strong utility skill – Arm of the Destroyer. The continuous use of this skill can lock out healers and casters even through Equanimity for a good 10 seconds or so. This works extremely well where targets are bunched up, such as the control points. Of course, this means the Monk isn’t putting out any significant damage while doing so, thus the key here would be to switch between disruption and burst at the right times. As another point to note, smart use of Fetter Ward can prevent enemies from gaining distance.
(Edit) As mentioned in the comments, One Ilm Punch is a strong tool in reducing an opponent’s burst by removing an offensive cooldown.
Ranged DPS have an advantage over their melee counterparts in the sense that target switching is substantially easier. As a tradeoff, they tend to be priority targets for focus fire as a result of their ‘squishiness’. With the exception of the Bard, this is also a result of the fact that their DPS tends to falter when under focused fire.
Casters play an extremely important role in point defense with the AoE limit break. This extends beyond actually using the LB. The distinctive sound and menacingly large orange circle on the ground alone will often force enemies on the point to rapidly disperse, allowing for swift capturing of objectives. Thus, just by ‘threatening’ an LB, one can actively displace foes. If an actual LB cast is desired however, it should be preceded by an AoE Sleep or Bind to ensure a decisive result.
While under fire, casters should remember the plethora of tools still at their disposal. Equanimity can help you neglect the interrupts (if one’s life is not in immediate danger), and Swiftcast/Surecast can grant distance when combined with Blizzard II and Tri-Disaster, or be used to fire off a critical spell. Even without these cooldowns, however, a caster should never panic and run around aimlessly. Even without the ability to cast longer spells, a caster can provide vital interrupting capabilities by continually using Scathe/Ruin II on unengaged enemies. In essence, a caster doing this would be also removing an enemy caster/healer from the fight, which is significantly more effective than a panicked chicken run round the point.
Black Mage: Black Mages have extremely potent burst and utility, and a freecasting Black Mage can easily be a healer’s worst nightmare. Phantom Dart provides a strong leadup to a powerful burst combination, and Mana Draw combined with Convert can allow for a devastating triple Flare. Night Wing can be used as an immediate leadup to a party-wiping Limit Break as well.
Summoner: Summoners provide both sustained damage through the use of Bane and their Damage-over-Time spells, as well as strong burst-on-demand with Fester/Energy Drain (and less occasionally Enkindle). It should be noted that a Summon’s attacks also interrupt players, so pinning Garuda-Egi or Ifrit-Egi on an opposing caster/healer is also a valid strategy. The Slow from Shadow Flare can also make it easier to interrupt enemy casters/healers.
Bard: Bards possess great mobility, the ability to continue attacking while under fire, and powerful support with their Songs. When in a team with casters, Foe Requiem can help ensure kills on enemy priority targets, and Mana Song can restore healers low on mana (especially if they’ve been casting Holy). Blast shot can knock opposing foes off points for capture, and Shadowbind can keep them out of the battle. If absolutely necessary, Wide Volley can be used in an attempt to interrupt large groups of casters as well.
(Edit) As mentioned in the comments, Bards are extremely good at locking out healers with their many off-gcd attacks. It is important not to tunnel-vision but keep an eye out for freecasting casters/healers as well, and make the decision yourself on whether to continue focusing your current target, or locking out the other casters/healers. If the enemy has only 2 healers, for example, locking down the non focused healer can prevent him/her from being healed.
Healers must dodge incoming attacks and disables while all the while keeping their team alive (and cleansed). Indeed, an extremely important part of playing a healer is to remove debuffs like Sleep, Bind and Heavy off one’s party members. Prioritization is important here – removing a 15 second long Sleep would usually take precedence over a 3 second Bind, for example.
Healing under constant harassment from enemy fire is difficult, and it is important to keep your calm. Just as with casters, careful use of Swiftcast, Surecast and Equanimity is crucial in getting off critical spells. Slowing enemies with Aetheric Burst can allow a healer to squeeze off heals between attacks (when facing one or two attackers).
Attunement is a powerful tool, but it cannot be used when CC’d. Thus, it is important to recognize when the enemy burst is coming (debuffs like Phantom Dart and Full Swing on you are hints) and Attune in advance. You can also resume healing quickly by removing the buff (by right-clicking it off) if your foes choose to switch to another target.
(Edit) Healers can attempt to increase their survivability in combat by equipping VIT accessories (either from myth or wolf marks). Generally speaking, this allows for a decent increase in health for a small decrease in throughput.
White Mage: Bringing strong utility and damage, a group of White Mages can wreak havoc on an uncoordinated group. Stoneskin before or in between engagements can help to give your party the edge it needs in the opening exchange of attacks. Fluid Aura, while not as impressive as Blast Shot/Mythril Tempest/Aura Blast, is still useful to knock targets out of the melee for a quick Repose. Sacred Prism reduces physical damage taken significantly, meaning your HoTs (Regen, Medica II) can sometimes be all that’s needed to keep you up against the attacks of 1-2 enemies. This is absolutely critical in DPS (otherwise known as Holy Spam) mode. Holy deals substantial AoE damage and stuns (with diminishing returns), and can be used on groups of enemies clustered on the point. However, it is important to not neglect healing, and know when to switch out of DPS mode to keep a fellow player up. Healing is still your top priority, not DPS. Note also that against a level 1 Caster Limit Break, Swiftcast Cure III can be a powerful counter if executed immediately after.
Scholar: With extremely potent Single-Target healing, the Scholar is invaluable for countering burst and focused damage. Lustrates can rapidly top a target up even while on the move, and Fairies (being often neglected by the enemy) provide a constant supply of healing. The shield component of Adloquiem can also protect casters from interruptions. Finally, Aura Blast can knock foes out of the ring (an additional trick being to Blizzard II first, binding them, then knocking them out).
Frontlines is a team-based battle, and as such the advice from this guide does not exist within a vacuum. Coordination with fellow team members (such as informing them beforehand you will be marking priority targets) can often provide more potent results than simply min-maxing your DPS alone. Being aware of your surroundings allows you to protect your healers, avoid overextending, and eventually win the battle (and hopefully the match). Hopefully this guide has been of some use to you, dear reader, and thank you for your time.