Following the opener comes the most important concept to understand for 5.20 Black Mage:

The Base Rotation

This is the base rotation before procs. It can be split into two parts:

Thunder and Xenoglossy placement are less clearly defined.

The empty GCDs represent filler of which the following are typical examples:

  • Blizzard IV (B4)
  • Thunder III (T3)
  • Xenoglossy (Xeno)

Ice Phase

Use the Ice Phase to gain Umbral Hearts and recover MP.

Use Blizzard III (B3) to enter Umbral Ice (UI) and cast 1-2 filler Spells to allow MP to regenerate.

Filler is typically B4 followed by either Xeno or T3.

If you get a fast MP tick you can get away with casting only 1 filler Spell.

Standard Example

Use this for all typical Ice Phases.

T3 can be cast before B4 if you get a fast MP tick.

Xeno can replace T3 if the DoT is still ticking.

No Xeno or T3 Filler Example

If the T3 DoT is still active when finishing the B4 cast and you don’t have Xeno for UI, wait up to ~1 second for the MP tick.

See the Appendix for an alternative option.

Phase Transition Example

Use this if the enemy would die or phase before a full Fire Phase.


Fire Phase

The Fire Phase consists of the following Fire spell casts:

  • F4 x6
  • F1
  • Despair

You can generally fit 4 non-Despair GCDs on either side of F1.

Try to always cast 6 F4 while also not letting any procs expire.

If circumstances in an encounter would cause you to be at risk of dropping Astral Fire 3 (AF3) and Enochian, downgrade a F4 to F1 and figure out how to avoid the situation next time.

If you are in the latter half of the Fire Phase, consider casting Despair.

Use Firestarter procs ( F3P):

  • for movement
  • to extend AF3
  • to weave a Swift / Triple to be used on F4 / Despairs
  • to end a Fire Phase rather than saving it to enter AF

No Procs Example

Standard Fire Phase if there are no procs.

Thunder Reapplication / Proc Usage

Thunder reapplication is flexible. You can move the cast / proc between any two GCDs in the Fire Phase.


Thunder

Thunder should be kept up as much as possible unless the target will die or phase change into downtime.

T3 can be freely cast in either Ice or Fire Phase.

Refrain from refreshing T3 unless the DoT will run out.

If you end UI with a T3 and don’t get a mana tick before F3 finishes casting, avoid casting a second non-proc T3 in AF. Doing so will lose you a F4 or Despair cast.

Use a Thundercloud proc ( T3P) if one of two conditions are met:

  1. The DoT will run out on the boss
  2. The proc will run out

If you have no other movement options, procs can be used early for movement.

Avoid losing procs.


Xenoglossy

Use Xenoglossy (Xeno) as a filler spell for UI, to weave oGCDs, or for raid buffs (but not at the cost of uptime).

Do not overwrite Polyglot stacks.

When at two Polyglot stacks use Xeno before one is overwritten.

Sharpcast

Try to use Sharpcast (Sharp) on cooldown without clipping.

Sharp has the most value when paired with T3 / T3P but is still a gain to use on F1.

Holding Sharp specifically for T3 is a loss when compared to using it on whichever Spell is next ( F1 / T3).

Manafont

Use Manafont (MF) to extend Fire Phases.

It is ideally weaved during an instant after Despair.

MF gives enough MP to cast a F4, T3 and Despair.

If you have no instant to weave MF with hold it for the next rotation.

Only clip to use MF if you will otherwise lose a use.

Ideal Manafont Usage Example

Using Xeno to gain maximum value out of Triplecast and MF.

Manafont Without Triple/Swift Example

Xeno in this example can be any instant.


Movement & Uptime

Black Mage has no damaging oGCDs and a very simple rotation.

To maximize DPS you want to Always Be Casting (ABC) and maximise spell cast uptime against movement and mechanics. This is the most important aspect of Black Mage.

Slidecasting & Positioning

You can start moving when a cast is close to finishing and still have the cast complete.

The timing is ~0.5s before the cast ends, but varies based on latency and hardware. Practice slidecasting on a dummy to determine your personal threshold.

Slidecast to move short distances or dodge AoEs when you don’t have a proc or instant available. You still lose some time between casts, but it is better than not casting at all.

Many mechanics can also be handled by being where you need to be in advance.

If you wait until a mechanic starts before moving into position you’ll feel rushed and end up burning a lot of movement options. Instead, slidecast or leverage instants to move into position at your leisure.

In general, try to stay near your party.

Being in AoE heal range helps your healers. More importantly, it keeps you in range of AoE party buffs (Battle Litany, Battle Voice, Divination, etc).

Swiftcast & Triplecast

Swift is a marginal dps gain and ends up as a dps loss if it causes clipping.

It’s often better to hold for mechanics / movement / panic purposes.

Triplecast (Triple) has the most value paired with some combination of F4 and Despairs. It will often naturally line up with mechanics.

If you clip to use Triple, most of the benefit is negated.

Use on cooldown until you identify fight-specific sections where holding Triple is better.

AM & BtL

Aetherial Manipulation (AM) and Between The Lines (BtL) are useful tools for long distance movement in a short window.

Their animation lock is highly dependant on ping/software.

Try not to use them after a fast F3 / B3.

AM is the the only action Black Mages may choose to macro for consistency.

Here is an example macro for it:

/merror off /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /ac "Aetherial Manipulation" <mo> /micon "Aetherial Manipulation"

<mo> stands for mouseover and you will jump to the person your mouse points to, on either their character or the party list. The repeating lines simulate queueing as macros in this game do not queue.

You can replace <mo> with e.g. <2> to always jump to the 2nd person in your party list, however, in general this is not recommended unless you are absolutely sure the person is always where you want them to be when you want them to be. The <mo> is way more flexible but you do need to target it.

They should not be the primary form of movement. Slidecast or preposition instead where possible.

Ley Lines

Ley Lines (LL) should be used on cooldown where possible.

If you can’t gain full LL value, it’s still worth using if holding would cost you a LL use over the course of the fight.

You’ll often be able to handle mechanics (stack / spread markers, AoEs) while never leaving LL by taking advantage of its radius.

You can also leave LL for mechanics and then BtL back in, ideally during an instant.

For reference, clipping LL is approximately equal to losing 5s of its buff.

See Appendix for optimization options.

Surecast & Manaward

When paired with Manaward, Surcast can often allow you to “eat” mechanics to keep casting.

This is considered bad practice if it costs a healer a GCD; these things can usually be mitigated by improved planning and/or slidecasting.

Transpose

Use Transpose as a last resort to maintain Enochian if Astral Fire / Umbral Ice would be dropped.

Scathe

Don’t use this ability. It is usually preferable to move and cast nothing than cast a Scathe for movement.

There are two scenarios in which it is acceptable to use Scathe:

  1. You can’t finish 1 GCD before the boss dies or phases, and you have no instants available.
  2. You can’t finish movement in 1 GCD’s worth of time, and you have no instants available.

A hard-clipped Swiftcasted spell is preferable to using Scathe.


Recovery & Reopeners

Recovery

If you die or drop Enochian, follow this list of priorities:

  1. Swiftcast Freeze to regain UI3
  2. Recast Enochian
  3. Reapply T3 (if the DoT isn’t running)
  4. F3 into a shorter Fire Phase then continue as normal
  5. Figure out how to avoid this situation in the future

Recovery Example

The Umbral Heart from Freeze allows a F4 x5 + Despair Fire Phase.

Note: This is only for recovery. It is not a DPS gain, nor is it a sustainable rotation.

Freeze

Only use single-target Freeze for recovery purposes.

If at full MP, skip Freeze and instead cast F3.

Reopeners

During downtime use Umbral Soul to maintain UI3 with 3 hearts. Then you can T3 and continue the rotation as normal.

Use Xeno before downtime as necessary to avoid overwriting a Polyglot stack.

Spell Speed Thresholds

With the Shadowbringers increase of AF and UI timers to 15 seconds, the standard rotation is doable at nearly all Spell Speeds.

Play at whatever Spell Speed you find comfortable.