The FFXIV PvP Guide
FFXIV Player vs Player
This guide will outline the tactics needed to win in PvP games in FFXIV. After reading this you will be able to:
Understand the PvP system in FFXIV.
Understand basic team strategies in Seal Rock.
Be able to form teams that are able to win Player vs Player scenarios.
Before that, why should you listen to me? As a historian I have studied battle for years - one might not think that applies to a game, however tactics of war still prove true in games. Furthermore, in assorted MMOs spanning 11+ years I have been an avid PvPer leading to years of theory and practice of PvP tactics and strategies.
The FFXIV PvP Level System
Long story short, every time you PvP you get PvP EXP! This raises your PvP level!
What does this actually do? PvP level is used to equip PvP weapons and earn PvP action points! That is right, each class gets PvP actions that are separate from your regular actions. When you get more and more action points, you can power up the abilities that add to your playstyle! Read abilities carefully before you add points - you don't want to waste points on something that you wont use!
Each PvP level gets exponentially higher experience requirements, this is why you want to get good teams and win PvP matches for the extra EXP bonus!
The reason I am focusing on Seal Rock is that it is A) 60 and B) the most interesting PvP experience. With roulettes you get a bonus 50 Law, 20 Esoterics [as of (3.0)], 400 PvP EXP and 600 Wolf Marks (used to buy PvP gear and items.) After your roulette, it is solely based on your teams placement in the match +50 Law and 20 Esoterics.
This is a great way to farm Esoterics and get your PvP ranking up at the same time!
Strategies for Seal Rock
Though this is not an exhaustive listing of Seal Rock Strategies, it will be most of the big picture strategies. Feel free to explore them and fill in more for yourself.
How do you win Seal Rock? Get 800 points. You gain points from kills and nodes. There are B, A, and S rank nodes which give 1x, 2x, and 3x points as long as you hold them. You can hold an S rank node and have too many people die, negating all the points you earn, so do not die!
Strategies: Seal Rock, Class, and You
First, class makes a difference in seal rock.
Healers: You obviously want to stay with the protection of the group. Perhaps stay with another healer in case you get stun locked and cant heal yourself! Make sure you have enough people around you to keep you safe or you will die a horrible, lonely death.
Tanks: Your main jobs are to take points and to pull away defenders. It is hard to kill you if you have a good healer, and people might give up. If there are multiple tanks, it gets harder for people to stop you from capturing nodes! If DPS are there to support you, all you need to do is focus on clicking that capture while the DPS kill the unaware defenders.
DPS: Kill them all! But be safe about it and make sure you don't run into a trap. It is pretty easy to kill you most of the time, but depending on your skill and experience, you might be able to kill them first. Watch out for one on one PvP, because there might be another enemy coming to back them up.
Ninjas: You are special. Most of the time you can sneak up behind that lonely single defender and kill them in a few seconds to claim that pretty pretty prize. This also means teams should not leave nodes with one (especially caster) defender.
PvP Team Strategies
There are many strategies that can make life difficult for the other teams, and some that can outright win the game for you. These use the map above as an example.
Main Move: The Pincer
This is pretty simple to set up, but requires RNG.
Setup: Flames owns 1 node. Maelstrom owns 1 or 0 nodes. Adders owns 2-3 nodes, lets say all 3 are in the yellow zone above.
Natural results: Maelstrom will move north to claim an Adder node from self interest, especially if they have ZERO nodes. They should reason Adders cant defend all 3. As Adders move to combat said Maelstrom takeover, Flames has the opportunity to come up the other side and pincer Adders - first taking the almost undefended side, then pushing towards meeting Maelstroms offensive (being careful not to be aggressive against Maelstrom).
Defense from The Pincer: Withdraw Completely. Adders must completely regroup to be able to defend anything and will only hemorrhage points from dying on both fronts.
What team to focus on? Do not get caught up in petty revenge! Focus on whomever is winning or can catch up to you. Say Flames is at 650, Maelstrom is at 550, and Adders are at 0, Flames should COMPLETELY ignore Adders. Make sure they get at least one node so they don't make it their mission to take you down above all else, and focus completely on Maelstrom. RNG should be enough to point Adders at Maelstrom and let you both start chipping away at their point count! *Disclaimer, there is no accounting for teams that have no strategy, zerg around, or are all over the place and hate each other because they are losing.
Leave nodes at about 20% most of the time! Spreading out for new nodes is one goal of this, but also even if the other team somehow gets the node at 20%, they will probably lose more points than they gain! This means don't defend against a large group of people, and don't waste time / effort / points trying to take over the point if it is 20% or under.
What enemy nodes do I go for? Always the undefended or least defended, unless they are all nearby. For example, say Maelstrom the furthest south node and is either attacking or defending a northern node near Adders while Flames has one node and is "not aggressive" towards Maelstrom this game. Flames should have an easy time taking the south node because the majority of the group should be going North to reinforce.
Keep in mind, the closer to the enemy spawn point a node is, the harder it is to keep.
Use the Surroundings to your advantage!! So many times people ignore things as if they were set pieces. Those fortifications? Completely helpful! You can use them as Line of Sight blocks to protect healers, you can lay Area of Effect damages in the entrance and around the sides so people cant get in or out (or Ninja through), etc. On ramps? AoE the ramps, trail, etc so Ninja's cant get past or attackers have to pay a toll of HP. Many people wont go through AoEs even if they do little to nothing (because raid AoE can kill and they learned to fear them).
Adrenaline can be of MUCH use when combined with Surroundings. Caster AoE can be amazing at blocking a pass, ramps, or hitting people cornered in rocky areas! They are also amazing at defending a node under attack. Clears out the area if a zerg is coming too. Ranged AoE is a little less useful, but can clear our ramps, a pass, or if there is a choke hold in rocks or fortifications the enemy is streaming through. It is less effective at defending nodes, but people move quick when they see it coming. Healers and tanks, you should know from dungeons and raids when to use yours! With big rushes and defense!
More advice in the tips and tricks section below!
Tips and Tricks
Don't wander off! If you are alone, you will die a sad lonely death.
Don't chase! People could be trying to pull you from your node, but they are also getting you alone! We just covered what happens when you are alone.
Leave the middle to those stupid enough to take it. Unless 2 middle nodes are active, it is MUCH too difficult to hold because it is almost always pincered.
Don't worry about gear as much! Make sure you are at the limit, but don't worry about going all out as PvP gear stats won't activate and everything is capped at a certain ilvl to encourage fairness and strategy.
Don't be rude if you are trying to lead, help, or give advice to your team. Its easy to go from leader to troll in seconds. No one will listen to you if you are rude, aggressive, and harass people, which is obviously against the ToS.