Final Fantasy 14: Complete Guide To Playing Bard

Quick Links

  • Unlocking The Bard
  • The Bard Basics
  • Bard Rotations And Priorities
  • The Best Bard Gear And Materia

The Bard is a Physical Ranged DPS Job in Final Fantasy 14 that combines skillful archery with melodies that enhance themselves and their allies. They are staunch defenders of Eorzea, and are always fun to have in any adventuring party.

The Bard is a staple ranged DPS option that can be great for new players, due to not having to worry about positioning while maintaining difficult combos. Their melodies provide valuable buffs for their whole party, and their gameplay loop is satisfying to play — while not having as many moving pieces as other Jobs.

Unlocking The Bard

To unlock the Bard, you must start as an Archer and reach level 30. You can either pick an Archer on a new character or go to New Gridania (X15: Y12) and speak to Athelyna to unlock the Archer job and begin leveling it to 30.

Once you've done that, completed the "Sylph Management" stage of the Main Story Quest, and completed the Archer Job Quest "The One That Got Away" (available at Archer level 30), you can speak to Luciane and start the "A Song of Bards and Bowmen" quest. Completing these will unlock the Bard.

Bard Job Quests

As with every other profession in the game, the bard has access to some job-specific quests. You need to complete these if you want to unlock all the Bard's abilities — plus, you get some cool-looking rewards and a lovely story. Below is a table showing when and what you get.

QuestLevelQuest GiverAbilities UnlockedRewards
A Song of Bards and Bowmen30LucianeMage's Ballad
The Archer's Anthem35JehantelThe Warden's Paean
Bard's-eye View40JehantelArmy's Paeon
Doing It the Bard Way45JehantelRain of Death
Pieces of the Past45Jehantel
Requiem for the Fallen50JehantelBattle VoiceA Bard's Tale 1 (Achievement)
1 Choral Shirt
1 Bard's Attire Coffer
On the Road Again50JehantelThe Wanderer's Minuet
The Stiff and the Spent52SansonEmpyreal Arrow
Requiem on Ice54SansonIron Jaws
When Gnaths Cry56Sanson
A Saint of Song58SansonSidewinderA Bard's Tale 2 (Achievement)1
Aoidos' Attire Coffer
The Ballad of Oblivion60Sanson
Three's a Company60Jehantel
Masked Motives63Sanson
One Autumn's Secret65Sanson
Sleeping Truths Lie68Sanson
Sweet Dreams Are Made of Peace70GuydelotRefulgent ArrowA Bard's Tale 3 (Achievement)
Straight Shot Mastery1 Storyteller's Attire Coffer
A Harmony from the Heavens80JehantelA Bard's Tale 4 (Final Achievement)
1 Heaven's Eye Materia VII
1 Savage Aim Materia VII
1 Savage Might Materia VII

The Bard Basics

The Bard offers a fast-paced and responsive playstyle. You have access to some potent Off-GCD (global cooldown) abilities, and special abilities that involve fusing magik and music to produce some interesting effects. The Bards' toolkit features hard-hitting abilities, heavy damage-over-time (DoTs), and lots of different procs that have a percentage-based chance to go off. The Bard is less rotation-based and more centered around using your highest-damage abilities when the timing is right (and when your procs align).

Profession Mechanic – Bard Gauges

The Bard's primary Job mechanic revolves around the Song Gauge. This gauge will grow increasingly complex as you level up. Your first experiences with the Song Gauge will revolve around three different songs: Mage's Ballad, Army's Paeon, and The Wanderer's Minuet. You'll start unlocking these songs at level 30, and have all three by level 52.

Now that you know about the songs, the next thing is learning about the "Repertoire" proc. Repertoire has an 80 percent chance to activate every three seconds that a song is active (apart from in the last three seconds). Repertoire does different things based upon what song you have active.

  • In Mage's Ballad, a Repertoire proc will reduce the recast time of Bloodletter or Rain of Death.
  • In Army's Paeon, a Repertoire proc will reduce the cast and recast time of your weapon skill abilities, and your spells, and it will also reduce the delay between auto attacks.
  • In The Wanderer's Minuet, a Repertoire proc will allow you to use the ability Pitch Perfect. Repertoire can give you a maximum of three charges – the more charges you have, the more damage that Pitch Perfect deals.

Pitch Perfect can only be used in The Wanderer's Minuet.

Soul Gauge And Coda

The next concept to learn about is the Soul Gauge. This is the bar below your currently active song (you can see it in the picture above). You get five added to the Soul Gauge every time Repertoire procs. You then spend your accumulated Soul Gauge on the Apex Arrow ability — the more Soul Gauge (80 or above) you have the more potency Apex Arrow gets. You'll get access to the Soul Gauge at level 80.

At level 90, you unlock the final piece of the Job mechanic. You gain one stack of Coda every time you sing one of the three songs available. There are three types of Coda — Army's Coda, Mage's Coda, and Wanderer's Coda. You spend Coda on Radiant Finale, which increases the damage of teammates based on the amount of Coda spent — up to a maximum of 3.

It's important to note that songs, the Soul Gauge, and Coda are gradually introduced as you level up. Most Jobs have fairly complicated mechanics, but it's never just thrown at you all at once.

Bard Rotations And Priorities

When discussing the Bard's rotations, it's crucial to understand that they don't follow a set-in-stone sequence like some other Jobs. In combat, Bards follow a priority sequence because many of their abilities are dependent on procs — you're going to use the hardest-hitting ability you can depending upon what's available to you.

Song Order

You have three songs, and they can't be active at the same time — there is a sequence that works best in the vast majority of situations. This order is as follows:

  1. Wanderer's Minuet
  2. Mage's Ballad
  3. Army's Paeon

You're going to want to switch from Wanderer's Minuet at three seconds remaining in the song, in Mage's Ballad switch at 12 seconds remaining to Army's Paeon, and then from Army's Paeon back to Wanderer's Minuet as late as possible. This allows you to retain the cast and recast reduction bonuses for as long as possible.

Single Target Priorities

Your "priority order" in most situations is going to look like this:

  1. Use Caustic Bite and Stormbite to apply your DoTs at the start of combat.
  2. Apex Arrow > Blast Arrow when you have enough Soul Gauge to make full use of them during your burst windows.
  3. Refulgent Arrow if you have the Straight Shot Ready proc active.
  4. Burst Shot.
  5. Use Iron Jaws when your DoTs are a few seconds away from running out.

For situations where you have to clear out groups of enemies, you're going to want to make use of:

  1. Ladonsbite and Shadowbite (your core AoE weapon skills).
  2. Rain of Death, but note that it shares its recast time with Bloodletter, the single-target version.
  3. Apex Arrow and Blast Arrow can pierce multiple targets or have an AoE blast built-in.
  4. You could put a DoT or two on any enemies, but only if you think it's worth it.

OGCD Abilities

Below we'll list a table of all the off-global cooldown (OGCD) abilities of the Bard. Your OGCD abilities are incredibly important to playing the Bard well, so taking some time to understand them is never a bad idea. These abilities are in the order you acquire them.

AbilityRecast (seconds)Effect
Raging Strikes120Increases damage dealt by 15 percent for 20 seconds.
Bloodletter15Attack with a potency of 110. Has a maximimum of three charges and shares a recast timer with Rain of Death.
Repelling Shot30Jump away from your current target.
Mage's Ballad120Deals 100 potency worth of damage, and grants increased damage for you and nearby teammates. Has an 80 percent chance to grant Repertoire every three seconds. Which reduces the recast time of Bloodletter and Rain of Death by 7.5s.
The Warden's Paean45Removes a debuff from yourself or targeted party member, lasts for 30 seconds.
Barrage120Allows a single target weapon skill to hit three times, and also grants the "Straight Shot Ready" effect.
Army's Paeon120Deals damage with a potency of 100. Also increases party's direct hit rate. Has an 80 percent chance to grant Repertoire every three seconds. Which reduces weapon and spell skill cast time, recast time and auto-attack delay by four percent, for a maximum of 16 percent.
Rain of Death15Attack with a potency of 100 to target and all enemies nearby it. Has three maximum charges and also shares a recast timer with Bloodletter.
Battle Voice12020 percent Direct Hit rate buff for you and all nearby teammates, lasts for 15 seconds.
The Wanderer's Minuet120Deals damage with a potency of 100. Increases you and your teammate's critical hit rate by two percent. Has an 80 percent chance to grant Repertoire every three seconds. Gives you three charges, which you can spend on the Pitch Perfect ability.
Pitch Perfect1Delivers an attack to the target. At three charges this attack has maximum potency (360).
Empyreal Arrow15Attack with a potency of 200.
Sidewinder60Attack with a potency of 300.
Troubadour90Gives a ten percent damage reduction for youself and nearby teammates for 15 seconds.
Nature's Minne90Grants 20 percent extra healing effectiveness for yourself or a teammate for 15 seconds.
Radiant Finale110For 15 seconds you increase the damage output of yourself and all nearby teammates. This can stack to up to six percent extra damage, but you need three charges of Coda to do this.

    As you can see, the Bard has no shortage of OGCD abilities to use. You'll always be in the process of using an ability, and you can usually fit one or two OGCD abilities in-between a global cooldown interval (which is around 2.5 seconds long). This is sometimes known as weaving.

    Burst Windows

    You might have noticed from the table above that Bards have access to some damage buffs. Every two minutes you can stack three abilities: Radiant Finale, Raging Strikes, and Battle Voice. In the endgame, you should stack these abilities when you can (every two minutes). They provide a massive bonus to both you and your team's overall damage.

    Bard Opener Rotation

    This is the best opener rotation that a Bard can currently use. Bear in mind, however, that rotations for a Bard aren't set in stone, and every pull is going to be a little different. The Bard is about reacting to proc effects, not memorizing a static rotation.

    • Consume a Grade 6 Tincture of Dexterity.
    • Stormbite then > The Wanderer's Minuet then > Raging Strikes.
    • Caustic Bite then > Empyreal Arrow then > Bloodletter.
    • Burst Shot then > Refulgent Arrow then > Radiant Finale then > Battle Voice.
    • Burst Shot then > Refulgent Arrow then > Barrage or Sidewinder.
    • Use Refulgent Arrow whenever you have "Straight Shot Ready" active.
    • Use Iron Jaws to refresh the duration of your DoT's (Caustic Bite and Stormbite) whenever they're two or three seconds away from running out.
    • Use Bloodletter and Pitch Perfect whenever you can.
    • If Barrage is on cooldown and Burst Shot hasn't given you a "Straight Shot Ready" proc use Sidewinder
    • Empyreal Arrow can almost be used off cooldown – it's almost like a filler oGCD ability for when you have nothing else procing for you.

    The Best Bard Gear And Materia

    Before we get into the details about stats and gear, we have a complete guide to Materia here, in case you'd like to know more.

    The best gear for the Bard is usually "aiming" gear. The two highest priority stats are Weapon Damage and Dexterity. Those two starts are by far the most important to a Bard, as all the other secondary stats (Critical Hit, Determination, and Direct Hit) are of relatively equal significance. Skill Speed is the lowest priority.

    The table below covers the optimal stats for Bards — but this gear is only necessary for the game's most hardcore content.

    WeaponAsphodelos Harp BowQuick Arm Materia XDMG +120
    DEX +304
    VIT +320
    Heaven's Eye Materia XDH +188
    CRT +269
    HeadAugmented Radiant's Mask of AimingSavage Aim Materia XDEX +180
    VIT +188
    Savage Aim Materia XDH +113
    DET +162
    BodyAsphodelos Himation of AimingSavage Might Materia XDEX +285
    VIT +299
    Savage Might Materia XDH +180
    CRT +257
    HandsAsphodelos Gloves of AimingSavage Aim Materia XDEX +180
    VIT +188
    Heaven's Eye Materia XCRT +113
    DET +162
    LegsAugmented Radiant's Hose of AimingSavage Aim Materia XDEX +285
    VIT +299
    Savage Aim Materia XDH +257
    CRT +180
    FeetAugmented Radiant's Sabatons of AimingSavage Might Materia XDEX +180
    VIT +188
    Savage Might Materia XDH +113
    CRT +162
    EarringsAsphodelos Earrings of AimingSavage Might Materia XDEX +142
    VIT +148
    Savage Might Materia XDH +89
    CRT +127
    NecklaceAugmented Radiant's Choker of AimingSavage Aim Materia XDEX +142
    VIT +148
    Heaven's Eye Materia XCRT +89
    DET +127
    BraceletsAugmented Radiant's Bracelet of AimingSavage Might Materia XDEX +142
    VIT +148
    Heaven's Eye Materia XCRT +127
    DET +89
    Left RingAsphodelos Ring of AimingSavage Might Materia XDEX +142
    VIT +148
    Savage Might Materia XDH +89
    CRT +127
    Right RingAugmented Radiant's Ring of AimingSavage Aim Materia XDEX +142
    VIT +148
    Savage Aim Materia XDH +89
    DET +127

    The best food is Pumpkin Ratatouille, which gives a bonus to Vitality, Crit, and Skill Speed.

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