The release of patch 2.1 came with one highly anticipated feature: player versus player in the form of the Wolves’ Den. This system pits teams of 4 against one another in a deathmatch arena – quite similar to arena in World of Warcraft. While players can queue either solo or in groups of up to 4 players through Duty Finder, all matches currently take place in 4v4 format.
In this guide to FFXIV PvP, I will provide a quick overview to The Wolves’ Den, discuss working strategies, and finally go over some tips you can use to win more arena matches.
Accessing PvP in FFXIV
The quest line for accessing PvP is simple: head to your Grand Company’s headquarters and pick up the “A Pup No More” quest. This will task you with heading to the Wolves’ Den. To get to the Wolves’ Den, head to Moraby Drydocks and hop on the boat. Once you get to the Wolves’ Den, you will want to attune to the Aetheryte so you can come back later.
Once you arrive, just talk to an NPC or two and you will be cleared for play. You can now queue any time via the Duty Finder.
PvP Rank and Rewards
Players earn PvP experience points and Wolf Marks for participating in PvP. Each winning match nets 50-60 marks and 30-40 experience points while each losing match only brings in around 10 marks and 10 PvP experience points. Marks can be used at the various NPCs at the Wolves’ Den while PvP experience points increase your PvP level. As you increase your PvP level, you can unlock PvP specific abilities.
There are currently three tiers of rewards: item level 55 gear (crafted), item level 70 gear, and item level 90 gear. Naturally, the item level 90 gear is very good, but it requires a PvP rank of level 30 to use. It took me around 50 matches to hit level 8; I expect it will take around 500 to get to rank 30 given that the amount of experience points required to level up increases with each level.
The higher level gear itself is quite expensive too. After about 50 matches, I was able to accrue enough Wolf Marks to buy a single item level 70 piece (without many marks left over). The item level 90 gear is about 4 times the price of item level 70 gear – it will literally require over 1000 matches to get a full set of item level 90 gear.
PvP Equipment & Morale
PvP gear contains the “morale” stat which both boosts damage dealt to players while reducing incoming damage taken from enemy players. This stat seems to be quite powerful and as a result PvP gear is very valuable. In fact, Morale is strong enough in PvP that that even the item level 55 HQ crafted gear feels similar in strength to item level 90 gear Allagan/Tomestone gear. The item level 70 gear PvP gear seems to actually be superior to item level 90 PvE gear thanks to the strength of Morale.
There are currently three tiers of PvP gear:
- Wolf: The crafted set of equipment is known as the Wolf set. This gear is item level 55.
- Warwolf: Warwolf gear is item level 70 and is the first set available from Wolf Marks. It has one-fourth the cost of Direwolf gear.
- Direwolf: Direwolf gear is item level 90 and is currently the top PvP set. It takes 100 wins just to buy accessories of the Direwolf set. These pieces also require a PvP rank of 30 just to equip.
While you might not want to run out and buy the level 55 crafted armor pieces if you already have all item level 90 gear, if you do not have item level 90 gear, you will want to get the full item level 55 set. Additionally, note that the HQ crafted Wolf accessories are not too far off from PvP gear in terms of stats, yet the Wolf gear also provide Morale. As a result, you might want to use a full set of Wolf accessories over item level 70-90 PvE accessories. This will help boost your Morale without sacrificing too many stats.
Warwolf and Direwolf both contain empty materia slots that are only active while inside the arena. While you can use regular materia in these slots, there are also materia available for purchase with Wolf Marks that can boost your “resistance” to crowd control effects like Sleep and Stun. However, these materia are fairly expensive (1250 marks each), so it is will not be easy to accrue a significant amount of resistance.
One question many players have will be whether or not you should try and save your points for item level 90 gear or whether you should buy the cheaper item level 70 equipment. The answer is that it depends.
You will only be able to afford a few pieces of item level 90 gear once you hit a PvP Rank of 30 even if you save all of your Wolf Marks, so in theory you are wasting marks by spending on item level 70 gear. However, you might win more frequently if you buy Warwolf gear since the Morale will help improve your damage while reducing the damage you take. The extra win rate may help the Warwolf gear to pay for itself. If you play primarily via solo queuing, it may be a long rode to rank 30 in pure PvE gear.
Premade Groups Versus Solo Queue
When you queue for PvP, know that when you are queuing solo you tend to play against a team composed of pick-ups and if you queue in a group you are likely to run into another premade group. Your team needs to be good if you are going to score a high win rate against other premade groups.
However, when queuing solo, you will likely lose more than you win just because you will wind up with a few unlucky situations you cannot control:
- No Warrior. While Paladins had their time in the sun as the undisputed best tank since the release of ARR (though Warriors are a bit better now in 2.1), Warriors are the kings of PvP. If you use Dungeon Finder and wind up with a Paladin, you are at a major disadvantage. Not only is Storm’s Eye is a crucial PvP ability, but Warriors control enemies better while simultaneously dealing more damage.
- Poorly geared/low-skilled healer. With surprising frequency, classes who are fresh 50s and are still wearing their level 45 Artifact Armor will queue for PvP. If one of these classes happens to be your healer, you are practically guaranteed to lose. If you are a new level 50, do everyone a favor and at least buy the high quality crafted PvP set – it is inexpensive will significantly improve your effectiveness in PvP.
One sneaky trick many players are using is to queue in groups of 2-3. Groups of 2-3 tend to get lumped into the pick-up group category rather than the premade category. This practice is so popular that if you enter the solo queue, you are very likely to wind up playing against a pre-formed group or two or three players as often as you run into pick-up groups. A good healer and Warrior queuing together ensures that the group always has a Warrior and the group always has a well-geared healer.
As a result, you tend to lose more than you win even as a good player if you are queuing solo.
FFXIV PvP Strategies That Work
The difference between winning and losing matches is huge: you get 5-6 times the number Wolf Marks and 3-4 times the number of experience points when you win as compared to when you lose. As a result, I wanted to dedicate a good portion of this guide to PvP strategy to help readers win more games.
Crowd Control Effects Are Very Strong
Crowd control (CC) effects are very strong in the FFXIV PvP. While CC has historically been strong in other games, it is even stronger compared to the norm in FFXIV. For one, the durations for abilities are very long. Stuns can last for 5 or more seconds, binding effects (Shadowbind) can last for 10 seconds, and Sleep lasts a massive 30 seconds.
Another particularly annoying feature is in FFXIV, when you are bound, you cannot rotate your character like in other MMOs. As a result, you can be bound and in range of your teammates and opponents but not be able to cast ranged abilities since you are not facing those opponents.
Players do get a single CC break in the form of Purify, but this has a 4 minute cooldown (2.5 minutes when upgraded). If you use Purify to break a 30 second sleep, then you are going to be stuck next time you get stunned or bound. Diminishing returns on particular effects do exist, but they are still quite large compared to the norm.
As a result, you want to regularly use crowd control effects to your advantage. If you have Shadowbind and are not being focused, you will want to bind an enemy DPS if your team is getting pressured. If you are focusing DPS, use Shadowbind on the healer. Any class with sleep should be constantly looking for an opening to cast.
Pay Attention to Line of Sight
Line of sight is one of the most important aspects of PvP that rarely is experienced in PvE. Namely, if you put a pillar or a wall in between you and an opponent, their ranged attacks will not be able to hit you. This also interrupts any casted abilities that are currently channeling. Understanding and mastering this skill is important for surviving focus-fire (when multiple opponents are attack you) as well as for avoiding casted CC.
Likewise, line of sight is also important for getting healed. If you a DPS class and getting focus-fired, the last thing you want to do is run behind a pillar or wall while attempting to kite, ensuring that your healer will not be able to heal you. When being focused, you have to be careful not to break line of sight with your healer by running behind a wall or pillar or you might end up getting killed.
Taking this a step further, if an enemy DPS player is behind a wall and the healer is on the other side of the map, making a hard switch to that DPS class can allow you to blow up the DPS. Just two (or even 1) player can often take down a soft DPS class if you can trap them behind the wall.
Who to Focus Fire First?
The most important target to focus fire depends on the coordination and composition of your group. Different players insist upon the merits of focusing down one class over another and the truth is multiple strategies can work. In this section, I will break down focus-fire priority depending upon group composition and skill level.
As a general rule, Black Mages need to be focused as a priority no matter what your group’s composition. A Black Mage unchecked will wreck havoc with Sleep and even casted abilities. Meanwhile, not only are Black Mages the easiest class to focus fire and kill, they are also unable to cast when being focused.
Focusing the Healer
Contrary to popular belief, “focus the healer” strategies do not work very well if the healer is good and well-geared. Good healers can tank DPS all day, particularly in pick-up groups. It takes a coordinated effort to take down healers as well as crowd control to lock down enemy DPS to help break up damage and stop CC on your own healer/DPS classes.
Being able to successfully focus-fire down a good healer first requires a good Warrior. Storm’s Eye is crucial for killing a healer early, as it reduces healing by 50%. Combined with Holmgang (draws in and roots target for 6 seconds) and Brutal Swing (5 second stun), the Warrior is practically a required class if you want to blow up an excellent enemy healer. If you have a good Warrior, by all means, focus the healer first.
If focus-firing a healer first, it is very helpful if you have a Summoner or Black Mage for sleeping purposes. If you Focus Fire the healer, this leaves the enemy’s tank and 2 DPS classes completely unchecked. Sleep can help lock down these players.
Merits of Focusing DPS
Rather than focus-fire healers, I find it much easier to CC the enemy healer and blow up a DPS. With only a single target to focus your CC efforts on, it is much easier to keep the healer locked down then it is to try and lock down multiple DPS classes.
The best part about focusing a DPS first is that when you focus-fire a DPS class, you are in effect controlling them. The obvious benefit is if you are targeting a caster, they will not be able to channel any abilities. However, even melee and Bards are controlled by focus fire. If you are focus-firing an enemy DPS, this DPS cannot chase your healer behind a wall or else they risk going out of line of sight of their healer and getting blown up (and a lot of time they mindlessly will).
By CCing a healer and focusing a DPS, you have turned the match into a 2v4. A DPS class cannot survive for very long if the healer gets locked into a 20+ second CC cycle.
Focus fire priority is generally recommended as follows: Black Mage > Summoner > Bard. While many groups will try to kill the healer if these three classes are not in the match, I have no problem going out of order or even focus-firing down a Monk or Dragoon that gets overexposed as a first kill. If you can land a good CC cycle on the enemy healer and the Monk or Dragoon is across the map, these classes are just as vulnerable as a caster.
Another valid strategy is to split up your focus-fire to attack multiple targets at once. The tanking class can go for the healer to interrupt heals, while the two DPS classes can focus down a target enemy DPS. This strategy is effective when your group composition does not have good crowd control abilities yet the enemy has a Black Mage that you do not want to leave unchecked.
This strategy can be helpful when you end up with an unfortunate composition like Paladin / Melee / Melee. With no good crowd control, the only way to lock down the healer is by sticking the Paladin on the healer and using the DPS classes to try and blow up the enemy Black Mage.
Additional FFXIV PvP Tips
In this section, I wanted to record some PvP tips and go over some common mistakes I see players make on a routine basis. While not specific to every class or every match up, knowing these tips will help give you a slight advantage in PvP.
Blood for Blood
For all the DPS classes out there that use Blood for Blood – remember that this increases damage taken by 25%. If you are getting focus-fired, you never want to use this skill. If the enemy switches to you after you use this ability, try to click it off. I have lost count of the number of times I have blown up a Bard or Monk that used Blood for Blood while being focus-fired.
If You Want to Kill a Scholar, Kill Eos
It is hard to kill a Scholar while their pet is sitting there dishing out heals. Fortunately, Scholar pets are weak and can be blown up in a second. Most Scholars are not very mindful of their pet and it can be difficult to keep the pet alive given its inability to try and avoid player damage.
While it is true that Scholar can use Swiftcast to summon a new fairy instantly, this means they will not be able to use Swiftcast any time soon to resurrect a fallen player or to cast a heal on themselves. If a new fairy is summoned, just destroy it right away.
An easier solution is to just sleep or CC the enemy healer and instead try and focus down the enemy’s DPS classes.
Watch Out for Resurrection
Swiftcast can be used to instantly resurrect fallen players. This will undoubtedly happen when you take down a DPS class first. The solution here is to focus down the healer the second the first DPS drops. While the healer might still get the resurrect off, the healer will not be able to top off the DPS the second the DPS accepts the resurrect as the healer will be worried about staying alive. You can then easily switch and kill the DPS that has spawned with a mere fraction of their total HP.
If the resurrect is successful and the DPS player gets topped off, it is generally best practice to go back to trying to control the healer while focusing down the DPS you already took down once. With resurrection weakness, it will be easier than it was the first time to take down that DPS class again.
Use Player Marks
It is very helpful, particularly in pick up groups, to mark DPS targets with a #1. Using the numbering system is the clearest method for marking targets. Using the graphical symbols does not communicate to group members whether that is a CC target or a focus target. Using a 1 2 3 4 system makes it easy to tell which opponents will be a priority and which will be controlled.
It is also a good idea to mark the healer in your group. This allows DPS classes on your team that are being focus-fired to be able to easily spot the healer in the heat of battle. This will allow the DPS class to move to the healer for healing or to try and break up damage if the healer is being controlled.
One strategy that can be effective for premade groups is for the scholar to park Eos in a predefined spot. This way, if DPS classes are getting focused, the DPS know where to go for healing. They can plan their kiting path to pass by Eos to get topped off. The downsides to this are that it does leave Eos open to attack and the Scholar will also need to stay nearby just in case the Scholar is being focused. If Eos is parked across the map and the enemy switches to the Scholar, the Scholar might be in trouble.
Esuna for Sleep
Sleep is a game-changer if allowed to run its full duration, but it can be dispelled via Esuna. This is just another reason why sleeping the healer and focusing DPS works so well. If the healer is slept, there will not be an Esuna to dispel sleep.
Using Ventrilo (or Another Voice Comm Software)
Using Ventrilo or another form of group voice communication is essential for pre-made groups. Being able to tell group members when to switch and who is being CC’d is extremely beneficial. If the healer can announced that he or she has been locked down by CC, the DPS knows to be extra careful and to break up incoming damage rather than try to score a kill at all costs.
Additionally, it is very hard to swap focus fire targets without voice communication. Imagine during a match you are going up against Brd, Drg, Whm, War. Initially, you might target the Bard first, only to discover 30 seconds into the match that the Dragoon’s gear is weak while the Bard’s gear is great. Being able to communicate this and switching over to the Dragoon requires voice communication.
FFXIV PvP Strategy Guide: Conclusion
While these tips and strategies are a great starting point, you are not going to be likely to possess a great win rate if you always queue as a solo player. If you want to boost your win rate, try and form groups of 2-3 players; it is ideal to be grouped up with a good Warrior and healer (or be either one yourself) so that you do not wind up in Warriorless matches or with poorly geared healers.
FFXIV PvP Video Guide
The video above contains discussion of everything discussed in this post plus also features me playing through a live PvP match.