Like a Vegas Elvis impersonator, the Summoner is a flashy job that luckily looks better and performs better than most Elvis knockoffs. Summoner is a unique blend of mage and pet class that offers a nice change of pace between solo and party play. In a party, the majority of the time a Summoner will be called upon to be main healer. You will have one of the largest MP pools of any class and the ability to get regenerate it back over time. The reason for your massive MP pool is that your avatars drain your MP while you have them out so it is a must for the job. At higher levels, you may be able to find parties that want you to damage deal and backup heal. The nice thing about playing one is that you can opt to solo if things get stale. You will have to be more careful than a Beastmaster, but it can be done with the proper mob choice. The up side to playing a Summoner is that by itself you don't have to buy a bunch of spells (only for subs) but the downside is you have to defeat the avatars before you can summon them. There are two ways to go about doing this: 1) hook up with high level party and take them down in fights called "Primes" 2) Go one on one with them in a level 20 capped fight called "mini fights". The mini terrestrial fights sounds like the easy route but they are very tough. The mini fights aren't impossible, though your first time in may seem that way, but require the proper planning to win. Best bet is to research these fights posted by other Summoners and work on a strategy for each avatar. You may need to invest in some various potions for MP and health to help things along.
The weapons and armor of the Summoner are typical of the working in a mage position. You will use clubs and staves depending on the situation. You have a low level Dagger skill but that has little use for your class. As for Armor, you have the choice between Tunics, Robes and Doublets for protection and stats. Even though your class has a naturally high MP pool, you will still want MP gear as your avatars are so dependent on it. One piece of equipment you will want to get are the Carbuncle Mitts which allows you to keep the nuclear squirrel out for little to no MP loss. This helps with solo and depending on the party situation, allows you to add a little extra damage while you're there. After that look for MP refreshing and defense, any edge to keep you alive is always welcome. Though your choices of weapons and armor are restrictive, the choice of avatars makes up for it.
The Summoner also takes on the standard mage sub jobs. Your first choice will be White Mage, seeing how you will mainly be considered as main/backup healer. The sub gives you the best healing spells, allows you to teleport, good buffs and utility spells like Invisible/Sneak. Black Mage is a lesser used sub job but has some nice features like Warp/Escape, Conserve MP trait and another nice MP bump. Doesn't help you perform as a healer but not a bad choice for solo or working in a pet intensive role. Scholar has become a popular sub job. Similar in nature to White Mage though you don't get the Party heal spells and buffs like Curaga or Protectra however the class allows you to cast faster and with less MP cost on your standard healing spells. You also Sneak/Invisible for free and can use Regen II. Summoner is a decent sub job as it gives the biggest MP boost to other mage jobs as well as offers some party buffs.
Outside of your avatars you do get some handy job traits and abilities. Your two hour is Astral Flow and allows the Summoner's avatars to use their Blood Pact area effect spells and reduces their perpetual MP cost for 3 minutes. It may not sound like much but it lets you unload using your avatars. Dropping the hammer from time to time is fun no matter who you are. Your only other job ability is Elemental Siphon which allows you to MP from your Elemental. Though the Summoner class is light on the Job Abilities, it does have some good Job Traits. Max MP Boost you get at level 10 then again at 30, 50 and 70. It's one of the reasons why the Summoner has such an impressive MP pool. Next you get Clear Mind which increases your MP recovery while resting and you get all 5 tiers of it just like the Black Mage. It's one of those things you don't always appreciate until you are playing a job that doesn't have it as high. The best trait that the job is known for is Auto Refresh. Having the ingrained ability to regain MP is nice to have and it cuts down on the MP cost of having your avatars in play. Finally you get a series of Resist Slow resists and though not super duper handy, it's nice to have when it comes your way.
I would just like to mention that unlocking this job is a pain in the rump. You have to kill leeches until you get it to drop "Carbuncle's Ruby" which is a very rare drop. Then you will have to drag this rock to a ton of zones while a specific weather effect is happening. Getting Carbuncle is a hassle so plan to do nothing but for a while until you can wrap up all the ends. It's not impossible, just time consuming. You may want to ask for some help to kill off leeches until you can get the drop to expedite the process.
The Summoner job is a fun class to play as well as flashy. Nothing is cooler than cycling through summoning all the different avatars. It always brings back the summons to the other Final Fantasy games like FFVII and the like. If you are looking to be a healer but with some different options for solo and small party play then Summoner is what you are looking for. It's a challenging class to obtain the avatars and unlock the job but you get a lot of cool and fun pets when it's all said and done. As always no matter what class you play if you aren't having fun then what's the point? Good Hunting all.