Multi-classing in Final Fantasy XIV is a lot more wide-open than I had initially expected. Having a sub-job is one thing, but being able to pick and choose between most of the abilities of all of your disciplines is something else entirely. I don’t expect to have the time to sink into mastering all the disciplines that have skills that are beneficial to playing as a Gladiator, I hope to be able to get up to level 10 or so in a handful of them before too terribly long. You can only stack up so many “action points” worth of skills at any one time, so that should help me pace myself a bit.
At 1st level you’ve only got 6 action points, but frankly I don’t anticipate spending a lot of time down there. At 4th level I’ll have 6 AC worth of Gladiator skills, Red Lotus and Rampart, but will have 9 action points available to me. Clearly the designers want me to spread my wings a little and dabble elsewhere. What should I go for first?
Some thoughts on picking & choosing skills follow.
Concussive Blow is available at 2nd level Pugilist, and reduces the target’s accuracy. This sounds good for a little extra survivability, which translates into less time resting and more time stabbing stuff with my wee little sword. I mentioned I’m playing a Lalafell, right?
At 6th level I’ll be up to 12 action points, and will have access to a lovely little Gladiator skill called Circle Slash, an area-of-effect melee attack that costs 1000TP to set off, and is frequently well worth it. Once I have this I’ll be tempted to spend a little quality time as a Conjurer to get Cure at level 4, then drop Red Lotus as an attack. I’ll probably have a shield at this point, so I may dip into Thaumaturge to pick up Sacrifice instead. Both take up two action points and use magic points to recover hit points. I’ll be using 11 of 12 action points at that point.
At 8th level I pick up the Phalanx skill, which makes very efficient use of the shield, costing only 250TP to deal damage on-par with the Circle Strike, but only after blocking or partially-blocking an enemy’s attack. This isn’t an area-of-effect attack, and requires something to attack me first, so I leave Circle Strike in the mix. At this point I have 14 action points available and every one of them tied up.
At 10th level the Gladiator gets Provoke and is finally in a state that I consider useful to a group of adventurers looking for trouble. By provoking a target, the Gladiator can draw attacks onto him, sparing his teammates. By use of a shield, he mitigates damage taken to himself and deals damage more efficiently through the Phalanx skill. At this level there should be 16 action points available, and the action bar looks something like:
1. Light Slash
2. Light Stab
3. Circle Slash (3ap)
4. Phalanx (3ap)
5. Guard (3ap)
6. Provoke (3ap)
0. Cure (2ap)
Notice that I had to forgo my neat little Pugilist ability from earlier. I can put that back into the mix at level 11, or dabble some more, putting my Gladiator skills to use cross-training in other disciplines.
Other skills to pick up as I go up into the double-digit levels would include:
a 4th level Lancer skill that boosts power on the next attack. I assume anybody looking to do high damage will want to dip into Lancer for this.
a 4th level Archer skill that boosts power on the next attack. I haven’t played with it, but I’m hoping it stacks with Ferocity.
in addition to having a very menacing name, this 6th level Marauder skill converts a portion of your next successful attack’s damage into healing for yourself. This sounds like an excellent thing to use right before a TP-consuming attack like Circle Slash. Oh yes it does.
a 6th level Pugilist ability that expends 250TP for a self-healing effect. Very Nice.
a 6th level Conjurer ability that reduces damage taken. I don’t like taking damage, so reduced damage sounds like a good deal. I rather don’t expect to have a lot of room for this.
an 8th level Conjurer ability that damages and slows an enemy that hits you. Considering the availability of Provoke, I expect to get hit with some frequency.
a 10th level Marauder ability that improves defenses at the expense of attack strength. While using Defender you cause more enmity when you attack, making it complimentary to Provoke and Taunt.
a 10th level Lancer ability that lets you recover your Stamina bar more quickly. I’ve never had a problem with stamina-depletion as a Gladiator, but Speed Surge lets allies recover hit points. I hope lots of people pick this one up.
a 10th level Pugilist ability that draws the attention of the target. This sounds like an excellent thing for a Gladiator to do between Provokes.
a 14th level Marauder ability that is like Phalanx for parries; if you parry an attack, you can attempt to Fracture. More opportunities to make something pay for attacking me.
a 14th level Pugilist ability that is like Phalanx for evasion; if you evade an attack, you can attempt a Jarring Strike. With Fracture and Phalanx, if you can keep a target’s hate on you, you can punish it for most attacks it makes on you.
a 16th level Conjurer ability that I fully expect any Conjurer I team up with to cast on me once I’m around that level. I don’t expect to use this spell so much as to have it used on me.
As with Protect, a 16th level spell that makes you want to have a Conjurer around.
Which skills I currently have selected will change my capabilities and play experience as I cannot expect to budget for all of them in action bar as I go along.
From the open beta I can report that having skills available from a variety of discipline can really help out, particularly when you’re running around with a weapon type you aren’t very familiar with. For my first few levels of Lancer I had a Marauder skill and a Gladiator skill equipped at all times just to spice up combat a bit. I fully expect to switch around between a sword-and-board Gladiator, a two-fisted Pugilist, and a bloodthirsty-lumberjack Marauder with some frequency, as their skill seem to work and play well with each other.
The magic disciplines will probably go unattended, with the exception of a brief and self-serving foray to get a curative spell. I rather doubt I’ll go back for the second wave of palliative magic around level 20 because by then I hope to be in the regular company of proficient teammates. You just never know, of course. I expect to have enough cross-discipline skills vying for my action points to keep me busy and slow down my rise through the ranks considerably.