Raiding can appear daunting due to its time commitment and higher challenge, but it can provide a great experience if you push past your hesitation and try it out. I’m writing this guide to help ease people into raiding and hopefully convince them to give it a try.
Ever peek at your duty finder and see a Savage raid such as Alexander? I bet you’ve been curious and have checked out videos on several raids before.
Let me give a bit of info about myself prior to raiding. I was like many people, having no desire to try any of the more challenging content. It all seemed too mind boggling, too serious, and not worth my time. This hesitation prevented me from jumping into the content for quite some time; however, many things I’ve tried by pushing through my hesitation turned out to be wonderful.
I’m by no means an expert; I’m a very casual player. I’m not interested in world first records or 100th percentile dps. That doesn’t mean I’m unable to raid though.
You may be aimless since you have no clue how to find a group, what all this lingo is that people use in the party finder, and what to expect in raids since you’ve never done them before. I’ll be detailing all of that in this guide. Hopefully in the end you’ll consider applying for a group and start clearing some difficult content!
II. Why you should try raiding
Most people that don’t want to try this content ask questions such as:
What’s the point of it? Why should I bother? It’s optional content.
Ever hear of intrinsic rewards? Raiding has lots of those. Sure, there are the exclusive mounts, weapons, and titles, but I feel the intrinsic rewards are considerably more satisfying.
Seeing that boss’ hp trickle down to .001%, the game over mechanic (enrage) coming up in seconds and being able to defeat it before that feels so good (and soul-crushing if you don’t defeat it!).
The above example is just one of many thrilling experiences that make your heart rush.
The higher level of difficulty can provide:
- Higher satisfaction and a sense of pride when completing content
- Being able to experience unique game mechanics
- A drive to constantly improve
- Higher confidence in doing all content
- Opportunities to enhance your skill and knowledge
- Increased awareness
- A fun sense of competition if your group is doing speedkills or parse runs.
- Cool mounts and weapons
- BiS gear
- The quickest path to get the highest item level.
Being in a group may:
- Polish your communication and callout skills
- Make you some good friends
- Help you receive constructive feedback to improve yourself
- Help you understand your role better and how it synergizes with other roles in your group.
In my opinion, content outside of raiding doesn’t provide a “true” experience. What I mean by that is that the mechanics are watered down. In raids you can experience those mechanics in all their glory.
tfw we still killed this boss after we all wiped to enrage.
III. Common misconceptions about raiding
Whenever I read comments on raiding, they seem to be very prejudiced and judgmental. It’s no wonder that people never consider giving it a try. I’m going to refute common myths in this section.
1) MYTH: the raiding community is full of elitists and hostile and egotistic people.
This is a generalization. Every game will have its share of these players, but by no means do they comprise the majority. It’s unfortunate, but if you do encounter these types of people then you shouldn’t be playing with them. It’s very demeaning to gameplay and group synergy.
You can find some great groups out there, you just have to have the patience to find one that’s right for you.
2) MYTH: raiding is only for hardcore people that dedicate their lives to the game.
Yet another uninformed generalization. Yes, hardcore groups do exist, but there are also casual and midcore groups. There are groups for all types of players. You shouldn’t be applying for hardcore groups as a new person to raiding.
Just as there are different types of statics, there are also many different schedules, including weekends, weekdays, evenings, nights, and even early morning. Some groups raid only 2 days a week 3 hours each, others raid 4 days a week 5 hours each. You have to find what’s right for you.
3) MYTH: these raids look impossible!
Notice how I italicised “look.” You cannot say something is too difficult or impossible if you’ve never given it a try, especially as someone that doesn’t have experience in such content. Prior to raiding I had this mindset. I can tell you it’s not as bad as you think. With practice and persistence you can clear any raid.
4) MYTH: these raids are impossible! (bonus points if this is addressing ultimate)
No raid is impossible, unless it’s unbalanced, which is rare. There are many factors that can contribute to constantly failing mechanics and losing:
- Individual knowledge and skill
- Group communication
- Group synergy
- Other members’ skill and knowledge
Check for issues with your group and your own ability before blaming the content. It’s Savage and Ultimate difficulty for a reason.
V. What to expect
“I’m interested in raiding, but I don’t know what will come along with it.”
This section entitles what you should prepare for and what will come at you.
You’re ready to start in Savage raids. You get in your first one, but then it all hits you at once and overwhelms you. You didn’t expect these things.
Expect in raids:
- Higher challenge certainly
- More damage received (LOTS of tankbusters and raidwide damage)
- More mechanics and in higher complexity
- New mechanics exclusive to Savage and Ultimate
- Strict DPS checks
- Enrage timer (this is a mechanic that wipes the group at x amount of time, meaning you need to kill the boss before then)
- Lots of enmity generation
Expect in groups:
- Mandatory communication, positioning, and teamwork
- Frequent use of waymarks and signs
- Mandatory use of countdowns and ready checks
- Expectation to improve yourself and take responsibility for mistakes
- Adapting to new strats
- Being out of your comfort zone
- Dealing with substitute static members
- Dying and wiping A LOT (during prog)
- Attending voice chat
- Being responsible with attendance and notifying the group when you can’t make it
Expect in your class:
- Emphasis on dealing damage as all classes
- Synergising buffs with the group
- Adapting your cooldowns, opener, and rotation for the instance
- Using food and potions
- Maximizing DPS with a proper opener, taking advantage of your potion and raid buffs
- Utilizing your entire kit, especially enmity reduction skills and MP management.
- Being low on MP as a healer
- Getting used to being in DPS stance as tank
- Getting used to using Provoke and Shirk as tank
- Knowing when to use what healing skill or shield.
V. Getting started
“Where do I start? I’m ready!”
It’s fairly easy to find a group, but before we do that, let’s take a look at the different kinds of groups and common terminology so you don’t get lost.
Jargon commonly used in party finder and other places:
- Static – basically an organized group that meets at assigned times
- PF – party finder
- PST – may mean Pacific Standard Time or Please Send Tell. View the syntax for context.
- Sub – a temporary party member, usually to fill the space of someone who left or can’t attend
- Perm – a permanent or long term member of the static
- Trial – depending on context, a trial person is someone being tested in the group to see if they’re worthy of joining or not.
- PM – private message
- Prog – progression; the party goes through the raid phase by phase, polishing mechanics and learning along the way
- LF – looking for
- LFG – looking for group
- SC – softcore (casual is used in place of this frequently)
- MC – midcore
- HC – hardcore
- x/8 – this means that the group currently has x number out of 8 members. For instance, 7/8 means it has 7 members.
- Minimum item level – this means that the group will be locking the item level to the minimum required item level. Groups do this so they can experience the raid without being overgeared and have more of a challenge. You can also see this on the party finder’s group icons.
- OXS or VXS – abbreviation for Stormblood’s Omega raids. Substitute X with 1-12: O8S, O7S, V5S etc.
- AXS – abbreviation for Heavensward’s Alexander raids. Substitute X with 1-12: A8S, A7S, etc.
- TX – abbreviation for A Realm Reborn’s Bahamut raids. Substitute X with 1-13: T5, T6, etc.
- FFlogs – a website that allows users to upload their dps parses and view rankings, stats, and other information.
- Parse – a numeric reading of a stat, usually dps. When people attribute colors to their parse, such as “gold parse”, they are referring to the percentile ranking of their dps on FFlogs. From best to worst in percentiles: gold, orange, purple, blue, green, grey.
- Job abbreviations – PLD, WAR, DRK, SCH, WHM, AST, BLM, RDM, SAM, SMN, BRD, NIN, MNK, MCH, DRG
- Chest restrictions – when people refer to chests, they’re talking about the loot that appears when clearing the content. When raid content is fresh there are weekly limitations on loot. If x amount of players clear the content for the week beforehand then only 1 or 0 chests will appear. So if you see “2 chests”, they’re asking for people who haven’t cleared for the week.
Using the lingo above, here is a common ad for a group you may see:
“7/8 MC static LF PLD for O8S prog, 7 PM EST Wednesday and Thursday, PST for details”
This means that a midcore static is seeking a paladin for progression on Sigmascape 4.0, or O8S.
Here’s another example:
“Group looking for quick NIN sub for God Kefka prog in 1 hour.”
The group is seeking a temporary ninja for the second half of O8S.
Party finder adverts: some actual examples
Types of groups
As stated in section III, there are a variety of groups that can fit your needs. These are just general definitions for group types. There are exceptions of course, such as casual groups having the common traits of a midcore group.
Softcore or casual
These groups like to relax and take their time. Weekly playtime or assigned days may be lower than the other two types of groups. Performance could suffer if the group is too casual, but the overall goal is to enjoy the content rather than clear as soon as possible. The group isn’t anal about parses or meta jobs either.
A good balance between the two sides; I recommend this for people who want to get started in raiding. My midcore group met three days a week and raided for 3 hours each day. The group is intent on clearing in a timely manner and playing well, but they also know how to have fun and take breaks when necessary. Group members are usually only dismissed on very negative behavior or low performance if their performance is atrocious and they have no will to improve.
This is only recommended for very serious players that are experienced with challenging content. These types of groups typically raid for many hours a week on multiple days and strive for excellent parses, kill times, and world rankings. Group members have a higher chance of being booted and replaced if their performance is subpar, or if a better player is found. They’re the ones that want to clear as soon as possible when the content releases. Group members typically have an average of 98th percentile dps.
Finding a group
Now that you know the jargon and types of groups, it’s time to start searching for one. The most convenient place to find a group is in-game via the party finder. You’ll always find people advertising their groups. Other places you can seek groups are on the official forums and Reddit.
You could also post an advert for yourself, but using the party finder you’ll be restricted by the character limit and the maximum time you can have your pf ad up. I use the FFXIVRECRUITMENT subreddit for posting a LFG request.
Arguably the most common communication software for gamers these days is Discord, so you will likely need to download that to join the voice channel and hear callouts.
Don’t discriminate against lalafells
VI. Being in a static
So you’ve applied for a group and you’ve now managed to get a permanent spot. Congratulations!
This section covers the internal aspect of groups.
I recommend giving a group at least a week to form a sound opinion on whether you like it or not.
The group will expect you to arrive in a timely manner. I usually arrive 10 minutes early in case my PC has issues. It may be a comedic comparison, but being in a static is like a job. Your performance is measured, you have days you need to show up, time you need to contribute, and you can submit a resignation. You shouldn’t treat it as an actual job, but you do need to have responsibility.
- If you’re not willing to improve or you slip up too much then you will likely get fired.
- If you’re hostile to co-workers then you will likely get fired.
- If you are absent from work and don’t leave a reason then you will likely get fired.
- If you leave early or leave early too often then you will likely get fired.
These are all things that can get you kicked out of your static.
Most groups don’t require you to voice chat, but you do have to join a voice channel to hear call-outs and discussion. Everyone is putting their free time into this planned session, so it’s best not to waste time.
You should keep the voice channel free of distractions during gameplay. It’s difficult to focus on a flurry of mechanics while some obnoxious noise or an unrelated conversation is looping in the background.
As with all groups, everyone should be treating each other with respect. Personal attacks, micromanaging, and snide remarks are completely unnecessary and you should find a new group if this frequently happens to you and it can’t be changed.
Loot from raids
Different groups have different ways they handle loot. You have to consider who will benefit most from getting their gear improved. One of my previous groups had people roll on loot they needed to fairly distribute it. DPS usually will get their weapons first. Raid loot is limited to a weekly basis, so if you get two chests for a raid, you’ll have to wait until next week to get loot again from it. If you’re in multiple groups, having an alt is mandatory because clearing a raid with one group will lower the amount of chests you get for your other group.
Perhaps your co-tank or other partners are not synergizing well with you. If you don’t voice your concerns, nothing will change. It’s best to polish things early on in prog rather than when the group has gone through to the end of the fight.
Other than gameplay, you should feel comfortable being in your group. If you’re having issues with other members or the group itself, then you should try to remedy such concerns by talking to the static leader; however, if these issues can’t be solved and you’re constantly feeling uneasy, then I recommend you to leave the group. You can’t focus on gameplay if you’re thinking about group issues. Your environment shouldn’t be a negative one either. Remember that it’s still a game in the end and something you should enjoy.
It’s a show of courtesy to provide advance notice before leaving the group so the group has adequate time to find a replacement.
VII. Improving yourself
I’ll be blunt. If you’re someone that doesn’t have motivation to improve in the game then you won’t do well. Savage isn’t something that holds your hand and allows your team to carry you. You don’t sit back and let your group do all the work in groups outside the game; it’s the same in this. Everyone must contribute.
In this section I’ll provide tips on improvising things.
1. Knowing your job
Knowledge of your job isn’t limited to looking up a rotation online and using that over and over. You have to know what situations you can use your skills in, how the buffs synergise with the group, and other skills.
For instance, Paladin’s Cover is a valuable skill that can take debuffs off of targets and save the healers a headache. I’ve used it in O8S to take a tankbuster that applies a bleeding debuff that was intended for the primary tank.
I wasn’t aware that Requiescat was a physical attack therefore Fight or Flight buffed it.
SMN’s should know that Wyrmwaves proc not only from damage dealing OGCD abilities, but also abilities such as Addle.
These are just a few examples of many where more comprehensive knowledge can make a difference in your dps, mitigation, or survivability. This is important when every point of dps, healing, and mitigation counts.
2. Working on DPS
Before you start getting serious with your dps, you should make sure you know what your skills do and how to use them. Practice on the Sky, Sea, Stone dummy (speak to the npc outside Rhalgr’s Reach) to see if you can push out the minimum required dps for the instance. Doing Extreme primals would also be very helpful in getting you more comfortable to do more difficult content.
Once you pass this, you can start improving your dps over time on a striking dummy. I highly recommend installing Advanced Combat Tracker (ACT) and the FFXIV plugin to see how much dps you’re dealing.
You may ask, “Is this against the TOS?” Technically, yes, but no one has been banned for using it. Popular raiders show it on their streams. Numerous people use ACT to improve themselves and analyze performance. As long as you’re not going around stating you use a parser and telling people about their parse, it’s safe to use. However, it still boils down to use at your own risk. The chance you’ll get in trouble is very slim.
3. Understanding common mechanics
You should have an understanding of mechanics that is shared between content, including: stack markers, gaze markers, tethers, debuffs, and adds.
4. Increase your awareness
It’s common for players to have tunnel vision, only looking at their target and nothing else. This will get you killed very quickly. Practice glancing at areas other than the center.
Players should watch out for:
- Cast bars (if you see the cast bar then you will know what mechanic the boss or add is casting)
- Enemies’ animations (such as Midgardsormr’s spins or Tsukiyomi’s gun)
- Status effects (very important to know what you have and what it does)
- Adds that spawn (pick these up before they hit anyone and waste a healer GCD)
- Anything that appears on the arena
- Party HP, MP, and TP (healers can’t heal if they have no MP. Melee can’t melee if they don’t have TP)
- If a party member is down (some mechanics will change their targets if a party member is KO’d)
5. Studying an instance
Numerous people when they try to learn something will attempt to take in the entirety rather than sections. This will not only overwhelm you with information, you will also quickly forget the last phases because you are practicing the first phases. You should learn something phase by phase, rather than the entire thing. Once you get a phase burned into your brain and you’ve mastered it, you can move on to the next phase.
Settings and tips to make your life easier
Turn off the combat effects of others. It’s incredibly obtrusive and will be difficult to see mechanics with everyone’s flashy abilities.
- Character configuration –> Control Settings –> Character –> Battle effects: show none for party and others
The ring shows what direction the boss is facing and is also a helpful guide for spacing some mechanics.
- Character configuration –> Control Settings –> Target –> Target display settings –> Display target ring
I strongly recommend you get used to the Legacy camera type. It allows you to move in any direction without the camera turning. Having your camera turn when you’re moving in the opposite direction will end up kiling you due to not seeing the mechanics.
- Character configuration –> Control Settings –> General –> Movement settings –> Legacy type
Personal preference, but I believe less is better than more. I make overhead names concise. I recommend you set a specific color for party member names too.
- Character configuration –> Display name settings –> Others –> Party members –> Display Type
I also recommend you disable the HP bar showing unless it’s under 100%.
- Character configuration –> Display name settings –> Others –> Party members –> HP bar settings
You should have your enmity list and focus target enabled. I also like to show only my debuffs I inflict (so I know which ones are mine) and the enemy hp percentage.
- Character configuration –> UI settings –> HUD –> Targets
Recommended that you sort your party list to your liking and increase the status effects shown.
- Character configuration –> UI settings –> Party list –> Party list sorting
- If you’re a PC player that plays with a keyboard, DO NOT CLICK on your skills. You should be reserving the mouse for moving the screen or clicking on party members to apply skills to. Clicking on your skills is significantly slower than using your keyboard to press skills (especially when you need to press a skill multiple times to guarantee it acts as soon as possible or with OGCD skills for double-weaving). It will become tedious if you play a job that requires you to quickly go through rotations. You can build muscle memory with your keyboard, you can’t build muscle memory by clicking on skills.
- I recommend you get a comfortable HUD layout that makes all information accessible. I keep my debuffs, boss HP, and focus target near my skills since that’s where I look the most often.
- If you’re going to be looking at a timeline, it’s very helpful to discuss when mitigation and dps buffs should occur prior to the raid. Managing tank cooldowns appropriately ensures that mitigation is always up for a tankbuster and other high damage. Raid members will also know when to use their potions a second time and raid buffs.
- Zoom out your camera all the way so you can see the arena and all mechanics clearly.
VIII. Do’s and don’ts
A self-explanatory, concise list of things you should do and behaviors frowned upon.
- Before pulling, start a ready check and countdown after everyone is ready (I usually set it to 15 seconds).
- Communicate with your teammates: callouts, statuses, buffs, etc.
- Voice your concerns with optimization and strats to improve gameplay.
- Show up on time during raid days.
- Improvise yourself if you make mistakes.
- Have the motivation to improve.
- Leave a notice in advance for absences or quitting the group.
- Be willing to be flexible in your role and rotation.
- Get a basic idea of fights prior to starting them if your group is using a guide.
- Pull before the countdown ends.
- Have lengthy, irrelevant discussions during raid. The group is on a time constraint and it should be utilized well. These discussions are also very distracting. This also applies to arguments.
- Be stubborn to feedback and changes. As mentioned, you should be flexible and willing to improve. You won’t be doing the same thing all the time. Being adamant isn’t a good trait.
- Not show up to raid or quit without a notice. The group will have to delay their scheduled time to hastily seek a temporary member. This will end up wasting everyone’s free time. It’s also really disrespectful to give a no-show.
- Micromanage group members. Constructive feedback is fine, but you shouldn’t be constantly directing or observing someone’s actions.
- Be disrespectful to group members. This is an obvious one.
- Be greedy with loot. Members are treated with various priority levels depending on their gear or role. For instance, if you’re a healer that needs to upgrade your weapon, but the Ninja also needs a weapon upgrade, the ninja should get the upgrade material. Their dps is more important than yours.
- Be constantly negative. Saying “x mechanic sucks” or “I’m awful” 20 times isn’t going to do anything. It’s quite annoying, unnecessary, and will affect the group. Group atmosphere is important in completing content cleanly.
As stated, raiding is not content that is exclusive to hardcore players only. Anyone can get into it, provided they have the mindset to strive for success and constantly improve themselves.
I hope I could convince you to at least consider trying a raid. The experience can be highly rewarding for both your skills and your confidence.
And most importantly, remember to have fun! If you find yourself getting too stressed, take a break.
Rome was not built in a day, and neither was your ability. Keep going at it!