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FFXIV Monk Job Guide: Leveling and Rotation

In this FFXIV Monk job guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the Monk job including some leveling and rotation tips. Feel free to use our Table of Contents below to skip around if there’s specific information you are seeking.

Among the many adventurers of Eorzea, there are those who choose not to hide behind a sword and shield. These daring individuals have looked within themselves to unlock their true potential, wielding no weapons when they enter battle. Instead, they rely on the might of their own fists, the power of their own body, and the strength of their own mind. They are Monks.

The Monk job is unlocked by getting the Pugilist starting class to Level 30. You can choose Pugilist during character creation, or pick up the job later by speaking to Gagaruna at the Pugilists’ Guild for the “Way of the Pugilist” quest, then the follow-up quest “My First Hora” from guildmaster Hamon.

Melee DPS Role Basics

Monk is a melee DPS job, meaning you’ll be getting right up in the enemy’s face to deal damage. It makes you incredibly susceptible to dangerous mechanics in trials and boss fights, so you really have to pay attention to what’s happening in a fight if you want to stay alive and play your job properly.

Picture of a monk in Final Fantasy 14 - melee basics ffxiv monk guide
The first rule of fight club is to tell everyone about fight club. / Square Enix via HGG

In general, DPS players are responsible for completing mechanics in Dungeons, Trials, and Raids while the tanks are busy tanking and the healers are busy healing. It’s your job to run to the edge of the arena and activate random objects during a fight so they don’t have to stop what they’re doing. To play this role effectively, we highly recommend looking up content guides whenever you’re about to run something new (or at least asking your party members if there are any mechanics you need to know before an unfamiliar fight).

As a Monk, your focus will be on buffing your own damage and executing rapid-fire, free-form combos as fast as possible, but you do have a slight bit of party utility to spice things up. Just make sure you’re throwing punches and not standing in AOEs, and you’ll do just fine.

Melee DPS Role Abilities

Melee DPS role abilities
The usual suspects. / Square Enix via HGG

Melee DPS receive a standard kit of abilities to complement their job-specific abilities. The first of these is Second Wind (LVL 8), which instantly restores a portion of your HP. This is useful in tight situations where you might not be your healer’s highest priority. In a similar vein, Bloodbath (LVL 12) restores your HP as you deal damage and lasts for 20s.

Leg Sweep (LVL 10) stuns your target, rendering them unable to fight back for 3s. Feint (LVL 22) lowers a target’s strength and dexterity by 10% and can be useful in combination with your tank’s mitigation skills.

Arm’s Length (LVL 32) counters most knock-back and draw-in effects, but not all. Lastly, True North (LVL 50) nullifies all action direction requirements — otherwise known as positionals — for 10s. As a Monk, True North will come in very handy; more on that later.

The Monk Job and Leveling

Here, we talk about the basics of the Monk job and some helpful things to keep in mind while leveling a Monk.

Monk Job Resources

Currently, Monks have a single job resource: Chakra. Your Chakra Gauge will be unlocked when you learn the ability Meditation at Level 54. Meditation opens a single chakra when you are in combat, and it opens all five when used outside of combat. This means it is essential that you use Meditation before you enter a fight.

A screenshot of the Monk Chakra gauge
A Chakra Gauge with all five chakra open. / Square Enix via HGG

Brotherhood (LVL 70) applies a 15s buff to your party that increases damage dealt and gives a 20% chance to open a chakra when a party member uses a weaponskill or casts a spell while under its effect.

Having all five chakra open allows you to execute The Forbidden Chakra, a powerful attack also learned at Level 54. At Level 74, you will unlock Enlightenment, another five chakra ability that hits all enemies in a straight line before you.

Monk Positionals

All melee DPS roles have positionals, but the Monk job is entirely based around them. All of your weaponskills have positional requirements, meaning that your base combos require you to do quite a bit of movement.

FFXIV’s two positional requirements are flank and rear. Flank positionals require you to hit the enemy on either their left or right side, and rear positionals require you to hit them from behind. Enemy positioning can be determined by looking at the partial circles surrounding them when they are targeted.

A screenshot of the monk targeting circle
An overhead view of the targeting circle from the front and back. / Square Enix via HGG

Rear positionals will hit as long as you are in the open space in the back of the circle. Flank positionals will hit as long as you are near the two arrows on the sides of the circle. The quickest way to hit positionals with minimal movement is to put yourself right at the edge of the open area and shift back and forth between the open space and the edge of the circle behind the side arrows.

Missing a positional isn’t the end of the world. It won’t dock your damage too much, and you should never try to hit positionals in AOE attacks or other stage hazards. Staying alive is more important than doing damage. In addition to this, you won’t be able to hit your positionals at all on some bosses, and some bosses will move or spin regardless of your tank’s positioning.

You should aim to hit your positionals when possible, but keep in mind that you have abilities that nullify them. We’ve already mentioned True North, but Riddle of Earth (LVL 64) also gets rid of positionals for 10s. Carefully planned usage of these two abilities will help you deal maximum damage when your mobility is limited or when the boss is forcing you to run circles around it.

Forms and Combos

The Monk’s rotation is entirely based around stringing together three-step combos based off of animal-themed forms. Each form currently provides you with two single target attacks and one AOE attack. Your combo weaponskills have these forms listed in their descriptions. Those abilities can only be used when you are in a specific form, and using them will change your form to the next form. The three forms and their abilities in order are as follows:

  • Opo-opo Form
    • Bootshine (LVL 1) has a rear positional, and its damage is increased by the Leaden Fist buff gained from Dragon Kick.
    • Arm of the Destroyer (LVL 26) is a circular AOE attack.
    • Dragon Kick (LVL 50) has a flank positional and grants the Leaden Fist buff for 30s.
  • Raptor Form
    • True Strike (LVL 4) has a rear positional.
    • Twin Snakes (LVL 18) has a flank positional and buffs damage for 15s.
    • Four-Point Fury (LVL 45) is a circular AOE attack and extends the Twin Snakes buff for 10s.
  • Coeurl Form
    • Snap Punch (LVL 6) has a flank positional.
    • Demolish (LVL 30) has a rear positional and applies a damage over time (DoT) effect for 18s.
    • Rockbreaker (LVL 30) is a circular AOE attack.

Opo-opo form is the opening form, but it also follows coeurl form to create a continuous loop. When arranging abilities on your hotbar, consider grouping them by positional or by form, depending on which makes more sense to you. Positional may be the better option, as your combo actions will always light up with an outline as you move through them.

Gif of the monk combo bootshine into truestrike into snap punch
Bootshine into True Strike into Snap Punch: the beginner’s combo. / Square Enix via HGG

As you may have guessed, the forms allow for a lot of freedom in executing your combos. They also make it easy to swap between your single-target and AOE rotations. Those with a keen eye will note that some of these abilities apply buffs and DOTs when they are used, and that abilities in different forms can have the same positionals.

Playing Monk requires a lot of thinking on your feet and making quick choices when it comes to your rotation. A good rule of thumb for beginners is to make sure you get your buffs and DOTs out first, then perform your rotation in a way that requires as little movement as possible until you need to re-up those buffs and DOTs.

At low levels, your options will be limited, so focus on building good habits by picking Twin Snakes over True Strike once it becomes available at Level 18. The same goes for picking Demolish over Snap Punch at Level 30. Once you hit Level 50, Dragon Kick should become your go-to combo opener. This is deceptively simple, as positionals will add another layer of complexity to the choices you make in battle.

Just as you have skills that eliminate positional requirements, you also have skills that get rid of form requirements. These are Perfect Balance (LVL 50) and Form Shift (LVL 52). Perfect Balance is best used in combination with other buff skills like Riddle of Fire (LVL 68) or Brotherhood to spam Dragon Kick into Bootshine over and over to squeeze the most out of the Leaden Fist buff. Form Shift is great when you’re starting or returning to combat because it will let you choose where you start your combo.

Using Your Fists

No, not the literal ones. Monk comes with three Fist abilities that can be turned on and have an infinite duration (like tank stances), but only one can be applied at a time. They are as follows:

Gif of the monk ability fists of fire
Meet Fists of Fire, your new best friend. / Square Enix via HGG
  • Fists of Earth (LVL 15) reduces your damage taken by 10% and makes Monk into a diet tank.
  • Fists of Wind (LVL 34) is a buff that increases your movement speed.
  • Fists of Fire (LVL 40) is a buff that increases your damage dealt by 10%.

It might seem like these three abilities give you interesting gameplay choices to make, but the reality is less exciting. Until you hit Level 40, just use Fists of Earth whenever you are in combat. Once you unlock Fists of Fire at Level 40, you should always be using it because the damage buff is more important than anything the other two have to offer. Fists of Earth can be useful in crisis situations where you are taking a lot of damage and need to keep yourself alive, but Fists of Wind is useless outside of increasing your speed when you are traveling the map.

General Tips for Playing Monk

Monk performing a punch movement
You must understand before you can throw hands. / Square Enix via HGG

Monks have a lot to keep in mind as they break dance around the battlefield. Here are a few tips to help you keep your balance.

  • Hit your positionals, but don’t die for them. Missing one positional isn’t the end of the world and it won’t lower your DPS too much. Remember to use True North and Riddle of Earth to get rid of those pesky positional requirements when needed.
  • Always hit Form Shift and Meditation before every fight. Doing this will let you start your combo without form restrictions and immediately grant you five chakra.
  • Always use Fists of Fire in group content. The other two fists are not worth touching. Fists of Earth is helpful in a pinch, but always go back to Fire once the crisis has ended.
  • Use Riddle of Earth and True North when you have trouble hitting your positionals. Sometimes mechanics will keep you from hitting positionals. Sometimes the boss will start spinning on its own just because it wants to. Save these abilities for those tough spots.
  • Prioritize buffs and DoTs. Your combos have options, so hit your weaponskills that have extra effects over those that don’t, and refresh them when needed.
  • Don’t Bootshine without Leaden Fist. Once you have Dragon Kick unlocked, always start your first combo with it instead of Bootshine to ensure that Bootshine gets buffed in the following combo.
  • You will get faster as you level up. Greased Lightning used to have a resource gauge tied to it, but it is now a passive trait gained as you level up that will reduce your cast and recast times, as well as your auto-attack delay. Monk doesn’t have a lot of skill weaving, so this will speed up your Global Cooldown (GCD) usage.

Single Target Rotation

As we already mentioned, make sure to pop Form Shift and Meditation before the pull and have Fists of Fire active as well for the damage buff. You can also use True North before combat if it looks like positionals might be tricky to hit.

Gif of the monk ability dragon kick
Dragon Kick gives you a buff AND it looks cool. / Square Enix via HGG

Use your gap closer, Shoulder Tackle (LVL 35) to reach your target, then start your combo with Dragon Kick to get that Leaden Fist buff. Hit Twin Snakes next for its damage buff, then weave in Riddle of Fire for further damage buffing. Close out your first combo with Demolish to apply its DoT, then weave The Forbidden Chakra (LVL 54) to use up the five opened chakra that Meditation gave you.

You now have Leaden Fist, so hit Bootshine and then forget the combos completely by using Perfect Balance to go into a damage burst phase for 90s. In this burst phase, alternate between Dragon Kick and Bootshine, weaving in Off Global Cooldown (OGCD) abilities like Brotherhood for more chakra and Tornado Kick (LVL 60) for more damage. Make sure to refresh Twin Snakes in there and hit Demolish right before Perfect Balance wears off.

Just as the game gives you a lot of options for combos, there are many ways to optimize your single target rotation. This is one of the most complex and hardest to master jobs in FFXIV due to all the mechanics at play in your basic combo. For someone just starting out, it’s best to remember to use abilities that apply buffs and DOTs before anything else, and refresh them as needed. As you gain a feel for the rotation during your leveling, you will naturally learn when and where to use your skills.

AOE Rotation

One of the benefits of Monk’s free-form combo system is that your AOE rotation works very naturally with your single target rotation. Arm of the Destroyer is your earliest unlocked AOE skill and, being an opo-opo form weaponskill, is a great way to open a combo on more than two targets. Rockbreaker comes next in the leveling process and is a coeurl form skill, meaning it will close out combos. Four-point Fury is your raptor form AOE, but notice that it only extends the buff from Twin Snakes and does not apply it. This means that, when doing your AOE rotation, you want to sneak Twin Snakes into your first combo to apply that damage buff.

gif of the monk aoe combo arm of the destroyer
Open your AoE combo with Arm of the Destroyer. / Square Enix via HGG

Monks have some OGCD AOE skills that you can weave into your combos as well. Elixir Field (LVL 56) is a circle AOE, and Enlightenment will consume your five chakra for a straight line AOE attack.

OGCD Abilities

In it’s current state, Monk has a strong focus on combos and positionals, but it also has a lot of random OGCD abilities we haven’t touched on that are worth mentioning (and some that aren’t).

We have mentioned it already, but Shoulder Tackle is your gap closer ability. It has a maximum of two charges, so feel free to throw it into your single target rotation if you know you won’t need it for movement purposes later on.

gif of the monk ability shoulder tackle
Taking names and closing gaps. / Square Enix via HGG

Mantra (LVL 42) buffs HP recovery from healing actions by 10% for both you and your party members. This can be great to toss out when your healer is trying to heal through partywide damage, or if you see your tank having a bad time.

Tornado Kick is just a really strong single target attack that you can weave into combos, but it’s nothing to write home about. The same can be said for Six-sided Star (LVL 80), which does big damage and increases your movement speed. It sort of serves as a disengagement action, so it can be useful if you want to hit an enemy hard right before an AoE or a phase change.

Lastly, Anatman (LVL 78) is an odd one. It’s a holdover from the days when Greased Lightning still had a resource gauge, as it extends the duration of Twin Snakes and prevents your current form from expiring. It currently doesn’t serve much of a purpose and will serve even less of one going forward (see our list of Endwalker changes below).

Dungeon Pulls

Your AOE rotation will be your friend in dungeon pulls not just because you will be handling multiple enemies, but because it lacks positional requirements. It’s not worth worrying over positionals too much during pulls because there are going to be tons of enemies and your tank is probably going to be moving around more than you want them to. If you’re dedicated to hitting them, you can focus on the targeting circles on the ground, but you’re better off dedicating your time to the AOE skills and damage buffs that you have at a given level.

Monk performing Elixir Field on a punching bag
Elixir Field is a great OGCD for AoE weaving. / Square Enix via HGG

In more general terms, let your tank do their job and lead the way. Don’t try to pull packs of enemies for them, and don’t run ahead unless it’s clear that the tank needs help finding their way through the dungeon.

Trials, Raids, and Dungeon Boss Fights

We covered the Monk’s single target rotation above, so this section is going to talk about your goals in these types of content and reiterate some things about positionals.

Monk performing melee ability
Hit ’em, and by Hydaelyn, hit ’em hard. / Square Enix via HGG

As a melee DPS (and one with no real ranged attack options), your goal is to be within range of the boss in order to deal out heavy amounts of damage. You want to get as many damage buffs on yourself as possible in order to hit as hard as you can. Mechanics, however, will make that hard for you. There will be times when you need to move away from the boss or when the boss disappears during a phase change.

As we have mentioned, have Fists of Fire on and make sure you use Form Shift and Meditation prior to entering a fight. Use the latter two again if you encounter downtime during a phase change. Your gap closer, Shoulder Tackle, is your friend when it comes to entering and re-entering fights. Everything else is in your rotation, and your ultimate goal is to pile on your buffs and hit hard using your resource-based attacks and the Perfect Balance burst phase we discussed earlier.

All of that being said, FFXIV boss mechanics are not kind to Monks. You will encounter stationary bosses with no rear for you to strike, and you will come across even more bosses that do not stay targeting the tank and spin around to perform certain attacks. Riddle of Earth and True North remain your best tools to handle this, but we want to reiterate that you should not risk death to hit positionals in a fight.

It is important for all DPS players to study content before playing it — yes, even basic, normal difficulty duties — but Monks can really benefit from knowing if certain bosses are going to spin like tops during the encounter. Studying content in advance can help you plan and optimize your rotation for those tricky fights.

Stats and Materia Melding

Once you reach Level 80, you’ll want to start melding materia to your gear even if you aren’t gunning for Best-in-Slot items. Melding materia increases various stats, and this can be accomplished by finding Materia Melder NPCs in major cities or by requesting melds from other players who are capable of melding. If you have a crafting class at Level 19, you can complete the quest “Waking the Spirit” in Central Thanalan to learn how to meld your own materia.

Picture of a monk in FFXIV
Don’t get ready; stay ready. / Square Enix via HGG

Monk is all about speedy execution, and you want to be able to fit six GCDs in your Perfect Balance burst window. Between gear stats and melding Quicktongue materia, aim for 760+ Skill Speed. After that, this is the stat priority for Monk:

  1. Critical Hit (Savage Aim materia)
  2. Direct Hit Rate (Heaven’s Eye materia)
  3. Determination (Savage Might materia)

Melding materia is not worth it if you are not at max level. Do not worry about melding your gear until you hit this point and want to use a job in high end raiding content.

Endwalker Changes

For better or for worse, Monk has historically suffered a lot of rotation-changing reworks over the years. Endwalker will be no different, but it looks like it’s for better this time.

  • True Strike and Twin Snakes are losing positional requirements. Their positional damage bonus will not be added to the base damage of these attacks, making them weaker overall but eliminating one step of movement between the opo-opo and coeurl form stages of your combo.
  • Fists are being removed. Considering that two of them aren’t really viable in combat, this isn’t surprising, but it does mean losing the buff from Fists of Fire.
  • A new ability, Riddle of Wind, will decrease your auto-attack delay. This is most likely to compensate for the loss of Fists.
  • Brotherhood will guarantee that a chakra will open when a party member uses a weaponskill or casts a spell. Not leaving it up to chance anymore!
  • Chakra will be unlocked at a lower level. The Pugilist starting class is getting some changes to make earlier gameplay more interesting, and the chakra resource mechanics are getting some huge upgrades at higher levels.
  • Shoulder Tackle is gone, but Thunderclap will replace it. The new gap closer will have three charges and lets you move to a target or party member’s location.
  • A new resource gauge for Beast Chakra will be added. When you use Perfect Balance, you will gain a Beast Chakra depending on what skill you use after it is activated. A new skill, Masterful Blitz, will change into a different ability depending on what Beast Chakra you have collected.
    • This also plays into another new resource called Nadi, which will be granted by certain Masterful Blitz abilities and used in combination with the Beast Chakra to execute Phantom Rush, a new massive AoE attack that grants Formless Fist after its use.

All of these changes are going to make Monk more exciting and hopefully fix some issues with positional requirements dominating the mechanics. The job will be less about piling on damage buffs and more about collecting resources to pull off big, flashy finisher attacks.

Join the High Ground

Hopefully this FFXIV Monk job guide has helped you find your inner Monk. And if you’re a Monk player already, you’re certainly looking forward to Endwalker, so subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media for more Final Fantasy XIV content!

Happy gaming!

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