Ask @LaylaFFXIV:

I dunno if you still check this but... I have a couple "friends" who tell me that I must play a certain race and clan to get the most out of my class and that I'm not good if I don't do that. Is that a true thing or are they just trying to make me play a race they like?

I don't check it as much as I should.
Race matters very little in Stormblood. The stat differences between races are very small when compared to the benefits you gain from gear now that ilevels are high.
In realm reborn, race mattered. In heavensward, it helped early on. In stormblood, you won't notice.

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Hey Layla, my statics MT Pally keeps going Sword Oath during our DPS burst, losing hate to our MNK, DRG or MCH and wiping us to simple mechanics in fights we should be clearing. He has also started losing it to our WAR and refuses to switch. Do you have any tips on what we should do?

It sounds like you're not running a Ninja. He needs to accept that without a NIN he's going to need to do extra Halones and sit Shield Oath a little longer. Tanks are there to support the DPS - not the other way around. If he can't accept that, he won't go very far.
Harsh maybe, but it's reality.

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Can you link any good warrior guides that go into great detail about the job? Or can you maybe provide some tips about playing war?

Ty
I'm actually going to plug @XenosysVex and @ANGERED_FFXIV here
Xeno's warrior guide(s): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUXck-0vh5k
good overview of the deliverance-heavy playstyle of heavensward warrior
ANGERED's warrior guide: http://angered.guildwork.com/forum/threads/57d9fbb4002aa82966cf699d-heavensward-warrior-guide-by-evi-quarion
comprehensive guide of heavensward warrior, fracture math is a little wonky as it should compare rotations from berserk end to berserk start but it's a good guide

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do you have any advice about dealing with the feeling that your group might be plateauing? we've had creator on farm for several weeks, and we've moved on to speedkills, and i have concerns that some (not all) members aren't interested in improving further than where they are right now

My advice? Don't force players. Not everyone enjoys speedkilling (especially in AST meta) - don't let it destroy a group. In my experiences, interest is not something that's going to spawn out of practice. It either exists or it doesn't.
Side note: there are other ways to further group synergy and unity... Sometimes it's even accomplished by playing other games together. In our (now-deceased) team Updog, we played more D3/BnS together than we did XIV during farm. It's important that people enjoy what they're doing or they're most likely not going to perform well.

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Do you think tank DPS is important in FFXIV?

Of course it is. Anything that pushes a boss' HP bar closer to zero is important. Concern yourself more with the question of what should you be willing to sacrifice for higher tank DPS.
Higher tank DPS at the cost of mitigation is a balancing act that varies from team to team and goal to goal. My personal tanking philosophy is to never do something that stresses my healers unless I have made them aware beforehand. Ask yourself what the costs and benefits of higher tank DPS in a given situation are and then open up a line of communication with your team about it.

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If you have a DRK and WAR as your tanks, is it generally more optimal for the DRK to pull or for the WAR to pull? It probably varies from fight to fight, but I'm wondering which is "better" for overall group optimization in terms of DPS and hate-generation.

emi
WAR pulling is ideal for not only DPS but overall threat generation. BB is unrivaled in this aspect and taking advantage of its ridiculous threat whenever you can is ideal. A DRK provoking off of a WAR is a much larger threat gain than a WAR provoking off of a DRK. This gives DRKs a large enough threat lead to remain stable against high threat generating jobs and require fewer (if any) Grit Power Slashes.
Threat is a resource. WAR's unchained opener is a boon for the party that lasts for the remainder of uptime.

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