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CAUTION!
Junction This article is a personal guide. Information expressed in this guide is one player's opinion and may be more opinion than fact. Strategies and information contained herein may not work for everyone.

No non-minor changes should be made without consulting the author. Changes or questions should be discussed on the talk page.

Junction


Introductions

  • Greetings! This is my second guide, and as I am so unoriginal and plain, it'll follow a similar format. This is only because I feel that a guide being broken into bits is the best kind of guide; only reading bits when it is needed.
  • Anyway, my name is Tyson from the Fairy server, and this guide will tell you practically the vast majority of what you need to know when you decide to break out that all-dancing, all-soloing job, Blue Mage!
  • Being a guide, I will only be discussing relevant topics and assume you have already got the job unlocked, and will focus more on party-uses, with little soloing content because I did NOT solo past level 20, until level 72 (at least EXP mobs).
  • And questions, queries or complaints feel free to drop me a message. This guide is intended to help those who are either interested or playing the job, and want a step-by-step breakdown of what to expect. BLU is a relatively cheap job, but only by compare to other DD jobs. It focuses more on Rare/Ex equipment, which in a way I guess learning magic can constitute to as well.
  • I appreciate any additional opinions and such, but I'm trying to keep this guide a guide. If you feel I've made a mistake or would like to input to the guide, please tell me on this article's discussion page before editing anything I've said on this page, as I will do it myself! Thank you.

Blue Mage: Beast within...?

  • Blue mage is one of the most versatile jobs in the entire game. However, this does not mean that you can sub anything, anywhere and be just as effective. It means that in different given circumstances, you can build around that situation to an advantage, and in many cases, this is only true for HNMs or different kinds of quests or battlefields. For EXP, there are only so many subs you should really use, as with most jobs.
  • Firstly, you'll most likely be a DD. This means setting good DD spells, while using well-equipped swords and TP/DoT gear while you are not casting spells. You have an A- in sword; take THAT red mages! You'll find that having to 'blink' a lot by changing gear can be annoying, but you should always try and macro in appropriate gear to improve the effectiveness of your spells. This is mainly relevant after you get the Magus Jubbah, but it can be something to consider beforehand.
  • A secondary and often unusual role is a healer. Being a main healer may be hard to pull off, but I've seen it done. BLU can provide good use of healing spells for low MP cost, such as Magic Fruit and Wild Carrot, but this is more in the later levels. They can use various debuffs on the mob, and spend the majority of their MP assisting the party more than directly doing damage.
  • A role that's often only associated at the dunes, but it IS possible to be used later on, is a tank. Cocoon and a defense build really helps out, and with the assistance of healing spells, hate can be kept almost like a semi-PLD. Don't forget, though, you're still a mage, and don't have nearly as much VIT or hate options as a PLD.
  • Depending on your race, it will strongly effect what spells you use, how you deal damage and what sort of roles you can really perform. You won't see a Galka healer on BLU very often, if at all, or a Tarutaru tank. However, every race can perform the DD slot just as well as each other, hence why it's usually the main role to perform.

Your Weaponry

  • I'll be assuming you want to DD, therefore, this guide will be based around that, including equipment recommendations and such.
  • Now, swords will ALWAYS be your main weapon. 100% always, unless you are using clubs for some form of odd skillchain. Most swords can last you a long time, mainly because you can't actually use many good ones. They can usually come in tiers of 10, e.g. Centurion's Sword, Combat Caster's Scimitar, etc. These swords are examples, due to their accuracy and attack bonus. DMG on the weapon does not affect your magic, but will obviously affect your DoT. Aim for a balance, especially if you are dual-wielding.
  • Always have signet. Until 54, you will probably always be levelling in some conquest area. Signet allows you to use most of your MP, and then regen it back by healing without losing your TP. This is VERY helpful when you get Chain Affinity, so don't leave without Signet!! After you start EXPing in Aht Urhgan, auto-refresh from sanction will always be needed. Sanction refresh and BLU trait refresh stack, so you can get 2mp/tick constantly!
  • You won't really have to carry any form of ranged attack, because you SHOULDN'T BE PULLING!! You're a mage, for one, you need MP. Second of all, why on earth are you in a party with no melee if it's not a BLU burn?!?!
  • The trick with blue magic is the fact that they have variable distances. You MUST be in melee range for the MAJORITY of physical spells to take effect. Magic spells can usually be cast up to ~12-20 feet, depending on the spell. Cannonball is the only exception; it hits from up to ~20 distance away, and is a physical spell. Pinecone bomb does too, but it isn't a damage-dealing spell really.
  • It is important to note that all blue magic have something that is affected by the amount of TP. To clear things up, this is only in effect when you use Chain Affinity. Unless you are self-skillchaining, you should always be using TP just as any other DD would; at the 100% mark.

Job Abilities

Azure Lore - Level 1

  • This 2hr powers up your blue magic, effectively doubling the modifiers that affect their damage. It also increases accuracy and magical accuracy for about 30 seconds; handy for tight situations, but only if you have a decent amount of MP, else it's useless!
  • This is an interesting 2-hour ability. It has very little use at lower levels, but as you progress, it gains a larger amount of power. Specifically, after obtaining 'Chain Affinity', as it adjusts the modifiers when using this ability dramatically. Other than this, however, it is on the 'useful sometimes' side, especially for only 30 seconds. It does get the job done though at higher levels-- some spells gain hidden modifiers! Use wisely.

Burst Affinity - Level 25

  • This particular ability is not very helpful at all at this level. Because of the nature of BLU, you won't really be bursting off other people's skillchains, because you need some form of notification that a skillchain is going to happen, and believe me, people won't be skillchaining so you can burst Bomb Toss or something!
  • As this, as sceptical as it is, increases magical accuracy, it is useful to use if you want something to stick i.e. Blastbomb. Do not count on this being your BLU version of Elemental Seal, because it definitely isn't!! Other than for 'fun' or breath spells, you won't be MBing very often, as most spells are AOE.

Chain Affinity - Level 40

  • This is one ability you'll always use. Although the main purpose is to create skillchains, it increases the damage output of your spells with or without TP. After certain levels, it is, however, more practical to use this ability and spells with 100% TP as it yields more output. More on this in the spells sections...
  • When used with 2-hour, it makes your spell have a 350% TP modifier, so make sure you use a spell that does 'Damage varies with TP'!!

Diffusion - Merit

  • Grants the effect of your next support Blue Magic spell to party members within range.
  • Handy, but definitely not the ultimate must-have BLU accessory. This particular merit strongly depends on what you intend to do. If anything, it's only worth 1 merit.

Convergence - Merit

  • Increases the power of your next magical blue magic spell. Limits area of effect to single target.
  • As with all of the abilities and traits of group 2 merits for BLU, this again is another situational merit. I personally have no interest in this ability, as it is more of a HNM merit than a casual-BLU type necessity. This is good to stack with spells such as Heat Breath when used against HNMs, as with the right amount of HP you can pull out some wickedly good numbers.
    • Problem with the above is that I see more people subbing THF or SAM for SA or 100% TP+ Cannonball that can really punch up incredible numbers.

Job Traits

  • I am not going to list every single job trait that BLU can have. There are just so many, with such a broad range of spells to choose from. Instead, I'll just list ones that I personally feel are important to the success of a blue mage. Here is a link to every job trait: here

Clear Mind - Minimum level:24

  • A decent trait, especially at the lower levels when stacked with other HMP gear such as Baron's Slops. If you can afford to set this trait, I would do so. Don't worry, you can sacrifice your +1 STR for +3 HMP. :P
  • Later levels, this may become less important due to the appearance of refresh, auto-refresh, sanction refresh and all sorts of stuff like that. However, this is still particularly useful if you only want to use a few spells in quick succession and then heal afterwards. I find I have the ability to set up to at least clear mind III (a big upgrade from II) with Assimilation merits.

Auto Refresh - Minimum level:58

  • VERY helpful. No BLU should be without this trait. Do whatever you can to make sure you get the spells for this, as it will really help you out, especially when combined with the effects of Sanction and/or Vermillion Cloak. It costs a HUGE amount of points, I know, but it is definitely worth it.

Accuracy Bonus - Minimum level:63

  • This isn't a must have trait, I must admit. +10 accuracy is nice, but you can set better things in place of this, as it takes up a whooping 8 spell points. If you really have a hard time hitting then by all means, spend those 5 points. Just don't sacrifice essential spells for it!
  • At later levels, the whooping 8 spell points is still there, but Frenetic Rip and Disseverment are top tier spells, so you'll practically be having this trait all the time. :P

Conserve MP - Minimum level: 65

  • This only costs 4 points!!! If you can spare the points, it is a nice thing to invest in. Alright, it doesn't proc that often, and blah blah on average saves 10 MP per 100 spent. But if you have 500 MP, that's about 50 MP saved, equal to about 4 head butts. It can't be harmful to set this; however, if you are going to be resting a lot, I suggest setting clear mind instead. This is for those who want to try and avoid resting!

Enchainment - Merit

  • Grants TP Bonus to Chain Affinity. TP bonus increases by 10 per upgrade.
  • This is an interesting trait. The effect of TP on BLU spells varies in proportion to the amount, therefore 50% would indeed increase damage, if only by a small %, than if you used it at 0% TP, before a large jump at the 'stable' %s such as 100%, 200% etc. This is a decent merit to put into, however, if you plan on going sub THF or SAM to those wondrous HNM events. In this case, that 50% TP can save a lot of hassle when trying to save up to a 100, essentially being able to use chain affinity whenever it is up.
  • I would only recommend this (if you don't do HNMs) if you don't want anything else. A small TP boost can't hurt, if only the littlest of effects can be noticed.

Assimilation - Merit

  • Increases maximum Blue Magic points by 1 per upgrade.
  • Merit this to max. I think the description explains why, but just to elaborate... This means you can set more spells, either for stat bonuses or traits that can enhance your experience and effectiveness of BLU by a good level. Even SE said themselves they wanted BLU to merit this!

Races

Hume

  • The humes are a balanced race. They fair no better, but no worse than the other races. Considering that this job is all about how versatile it is, this is definitely a race that knows how to play the job for what it is.

Strengths

  • Average HP, MP, STR, DEX, VIT, etc means that spell damage, along with melee damage, are at a decent level. They can expend MP focusing on damage when damage needs to be done, and have enough HP to not have to spam healing spells, but can when required.
  • Setting spells becomes more versatile to what you are fighting. The stat boosts gains have a fair effect on you, not putting your other stats at a disadvantage.

Weaknesses

  • None to take note of.

Elvaan

  • The elf race typically fulfils the role of DD extremely well, with their unsurpassed STR stat. Unfortunately limited due to a lower DEX stat, they can still punch out some of the highest numbers if used correctly.

Strengths

  • Highest STR. Damage will be increased from melee and from spells, fulfilling their traditional role as the 'DD' race.
  • A high MND also constitutes to higher cures from spells such as magic fruit, which is handy considering your more-than-average amount of HP.

Weaknesses

  • Lower DEX means that the modifiers for DEX-only spells (such as Hysteric Barrage) will need more of a boost, and possibility means having to set more spells to boost this stat (only if needed) instead of being able to focus on just one without too much of a lose. Also means lower accuracy for spells (if only by a little)
  • Lower-than-average MP pool means less ability to spam, and probably means more healing! Be sure to use your MP sparingly.
  • They stand funny.

Tarutaru

  • The ultimate mage job. The irony is that they have the lowest STR stat, which one of the main factors affecting physical spell damage. A tarutaru needs only know their hate levels, as too much could easily be the end for these small death machines.

Strengths

  • Lots of MP means more spell spam. More spell spam, in theory, means more damage. This theory can only be backed up if you have a focus on that STR!
  • A high amount of INT means any magical spells that are affected by INT have a larger impact. Perhaps you will enjoy magic bursting! (For fun, of course!)

Weaknesses

  • Lowest HP means you won't be casting many breath spells! As breath spells are based on HP, you'll probably have very little of this even at 75 with full HP gear. Your focus should be in another area, where you can make use of your higher stats.
  • Lowest STR means you'll need to pack more STR to give an equal punch. As DEX is only average, it may be hard to find a balance.

Mithra

  • Similar to humes, only better. It seems SE wanted the female race to dominate the neutral race, with very little to fall back on. Of course, they had to give them a weakness, so they gave them *gasp* CHR!! ... Please. 2 points less STR than humes is nothing for this job.

Strengths

  • Exactly the same as hume, but you have less to worry about that charming DEX stat.

Weaknesses

  • Has the lowest VIT.. But as a blue mage, that isn't very much of a problem.
  • Lower-than-average STR, by 1-2 points. Again, the DEX gained in its place more than makes up for it.
  • Most are actually men.
    • And I don't blame them.

Galka

  • A physically strong race, surprisingly they are only above-average on their STR. Their main strengths here are the fact they have so much HP it'd take a lot of work to take these down. It takes a lot of skill and determination to play this particular race right, as this race struggles with any job involving a heavy base on MP.

Strengths

  • Higher VIT means any spells that require it (such as cannonball) are taken care of. It also means you'll survive more against those nasty beasties if you pull hate! It also means that /war is a viable sub in the early stages, as that VIT and HP will certainly come in handy!
  • Breath spells are amazing for this job. If you are a galka at a HNM fight, you'll more than likely try and get that magic 2k HP mark and spam those 1k breath spells. Very nice, mmyes.

Weaknesses

  • You'll definitely need to be careful about how you spend your set points, and how you spend your MP, especially what you spend it on. You may probably have to rest more often if you don't play the be-careful with MP game, but refresh, auto-refresh and all sorts can still save you.
  • It isn't harder to solo, but it is slower as you'll need to rest more between chains. If you get a link, or some form of aggro, you won't have the MP to be able to take on more than one tough mob, either. Be careful when soloing; a high chance of death is possible.

Strangely enough, all the races are able to somehow balance out, if only slightly, if the correct spells and equipment are used. Some races will obviously have to spend more gil and more time investing in order to make them do well, and some are harder to master than others, but they can all balance out, if only a little bit. That is the power of versatility, friends. Merit into things that you are at a disadvantage at to balance out. E.G. Galka -> MP, Tarutaru -> STR.

Subjobs

Ninja

  • Lets face it, ninja is the most commonly used subjob. Why? Because after level 50, it gives pretty good delay reduction, and gives you increased survivability, no matter what the situation. It is practically always used with all melee jobs when soloing whenever Utsusemi is available; even more so 74+, when Utsusemi: Ni is obtained.
  • This subjob can be used, somewhat as a move made by people without decent subjobs, from 24+. Dual wield at this stage is not worth it, but Utsusemi can make things slightly more favorable, leading to higher damage outputs without putting you or your healer under any form of damage stress. 30+, however, you can gain access to 2 swords in particular that give stat bonuses, making this a more viable option.
  • You'll probably always be using this while soloing. Stunning constantly to buy time for utsusemi is crucial; it allows soloing even at 72. Whenever I talk about soloing, I always mean early levels pre-20 or 72+, by the way! :P
  • I recommend this subjob to those that wish to spam an awful lot, or those who are not completely confident in their tank e.g. a monk, or a warrior. I personally subbed this unless I had a PLD, where I subbed THF (30+).

Thief

  • This subjob is amazing later on. When you first get Sneak Attack at 30, it is only slightly effective. This is because any spell you stack with Sneak attack should really be single hit only; highest mods, damage, and it only activates on the first hit anyway!
  • I recommend this sub 48+, if you have confidence in your tank, or you wish to risk your life. Skillchains to produce gravitation means magic bursting MP drainkiss, using sickle slash for your sneak attack. At level 60, you get the legendary Death Scissors. At this point, it is better to wait till 100% TP, and not WS, but use that TP in a CA+SA+Death scissors extravaganza. Why? Find out.
    • Obviously, if you need MP badly and fighting mobs with MP, gravitation is still an option with this spell, because it shares the same SC properties as sickle slash!

Subs for the Valkurm Dunes, Qufim Island & Kazham til level 30

  • You can sub many things in these zones. If you want to tank in the dunes, gear up defensively and sub WAR. For more MP and a bit of status healing, sub WHM. Those really are the only two subs I can recommend... They are the only two that really get anything useful. BLM is NOT useful for the dunes, as you get 1-2 extra INT (oh wow), less STR and only 3-4 more MP.
  • Qufim is a bit more versatile. RNG produces Accuracy Bonus and DRG produces Attack Bonus and Jump. It really all depends on what you think you need the most. WHM is still viable here, also. WAR is not as effective in my opinion, there are way better options now. Sub NIN if you have nothing else. Don't have NIN? Level that to 37 now. You'll need it for more than just BLU!
  • Kazham is still the same kind of subs, really. NIN may be a bit more useful here, as it is easier to time utsusemi to cast before the mandies attack. However, cure is ever-so-helpful in waking people up from their flowery slumber, so WHM is still a popular choice. If you feel you might ding 30 in a party, feel free to sub in preparation for that occasion if you so wish!

Other subs

  • Everything else is kind of... Situational. I have personally not tried any other subs, only for Ballista which offers WAY more subjob versatility than anything for EXP. SAM, as I mentioned before, is for HNM situations, which even then is very rare, as /THF is better. In a case of HNM subs, you'll probably be instructed how to use it by your leaders... I hope. MNK is the same. If you wish to experiment with any other subs, make sure you play them solo first, just to 'test the waters', and request if you could go a particular sub before just showing up to your PT with that SMN sub saying 'it kick's ass!'.

Stats

Strength

  • STR contributes to melee damage from swords as well as your damage from spells. Be sure to check the modifiers of spells that have a large % damage bonus that is factored in due to STR, like Death Scissors. Macroing in gear with this stat for spells that have modifiers like these is a brilliant idea, but don't sacrifice too much accuracy. You want your spell to hit!
  • This is best stacked to the max for spells you're gonna use with Sneak Attack active. Death Scissors (I know I keep mentioning this spell, but it's THAT awesome w/THF sub) should have a macro putting in STR in every slot possible. This will oomph those damage numbers to at least 1k+ if you aren't fighting too hard mobs.

Accuracy

  • This stat is always important. Make sure you have a balance of accuracy and attack, with backup gear (if you can afford it) if your accuracy starts to slop a bit! Spells are generally accurate, due to an A+ in Blue Magic skill and an A- in sword (Your Sword skill DOES NOT affect your spells in any way, however some spells are modified by your Hand-to-Hand skill), but sometimes you don't want to risk that Head Butt not connecting!
  • Try not to stack on accuracy completely and then eat sushi. Balance Accuracy gear with +STR and/or +Attack food, or vice versa. Accuracy is good, but if you don't back it up with attack, your melee damage won't be very high. Your spells will of course be more accurate, your damage output won't be as high as it otherwise would. You want to be able to do as much damage as possible as well as maintain accuracy, so find a balance and supplement it with gear.

Dexterity

  • Some spells have this as a modifier. The top tier spells (the big three) all have this modifier, secondary to STR (except the second), this means DEX can be just as important in STR.
  • This means you can macro in gear for DEX where you don't have for STR, but also requires that you don't sacrifice a large amount of DEX for STR, because you might find you'll end up breaking even anyway!

Recommend spells

  • This section will supply you with, what I believe, are the most important spells to get. I will not give you a list of spell sets I used, or whatnot, because they changed based on where I partied and what I fought. It should be exactly the same for you. Always do your research; this game requires a lot, I know, but the help it gives is immense.
  • The first spells I recommend getting are practically every spell up until level 8. They will help with skilling up for some time to come. As BLU skill is a factor in determining whether you learn a spell or not, this is crucial you get that skill capped ASAP. The spells aren't half bad either. I'll mention the important spells, and why they are briefly.
  • I'm only mentioning spells that are a must-have for BLU. There are other good spells, but they aren't OMG MUST HAVE for it. There are other spells that give good stats, but based on what I've told you is important, I hope that you can work those out for yourselves. ;) I'm also not mentioning spells that give important traits, because I've already mentioned that earlier. It's all in the link. :)


Level 4
Wild Oats <- VIT down = more damage. Good ranged too (~12 feet). Nice debuff for a while.
Level 8
Cocoon <- +50% defence. You should always be using this if you're going to take hits (tanking, or soloing), it REALLY helps. Later on, it assists GREATLY with Cannonball damage. VIT+3 for setting too!
Level 12
Head Butt <- This spell has uses at ALL levels. You should be using this as much as possible in parties. The ~8 second recast stun is found nowhere else. Does decent damage for its MP, too. ALWAYS set this.
Level 16
Healing Breeze <- Your only AoE cure unfortunately. Good for the jungles if everyone falls asleep, and for auto-regen. :P
Sheep Song <- A light based sleep is always helpful. You have the ability to use dark and light sleeps; amazing.
Level 18
Bludgeon <- You'll use this for AGES. It is the most damaging DD spell for its MP for a while. This and head butt should be your main spells till a long time!
Level 30
Wild Carrot <- A very effective spell, essentially cure III in BLU form. Useful for emergencies, doesn't always have to be set if you have decent healing jobs already.
Level 38
Blank Gaze <- A surprisingly potent dispel, hits fairly frequently with low recast. Always helpful if you don't have a dispel already.
Jet Stream <- LARGE MP cost, but can create decent Fusion skillcains later on. Does about the same damage, if not a tad more as bludgeon. DEX bonus is nice too. Has a ~12 foot range like wild oats.
Uppercut <- Not useful to use, but provides the biggest stat-per-point around. 3 points for +2 STR and +1 DEX is GREAT!!
Level 42
MP Drainkiss <- I couldn't decide about this one, but I'll mention it. This can absorb a fairly large amount, and can be bursted making it godlike against mobs with MP. Colibri especially! Use with Dark Staff after an SC for more accuracy.
Level 44
Mandibular Bite <- Useful to use if you are going to sub THF. Decent damage on its own, so still useful for a DD spell.
Level 48
Refueling <- Don't have a mage to haste? No worries, you have your own! This is AMAZING when soloing too; a very must-have spell.
Sickle Slash <- Subbing THF? This spell is definitely GREAT. If a mob has MP, this is a brilliant spell to compression with when self-SCing. :)
Level 50
Frightful Roar <- Defence down is great, and it dispels many defence boosts that mobs can get, especially crawlers, saving having to dispel.
Level 58
Magic Fruit <- Basically a Cure IV in BLU form. Very useful for emergencies, or healing that nab PLD!
Level 60
Death Scissors!!!!! <- All sub THF should have this spell. Even non-sub THFs. It's damage isn't worth it's MP when not sub THF, but it can still do compression for more worth than sickle slash!
Dimensional Death <- A weaker version of the above, but still pretty handy if you wish to TA DD, then SA DS or something!
Level 63
Frenetic Rip <- One of the big 3. Always set this, it is the biggest DD spell for its MP since bludgeon. Bludgeon is still probably more MP efficient, but you want to aim to kill things quickly. If your MP permits, use this a lot, unless you're /thf.
Level 69
Hysteric Barrage <- Second of the big 3, which should again always be set and used. With only a DEX mod, make sure you pack that DEX up when using.
Level 70
Cannonball <- This CAN be powerful, more so than scissors of almighty death and doom when /thf, but requires a lot of defence. Make sure you use cocoon and equip defence gear for this entirely. It also has extra mods when used with CA!
Level 72
Disseverment <- This spell is pure success. The poison helps as well, at a whooping 18hp/tick! All big 3 spells have been gotten, and now you can take things down fast; with little MP left, however!

  • That's pretty much everything that's omgimportant. Everything else is obviously great to have. Even if you could level without, you probably shouldn't, unless it's literally useless for EXP situations (i.e. Blood Saber). Don't forget traits and the stats on the spells themselves; most spells are in fact useless, so pick and choose carefully, as learning blue magic can be a real pain in the butt!

FAQs

Q1 Should I keep my TP at 300% to ensure maximum damage from my spells, as the help text says 'Damage varies with TP'?
A1 No. The TP mods are only active during Chain Affinity, or with your 2-hour. You should be using your TP for self-SCs, or just for extra damage.

Q2 I am having a lot of trouble learning Refueling! Can I just skip it?
A2 Unfortunately, it is very important you learn one of the 'important' spells that I listed above. If you suffer a lot of trouble, assemble a party to learn it, or ask a few friends to help. You should want to do well, so don't skip on something that certainly can!

Q3 I'm not sure what to sub in Qufim Island... Can I just sub NIN?
A3 Personally, I subbed RNG. Accuracy bonus appealed to me more seeing as it provided accuracy for BOTH my spells and my melee damage. Attack bonus is nice, but +10 isn't worth the sub. Jump? ... Nah. NIN isn't useful till utsusemi. At all. Try and use something else till at least then. :P

Q4 You claim that BLU is an amazing soloer, but I tried soloing and died! How do you do it?
A4 It really depends what you solo. Once you get Utsusemi: Ni, it becomes a LOT easier. Till then, relying on ichi can be unreliable. However, the trick to soloing is spamming head butt. If you have to use sushi to ensure it hits, do so. Any status debuffs i.e. Sprout Smack to slow it's attack speed helps immensely. If you are soloing for EXP, you'll probably want to unload all your DD spells in between head butt recasts, and keep your shadows up as much as possible! It's something you learn; I died at least ~30 times between 72-75 soloing, but now I got it juuust right.

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