The mythic Red Mage of the Final Fantasy series has been a coveted class since the beginning. With the power of both black and white, the job has been touted as a god like class in the early Final Fantasy games. In Final Fantasy XI, the Red Mage isn’t quite so mythical, but it is a powerful class none the less. Red Mage is my personal favorite mage class to level, as you can wear scale armor, swords, shields, self heal, buff (self/weapon) and enfeeble mobs. As a Red, you can also be a very effective healer both as backup and main however your ability to nuke/magic burst is much weaker in comparison to that of a Black Mage. Versatility is the name of the game with the Red Mage and it becomes a very busy class when in a group scenario.
The aspect of the job changes as you progress in the game. Your bread and butter throughout FFXI is enfeebling monsters with status ailments like Slow, Blind, Poison, Sleep, Gravity, Bio and many more. In the early stages you can function as an enfeebler, healer, and even engage in melee. Your melee in a party declines as you move into a more mage-like function in your mid levels though there is an age old debate on that in many online communities.
At mid-level you will be enfeebling, back up healing and dispelling a monster’s buff. After 40 things get very, very busy for the party life of a Red Mage and you will find yourself with even more tasks to keep track of. You will still be performing your duties from the low levels plus Refresh, Haste and more. After 40 you will be expected to keep Refresh on anyone with MP, giving them back 3 MP per sec. You will want to keep Haste on your tanks and some damage dealers, if time allows. At 40 you become a mana battery with the ability called Convert. This allows you to swap your HP for your MP so when your MP drops to zero, you can swap it with your HP and heal yourself back to normal. This reduces the party’s downtime and keeps all those wanted spells coming. Toward end game, more options open back up to you and you can choose a number of different parties to mix things up. With the onset of spells like Blink, Stoneskin, Phalanx and abilities from sub jobs, you can become a very powerful solo class.
The job is a very versatile mage class whose subs can dramatically change the way the job functions. Subbing White allows you to be an effective group healer and grants you the ability to perform group buffs. Black aids in sticking your enfeebles, boosting your MP reserve and granting you Warp/Escape for getting out of sticky situations. Ninja turns you into a powerful solo class. Ninja allows you to create shadows to mitigate damage, dual wield swords for increased melee output and decrease a mob’s resistance to your elemental spells. Add all that to a Red’s self buffs, enfeebles, buffs, debuffs, cures and nukes and you have a very potent job. Dark Knight has a limited role, but when coupled with the Red Mage two-hour ability Chainspell, you become a show stopper. What this does is allow you to spam the Dark Knight spell Stun to disable a boss for a limited time (30 seconds). This technique is called Stun-gunning or Chainstun. Get a large number of Reds set up this way and you can keep an enemy at bay for a good while.
Other aspects that are unique to the Red Mage are the benefits from having the Fast Cast trait, which shortens the casting time of their spells and aids in both party/solo play. In an emergency situations you can use your two-hour ability Chainspell to instantly cast spells for 30 seconds. We’ve already talked about its use with Stun but it also comes in handy for unloading on a mob with spells, massive healing (though likely to pull too much aggro) or if needed a fast exit with Escape. The Convert ability has other uses such as when your HP are low, you can use it to swap it out with your MP to keep yourself from an untimely demise. The most common use is the MP refill and the most effective way to do this is by using Divine Seal plus your highest Cure to refill your HP loss (must sub White). As a Red you also get a number of buffs that can only be used on yourself. You get Bar-spells that increase your resistance to specific elemental damage and a variety of status aliments. Probably the most useful aspect of this is that it shortens the duration of status aliments like Sleep. Next, you have access to En-Element spells that grant elemental damage to your weapon. You don’t get the bonus against an enemy’s elemental weakness like you do with spells, but you can take all that you can get. Other powerful spells are Phalanx and Stoneskin which work to reduce the damage you take, when combined with Blink aids in the Red’s solo capabilities.
No article would be complete without throwing in a dose of controversy and I intend to do just that. There is an unconventional build called the “Red Tank”, where in the early stages you sub Warrior and tank in parties. I have personally done this as both an Elvaan and Galka in the dunes with a good deal of success. The effectiveness quickly subsides after 20, but it is fun to play around with before then. I don’t recommend heading to the dunes with a party flag flying high as you will likely not get invites but will likely get heckled. Putting together a party of friends can be a lot of fun to play around with this build. I contend though that nearly anything is possible pre-20 just because you haven’t experienced that ramp in the difficulty of monsters yet. With this information you are now equipped to start a flame war on Red Mage forums (though not inciting you to do so) because nothing says, “Hit me” like the mentioning of the “Red Tank” as a mid game solution. Pfft who needs Refresh! I’m joking.
So in conclusion, the Red Mage class is a wonderful job with lots to do for the player that wants an abundance of duties to fulfill in a party. Red Mage becomes a wonderful solo class both at low levels and later in the game but be prepared to play the mage role midway through. You will not have any issues finding parties with such a utilitarian tool box of spells and abilities. Good Hunting!