Final Fantasy XI: Introduction to the While Mage
MMORPG.com Final Fantasy XI Correspondent Herbie Grate writes this introduction to the White Mage healer class in Square Enix's MMO.
Advertised as the ‘premier healer’, White Mage (WHM) is everything you would imagine it to be; pure healing. White Mages are built only to heal, having no serious physical capabilities to speak of on their own, though White Mages do surprisingly have very good pieces of armor later on, and can equip themselves fairly well when it comes to taking a punch or two. Sadly, though jobs such as Scholar, Red Mage, and Dancer have eliminated much of the specific need for a White Mage, when it comes to a healing position, there is no job better in terms of potency and lucky for the healing-inclined, White Mage is one of the ‘Starting Six.’
Early on, White Mages have the roughest period. Melee weapons are restricted to hammers, wands, and staves, but WHM possesses no serious melee capabilities and does little damage because of this. White Mage does have some basic damaging spells, such as the Banish line and damage over time spells such as Dia, but cannot do the magical damage a Black Mage or even a Red Mage can. Due to this, levels 1-11 can be a horrific experience indeed.
Once you begin partying as a White Mage though, there are several things you need to get in the habit of doing:
First of all, space out your Cures. It is absolutely imperative that you make sure to count several seconds, anywhere from five to ten, before casting another Cure again, unless it’s absolutely necessary or your have a decent tank in the party. Ideally White Mages shouldn’t have to worry about pulling enmity away from the party if you’re spacing out your Cures adequately and the rest of your companions are functioning in their roles properly.
Secondly, if you cast a higher tier Cure spell at the beginning of the fight you can ruin the enmity (hate) balancing of the entire battle by pulling the monster towards you immediately. The enemy will view you as its major threat for at least half of the fight if you’re not careful, and at this point even spacing our your Cures may not be enough to stay out of the line of fire.
Thirdly, use Regen spells! This is the biggest failing of many White Mages for any particular level range. Regen spells are far more balanced in terms of MP to Damage Healed compared to Cures, and can conserve your MP far more than any items or food can do in the long run.
Lastly, DO NOT EVER USE BENEDICTION IN A PARTY! Benediction is White Mage’s two hour special ability, and immediately fully restores your party’s HP and relieves all status effects. Unfortunately, it also makes the enemy want to annihilate you immediately as well. Only a Paladin’s Invincible two hour ability can break the enmity it will generate towards you, and what good is a party with a dead healer, regardless of the circumstances?
There are of course, several other things to remember as well. Always keep enhancement spells such as Shell and Protect active on yourself and your party members, as well as elemental resistance spells if needed, because these spells mean a great deal of difference. Enfeeble the enemy if you have the spare MP, if there is no Red Mage or Bard in the party of course. Finally, always take the opportunity to rest even while your party is in combat! Later on, parties will keep a constant flow of enemies coming, and White Mages are at a disadvantage when it comes to MP regeneration compared to Scholars or Red Mages, and you’ll want to do everything in your power to conserve and regain MP.
Speaking of Scholars and Red Mages, they unfortunately arguably outshine White Mages later on. In fact, Red Mages are preferable over White Mages in the higher level areas because of their incredible MP regeneration (Convert) and wide array of spells and abilities. Scholars have the ability to outlast White Mages because of their MP regeneration (Sublimation) and their Light Arts and Dark Arts abilities, which cut the spell cost and casting time of certain spells by 10%. It’s because of this, you’ll need to be at the top of your game, and choose the proper support job.
Red Mage offers nothing serious as a support job, aside from minor boosts to enfeebling magic and mediocre MP increases. Fast Cast will be the only substantial trait you will receive from Red Mage and it’s not all that of a critical ability, because of Scholar’s Light Arts. Black Mage similarly offers little in the area of boosting healing capabilities, though offers a larger boost in MP and allows your White Mage to use utility spells such as Tractor and Warp, both very handy spells however you slice it.
The Scholar abilities mentioned above however are precisely why, in my opinion, Scholar is the perfect support job for White Mage. It is a surprising choice to many though, for reasons I still don’t understand, and a lot of people still, a year after Scholar’s release, understand the full scale of the benefits. WHM/SCH provides Light Arts (as well as Dark Arts, though it’s silly to use it) which cuts MP cost and casting time of Enhancing, Healing, Enfeebling, and Divine Magic spells by 10%, as well as automatically boosts your skill level in the aforementioned magical areas a great deal for the lazy people that don’t take the time to go training!
The real ‘killer ap’ of having Scholar as a support job though, is Sublimation, an ability that siphons off percentage of your HP over a period of time and stores it in a “battery” of sorts that you can tap into upon using the Sublimation ability a second time, restoring your MP. The only problem with doing this though, is that while it drains your HP, you cannot rest, so you will want to keep Stoneskin active on yourself when you want to rest. Combine all of the above, and you have more potent spells that cost less and take less time to cast, while having a constant MP regain on the back burner while having the ability to rest. Certainly MP conservation at it’s finest.
White Mage does have surprisingly good armor and weapons for a mage job, though. The Holy Breastplate, equipped at 45, has a surprisingly high defense rating, and you can look sexy while wearing it of course! Several Hammers are also very effective weapons, more so if you sub Ninja and are able to equip two weapons at a time. The AF Weapon for White Mage is also a Hammer weapon, and can be started at level 41 from the NPC Narcheral in Northern San d'Oria at (M-6).
Most of the time, however, you’ll be wearing cloth armor in a party while wielding an elemental staff for it’s bonus effects, such as Light staves increasing Cure potency by 10%, and Dark staves which increase MP regeneration while healing +10.
Be forewarned however, this job can get expensive just as any mage job can. Spells cost a sizable amount of gil after awhile, as can equipment. One of the handy aspects of White Mage though, is the ability to teleport people for money, because there are always people in Whitegate and Jeuno looking for a teleport to different places, and more than willing to pay for it. There are some cost cutting measures you can take in the short term, such as questing spells if possible, only purchasing the area of effect versions of Protect and Shell, avoiding the single target spells until later on, and not buying the Banish spells as well as ignoring Holy. Eventually though, these spells will need to be purchased, so don’t ignore them forever!
All in all though, this job is a great healer, and gets swift party invites until around level 55 and above, and is simply a classic Final Fantasy profession. Don’t think it’s simple though! It requires a great deal of attention and care. Be sure to heal as fast as your can, make macros for every situation, tune out distractions, because this job isn’t for the lazy despite it’s preference to the back row.
Safe travels Vana’diel, and take care of all your White Mages!