As part two of our coverage on healers for Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, we’re focusing purely on Sage this time. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you read our first piece on White Mage, Astrologian, and Scholar. Or if you’re already familiar with Final Fantasy XIV’s existing healers, feel free to stick to this article. We’ll be referring to and comparing terms and ideas from the first article, so it’ll be helpful if you’ve read that one already. But if you’re already armed with knowledge as a Final Fantasy XIV healer, then you’re all set to go.
When the embargo for Endwalker’s media tour lifted, we went over the changes to all jobs in the next expansion, and we gave a general overview on Sage. For this article, we’re taking a magnifying glass to Sage’s spells and abilities. Let’s take a look at what this new healer is all about and what it has to offer to the role.
Sage – New Barrier Healer
Now we finally get to Sage, the new healer job introduced in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker. Sage takes the barrier healer mantle alongside Scholar. The Sage’s toolkit is very similar to Scholar’s, which should make the transition easier for veteran players. In place of Scholar’s Aetherflow mechanic, Sage instead gains stacks of Addersgall every twenty seconds, which they can use on their healing abilities. They also have stacks of Addersting, which they gain when their single-target shields on a party member break, meaning the shield got its full use. Sages gain a new AoE instant-cast spell, Toxicon, useable with stacks of Addersting. We’ll dive into Toxicon more later on.
Sage’s signature mechanic is the Kardia system. By using Kardia on a party member, ideally the tank, that member gains the effect of Kardion. Whenever the Sage uses their damaging spells, their “healing partner” automatically gets cured for a set amount. This is a more controlled version of the Scholar’s faerie, where the Sage can select exactly who receives cures. The Sage can freely deal damage while healing their Kardia partner at the same time. If you’re familiar with World of Warcraft’s Discipline Priest healer, this is a very similar mechanic they share.
Sage’s other signature mechanic, Eukrasia, modifies some of their spells. Eukrasia turns their single-target damage spell, Dosis, into Eukrasian Dosis, an instant-cast damage over time effect. Eukrasia also turns Diagnosis, their single-target healing spell, into Eukrasian Diagnosis, a heal and shield exactly like Scholar’s Adloquium, but is instead an instant cast. Prognosis is a direct AoE healing spell, changed into Eukrasian Prognosis, an instant AoE heal and shield similar to Scholar’s Succor. Eukrasian Prognosis gives a weaker initial heal than Succor, but a stronger 320% barrier for the party compared to Succor’s 160%. The math balances both out to shield for a similar amount on their own.
Many of Sage’s other abilities are copies, or similar copies of Scholar’s, just with Ancient Greek medicine naming conventions instead. Ixochole is the same as Indomitability. Kerachole is the same as Sacred Soil, except it is a buff the Sage gives directly to the party, instead of a bubble placed down on the ground. Druochole is the same as Lustrate. Taurochole is like Druochole and Lustrate, except it applies a 10% damage reduction for fifteen seconds, and this effect cannot stack with Kerachole’s damage reduction. All of these abilities are tied to Addersgall stacks. Remember, Sage gains these stacks automatically over time; they don’t have to press a button to gain three Aetherflow stacks like Scholar. But they do have Rizomata, which automatically grants them one Addersgall stack.
Additional Healing Spells and Abilities
Sage has access to even more healing spells and abilities. Physis is a healing over time effect identical to Whispering Dawn. Physis II grants a stronger healing over time effect, while also boosting healing magic potency by 10%. Holos is an on-demand, instant AoE heal, used as a backup when Ixochole is unavailable. Pepsis functions as a reverse Emergency Tactics, where you apply the shields from Eukrasian Diagnosis or Eukrasian Prognosis first. Using Pepsis will then restore HP for the amount the shield would have stayed up for. Using Pepsis without a Eukrasian shield up will have no effect.
To further differentiate the job from Scholar, Sage has its own special shielding abilities. Haima grants the target a small barrier. When the target takes continuous damage, the barrier will keep reapplying itself, for a total of five stacks. Haima will shield for those total attacks. If the target doesn’t take enough continuous damage, then Haima will instead heal for however much it would have shielded for. Those five stacks of small barriers can then turn into a large one over time, most effective against successive attacks. Panhaima is the AoE version of Haima, applicable on the entire party, but the two abilities cannot stack with one another.
Sage’s level 90 capstone ability, Pneuma, definitely earns its spot alongside Lilybell, Macrocosmos, and Expedient. Pneuma fires a laser at the Sage’s target, dealing AoE damage in a line in front of them, while also healing the party for a great amount, applying a 10% damage reduction to everyone, and healing their Kardia target. Pneuma has a lot packed into a single ability. And we still haven’t even gotten to the utility Sage has to offer.
Party Utility and Dealing Damage
Most of Sage’s utility centers around boosting their healing capabilities. Soteria doubles the healing your Kardia partner receives for the next ten seconds. Zoe doubles the amount healed by your next healing spell, and not your instant-cast healing abilities. Paired with Pneuma, a Sage can use Zoe to heal the whole party for a staggering amount of HP at once. Krasis is Sage’s answer to Aquaveil, Exaltation, and Protraction for single-target healing. Krasis increases the amount of HP restored by the target by 20% for ten seconds, which includes all healing spells and abilities. Finally, Icarus is a gap closer for a healer. Sages can use Icarus to fly toward a target enemy or party member, giving them excellent mobility.
Unfortunately, Sage lacks any equivalent to Astrologian’s cards or Scholar’s Chain Stratagem to boost the party’s damage. They’re similar to White Mage in this respect, where their personal damage will likely compensate for the imbalance. It is possible Sage and White Mage will be about equal in terms of how much personal damage they can contribute during endgame encounters, with Scholar still next in line and Astrologian as the lowest contributor.
Sage has a few damage tools at their disposal. In addition to Dosis as their single-target spell, and Eukrasian Dosis as their damage over time spell, they also have Phlegma. Phlegma is an instant-cast spell that deals AoE damage. This spell stacks up to two charges on a 45-second cooldown, and the Sage has to be up somewhat close to the target to use it. Dyskrasia is Sage’s version of Holy, Gravity, and Art of War. While you can use Pneuma for damage, its potency against a single target is the same as the highest tier of Dosis. Using Pneuma for the additional AoE damage, healing, and damage reduction will be most useful during dungeons against big packs of mobs. In single-target situations, such as during a trial, raid, or dungeon boss fight, it’ll be best to save Pneuma for its healing and mitigation, with the damage as a bonus stand-in for a single Dosis cast.
The Addersting system with Toxicon is also unique to Sage. The practicality of getting Toxicon uses – through fully using up the shields from Eukrasian Diagnosis on a party member – is rather limited during raids. It’ll be fine to put up a shield on your main tank at the start of the pull. This then opens up Toxicon to use as a damaging tool while on the move, since it’s an instant cast. But due to the nature of raiding as a healer, a Sage will not want to stop casting Dosis to place a shield on the tank for any reason, unless the tank will outright die without the shield, even with their own defensive abilities like Rampart and Sentinel. The Addersting system will have more use during dungeons, where you’ll have time in between pulls to keep placing the shield on your tank, earning more Toxicon uses.
Sage’s Playstyle – The Upsides
Sage should function most similarly to Scholar, with a few fun differences.
In any piece of content, regardless of level or difficulty, the Sage’s first move will be to place Kardia on the main tank. This will ensure their partner receives healing while the Sage deals damage during battle. It’ll be helpful to place Eukrasian Diagnosis on the main tank as well, for the guaranteed stack of Addersting for Toxicon, and the extra shield at the start. Like with any healer, the seasoned Sage will prioritize their instant healing abilities in between their casts of Dosis, Eukrasian Dosis, or Dyskrasia depending on the target(s), only stopping to cast healing spells when absolutely necessary. Casting the regular versions of Diagnosis or Prognosis will be discouraged unless you have absolutely no other tools available, you’re synched down to low-level content, or the raid/dungeon boss is untargetable and you have time to cast whatever you want. For additional damage, Sage will get in Phlegma uses on cooldown, and any uses of Toxicon will be a nice bonus while on the move or against multiple targets.
For spending Addersgall stacks, it might be helpful for the Sage to keep Kerachole rolling as their Sacred Soil equivalent, to have a near-constant damage reduction buff on the party, as well as the heal over time effect. Kerachole is a free buff to give to the party, after all – unless you need to prep for a big incoming hit, feel free to use this for the extra passive healing and mitigation bonus to the group. Taurochole is excellent for dungeon settings or for attacks that hit multiple times in a row, when you want to heal the tank while also reducing their damage taken for a short time afterward. Druochole would instead be most useful when Taurochole is not available, or to give a quick heal to someone like a DPS who might have taken a chunk of avoidable damage by accident. Ixochole is wonderful for immediate AoE party healing, whether you’re stationary or on the move. As a non-Addersgall spender, Holos is still great to use in place of Ixochole, or even paired with it for a bigger burst of party healing.
The Zoe + Pneuma combo opens up an insane amount of raw healing from the Sage to the entire party. You’ll briefly turn into a White Mage or Astrologian whenever you’re able to pair these two abilities together. On a smaller, but more consistent scale, Eukrasian Prognosis + Pepsis can offer the same thing. Sage can use this combo while on the move for direct AoE healing while Ixochole and Holos are down. Physis and Physis II give nice healing over time solutions when you don’t need to pay attention to HP bars for a bit, or to couple alongside other healing tools for additional help. Soteria allows the Sage to completely ignore a tank taking continuous auto-attack damage, such as during a dungeon, while Krasis will boost any attention you do need to give the tank. Haima and Panhaima offer interesting shielding tools for single targets and the whole party. These abilities are more forgiving for misuse compared to Astrologian’s Macrocosmos, for example, still offering some healing after the effect expires, no matter what. Haima will always be useful for dungeon situations where the tank takes constant damage. Panhaima can also fill in when Haima is down. It will be a unique challenge to use these two abilities effectively during raid settings.
Sage’s Playstyle – The Downsides
However, despite all the pros, the job has a few cons.
During endgame raid content, Sage lacks an equivalent to Scholar’s raw shielding capabilities with Deployment Tactics, which spreads a strong, durable shield on the entire party. Sage has wonderful tools with Haima and Panhaima. But for single attacks that drop the entire party’s HP to dangerous levels, the Sage will need to rely on a mix of Zoe and/or Physis II to boost the AoE shield from Eukrasian Prognosis. They can then pair this beefed-up group shield with other forms of party-wide damage mitigation from Kerachole and Pneuma. This could leave Sage scrambling to prepare for these types of incoming attacks depending on which abilities they have available at any given time. If you need to pair Zoe and Physis II with another spell right before this, or if you’ve used these abilities by accident, this will pose a problem. Whereas Scholar simply puts up Adloquium, uses Deployment Tactics, and maybe uses Seraph for the additional party-wide shields with Consolation. In fact, Scholar specifically has these abilities for this specific situation. On the flipside, Scholar does not have an equivalent to Haima or Panhaima aside from spamming Succor over and over, or their two charges of Seraph’s Consolation every 120 seconds.
The other con lies in Sage’s intended playstyle with the Kardia system. Experienced endgame healers will likely enjoy how Sage can passively heal while dealing damage, mirroring the Scholar’s faeries. But for players who don’t like dealing damage as a healer, they will miss out on all that extra free healing. This could lead to misconceptions that the job is broken or undertuned, when in fact a certain population of the playerbase will simply not make the most of Sage’s kit. It is interesting that Square-Enix would craft such a complex healer job, when they have gone out of their way to balance the healer role around not needing to play “optimally” to fit in. Perhaps this is the developers’ exception to that design philosophy. We will have to see if Sage remains in its current state as the game progresses, despite the inevitable complaints the job is due to receive.
Speaking of the Kardia system, it’s not as open-ended as the Scholar’s faerie. Eos or Selene will provide free healing to anyone in your party that takes damage. With Kardia, the Sage is limited to their current partner. It is possible to switch healing partners on the fly if needed. This distinction is something that may lead players to prefer Scholar.
Finally, the Addersting system is a bit underwhelming. Toxicon will be a nice bonus as mentioned, but not a priority to go after during raids against single targets. Toxicon II does as much damage as the highest tier Dosis spell against one target. So it will be nice to use on the move during raids, but not something you’ll want to go out of your way to earn. Again, this will see more value in dungeons over raids.
Closing Thoughts on Sage in Endwalker
Sage is a wonderfully-designed job with clear pros and cons, a cool and unique sci-fi Gundam aesthetic, and a host of many tools to handle many situations. From what we’ve seen so far, Sage fits right in as the second barrier healer with Scholar. We’re still not sure how the job will handle in high-end content. In theory, good Sages should be able to hold their own, complimenting their White Mage or Astrologian healing partners. In the worst-case scenario, someone may want to switch to Scholar for their burst shielding capabilities for a particular raid battle.
But for every other type of content in the game – 4-man dungeons, 8-man trials, 24-man alliance raids, and all PvP modes – you can’t go wrong with a Sage in the party. The job will likely be viable no matter what, unlike the underpowered nightmare that was Astrologian during its initial Heavensward release. These next few months will be an exciting time as we all test out the job for ourselves to see what it’s really capable of.