|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.
BLU is supposed to be a multifaceted, adaptable job. This is a guide about a rarely-explored aspect of it. If you chose BLU expecting to put all your spells to use and be called upon for something different every party, then this guide is for you, regardless of your experience with FFXI. This guide is both for guiding BLUs into the kind of endgame tanking I did and for guiding long-time players to try BLU more seriously, so it covers a lot of basic and general info, but I promise you'll learn something new no matter who you are.
I was a career BLU tank for several years as Janeth on Bahamut. I tanked a wide range of events at 75 with a wide range of linkshells, including popular activities "Sky," Dynamis, and Limbus. I played on and off during and after the level cap raise and had the opportunity to tank Legion before the advent of item levels, to tank some Adoulin content when it was new, and to hold adds in higher-tier Voidwatch during its time. I got positive comments about my performance as a BLU tank from healers, DDs, and co-tanks, often the same people who were initially skeptical. I had a well-geared PLD during much of that time and no leader ever asked for it after seeing my BLU in action. Since I first wrote this guide, I've been mentioned on forums I had never posted on and even on Limit Break Radio, and for years later I got people I didn't know waving to me in-game and saying they liked my guide.
I now play casually on various private servers and hear occasionally that people are still reading this guide, so I've gone over it again and making it clearer what era different things are referring to. Note that some things may be different on private servers.
Broadly speaking, a tank is someone who is intended to be attacked and expected to survive, so a tank's goals include holding hate and mitigating damage. All your resources, like set points, MP, idle gear, subjob, food, and time, can be used for either of those objectives or for objectives associated with other roles, like doing damage or sleeping things. Because those resources are limited, you can't optimize everything at once. Some actions contribute to more than one objective, like healing yourself, but a tank using cures primarily for hate uses them differently from one using them to stay alive.
Your priorities can change a lot within an event or even a fight, and BLU can adapt dramatically in response. Within a fight you're limited by the spells you have set, so think about what could happen before you start.
This is why it's hard to compare tanks to each other, why the answer to questions is so often "it depends," and why BLU can sometimes appear so similar to other jobs and sometimes so different.
PDT - Stands for "physical damage taken," as in "-10% physical damage taken."
MDT, MDB - Magic damage taken, Magic Defense Bonus. Not the same thing, but can be used interchangeably to refer to a set of gear.
Kiting - Avoiding damage by getting hate on a monster and then outrunning it, either by increasing your movement speed or impeding the monster's. Some say it stands for "kill in transit."
Supertank - A tank who handles large groups of mobs.
Career tanks have long known about the two kinds of hate that are now called cumulative enmity and volatile enmity, the terms used in Kanican's famous enmity tests. VE is lost over time and CE is lost when you take damage or lose an Utsusemi shadow (but not an Occultation or Zephyr Mantle one). Most abilities used as hate tools add at least some of both, except for Provoke and Animated Flourish. You may have noticed the way Provoke causes your hate to "spike" and quickly degenerate over time. That's because it's 1800 VE and only 1 CE. You don't need to memorize all the numbers, but it helps to have an idea of which of your spells build more CE and which ones build more VE. You can find this information on Kanican's Blue Magic Enmity Table.
Because hate from dealing damage is based on the amount of damage, it's better to use "hate tools" on enemies that take less damage and DD spells on ones that take more.
BLU is good at:
- Controlling hate. BLU has several equivalents to the white magic Flash, plenty of spells to spam like NIN/DRKs and RDMs used to, damage spikes to rival the DDs' that can be saved for when they're needed, and even a spell to lose hate on command.
- Handling spellcasters. Not only does BLU have several forms of stun, it has a MDB buff, a magic damage Stoneskin, and the Magic Defense Bonus trait. (However, making an Aegis easier to get dramatically improves PLDs' ability to do this.)
- (74+) Managing multiple enemies. BLU gets a wide variety of AOE spells, including hate tools, stuns, enfeebles, sleeps and even AOE Drains, and doesn't rely on directional damage reduction like a shield or counters.
- Adaptability. A BLU can tank radically different fights and switch roles within an event without a trip back to town. At 75 I tanked Byakko and then held hate off the BLMs and THF-subbed melees while we got more diorite.
BLU is limited by:
- Spell range. BLU gets some ranged spells, but not enough to hold hate.
- MP. Enemies that drain lots of MP require more support at best.
- (74+) Unrelated mobs in the camp that you don't want to engage. Many of BLU's hate tools are AOE or cone.
- (90+) Its large numbers of buffs. Like RDM, mobs that frequently dispel all buffs are hard on BLUs.
Facts about BLU:
- BLU has three spike hate spells like Flash.
- BLU can have a variety of job traits including Fast Cast, Magic Defense Bonus, and Counter.
- BLU has an AOE Drain.
- A BLU with support can have over 1000 defense.
- BLU can stun normal enemies every five seconds.
- BLU has a ten-minute ability that can generate more hate than Invincible.
- BLU can go past the -50% damage taken cap (PDT and MDT), up to 65%.
- BLU has a spell as fast as Utsusemi: Ni that creates 9+ shadows.
- BLU has its own Haste II, Refresh and AOE Erase. Have you mages ever wanted a self-hasting tank?
- Once every five minutes, BLU can completely negate a physical attack/TP move.
- A single BLU can keep a normal enemy stunned 90% of the time.
Spells and Traits
- A shortlist of tanking-related spells, listed by level:
Cocoon (8) - A staple of BLU tanking from 8 to 99. Cocoon boosts your defense by 50%, so the more you have to begin with, the more you get. A 99 BLU with Cocoon and Protect V can have well over 1000 defense.
Metallic Body (8) - Not worth the time or MP at low levels; 19 MP is enough to cast Pollen twice. However, Metallic Body caps much later than Pollen does, so at mid levels it's worth setting if you have an extra point and casting between fights. By 75, it won't last long against anything your level.
Head Butt (12) - A fast, cheap stun, Head Butt is good anytime your sword is, all the way up until you get Sudden Lunge at 95.
Jettatura (48) - Your first dedicated hate tool. It's a cone AOE, so you can hit multiple targets with it or avoid them. The terror effect alone isn't worth the MP over Head Butt, and unfortunately most NMs are immune.
Blood Saber (48) - An AOE Drain. The downsides are that taking damage wakes sleeping enemies up and that the casting time is long and you don't want to risk getting interrupted when your HP is low. You can save an AOE stun to use with Blood Saber when you're in trouble.
Zephyr Mantle (65) - Shadows with a long cast time, even compared to Utsusemi: Ichi. Use between fights if you have spare points. You lose enmity when you get hit or lose an Utsusemi shadow, but not an Occultation or Zephyr Mantle one.
Diamondhide (67) - Like Metallic Body, Diamondhide starts out inefficient and improves faster than Magic Fruit does, but at 94 and up it's outclassed by the more comparable White Wind, and its cast and recast time are still a liability. However, it's still BLU's best stoneskin, so it has an important place in TP control strategies.
Saline Coat (72) - Starts at +50 MDB and gradually lowers to +10 before it wears off. You can use it in response to longer spells from enemies that are immune to stun or that you don't want to have a hate list, or cast it in haste gear whenever it's ready. For Citadel Buster, do everything else first and cast Saline Coat at 5.
Temporal Shift (73) - AOE stun and hate tool, spike hate like Flash. More accurate than Head Butt and Sudden Lunge.
Actinic Burst (74) - AOE flash and spike hate tool.
Exuviation (75) - Self-target hate tool, half VE and half CE. The hate is fixed, not related to how much it cures for. If you use Diffusion with Exuviation and it hits six people, you get six times the hate, for more total hate than Invincible every ten minutes.
Magic Barrier (82) - A stoneskin effect that only works on magic damage, like Rampart, for an amount equal to your blue magic skill. Overwritten by Rampart (which is much weaker) or any Stoneskin effect, including Afflatus: Solace. You can ask your WHM not to use it if you're worried about being one-shotted or otherwise killed before anyone can react by magic damage, especially if there isn't much magic damage besides the potential one-shotter, just be aware that it's a tradeoff. PLDs sometimes do it to benefit themselves and other party members in range, so them you may have to just deal with and delete the Rampart when you have a chance to recast (and be glad your tools aren't all on 3-5-minute recasts like theirs).
Occultation (88) - One shadow per 50 blue magic skill (ten shadows in a full skill set, nine in recast reduction gear) for 138 MP. You lose enmity when you get hit or lose an Utsusemi shadow, but not an Occultation or Zephyr Mantle one.
Barrier Tusk (91) - Even though the effect is called Phalanx, this is not a Phalanx spell and is actually better for the opposite things. Barrier Tusk reduces the damage you take by 15%, so it's better if you're taking more damage per hit and Phalanx is better if you're taking less. Barrier Tusk affects some things that DT gear doesn't, like Briareus's Mercurial Strike.
Sudden Lunge (95) - A better version of Head Butt, with more damage and a longer-lasting stun. Sudden Lunge makes you better at stun locking, and also reduces its opportunity cost, meaning you have more time to spend doing other things and more room to cast slower spells. Sudden Lunge's duration can interfere with Abyssea procs, so use Head Butt instead if needed.
Orcish Counterstance (98) - Improves your counter rate, even if you have no other source of counters. If your counter misses, you get hit, so countering is ineffective when your accuracy is low.
- Unbridled Learning
Harden Shell - A better version of Cocoon. Even though it's twice as good by the numbers, going from Cocoon to Harden Shell isn't nearly as effective as going from nothing to Cocoon, because of the way defense is compared to an enemy's attack.
Pyric Bulwark - Makes you completely immune to physical damage for one hit. Best used with a fresh Occultation to prevent a physical TP move from stripping your shadows.
Counter: Asuran Claws + Dark Orb or Orcish Counterstance
Magic Defense Bonus: Ice Break + Magnetite Cloud
Fast Cast: Erratic Flutter, or cheaper Wind Breath + Sub-zero Smash or Auroral Drape, or at lower levels Bad Breath + Sub-Zero Smash
Evasion Bonus: Screwdriver + Occultation, or at lower levels Screwdriver + Hysteric Barrage
Beast Killer: Sprout Smack + Seedspray, or at lower levels Sprout Smack + Wild Oats
Lizard Killer: Foot Kick + Claw Cyclone
Undead Killer: Bludgeon + Smite of Rage
Plantoid Killer: Power Attack + Mandibular Bite
/NIN is a staple at 75, used for most things. At 99 BLU has its own shadows and more enemies have abilities or even normal attacks that strip them. Consider /NIN at 99 when MP or set points are a concern and a significant portion of a monster's damage can be absorbed by Utsusemi. At the low-mid levels before you get your own hate tools, subbing NIN is losing a lot, but BLU still has its spike damage and stands to gain a lot too, already having Head Butt to solve mid-level /NIN's big problem. Good for BCNMs and co-tanking.
As a BLU/NIN, both Utsusemi: Ichi and Ni overwrite Occultation. That's more convenient than NINs have it, because it means that if you use all three sets of shadows, you never have to cast Ichi with Ni up. You can also use your wide selection of stuns and similar spells to make your shadows last or to get Ichi up.
/RDM is a self-support sub. Tanks often get support from their parties, but not always, and sometimes your support is a job that doesn't have the spell you want. Consider /RDM when you would benefit from Phalanx or bar spells and aren't getting them from someone else. Keep in mind that an AOE tank wanting Phalanx will have to cast from a subjob under fire. If there's no sleeping involved, save Temporal Shift for recasting Phalanx, and don't remove your own cure.
As a BLU/RDM, you can't use Phalanx and Barrier Tusk at the same time, but that's okay, because they're good for completely different things. Barrier Tusk reduces the damage you take by 15% and Phalanx reduces each hit by a fixed amount of damage, so Barrier Tusk is better if you're taking more damage per hit and Phalanx is better if you're taking less.
/DNC lets you use a resource defensively that you otherwise can't. That makes it helpful when your job is just to hold things and not to kill them, as long as you can gain TP. At mid levels, /DNC is busy but rewarding.
As a BLU/DNC, using your TP for healing means you can use your MP for damage. At first glance this looks like an even trade, but using MP for damage and TP for healing gives you a lot more flexibility than the reverse--while WSs require 100% TP and lose efficiency fast if you store TP beyond that, spells can be cast at any time. If you have the MP to cast Frenetic Rip once a fight, you can use it at the start to establish hate or save it for when that one DD has TP. (When you're a DD, you can do the opposite to avoid hate: time your spells to coincide with the tank's hate tools or, less helpfully, with another DD's WS.)
/WAR is lower-level tanks' bread and butter. At low levels, nothing compares to Provoke, and if you use your MP to keep hate it takes time to recover it. Provoke continues to be an asset through the mid levels, especially during the 50s when some jobs have better WSs already and you don't yet. By 75, BLU has all the hate tools and defense it needs, and /WAR becomes a DD sub.
As a BLU/WAR, think before you use Defender. If you already have Cocoon, Protect, and defense food, adding more defense won't help you. On the other hand, attack only affects your melee damage, so you could use Defender and then eat accuracy food if you were eating for defense. Accuracy affects both sources of damage, and more Head Butts hitting means less damage taken.
/PLD looks a little redundant at first glance, with benefits like Auto Refresh and Shield Bash, but it has plenty for BLUs to use too. Cover is effectively a hate tool that works when hate is capped, Sentinel is the response to enemy two-hours BLU lacks, and Shield Mastery works with your Genbu's shield. Don't forget that PLD's healing skill will improve blue magic cures and that its Flash is ranged.
As a BLU/PLD, you can make better use of Sentinel than a PLD: in 30 seconds, you can cast Actinic Burst, Temporal Shift, Jettatura, Flash, and finally Diffusion and Exuviation. Exuviation with Diffusion alone is already more hate than Invincible. Imagine all that under Sentinel!
THF is not a good choice to tank, but was sometimes used to DD at mid levels and 75-era endgame. If you're /THF and you want to tank temporarily but you don't have the opportunity or it isn't worth the effort to change subjobs (e.g. tank dies, tank leaves and someone wants "just three more mobs," tank can't keep up with DDs' damage on a weaker enemy), you can have someone else "first voke" like you would for SATA and use a SA-CA spell to solidify hate.
If you're a high-level BLU, you're probably familiar with gaze attacks, spells that only function if your target is facing you. Monsters have all kinds of dangerous abilities that work this way, like a hecteyes's paralyze or a taurus's doom, and just like enemies that avoid your Yawn, you can avoid these attacks entirely by facing away. Backwards tanking is just what it sounds like, tanking something while facing away from it.
BLU makes a great backwards tank, since it doesn't particularly mind the loss of sword or shield, and its high hate line means melees don't have to worry that the mob will suddenly turn around and doom them. You can set a cheap, low-recast spell and use it as a substitute "melee attack" to keep your hate consistent. Note that as long as the target is facing you, your gaze attacks will still work.
Tanking Several Mobs ("Supertanking")
If you saw a BLU tank an HNM back in the day, you might have thought "this does seem to work." If you saw a BLU tank Dynamis, you might have wondered how you did Dynamis so long without one. There was no other job like it.
BLU has a wide selection of multi-target spells covering all kinds of functions, including AOE flash, stun, sleep, slow, silence, damage, and even Drain. In fact, two of its four core hate spells are AOE, one is a cone AOE, and one is self-targeting, adding hate to every mob you've taken an action against. That means a BLU supertank not only works with sleepers, it makes their job safer and easier, and can use its own wide range of AOE enfeebles, both defensive and offensive.
(Note: The following mechanics are different on at least some private servers.)
Each enemy has its own separate hate list, a list of people with some amount of hate on it. You can get on a hate list by taking an action targeting either the enemy itself or someone already on its hate list. (Did you ever have a PL or outside healer? Remember how their cures built hate on your targets, but not nearby parties' targets?) AOE spells that hit several enemies will put you on all of their hate lists, so you can use an otherwise low-hate "tag" spell to get on a set of mobs' hate lists and then build hate using Exuviation and other cures.
Other mages' AOEs are centered around the target, the thing you target when you cast the spell. BLU's AOEs are centered around you, so you have to move around to find the best position. However, the mob you target is always included, and the spell range is slightly larger than the AOE range. Jettatura is a cone AOE and can also include a target outside its range.
Spells: AOE enfeebles are your friend. In a smaller event your job could include other things, but in my linkshell's big Dynamis runs, I never set up for melee. I specialized and often played it safe because I was a linchpin, keeping my Terra's staff on and staying away from the group in case of something like a sudden Benediction. That meant lots of spare points and MP for things like Saline Coat and Zephyr Mantle. I did set a DD spell and change gear and blow extra MP on it during small pulls. Don't forget, Dynamis is full of aspirables.
Gear: PDT, HP for those huge piles. Slept mobs waking up may catch your healer off-guard. Your goal in that situation is to not die right now more than to save MP, which there will be opportunities to recover.
Sub: /DNC if you can melee enough to make it worthwhile. If you can't and don't have support, /RDM. If you can't and do have support, /PLD.
- After a sleep, move away from the mobs at an angle to the sleepers, so their movement buys the sleepers time.
- If there's no room for that or the sleepers are slow, you can save Temporal Shift for when things wake up.
- PLDs' Rampart overwrites your Cocoon and, at higher levels, Magic Barrier and is much worse. If you have PLD(s) around in addition to a BLU tank, either 1) the PLD is main assist/current target tank and if the pull is big enough to cause an issue you should be moving the other mobs away, or 2) the PLD(s) probably can't accomplish much tanking and should use Rampart somewhere else, unless maybe it's an immediate response to a nuke.
Utsusemi defined single-target endgame tanking for several years, and "blink tanking" was a key skill not only for tanks but for nearly every level 75 player. By 99, better shadows, other defenses, MP regeneration, and increasing numbers of attacks that wipe shadows reduced the need for those skills.
You can read about solo blink tanking here: Ninja_-_Doing_it_right#What_you_should_learn_from_these_levels_3
Your objective is to reduce the damage your party takes as much as possible, which in these situations isn't the same thing as "keep hate on yourself and reduce the damage you take," it's "keep hate on yourself or a co-tank and reduce the damage the tanks as a whole take." At 75 this is most effectively done by having multiple tanks bounce hate back and forth, for two reasons:
First, if an NM strips your shadows at the wrong time, you might be without them for a while, and if Ichi comes up first you'll need to cast it under fire. PLDs can use Flash or hope for a shield block, NINs might evade or just avoid interruption due to their ninjutsu skill, BLUs can flash or stun, but all of those things can fail. Even if you still have shadows when Ichi is ready, it takes good timing or luck to cast it safely, because if Ni is still on when Ichi casts, Ichi will have no effect.
Having multiple tanks is an easy way to avoid that. If the tanks' hate levels are close, hate will bounce around, due to the tanks hitting the mob and using their hate tools at different times, and the hate loss when an Utsusemi shadow absorbs a hit. Since each tank gets a break after a few hits, you rarely have to take a hit without shadows and you can cast Ichi while someone else has hate.
Second, when you take damage, your enmity goes down. If the tanks' hate is properly balanced, when one tank takes damage, another one will get hate. Not only does this mean the mages don't have hate, it means the damaged tank no longer has hate, giving the healers more time to react. What that means is that all the tanks should have about the same amount of hate.
Unless the other tanks have more experience and better gear, you'll be able to generate more hate than they can. That means you need to watch your hate level. It's easy to want to be the best and have the most hate, especially since you're an underdog tank job and you have the tools to do it, but if you "go off alone" on the hate list and die, you don't look cool, you look like an uncooperative DD. Endgame is a team effort.
Unused hate isn't necessarily wasted, especially with BLU, which is more concerned with MP and less with recast timers than PLD. It lets you convert other resources into things you need more. I sometimes used a Terra's staff and idled in PDT gear while my PLD co-tanks were wearing haste and accuracy gear so they could use Atonement more often. Both of those strategies sounded extreme at various time periods (I would say comparably so when I first did that), but if you were a healer or a third co-tank and you didn't check the PLD or the BLU, you might assume we were geared similarly, because we bounced hate comfortably and took similar amounts of damage. Here's a post with more about hate dynamics between BLUs and PLDs at the time.
(In that case, what's the advantage of a BLU tank? Basically, that if more hate turns out to be needed, within a fight or an event, you can generate more hate. It does have advantages in some situations and disadvantages in others, which is okay, and not the same thing as only being useful or usable in a small number of situations. If you have strong DDs, you could also think of it in terms of "why not just have two BLUs so the BLMs have room to do more damage?")
Many situations call for tanks to focus more on doing damage, which is good for BLU, but being more adaptable, it's also more important for BLUs to recognize which situations are which. The post above is about Byakko, which, by the end of the 75 era, was often tanked by DDing tanks or even DDs. During the transition period, I had to decide whether to push for DD-tanking in general or to emphasize that BLU could behave like the PLDs were in that group at that time, and I thought and still do that the latter would better let me explore my new idea, both directly letting me push BLU's limits more and indirectly by building credibility with a wider variety of groups (and that a move toward DD-tanking should be led by healers, but that's another story).
Not always practical and usually more trouble than it's worth, but can be key to a gimmicky fight.
The TP page says that enemies gain TP in the following ways:
- When attacking a player, TP is calculated normally based on Delay. Most enemies have 240 Delay, and gain 6.4 TP per hit.
- When hit by a melee attack, enemies gain the attacker's Base TP + 3.
- When hit by a spell that does direct damage, enemies gain 10 TP.
- When hit by a physical Blue Magic spell, enemies gain 10 TP for every hit that connects.
- If a melee or magic attack lands for 0 damage, neither attacker nor defender will gain any TP.
- If an attack is blocked by Stoneskin, even though damage may be inflicted to the Stoneskin, no TP will be produced if the defender's HP is undamaged.
That means that if no one in your party takes damage and no one in your party deals damage, the enemy has no way to gain TP. Of course, you have to do damage to win, so let's say instead that if you control both of those things, you control the enemy's TP. BLU's TP control strategy has three components: controlling damage taken, controlling damage done, and spells that reduce enemy TP.
You can do this solo, with other BLUs, or with a RDM or SCH, for Phalanx, better enfeebles and a better, cheaper Stoneskin. Additional nukers optional. Get a good idea of how long Stoneskin lasts, then do 80-90% TP worth of damage, less when you think Stoneskin is getting low, and then cast Reaving Wind or Feather Tickle. When Stoneskin wears off, recast it immediately, using Sudden Lunge or Actinic Burst if needed. Sudden Lunge lasts longer, Actinic Burst works on more things and doesn't give TP. Keep your MP up and repeat until you win.
Spells: Plenty of DD spells. Consider the damage/TP ratio. This is a good time for Conserve MP. Enfeebles if you're solo.
Gear: You may want a hybrid PDT/spell damage set.
Sub: /NIN if it helps, otherwise /RDM unless someone else is giving you Phalanx, in which case /PLD.
BLU and Other Tank Jobs
This is the chart I originally used to talk about tanking on different jobs, based on the then-popular "PLD vs. NIN" model, which developed in the context of mid-level EXP parties:
- Hate control ________[______PLD______]________ Damage mitigation
- --------------- _____'_____'_____'_____'_____'_____
- Hate control __________________[_____NIN_____] Damage mitigation
- Hate control [____WAR____]___________________ Damage mitigation
- Hate control [________BLU________]___________ Damage mitigation
I used it to show that BLU had both a clear strength and the capacity to take different approaches, that it could sometimes resemble other jobs and sometimes accomplish new things, and that either of those involved trade-offs. Because of the way BLU's spells work, a BLU isn't necessarily that adaptable within one fight, much less great at everything at once.
A level 99 version might look like this:
Hate control_________________[_____PLD_____] Damage mitigation
- Damage ---- _____'_____'_____'_____'_____'_____
Hate control___[______RUN______]____________ Damage mitigation
- Damage ---- _____'_____'_____'_____'_____'_____
Hate control[____/WAR_____]________________ Damage mitigation
- Damage ----_____'_____'_____'_____'_____'_____
Hate control[________BLU_________]__________ Damage mitigation
- Damage ---- _____'_____'_____'_____'_____'_____
based on when I last played--I'm not familiar with the game anymore, and the greater variety of content means this is even more of a simplification. For example, if you were fighting something like Cuijatender, this would be more accurate:
Hate control__________________________PLD__ Damage mitigation
- Damage ---- _____'_____'_____'_____'_____'_____
Hate control_________________________NIN.[__] Damage mitigation
Damage ---- _____'_____'_____'_____'_____'_____
Hate control________________________BLU_[__] Damage mitigation
Damage ---- _____'_____'_____'_____'_____'_____
As these charts suggest, at different levels a job's range can be different. In general, the lower level you are, the smaller the scale as a whole is (fewer distinct types of tanking), and as a result, each job's range is smaller (less difference between builds within a job).
75-cap private servers may also ignore the RDM tank nerf and therefore have RDM tanks in endgame. RDM is more damage mitigation-oriented.
Q. Is a BLU tank hard to gear?
A. Like BLU in general, you need multiple sets but nothing more rare or expensive than you'd need to DD or for a different job. In fact, BLU has no equivalent to a PLD's time-consuming Ochain or Aegis, and there was a time when a good BLU could perform comparably to a well-geared PLD despite spending much less time getting gear. Instead BLU has a high skill ceiling, meaning knowledge, good planning, quick thinking, and remembering things under pressure.
Q. Is a BLU tank hard to play?
A. It can be, but it depends what you want to tank. There have always been easy applications of these skills in addition to complicated ones. No need to be intimidated by an EXP party!
Q. Is BLU a better tank than (other tank job)?
A. It really is different and has different strengths and weaknesses. There were many situations over the game's lifespan where BLU was the better choice, and many situations where it wasn't (and plenty of situations where it didn't really matter). That's been true of every job: did your linkshell's BLMs die a lot in Dynamis? Even before the hate cap thing, do you remember melees dying TP burning dangerous things because the boss just took so much damage that hate couldn't be kept off of them? Did you ever have a mage assigned to cast Paralyna or Cursna and do nothing else when you could have used a backwards tank? I did. Those were all things BLU handled well.
Q. Can BLU tank (thing)?
A. If it's new, I don't know. If you're playing at 75 cap, the answer is probably yes unless it's kiting or otherwise ranged (like Jailer of Love or the final TOAU mission). Some people will tell you no whether or not it's true. Ask for specific reasons and don't necessarily take their word for it. I discovered much of this stuff by doing it anyway.
Q. Does a BLU tank need extra support?
A. No, but sometimes it needs different support. BLU has its own Haste, Erase at 74, and Refresh at 79, but not Phalanx. A SCH or RDM giving Phalanx to a BLU in its natural habitat of tanking large groups makes a world of difference, but you can always skip hasting BLUs if you have other things to do. Just try to be consistent about it or say something if you can, please. I hate having to guess whether I should use my own haste or not
Q. How much damage does a BLU tank do?
A. Unless the situation calls for an earth staff, more than a PLD but not as much as a DDing BLU. Damage is a major source of hate in some situations. Tanking or not, mid-level and at times 75 BLUs put out more damage the more sources of MP they have.
Q. I'm new to BLU and/or tanking and I'm so lost. How can I learn to do this?
A. Basically, it's a problem-solving and game understanding skill, and so is BLU in general. If you use preset spell sets without looking at them, you're on the wrong track. Start with some small-group stuff, like Zilart missions at 75 or lower difficulties at 99. Look at the list of spells above and guess which ones would help with the fight you want to do. If you lose, ask yourself what happened and what you could do about it. Would Magic Barrier or Saline Coat let you survive Astral Flow? Would Temporal Shift or Occultation let you sleep everything safely? Can you think of anything else that would help, like setting Blank Gaze or subbing DNC?
Q. What's the difference between Saline Coat and Magic Barrier?
A. Magic Barrier lasts five minutes and wears off when you've taken enough magic damage, like Stoneskin, so it's better for small amounts of damage and is much more MP-efficient than Saline Coat if you can't predict when you'll take magic damage. Saline Coat adds Magic Defense Bonus, lasts one minute and gets weaker over its duration, so the better you time it, the better it works, even if you have enough MP to use it all the time. Magic Barrier affects some things that Saline Coat doesn't, like breath attacks and fixed damage. They do stack.
Q. Which Abyssea atmas should I use?
A. There isn't really a "tanking atma." There is a -10% PDT one, but you get a lot more out of a refresh fueling Occultations and White Winds and, if you really need a survivability boost, an HP atma does more and the improved White Winds benefit fast hate and party healing too. Both refresh and HP have options with a benefit to melee damage. The PDT one should be only for Charged Whisker reasons. I suggest a refresh atma even if you normally don't use one, and an HP atma if two of the following are true: you're short on abyssites, you're fighting something dangerous (like top of the food chain or certain tricky things), or you're not confident in your healer (think pickup in all teal gear). If not, just use another DD atma, or Atma of the Savior for certain fights if you have it.
Improving This Guide
Even if you're a new player or this is the first time you've heard any of this, you can help! After all, my goal is to reach average players who don't necessarily understand FFXI well. So, if that's you, which concepts were explained well and which were confusing? Was there too much jargon or too many abbreviations? What would you like to know that wasn't covered, or wasn't covered thoroughly enough? After reading this guide, do you feel like you could explain it to someone else?