Heaven-On-High Clears: Party Composition

While you can technically run Heaven-On-High with any party composition you want, the standard party composition of one tank, one healer, and two DPS is what I’ve used successfully. While there might be advantages to bringing two tanks or two healers in terms of survival, on the later floors you are going to need the DPS to beat the timer because the mobs will start to have a lot more HP and will take substantial time to put down.

Best Tank

The best tank for clearing HOH is, hands down, the Paladin.  The main reason for this is Shield Bash. WAR and DRK only have one stun with a fairly long cooldown, but the PLD has a stun on demand (GCD permitting) and the OGCD stun as well.  Many of the mobs in HOH are stunnable (but not all!) and if the PLD is allowed to do all the stunning you can get 6 seconds of free DPS on the first stun, 3 seconds on the second stun, and 1 second on the third stun, for a total of 10 seconds of free DPS, which is usually plenty to put down a single mob if your DPS numbers are solid.  And of course having the extra stuns available as interrupts is super-handy as well. Furthermore, PLD can help heal the party and has the best party defense abilities (Divine Veil and Cover.)

That having been said, you CAN still clear with a DRK or WAR tank.  You’ll just have to  work harder.

Best Healer

Again we have a clear winner here with Astrologian.  The Astrologian’s flexibility is enormously helpful in HOH.  Nocturnal sect works great on floor mobs and Diurnal sect works great on bosses.  And the DPS buff from Balance or Spear is always helpful when time gets tight.

WHM can also work – I got one of my clears on WHM – but you have to be very careful with WHM’s regen abilities due to how they cause healer aggro.(For the same reason, you want to be careful if you use AST Diurnal sect on the floor mobs.)  Many times on the harder floors the way to deal with unexpected aggro from a patrol is to just let the player who got aggro die, then rez them and continue on.  If your healer uses regen on another party member, however, and that party member draws unwanted  aggro, your healer will  also get aggro and will either die too or will force the party into a risky and time-consuming unnecessary fight to try and save the healer.  This can easily mean a wipe on the later floors.  Since a lot of WHM’s heal power comes from regen, WHMs will be stuck between either risking regen aggro, or forgoing the use of regen abilities entirely on floor mobs. Not a great choice to have to make. On the more positive side, WHMs have great heal power and fine DPS, Bene on the tank can be a run-saver, and being able to stun groups with Holy can also help save a run that’s going south.  WHM also has Repose, and many (but not all!)  floor mobs can be slept to buy the party time to recover from a dicey situation.

SCH is your worst choice here because YOUR FAIRY HATES YOU AND WANTS YOU TO DIE.  Pet aggro is extremely deadly in HOH on the later floors.  On the later floors your group will want to prioritize speed and sneaking through without fighting whenever possible; needless to say, having your fairy starting fights due to getting too close to random mobs is very, very bad.  Like the WHM, the SCH who wants to clear HOH will face a tough choice – put your fairy away entirely on the later floors and heal without her, or risk her getting everyone killed by drawing unwanted aggro. (Or just wasting so much party time with unwanted fights that you time out and fail that way instead.)

Best DPS

Some DPS work much better in HOH than others. I haven’t tried all of them of course, but here’s my opinion based on what I’ve seen.

Caster Classes

Red Mage: Easily the best DPS to have on your HOH clear team. The rapid-fire rezzes are indispensable and the extra heals help a lot in a pinch. RDM has high mobility too, useful for getting out of deadly AOEs. You aren’t REQUIRED to have a RDM in your clear party but they are hugely beneficial.  RDM can also use Tether on a lot (but not all!) of the floor mobs, and if you tether a mob and run far away from it, you can sometimes drop aggro! Mana Shift is also handy for helping your healer get back up after a death in combat.

Summoner: If you can’t find a RDM, then a SMN DPS rez is better than no DPS rez at all.  However, SMN faces the same issue that SCH does – your pet will try to get everyone killed.  Pet aggro will make it hard to sneak past mobs in tight spaces. You might be able to mitigate this with careful pet management, dismissing your pet whenever you need to be sneaky, but it will be a headache, and a single screw-up could wipe the whole party. On the other hand, being able to haul out Titan-Egi and make the chicken nugget help tank for you in tight spots could be useful.

Black Mage:  Having a DPS powerhouse is never a bad thing, but BLM has problems with mobility (as always) and also has almost nothing it can use to help the rest of the team, except perhaps for Sleep which can be helpful for crowd control with some mobs.  It doesn’t have SMN’s pet problem but it also has no rez, putting it about the same value as SMN overall – well below RDM.

Physical Ranged

Bard/Mechanist:  Bard and Mechanist are both very good choices. First, they have excellent mobility. Second, they both have role abilities that allow for stunning and silencing, extremely useful for some mobs such as Chimera-type creatures. Third, they can use Refresh and Tactician to keep the party going. Fourth, Peloton helps move through the floors faster, which is nice on the lower floors when every minute counts. Palisade can also help keep the tank alive against some very hard-hitting mobs encountered in the lower levels, as can the Bard’s Nature’s Minne. One caution about Bard, however:  TAKE FOE’S REQUIEM OFF YOUR BAR except during boss fights! It travels through walls and around corners and can pull a ton of deadly aggro onto you from completely unseen areas.

Melee DPS

All four melee DPS are basically equivalent in HOH, with minor differences. They are at a disadvantage in HOH due to their need to get up close and personal with mobs to hit them. This puts them at risk of getting caught in point-blank AOEs and tankbuster cleaves and other similar nastiness. Furthermore, all melee DPS have at least a few positional attacks, and maneuvering room can be hard to come by in the tight hallways and crowded corners where fights tend to happen in HOH. On the other hand, the powerful single-target melee LB can be handy against tougher single mobs in lower floors and on boss fights. That isn’t generally enough of an advantage to make a melee DPS a better choice than a ranged DPS, however. But if you must take a melee DPS, NIN is your best choice of the four, as NIN stealth will work on some mobs (not all!) making scouting out the exit location easier, and the NIN can open chests (that aren’t booby-trapped or mimics) without dropping stealth, I think. (If you plan to take a NIN into HOH you might want to double check this before you rely on it.)  Monk is probably the worst choice of the four by a tiny bit due to having the highest need for positionals. All four melee have an OGCD stun as a role ability which is sometimes useful if the tank is distracted or dead, but otherwise they have very little to offer an HOH party beyond raw DPS.  NIN can silence, and MNK can too but the ability is form-dependent and might not be available immediately when required.

Role Best Options Acceptable Options Worst Options
Tank PLD DRK, WAR
Healer AST WHM SCH
Ranged DPS RDM, BRD, MCH SMN (if no RDM) BLM, SMN (if RDM available)
Melee DPS NIN DRG, SAM, MNK

The Ideal Party Comp

The party comp that I got three of my four clears with was PLD/AST/RDM/BRD.  I think this is the strongest possible party comp for farming HOH clears.  Subbing in a MCH for a BRD should be equally solid.  An acceptable but non-optimal party comp might be something like WAR/WHM/SMN/NIN – you have a SMN for rez help, and the NIN brings a stun and a silence plus some utility from stealth. A bad party comp would be something like DRK/SCH/BLM/DRG – it has no backup rez for the healer, a pet to deal with, a mobility-challenged caster, and no backup silence.