|This article is only a guide. Information expressed in a guide is usually more opinion than fact and should be taken as such. Guides are written by players, based upon their experiences, successes and mistakes, and are meant to aid other players. However, there may be differing opinions than those expressed in a guide. |
Strategies and information in guides may not work for everyone.
As a Bard, your job is to sing. All of your songs have different benefical effects on party members within range. However, when you get to higher levels (25+), you'll need to start singing different songs on different members. You wouldn't want Mage's Ballad on a Warrior, would you? The question now is; how do I do that? Simple. You spread the party members out. For example, having the melee up front and attacking, but far enough away so that the mages won't be hit by Valor Minuet and Sword Madrigal, while the mages stand far behind the melee, so that only mages are hit with Mage's Ballad. Sounds complicated doesn't it? Not to worry, you'll catch on pretty quickly; this is easier to do than it sounds.
As a Bard, you can utilize two different kinds of instruments each with their own corresponding skill level: Wind (flutes, cornettes, horns and the like) or Stringed (harps). Since the majority of instruments used are of the wind type they are the most common to be found in a bard's hands. As a result many bards find Stringed instrument skill falling behind as their career progresses if they do not take steps to address it.
There are two major reasons why wind instruments are most prevalent: the range of wind instruments is shorter and more closely confined making it easier for the party's Bard to place his song effects on those they are most appropriate for, and there are simply more wind instruments available in the game. This does not make stringed instruments useless, however, as there are times when your goal is to have the widest range possible. Horde Lullaby, a song designed specifically for pacifying large groups of foes, can be complimented in usefulness by using a stringed instrument where that bit of extra range may be just the boost you need to accomplish the task. Other songs, such as Prelude, are designed solely for a single target and as such the range of the instrument has no bearing. The Rose Harp is designed specifically to enhance the strength of Etudes cast upon party members and, since Etude is a single-target song, is perfect for this task as it does not complicate party formation in order to be useful.
So just carry around a wind instrument and a stringed instrument and you'll be all set, right? Almost, but not quite. As the Rose Harp showed us, specific instruments can enhance the effects of certain songs and as such a proficient Bard will want to carry around a different instrument for each type of song they will sing. When possible, you will best serve your party by equipping an instrument that offers a modifier to the song you are singing.
Enhancement songs have a standard duration of two minutes; this duration can be increased 12 or 24 seconds by equipping an instrument with a +1 or +2 modifier to that song type, respectively. These instruments also boost the power of the song in many cases. For example the Cornette gives a +1 bonus to Minuet, allowing that family of songs to grant additional attack power over the norm, while a Traversiere yields a +1 bonus to Madrigal, raising the amount of Accuracy it provides.
Songs that enfeeble an enemy will benefit from an increased duration and increased power when paired with an appropriate weapon; Mary's Horn, for example, provides a +1 bonus to Lullaby which increases the length of time an affected enemy will sleep. The same holds true for instruments which give a bonus to Requiem, Elegy or Threnody, the first having an increased duration while the latter two have both an increased duration and an enhancement in their respective powers.
By now you're probably wondering how to use so many instruments without being forced to constantly refer to the Equipment menu; this will be explained in our next section.
No matter how hard you may try to escape them, to be the most effective Bard it will be necessary to utilize more than a few macros in order to deal with the sheer number of songs and instruments you will likely be using. While other jobs typically utilize macros as a shortcut to bypass the menus, bards must create macros that swap out weapons for each song they are casting as it would be time-consuming and tedious to do it all manually. In short, macros are a set of twenty pre-defined commands availible for activation from your keyboard using CTRL + # or ALT + #.
For more information on macros go HERE --> Macro
The most common macros bards will use are as follows:
- /p (Casting Spell) (Minuet)
- /ma "Valor Minuet III" <me> (/ma and /so have the same effect for Bard songs)
- /equip Range "Cornette +1"
It is a misconception to put your equip line before magic line. Your casting will not be interrupted. Putting your equip line after your magic line will also save you some time. There is also no need to put in a wait command unless you really enjoy the animation. The option of saying what you will use in party chat is not necessary. At later levels people may even ask you to remove the party chat command from your macro.
<me> is appropriate for most Bard songs as any support songs, with the exception of single-target songs, will be cast upon oneself. Next let's create a macro for a single-target song such as Archer's Prelude; since the song singles out one specific party member we will need to select who the target is while still maintaining our ability to equip a new instrument or other gear.
The <stpc> in my second line holds the song casting and displays a blue targeting arrow over party members in the vicinity, allowing me to select my target using the arrow keys (or controller keys), Tab, or the F1-F6 keys. One thing to note about the use of the <stpc> command with an equipment change command is that /wait may need to be adjusted upward in situations of greater lag. When lag is heavily present an insufficient length of wait time may cause the sub-target cursor to display before the player's character disappears and reappears (from the change in gear), which subsequently causes the sub-target cursor to go away entirely upon the eventual change in equipment.
Now we will take a look at songs cast on monsters.
These songs are different in macro usage as they are not targeting party members, but rather monsters outside of the party.
Monster songs are split into two catagories, Battle target only (1) and sleep spells (2). This distinction is notable from the effects that occur from these spells. Battle target only (Elegy and Requiem), should be macroed so that they can be cast as fast as possible so you can move on with other business in your party, while sleep spells (both Lullaby songs) should be macroed so they can hit monsters that you are not currently hitting (in case of a link).
These songs should be sung every fight, as soon as possible to increase the effects of duration should they last the entire fight. A slow early on can make much less hassle for a Ninja tank or the White Mage who is curing your Paladin. Slow on the monster means your tank get's hit less, less mp is used to cure your tank, and you can chain longer and higher. Threnody means an extra 30 damage on certain ordinary spells, and Requiem can add up over long fights to a acceptable amount of damage delt.
Battle songs are generally best to be used in the <t> or <bt> format, <bt> is preferred, but is a little flakey in alliances. A song in <bt> will be cast on whatever monster has the most hate from the party, which in essence is the monster the tank is provoking, but it will only work if the mob is red to you and your party. Otherwise the game will claim that you cannot attack that target.
Macros in <bt> will look somthing like this.
If you are good at targeting the mob on your own, you can just replace <bt> with <t>.
<bt> will never miss a monster that is currently being attacked, but please be careful when casting requiem when there is a monster being slept nearby, occasionally that monster will become the battle target, making it impossible to sleep until the DoT effect wears off.
Sleep songs are saved for emergency situations when you have multiple opponents attacking your party (or just you). In general, it is wisest to have all sleep songs equiped to a <stnpc> macro, allowing you to scroll though monsters much like a <stpc> macro does with single player buffs.
An example of a sleep macro
What song to use?!
With a Bard's wide variety of songs, it can be hard to figure out what songs should be applied to what member. The basic idea behind different song effects is to enhance the perfomance of each member. The party can be divided into three parts being magic users, tanks and DD.
Mages, in general, will want Mage's Ballad and Mage's Ballad II as the MP returned from those songs is far more beneficial than the various status bonuses Etude grant. Before level 55 however, it may be better to cast Etude on their respective mages.
Tanks will generally be better off receiving melee songs. Minne and Mambo may sound like good songs for tanks in an EXP setting, but their use is usually restricted to certain HNM fights due to their AoE nature.
Melee songs should take into account several variables: the type of party (TP-burn or SC-WS), the level and type of mob your PT is fighting, and the type of food your melees are eating. Meat-eaters will benefit more from a Madrigal+Minuet combo than sushi-eaters will, for example. There are some isolated incidences where Madrigal is more beneficial no matter the food; Mamool Ja Lurkers is a classic example.
There is an exception if you have a Ranger or any other ranged attack user in your party. They will want Hunter's Prelude. Again, this is not a problem because this is also a single target song. Just be sure that when you sing a double song for the other party members that the last song is one that would also benefit the Ranger. The last song played will stick and first song played will make way for the prelude.
But what if your tank is a Paladin and for DD you also have a Dark Knight? Both are magic users. Sometimes the Paladin will want Valor Minuet meaning it will give him more attack. But what about their MP? Simply ask them to run to the mages whenever the puller is gone from camp. Sing Ballad and allow them to refresh some more. You can also try to land Ballad on the Paladin during fights but this will require a lot of cooperation from melee and mages. The Paladin will have to tank with his back to the mages, so as to separate him somewhat from the other melee so they will not receive Ballad accidentally.
The higher you get in level the more songs you will learn. Throughout your career as a Bard, you will be playing a select few songs over and over again. However, there will be situations that call for different, less conventional songs to be played. Identifying these situations is a key attribute of a good bard.
Misconceptions about song choices
Within this same large variety, many Bards will make simple errors in song choice that are truly ineffective. This practice can continue a long time since many parties like to avoid telling a BRD what to do at all costs, BRD can typically find a party very easily and parties fear losing one. Some Bards will use March songs, assuming the +Haste will make a major increase in party efficiency. However, this is not so, the first march song is very weak, with a +10% Haste increase (I believe). The second is not much better at only +15% (also not certain of this). The only uses of these songs would be on a Ninja, but it takes a very skilled Bard to avoid interfering with this song with Minuet and Madrigal needed on the other Melee.
To be perfectly fair to March in parties, at higher levels when fighting massive chains of tough or very tough monsters, March is sometimes not a bad idea since accuracy is not so much of an issue and the more attacks a party gets, the more likely you are to increase the chain’s length. Still, some bards would prefer to just sing two Minuets. Each strategy has its place. Long story short, as easy as it can be to throw on the autopilot as a Bard, always consider what you are doing and how you might benefit the party more if you seem to be struggling.
While March often times is less efficient than two Minuets or a combination of Minuet and Madrigal, you will often see a double Minuet and double March within double bard parties. Often times a single Madrigal and Minuet will be enough for the party to consistently hit for higher numbers, doubling those songs has limited benefits because party members are already hitting much harder and often already. Marches are a great choice at higher levels once haste items and the haste spell are available. Haste works exponentially, not linearly, which means that the more haste you have, the more effect it has. When players can get 10~20% pretty easily in conjunction with 15% haste spell and double marches (capped at 9% and 11%) begin to make a much larger difference.