Written by Whistler 12th July 2015
One of the best aspects of Square Enix’s MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV is the freedom to play whatever role you wish coupled with the ability to swap out jobs (FFXIV’s terminology for classes) without the hassle of rerolling a new character.
This great mechanic keeps things fresh for the player while also creating a dynamic job ecosystem with plenty of variety. That being said though you know that the second the Heavensward expansion dropped, everyone and their chocobo was queuing up as one of the three new jobs.
Adding to the job selection are the two hand sword wielding Dark Knight, the gun toting Machinist and the top decking Astrologian each fitting into one of the roles: tank, dps and healer respectively.
Lore wise the Astrologian is a seeker of knowledge who by reading the stars can foretell their destiny and shape their fate, in-
However I must say as a White Mage main the Astrologian felt drastically underwhelming at first glance, now starting out at level 30 you have access to the typical healer set up with a bunch of White Mage spells like Benefic, Helios and Exalted Detriment (the equivalent to WHM’s Cure, Medica and Esuna) and Scholar offensive spells such as Malefic and Combust. A problem that Astrologian suffers from is their early lower healing effectiveness and arguably the higher mp cost for these spells. Before hitting the previous level cap of 50 (being raised to 60 in Heavensward) the Astrologian gets almost completely out performed by the other two healing jobs both in terms of reliability, healing potency and utility.
Early on I just constantly felt like I needed to put in far more effort as a Astrologian to output the same effectiveness I did as a White Mage even when considering that the White Mage is the pure healer archetype.
Now that being said while I feel the Astrologian’s early game needs a slight buff to put it on par the others, the job does have access to some nifty abilities and stances. While you don’t have access to both immediately the job has two stances called Diurnal Sect and Nocturnal Sect that enable either a 5% attack speed or healing buff. Both Sects also grant a regen (Diurnal) or a magic barrier (Nocturnal) effect to the spells Aspected Benefic and Aspected Helios respectively. These stances can’t be activated during combat nor simultaneously meaning you will need to plan ahead of fights for what will best serve your party. Whilst this sounds rather limiting it gives the Astrologian great versatility within the typical late game 8 man parties and some amazing synergy with your fellow healers. Should your team already have a White Mage then locking in Nocturnal stance allows you give an extra barrier or if they have a Scholar then you can change to Diurnal Sect to give regenerative healing while you focus on doubling up as a dps.
The Astrologian towards late game fits in as a jack of all trades healer, not quite mastering the healing potential of White Mage nor the utility prowess of Scholar. To aid this however as mentioned they have access to a unique card mechanic, utilizing their divining deck the Astrologian can draw a random card every 30 seconds and apply the drawn card’s buff on themselves or a party member.
While at first as an Astrologian you will find yourself at the mercy of fate due to the random nature and the chance of drawing the card you’re aiming for out of the six cards Balance, Bole, Arrow, Spear, Ewer and Spire. Later you do however gain the ability to further control the mechanic with Shuffle, allowing you to switch out an unfavourable draw along with sacrificing a draw to buff the next or holding it for later.
It’s these combined abilities that a master Astrologian will need to perfect in order to truly optimize the mechanic; the sacrifice ability Royal Road can allow your next card buff to cast on the whole team, double the potency or even double the duration enabling you to potential make the party’s tank near indestructible or turn the dps in overdrive.
I personally don’t see Astrologian removing White Mage from the apex of healing. However, whenever I felt the urge to switch back there were some great moments where the cards lined up in my favour both figuratively and literally that made the Astrologian shine.
They have some crazy potential and while everyone’s still getting to grips with where the Astrologian’s toolkit fits in with the ‘meta’ their Diving Deck mechanic is their saving grace in turning what is considered the dullest role into a fast paced versatile playstyle. The Astrologian might not be the ace of spades, but should you master your fold then you might just hit jackpot with this new healer.