There are several Bard guides around, but I found that most topics are scattered. This is the reason why I wanted to make one complete Guide. Information that I have used is gathered from sites such as this wonderful FFXIclopedia, Allakhazam Job forums, personal experience and from players in game.
I would like to stress that the Jobs and Song combinations used in this guide are merely examples to illustrate party situations. There is no right or wrong choice; it's mostly personal preference.
I do not claim to know everything, so I wanted to share here where others can correct me whenever!
If you do wish to edit this guide please mention what you have done or wish to do in the Discussion page, thank you ^^
Please take in consideration that this is still a Work In Progress!
First things first! To be a Bard you have to be level 30 in order to unlock the job by doing a quest.
"Uh Oh!" I can hear you think, no worries this one is a piece of cake!
To flag The Old Monument quest you have to speak with Mertaire who hangs around in The Merry Minstrel Tavern in Lower Jeuno. This poor fellow is heart broken! Luckily Bki Tbujhja knows something that might help!
With this done, get yourself a Parchment, hop on a Chocobo and head to Khoonta Dunes in Buburimu Peninsula. There is a hidden path there that will take you to the Song Runes. Click the Song Runes to receive a cutscene.
After speaking to Lewenhart you will be on the A Minstrel in Despair quest. Now you can trade the parchment to the runes. Give your now 'Poetic Parchment' to Mertaire in The Merry Minstrel Tavern to receive another cutscene with Lewenhart.
Speak to Bki Tbujhja again to activate the last quest The path of the Bard. Now she will mention another set of Song Runes in Valkurm Dunes. Head over there and go to Secret Beach. Click the Song Runes to receive another cutscene with Lewenhart.
Congratulations! You have now unlocked Bard.
Being a Bard
Being a Bard can make leveling life very easy for you. Parties simply love Bards. However, do not let this fact turn you into a slacker! Bards have a good name and reputation to uphold.
Not to mention having a bad reputation as a Bard will effect every job you have. Reputation is everything in FFXI.
If you wish to practice your newly-chosen profession adequately and competently you will have to learn a lot about other jobs. This is because Bard is a support job and a very powerful one at that. You can actually make a big difference in how fast your party kills mobs, or be the one that can save your entire party.
The most important thing to know is what song has what stats in order to boost your party members appropriately. Learning the duration of your songs is also handy. If you know what the duration is, you can sing them again before they wear off.
You also have to know the range of your songs, as most of them are area of effect. You wouldn't want your mages to have a melee attack bonus now, would you?
If you know all of the things I have mentioned above it will also help you to convince your party members to listen to you. You will be the one who has to position them properly so you can land all the correct songs on each party member.
However don't think only you know what is best. Yes by the time you reach mid levels (37) you will know a lot. But some jobs may have reasons for wanting something else than what you think would be good.
Unless you have a Monk asking you for Ballad, then use your own judgment.
Stats of a Bard
Singing Skill determines the effectiveness of your buff songs and debuff songs
Wind Instrument skill together with Singing skill determines the effectiveness of your buff songs and resist rate on debuff songs when using a Wind instrument (e.g. Cornette)
The only attribute Bard has to focus on is Charisma. It determines the success with which you can land a debuff song on a mob. It has nothing to do with buffing songs for your party members!
At lower levels the rule of the thumb seems to be +30 charisma (next to your base charisma) to successfully land debuffs.
I'm still not sure when this changes but after some research and replies on the wiki forum the following seems to be the case; at higher levels 100 to 110 Charisma in total seems to be the 'soft cap' on the effects.
At higher levels and endgame Wind and Singing skill will be a Bard's main focus after reaching CHR soft cap. More on that later.
The songs of a Bard
As a Bard you will almost always have a new song at every level you gain.
"Holy Circle Bat Man!" I hear you think. I am not Batman (O.o)
But yep my friend, 75 songs you will learn and that is a lot. When you merit, you can even learn two extra songs!
However only two songs will be active on a player if there is 1 Bard in the party.
There are many different songs with different effects. Best is to research what the songs do. E.g. Victory March is Haste. So it would be best to know what Haste does and whether it stacks with other forms of Haste. For a Ninja tank, this is very nice since it reduces the recast timers on their Utsusemi (which between you and me, is really stupendously long).
The Sub Jobs of a Bard
This is probably the most commonly used subjob. The benefits of Divine Seal+Curaga and having access to many -na spells will help your main healer and lessen down time.
If you have the Minstrel's Ring and don't want auto-regen from the WHM sub, you can sub Red Mage for Fast Cast. Keep in mind that your curing abilities will not be as strong as with a WHM sub and that you will not be able to use -na or Curaga spells.
At much later levels, some say even only in merit parties, Ninja becomes a viable subjob. This is mostly used for the benefits of Utsusemi.
The fast casting of Utsusemi (4 seconds for Ichi and 1.5 seconds for Ni without Minstrel's Ring) will allow you to buff up faster and move faster if you're trying to get high chains without having multiple mobs slept.
Especially favoured when fighting Sky Gods, Sea Gods and some HNM types. Using Elemental Seal will land Elegy about 90% of the time without any difficulty.
Please keep in mind that everyone always has their own personal preference. Often you need to look at the situation at hand to make a choice of your sub job. My personal advice would be to have all sub jobs readily available.
What song to sing?!
Yep, confusing isn't it when having so many options? I will not explain what to sing up to level 10 before you can party. Simply get there by slicing and dicing all the while using a dagger type weapon. Dagger is a Bard's highest skill, B- so it will be the most effective.
However do make sure that your Bard Magic Skills (Wind, String, Singing) are capped. You do not need MP to sing so you can do this anywhere you wish without having to rest once! Neat huh?
Once you have reached level 10 you will be able to sing the following songs;
Knight's Minne "Increases defense for party members within area of effect"
What we need to know about Defense:
"The stat that reduces the damage from a melee attack. Damage taken is related to the attackers attack value vs. the defenders Defense value.
A character's defense is a sum of various factors, including their main job level, their current VIT score (at a ratio of two points of VIT to one point of defense), all currently equipped gear, food, the trait Defense Bonus, and spell effects such as Protect or Knight's Minne."
Valor Minuet "Increases attack for party members within area of effect"
What we need to know about Attack:
Stat that is compared to an enemy's defense that determines the minimum and maximum amount of damage a character will deal.
Army's Paeon "Gradually restores hit points for party members within area of effect"
This is simply Damage over Time (DoT). So remember when a mob is slept, it will wake it up!
Herb Pastoral "Increases resistance to poison for party members within area of effect"
These work like the bar-spells but since you can only have 2 songs active you won't be using these for quite a while. In fact, don't think I've seen higher level Bards reporting usage for these.
What we need to know about Resistance. Well read it at the link I provided because it's a lot.
Light Threnody "Weakens the target enemy to Light-based attacks and effects"
Using Light based spells will have more effect.
Ok now we know what the songs do. Since you have a small amount of songs it's fairly easy at early levels.
Simply play Minne and Minuet to boost melee and help them kill off the mob faster. At this level it doesn't matter if your Mages get these songs as well.
But I'd advice to try to landing your song on melee only. This in order to practice the AOE (Area Of Effect).
After singing for your party members it's time to sing for the mob. Play Requiem and Light Threnody to weaken it. These are single target songs. No worries about angering other mobs!
If Dia is casted after your Threnody, it will have even more effect.
When you see the mob's life is very low you can sing Paeon to regen HP and make life for your WHM just a tad easier.
Then when the puller returns to camp (by using map you can time this) you can sing your Minne and Minuet again.
Rinse and repeat as needed!
Seems easy huh? Well at this level it is. As soon as you get to level 15 you will have learned Sheepfoe Mambo and Sword Madrigal. The first will give an Evasion bonus and the second will give an Accuracy bonus.
Yes my friend, the plot thickens!
Now you have four very potent and helpful songs to sing to your melee. This is where you have to learn what is useful for which job. In other words, time to research a bit!
Luckily you're reading this guide so I'm going to help you out a little, oh and see those links? Click them!
Evasion bonus is great for Ninja. It will save them a lot of gil in casting Utsusemi. It will also make it easier to cast it because they have less chance of being interrupted by the mob.
Accuracy is great to ensure that melee will land more hits on the mob.
So what to choose now? There are several options;
Trial and error
Ask your party members what they want
Use your own judgment
None of these are right or wrong so picking any of these options is perfectly acceptable.
Using Mambo when having a NIN tank will make life easier for the NIN and for the WHM. Both will have to cast less because of that. You can also land Mambo on your mages so that if they draw hate, they won't get hit as often.
Having Madrigal up together with Minuet will kill the mob faster.
Just adjust to what would be best for every particular situation.
Ok lets move on a few levels right up to 40. Yep this means you will have at least 40 songs!
Now this is where the real hard work and running around begins. Let me explain.
You will have Ballad which regens MP, several Etudes which are single target spells and raise some basic stats, Prelude for ranged accuracy, Advancing March for attack speed and a few tier II from your prior starting songs.
Your Mages are going to want Ballad and the appropriate Etude. Melees will want 2 melee songs (mostly 1 of them will be Madrigal). Your Ranger will want Prelude and so on.
Let's build a party:
WHM, BLM, BRD (you), NIN (tank), DRK, RNG
Now I'm going to make this party a bit demanding, but keep in mind this is just an example. By no means are the songs requested here the perfect songs for this set up!
NIN wants Mambo and Madrigal,
Mages want Ballad and Etude
DRK wants Ballad and Madrigal
RNG wants Mambo (this actually won't happen a lot but used this to make it more complex) and Prelude.
How are you going to do this!?!
You want to position the players accordingly. Remember, the mob has to face away from the mages. So if the DRK is backup voke he shouldn't stand in front of the mages yet—we want him relatively close for his Ballad.
Note: The 'drawing' is just an approximate. You will have to experiment with the AOE of the songs.
Well, first off you will sing on the spot marked as BRD1. First sing Prelude for the RNG then sing Mambo.
Go to BRD2, sing Madrigal without landing it on RNG.
RNG will now have Prelude and Mambo
NIN will now have Mambo and Madrigal
Go to BRD3, sing Ballad and Etude both of the mages (there's 1 for INT and 1 for MND)
DRK will now have Madrigal and Ballad
Mages will have Ballad and Etude
There you go! Mission accomplished!
First song played will be your first music note icon, second song played will the second one. If you play a third song the left icon/song with the shortest duration will disappear. This is how songs stack.
Let's try a different party with the above comment in mind.
WHM, RDM, PLD, MNK, RNG, BRD (you)
This is just an example and by no means should you think that the songs requested are the best songs in this setup!
Madrigal, Minuet and then Ballad. Minuet was sung as second and Ballad as third, so these will be active.
RNG will have received songs;
Madrigal, Minuet, Prelude. Again Minuet was second and Prelude last, so these will be active
MNK will only have gotten Madrigal and Minuet
Mages will have gotten their Ballad and Etudes
After the fight or when the mob is at low health, you could decide to play a double Paeon. That's right, a tier II and tier III version played together will stack.
Result: Everyone happy!
Note: You can also use Divine Seal and Curaga when subbing WHM. At times this will be more effective than Paeon.Note: Keep in mind, that other than Gjallarhorn or Storm Fife (for Salvage and Assault) for Ballad there is no instrument that adds to the duration of the song. This will mean that Ballad will always wear off first and has the shortest duration.
Q: Does Elegy stack?
A: Stack with what? Ok that's mean... Battlefield Elegy does not stack with Carnage Elegy. It does stack with Slow
Q: Does Requiem stack?
A: No, the same for Threnody. You can only have 1 of them on a mob.
Q: Does March stack with Haste?
A: Yes. Check out Haste status. It has a clear explanation how Haste works... And no, it doesn't reduce casting time.
Monsters like music too!
Well they don't really. But who cares!
Monsters are big fans of the following songs;
Threnody single target song which will weaken a monster to an element
Requiem single target song which will do Damage over Time (DoT)
Elegy single target song which will slow a monster
Lullaby which will put a monster to sleep. This has a single target and an area of effect version.
Using the corresponding elemental staff will help you greatly in sticking the debuff songs and enhancing effect. From experience, I've invested in Apollo's Staff and was able to land Lullaby with great success on IT++ monsters. If you are able, I suggest acquiring this item as soon as you can.
The Threnodies you can use for two different situations;
To assist your Mages and weaken the monster to certain elements
The first is pretty obvious, just check what the monster is weak to or whatever it is your Mages will be casting and apply the appropriate Threnody.
The second you will have to know what element the Skillchain (SC) is and what element Magic Burst your Mages will be using. When the SC opener readies his weaponskill, you should sing the corresponding Threnody.
We Bards are known for crowd control and pulling. We have two very effective sleep songs and they tend to stick very well. But there is another use for Lullaby!
If there is nobody in your party who can Stun, Lullaby will do the trick for you!
You and your instruments
As you may have noticed, next to singing skill you also have 2 instrument skills. This being Wind and String.
String instruments will have a wider area of effect on your buff songs. This will increase more when your string skill becomes higher.
There are 2 instruments that are for debuff songs. These are Nursemaid's Harp and Sorrowful Harp. They will increase the duration of the song but String has a lower Magic Accuracy so you will have a bigger chance of being resisted.
Wind instruments have a smaller area of effect than String and will also in some cases add to the duration of the song. Their strength is the extra Magic Accuracy they have.
Note on Lullaby:
Nursemaid's Harp has Lullaby +2, this means the mob will be asleep longer. Mary's Horn has Lullaby +1 which means it will sleep slightly less longer than with the Harp. The mob will sleep longer than normal but not as long when using the Harp.
But because Wind has more Magic Accuracy your chance of being resisted with the Horn is slimmer than with the Harp.
+1, +2 or no + at all?
This is where an important question arises; Do I have to get the +1 or +2 instruments?
If you are able to, please get the +1 instruments. They will add to the duration, effect or magic accuracy of your songs. Luckily most +1 instruments are nowhere near as expensive as a +1 weapon or body armor.
Usually the +2 will give the same + to a song but will have extra CHR, HP, MP or whatever other stat.
So if the +2 has extra effects for your song, by all means get it if you can. If it does not, it's not a necessity
I'm hungry! What to eat?
At first when you have few songs to use, us Bards are mostly expected to back up heal with Cures or -na spells. So you could go for cookies or pies.
But as soon as you are expected to pull or at the moment you're getting resists a lot on debuffs, go with +CHR food. Most preferred is Tavnazian Tacos in the case of pulling.
And then you hit level 65. Oh glorious day! Perhaps you already have done the quest and perhaps you haven't. You will most certainly want this gorgeous crown!
But wait you say! This Crown has -7 CHR, what is this madness?! Well in combination with a Pamamas this crown will you give you +7 CHR. This will give you the possibility of removing some other +CHR equipment and adding in other needed status equipment like +MP, +singing/string/wind or -songcasting.
And don't forget, it looks too cool!
Underneath you will find all +CHR food that you can use throughout your Bard career.
This is the part where we will have to fork up lots of cash. No don't turn away, don't be discouraged. Just go to Jeuno and sing for gil.
Ok seriously though, in theory a Bard could get to 75 wearing RSE1 gear and a nice instrument of their own choosing. However having good gear that will benefit your stats is icing on the cake, and we all want cake with some nice icing on it don't we?
I haven't had much time to go in depth on the equipment that a Bard can use but Eleri has a nice equipment guide that is still a WIP. At her request I have removed the link until she has posted it as an article.
For those looking for a quick fix go with: Wind > Singing > CHR > -song casting time or Fast Cast.
OH NOES! They ask me to pull high chains!
As soon as the ToAU expansion pack came out, it became quite clear how Bard can excel at pulling. If you don't like to pull, don't level Bard.
It didn't take me long to figure it out but I figured it'd be nice for aspiring Bards to know what is expected of them. Being asked to pull Experience Chain 100+ can be quite intimidating the first time. Rest assured though, we can easily pull chain 450. Probably higher too, not sure what the highest chain would be.
You need to know that there's a timer between kills. It's explained on the Experience Chain page. Until chain 4 you have some time to kill off a mob, buff party and run to get next one. After that though it becomes more fast paced.
The idea is to always have 1 mob slept at your party, preferably on top so melee can use their autotarget/attack. You can be the best puller in Vana'diel but if your melee party doesn't kill fast enough, you will break chain.
So you also need to try and keep your songs up. What is commonly done; bring mob, sing song, pull new mob. Do not expect to always be able to sing Ballad for your healer. Although that's not so much of a problem with Sanction refresh and the refresh from a Noble's Tunic. Most parties will go for a Red Mage though.
Depending on the area where you are pulling and on your party setup (TP burn or conventional), you're also dependent on the respawn of mobs. You may have to pace the pulls to ensure you have enough mobs to kill.
Basically, bring mob, buff party, wait till there's but a sliver of HP left on mob, run out and get new one. This can be rather tricky though! You just have to do it until you get the hang of it.
As I said, things can get very fast paced. Mostly parties will want March so make sure you got that up on yourself too. Ask your healer to Haste you as well. We need to have our Utsusemi at the ready and the recast timer on Lullaby and Elegy is retarded too.
If you're in a double Bard party take the double March songs and let the other Bard do the other songs that are needed.
The Endgame Bard
Yep, endgame.... Some people dread it, some people look forward to it and some people just simply roll in to it. Do not judge based on what others tell you about Endgame. Mostly it's not so much about the activities itself but the people in a Linkshell.
Just find yourself a nice group and give it a try.
Elegy is actually -the- most important. So if you are going to get involved with Endgame you will need a Terra's Staff. If you don't and just do XP parties, you can just get by with an Earth Staff.
If you are getting resists, check your CHR soft cap first and then pile up on Wind + Singing skill. If you still get some resists on Sky Gods, don't worry. They are mean resistant buggers. Just sub Black Mage for Elemental Seal and you should be good to go.
No, we're not going to go out and party... Remember, Vana'diel good, Earth bad. That's right stay inside and keep playing!
Party hopping for Bards can be because there aren't enough Bards or that a party will want more than 2 songs on them.
I'll take Byakko as an example. He has alot of Evasion and alot of people will miss. So you will want Madrigal for accuracy bonus. But, Byakko also hits hard and fast so Ninja's usually tank him. So you will want double March on them too. And it could stand to reason that you will want double Minuet for more damage.
So what most Linkshells will do, built parties of 5 people (DD party and tank party) and have 3 Bards rotating in and out of the parties. You will need to setup a rotation of course and check which Bard will sing what songs.
For those who are asked to be party leaders for this, use the /pcmd add namehere. You won't have to wait for server to update or ask the people to throw their flags up. It's instant invite.
For a lot of situations your Linkshell or Party will want to do a Bard rotation. Usually there will be a Bard in every party that's in the alliance.
Party 1 has Bard X, Party 2 has Bard Y, Party 3 has Bard Z.
They will call a rotation so that all 3 Bards will have been in every party. At the start of the rotation every Bard will Soul Voice, Troubadour and Nightingale.
The Bards will be required to name their Song. If you're smart, the Bard with the highest combined Wind + Singing skill will do what their setup deems most important for the highest + effect.
Doing this Bard rotation will allow every party to have 6 songs. You can see how this will knock down your Boss fast right!