Final Fantasy XIV‘s Season 2 of PvP changed several skill and spell potency values, but Job playstyles and kits have remained almost exactly the same. This means that Jobs like the Gunbreaker, who have difficult and odd playstyles will continue to struggle without proper mastery and understanding.
It’s a Tank that cannot access its defensive abilities by default, yet yields the highest damage of all Tank Jobs. As such, it functions more like a DPS (damage role) with extra health in a blue coat.
Whilst it is certainly a confusing design choice, the Gunbreaker has carved out an effective niche. It remembers that tanks also have cannons (or in this case, Gunblades). That, in lieu of a shield, suppressive fire is a highly effective, alternative form of protection.
This is an in-depth guide, so use the table of contents to help navigate to the sections most useful to you.
Special thanks to Revival PvP (@ffxivpvprevival) and its Gunbreaker mentor, Sel Sayen (Discord tag SEL#1622) for their expert knowledge.
Basic knowledge and techniques
The Gunbreaker Kit; Gunblade 101
The Gunbreaker’s main resource. Not only does it allow you to dash towards your target whilst dealing damage, it also grants a buff called No Mercy, giving you increased movement speed and a 20% increase to your damage, health shields and healing for 7 seconds.
You have 2 charges and every 15 seconds you regenerate a charge. Synchronizing your offense and defense to Rough Divide is vital to your effectiveness.
Whenever possible, use high damage skills like Double Down and Blasting Zone only when No Mercy is active. Furthermore, if you find yourself in danger, you can use the extra movement speed to get behind cover, whilst using the extra heal from Recuperate to stay alive.
This is the Gunbreaker’s highest damage skill, dealing 12,000 damage in a 5 yalm (yard) radius. This will generally be the first button you press (after Rough Divide) whenever you attack a player. The key to maximising your overall damage is using this as often as possible (there are exceptions which will be explained later). Capable of hitting multiple targets, you can severely weaken an entire team with this one move.
Remember, try to only use this when No Mercy is active, as that extra 2400 damage could be the difference that confirms or denies your kill. Also note, that due to how server tickrates work in this game, this skill has a tendency to miss moving targets.
To avoid this, use Double Down either straight after Rough Divide or ensure that your character is physically right next to your target.
Burst Strike and Hypervelocity
Usable after using Draw and Junction or performing Solid Barrel (the 3rd attack of your Solid Barrel Combo), Burst Strike is a weaponskill that deals 7,000 damage.
Upon use, the skill Continuation turns into Hypervelocity. This is an off-global cooldown (ogcd) ability that deals 3000 damage plus an extra effect depending on what role you have used Draw and Junction on.
The potency of this attack is quite high, so it is advised to use Draw and Junction whenever it is available to ensure the maximum the amount of Burst Strike uses in a match. Note, do not use Draw and Junction if you already have Burst Strike available. Use up your current Burst Strike first before using Draw and Junction as you cannot stack them.
Gnashing Fang combo
This is your source of continuous damage and will act as a filler in between your uses of Double Down. Gnashing Fang is a combo weaponskill that has 3 attacks, all of which have a corresponding off-global cooldown (ogcd) that you can use upon each cast.
This functions similarly to Burst Strike in that Continuation will turn into an ogcd attack and it will have a special effect depending on the role you have junctioned.
An important thing to note is, using Double Down does not break the combo. Meaning if you need to secure a kill midway and Double Down is available, prioritise using Double Down first before finishing the Gnashing Fang combo.
This weaponskill should be used as much as possible to maintain pressure on the enemy team, increasing the likelihood that they will perish from a well-timed burst of damage whilst discouraging aggression.
Draw and Junction
The foundation of the Gunbreaker’s kit. Depending on the role, Draw and Junction (DnJ) changes the properties of Hypervelocity, as well as Gnashing Fang’s off-global cooldown (ogcd) abilities (i.e. Jugular Rip etc.); for brevity, I will refer to all of them as OGCD attacks. This ability also replaces Junctioned Cast with a role specific ability.
Obtained by casting DnJ on a DPS role (e.g Samurai, Bard and Black Mage). This junction doubles the potency of all OGCD attacks and gives you access to Blasting Zone, an ability that deals 10,000 damage.
The damage from this junction puts you on par with actual DPS roles, often at times allowing you to kill opponents before they can react. Even if you do not secure a kill, the damage alone will weaken enemies enough for your teammates to finish them off or force your target to retreat. This Junction is essential in creating and pushing the momentum in your favour.
Obtained by casting DnJ on a Tank role (e.g Paladin). This junction gives OGCD attacks an additional affect of granting you shields on use, with the highest shield being equivalent to a heal of 6,000 health points.
It also gives you access to Nebula, an ability that reduces incoming damage by 20% and delivers 3,000 damage to your attacker on hit (AKA thorn damage).
This junction is excellent for personal survivability. It is effective when the enemy team is focused on you and when initiating fights by yourself. The shield can cover up to almost a third of your total health and the thorn damage can passively damage an entire team.
The issue is that if enemies ignore you, then you’re left with the subpar damage of the Junction. Therefore, try to play more aggressively when in this Junction to bait enemies into attacking you.
Obtained by casting DnJ on a Healer role (e.g White Mage and Scholar). This junction gives OGCD attacks an additional effect of healing you and your team on use, with the strongest heal being 4,000 potency. It also gives you access to Aurora, an ability that heals your target for 8,000 health points and regenerates a further 3,000 health points every 3 seconds, for 12 seconds.
This junction is a decent, but niche support option. The healing potency is adequate, but comes out much slower than actual healer abilities and has only half the range. Since it provides less health gains than the Tank Junction outside of Aurora, it’s not great for self-preservation either. Therefore, its only really effective when your team has gathered on an objective, where you can maximise healing the entire group or if the 8,000 potency heal might save a life.
Even then, it is arguable that you should be positioned slightly further ahead of your team to bait out enemy attacks and discourage their aggressive pushes.
The lack of damage and survivability this Junction provides makes it a somewhat suboptimal choice. Yes, you could heal some of the damage your teammate has received, or you could kill the attacker and stop the damage entirely.
Relentless Rush and Terminal Trigger
Your Limit Break (LB) is your playmaker; a well placed Terminal Trigger is capable of instantly wiping an enemy team and flipping the game’s momentum. Upon activation, you will channel Relentless Rush for 4 seconds. This will continuously deal 4,000 damage per second around yourself in a 5 yalm radius for 4 seconds. Any enemies hit will receive a 4% vulnerability debuff, lasting 5 seconds up to a limit of 5 stacks.
After 4 seconds or if you press (or click) the Limit Break key again, the Gunbreaker will perform Terminal Trigger, which is a 12,000 damage attack that stuns any enemy caught for 3 seconds.
Whilst channelling Relentless Rush, you will also receive 25% less damage and are able to move freely. That said, you are unable to use any other ability during Relentless Rush, including Guard and Recuperate.
You should use your LB to secure kills. After using it, you can combo into Double Down and Blasting Zone for a total of 34,000 damage in an instant. Alternatively, you may use Nebula to add on further defenses on top of the 25% mitigation from Relentless Rush to punish aggressive attackers.
The Gunbreaker Playstyle
Gunbreaker is a bruiser archetype. It trades defensive abilities for high damage; a DPS with extremely high health (the highest health pool of all Jobs actually). Playing this like a traditional “meat-shield” is counter-intuitive as the other Tanks are much better at this. Also, unlike in PvE, there is no Enmity nor Royal Guard so no Tank should purely do that anyway.
Instead, you should use your kit to disrupt enemy offense and evade their attacks via tactical retreat.
As a rule, try not to engage when you do not have Guard and Purify available, as you are extremely vulnerable to being “stunlocked” (a state where you cannot move or take action in a prolonged time) without these abilities. Also wherever possible, try to weave Recuperate in between attacks to sustain yourself in fights, preferably when No Mercy is active.
On that note, avoid engaging when your mana levels are low as it will mean that Recuperate is unusable and you will die.
Hit and Run
Playing Offensively – Hit
It is advised that you use the DPS Junction to maintain pressure, then swap to Tank Junction if the enemy team targets you. Swap between Tank Junction and DPS Junction to mix up enemy attention.
In DPS Junction, Gnashing Fang should always be used as soon as it is available. Furthermore, use Blasting Zone with Rough Divide and Double Down to keep your burst synchronized.
When targeted, use Tank Junction to waste enemy resources and passively damage them, whilst your team comfortably presses the offensive. Your opponents will eventually ignore you, believing that it is more worthwhile to attack your allies.
This is when you can swap back to DPS Junction and start your damage output. Avoid standing still and try to constantly attack (press buttons), even if it means using your Solid Barrel combo.
Playing Defensively – Run
Staying in the frontline for too long is generally a poor choice. If Guard, Purify and Nebula are not available, you need to cut the line of sight.
The Line of Sight (LOS) is defined as a direct visual connection from a caster to their target. LOS is needed to be able to perform most actions as you cannot hit what you cannot see.
This means that if you are being shot to death by a Machinist, you can simply hide behind a wall. Take advantage of the movement speed boost from No Mercy and get into the habit of weaving in and out of combat.
Position yourself next to corners or walls as much as possible to ensure that the minute you get targeted, you can swiftly cut off sources of damage. Enemies will most likely chase you, de-positioning themselves, leaving them vulnerable to attacks and isolated from support.
Limit Break Usage
For maximum efficacy, use Rough Divide before activating Relentless Rush. This grants a further 2,400 damage and extra movement speed to chase down opponents. That said, take note of when enemies have used their disabling abilities (e.g. stuns, silences, binds etc.). Aim to use your Limit Break (LB) when their disables are on cooldown to avoid being interrupted or killed.
Generally speaking, it is not a bad idea to use your LB as soon as it is ready. This is because, LB is generated over time when in combat, not from executing actions. Thus, every second you are in combat with a full LB gauge, you are wasting any LB gauge gain for your next use of Relentless Rush. So, when your LB is available, be more aggressive and try to use it as soon as possible.
Of course, you may delay the activation if it is more beneficial to hold the LB for a few seconds to wait out enemy Guards or to synchronize with your teammate’s damaging attacks. Take a moment to assess the situation if you need to.
As a side note, you could use mitigation and stun from the LB as a last ditch option to save yourself from death. While wasteful, it is better than dying and increasing your respawn time.
To Trigger Or Not To Trigger?
Deciding when to activate Terminal Trigger early or to let Relentless Rush run its full duration will depend on the situation at hand.
Sometimes simply just letting Relentless Rush run for some time is the optimal option when you have seen the enemy already use Guard. This is because the stacking vulnerability debuff will bolster your damage significantly.
One tactic is to LB when an opponent has a few seconds left on Guard, stacking damage whilst they are unable to quickly move away and then activating Terminal Trigger once the Guard wears off. I recommend changing your HUD settings so that enemy status is more visible.
Generally speaking though, it is better to just activate Terminal Trigger early if your team is positioned well or if the target(s) has low enough health. Just make sure Double Down and Blasting Zone are available. Remember, burst damage (high damage within a short time) is what will confirm kills.
Advanced knowledge and techniques
Here are the combinations of skills that will net you optimal damage. Your offense revolves around Rough Divide, so be careful not to desynchronize your powerful skills to the point where they aren’t available at the same time as it.
These are not strict. As long as you can put Double Down, Blasting Zone, Burst Strike, Hypervelocity and last two hits of your Gnashing Fang combo (Wicked Talon and Eye Gouge) in your No Mercy buff, your damage will be good.
- Optimal melee combo: “Renzokuken 2.0“
Gnashing Fang > Jugular Rip > Savage Claw > Abdomen Tear > Rough Divide > Double Down > Blasting Zone > Draw and Junction > Wicked Talon > Eye Gouge > Burst Strike > Hypervelocity
This rotation is for when you are already in close range. It puts all of your highest damage attacks within the No Mercy duration.
- Long range engage combo: “Ride The Fire“
Draw and Junction > Rough Divide > Double Down > Blasting Zone > Burst Strike > Hypervelocity > Gnashing Fang > Jugular Rip
This rotation prioritizes getting Double Down and Blasting Zone out as soon as possible.
- Optimal Solid Barrel Combo: “Double Tap“
Solid Barrel > Brutal Shell > Keen Edge > Rough Divide > Burst Strike > Hypervelocity > Draw and Junction > Burst Strike > Hypervelocity
This is for when Double Down and Gnashing Fang are not quite ready yet but you need to burst down an enemy quickly.
The Gunbreaker Matchup
This section will cover the Gunbreaker’s matchups, specifically Jobs that they struggle against.
For some reason, if Paladins use Confiteor on you whilst you have Nebula active, it negates the 3,000 damage thorns. The Sacred Claim status effect from Confiteor only heals 2,000 HP per hit. So in theory, your attacker should be taking 1,000 damage per hit on you. Instead, it seems they take no damage from the exchange. What is worse, when under No Mercy, your 20% increased healing also increases the amount of health the Paladin (and anybody else hitting you) recovers as well.
Fall back when Confiteor is used on you as you do not want to inadvertently heal the enemy team with your increased healing. In addition, avoid using Double Down or Blasting Zone on a Paladin whilst Holy Sheltron is active.
The biggest issue is that the Ninja’s stuns will interrupt your offense and healing. Try to shut them down early as they can take advantage of your lacking defenses. Focusing on them works well as Gnashing Fang’s OGCD attacks can catch them just before they go into stealth, removing their invisibility and access to Assassinate.
Versus Bard, White Mage and Astrologian
These Jobs do not have particularly damaging kits. Despite this, they are your biggest threats due to their silences, polymorphs and heavies (slowed movement). It is much safer to activate Guard early against these opponents especially when charging into the first team fight of the match.
Pay close attention to these Jobs when in battle. Position yourself near walls so you can “LOS” (cut the line of sight) them at a moment’s notice, making it difficult for them to lock you down. Against teams like this, avoid pushing too aggressively as you may be quickly isolated and trapped.
Versus Scholar and Dark Knight
As Gunbreakers do not have innate defensives, their main tool of survival is Recuperate. This makes Scholars and Dark Knights a massive threat as they will reduce your healing effectiveness via their debuffs.
Pay attention to what debuffs you have. When in a Dark Knight’s Salted Earth move out before healing if possible. When hit by a Scholar’s Mummification, try to fall back or use Guard to minimize the amount of healing you need if you are being focused by the enemy team.
This section will explain what strategies you should employ at different stages of a Crystalline Conflict match.
At the start of the match, communicate to your team that you’re pushing ahead via the quick chat function. You need to secure momentum so inform your team that they will need to be ready to follow your charge.
The aim is to secure an early lead with a quick kill or two. Gunbreaker is very easy to abuse an early lead with its LB especially if the team composition is favorable.
You have two options when starting the first skirmish:
Junction a Tank. After that, dive onto an opponent in the frontline with Rough Divide, immediately activate Guard and then start moving back towards your team, preferably into cover.
The enemy will likely try to use disables on you in reaction, only to find it being useless due to your immunity in Guard. Once Guard’s duration runs out, use Nebula and continue aiding your team.
Here is an example of this tactic, which shows how your personal survival can benefit the team. Note that Nebula is activated first in this scenario, as an alternative method.
In theory, your allies should be able to safely push forward and attack opponents without interruption, since you’ve attracted their attention. Since the enemy team would lack the resources to confirm a kill, your team could gain a headstart in momentum.
Even if you fail, you have enough shields and defenses to hold the line until your party reforms and your LB becomes available.
This is a good option to immediately remove an opponent via burst damage. Approach the enemy and activate Guard to bait out enemy disables. Then, Rough Divide onto the closest opponent, use Double Down and Blasting Zone, immediately pulling back into cover after.
Unlike the Tank Junction strategy, you need to approach the enemy team slightly slower so your team can follow closely. Pick your target and then call it out by either using the quick chat function or placing a “1” marker on them.
Here is an example how your damage can be used to secure an early lead. This also demonstrates why this tactic should only be used against certain compositions.
When choosing this option pay attention to team compositions on both sides. This works best with heavy burst and disable teams like Paladin, Bard, Ninja and Astrologian. Samurai and Dragoons may also easily follow up this option.
This tactic is not recommended against teams with multiple sources of CC such as White Mage, Bard and Astrologian as they can interrupt your assault before you even enter into range.
What happens if we lose someone?
If a teammate goes down during the initial push, then try to at least finish off an enemy to equalize your numbers; this is known as a trade. If no enemy is low enough, then start pulling back, attacking any enemies in your backline to prevent from causing further casualties. Notify your team to retreat as well so they do not push further ahead and isolate themselves.
Once your team is at full strength, try organize another push with either of the above engagement tactics.
The Gunbreaker LB is most favorable when the enemy team isn’t expecting it or they have already used their Guard/Purify. So, ensure your team has good pressure to distract the enemy team,so that you can use your LB uncontested.
As the Crystal starts getting closer to the end, be wary of enemy Limit Breaks. For high-damage single target types like Monk and Ninja, you want to target and shut them down before they can use it.
For wide-range types like White Mage and Dragoon, make sure you have Guard at the ready and if not, space yourself away from the team, leaving the objective temporarily if necessary, to avoid collateral damage.
If all goes well, your opponents will have to play aggressively at a constant player disadvantage because of the constant takedowns from your LB. As they grow more desperate from failure to capitalize on their LBs and increasing respawn timers, you will swiftly snowball into victory.
The Gunbreaker is a Job with limited disables and team protection, that is offset by its high damage, mobility and decent utility. Although it requires more situational awareness and execution than the other Tanks, its rewards and impact have the potential to be much higher. Strike swiftly and don’t stop moving.
Much like the humble bullet, the Gunbreaker takes a lot of energy to get going. Once it does however, there is very little that can break its path.
Special thanks once again, to SEL, who provided valuable insight and knowledge!Also, don’t forget to check out the Revival Discord for more information and to meet other fellow PvPers in the FFXIV community!
An extremely thorough guide on how to play Gunbreaker in PvP, full of insightful, expert advice. Might even start playing the job myself after reading this!
Thank you so much! If you do end up playing Gunbreaker, I hope you have a great time with it! If you have any further questions, feel free to just ask here 🙂