So I’ve had almost a full day playing Gunbreaker, and while I’m sure there’s still a lot to learn I think I have the basics of this badass gunblade-wielding class figured out. Here’s a quick writeup on the Gunbreaker skills and how each fits into the GNB playstyle.
Note: I use the phrase “GCD” referring to the global cooldown on abilities and “oGCD” meaning off-GCD a lot in this post. oGCD abilities may have their own internal cooldown but otherwise can be “weaved” in between your other skills at any time.
This one’s nice and easy. Royal Guard significantly increases your enmity (threat) on all targets, making them want to attack you instead of the squishies. Keep this on at all times in dungeons, though you may want to turn it off during singleplayer content (questing) to make your NPC friends tank instead. Alphinaud, you da real MVP.
Basic Single-Target Rotation:
Keen Edge -> Brutal Shell -> Solid Barrel
This combo is the core of the Gunbreaker skills. Keen Edge starts it off, followed by Brutal Edge which gives both a heal and a damage shield, then Solid Barrel is the finisher, dealing the most damage of the three and adding a Cartridge (max 2) to your Powder Gauge.
Powder Gauge Single-Target Combo:
Gnashing Fang -> Savage Claw -> Wicked Talon
With Cartridges in your Powder Gauge, you open up a few new gunbreaker skills, mainly this combo. Gnashing Fang starts you off, leading into Savage Claw and then Wicked Talon. No special abilities on these ones, just a large amount of single-target damage. Gnashing Fang is on a 28 second cooldown, so you’ll want to use it whenever it’s up to maximize DPS. We’ll get to what to use your remaining Cartridges on shortly.
Note: At level 70 we get Continuation, which allows you to double up on any one of these for free.
Demon Slice -> Demon Slaughter
A shorter combo than the single-target, these two Demon gunbreaker skills do AOE damage, great for picking up trash mobs. This set does less damage than the single-target rotation, and doesn’t give you any heals or shields, so it’s generally best to switch back to single-target if there’s less than 3-4 enemies. There is however a slight benefit in that it generates a Cartridge in only 2 GCDs instead of 3, so you may want to use it to shave off a few seconds if your Gnashing Fang is off CD without a cartridge ready.
Note: At level 76 we get Bloodfest which will instantly generate 2 Cartridges on a 90s cooldown, so that last point may be moot after that.
Now that we know how to generate and use the Cartridges in the Powder Gauge, you might realize that you can generate Cartridges much faster than you can use them with the Gnashing Fang combo. That’s exactly what Burst Strike is for, and basically the only thing it’s for. It does barely more damage than Gnashing Fang alone, only use it during the 30s that GF is down. Keep in mind that it shares the GCD with your single target rotation; there may be times when you want to forego the extra damage just to get more heals/shields from Brutal Shell.
Note: At level 72 we get Fated Circle, which is basically the AoE version of this. It does slightly less single-target damage but is always better for 2 or more enemies.
Lightning Shot, Rough Divide
Here we have our two gunbreaker skills for range. Lightning Shot is a weak ranged attack that generates extra enmity. Rough Divide is a slightly stronger attack that dashes to the target and has two charges (one generating every 30s). Both can be used for an initial pull, though once in combat you generally want to use Lightning Shot as your filler when out of melee range (during an AoE for example) and Rough Divide to jump back in (once the AoE is done). Both are instant-cast, LS shares the GCD but RD is oGCD, use it for extra damage if you don’t need the dash!
As you may have guessed, Provoke pisses off a target. Use this whenever you lose aggro on a target, or if you need to tank-swap during a boss fight. It’s off the GCD so it can be a lifesaver for pulling something while in the middle of another animation.
Damage over Time (DoTs):
Sonic Break, Bow Shock
These two gunbreaker skills offer an instant-cast DoT effect, Sonic Break (lasting 30s) hits single target and Bow Shock (15s, no GCD) hits AoE. They also have a cooldown of ~1 minute. This makes Sonic Break great for extra boss damage and Bow Shock for extra damage on trash packs (periodically). Both can be used on a single target simultaneously (extra boss damage), but Bow Shock is most effective when used in conjunction with add spawns.
There’s one more damage ability, Danger Zone, that doesn’t really fit in with the above. It’s an instant-cast, single-target damage skill for 350 potency, upgrading to 800 with a trait at level 80. There’s no reason not to use this every time it’s up, it’s free damage that doesn’t interfere with your GCD. Weave it into your normal damage rotations as best you can.
Here comes the hard part of this guide. Like all tanks, gunbreaker skills include many defensive cooldowns all with various effects and timers, and with me being relatively newer to FFXIV I’m still not always sure when is best to pop each one. I’ll try to give my best impressions here but feel free to correct me if anything looks wrong.
90s cooldown, 20s duration
Reduces damage taken by 10% and gives +50% parry rate (chance to reduce damage by 20%).
90s cooldown, 20s duration
Reduces damage taken by 20%.
120s cooldown, 10s duration
Reduces damage taken by 30%.
60s cooldown, 5s duration
Reduces target’s damage dealt by 10%
60s cooldown, 20s duration
Increases damage dealt by 20%.
60s cooldown, 18s duration
Grants a 200 potency cure (heal) over time.
Interrupts a target’s action.
120s cooldown, 6s duration
Prevents most knockback and draw-in effects. If hit during this time it will put a 15s slow on the target.
360s cooldown, 8s duration
Reduces your HP to 1 while making you invincible to most attacks.
That gives us a total of 4 damage reductions, 1 damage increase, 1 regen, 1 knockback/drawin prevention, and one panic button.
Of the four damage reductions, Nebula is clearly the strongest but lasts about half as long as the other two. I’d recommend saving it for when you know a big hit is coming from a boss Rampart and Camouflage have less mitigation but with a shorter cooldown. Keep in mind you can stack these, if you need a large amount of protection during a “tank buster” spike damage attack , or during trash fights where you need a lot of mitigation up front until some enemies start dying.
Reprisal is the last damage reduction, an indirect one that reduces the target’s damage done rather than your own damage taken. This one is obviously less powerful than the rest and nearly pointless for trash packs, but is another handy option for reducing boss damage during tank and spank sections.
No Mercy is a straight damage buff to your own damage for 20 seconds out of every 60, so feel free to pop it as often as possible, except if needed to burst down boss adds.
Aurora is a handy self-heal with a relatively short cooldown, you shouldn’t feel bad about using this in combat whenever it’s up, just to help your healers out a bit. Interject is a pretty straight-forward interrupt, feel free to use it to stop an enemy from casting. Arm’s Length is situational – most bosses probably won’t be affected by the slow, so that half may be more useful when kiting trash packs, but plenty of bosses do have a knockback or draw-in, so if you know the fight you can make great use of this.
Superbolide wraps up our cooldowns with the ultimate panic button. Press it if you know you’re going to die within the next 8 seconds, or if you know most of your enemies are going to die in that time. I’d almost recommend using this in a macro to warn your healer, so they can use something like White Mage’s Benediction to quickly heal you back up from the brink of death.
Note: We get two more damage reduction cooldowns at 64 and 68 (Heart of Light and Heart of Stone), which when combined with the other 4 means we can have 100% uptime on some form of damage reduction. Heart of Stone has a particularly short cooldown, so that will be the one running most often.
Controller (Cross Hotbar) Setup:
This kind of thing is always more personal preference and muscle memory than anything else, but in case you’d like to see an example of how I have my hotbars setup, here’s a screenshot (I play almost exclusively with controller, sorry KB+M players!):
This won’t be the optimal setup for everyone, but it works great for me. To give a brief overview:
- To stay mobile with the left stick I have my single target rotation (and ranged pull) on RT+ABXY and my AOE rotation (and gap closer) on LT+ABXY.
- My Cartridge rotation is on RT+DPAD (so I can quickly return to ST rotation).
- The extras on the left/right are the W Cross Hotbars (WXHB), usable with a double tap of the left or right trigger – which is where I keep defensive cooldowns.
- I have another “hidden” hotbar on LT->RT with Tank Stance, Taunt, Interrupt and Bloodfest.
There, hopefully that answers any questions you may have on how to play Gunbreaker effectively. I’m new to tanking in FFXIV and still leveling mine up, and the class is still brand-new, so there will most likely be changes over time, but I’ll most likely update this post as those things come along. So far though the class seems really fun, and I’m happy to finally have a high-level tank to round out my holy trinity. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you want to let me know that this guide helped you understand the class a little bit better, feel free to let me know.
Update: thanks to/u/bradicknowledge, /u/Meryl-D and /u/TheTweets on Reddit for corrections.