Melee Tier List for FFXIV (Patch 6.5)

Last updated on Jul 07, 2024 at 16:40 by Eve 1 comment

This page contains Melee specific information regarding what you should expect from the role, as well as what others may expect from you in FFXIV. We've also ranked each job within the role, dependent on what type of content you're aiming to complete.

1.

Melee Tier List

Tier lists in Final Fantasy XIV are fairly nuanced, so if you'd like a more detailed explanation on the jobs within this role, feel free to read on beyond the initial tier list we've provided.

In this game with the current landscape, there is not a clear winner or loser in the way of meta picks. Most groups tend to run a team of two Melee DPS, one Ranged DPS, and one Caster DPS. As things currently shake out, all six of the Melee are relatively well-balanced. It generally comes down to a full party composition, rather than a single individual "best choice" pick. Dragoon brings the only critical hit buff, Monk brings the only raid healing buff, Ninja brings high personal burst damage and a raid buff, Reaper brings the only raid heal, and Samurai brings the highest raw personal DPS output, punching on par with Viper. It all comes down to what your particular raid composition, supports and what they need the most.

That all said, in any situation, you will bring more to your raid group by playing the Job you are most comfortable playing, rather than taking the "meta" pick, especially while progressing in a new encounter. Comfort with your rotation allows you to focus more on learning new mechanics, and you can always swap to a "meta" pick on reclears to speed things up, assuming you can pull the same percentile on the other Job spec.

1.1.

Difficulty Tiering

Each of the Melee DPS Jobs plays differently, so tiers do not properly illuminate what makes them more or less difficult to play.

  • Dragoon has very static GCDs but a lot of off-GCDs to weave in-between, regularly with double weaves necessary. Easy with lower ping, and has incredibly busy burst windows every minute.
  • Reaper has very little weaving, but a relatively fluid GCD rotation and two gauges to track. Appears to have many moving parts, but is actually very straightforward.
  • Monk has a very fast GCD with regular decision-making required for your next GCD hit and very rigid burst windows. This job is generally straightforward, but often requires advanced out-of-the-box thinking to maximize.
  • Samurai has a fast GCD with very little in the way of decision points. Freestyle Samurai performs marginally worse than absolute max performance Samurai, ignoring raid buffs. The job is hard to mess up, but harder to master.
  • Ninja has a faster GCD and a relatively static overall rotation. The biggest barrier to entry is learning your Mudra combinations for the various Ninjutsu. Trick Attack windows can feel hectic with many buttons in a short period of time.
  • Viper has a fluctuating GCD speed and a rather fluid rotation system. Its core GCD combos are many actions on just two buttons, making it easier to play compared to others for players who prefer to consolidate their actions. Very few oGCD actions, with forced double weaves on GCDs that are longer than the standard base GCD, even with the Viper's haste buff.
2.

Melee in a Nutshell

In the current landscape of Final Fantasy XIV, it is expected that players are capable of flexing between multiple jobs. While you may not wish to flex outside of your role, it is a huge boon to any group and your own sanity to be able to flex between at least two of the six Melee jobs.

This will make you more attractive to dedicated statics (for those unfamiliar, a static is just a group of players who get together to play the weekly-lockout fights like Savage on a schedule) and also make it easier for you to find a party finder group to join. In some cases, you may even want to flex for a specific fight to give your team an edge or to mitigate some aspect of your main spec that is annoying in a given encounter.

While all jobs in the game now run on a two-minute cycle, fight phasing, multi-target capabilities, the ability to hold resources, and even party utility can determine which job performs best in any given end-game encounter.

This page won't just be aimed at high end raiders. If you're new to the game and need help deciding on which job to pick, this should hopefully give you some insight on how to make that decision.

3.

Expectations of the Role

In most groups, your Melee players are going to be expected to be your top individual damage-per-second performers in the group. On average, Melee jobs out-perform jobs of other roles by a sizeable enough margin that there are very few exceptions to this rule. As such, your primary responsibility and expectation is to work to maximize your output at all times.

3.1.

Melee Uptime

Unlike ranged classes, Melee jobs are required to be up close to the boss in order to deal any sizeable damage at all. Because of this, the largest and most important aspect of playing a Melee job is learning how to maintain what is referred to as "Uptime" - that is, maximize the amount of time spent in "Melee Range" (where you can execute your skills to deal damage) and minimize the amount of time spent off the boss, ideally in chunks shorter than a single spin of the GCD.

All Melee have the same range for their basic actions - 3 yalms. You can mess with this distance against a striking dummy like the ones at Summerford Farms to get a feel for how far out you can be while still using your basic actions. When you exit Melee Range, all of your Melee actions will get a faint red border and a small red X in the lower-left corner of the skill's icon. This indicates when you are too far away to hit the target.

The single most important aspect of Melee Uptime, however, is that you have an Auto-Attack that triggers at intervals based on your specific job. These "autos" will only deal damage if you are within Melee Range. As such, any disconnect runs the risk - and generally always causes - of losing overall damage due to missed or delayed autos. Especially for the classes with speed buffs, it is imperative to minimize your downtime as much as possible. Most strategies for mechanics handling will focus on helping you, as the Melee, maintain uptime as best as the mechanic allows.

Every Melee job has access to abilities that help you maintain uptime in one way or another. They all have what are colloquially referred-to as Gap Closers, which, as the name implies, close the gap between you and a target, allowing you to return to hitting the enemy again. All but Monk also possess on-demand ranged attacks which can be used up to 15 yalms away, but should only be used in emergency situations where you have absolutely no option but to leave the boss for a substantial period of time. You should always be looking to remain in Melee Range, even while handling mechanics. In the modern landscape, there are very few - very very few - situations where the Melee is actually forced to disengage from the boss to handle a mechanic. The various options each Melee job has to help maintain uptime (Gap Closers) are as follows:

  • Monk: has access to Thunderclap Icon Thunderclap which has three charges and can bring you back to the boss or out to a party member, helping to minimize time away from the boss. They also have the less versatile Six-sided Star Icon Six-sided Star, which has a longer-than-normal GCD spin and a high enough potency that it becomes beneficial to use it for disengages that are longer than your standard GCD. It has very niche use-cases, however, and it is generally preferred to just never have to disengage in the first place.
  • Dragoon: Dragoon has access to Elusive Jump Icon Elusive Jump, which freely allows you to move backwards 15 yalms. The lack of a target makes this skill very versatile. In addition, they have Winged Glide Icon Winged Glide, which can immediately dash them to any enemy target within 20 yalms. With two charges, this skill can be very beneficial. In addition to this, Dragoon's Dragonfire Dive Icon Dragonfire Dive and Stardiver Icon Stardiver can both also bring you to the targeted enemy. These actions, however, are best used for damage primarily, since they have other options that don't deal any.
  • Ninja: Ninja possesses by far the strongest and most versatile movement ability among Melee in Shukuchi Icon Shukuchi. Two charges and you actively choose exactly where to move to, allowing pin-point control for everything Dragoon can do with Elusive Jump. In addition to this, Forked Raiju Icon Forked Raiju can be used to quickly return to the boss if a mechanic forced you away for any period of time during your burst.
  • Samurai: For the low cost of 10 Kenki, Samurai has the ability Hissatsu: Gyoten Icon Hissatsu: Gyoten, which can return you to the boss after being forced to disengage. While your Kenki is generally better held for stronger actions, maintaining uptime in situations where you are forced to drop it for a short time can be a larger gain in the correct circumstances.
  • Reaper: Reaper has Hell's Egress Icon Hell's Egress and Hell's Ingress Icon Hell's Ingress which allow for fluid dashes out (Egress) and in (Ingress), while leaving a portal behind. If you push the button again, you return to where you started. This is incredibly useful for mechanics where you need to leave the boss for 1-2 GCDs, as explained in the next little bit with how these combine with your ranged options.
  • Viper: Viper has Slither Icon Slither, which functions nearly identically to Monk's Thunderclap Icon Thunderclap. Three charges and the ability to dash to any ally or enemy within range of the action.

Each Melee also possesses ranged attack options of varying usefulness.

  • Dragoon: Dragoon has Piercing Talon Icon Piercing Talon, which is extremely weak but helps keep the GCD rolling during extended downtime. Most of their off-global abilities are also ranged, so you can keep up the majority of your non-GCD damage in these situations, as well. As always, try to limit being forced into relying on Piercing Talon.
  • Ninja: Ninja has Throwing Dagger Icon Throwing Dagger, which is much the same as Dragoon's Piercing Talon in usefulness. In addition to this, however, all of their Ninjutsu Icon Ninjutsu abilities are also ranged attacks, giving Ninja very strong ranged utility during burst windows and regularly throughout the fight. IF you need to disengage, it is better to prepare to use your Ninjutsu than to use Throwing Dagger. That said, always ideally avoid ever leaving the boss.
  • Monk: Monk has Fire's Reply Icon Fire's Reply which can only be executed during Riddle of Fire Icon Riddle of Fire. It is a primarily offensive action, but it can be used if you happen to be forced to disengage during that burst window for any reason. They also have Wind's Reply Icon Wind's Reply, usable during Riddle of Wind Icon Riddle of Wind. It has a shorter range than Fire's Reply Icon Fire's Reply, but can be used under the same circumstances. The buff from Riddle of Wind Icon Riddle of Wind boosts your auto attacks, however, so there is almost no situation where you would want to be disengaging during that window.
  • Samurai: Samurai has Enpi Icon Enpi, which can be enhanced via use of their disengage action, Hissatsu: Yaten Icon Hissatsu: Yaten. Enpi on its own is incredibly weak, but used in combination with Yaten, it becomes more respectable. It is still never ideal to use this combination, as it comes out even on Kenki when other GCDs would increase your reserves, but it is a valuable combination: Hissatsu: Yaten Icon Hissatsu: YatenEnpi Icon EnpiHissatsu: Gyoten Icon Hissatsu: Gyoten for quickly ducking out and returning when you only need 1 GCD off the boss.
  • Reaper: Reaper has some of the best ranged utility, second only to Ninja. Their base ranged skill Harpe Icon Harpe has a cast time, but that time is removed and the skill is buffed if you first disengage with Hell's Egress Icon Hell's Egress. When a mechanic forces you off the boss for 1-2 GCDs, you can Hell's Egress Icon Hell's Egress out and then roll Harpe Icon Harpe and Harvest Moon Icon Harvest Moon at range in order to mitigate how much damage you lose. These skills do not increase your Soul or Shroud gauges, however, so you still ideally want to mitigate uses of Harpe in combat.
  • Viper: Viper has a basic action called Writhing Snap Icon Writhing Snap, which is extremely weak and should be avoided, similar to Dragoon's Piercing Talon Icon Piercing Talon. In addition, however, they have Uncoiled Fury Icon Uncoiled Fury, which triggers a pair of back-to-back oGCD actions, totalling 900 potency when counted together. It has a slower spin than all of your other actions, but you can hold up to three charges of it at a time. As it is not used in your burst and Viper has no explicit buff actions (like Dragoon's Lance Charge Icon Lance Charge), these charges of Uncoiled Fury Icon Uncoiled Fury can be held to be used whenever and wherever needed to maintain your GCD spin when forced off the boss, though generally only to be held if you would not overcap the resource.
3.2.

Positional Requirements

All Melee jobs have positional requirements on several of their abilities. If a boss hitbox has an empty space opposite the front arrow, it means you must abide the Positional rules. If their target ring is a double ring with no gaps, Positional rules do not apply. In the cases where they apply, the enemy hitbox is made up of 4 zones, each with a 90-degree slice cut into the ring. The entire empty portion is called the rear. To the left and right of this there are 90-degree sections referred to as the flanks. Directly opposite the empty space is the front, which is the 90-degree slice centered on the enemy's facing arrow. Positional bonuses for abilities come in two flavors: flank and rear. Because of this, as a Melee, you will generally stick to the corner where the rear meets one of the flanks. You will only move beyond the side-arrows of the enemy when mechanics force you to. Below, you will find a complete listing of the various Positional Bonuses each Melee job needs to keep in mind.

  • Monk rarely uses Demolish, so often favors the flank.
    • Flank: Snap Punch Icon Snap Punch gains 60 potency on the Flank.
    • Rear: Demolish Icon Demolish gains 60 potency on the Rear.
  • Dragoon has to switch positionals every 5 or so GCDs.
    • Flank: Fang and Claw Icon Fang and Claw gains 40 potency on the Flank.
    • Rear: Wheeling Thrust Icon Wheeling Thrust, Chaos Thrust Icon Chaos Thrust, and Chaotic Spring Icon Chaotic Spring gain 40 potency on the Rear.
  • Ninja rarely uses Armor Crush, so often favors the rear.
    • Flank: Armor Crush Icon Armor Crush gains 60 potency on the Flank.
    • Rear: Aeolian Edge Icon Aeolian Edge gains 60 potency on the Rear.
  • Samurai swaps between their positionals relatively frequently, compared to other melee jobs.
    • Flank: Kasha Icon Kasha gains 50 potency on the Flank.
    • Rear: Gekko Icon Gekko gains 50 potency on the Rear.
  • Reaper swaps between positionals occasionally.
    • Flank: Gibbet Icon Gibbet and Executioner's Gibbet Icon Executioner's Gibbet gain 60 potency on the Flank.
    • Rear: Gallows Icon Gallows and Executioner's Gallows Icon Executioner's Gallows gain 60 potency on the Rear.
  • Viper swaps very frequently, having positionals on their Dreadwinder Icon Dreadwinder combo and their basic 1-2-3 combo chains.
    • Flank: Flanksbane Fang Icon Flanksbane Fang and Flanksting Strike Icon Flanksting Strike gain 60 potency and Hunter's Coil Icon Hunter's Coil gains 50 potency on the Flank.
    • Rear: Hindsbane Fang Icon Hindsbane Fang and Hindsting Strike Icon Hindsting Strike gain 60 potency and Swiftskin's Coil Icon Swiftskin's Coil gains 50 potency on the Rear.

In addition to the above, all Melee jobs also have access to True North Icon True North, which allows you to ignore Positionals for a short period of time, relatively often. Each job gets different amounts of benefit from this skill, with Ninjas preferring to pair it with Trick Attack Icon Trick Attack (prior to learning Kunai's Bane Icon Kunai's Bane at level 92), or Samurai often favoring pairing it with Meikyo Shisui Icon Meikyo Shisui. Depending on how fun you find Positionals as a Melee player, it should become rather easy to decide which of the above you would rather play.

3.3.

Role Actions

Melee role actions are generally focused around, well, maintaining uptime and damage. Staying alive, maintaining uptime, and landing positionals are the three largest components of your overall damage output, and the role actions aid you in doing all three, with a bit of added - essential - raid utility.

  • Feint Icon Feint is, and I cannot stress this enough, the most important role action you have access to. This is not an exaggeration. Use it. It reduces the damage dealt by the boss for its duration. If you use it to overlap the end of a boss cast bar, the damage dealt by that attack will be mitigated by 10% (physical) or 5% (magical). This is always a strict benefit for the raid. Always. It is never not. Never. Many Melee players ignore this action and let others deal with the mitigation plan. Speak up, include Feint. You'll thank me later.
  • Second Wind Icon Second Wind and Bloodbath Icon Bloodbath are useful actions to heal off damage incurred in error, either via standing in something you shouldn't or otherwise just missing a heal. They can also be used to aid your healers in healing-intensive phases. Both of them heal a sizeable chunk of health - Bloodbath can even bring you from critical to full if it overlaps with a burst window.
  • True North Icon True North nullifies positional directional requirements and has 2 charges. You should use this whenever mechanics pull you away from your sweet spot at the corner of Rear and Flank to avoid causing your death or the death of someone else due to a last-minute positional. Risks are fine, but only make them when informed with the possibility of success.
  • Arm's Length Icon Arm's Length prevents knockback or draw-in effects. The latter is uncommon, but the former is extremely prevalent. Not all knockbacks can be mitigated by this skill, so it is important in progression to test and find out which can and cannot. You should - almost - always be planning to Arm's Length every knockback you are able to block, to mitigate downtime due to being pushed away from the boss. Barring that, plan your gap closers to quickly return after being pushed away. Just be sure to plan this with the group so they know you'll do that, in case of follow-up mechanics.
  • Leg Sweep Icon Leg Sweep is a stun. It is rarely, if ever, used. You should have it just in case, and it can be of benefit in dungeon runs to block a trash enemy from using an annoying point-blank attack that forces you off, but it's very niche.
3.4.

Mitigative Actions

In addition to the aforementioned Feint Icon Feint, which you should already be using regularly, most of the Melee have additional mitigation abilities that aid either your own survival or that of the raid. In some cases, both! In Dragoon's case, neither! Below, the individual actions each job has access to are outlined and explained:

  • Monk gets Mantra Icon Mantra and Riddle of Earth Icon Riddle of Earth. Mantra boosts the healing efficacy of the entire party for its duration. Plan with your healers - this is an incredible boon. Riddle of Earth reduces your own incoming damage and then heals you if you've taken damage. Use this regularly against raid-wides or targeted damage you're about to take. It is very useful and helps your healers out, especially when used against targeted damage.
  • Dragoon gets Life Surge Icon Life Surge. It's baked into your maximum damage rotation and cannot - and should not - be used for personal heals after mechanics unless you get lucky. It is far and wide the worst "mitigation" skill among any of the Melee, or among any job in the game.
  • Ninja gets Shade Shift Icon Shade Shift. It grants you a shield for 20% of your max HP. Incredibly useful for targeted damage like spread markers to help mitigate how much your healers need to heal back after such mechanics. It's a powerful - and free - mitigation tool.
  • Samurai gets Tengentsu Icon Tengentsu. This offers a small reduction to damage taken and also provides 10 Kenki if you get hit in that short window. This is mainly a dps skill that is generally used and min/maxed on an individual fight basis in order to get the most amount of Kenki out of the damage you're able to take. This can also involve baiting bosses into feeding you their first auto-attack in order to gain the boost. These sorts of things are generally planned with the rest of the group, first.
  • Reaper gets Arcane Crest Icon Arcane Crest. You get a small mitigation on yourself and a noticeable raidwide regen effect after that mitigation breaks. This skill is incredibly useful, on a short cooldown, and free to use. In most cases, you want to prioritize getting it active before any and all incoming raid damage, as the damage will break your crest and the subsequent healing helps the healers out.
  • Viper gets absolutely no additional bonus actions to either mitigate incoming damage or heal themselves at all.
4.

Changelog

  • 07 Jul. 2024: Updated for Dawntrail, patch 7.0
  • 28 May 2023: Guide added.
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