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So you want to be a Summoner? A history of Final Fantasy XIV’s Summoner job

FFXIV’s Summoner has gone through a major rework in the Endwalker expansion, and you betcha we have some thoughts on it.

Final Fantasy XIV’s Endwalker expansion brought with it two new jobs, a satisfying ending to five arcs’ worth of story, and a slew of changes to existing jobs, some more so than others. Summoner, for instance, underwent a huge rework in Endwalker, garnering some mixed reactions, though the overall reception has been positive.

As someone who has been playing the job since late Stormblood, here is my take on these changes.

Image: Square Enix

A history lesson

Summoner is the pet DPS job of Final Fantasy XIV, and is also one of the two magic DPS jobs that can Raise players. Its starting job, Arcanist, is unique in the sense that players get the option to play either Summoner, a magical ranged DPS job, or Scholar, a shield-based healer job when they reach level 30 on their Arcanist.

Summoners primarily focused on using their pets to attack, with a secondary damage over time (DoT) based kit. They later learned Dreadwyrm Trance, which lets them channel Bahamut’s aether to unleash a potent Deathflare attack, before finally gaining the ability to summon Demi-Bahamut in the Stormblood expansion.

In the Shadowbringers expansion, the Firebird Trance – or Demi-Phoenix Phase, was added to the existing Summoner rotation, and the Egi skills became ‘Egi Assault’ actions. These actions, however, were oGCDs, adding to Summoner’s already massive oGCD arsenal. Players often had trouble deciding which buttons to press at what time in order to make the most of their cooldowns, resulting in a very busy – and often very messy – gameplay experience. Due to this, Summoner was dubbed ‘the carpal tunnel job’.

Additionally, in what I presume is due to an oversight, the Ruination effect (applied along with Bio and Miasma when a Summoner users Tri-Disaster), which caused the target to take more damage from Ruin attacks, did not include Firebird Trance attacks, despite Summon Phoenix giving you a free refresh of your Ruination by resetting the cooldown of your Tri-Disaster.

It didn’t make any sense to have a completely useless effect on the target during the duration of your Firebird Trance. In later patches, this was fixed by removing Ruination entirely.

Image: Square Enix

Subsequently, the Egi Assault actions were changed to become GCD actions instead, giving Summoners more room to breathe and bringing down its pace slightly. This was a very welcome change to many, though its reputation as ‘the carpal tunnel job’ stuck around, most likely due to how complicated its opener was, and how much of a pain it was to optimise.

In fights such as Eden’s Promise: Anamorphosis (Savage), Summoners had to move their pet with pet commands in order to delay the execution of Aetherpact while putting it on cooldown.

Speaking of pet commands, one of the most common pet peeves (pun unintended) Summoner mains have is with the pet AI. Many a Summoner would lament over their Egi actions ‘ghosting’.

‘Ghosting’ happens when a player floods the pet AI’s action queue with too many actions at once, causing the actions to be cancelled or pushed back to the point where they do not execute, while the skill goes on cooldown. This is especially common in the Summoner opener due to the number of pet actions lined up in close proximity with each other, and it is fairly easy to spot when you don’t see 4 Ruin IV stacks on your buff bar, or when Aetherpact does not go out.

Most Summoner openers include Sic in order to avoid or minimise this, but it has been a longstanding issue that has been plaguing them since the early years of the game.

Image: Square Enix

A new expansion, a new Summoner

Summoner was one of the two jobs that were almost completely reworked in the Endwalker expansion (the second job being Astrologian). In fact, there were so many overall job changes and adjustments that they could not be included in the 6.0 Patch Notes and had to be added to the job guide instead.

Additionally, players who planned to go through the Endwalker Main Scenario had the fun experience of spending their first few minutes in the game (after beating the login queues) completely reorganising their hotbars due to the sheer number of actions that had been changed or removed entirely.

As mentioned in the Endwalker Job Actions changes, the DoT actions Bio and Miasma were entirely removed from Summoner’s kit, something that was widely regarded as a massive change, as DoTs had been an integral of the Summoner rotation. Actions that relied on Bio and Miasma such as Bane – which let you spread your DoTs and the old Tri-Disaster – which applied Bio and Miasma on a target instantly, were also removed, and Fester – which dealt more damage if the target is afflicted with Bio and Miasma, was reworked so it would deal a fixed amount of damage now that DoTs were no longer in the picture.

It’s strange to think that new players will no longer know of Summoner as the DoTs class. And funnily enough, Physick – an almost negligible heal at late game, survived the mass culling of Summoner job skills.

The pet system was completely reworked – gone are the days of switching between Ifrit-Egi and Garuda-Egi, or even Titan-Egi if you found yourself in a pinch and needed some extra shielding to be safe. Summoners would now be able to summon Ifrit Ruby, Titan Topaz, and Garuda Emerald instead via the Ruby, Topaz, and Emerald Arcanums respectively, which were granted to them after their Bahamut and Phoenix phases.

And since your Carbuncle only casts Radiant Aegis (your personal mitigation) and Searing Light (your partywide damage buff), there is no need to worry about the pet AI causing pet actions to ghost.

Image: Square Enix

Speaking of Bahamut and Phoenix, Enkindle Bahamut and Enkindle Phoenix have also been reworked slightly. Previously, you would be able to execute Enkindle Bahamut and Enkindle Phoenix twice in one phase, but now, it is only possible to do it once. As a result, the potencies of Akh Morn and Revelation have been doubled, going from 650 to 1300, in order to make up for the loss of one Enkindle.

This, along with the 5 second reduction to the Bahamut and Phoenix phases, is a good thing. It makes the gameplay feel a lot faster, which is great considering how Summoner’s main openers in Shadowbringers were 110 seconds and 120 seconds long respectively. The single Enkindle also means that you will no longer curse and swear under your breath when a boss flies away or becomes untargetable before you’re able to cast that second Akh Morn.

I’m looking at you, Eden’s Promise: Anamorphosis and Diamond Weapon.

With the Ruby Arcanum, Topaz Arcanum, and Emerald Arcanum actions pretty much replacing the Egi actions, there’s now no need to worry about Egi action ghosting. No more finnicky pet AI, and no more accidentally Sic-ing Ifrit-Egi on the boss early. The pet skill Aetherpact was replaced with Searing Light, which has a 120 second cooldown compared to Aetherpact’s 180 seconds.

Definitely a welcome change – I’ve always looked on sadly as the rest of my party lined up their buffs mid raid while I still had 60 seconds left on my Aetherpact cooldown.

Image: Square Enix

The Ifrit, Garuda, and Titan Favours have also added a new weapon to Summoner’s arsenal – a gap closer in the form of Crimson Cyclone, one of Ifrit’s two Favours. While it is locked to your Ruby Arcanum, it offers a lot of versatility to the Summoner, allowing them to pick and choose which Arcanum to use first, depending on the situation.

For example, if you need to get close to a boss for a mechanic, you can summon Ifrit and use his Favour to get close, and then do the two long casts of Ruby Rite (or Ruby Catastrophe for multiple targets) while the mechanic is going out. If you know that the boss won’t be moving for a while, you can then follow up with Garuda’s Slipstream, which essentially functions as a ground-based AoE, dealing 30 potency to any enemies in it over the course of 15 seconds. Need to move around a lot? Go with Titan’s Mountain Buster, which is an oGCD that should be woven between your instant casts of Topaz Rite or Topaz Catastrophe.

Overall, these changes have made Summoner a much more mobile and flexible job in this expansion, and its endgame rotation has been drastically simplified, making it easy to pick up. It’s core rotation essentially boils down to this; Summon Bahamut, use up all your Arcanums/Favours, Summon Phoenix, use up all your Arcanums/Favours, rinse and repeat.

Players have taken to calling the three elemental Arcanums/Favours ‘Legos’, likening the Arcanum part of the rotation to ‘picking a Lego colour, using all its charges, picking another, and repeating it’, and that’s basically how it works. Pick the Arcanum that best suits the situation you’re in, and order the rest of your Arcanums according to what mechanics are going out.

If you want to have a more in-depth look at the Summoner opener and rotation in Endwalker, check out this video by Elevation.

Image: Square Enix

So, in conclusion. Is the new Summoner good? Yes. The changes have made it much easier to play and pick up (to be fair, even existing Summoner players have to ‘pick it up’ since it almost feels like an entirely new job) and have increased its overall mobility.

Will I miss the old Summoner? Also yes – I’ll miss the days of frantic button pressing and the part of its kit that revolved around DoTs.

While you can no longer check out the critically congested MMORPG by Square Enix due to the sheer amount of server traffic there is right now, you can still watch the Endwalker trailer here, and check out this video of the new Summoner gameplay from the Endwalker Media Tour below.