Summoner: A Breakdown of the Class and Rotation
1. What is a Summoner (SMN)?
The short answer? A DPS that is quite fulfilling to play if you love using damage over time (DoTs) spells. The long answer? One of the harder to grasp classes due to DoTs and pet management playing a huge role in it. Learning how to understand this class is sometimes very hard or very easy for people. It is a very fulfilling role to take on if you want to have a class that almost always has something to do, whether it is DoT management, debuffing/buffing for your team, or even taking on the healer role of reviving someone or healing, if this is ever necessary.
Summoner is also unique in the fact that it is one of two jobs you can play. The base class for summoner is arcanist. Once you reach thirty, you have two choices: go scholar or summoner. Scholar requires conjurer to level fifteen. Summoner requires thaumaturge to level fifteen. Of course, if you're reading this, you likely chose summoner. Once you become a summoner, your quests are now located in Old Gridania instead of Limsa Lominsa.
As you might have noticed if you do unlock scholar at any point in time, you share attribute points with summoner. These are extra points you get (a max of thirty) that you can put into any stat. As a summoner, you want to put all thirty into intelligence. As a scholar, you put all thirty in mind. These go with your base class and do not change between jobs, so choose which one you wish to main. Personally, my summoner has twenty-five in intelligence and five in vitality to make it a little more sturdy.
A summoner gets a total of three pets (with Leviathan, Ramuh, and, as hinted, Shiva coming soon): Ifrit, Titan, and Garuda. Ifrit is the first pet you unlock and is a melee DPS. Titan takes the spot of your Topaz Carbuncle that you get at level 15 arcanist and is a tank. Garuda takes the spot of your Emerald Carbuncle and is a magic burst DPS.
2. Stats and Gear
Logically, you are aiming to stat Intelligence as a Summoner. There is no reason to stack anything else as one. Typically, for a Summoner, the Mythology/Soldiery tomestone pieces are, arguably, best in slot. What you want to focus on as a Summoner is Critical Hit Rate and Determination. Spell Speed is something a black mage strives for, and something you can typically ignore.
Gear wise, you're going to want to focus on Accuracy until you hit 450. This is the accuracy cap for Turn 5 (one of the endgame contents). For the latest extension to coil, the cap is 495, but you don't have to worry about that until you get there.
Food does not affect your pet's accuracy, and Summoners are special in a way that our pet has an accuracy cap as well, which is why our cap is higher than the black mage's, despite both being casters. For food, you generally want things such as Black Truffle Risotto, which is +crit, +det, and +vit.
A Summoner can be built in a few ways. I have a Best In Slot that's aimed for stacking crit. I use http://ffxiv.ariyala.com/ to determine gear stats and what I'm going to focus on. It's extremely helpful and I highly recommend it to anyone who isn't sure how to start their gearing.
3. Abilities & Cross Class Skills
As a Summoner, you have two roles. You are a Support DPS, meaning you can aid your team as well as supply high DPS. Getting skills such as Virus, Eye For an Eye, and Resurrection prove that much. For cross class skills, you're going to want archer and thaumaturge as two classes. Archer supplies Raging Strikes and Quelling Strikes, two extremely useful skills. Raging Strikes is necessary, but you can wait a bit before getting Quelling. Thaumaturge supplies Swiftcast, which is very useful in multiple situations. It not only is a part of your rotation, but can be used to instantly bring back your pet or revive someone without having to take the time to hard cast these spells.
Skills (open) Skills (close)Ruin | Level 1 | Potency: 80
This is the ability you will always use when you're unable to use your DoTs or need to aid someone else. It's also your hardest hitting consistent move. It may seem lackluster, but your DoTs and Garuda will do plenty to make up for it.
Bio | Level 2 | Potency: 40 | Duration: 18s
Your first damage over time. For now, all you do is put this up and the spam Ruin.
Summon | Level 4
Meet the most adorable thing in the world! Until it turns into a Garuda, anyways. This is your Emerald Carbuncle at lower levels. It does a decent amount of DPS and should always be the one you use in dungeons up until level 30, unless you need a tank.
Physick | Level 4 | Cure Potency: 400
This is the heal that Scholars mainly use. You generally won't have to worry about using it unless the healer dies.
Aetherflow | Level 6
At lower levels, Aetherflow is used for Energy Drain, which is your highest burst at the moment. You eventually get a total of three stacks of Aetherflow. At level 35, it starts being used for Fester, but I'll cover that later.
Energy Drain | Level 8
Instant cast that takes one stack of Aetherflow. This restores your MP as well as HP and is your spike for now.
Miasma | Level 10 | Potency: 35 | Duration: 24s
Woohoo, another DoT! From now on, start casting this one first, and then apply Bio. The reason behind this is because Miasma has a longer duration than Bio.
Virus | Level 12
Reduces target's attributes. For now, it only affects their strength and dexterity.
Summon II | Level 15
Your Topaz Carbuncle, and eventually, Titan-egi. Should never be necessary unless you need a tank when it comes to dungeons. It is, however, useful when soloing content.
Sustain | Level 18
You use sustain to heal your pet if it's ever necessary.
Resurrection | Level 22
Revive a dead party member.
Bio II | Level 26 | Potency: 35 | Duration: 30s
Yay, we're starting to get the real Summoner rotation now! From now on, you open with Bio II > Miasma > Bio > Ruin.
Bane | Level 30
This spreads your DoTs to other mobs. It's pretty much your AoE as a Summoner. This also takes one stack of Aetherflow to use.
Eye for an Eye | Level 34
Small chance that when someone with E4E is hit, the attacker will do 10% less damage. Generally, healers will worry about this.
Ruin II | Level 38 | Potency: 80
This is not better than Ruin, but is necessary in your rotation. I'll explain why later. This is an instant cast version of Ruin.
Rouse | Level 42
Now we're talking. One of the two things you should always use (unless Enkindle is nearly off CD/off CD) as much as you can. Rouse increases your pet's damage by 40%. In other words, they start hitting like a truck.
Miasma II | Level 46 | Potency: 10 | Duration: 15s
Probably the most useless DoT we get. I have yet to Miasma II anywhere outside of Turn 4 of Binding Coil of Bahamut. I have no idea if other Summoners use it or not, but I personally recommend never using it.
*edit*: If possible to get close enough to auto attack and use Miasma II, it's an option as well, as others have pointed out below. If Contagion'd, long term potency makes up for it.
Shadow Flare | Level 50 | Potency: 25 | Duration: 30s
This is your final arcanist spell and one of the few you should always keep up. Shadow Flare is equivalent to the Caster limit break, meaning you click on the ground and place it that way.
Job Specified Skills (open) Job Specified Skills (close)Summon III | Level 30
Where your pets start packing a punch. This is your Ifrit-egi. It should always be used until you get Garuda, unless the situation calls for a tank.
Fester | Level 35
Drop energy drain. Fester is the new way to go. This is your spike damage, and also takes up stacks of Aetherflow. At level 50, my Festers will generally always hit 1k+, for a generalization of how powerful they will get.
Tri-disaster | Level 40
I've yet to find a use for this move outside of PvP in blunt honesty. I personally recommend forgetting it's even there, but others might have reasons to use it.
Spur | Level 45
Combine this with Rouse whenever you can, and suddenly your pet is hitting for 80% more damage. Ouch.
Enkindle | Level 50
Commanding your pet to use its 'signature attack'. Be warned, Enkindle has a four minutes cooldown. Make sure to use Enkindle only when paired with Spur/Rouse, if you can – it makes it hit the hardest (Garuda has crit for 1600 with this combo when alone – harder than my Fester crits!).
Garuda's Enkindle: Aerial Blast - An AoE with the potency of 250.
Titan's Enkindle: Earthen Fury – Another AoE with the potency of 200. It also more or less gives a yellow Shadow Flare for 15s.
Ifrit's Enkindle: Inferno – Another AoE with the potency of 200. It also gives a DoT with the potency of 20 for 15s.
Cross Class (open) Cross Class (close)Swiftcast | Level 26 Thaumaturge
Necessary for the most efficient rotation, I recommend getting this ASAP.
Raging Strikes | Level 4 Archer
A massive damage boost. I also recommend getting this ASAP (and, come on, it's only four levels away!).
Quelling Strikes | Level 34 Archer
An aggro dropper. This is much more important for say, a Black Mage, but still is quite nice to have. Not as necessary as RS and Swiftcast.
4. A Breakdown Of A Summoner's Rotation
Finally, the fun part! Okay, let's start breaking this down. First thing's first: always make sure your Garuda is on Obey. You don't want her accidentally using Contagion (extends your damage over time's duration) when you're not ready for her to. Got that figured out? Alright.
You apply your DoTs in order of longest duration to shortest:
Bio II > Miasma > Bio
I would recommend not starting off with Shadow Flare as the boss likely needs to be repositioned, unless you preemptively place it.
Next, you start your Ruin II spam to use off-GCD moves. This includes: Swiftcast, Raging Strikes, Spur, Rouse, Enkindle, Fester, Aetherflow, Bane, Energy Drain.
Bio II > Miasma > Bio > Contagion > Ruin II (Swiftcast) > Shadow Flare > Ruin II (Fester) > Ruin > Ruin > Ruin > Ruin II (Fester)
This is your typical rotation as a Summoner. Nothing much changes aside from using Contagion whenever you can. and using Ruin II for Spur, Rouse, and Enkindle when possible. Watch your DoTs. If Bio II and Miasma are at 2-3 seconds of duration, start to cast them again.
Bio II (10s) > Miasma (7s) > Bio (13s, this one was probably already reapplied since it's an instant cast and shorter one) > Ruin > Bio II (7s) > Miasma (4s) > Bio > Ruin II > Begin Miasma's cast > Begin Bio II's cast
If any of your DoTs fall off at any given time, you are playing a Summoner wrong. Bio can be reapplied right after it falls off, as our DoTs tick every three seconds. The rest should be preemptively reapplied. No exceptions, if you can help it.
Now, for a buff rotation. I recommend starting every fight with Raging Strikes. This will make your DoTs stronger; Contagion any Raging Strikes DoTs if you can help it and get the most out of them. Spur > Rouse > Enkindle should always be your rotation if you can help it.
As a final note on a Summoner's rotation, there is one exception to the Ruin II rule: Bio. I will example it now.
Bio II > Miasma > Bio (1s) > Bio (Fester while on GCD)
Since Bio is an instant cast, this will make it so that you can Fester and then go back to your usual Ruin spam until you have to Fester/reapply again.
5. Which Pet Should I Use?
Garuda and Ifrit are both fine pets. However, with Ifrit, please note that you will be using Bio to weave in off GCDs more often than you will be with Garuda. Keep both of your pets on Obey for auto attack purposes. Keep your pet hotbar around and move Garuda around if you have to; since Ifrit is melee, he won't be able to be moved around much. Ifrit is nice to use if you have a Warrior or Ninja in your party. Their slashing debuff buffs him.
6. Ruin vs Ruin II
Ruin II is more mana. You don't want your Bard playing songs for no reason - especially mana song for a Summoner of all things. In long, drawn out fights, such as the current endgame, your mana counts. Having the Bard play ballad for just you is unnecessary. You want to try and avoid that at all costs. Try to avoid using Ruin II unless you are weaving in your off GCDs or moving in a very mobile fight.
Potions a Summoner benefit from? Let's see...
Potent Poisoning Potions
You can Contagion these and extend the duration. 30s of a pot is a decent amount. I even see melee using these occasionally, so it is a big boost.
Mega-Potions of Intelligence
Well, this is logical, of course. Use these whenever you have raging strikes up and you will have it for both of your Festers. I'd say using these for your Festers are more important than your DoTs for that big burst damage you'll get, especially if the BRD opens up with a Battle Voiced Foe's Requiem.
Summoner Rotation Guide: Understanding The Basics (50 Guide)
This is a guide about the basics of a summoner and understanding their rotation. It covers the spells you unlock, and when to use them effectively, as well as what pets to use and when.