A classic powerful bow user, the Bard brings bravery and excitement to every fight with their mastery of music. Prepare yourself to learn everything you need to know about the Final Fantasy XIV Bard job and master this ranged DPS class with the help of our guide. From the basic concepts you should keep in mind when playing Bard to the skills you have at your disposal, and the best rotations for you to use when leveling this Job, let’s dig in!
Bards (and the typically associated Archers) are probably one of the most common archetypes in MMO games and FFXIV has its own version. The Job has been in the game since 1.0 and has changed a lot over time, securing the spot of a powerful physical ranged DPS.
This is not, however, an easy Job to play! Its skill ceiling makes Bard one of the most difficult Jobs in the game. If you are up for the challenge and want to make your name among the Bards of Eorzea, we got you covered!
Now if you by any chance feel a little reluctant to start this journey – maybe because you’re new to FFXIV or because you’ve never played a Job like Bard and you don’t want to start with the most difficult one – you may want to check our FFXIV Tier List for Ranged DPS Jobs. By learning a little bit about each of them, you might find out whether Bard is the best pick for you or not! But if you still want to play this Job and you’re going to go through this guide, we advise you to check our FFXIV Glossary, since playing Bard involves the use of many specific terms that you may or may not be familiar with. With all of this out of the way, let’s jump into how you become a Bard in FFXIV!
Starting With Bard
If you are considering playing Bard, first you need to unlock the Archer class. To do so, you must accept the quest Way of the Archer at the Archer’s Guild in New Gridania (X: 15.4 Y: 12). Then, after reaching level 30 and completing the quest A Song of Bards and Bowmen given by Luciane at New Gridania, you’ll become a Bard. Don’t forget to equip your Soul Crystal!
As a physical ranged DPS, Bard is among the Jobs in FFXIV that bring not only high damage output but also a kit with good utility skills for the party. It’s important to know that, compared to Dancer and Machinist, Bard is the most difficult ranged DPS to master among the trio. It can be an inconsistent Job mostly because you depend so much on certain skill procs to deal damage and you can’t be 100% certain of which skills you’ll have available during the fight.
On the other hand, Bard is the most balanced Job in the physical ranged DPS group. Dancer has good utility skills but lower damage and Machinist is pure damage with almost no utility, while Bard finds itself in the middle. Good players are capable of reaching high numbers in terms of damage with Bard while also somewhat protecting themselves and increasing their stats.
In the end, despite the difficulty in mastering the Job, Bard is fun to play with beautiful animations. The songs you have at your disposal add so much to your experience thematically speaking. Now take your bow and prepare to become the bard whose songs will remain!
FFXIV Bard Skills and Job Gauge
While Bard doesn’t have as many skills as some other Jobs, you are going to be using most of them consistently. Understanding what each of them does is key to making the most out of this Job’s priority system. For the sake of making Bard’s rotation easier to understand in the next section of this guide, we’ll explain skills based on them being GCD, oGCD, or Role actions.
Bard is also a Job whose many basic skills receive upgraded versions as you level up. Whenever this is the case, we explain the basic skills and at which level it evolves to a new one. Since most of them are just stronger versions of their base versions, we are only going to talk about the specifics in cases where a new effect is added.
Because this Job requires a high level of skill management, you need to use Bard’s Song Gauge in order to help you out during a fight. The Bard’s Job Gauge represents one of the most important aspects of a Bard: their songs. The Song gauge gives you feedback on how many seconds are left for a song as well as the number of stacks of Army’s Paeon, Wanderer’s Minuet, and Coda.
At level 80, the Bard gets a second bar called Soul Voice Gauge. Related to the Apex Arrow/Blast Arrow skills, the Soul Voice gauge charges five points every time Repertoire procs.
FFXIV Bard Skills
Before we jump into the explanation of Bard skills, we should talk about the ones which make the Bard special compared to the other physical ranged DPS in FFXIV. The Bard’s kit can be understood as having two cores. The first is all of the damage dealing and utility skills. The second is based on the song mechanic which requires attention and training.
The three songs work as group buffs, but each has its own set of effects and increases different stats. All three have a recast time of 120 seconds, deal damage when cast (100 potency) and last for 45 seconds. The songs are listed as abilities, meaning they are oGCD skills. Even so, the logic behind using them is not the same as other oGCD skills, and keeping them up is an extra layer of complexity that Bard players need to deal with.
An additional mechanic involving the songs is called Repertoire, which is a chance to get a proc of a specific effect. The effect depends on the song you play, but all of them have an 80% chance to proc Repertoire every three seconds after a song begins. Keeping Repertoire in mind is important to understand why and when you should change songs.
The three songs are:
Mage’s Ballad (Lv. 30): This is the first song you’ll unlock and its main effect is to increase damage dealt by all party members by 1% for the duration of the song. As its Repertoire effect, Mage’s Ballad may reduce the recast time of Bloodletter and Rain of Death by 7.5 seconds.
Army’s Paeon (Lv. 40): Using Army’s Paeon gives your party a buff which increases every member’s direct hit rate by 3%. At the same time, this song’s Repertoire effect reduces the cast time and recast time of weaponskills, spells, and even the auto-attack delay by 4%. This effect can stack up to four times.
Thanks to the Enhanced Army’s Paeon trait which you gain at level 78, this song gains two extra effects. If Army’s Paeon is still up with at least one stack, and you use Mage’s Ballad or The Wanderer’s Minuet, you’re granted the Army’s Muse effect for ten seconds which further increases the same stats. Depending on how many stacks you have, Army’s Muse will further buff you by a greater percentage. Or, if Army’s Paeon and its stacks expire before you use another song, you’re granted Army’s Ethos for 30 seconds which becomes Army’s Muse if you sing Mage’s Ballad or Wanderer’s Minuet.
The Wanderer’s Minuet (Lv. 52): Like the other two songs, Minuet gives the whole party a buff, but this time party members have their critical hit rate increased by 2%. The Wanderer’s Minuet Repertoire effect procs up to three stacks of Pitch Perfect which are needed to use this skill and determine its potency.
FFXIV Bard’s GCD Skills
Heavy Shot (Lv. 1): The most basic ability in the Bard’s kit, working as a sort of charged shot. Nothing fancy but extremely useful when everything else is on cooldown. It requires no casting to be used and has a 20% chance to give you a proc of Straight Shot Ready. Heavy Shot becomes Burst Shot at level 76.
Straight Shot (Lv. 2): A powerful attack that can only be used with a proc of Straight Shot Ready. Once you reach Lv. 70, it becomes Refulgent Arrow.
Venomous Bite (Lv. 6): Although it doesn’t have the highest potency among the Job’s weaponskills, Venomous Bite does leave a DoT with a long duration of 45 seconds. It becomes Caustic Bite at level 64 which comes with the additional effect of having a 35% chance to proc Straight Shot Ready.
Quick Nock (Lv. 18): A basic AoE skill that hits enemies in a cone in front of you with a potency of 110. After level 72, it has a 35% chance of giving you a proc of Shadowbite Ready. At level 82, this skill becomes Ladonsbite.
Windbite (Lv. 30): Together with Venomous Bite, Windbite is another DoT skill in the Bard arsenal. Windbite’s DoT lasts for 45 seconds and it has a potency of 20, making it a little bit higher than the DoT from Venomous Bite. It becomes Stormbite at level 64, receiving a secondary additional effect that gives you a 35% chance to proc Straight Shot Ready when Stormbite is used.
Iron Jaws (lv. 56): This is a simple attack with a potency of 100, but it saves you a lot of time. Iron Jaws has two additional effects: it has a 35% chance of giving you a proc of Straight Shot Ready and it resets your Venomous Bite/Caustic Bite and Windbite/Stormbite DoTs when you hit an enemy already afflicted by them.
Shadowbite (Lv. 72): While this is a good AoE attack with a potency of 170, Shadowbite can only be executed when you have a proc of Shadowbite Ready from using Quick Nock/Ladonsbite. It also receives a buff from Barrage which increases Shadowbite potency to 270.
Apex Arrow (Lv. 80): This is an attack that hits every enemy in a straight line in front of you with a potency of 100. However, using it requires a minimum of 20 Soul Voice Gauge points. If you spend more than 20 points, Apex Arrow potency is increased up to a maximum of 500. After level 86, it receives an additional effect: using Apex Arrow while your Soul Voice Gauge is 80 or higher grants you Blast Arrow Ready.
Blast Arrow (Lv. 86): Becomes available when Apex Arrow is used having spent at least 80 points of your Soul Voice Gauge. It’s a stronger version of Apex Arrow which hits the first enemy with a potency of 600, decreasing by 60% for subsequent enemies.
FFXIV Bard’s oGCD Skills
Raging Strikers (Lv. 4): Your first taste of Bard’s buffing capability. By using this skill, you increase your own damage by 15% for 20 seconds. This is an instant cast with a cooldown of 120 seconds.
Bloodletter (Lv. 12): While most oGCD skills bring utility to the party, Bloodletter is a source of pure damage. With a potency of 110, it has two charges and a cooldown of 15 seconds. After level 84, Bloodletter has three charges. It’s important to keep in mind that it shares its recast timer with Rain of Death.
Repelling Shot (Lv. 15): Although the Bard can move around the arena while fighting a boss, there are always situations in which you find yourself in the middle of an AoE or needing to move faster to another location because of a specific mechanic. Repelling Shot is your number one escape skill. Using it will make you jump away from your target, making it a fundamental tool to avoid being hit when you find yourself mispositioned.
Barrage (Lv. 38): Barrage triples the number of hits for one single-target skill. It also procs Straight Shot Ready and, after level 72, it increases Shadowbite potency.
The Warden’s Paean (Lv. 35): Cast onto you or another party member, this works as a lighter version of the healer’s Esuna skills, removing detrimental effects such as poison, or creating a barrier that nullifies the next negative effect the player is afflicted by.
Rain of Death (Lv: 45): The AoE version of Bloodletter. It hits enemies with a potency of 100 and has initially two charges with a third added after level 84. It’s important to remember that you aren’t able to cast Rain of Death followed by a Bloodletter since they share a recast timer.
Battle Voice (Lv. 50): One of the greatest ways for a Bard to help their party, Battle Voice increases the direct hit rate of the whole party by 20% for 15 seconds. This is a great skill since direct hit affects your chance of causing 25% more damage!
Pitch Perfect (Lv. 52): Pitch Perfect is a strong damage-dealing skill that can only be used while The Wanderer’s Minuet is up. Its potency depends on the number of Repertoire stacks you have. Because of that, always try to use it with three stacks unless the song is about to finish, then use it just to spend your remaining stacks.
Empyreal Arrow (Lv. 54): This is another great oGCD damage-dealing skill that not only has a potency of 230 but a very short cooldown of only 15 seconds. At level 68, it begins to proc Repertoire effects when hitting an enemy.
Sidewinder (Lv. 60): A strong attack skill with a potency of 300. The downside of this skill is its cooldown of 60 seconds. So to use it properly, timing is key!
Troubadour (Lv. 62): As with the other ranged DPS Jobs, Bard also has a group-size damage-reducing skill. Troubadour reduces damage taken by your entire party by 10%. Once you reach level 88, you get the Enhanced Troubadour trait which reduces the skill recast time to 90 seconds.
Nature’s Minne (Lv. 66): Together with Troubadour, this is a great utility skill. Nature’s Minne increases a party member’s HP recovery by 20%. This only works with healing actions, but it’s good enough to save a tank after a tank buster, for example.
Radiant Finale (Lv. 90): Radiant Finale’s efficiency is related to your songs’ rotation. This skill increases the damage dealt by 2/4/6% for your entire party depending on if you have 1/2/3 Coda stacks. Coda is gained after using a song and you need at least one Coda to use Radiant Finale. Its effect lasts for 15 seconds.
FFXIV Bard’s Role Actions
As one of the ranged DPS Jobs in FFXIV, Bard shares a few skills with Dancer and Machinist. Because all three Jobs have access to these skills, they are not fundamental to making the Bard work. But that doesn’t mean they are not useful for specific situations.
Leg Graze (Lv. 6): Using this afflicts a target with Heavy +40%, making them walk slower than usual, thus making kiting easier. A good skill for when you are going through FFXIV’s quests and areas by yourself and need to deal with enemies as a low-level character.
Second Wind (Lv. 8): An instant ability that heals 500 potency of HP. Bard is a fast Job, but sustainability is not one of its strongest traits. Second Wind can save you in a pinch!
Foot Graze (Lv. 10): Hitting an enemy with this skill binds them. While this is not a stunning effect, it can be quite effective when you need to create some space between you and your target. Keep in mind that if the target takes damage, they will be unbound.
Peloton (Lv. 20): Peloton increases party movement speed for 30 seconds, a boon in long dungeons and raids. This effect does not work during fights, ending when enmity is generated.
Head Graze (Lv. 24): Head Graze is an instant ability that interrupts a target’s action. This skill is extremely useful in endgame situations when bosses have attacks that can be interrupted. Having this in your hotbar is fundamental to helping your party.
Arm’s Length (Lv. 32): Just like Head Graze, Arm’s Length is also a good skill to have when facing fights where the up-time of your DPS is important. Using it creates a barrier that nullifies almost every knockback and draw-in effect. This makes your life easier whenever a fight has a mechanic in which the party is pushed or pulled and you don’t want to stress about it. It has the additional effect of afflicting Slow +20% when the barrier is struck.
How To Play Bard and Best Practices
Among Final Fantasy XIV’s roster of physical ranged DPS, Bard stands out due to the high level of skill management players need in order to get the most out of the Job. It’s important to remember that Bard is currently the only DoT Job in the game. In case this is not your playstyle, maybe Dancer or Machinist are better picks for you.
Bard does not use a combat system based on combos like some other Jobs do in FFXIV. It works based on a list of priorities. Depending on what you have available at the time, you’re going to use a specific skill before the others. We are going to clarify how this works in the rotation section of this guide.
When playing Bard, it is extremely important to always be weaving or double weaving skills which means it’s fundamental to keep your GCD running all the time. It’s not worth sitting on a GCD skill to use three oGCD just because you got a proc of two of them. It’s important to understand your context, too. While weaving one skill is doable for most of us, your capacity for double weaving depends on your connection and ping. If you are trying to do so but, instead of using two skills before your GCD resets, you’re actually clipping skills, consider single weaving all the time.
Another key practice you must have as a Bard is to maintain the up-time of your songs and DoTs. It might not sound like a lot, but having the DoTs ticking and supporting your party with a small buff throughout the fight makes a big difference. While your songs are up, stacks and your Soul Voice Gauge will also charge, making keeping them up extremely worth it. It’s normal to have these expire especially when you’re still learning how to handle a mechanic or when you forget the boss gets out of the arena for a time. Just keep in mind that you should have songs and DoTs up as soon as possible!
Now, if you’re playing as Bard, it’s of great help for your team if you stick close to them. There are many new Bards who think they should stay at the edge of the arena, but that will make it difficult for you to receive healing, other party members’ buffs, and to apply your own buffs to the whole group. Because of that, the rule of thumb is to stay mid-range from the boss.
Bard Opener Rotation (Level 90)
As with every other Job in FFXIV, a good opener is key to good performance, especially in endgame scenarios. If you’re not familiar with the concept, an opener is a sequence of skills that you should use at the beginning of a fight. These are built around all the available skills at the cap level of an expansion, with the goal of synchronizing your skills with those of your party members. Since openers require preparation, countdowns, and pots, it’s not common to use them in regular dungeons.
Here the best Bard level 90 opener:
Pot (1.5 seconds before pull) > Stormbite [Wanderer’s Minuet] [Raging Strikes] > Caustic Bite [Empyreal Arrow] [Bloodletter] > Burst Shot [Radiant Finale] [Battle Voice] > Burst Shot [Barrage] > Refulgent Arrow [Sidewinder] > Burst Shot > Burst Shot > Burst Shot [Empyreal Arrow] > Iron Jaws [Pitch Perfect].
While this sounds simple, there are three scenarios you should keep in mind during the opener so you can change things according to the situation. First, you should always go for Refulgent Arrow instead of Burst Shot when you have it up. Second, try to use every proc you get during the last part. In case you have Bloodletter and Pitch Perfect stacks, weave them between one Burst Shot and another. If you already have Straight Shot Ready, leave Barrage for the next GCD.
FFXIV Bard Rotations and Song Cycle
As mentioned above, Bard is a singular Job when it comes to rotations. Instead of having a structured sequence of skills you should use in which one adds effects to the others, the Bard rotation is based on priorities. In other words, you need to check what you have available and then use the most important one first.
What is consistent when playing Bard is that independently of level, you’re going to use Heavy Shot/Burst Shot as a single-target filler skill and Quick Nock/Ladonsbite as the AoE equivalent. If you have gone through all your priorities and have nothing else to use, you should go for these skills so you’re always dealing damage.
The only structured rotation Bard has is the Song Cycle, which occurs in the middle of your regular rotation. This is basically the order in which three songs should be used. In this case, you are aiming for The Wanderer’s Minuet > Mage’s Ballad > Army’s Paeon. Your goal is to change from one song to another when there are less than three seconds left before each expires, so you won’t waste any possible Repertoire procs. The only exception is Mage’s Ballad, which you can change to Army’s Paeon with 11 or fewer seconds left. Otherwise, you’re going to be sitting on Army’s Paeon for too long.
Other skills not mentioned in this section, such as Troubadour, Nature’s Minne, and The Warden’s Paean, are very situational.
Bard Rotation at Level 90
At this level, your main GCD priorities are Stormbite, Caustic Bite, Iron Jaws, Refulgent Arrow, Apex Arrow, and Blast Arrow. Applying your DoTs is extremely important and if both are close to expiration, use Iron Jaws to reset them. While Refulgent Arrow should be used whenever it procs, you must only use Apex Arrow when your Soul Voice gauge is 80 or higher. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.
When doing your AoE rotation, you should prioritize Shadowbite whenever you get a proc of it and Apex Arrow/Blast Arrow.
In terms of oGCD priorities, the three songs must always come first. When you have spare time, use one of your three buffs – Raging Strikes, Battle Voice, and Radiant Finale – if they are available. Or you can use Pitch Perfect and Bloodletter if you have three stacks/charges, so you won’t waste future procs of them.
Bard Rotation at Level 80
The priorities at this level don’t change significantly. Applying and/or resetting your DoTs is still the first on the list. Although you already have Apex Arrow at level 80, you won’t have Blast Arrow. Because of that, you don’t necessarily need to wait until your Soul Voice gauge reaches 80 or higher to use it. However, it is still a better option since the Soul Voice gauge value determines the potency of Apex Arrow.
At this level, you’re also going to keep using your oGCD buffs, but counting only with Raging Strikes and Battle Voice.
Bard Rotation at Level 70
Your priorities between level 61 and 70 are to keep using Stormbite and Caustic Bite when enemies are not afflicted and use Iron Jaws to reset their timer. Now that you’ve just acquired Refulgent Arrow, you should use it whenever it procs. And even though you don’t have the Burst Shot upgrade yet, Heavy Shot is still your main filler skill.
Bard Rotation at Level 60
Since at this level you have all songs available to you, applying the Song Cycle is among your priorities together with the DoTs and buffs. Empyreal Arrow is also added to your list of skills available, becoming part of the second group of important skills, together with Sidewinder, Pitch Perfect, Bloodletter/Rain of Death, and Barrage.
Bard Rotation at Level 50
The Bard at level 50 is a simpler version of the Job. Since you don’t have Iron Jaws yet, your first priority is to always use Venomous Bite and Windbite to apply and reapply your DoTs. You have only two songs at this level, so focus on using them when clearing mobs or boss fights. Because you already have Mage’s Ballad, using Bloodletter consistently is important to avoid sitting on charges of it. Barrage is still a critical skill to use as soon as it’s ready as well as your buffs. At level 45, you get Rain of Death, so using Mage’s Ballad when dealing with a group of enemies becomes a priority.
Bard Rotation at Level 40
Keeping both of your DoTs up is at the top of your list of priorities. At this level, you get your hands on Barrage, making it important to learn to use it as soon as it’s ready. You have also gained your second song, Army’s Paeon.
Bard Rotation at Level 30
Around this level, there isn’t much to be done, but it’s an important moment in the process of learning to play Bard. At level 30, you get your second DoT skill, Windbite. Practice using it and Venomous Bite whenever you see a new enemy and don’t forget to use them again to reapply the DoTs. You also get your first song Mage’s Ballad which must be given priority when dealing with big groups of enemies and boss fights.
Besides using these skills first, you’re going to aim for using Raging Strikers mostly in boss fights. Heavy Shot/Straight Shot are two of the skills you are mostly going to use.
Bard Rotation at Level 20
There isn’t much to be done this early in your Bard career. Besides using Venomous Bite, your other priority is to cast Raging Strikes. Without a song to keep track of, your main concern is to manage your DoT.
Bard Rotation at Level 10
At this level you’re taking your first steps as a Bard – you’re still an Archer here! – so try to get a feeling of how the basic skills work. You already have Venomous Bite, so you can focus on tracking it to know when you should reapply it. With only the most basic skills, a level 10 Bard’s work is to then use Heavy Shot as well as Straight Shot when it procs.
Bard Stat Priorities
When thinking about which stats you should prioritize as a Bard, go for Critical Hit first, then Determination and Direct Hit. These stats directly affect the amount of damage you deal, so you should always look for ways to increase them. Because of that, when it comes to food and potion at level 90, the best options are Carrot Pudding and the Grade 7 Tincture of Dexterity.
Bard is a fun Job to play with and you can always feel like a crucial member of your party. It requires a certain level of dedication to play properly, since mistakes are extremely punitive. Changing songs before you were supposed to or letting your DoTs expire will cost you a lot. But once you master this Job, you’ll always find a group looking for your skills!