An FFXIV idea for revamping the AST card system

I love the concept behind the AST, just as I love the playstyle.

What I don’t love is the fact that its healing is noticeably weaker than its predecessors to the point where the RNG buff system had BETTER make up the difference.

But that’s the thing: it really, REALLY doesn’t.

You have a 17% chance of pulling the card you want for any particular situation. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, as RNG is intended to be a part of the class design, but by the very nature of this RNG system, the buffs should be capable of truly shifting the tide of battle, and I just don’t see it that way. Are they helpful? Sure. Helpful enough to forgo the reliability of what a WHM/SCH brings to the raid instead? Not so much.

Also, given the nature of the RNG and the design of the card system, I feel like the buffs should be thematically “flashier” and have a bigger overall impact on the course of battle. When an AST draws a card it should be the defining moment of the class, not the point where someone gets a short buff that helps but ultimately doesn’t compensate for the general lack of healing power (which I suggest keeping the same).

We’re drawing CARDS to determine the fate of a raid group, FFS! Give it PIZAZZ! Give it OOMPH! Make every card really count, I say!

So here’s my idea for revamping the card system to make it more useful overall and to make the risk of using a class with a weaker base healing system worth the potential reward…

The Balance

Possibly the best card on its obvious merits, the Balance’s ability is straightforward enough but will not always be useful in all situations. Plus, it’s name “The Balance” would be better served by doing something that is, of itself, balanced. The Warden’s blessing should empower you in ALL areas, not just damage output.

This should be the all-purpose card. There should never be a bad time to draw it, but it should have no specific usage.

Current Effect: The target deals 10% more damage for 15 seconds.

New Proposed Effects: The target deals 10% more damage and does 10% more healing and takes 10% less damage for 10 seconds. AoE version is 5% of all of the above all party members in range.

Why Make this Change

This should generally be the card you always want to draw, and as mentioned above, given that you only have a 17% chance to draw it, its benefits have to be impressive. Note that I suggest reducing the duration to 10 seconds from 15 for the increased benefit.

The Bole

The Bole represents defending people from harm, but I find its current iteration lacking. It’s the exact same thing as most of the current tank buffs and very similar to the effects of “Eye for an Eye”, which lasts longer and can affect swarms of enemies who are attacking the tank.

Current Effect: Reduces target’s damage taken by 10%. Duration: 15s

New Proposed Effects: Reduces the target’s damage taken for the next three attacks: 80% for the first attack, 40% for the second, 20% for the third for the next 20 seconds or until the target takes three attacks.

On AoE: same effect, but 40%, 20% and 10%.

Why Make this Change

Rather than the Bole being yet another tank cooldown, I’d rather see it be something interesting when used actively. Using this before a boss unleashes a raid-wide AoE or a tank killer attack could save the raid from a wipe (and compensate for the lack of AST’s healing power).

Again, there is a 17% chance of drawing this card, and it’s still one of the best to draw. Though more situational than the Balance, it presents itself as a card that’s worth holding onto for emergencies.

The Arrow

The Arrow is said to “deliver the weary souls of those trapped in the mire of confusion, indecision, overcontemplation.” 10% speedup for 15 seconds is a bit lackluster for what it claims to do.

Current Effect: Increases target’s attack speed (skill, spell, auto-attack) by 10%. Duration: 15s

New Proposed Effects: Increases target’s attack speed (skill, spell, auto-attack) by 20%, increases the target’s movement speed by 50% and removes up to two harmful effects. Duration: 15s.

On AoE: 10% increase in attack speed, 25% increase in movement speed, removes up to 1 harmful effect.

Why Make this Change

Depending upon when the Arrow is used, it’s highly possible that most or all of its buff will be completely wasted. For example, if you draw it in the middle of a period of heavy, random AoE when the whole raid is simply running around to avoid being hit.

To make it more useful, I suggest an increase to 20% and two additional effects: the increasing of movement speed of the target, thus allowing them to get out of telegraphs more quickly and reliably, and the dispelling of two harmful effects (thus freeing them from being mired). Independently, each of these may not be needed, but drawing it during a period of lots of running or raid-wide AoE debuffs (both of which happen regularly) could give the card tons of mileage. Yes, it’s more situational, but it brings a great deal to its specific situation.

The Spear

The Spear is an odd card in general. In theory, it’s effect could be incredibly useful, but it’s so situational and requires such immense coordination to use it on others that it’s basically only a card you’ll ever wind up using on yourself (usually to reduce the cooldown on your Luminiferous Aether before you use it, but even then, why are you ever waiting to use LA?). Putting the Spear on your spread is also a gigantic waste, as there are so many other, more valuable cards you should be holding instead.

Current Effect: Reduces target’s action recast time (non-GCD) by 20%. Duration: 20s (to clarify this ability: an ability with a coodlown of 60 seconds will instead have a cooldown of 48 seconds while you’re under the effects of the Spear. It does NOT retroactively reduce the cooldown time of abilities already on cooldown)

New Proposed Effects: Reduces target’s action recast time (non-GCD) by 50%. Duration: 20s. At the time the Arrow is used, reduces the duration of abilities already on cooldown by 50% of their normal cooldown duration, even possibly causing them to end immediately.

On AoE: 25% of cooldown.

Why Make this Change

Coordination can help the Spear, but even without perfect coordination, it’ll now be more than likely that the Spear will be useful on some level to whoever it hits, whether they’ve recently blown a cooldown or are just about to do so (realistically, no one is going to WAIT to use a cooldown on the off chance that their AST draws a Spear).

Also, the Spear further coheres with the AST’s own toolkit to better allow them fix their own healing deficiencies: being able to shave time off of Lightspeed, Essential Dignity, Synastry and Collective Unconscious AFTER they’ve been cast when you draw a Spear makes the Spear VASTLY more useful.

Otherwise, you’ll find yourself either wanting to place the Spear in your spread (which is just a bad idea when you could be saving more valuable cards) or not wanting to blow your cooldowns because you don’t have a Spear active at the time.

This would go a long way toward making the Spear a more versatile card while also making it help to cover a bit for the AST’s longer cooldowns on some of the “OH SHI-” buttons.

The Ewer

The Ewer’s biggest issue is similar to that of the Arrow: depending upon the circumstances, you may have just drawn it at a point where it’ll be almost completely worthless.

Current Effect: Reduces MP cost of target’s spells by 20%. Duration: 20s

New Proposed Effects: Restores 20% of target’s MP, TP and HP over 20s.

On AoE: 10% restored.

Why Make this Change

The Ewer represents the overflowing abundance of magic, and for the sake of making the card useful in more situations, I’d say we can include TP in that as well (what with reinvigorating the aetherical life essence in all Eozean beings).

Restoring MP, HP and TP makes it an all in one, and by restoring T/MP instead of reducing its cost, it covers situations where players are actively spending T/MP and situations where they aren’t.

All told, it’s still not a great card and will be one of the worse draws because, in a perfect world, T/MP management shouldn’t really be an issue anyway. The Ewer (and Spire) seeks to rectify a problem that shouldn’t actually exist in the first place whereas the other cards supplement existing normal situations during combat. The heal is a nice benefit, but is going to be VERY slow.

The Spire

With the functionality of the Spire moved to the Ewer, the Spire must do something else entirely. Seeing as the Spire is “an iron tower of spinning gears and taut springs” that is being constantly electrified by Rhalgr’s lightning bolts (which ultimately wind up powering it), I suggest giving the Spire an appropriate and flavorful effect.

Current Effect: Reduces TP cost of target’s weaponskills by 20%. Duration: 20s

New Proposed Effects: Places a ward upon the target that lasts for 10 seconds. After the ward expires, the target is imbued with an energy field that will cause each attack to deal double damage and each heal to do double healing, until 50% of the amount of damage taken while warded had been spent as extra damage or extra healing. Lasts 30 seconds.

On AoE: 25%

Why Make this Change

For one, it’s extremely accurate to the lore behind the Spire. Beyond that, dividing TP and MP regen into two separate cards is never a good idea because it’s reduces the usefulness of the card by half by default.

It’s a unique buff that will help anyone it hits. Use it on a tank to give that tank more damage and threat, use it on a healer right before the big AoEs start happening or spread it party wide. It’s also great for soloing.

In Conclusion…

If you’re currently gawking at the screen, saying “OMFG THAT’S SO OVERPOWERED!!!!!!”, good. Individually, these buffs SHOULD seem overpowered because every single one is contingent upon RNG delivering them to you at the right time.

SE basically has two choices with the AST: either bring its healing prowess in line with other healing classes (which would destroy its uniqueness and I don’t want to see happen) or buff the cards so that, every 30 seconds, an AST can move MOUNTAINS with their abilities…or at least do something mostly useful for the situation at the time.

Remember, a 17% chance sits behind every card, making it vastly more likely that you will NOT get the card you may want at that point in time. With those odds, when an AST DOES get the card they need, that card should make a HUGE difference.

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