A PvP Guide to White Mage

INTRODUCTION

Hello. My name is Bartleby Adrastos and I have created this guide to give new and intermediate players an introduction in how to play WHM in PvP. I have been playing FFXIV for quite a long time (patch 1.19) and have been playing PvP in XIV on-and-off as various classes (mostly WHM/DRG/WAR) since it first debuted in the beta. I hope that whether you have never played WHM in PvP, or have been playing WHM in PvP for a long time, you will find this guide informative and helpful. This guide is written from a primarily Feast perspective as that is typically the more involved and difficult mode to heal, but I have spent a lot of time in both game types and will try to include tips pertaining to Frontlines as well.

Here's what you can expect to learn about in this guide:

  • A general overview on what WHM brings to the table in a PvP matchup, and how to play it effectively.
  • A detailed explanation of how each and every ability WHM has applies in PvP scenarios.
  • Specific tips on how to keep your footing in both the Feast and Frontlines game modes.
  • Advice on how to upgrade your PvP abilities.
  • My favorite color. (It's blue.)

Here's what you should already know:

  • The basics of WHM, such as how your spells work, what spells you have access too; i.e. how to play it in a PvE scenario.
  • The general rules for each game mode you plan on playing; Feast, Fold, or Frontlines (and its several variants).
  • That drugs are bad. (Unless you're playing Frontlines, in which drugs and potions are perfectly fine.)

A SYNOPSIS OF WHM

So you might have asked yourself: "Why should I, or anyone else, play White Mage in PvP over any other healing class?"

Well let me tell you why. First, White Mage brings some of the strongest CC (Crowd Control, i.e. basically things that lock/hinder your opponent's movement) and enfeebles in the game. It has access to: a sleep (Repose), heavy (Stone I), knockback (Fluid Aura), 2 binds (Fluid Aura/Blizzard II), AoE skill speed down (Aetheric Burst), AoE Stun (Holy), a 15% STR/DEX down debuff (Virus), and a shield ability that has a chance to give anyone attacking said shield a -10% damage debuff (Eye for an Eye). It is quite possibly the 2nd strongest CC class in the game outside of Black Mage, and even then it gives it some stiff competition. It has access to several incredibly powerful HoT (Healing over Time) spells including Regen and Medica II, as well as its 2 "bubble" abilities, Asylum and Sacred Prism. It can push out incredibly high HPS (Heals Per Second) in short intervals with Divine Seal and Presence of Mind. Its Sacred Prism ability grants anyone who steps inside it a whopping -40% Physical Damage taken effectively giving allies a huge advantage when trying to defend or take key areas.

Then what does WHM lack in comparison to other healers?

While I wouldn't say White Mage has any glaring flaws, its biggest weaknesses are lack of oGCD/insta-cast heals (and as a result lowered mobility), its MP regeneration abilities/MP management, and its lack of a 'shield' option. Because WHM does not have access to many oGCD abilities/spells you are required to decide between moving or casting if you do not wish to use one of our few oGCD options. Abilities like Asylum and Sacred Prism reinforce this play style of "holding your ground" where you sort of just have to pick where you plant your feet and cast. In comparison, Scholar can have access to as many as 9 Lustrates (a strong oGCD heal) in a row all while sprinting around the arena as well as access to a fairy that can heal even while the SCH themselves are moving (or even slept/immobilized!). Astrologian benefits from several abilities/traits that let it cast instant/faster spells meaning they can spend more time kiting their enemies. Furthermore, ASTs enjoy arguably stronger MP manageability (SCH less so) with SCH having access to Aetherflow/fairies and ASTs having a more powerful Shroud of Saints-esque skill and being able to draw Ewer cards. Lastly, SCH and AST have access to a shield-type heal which can favor certain burst heavy match-ups more. Unfortunately, WHM does not have a similar option.

What does the ideal White Mage play like?

The ideal White Mage can and will use all of the abilities at their disposal to enfeeble the enemy, making it easier for their teammates to kill opponents (such as by sleeping enemy healers, heavying focus targets, etc.) and harder for the enemy to kill their teammates (heavying/binding/sleeping/knocking back/slowing/virusing enemy dps, eye for an eye on teammates being focused, etc.) all the while weaving in powerful restorative magic (Regens/Cures/Bubbles) to keep their team alive. The ideal White Mage will use every tool they possess (and WHM has a lot of them) to its fullest extent to ensure their team maximizes their chance of success.

What is the typical White Mage experience like?

I’m not going to sugarcoat this; without a doubt, healing is the most difficult role in FFXIV's PvP. In most cases, with randoms, it's going to be high stress babysitting. There's going to be a lot of times where you're going to watch people do really dumb stuff like a lone DPS charging in with Blood for Blood up into a pack of 3 enemies only to watch them melt in a 1-2 GCDs and then blame you for not keeping them alive. Stare helplessly as the tank picks up 10 stacks of medals and loses you the game after you blow every single cooldown you can on them and they still are taking too much damage. Feel the humiliation of letting a teammate die because you tried to do something fancy. Deal with 3+ DPS all attacking you at the same time with no one helping you. If you're playing Feast, you can expect people to be breathing down your neck any time you make a mistake. But while healing is incredibly stressful, it can also be incredibly exhilarating. It is probably the most skill-intensive role in PvP and if you can weather the countless deaths, insults, and losses, you will emerge on the other side as a jaded, thick-skinned, healing badass. When played right, I feel as though White Mage can be the most rewarding and fun job in PvP and would highly encourage anyone looking to challenge themselves to pick it up and give it a try.

ABILITIES & SPELLS

The White Mage has a large selection of abilities and spells at their disposal. In this section we'll take a look at each of them and discuss their use in a PvP scenario.

Offensive Spells & Abilities

Cleric Stance
This ability cannot be used in any PvP mode and as such should be removed from your PvP bars.

Stone I [Deals some earth damage. Additional effect: Heavy +40%. Duration in PvP: 12 seconds]
One of WHMs strongest tools in its vast CC arsenal. Behind repose, this is one of your best spells for enfeebling an enemy. As stated, it inflicts a potent heavy effect. Best used on classes that like/need to kite, such as most ranged dps, or basically any target your team is focusing down and which might be trying to flee. Also extremely useful on enemy tanks/melee to make them 10 times easier to kite and avoid.

Stone II [Deals some Earth damage.]
Basically useless in PvP (and PvE as well). Without Cleric Stance this spell does not do enough damage to warrant ever using it.

Stone III [Deals a bit more Earth damage than Stone II.]
Similar to Stone II, this spell doesn't really deserve a spot on your hotbar. The only situation you might be using this spell is on ice in Shatter, but even then the damage is still a pittance without Cleric Stance and you'd probably be better off just conserving your MP.

Aero I [Does some Wind damage over time.]
This spell is quite useful in Frontlines for tagging enemies on mounts because of its instant cast time. Can also be useful in Feast if you need to tag a Ninja before they hide, or to tag an AST to prevent them from changing sects, but other than that its uses are quite niche. You can also use it as a “filler” debuff to absorb an esuna/Warden’s Paeon on an enemy (e.g. if you’re about to sleep the healer, you could Aero them first and then sleep so that if their BRD tries to cleanse them with Warden’s Paeon, it will heal the Aero instead of the sleep). Lastly, it does do a small bit of damage and has no cast time so if you need to chase a fleeing enemy and don’t need to heal anyone this spell can very rarely help secure a kill in a pinch. Until you know what you’re doing, I don't recommend keeping this on your hotbar for Feast (but definitely for Frontlines).

Aero II [Deals some more Wind damage over time.]
See Stone II/III.

Aero III [Deals even more Wind damage over time and hits everyone within 5 yalms of its target with more wind damage.]
See Stone II/III/Aero II.

Holy -shit [Deals some unaspected damage in an 8 yalm radius around you. Also has a 3 second stun.]
This spell is not very good in PvP but it can have some niche uses. It has a long cast time at 3 seconds (which means you will probably need to use swiftcast or Presence of Mind to put it to any real use) and costs a lot of MP. The AoE stun has a decent length at 3s unresisted and can be useful as a last ditch effort to save yourself/a teammate, or to secure a kill, but note that increasing an enemies stun DR at the wrong time can have bad consequences down the road when they need to be stunned for something vital (either to secure a kill, stop a LB, etc.). Use with a lot of caution.

Repose [Puts an enemy to sleep for 8 seconds.]
Arguably any WHM's greatest tool and asset. This is what makes White Mage extremely powerful in the hands of a good player. Here are just a few ideas of on how you can use repose:

  • Temp. "stun" people while they're being focused down or running away.
  • Sleep enemy healer either forcing a purify or greatly increasing your team’s chances of getting a kill within the next 8 or so seconds.
  • Sleep an enemy dps/tank, again either forcing a purify, greatly reducing their team's dps output or at the very least making the enemy healer have to waste time trying to esuna it off.
  • Sleep someone next to a very high cliff and then push them off with fluid aura. Laugh hysterically as you imagine the look on their faces when they realize they were killed by a WHM, and then cry at the end of the game when you see that you probably have a higher k/d ratio then at least 1 dps on your team.

What you do need to be careful though is to not abuse it. Repose has a 2.5 second cast time and during that cast time, you aren't curing party members. Knowing when it's safe to squeeze out a repose can be the difference between securing a kill, or letting someone on your team be killed. Also be sure to be extra careful when you have a Black Mage on your team, as their sleeps share the same DR as yours. Generally, if you have a BLM, you should avoid using repose as much unless you think you have a particularly powerful opportunity (or if they're just a bad BLM and don't use sleep well) as your job of making sure people don’t die typically takes preference over whatever the BLM is doing.

Fluid Aura [Inflicts a 15-yalm knockback as well as a 6 second bind on the target]
If anyone was going to make the argument that Repose isn't your strongest tool, they'd probably be instead arguing that it is Fluid Aura. Fluid Aura is an oGCD that will knock back a player and then bind them in that spot. It has a fast cooldown, and can be weaved in between your spells meaning you can use it even when under a lot of pressure. The knockback is especially useful for a variety of reasons: knocking players out of defensive positions (such as bubbles/defensive shields), putting players behind walls so that they can't cast on their allies (or be casted on by their allies), getting someone away from attacking you (or a teammate), interrupting a spell/Limit Break, etc. You can also use this to push enemies off of cliffs/high areas to potentially kill them, or at the very least put them in for a very long walk if they want to come back up to see you again. You should be using this very, very, very often.

Blizzard II [Inflicts an 8-second bind on any enemy within 5 yalms of you]
This handy spell can be used to bind any enemies within a 5 yalm radius of yourself. Useful when you're being chased by a pesky tank/melee (or both) to gain some ground and breathing room. For extra points, bind them behind a wall such that they are stuck out of sight of their healer.

Virus [Reduces Strength & Dexterity of target by 15% for 10 seconds]
This spell is best used on physical dps, but can also be useful on tanks (especially WARs). A 15% nerf to their STR and DEX, this will help reduce their burst damage for the next 10 seconds. The best way to use it is to throw it on a DPS that is indicating they are about to burst (i.e. when you see them popping all their CDs like Blood for Blood, Berserk, Raging Strikes, etc.), but if you don't think you'll be able to pay attention to what the other DPS are doing, don't be afraid to just throw it on someone for the sake of using it. It's better to use it and get a little use out of it than to never use it and get no use out of it.

Defensive/Restorative Spells & Abilities

Single Target

Cure I [Casts a 400 potency cure on a single target.]
Pretty straightforward. This is your go-to spell for healing through light pressure or if you're looking to conserve mana by fishing for Freecure procs.

Cure II [Casts a 650 potency cure on a single target]
Your go-to spell for heavy pressure. Costs a lot more MP than Cure I. Don't be afraid to use it, but also be aware that spamming it too much will run you dry fairly quickly.

Cure III [Casts a 550 potency cure on target and any allies within a 6 yalm radius of said target]
A very powerful spell when used correctly, albeit it can be quite difficult to do so. It’s pros are that it provides extremely high potency multi-target heals. The downside being that it has by default a very prohibitive MP cost as well as a small range for hitting multiple targets at only 6 yalms (slightly larger than a Blizzard II). While its MP cost can be cut in half with an Overcure proc, it still is 100 potency short of Cure II meaning that this spell should really only be used to burst heal 2+ targets. While it can be difficult to get multiple teammates in that 6 yalm radius, it is our highest AoE cure and as such has amazing potential when 2+ teammates are at lower health. Can be useful when you have several teammates taking damage huddled up in your bubble (people won't actually ever get in your bubbles lol). Generally speaking, if you can hit 2+ people (who need curing) with this, it is your highest MP/potency spell. Otherwise, it is better to stick to your single target spells. I highly recommend beginner WHMs steer away from this spell until they’re confident that they can recognize the right situation for it.

Regen [Grants a 150 potency heal over time for 21 seconds]
In total heals for 1050 potency over its duration. Your best mp/cure potency spell. Instant cast. 21 second duration. This spell is great and should be kept up religiously on any party member who might be taking damage in the next 5 or so seconds. Very strong when paired with Divine Seal as the healing potency bonus carries out for the whole 21 second duration.

Benediction [Fully restores target’s HP]
The best (and worst) cure of them all. Restores all of the targets HP. Pros: oGCD, biggest potency cure in the game. Cons: takes about 1.5 seconds to actually go off meaning you'll probably waste this on a dead body 25% of the time, it also has a 5 min cooldown :^) You will need to gauge how fast someone is dying and basically 'pre-cast' this spell if you don't want to waste it, often meaning you will start the cast when the target is at ~40-50% HP and it will go off when they're at 10-25% HP. Just know that it's better to be safe than sorry. Don't try to hold onto it too long, if used at the beginning of a Feast match (within the first 2 minutes), you should be able to get a 2nd use out of it at the end.

Tetragrammaton (try saying that fast 3 times) [An instant cast ability that has a 700 cure potency]
A very potent oGCD cure, a bit stronger than Cure II. This is a very important ability that should be used carefully; you can think of it as a 'mini-Benediction'. When your team is receiving a lot of damage very quickly you will need cooldowns like this to keep up. It's oGCD nature is extremely powerful and unlike Benediction there is no 1.5 second animation delay on the cure. It's recast is fairly tame in comparison to Benediction making this one of WHMs most powerful cure tools. Has a wide range of uses, from simply being used between Cure II’s (for even more burst healing), to being used while kiting, to be used to catch up on healing after casting a Repose/Stone I/Blizzard II.

Esuna [Removes 1 detrimental status effect]
The secondary effect means this spell on average costs ~494.4 MP. Pretty straightforward use, keep in mind that while this spell has a short cast time, its recast time is still a single GCD meaning you won't be able to start a cure for the next 2.5 seconds. I only recommend using this on targets that have 1-2 detrimental effects on them, any more than that and you aren't likely to cure the effect you probably are looking to. You can use this in periods of light/no pressure to remove things like Thunder (to deny enemy BLM thundercloud procs) or other annoying status effects such as heavy, slow, etc., but remember to prioritize health bars over status bars (i.e. you shouldn't be using this in high dps pressure situations).

AoE Spells/Abilities

Empyrean Rain YOUR LIMIT BREAK!
Grants a wide AoE cure that also completely cleanses any status debuffs. Usually used to counter mage/ranged LB but can also be useful as a party wide 'purify' or as just a plain ole powerful AoE heal in times of desperate need. You will probably only get to use this once per Feast match. Don't use this in Secure (your LB is shared there with the rest of the party).

Medica I [An AoE (15 yalms) heal that has a 300 cure potency]
Your standard light AoE healing spell in PvE, Medica isn't quite as useful in PvP for a few reasons:

  • The 15y radius is kind of small, people are usually relatively spread out in PvP.
  • The low cure potency isn't going to do much when people are pushing out high dps on 2+ targets.
  • It has a high MP cost.

Generally, it is better to throw out a Medica II for the regens and to then alternate Cure II/other abilities between the people who are taking damage. Medica I could be useful for small patch-ups in between fights but even then, its MP cost is too high. Generally don't recommend using this spell.

Medica II [An AoE (20 yalm) heal that has a base 200 potency heal as well as applies a 30 second 50 potency regen]
This is one of your bread and butter spells. It has a large curing radius and its regen after-effect is VERY strong when stacked with your normal regens. Great for keeping multiple people topped up, you generally want to have this cast BEFORE the burst starts coming out as the main part is keeping the regens on people. One thing to be careful of is the MP cost and its cast time; similar to Cure II, you shouldn't be afraid to use this spell often, but try not to use it needlessly. Furthermore, since it has a 3 second cast time, you should not be casting this spell if someone is taking medium/heavy damage as it is quite easy to fall behind healing burst after spending so long casting this spell. Works very well paired up with Divine Seal as the Divine Seal bonus carries into the 30 second regens applied.

Assize [An AoE (15 yalm) heal ability with a cure potency of 300. Also restores 10% of your MP.]
Another extremely useful ability, if Tetragrammaton is basically an oGCD version of Cure II, Assize is like an oGCD version of Medica I. It deals light damage to enemies as well as restores a decent bit to any teammates within range. It's biggest strengths are that it's AoE, oGCD (very important), and lastly, (this is huge) restores 10% of your MP, meaning this potency scales with however much PIE you're stacking. It's important to use this ability often if only for the MP regen. The quick oGCD medica I is also very useful as a quick supplemental heal which can be used while you're on the move.

Asylum [A bubble spell which applies a 100 potency regen to anyone standing within it]
One of your "bubble" spells, this grants a decent regen to anyone standing in it. Less potent than regen, more potent than Medica II, it can be very effective when placed on a cluster of teammates. Throw this on top of a dps that is being focused (and proceed to watch them run directly out of it), or throw it down for yourself. Keep in mind this cannot be used at the same time as Sacred Prism, your other "bubble" spell. Relatively short recast time meaning you should use this often.

Buffs/Other/Misc

Swiftcast [Makes it such that your next spell has no cast time.]
Makes your next spell an instant cast. Very powerful for spells with long cast times such as Medica II or if you need to get a spell out immediately while you’re on the move, such as a Cure II or a quick Repose. The 60 second recast isn't too bad so you shouldn't be afraid to use this often.

Divine Seal [Grants a 30% bonus to spell-based HP regeneration.]
Important to note that it doesn't affect oGCD abilities such as Assize, Tetragrammaton, Asylum, etc. as they are abilities, not spells. This ability is incredibly powerful when paired with Regens/Medica II as it will persist for the whole length of the regen. It can also be the difference in keeping a teammate (or multiple teammates) alive through Cure II spamming. With a 60 second recast time, you should be using this often.

Presence of Mind [Increases attack speed by 20%.]
Cast/recast times just got 20% faster. Great for Cure II spam, or for squeezing out a repose between Cure IIs/Medica IIs/Regens. This ability can be a real life saver when you can't seem to cast fast enough to keep up with all the damage coming in.

Eye For An Eye E4E [Applies a buff to a teammate such that when they’re hit by an attack, the attacker has a 20% chance to receive a 10% damage down debuff.]
A powerful shielding tool for an ally that is being bursted or looks like they are about to be bursted. For the next 30 seconds, any time someone hits them, they have a 20% chance of receiving a debuff reducing their damage by 10%. Pretty strong when you consider that that might mean 2-3 people attacking you and your teammates will each be doing 10% less damage (making your job that much easier/stress free).

Shroud of Saints [Grants a 80 potency refresh effect for the next 15 seconds.]
This ability is very, very important. Keeping your MP supplies healthy can oftentimes be the difference between being able to keep someone alive (and can mean a win or loss in Feast matches). Because it doesn't restore your MP all at once, you should be using this anytime you're below about 85% of your max MP since you should be expending more MP while you regenerate. This ability should almost always be on cooldown (unless you're in Frontlines at which point you can probably be a bit more conservative).

Surecast [Next spell is cast without interruption.]
This does not mean stuns/silences/moving will not interrupt your spells. Right now, if you take a big enough hit, (I believe ~12% of your HP or so) it will interrupt any spell you are casting. This prevents that. Good when you are being chased/focused down.

Stoneskin I [Creates a barrier absorbing 10% of the target's max HP.]
You should apply these at the beginning of a fight. Note that its potency is only affected by your max HP, so you can swap on VIT accessories to power up the potency and then swap back into MND accessories after casting. Should almost never be used during a fight, it is weaker than your cure/regen spells by far and costs quite a bit of MP. You can (and should) reapply this between downtime during Frontlines, but in Feast I wouldn't recommend it as it will hurt your MP too much for too little gain.

Stoneskin II [Stoneskin I but AoE around you. Can only be used when not in combat.]
A convenient version of Stoneskin I to be used before fights.

Raise [Revives the target with a weakness penalty.]
You should pretty much never bother with using the normal raise spell. The main problem is that allies revived are afflicted with weakness for the next 3 minutes making them do less damage, and become much harder to keep alive (and thus much more likely to feed the enemy team points); it's much better to just let them respawn without the weakness debuff. If you want to revive someone, stick to Divine Breath, other than that it isn't worth your time/MP.

Protect [Creates a protective barrier that does nothing.]
This spell doesn't actually have any effect in PvP areas. It's only use is as dispel fodder (i.e. hopefully the enemy will dispel this buff over one of your important/valuable buffs) but that is still a relatively rare occurrence. Cast once at the beginning of the fight, after that not really worth the time/mp unless you're very bored in Frontlines.

PvP Specific

Purify [Removes all detrimental status effects from target.]
YOU CAN USE THIS ON OTHER PEOPLE! Ahem, you can use this on other people! Make sure to ask for it (don't worry, no one will ever actually give it to you) when you've been slept/stun/Full Swung for the gazillionth time in a row. But really, this is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT ABILITIES IN PVP. Games are decided by this ability. Here's primarily what you should be using it for (1&2 are top priority purifies, 3+ are other situations where it's appropriate but not necessarily mandatory):

  1. If you get slept. If your sleep duration is 4s or greater consider popping your purify. But, if noone is taking too much damage, and you think you can ride it out without anyone dying (or think that an enemy is going to wake you up out of it) you can try to hold your purify for later.
  2. Full Swing (increases damage taken by 20% for 20 seconds). If you (or one of your teammates) gets afflicted with Full Swing, it is important that it is cleansed ASAP. Sometimes you can get away with Esuna'ing it off (generally only if the tank is really bad and put it up when no one was attacking the target), but you will generally not have enough time to cast esuna and hope you cleanse it. Ideally, the DPS/tank should cleanse themselves, but you'll quickly find that a good portion of people you'll be playing with probably don't even have purify on their hot bar. Thus, you may have to use your purify on them.
  3. If you’re being Stunned. Generally, the only stun you’ll want to consider purifying is a 3/4 second one. If you react fast enough, you may be able to get out an oGCD, move far enough away to get off a quick cast before another stun comes in, or if taking heavy damage push out your Attunement. Purifying stuns can be hard though, you need to be expecting/ready for it. Knowing when to purify a stun is a more difficult skill to pick-up and isn’t recommended for a novice.
  4. Holy shit that guy (or maybe yourself) has like 20 different status effects on him and his HP is going down faster than a hooker bobbing for apples. Sometimes you'll just have a ton of 'lesser' debuffs, whether its several dots from various classes, debuffs, heavy, etc. to the point where purify might be a good idea.
  5. Your DPS is being focused and popped his Blood for Blood. (Just kidding, you can't purify stupid away.)

Sacred Prism [One of your "bubble" spells. Creates a protective circle that reduces PHYSICAL damage by 40% and grants a 70 potency (or 100 if you get the 3rd upgrade) regen effect to anyone standing inside.]
Very important to realize that this will not defend against magical damage, meaning you may need to run out of the circle to LoS a BLM or to avoid grouping up and giving a SMN an easy target as necessary. That said, this ability plays a HUGE role in nullifying enemy burst both for you and your teammates (just pray to God they actually stand in it). Like most of your really big abilities, try to get as much use out of this as you can; don't be too afraid to place it down early and often.

Divine Breath [Revives a target without weakness.]
If you need to raise someone, use this. If this isn't up, don't bother raising them. Also keep in mind sometimes it's better not to raise someone; if you don't think you'll have the resources to heal them/keep them up once you raise them, don't pick them up if they're just going to drop again.

Focalization [Grants you and any allies within a 15 yalm radius a 15% (or 25% if you upgrade it) magic damage reduction.]
Very potent against Black Mages and Summoners (you'll ideally want to get Focalization up before they put the dots on though, as the Focalization will not retroactively reduce their potency if you put it up after they're applied). Also works on Ninja's Raiton and a few of DRK's moves I believe. This is basically the magical version of Sacred Prism. If there aren't any casters on the enemy team you can still throw it up every once in a while just to act as a dispel dummy buff.

Aetheric Burst [Reduces the skill speed (i.e. only effective on physical attackers) of any enemies within 6 yalms by 30% (50% upgraded) for 10 seconds (15 seconds upgraded) while inflicting 170 potency unaspected magic damage.]
This ability is really bad, don’t bother ever upgrading it. You can try to use it to add a bit of extra damage to a burst, or to slightly slow down an enemies burst but overall this ability is pretty ineffective. Use it when/where you feel like it, but don’t go out of your way/sacrifice your positioning for it.

Equanimity [Allows casting without interruptions for 10 seconds (15 seconds upgraded).]
Basically a better version of Surecast; the same restrictions apply, does not prevent interruptions due to stun/silence/moving. Still, a very potent ability when you are being focused down.

Mana Draw [Restores 30% of your maximum MP (50% upgraded).]
A very important ability in Feast. Also note that since it's affected by maximum MP, its potency increases with the more PIE you stack. You should be using this spell when you are at or below the relevant MP threshold (70% if unupgraded, 50% upgraded).

Attunement [Increases evasion to inhuman levels as well as reducing incoming damage by 90% at the cost of completely immobilizing you for its duration.]
This is basically your invincible button, try to have regens up on yourself when you pop this (and/or be in a bubble). Can be used to negate limit breaks (best used for melee limit breaks) or just for when you're getting the shit knocked out of you. Similar to Benediction, this spell has a roughly ~1 second animation delay on it so use it a bit earlier than you think you need it. Also, don't be afraid to cancel this ability early either by clicking it off or by creating a /statusoff macro; many times the dps will stop targeting you and will start focusing down someone else which means you need to un-immobilize yourself so you can heal them. Canceling early can also sometimes catch DPS unawares as they will be specifically waiting for the timer to expire while they ready their cooldowns/LB. NOTICE: This CAN be dispelled! Watch out especially for SMNs who can pair Hawk Eye with Wither to get a guaranteed dispel on one of your buffs even when you're in attunement.

THE BASICS

In this section, we’ll go over the building blocks of playing the class effectively; from how to gear and spec your PvP abilities, to the general idea of how to play and survive as a WHM.

Gearing Up

There are several factors to consider when gearing up your WHM for PvP:

  • First, you should already know that PvP has an ilvl sync of i150. That means you had better be i150+ in every single gear slot, and not just at an average ilvl of 150. If you aren't, go spam PvE dungeons/hunts until you are. There's really no excuse considering how easy/cheap the i170/200 hunt gear is to obtain as well as PvP gear from Frontlines.
  • Second, because of the way the ilvl sync works, it is actually advantageous to be over i190+ in every slot, simply because the secondary stats on your items (spell speed/piety/determination/critical hit) will be capped at whatever the i150 cap is. So for example, if you have an i150 ring with +23 determination (the stat cap) and +12 spell speed (11 under cap) and an i190 ring with 40 determination and 28 spell speed, it will be synced down to have 23 determination and 23 spell speed, thus letting you cap both secondary stats. It may not seem like a lot on one piece of gear, but altogether over your 12 gear pieces, it adds up. Check out this i150 Stat Cap link
  • Do not be a douche and queue up for ranked Feast when you're undergeared (should be at least i180+ in every slot to max secondaries). Although Frontlines is a bit more casual, you should at least be i150+ in every slot before you queue up for that as well.
  • PvP Gear does not give you any direct advantage, but the morale stat on it will increase its item level in PvP areas (e.g. morale +10 = item level + 10 in PvP instances). Sometimes it’ll have useful secondary stats which will make it desirable to wear. You can also use it to quickly upgrade some of your lower i150-i170 slots after playing some Frontline matches.
  • I shouldn’t have to really say this but you should only be using MND or VIT accessories. DEX/INT/STR are all worthless. Accuracy, Skill Speed, and Parry are also stats to be avoided as much as possible if you choose to wear VIT accessories, look for accessories that have at least 1 sub stat being Determination or Crit Hit+ (or ideally are +Det/+Crit).
  • Materia Melds do not work in PvP zones due to the ilvl sync.
  • Most WHMs choose to focus on 1 or 2 substats depending on their play style. Piety is a very good choice for Feast builds since MP is much more precious there. Determination is always a solid choice since it is just a straight boost to all heals. A lot of WHMs avoid/do not prefer to stack Crit due to its random nature but it is not bad per se. Some WHMs like to stack spell speed as it both lowers your casting time which will help you get off those cures/reposes just a bit quicker as well as increases the potency of your HOTs (Regen and Medica II).
  • It is highly recommended that you wear at least 1 Vitality Accessory (and I highly recommend that you start with the Asuran Earrings of Fending as they are both easy to obtain and undoubtedly the best fending accessory since they give +det/crit). The GARO earrings/wristlets are also easy to get. You are also welcome to wear more or to adjust your MND/VIT stat distribution. Having some extra VIT increases your HP pool will give you more breathing room when taking big burst damage (read: Melee LB). Experiment around and find what works for you. Some healers are comfortable with less HP and stronger cures, others prefer weaker cures but more HP.

Choosing Your PvP Ability Upgrades

As you play PvP matches, you will earn PvP experience which in turn increases your PvP level. For each level you gain, you obtain 1 point to allocate to upgrading your PvP abilities; each upgrade costing 4 points (i.e. every 4 PvP levels you get to choose another upgrade). Your upgrade path will largely depend on which game mode you’re playing (Feast or Frontlines) as well as on personal preference somewhat. This section will outline some of the better choices for those upgrades. I will outline the fundamental upgrades that are almost no brainers first. By the time you reach about level 24 though it starts to enter preferential/gametype specific choices.

Note: due to the competitive nature of 4v4 Feast, I do not recommend entering that game mode before PvP level 24. It would be wise to stick to the 8v8 format or Frontline matches both so that you gain more practice and so that your abilities won’t be too gimped when you jump into the fire. Not to say that 4v4 is impossible at previous levels, but it can be incredibly difficult if you are matched against strong opponents and you do not have some of your vital abilities at full strength.

The Most Fundamental Upgrades (Levels 1 – 19)

Level 4 – Purify (Slot 1) It should be pretty obvious that your first upgrade will go towards the most important PvP ability in the game. This should be your first choice, no ifs/ands/ors/buts about it.
Level 8 – Attunement (Slot 1) Being able to turn yourself (near) invincible for 10 seconds is really nice. It’s even better when you can do it more often.
Level 12 – Sacred Prism (Slot 1) Sacred Prism is arguably your strongest ability as it grants anyone in your party the ability to reduce incoming physical damage by 40% by stepping inside it. It’s important to have this up as often as possible.
Level 16 – Sacred Prism (Slot 2) Sacred Prism = good. Sacred Prism that lasts even longer = very good.

Feast Upgrade Path (Levels 20-50)

Level 20 – Mana Draw (Slot 1) Without MP, you cannot heal. Thus, managing your MP in the Feast is one of the greatest challenges WHMs will deal with, especially if the enemy leaves you alive to slowly drain your MP (this is an actual strategy that works; casting cures for 6-7 minutes without dying can leave even the best WHMs completely empty on MP making further kills incredibly easy). As such, upgrading Mana Draw as quickly and early as possible is vital to your success.
Level 24 – Mana Draw (Slot 2) See above point. You can really do these upgrades in either order.

Important Note: In 4v4 matches you may or may not be matched against a caster. If not, Focalization is useless outside of dispel fodder. For this reason, it is recommended that you leave some points unallocated before entering your match (you don’t want points in Focalization if they don’t have a caster). You can then allocate the points once you’ve entered depending on whether the enemy has a caster or not. The upgrades prior to this note all take precedence over Focalization though. While the previous upgrades are very set in stone for how important they are, at this point it begins to come down to preferences.

Feast Upgrade Path (No Caster on Enemy team)

Level 28 – Equanimity (Slot 1) This ability is great when you’re being focused by enemy DPS as it will allow you to cast much easier. Having it on a shorter CD means you’re more likely to have it up when you need it.
Level 32 – Equanimity (Slot 2) Increases the duration of Equanimity by 5 seconds which is nice, but you typically won't be focused that long (will either be dead or they’ll switch targets).

At this point there isn’t anything all that worth talking about… Focalization isn’t useful in this scenario and Aetheric Burst is downright awful no matter how much you upgrade it (only increases GCD by ~0.02 sec) so don’t put your points into those. You can upgrade Divine Breath if you feel like it (but I generally don’t recommend with the first upgrade), other than that you can more or less throw them into upgrading VIT or MND by a small amount and/or grabbing a few small upgrades for some other skills.

Feast Upgrade Path (Caster on Enemy team)

Level 28 – Focalization (Slot 3) – Boosts magic damage reduction to 25%) This really helps to pump up your ability to negate casters.
Level 32 – Equanimity (Slot 1)
Level 36 – Equanimity (Slot 2)

Fill in the last 3 however you want. Focalization 1 & 2 are kind of meh simply because Focalization is already the same CD/Duration as Raging Strikes (BLM/SMN burst CD) but there aren’t any other super necessary options either. VIT upgrades are an option if you’d like a higher HP buffer.

Frontline Upgrade Path (Levels 20-50)

Frontline upgrades are more ambiguous than Feast upgrades. You’re up against a much wider variety of opponents as well as having a wider variety of teammates to heal and take care of. The only recommendation I would make is that Mana Draw is generally not as useful in Frontlines since you’ll generally have down time between fights that will allow you to quickly recover all of your MP. Between Shroud of Saints and your base Mana Draw you shouldn’t run into any MP problems. That being the case, upgrade whatever floats your boat after the “core” (level 1-19) upgrades listed above.

Feel free to sub any 3 of these out for VIT upgrades

  • Level 20 – Equanimity (Slot 1).
  • Level 24 – Focalization (Slot 3).
  • Level 28 – Divine Breath (Slot 2).
  • Level 32 – Divine Breath (Slot 1).
  • Level 36 – Focalization (Slot 2).
  • Level 40 – Focalization (Slot 1).
  • Level 44 – Sacred Prism (Slot 3).
  • Level 48 – Equanimity (Slot 2).

Playing WHM at a Basic Level

When trying to boil down how to play WHM, there are a lot of intricacies we could discuss, but in this section, I’ll try to give you a basic idea of how to go about playing the class. There are 3 main pillars upon which the job depends: Being proactive, Being able to react, and Managing your tools efficiently. Using all 3 effectively is the trademark of a good WHM.

THE FIRST PILLAR: Being Proactive

Being proactive means controlling things in a situation before said situation arises. In other words, being able to see the big picture; being able to think ahead; predicting things before they happen. Some examples of being proactive:

  • Having Regen/Medica II applied to party members BEFORE they start being bursted.
  • Placing Sacred Prism when you’re expecting an incoming enemy burst.
  • Using your enfeebles (such as Repose/Blizzard II/Virus/Fluid Aura) to effectively stop or reduce burst before it starts.
  • Knowing ahead of time when to pick up medals or when you can safely let someone die without giving up the lead.
  • Being able to keep track of when enemy buffs are ready.
  • Positioning yourself such that it is difficult for enemies to attack or enfeeble you but easy for you to heal your teammates.
  • Letting your team know your situation, e.g. if you’re low on mana, if your Purify is down and you’re going to need one soon, telling them to start retreating to base if you think you are about to die in the next ~10 seconds (Feast) or if there are enemies incoming (Frontlines), etc.

THE SECOND PILLAR: Reacting

As the title suggests, the second pillar means being able to react quickly, and correctly, to new situations as they arise. These are the split second decisions that every WHM will have to make. Some examples include:

  • Knowing when to purify yourself/someone else.
  • Being able to quickly gauge what abilities you have at your disposal to counter enemy bursts you might not have predicted.
  • Knowing when to Limit Break.
  • Knowing when to raise someone.
  • Knowing when to run away/abandon a teammate that is being foolish and when to stay and fight. Remember that sometimes you may have to let one teammate die in order to make sure other teammates survive (yourself included).

Most of these things, and others, generally come from lots of experience. Just about every single game you will probably use an ability or spell that in hind-sight you shouldn’t have. By continually recognizing and analyzing how and why you made these mistakes, you will get better at being able to quickly choose the correct option as you keep playing.

THE THIRD PILLAR: Managing Your Tools

As a White Mage, you only have so many abilities/mana/time/heals/etc. at your disposal. Being able to distribute them properly is key to lasting out the duration of the fight.

How to Not Die

As a healer, you will often be the first or prime target that enemies attack. If you’re playing in the Feast (or possibly in Frontlines) you probably won’t have anyone else to cure you either (besides the occasional PLD Clemency). As a result, it is imperative that any good WHM knows how to deal with being focused by the enemy team. When discussing how to stay alive, there are several things you need to consider up front; what jobs you're being attacked by, what tools they have access too, how certain people like to burst, etc. There are a thousand different intricacies we could go into here but I will try to stick to more general tips.

There are two main ways to deal with being focused: kiting it, or tanking it. Kiting being basically running away from your attackers, tanking being just taking the damage and healing through it. Each has advantages depending on which tools you have available. Kiting typically requires Sprint as well as more oGCD heals (as you need to be able to run and cast) so you'd ideally want a Swiftcast or Tetra ready. Tanking requires more healing output but synergizes well with your bubble spells and Divine Seal. You need to be able to use both to effectively survive, sometimes in the same burst window (e.g. start by kiting and then end up having to throw down a bubble and tank). So without further ado, let’s talk about HOW TO NOT DIE. I'll split it up into 2 phases; the preburst (preparation) and the actual burst phase (where they're attacking you).

PHASE 1 : PREPARATION

First and foremost tip: position yourself such that you are not an easy target. What this means is, stay close to walls, and stay spread away from the current target they're attacking. Walls are important because they are incredibly hard for a melee/tank to hit you when you kite around the edges AND they serve as a way to LoS their ranged attacker. Secondly, it’s important that you stay away from other targets to make it difficult for them to switch to you (and it also reduces AoE splash damage you/teammates might be receiving). You've probably had it happen to you where one teammate is taking a ton of damage and you're sitting there spamming Cure II and the next thing you know the whole enemy team has switched to you and before you can react you're dead. This is how you avoid that. Staying spread out gives you time to react as you have 2-3 seconds as you watch the melee/tank/ranged all have to stop attacking their current target and find you. This gives you precious time to start preparing (setting up bubble/regen/get to a better position to kite). Obviously being positioned in a good place isn't always going to be possible when you have teammates chasing/losing you but it’s important to keep in mind.

Next, you want to be aware both of WHEN their burst is ready, AND who they're going to burst. In this case if we assume it's you (the healer) you should ideally already have regens rolling on yourself and your teammates BEFORE the burst starts. Generally, you cannot afford to waste a GCD reapplying regen in the middle of the burst so it’s really important you have this on at the start. Depending on how you plan on dealing with the burst (either tanking it or kiting it) this is also the time to throw down a bubble. If you see the Melee/physical ranged DPS popping all their buffs put down Sacred if you have it or try to throw a Virus on them. If they aren't popping as many buffs and you want to tank it, put down Asylum. But what's important here is that you put these things up (regens/bubbles/Virus/etc.) BEFORE the burst starts. If you're planning to kite, make sure you're near a wall/pillar to kite around.

PHASE 2 : OH GOD IT'S HAPPENING

At this point we assume they have caught up with you and are now attacking you.

Fluid Aura is your bread and butter "GET OFF ME!" button. If you have Melee/Tank focusing you, just using this on one of them relieves sooo much pressure. You typically want to use this on the melee (as they will usually be dishing out more burst) but sometimes you might want to pop it on the tank (if it’s a PLD that is getting ready to stun lock or a WAR in Berserk). Either way, don't spend too much time trying to tab target which one, its important just that you use it ASAP when you see them coming at you. One caveat though, Melee can avoid this if they pop fetterward and will make this useless, Tanks can actually give you a stun debuff if you fluid aura them while they have Pushback up. Try to take a quick second to see if they have those buffs up before you push them but in SoloQ this won't be too often with a lot of the players you encounter... if you want to be safe, most Tanks almost never pop Pushback for this (but if you're a tank reading this, this is a really good way to fuck up a WHM!) so you can just use it on them.

Tips for Tanking:

  • Spam spam spam that Cure II button. It is a lot easier to get interrupted when you are being focused (stuns/silences/crits). One mistake a lot of healers will make is their spell will get interrupted and they'll sit there stupefied and it will take them an extra 1-2 seconds to start casting again. YOU DON'T WANT TO BE THAT HEALER! Spam that Cure II button! That way if you get interrupted you'll start casting again as fast as possible.
    You know what goes good with Cure II spam? Divine Seal! It's got a low low 60 second recast so you can pop that bad boy all of the day in Feast! You will need those strong Cure IIs to stay alive so if you decide to tank it out, you'll want to pop this if you have it up.
  • Equanimity - Absolutely amazing for tanking, it makes it so that hits/crits won't interrupt your spells. Silence/stun/knockback still applies though. Next to DS this is one of your essential "tanking" abilities.
  • Presence of Mind - This ability has a lot of uses in other areas but it's also great when you're being focused for obvious reasons. Faster spells are harder to interrupt and it will help your heals 'catch up' to the damage you're receiving.
  • Asylum - If you have a Medica II, Regen, and this all rolling on you that's a LOT of regen (almost as much as a Cure 1 every tic) making this a great option when you need to plant your feet somewhere. While you should be using this ability relatively often (it has a low recast time) Asylum on its own is generally not enough and will be need to be used with other abilities to heal through a strong burst.
  • Sacred Prism - your ultimate ability. This along with some Cure II spam should be enough to survive any burst. Watch out for people who try to push you out of it though.
  • Attunement - the ultimate tank ability. DON'T BE AFRAID TO USE IT! You'll definitely want a regen on yourself before you pop this so you can recover HP while you're invulnerable. You will also typically want to cancel it early if you see the dps have left you to start focusing someone else.

Tips for Kiting:

  • When kiting, walls and pillars are your best friend. When you round the corners on walls/pillars it will screw up enemy DPS' GCDs due to the net code, giving you an extra ~0.5-1 second to start a cast. Depending on the situation you might want to round the corner and stop to pop off a Cure II and then keep running. Or if you don't feel like that's a good idea just keep running and keep your regen up.
  • One thing not to do: don't just cast regen on yourself over and over again when it's not about to wear off. Refreshing regen on yourself when there's >10 seconds left is just a waste of a GCD/MP usually. If you really don't have any other abilities up and don't want to stop moving, cast the regen on a teammate instead (they might need it if you're about to go down).
  • Sprint - this is your biggest tool obviously. Gives you a big movement buff allowing you to outpace other DPS chasing you (unless they pop sprint as well). Be aware that Tanks can strip this off with Weapon Throw (which will also heavy you). This doesn't cost you anything and can be used every 30 seconds. Using sprint at the right (or wrong) time can often make the difference.
  • Blizzard 2 - If you've ever played a melee/tank you'll know how frustrating being bound is. This spell is great because it has a longer bind than Fluid Aura and it’s an AoE around you, perfect for stopping would-be harassers. Try not to cast it if their melee has fetterward up as it will not affect them. Typically, you will see a healer round a corner, start casting this, and as the melee/tank catch up the spell will finish - binding them and giving the healer lots of time to run away.
  • Swiftcast - lets your next spell be instant cast. Extremely valuable when kiting as you won't have to stop moving to cast a spell. (Warning: if you use regen while this is up, the regen will consume the swiftcast even though regen already has no cast time).
  • Tetragammatron/Benediction/Assize - your oGCD cures, i.e. the ones you can use while running around. They're strong, but precious. Use them wisely (but don't be afraid to use them).
  • Surecast - basically a single-time version of Equanimity, allows your next spell to not be interrupted by damage taken/crits. This is used a lot in kiting when you have to stop and cast a spell (whether it’s a Cure II or Bliz 2 or whatever). Typical procedure is to use it while running, round the corner, and then start your cast with a bit of extra insurance on it.

In Conclusion

Don't die.

Appendix

Players to Watch

One of the best ways to improve/learn how to play is to watch how some of the best White Mages are already doing it. You’ll find here a few links for streamers/youtube videos where you can watch high level White Mage gameplay.

Ava Jinsoku/Aviars Lightsworn - https://www.twitch.tv/avarence
Uncle Acid - https://www.twitch.tv/uncleacidyaknow
Stefan - https://www.twitch.tv/stefan_delumiere
Tiramisu Macaron - https://www.twitch.tv/tiramisumacaron

I tend to post my 4v4 LP matches on my youtube channel. You can find the playlist here. I also occasionally stream at: https://www.twitch.tv/bartleby704

Spell Speed Breakpoints

Spell Speed breakpoints: At certain spell speed levels, you will gain an additional 0.01 second less cast time. Any spell speed between these breakpoints will not affect your cast time. This is important because sometimes it means you can sacrifice some spell speed for another stat (det/crit/pie) without losing any cast time benefits.

Spell Speed Cast Time
600 2.40
627 2.39
653 2.38
679 2.37
705 2.36
732 2.35

Contact the Author

If you have questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, etc. regarding this guide, you can contact me at bartleby704@gmail.com, @Barastos on Twitter, @Bartleby on the Team Tryhard discord channel, or in-game on the Excalibur server as Bartleby Adrastos.

Versions

1.0 (02/06/17) - Initial release.