Your Guide to Less Keybind Clutter
In MMO parlance, a macro refers to any of a number of systems which allow you to do multiple things with a single keypress. A macro can enable you to add some chat flair to a class ability, permit you to sequence fairly a set rotation of abilities, or even make limited use context sensitive abilities. Each of these are possible within the FFXIV macro system.
You don’t have to use macros to play Final Fantasy XIV:ARR. Indeed, the UI is pretty customizable right off the bat, so you may not run into keybind and hotbar constraints for a number of levels. Additionally, macros can be overused and misused. There are some abilities that are highly situationally specific. Burying these abilities into a macro runs the risk of losing the value of the ability. There are no hard and fast rules for when to macro, but here are three guidelines to consider:
If it’s an ability you are likely to use in a party and its important the party act on it, it’s not a bad idea to build a macro for it.
If its a series of keystrokes you always repeat in a specific circumstance, you should consider building a macro for it.
If you have an ability you always use the moment it is available (e.g. on recycle), you should consider building a macro for it.
In this guide, we are going to cover the basics of macros. This includes the macro creator interface, macro command basics, as well as examples of each of the three main types of macros. Additionally, in each of our First 15 class guides, we provide a sample macro specific to that class.
The Macro Library
Your User Macro library is accessed through the system menu (escape or through the menu buttons). From the system menu, simply select User Macros to enter your combined macro library and macro writing UI tool.
Inside the User Macro UI, you will find two panels. The left panel is a numerical list of every macro you have made. Unused macro slots are left as a number until you need them. The right panel is the macro editor.
Using the macro editor, you can name macros, provide an icon for the macro, and record the command sequence you wish for the macro. All changes you make automatically update (no saving and loading needed). Changing the icon in the macro recording panel will immediately update the corresponding icon in the macro library on the left panel.
The Macro Command Line
At the heart of writing macros is the command line. For instance, in the image above, you can see the first command line of the “Defense” macro is /ac “Rampart” <me>. There are three elements in that command line, each meriting discussion.
The /ac element is short for /action. This corresponds with the various slash command one can use inside FFXIV. The /ac command itself allows the user to activate an ability (in this case, Rampart, but we’ll talk about that in a moment). To the best of my knowledge, any slash ability that you can use in the game is potentially a line starter for a macro. Some examples include:
- /ac (activates an ability)
- chat command lines (e.g. /p, /l, /fc)
- /mk (marks a target)
- /wait # (pauses for the amount of time designated by #)
- /echo sends a message that only you will see
- /ta <mark1> (targets the creature marked as #1, works for 2, 3, etc.)
The second element of the macro is the string inside of the quotes. In this case, it’s a single word, Rampart. For ability macros, single word abilities (like Cure) can be left outside of quotes, but its a good idea to use quotes to get in the habit. This is because multi-word abilities like Shield Lob require quotations to activate appropriately. It is also important that your capitalization match that of the ability. So, for example, “Target to Bind 1” is the specific, capitalization sensitive phrasing to place the chain #1 sign on top of a target. Failing to capitalize the T or B or failing to encase all of it in quotations will lead to a failure to execute macro.
The final element of the illustrated command line is the part enclosed in brackets, the tag line for your macro. Tag lines designate an object to apply the macro command towards. Tag lines are generally required on any /ac command but are usually optional for chat macros. Some examples of commonly used tags include:
- <t> Applies to your currently selected target
- <me> Applies to yourself
- <mo> Applies to the target your mouse is currently hovering over (includes UI elements)
- <p#> Applies to person occupying that spot on the party UI (e.g <p2> targets the second person in the party)
- <tt> targets the target of your current target.
Adding Chat to Your Macros
Regardless of how you feel about the later two categories of macros, the chat added macros are really something that most people should look at. In particular, certain jobs and team roles do their parties a bit of a disservice if they don’t use these.
A chat added macro is simply a command line and a chat line combined into one macro. In its most common form, this provides a line of chat to your group at the same time you do something. Thaumaturge’s, for instance, really prefer their group mates to avoid targets the Thaumaturge has slept. Conjurers casting Raise would prefer if their team knew that the long-casting spell was on its way.
Sample Marking Macro
/mk “Target to Bind 1” <t>
/p “Please sleep Chain-1 marked” <t>
This macro places the chain-1 sign on your current target. It also tells the party that you wish to have that target put to Sleep. In this case, the <t> in the first line simply applies the mark to your target. The second use of <t> works a bit differently, it adds the proper name of <t> to your party chat line. Your party will read it as “Please sleep Chain-1 marked Ryahl McBannon” (assuming I am my own target).
Sample Raise Macro
/ac “Raise” <t>
/say “Hold still, I am about to Raise” <t>
This macro starts casting the Raise spell to bring your downed target back to life. It also states in /say for that person to hold on (not release) because you are about to Raise them.
A slightly more controversial use of macros involves chaining several sequential abilities together into a single button push. This is perfectly acceptable within the macro system and is in now way an incorrect way to play the game. It is controversial simply because some people dislike the technique as it seems a bit too much like “botting” (having your computer automate game play). Even so, using macros this way is absolutely fine within your TOS (using an outside of the game program, not so much) and its your call how you want to play your game.
The primary tools for a good chain macro are your /wait and /echo commands. Wait functions tell your macro to pause a few seconds before moving on to the next line of the macro. This lets you get a wait past the Global Cooldown (2.5 seconds at the time of this writing) so that you can begin a new action line.
Sample Crafting Macro
/ac “Basic Touch” <me>
/ac “Basic Touch” <me>
/ac “Basic Touch” <me>
/ac “Master’s Mend” <me>
/ac “Basic Synthesis” <me>
…then continuing with any other pieces you would like.
I use this macro whenever I have a lot of batch processing to do. As an armorer, this happens whenever I need to make a run of ingots, plates, or rivets. In these cases, I want to get as many “touch” techniques in as my crafting points allow while then finishing off the item in a single synthesis at the end. I like to get “touch” effects in because you get a lot more xp (up to twice as much) by having some quality on the final product than by just rushing through with synthesis.
The macro uses three repetitions of “Basic Touch” the first crafting ability that adds quality to a synthesis. In between each “touch” it waits 2 seconds, then echoes a message back to me, waits 1 second and then proceeds. That’s messy, but at the time I wrote this macro it was needed. The /wait command won’t go to 2.5 seconds, but the recycle between crafting abilities seems to be in sync with the global cooldown.
My work-around was to wait 2-seconds, send an echo to myself, and then wait one more second. While this isn’t time optimized (I waste ½ a second per crafting action), it works and prevents any errors in the macro cycle. The /echo is also nice for debugging a macro. You can use your chat log of echoes to try and figure out which line a macro failed (assuming you have typos).
After the third “Basic Touch,” it uses the “Master’s Mend” ability which returns 30 durability to my current crafting session. Once again I use the wait-2, echo, wait-1 after the Mend is done. The macro ends with a “Basic Synthesis” which increases the progress on your current crafting session. For the recipes I use this macro, that’s generally enough to finish the crafting attempt. If it doesn’t, or if the “Basic Synthesis” fails, I simply hit my “Basic Synthesis” hotkey and finish manually.
While it may seem like a great idea to use this on your combat combos, I don’t recommend it. Things can change over the course of a combat (creatures die, adds require targeting changes, knockbacks, etc.) and a chain macro for combos can easily lead to sub-optimal combat rotations. You can build a combo macro using the example above as a template, I just recommend you don’t!
Context Sensitive Macros
You will either love or hate these macros, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. Context sensitive macros place several command lines directly after each other (no /wait commands). Pressing the macro button will cause the macro to fire the first of the chained commands that is eligible to fire and will then error out the remaining command as they are blocked by the Global Cooldown.
This structure is very effective with long-recycle abilities and abilities which have triggered pre-requisites (for example, following a block). However, this macro technique produces a ridiculous amount of error spam to your chat window. I strongly recommend turning off error messages if you are using this technique.
You turn off error messages in the Configuration interface. You can find this by clicking on the gear located at the bottom right of your chat window. From here, click on the Log Filter for the chat tab you want to apply filters to. In this case, it’s the #1 General Tab. This opens up your Log Filter UI. Under the Announcements tab, the fifth option is “Error Messages.” By default it is checked, uncheck it and your error messages will no longer appear in the General tab. Click Apply and Close to finish up
Sample Defensive Macro
/ac “Rampart” <me>
/ac “Foresight” <me>
/ac “Keen Flurry” <me>
/ac “Featherfoot” <me>
/ac “Second Wind” <me>
/ac “Convalescence <me>
I use this macro alot playing my Gladiator. I have Marauder (Foresight), Lancer (Keen Flurry), and Pugilist (Featherfoot and Second Wind) defensive abilities slotted as alternate class abilities. Additionally, Gladiator brings their own defensive abilities with Rampart and Convalescence.
If I used keybinds, that’s six different keybinds required to take advantage of all of these abilities. The same problem would happen with hotkeys. In either case, that’s way too many keybind hotkeys used up for my tastes and I don’t like relying on mouse click hotkeys.
Each of these abilities is on a 90-second or longer recycle too. I am unlikely to want multiple of them up at a time, rather I’m likely to want one of them available at a number of different times. This macro satisfies that latter want. Each time I press the macro button, the first available ability is used. Rampart is up top because, as a Gladiator, I get more benefit (longer duration) from that than I do the other abilities. From there, it cycles through them in my order of preference (the order I entered them into the macro). If one recycles before I get to the bottom of the list, the recycled ability fires off as it has list precedence.
Sample Kill Macro
/ac “Misery’s End” <t>
/ac “Heavy Shot” <t>
Misery’s End is a really neat archer ability. It hits for a potency of, noticeably more powerful than Heavy Shot. Unfortunately, Misery’s End has a 180 second recycle and can only be used when your target is below 20% health. So, you want to use Misery’s End whenever it’s available, but often that window can fly by before you notice the button is lit up.
This macro solves that problem. If Misery’s End is eligible (target health below 20%) it fires off. If it isn’t (ability on recycle or target health at 20% or higher) it fires Heavy Shot.
Marauder’s have a similar ability, Mercy Stroke. This ability, though, is not a good candidate for the Kill Macro. Mercy Stroke does bonus damage, just like Misery’s Edge, however it also heals the Marauder if it is the killing blow. Because of this, Marauders are typically better served firing Mercy Stroke manually.
Sample Tank Starter Macro
/ac “Fight or Flight” <me>
/ac “Fast Blade” <t>
/ac “Shield Lob” <t>
This is another of my Gladiator macros. This particular macro checks on two things. First, it verifies whether Fight or Flight (a dps boost) is available. If it is, it uses that ability, if not it moves deeper into the macro.
If Fight or Flight isn’t up, it then begins my combo rotation by using Fast Blade. However if my target is not in range, it moves on and uses Shield Lob (ranged enmity generator) in its place. This is my #1 hotkey. If I can’t hit my target with a Fast Blade, I probably need to get aggro and Shield Lob is a good starting point.
I tend to forget to use Fight or Flight, so putting it up front makes sure I still use it. I would be more optimal with FoF if I fired it manually, but I always (and I mean always) forget to use it. In this case, I’m taking sub-optimal use of FoF as superior to no use of FoF.
You don’t have to use macros to enjoy Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. You are allowed to use them though. Don’t let anyone, including myself, tell you where when or how you are supposed to use macros. Ultimately it’s your call as to whether you like them or not.
There are more and less optimal ways to use macros. In each section I have tried to offer warnings about their misuse. That’s not misused form a “you’re a bad person if you do it that way,” but misuse from a “you’re making the macro cut off your capabilities” that way.
Macros really open up your gameplay if used well. They free up keybinds, allowing you to be more responsive in game play. Experiment around with them and find your own comfort level.