I’ve been keeping myself too busy to blog lately, but here goes. Once more now that I’m level 70, I give you: Samurai!
Palace of the Never-Ending
Knowing I was going to stand up to massive DPS queues, I opted to level Samurai to 60 through Palace of the Dead. This has got to be one of the most brain-dead forms of leveling when going solo. I’d strongly recommend roping a friend or two in with you. Even if it’s just so you can all collectively joke around while spamming the floor climb.
I did the PotD runs on Floors 51 to 60 and repeated that pretty much always. So I had full access to level 60 abilities and could more or less solo the ten floors if I needed to. Which, given PotD PUGs, many of my runs were absolutely me carrying three other people. You don’t need to worry about Samurai’s two positionals here for the Kenki gain–but it’s still a good idea to get into the habit of strafing around for them if you can.
Leveling in Palace of the Dead took me a few days given my pace–which wasn’t so bad really. I wouldn’t suggest it beyond 60 though given you lose the ridiculous 100% Armoury Bonus after that point. Time to go enjoy Stormblood content!
While it should be obvious, Samurai and Red Mage were not designed very well pre-50. This is made very apparent when you find yourself in leveling roulette! Cail and I would end up smashing the same two or three buttons over and over. Unable to even build up three Sen for Midare Setsugekka. The job doesn’t flow very thoroughly at all prior to 50 which is a tad unfortunate–but understandable.
Perhaps it wasn’t what I’d call a broken experience, but when you’re so used to your abilities and they’re cut away–it does lose a lot of the shine. If I had to compare it… remember playing Monk at 50? Then you’d have to help someone with Aurum Vale and you got sync’d down to 49? Yeah–that feel.
Speed Up the Leveling Truck
“We anticipate the Duty Finder queue times to be about normal…” yeah and they’ve always been miserable for DPS. There are ways to get around this ridiculous wait time though, and both are pretty darn good now! First is a little obvious. Hope that a tank or healer friend is going to hire a Samurai and that SAM is you.
Or if you don’t have these friends on hand all the time, try out Frontlines roulette queues! If you select Freelancer (in the duty finder options) then generally you’ll get a nearly instant queue even as a DPS. It’s a great way to try out the new PvP updates and honestly? They’ve done a fantastic job making PvP more accessible for more players. It’s easy to understand, genuinely fun, and gives great EXP! Regardless of win or loss, roulette daily or no, the EXP is still the same and adjusted for your level.
Frontlines matches cap out at 20 minutes–meaning they’ll be usually around the time for a decent dungeon run too. I’ve seen some finish in as quickly as eight minutes. Ahahahaha my team got floored. >_>; In addition to PvP, I’d suggest doing your daily hunts–even those of Heavensward! The EXP is solid and the centurio seals can unlock tier 2 mount speeds and be spent on grade 6 materia.
Abilities from 50 to 60
Honestly nothing in your rotation changes from 50 to 60. You gain a few really useful abilities and they’ll definitely change how you play. Yet, the goal of 50 to 60 is just maintaining your buffs, debuffs, and DoT–then building the sen for Midare.
At 52 you see Hissatsu: Kaiten. This increases the power of your next weapon skill by 50%, which is especially important for both Higanbana (your 1 Sen DoT) and Midare Setsugekka. It’s also pretty nice on Tenka Goken (2 Sen AoE) during trash pulls–but manage your Kenki wisely! Ah right–at 52 you start building Kenki. Remember that Kasha is on the flank/side, and Gekko on the rear. If you think to moon their moon, it all works out.
Levels 54 and 56 grant our gap closer, Hissatsu: Gyoten, and back-step, Hissatsu: Yaten, respectively. I’ve never used the Yaten to Enpi combo before–it’s generally seen as bad I think? Most of the time anyway. It’s great form to try and manage your Kenki to always have enough around for doing at least one of these abilities to keep your maneuverability up. That’s one of Samurai’s greatest strengths–and it’s just so daggone fun besides!
Level 58 gives us Merciful Eyes, which is a 200 potency self-heal that we can use if we’re hit during the effects of Third Eye. I wouldn’t intentionally risk damage to heal damage, but it’s super handy when unavoidable raid-wide damage is coming up. And even moreso during solo play!
Finally, Level 60 shows us Meditate. This is an impeccably situational ability that regenerates 10 Kenki per tick for a total of 50 Kenki over 15 seconds. In order to gain Kenki, you must be in battle… but not actively fighting. Meditate ends if you move or act. So this is generally handy during long boss “limit break” cutscenes and the like!
Level 62 – Can’t Hold All This Ki
Level 62 grants us the trait, Kenki Mastery II. Now every single weapon skill we do (so not Hissatsu skills nor Iaijutsu) gives us 5 Kenki. Our Kasha and Gekko positionals still give us 5 Kenki and Oka and Mangetsu still give 5–so now those four give ten if done correctly.
What are we going to do with all of this excess Kenki? Well–we’re in luck. Because we’ve also been given our Kenki dump–Hissatsu: Shinten. For 25 Kenki we deal 300 potency oGCD damage… making Samurai a much faster and more active job than before. It gets even more fun from here!!
Level 64 – Edging the AoE
At level 64 we gain Hissatsu: Kyuten. Like Shinten, this is an effective Kenki spender. However, you’re going to want to withhold Shinten except in particularly large AoE pulls. Or maybe in just pulls that you can’t get conal skills to work very efficiently thanks to a spinning tank. Stormblood has just a few of those. Maybe Paladins who are so happy to be relevant again? They just can’t stop dancing.
Level 66 – Over the Counter
With level 66 we’re given Hissatsu: Seigan. This shares the conditions and timer on Merciful Eyes. Rather than healing yourself after you take damage under Third Eye, you can counter it by spending 15 Kenki for 200 potency damage! It’s very efficient and a handy DPS boost if your healers have everything in check. But again–please don’t go getting yourself intentionally hurt for some more damage output. That’s now how raid-wide DPS works.
Level 68 – Everything We Knew Is A Lie
I mentioned the Monk 49 to 50 flip right? Well, this is that for Samurai–in a more literal sense. Before 68 we only built our Sen up for our DoT and for Midare Setsugekka in ST bosses. Now our Sen is used primarily for this new ability: Hagakure. It exchanges every active Sen we have for twenty Kenki per Sen consumed. This leads to a lot more Hissatsu abilities, which is more effective DPS performance than just Midare itself.
That isn’t to say you avoid Midare totally now–it just becomes your “off” ability. So now we have to manage two buffs, one debuff, one DoT, two cooldowns, manage which Sen is up and which is used for what, and how much and how little Kenki we have. It’s become a very busy balancing act that you’ll need to master before 70… when it gets way more complex.
Level 70 – Laser Beams
Our final ability is our most wild–Hissatsu: Guren. This is an 800 potency linear AoE that delivers then 600, then 400 potency to targets in range. Even just the initial 800 hit is tremendous–but knowing it can move up to 1400, then 1800, 2200… etc.? Wow! Unfortunately, this consumes 50 Kenki and is on a two minute cooldown.
Now we have to manage to keep around 50 Kenki whenever Guren is up… and no more than 40 when Hagakure is coming around. And at least 10 for our maneuvering skills. Once you find the balance it’s easy to keep–at least on a training dummy. I’ve definitely tunnel-visioned way more with Samurai than I ever have Dragoon as I’m trying to master a totally new DPS job rotation for the first time since 1.x. I’d suggest a ton of practice to let it sink into your muscle memory first… as the real trick will come in doing this all during the big fights!
I’ve gotta say–I adored the entire Samurai storyline thus far. No details here but both themes of the chapters to Samurai were tales that made me cry. Practically sob, honestly. Both are very close to my heart and touched me in ways more than “this is a super cool job”. I think I may have found a home in Samurai, and for that I am unable to properly express myself.
If you’re considering playing Samurai, please give yourself time to enjoy these tales properly! The level rush isn’t as important, I assure you.
Mechanics and Polish
Severely unlike Dragoon, I haven’t found a single thing about Samurai that doesn’t feel right. Things piece together very well mechanically. Nothing in a fight completely breaks our ability to continue to do our job. The only frustrations I’ve had have been general “the boss is spinning like a daggone Beyblade WHY” which aren’t unique to any one melee DPS.
I enjoy playing Samurai–it’s a touch faster than Dragoon but the flow feels just as active at the very least. And unlike Dragoon, it doesn’t have that awkward stopping point of losing all of your Dragon Gaze stacks for no good reason. Best of all, I’ve got quite a few friends that I love discussing with about Samurai. One server transferred to play with other friends and I’ll miss him, but wish him well! Another, Cail, is my Samurai buddy back from when we hopped over to Fenrir on FFXI. Watching us match skill for skill has been so awesome in roulettes together and I’m excited to see what becomes of this rivalry. 😉
Happy adventuring! ❤️