Seeing as how we haven’t had a current full SMN guide in quite some time on the forums, I believe it is the appropriate time to make a everything to know thread for information regarding the 2.55 (Level 50) & 3.0+ (Level 60) SMN playstyle. I will continue to update this thread as new information comes to light and into the 3.0 era as well. There are places in this guide where I will insert my own opinion in some things and I will make sure to note that as such. There are also several different users on the forums who have suggested various tips and tricks that I will also continue to document, so feel free to contribute to this thread and I will update the OP when I can. My goal is to ultimately make this a thread for everything SMN but also maximizing it’s potential. This guide, while beginner friendly, is also geared towards players who feel familiar with the class.
For most, Summoner(SMN) is arguably the most difficult class to be good at. Every single decision will impact your DPS. Some may say all classes suffer from this and that is true to a degree, however from the beginning of the fight, a SMN’s DPS is in constant decline. Every mistake hits you harder than any other class. The only way to increase your numbers, outside of Foe Requiem currently, is maximizing on the add phases of fights and Dreadwyrm Trance. Your entire mindset for this class should be bursting as high as possible in your opener and then doing everything in your power to keep it from falling.
Most people consider SMN to simply be a class that focuses around DoTs and as long as you have them up, you are doing your best DPS. This is in-fact not very true at all. Yes while the application of DoTs is the core of our damage, it is not the entire picture. Maximizing your opener, expanded usage of auto-attacks, advanced Aetherflow stack management, maximizing time in Dreadwyrm Trance and stat build, all make up what is needed for a SMN to reach its full potential.
This is probably, in my opinion, one of the biggest damage modifiers for a SMN’s DPS. Many party setups adapt one particular mainstream strategy and expect everyone to maximize with that strategy. That is the wrong way to handle DPS when you have a SMN in the party. If you have a SMN in the party, build your DPS strategy around them, to increase everyone’s individual DPS, thus raid DPS, as well as your SMNs.
The proper way to handle DPS on the first add phase so everyone benefits, is to split up your DPS. Dividing your DPS going into the phase will ensure your SMN is getting maximum uptime on all the mobs present. This will also benefit classes like MNK or NIN that climb in DPS the more they are allowed to sit and focus on a mob akin to a striking dummy without adding in travel time. The second add phase, you can do as normal to ensure a tank is freed up in a timely fashion. There are other unorthodox strategy’s that involve killing one sides daughter and another sides son but I find this is more often a Raid DPS loss. While a benefit to a SMNs numbers, this isn’t something you should care for. You want to increase your own numbers alongside everyone else.
Your main DoT skills will be Bio II, Miasma, and Bio I. Each of these DoTs should in theory be refreshed in the 1-4 second range depending on the circumstances. DoTs also snapshot all DPS buffs/debuffs currently in play when first applied and run their full duration at the higher number. Should there be a time where a mechanic forces you to move while DoTs also need to be refreshed, consider refreshing slightly earlier or using Swiftcast if it means that DoT will fall off for more than 3 seconds before reapplied otherwise.
I will also say that you never need to do those “quartets” of abilities. It is not that necessary to use Fester on cd and have to blow Ruin II for it…why would you waste mana that way for no reason? You should, unless needing to fit 2 festers under Raging (and during the opening set of festers to get second aetherflow out quicker), only fester while casting Bio, or swiftcasted Shadowflare. I also feel its just confusing. While technically speaking the entire SMN rotation is completely static, its just much more intuitive and easier to react to your DoTs ticking down and the fester cd. Its not very difficult to figure out that its coming off cd 2 GCDs out, and take quick stock of your dots.
You get 60 seconds for an ability that has 10 sec cd…you could literally wait 40 seconds and still get all your festers off prior to aetherflow getting off CD. Esp on multitarget fights where you have to multidot, this will save you a ton of mp if you drop Ruin 2 from your rotation except to get CDs off and for movement that you can’t stutter from.