Comprehensive FFXIV Scholar's Guide to Dungeoneering

I have mained Scholar since the beginning of 2.0 (Arcanist was my first class at the launch of 2.0 and I took it straight to 50 choosing Scholar at level 30). Recently, I decided to level up a Paladin to level 60 in order to take advantage of that sweet, sweet Roulette role bonus for tanks. For the most part, the Scholars I've run with have a decent understanding of their role as Scholar and we get through the dungeon with no major problems. However, I've also run into a surprisingly large number of Scholars (in expert dungeons, no less) who don't seem to understand the finer points of what it means to be a Scholar.

There is an important distinction to call to mind when one thinks of a Scholar in comparison to the other healers. A Scholar does not merely "heal." A White Mage "heals." A Scholar, however, "mitigates." When reading this guide, try to keep in mind the idea that a Scholar's priority is not healing. The Scholar's priority, based on the job specific spells and skills in his or her arsenal, is to mitigate damage by any means necessary. By any means necessary I mean that, yes, you should be switching in and out of Cleric Stance throughout a dungeon.

"But I'm not a DPS! I'm a healer," you might be screaming at your screen at this moment. You would be correct, purely from an argument of how roles work, but what the Scholar has to work with according to his or her job specific skills and spells discredits that position. What I see happening sometimes with Scholars is that after a tank pulls, they will simply have Eos on "Sic" and spam "Physick" on the tank anytime he takes damage. No galvanizes to see. This is a basic "healer" response that Scholars should overcome if they desire to play their Job to the fullest of its potential. Why? Because you have a fairy to help you. Eos or Selene will not begin casting Embrace until a member of your party falls under 80% of their max HP. When you see damage start to go out, do not panic. Monitor the rate by which it is dropping, wait for your fairy's heals to kick in, and supplement as needed.

I have Cleric Stance as my -first- cross class skill. Not Protect. Why? Because in the first few dungeons after level 15, you don't need it. Why? Because in a level 15 dungeon, the Scholar is not the healer. Eos is. If the tank demands Protect, remind them that Eos is the main healer and that you're just there to spam Ruin on anything that moves. If they still persist, place Eos right in their face and have her spam Embrace on them. Proceed to blankly stare at them until they become uncomfortable and finally give up. (Becoming a Lalafell will speed up this process.) They may be miffed at first, but as the dungeon speeds right on past with the aids of Embraces and AoE Regens from Whispering Dawn, everyone will forget why they wanted Protect in the first place. Eos doesn't need your help healing in Sastasha. Stay in Cleric Stance and give that pirate a bad case of influenza and Ruin him into oblivion. Scholar is all about being the most efficient at mitigating damage. In this case, murdering everything as quickly as possible is the most efficient use of your time in low level dungeons. When the dungeon finishes, bask in the glory of all the free commendations your fairy earned for you. Then laugh at her. Then Dissipate her when you get out of the dungeon to remind her who's in charge. (You are. You're in charge.)

With those preliminary comments out of the way, I will describe how a basic pull goes for me as a Scholar in level 60 dungeons. When the duty begins, of course apply Protect to the party and at least Stoneskin on the tank. Summon Selene. The Spell/Skill Speed boost she grants is more favorable to the raw healing power of Eos, which you won't need if you do your job properly. Before -every- pull, make sure -both- Stoneskin and Galvanize (Adloquium) are on your tank. If your tank runs away from you, at least always get Galvanize on. This will give you and your fairy the buffer you need to get your opening DoTs out on all the mobs. As the tank pulls, switch to Cleric Stance and then watch to see if he pulls more than one pack. If the tank pulls more than 1 pack of mobs, throw out Eye for an Eye on the tank. As soon as he has established hate and positions the mob, cast Shadow Flare. (If a Summoner is in the party, hopefully they will cast it, but do not assume this. You are the Scholar. You control the battlefield. If they do throw down Shadow Flare before you, throw down Sacred Soil instead for even more mitigation.)

Shadow Flare serves two purposes here. It both damages every mob, but more importantly, it also casts Slow on each mob, therefore, mitigating damage your tank would be receiving. After Shadow Flare, begin casting your DoTs in preparation for Bane. I cast them as follows: Bio II, Miasma I, Bio I. As soon as Bio I applies to your target mob, spread it to the other mobs using Bane. After Bane, pass through the mobs and cast Miasma II. If at any time you feel that your fairy is struggling to keep your tank up during your opening DPS, feel free to use Rouse to give your fairy the boost she needs until you finish your damage dealing. Also consider using Virus on one of the harder hitting mobs, if necessary. If Shadow Flare drops and you do not have time to reapply it and you have an extra Aetherflow stack, throw down Sacred Soil to give you some breathing room. After the opener, you now have a few options to pursue. If your tank is just getting murdered (hopefully he or she is not simply sitting on their defensive cooldowns...), drop out of Cleric Stance, Lustrate (if necessary), and cast Adloquium to reapply Galvanize. If a melee DPS got hit by an AoE, don't panic. Cast Lustrate on them if you think they are in immediate danger of dying, otherwise, Selene will top them off when it is safe to do so.

Now that your tank is topped off and has Galvanize on again, survey the battlefield and decide your next course of action. Never just sit there on Aetherflow stacks and MP. Always be casting! If there are still 2 or more mobs on the battlefield with more than 50% HP, you should reapply all your DoTs and Bane again. Once the pack gets down to 3 or less mobs, it's typically safe to let your Fairy heal the rest and remain in Cleric Stance. This is a good opportunity to speed up the fight by casting Broil and Energy Drain to finish off the remaining mobs. Throw in Aero if you so choose for even more DoT damage. Before the last mob gets to around 10%, however, drop out of Cleric Stance and time your Stoneskin cast to hit your tank as the mob is dying. Immediately cast Adloquium for Galvanize after Stoneskin. Selene should top the tank off and, voila, you are ready for your next pull before the next one begins. Check your Aetherflow stacks, Eye for an Eye, Virus, and Rouse, then switch to Cleric Stance and repeat the previous steps. As a side note, NEVER WASTE A CRITICAL ADLOQUIUM! You've basically just become an Astrologian and manipulated the space/time continuum to grant you more time to DPS. Get back in Cleric Stance and get those DoTs out and Broil, Broil, Broil!

Now, when it comes to bosses, not much changes. Before the boss pull, you want to go ahead and cast Adloquium and Eye for an Eye on the tank and use Deployment Tactics. This will give you the necessary buffer on your whole party to execute all of your DoTs (Aero included) and perhaps a Broil before you have to Galvanize again. Remember to monitor your Virus, Eye for an Eye, and Rouse and use each as appropriate. Rotating their use will buy you more time to DPS. For boss fights, you'll mostly be saving Aetherflow stacks to throw out quick Lustrates and Indomitability. After an Indomitability, throw out Succor on the party and get back to DPSing. Reapply DoTs as applicable and throw out Broil. If Aetherflow is coming off cooldown and you still have stacks, burn them on Energy Drain in Cleric Stance to gain even more damage. If, at any time, you see the glorious "Hallowed Ground" icon next to your Paladin's name, stop everything you are doing and do your best Summoner cosplay while unleashing Viral Fury upon the poor mob who simply assumed you were but a spoony healer. Get an Adloquium out on the tank before he or she comes out of Hallowed Ground just to confuse them so that they still take no damage after Hallowed Ground has ended.

After the final boss dies, type /mdance, validate any compliments you receive, and wait until everyone else leaves before leaving (for all those sweet, sweet fake internet points called commendations). In all seriousness, if everything goes well, you can save upwards of 15 minutes or more on your dungeon roulettes and when it comes to MMORPG's, time saved is a precious commodity you and your party can spend doing more content. Dungeon Roulettes are something we have to do every day. At least make them more fun for yourself and your party by speeding it up a bit. It also makes running content more interesting as you are constantly juggling between dealing damage and keeping the party topped of. In the end, it's just a really satisfying way to play Scholar while running dungeons.

tl:dr - Scholars are not merely "healers." A Scholar's top priority is to mitigate damage by any means necessary whether it be by dealing damage to mobs, applying buffs/debuffs, or applying shields to your party.

Fellow veteran Scholars, feel free to submit your own critiques or observations in the comments so that we can all learn how to better play this class that we all love so much as well as help the next generation of Scholars understand the fullness of their potential.

Carry on Royal Nymian Marines! "Be Hell or High Waters!"