Ok, Ninja is much, much more varied than SAM or MNK, and there are also a bunch of different options that you can choose from for how you want to play Ninja. I am not going to go over tanking gear right now, because there are even more potential options for tanking that vary on sub job, the fight and your support. I am also not going to let this melt down into a million different versions of what you can and can not do to be a good Ninja. There are speed set-ups, there are accuracy set-ups, there are split set-ups, but here is the universal thing. Ninja's don't have that great accuracy. I wish they did, but they don't, so if you are going to for speed you will probably need to eat sushi, and if you are going to go accuracy then, well I guess you can use meat but I don't know if it is the best direction to go, just in my opinion. In fact, let me just say that I think that if you are just getting to end-game on Ninja, you should use Sushi no matter what, even with full Katana merits.
Anyway, the point with Ninja is haste, and as much of it as possible, and you can get a lot. Ninja has access to a good selection of haste gear and already has very low swing delay to begin with, so gearing it isn't that difficult even if it does making a guide somewhat difficult because there are so many alternatives. The interesting dichotomy about Ninja is based around that concept, it is indeed relatively easy to create a good DD set up for Ninja, and yet I think it is the job that most people screw up, and they screw it up bad. The problem is that people try to go the middle of the road route, a little from column A and a little from column B. And like with most other melee jobs this just doesn't work, you are just going to undercut your ability to be effective at anything.
I will say this about Ninja, it is easier than many other jobs to get to the point where you are effective in your role in end-game (at least as a DD) and even the pinnacle for Ninja is much lower than it is for other jobs. I would say though that it is more equipment dependent for being effective than some of the other jobs that I will create guides for in the future. So, focus on getting good equipment and you should be very well off.
Now, the rules for the On the Cheap series:
1. You can't be dumb. Sorry, if you are dumb, I can't help you. If you are the kind of person that hears something and then sticks to it no matter what, just quit now. If you can't adapt to changes in the game, quit. If you refuse to do something because you don't think that should be the play style of the game, then just fucking die in a fire. Flexibility is key, the more we learn about things in the game, the more we improve the play style and the more things change.
2. You have to really be an end-game player. I am not expecting you to have every title in the game, and have done ever mission everywhere, but I do expect you to have done main story-line content. This should be a goal of an end-game player at the very least. Zilart should be finished up to at very least Sky, CoP should be finished up until the end, and Aht Urhgan up until the end. If you don't have these, or at least most of it and trying to get to the end, then you aren't an end-game player, you are just lazy or your are just making pretend.
3. You have to be able to do some end-game events. I am not demanding that you be in a full-time HNM LS or anything, but you should have access to a LS that does at least some of those end-game areas/events. If you don't then you really aren't an end-game player, you are just a player with a job at 75.
4. You have to be willing to spend at least a little bit of gil. Sure, this series is called "On the Cheap" but it is not called "On the Gimp" so you will need to spend some gil getting some of the gear that you need. I am not going to tell you to get all HQ gear unless it is cheap, and I will also indicate expensive items that you will need anyway, or cheap items that are good replacements. This is like the Frugal Gourmet for FFXI. Yes, I know, none of you got that reference. :(
So, basically, don't be stupid and try your hardest.
Now, for Ninja gear.
Weapons. In general, and by default, your main hand Katana should be a Senjuinrikio. It is easily obtained from several of the more common KS30 runs and a lot of time if you can find a group of people going to do a couple of them you can leach off of them because the Senj is so common and most people that already want one has one. It has a nice and high base damage for the main hand where most of your damage is going to come from on Blade: Jin (which is the only real WS for NIN) and the additional 6% crit rate is very nice for both TP build and Jin because it is a crit hit WS. The best pairing for the Senj is a Perdu Blade for the exact opposite reason that the Senj is good for the main hand. It has a low delay and a decent base damage, but also has the hidden effect of extra accuracy and attack. This is the standard DD set up for most Ninjas, but there are still a good number of alternatives. The Fudo is a good alternative for the main hand if you don't have a Senj yet, and also a good alternative for the off-hand if you don't have a Perdu Blade. Also, there is the option of either the Unji or the Unsho, either of which can replace the Senj if you have a Perdu Blade, or can be used for off-hand to be paired with a Senj. Also they can be paired together rather effectively, and in fact prior to the Perdu Blade they were probably one of the best Katana pairings in the game. Also, a Hayabusa can be used as an alternative to a Perdu Blade until you get the ISP and Assault Rank to get one. For the speed option the Perdu Blade in the main hand and Hayabusa in the off hand can make in incredibly low delay combination that still has a decently high damage in the main hand considering the latent effect. Also, Unsho or Unji can be used for a speed set up but I don't think that it will be as good obviously. I should note that the Hayabusa is at the upper limit of cost of this guide because it's usefulness is limited because a speed set-up is not necessarily better or worse than the Senj/Perdu pairing, so unless you really want it badly, I would just suggest sticking to Senj/Perdu.
Neck. If you have read the two other On the Cheap articles then you will know that I generally think that Spectacles are the best way to go for the neck slot. Cheap, effective and better than the Chivalrous Chain that most people use instead. Now, the Chivalrous Chain is decent, but again, I do not think the STR on it during TP build is going to make as much difference as additional accuracy especially on a relatively low accuracy job like Ninja and especially one that is using a low delay set-up.
Earrings. Ahh, I love easy slots, the required piece for a good end-game NIN is a Suppanomimi. An ear piece that decreases your delay by 5% is just insane, and remember Dual Wield effects are very similar to the way that Haste works, in that a higher percentage of delay reduction will improve the speed of your swings multiplicatively. The other obvious earring is the Brutal Earring; with it's 5% Double Attack, this is excellent for Ninja because of the increasing in TP gain. If you don't have either of these or both, the next option is Ethereal Earring. Now, I do not suggest worrying about evasion at all while creating a DD build for Ninja, and the reason is that is not the goal of a DD build for Ninja. Going the middle of the road, trying to get some evasion and some DD gear is only going to make it so that you don't have decent evasion and you only decrease your DD potential. Like Mr. Miyagi say "Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish just like grape." It isn't bad when you can get some extra benefit on some pieces, but never worry about picking up something like evasion when you could be getting even a marginal improvement in DD stats. After that are the normal fall backs of Coral Earring or Merman's Earring are also acceptable. There are also a myriad of other earrings that have some combination of stats and accuracy that could fill the gap, but they are all a step down.
Body. This is a slot that is highly dependent on other aspects of your TP build. There are two basic options, the first being a Haubergeon. Good accuracy, good attack, good stats, and bad evasion which you shouldn't be caring about. The other option is Ninja Chainmail or Ninja Chainmail +1, with the Ninja Chainmail +1 being slightly but still obviously better, because of the added DEX for a little bit of accuracy. Using the Ninja Chainmail (+1) is probably of increasing benefit as you get more haste but neither one will steer you wrong. If you need more accuracy but don't have a Haubergeon yet then both a Scorpion Harness or a Pahluwan Khazagand can work well until you have something better.
Hands. It used to be that Dusk Gloves were far too expensive even if very good for me to suggest for this guide, but the price is now in a good range for this guide. I would say that they are pretty much a requirement for Ninja at the very least, as there isn't much else that can provide the haste that you can get from the Dusk Gloves. I was going to suggest a few other options, but really their aren't any that are even close to being this good, and you should be able to farm up the gil for the Dusk Gloves without much problem. So do it.
Rings. Ok, I am bad here because I still use my Rajas Ring and I really shouldn't. I might have mentioned that my Ninja has fallen into disrepair every since I elevated my Samurai and Monk, since they required cutting back on my Katana merits. I have just accepted the fact that my Ninja won't be up to par with my Monk and Samurai so I will always just use Sushi for it, and using Sushi pretty much lets me use Rajas Ring because my accuracy is so high, but honestly, I shouldn't be for TP build. It doesn't really justify the trade off in Accuracy when I could be using my Blood Ring and Ulthalam's Ring. The exception to this is if you are capped on Accuracy, but for more merit situations you aren't going to be. On Trolls or Mamool Ja you are not going to be capped even with Sushi, and on Colibri you are not going to be able to use Sushi, so I would lean toward more Accuracy where ever you can find it. Of course the nay-sayers will say quip about the additional bonuses on the Rajas Ring, such as the Store TP and the Subtle Blow. Subtle Blow will have next to no noticeable effect in a DD situation, and Store TP might or might not help you hit 100 sometimes, but with the inherent randomness of TP return on multi-hit WS's, double attack and misses the amount of times you get to 100TP instead of 99 will be nothing close to the reliability of a two-handed weapon set up. Other alternatives, as always, include the Woodsman Ring or the Sniper's Ring. The Sniper's Ring being the slightly superior alternative.
Back. This is pretty obvious by now but you should be using an Amemet Mantle +1. I do want to mention that you should not be using a Boxer's Mantle because as I have explained several times, you don't want to mix and match, you want to go all the way for damage dealing situations, because in FFXI you will only notice the effects of almost any stat if you stack that attribute. So just don't do it.
Waist. The best reasonably available waist piece for any Ninja is the Swift Belt. Take the time and frustration to get one now and you will have a lot less to worry about later. Although all jobs benefit from haste Ninja especially gets a lot from haste and it combines very well with the Dual Wield bonuses they inherently have available. If you don't have a Swift Belt yet, the I would suggest a Life Belt or a Potent Belt in general when you are below the accuracy cap (which should happen most of the time). Also, Swordbelt +1 is an option at the accuracy cap I suppose but I think I have already stated my opinion on that already.
Legs. The best is Byakko's Haidate and that should be the first goal of any level 75 Ninja, even before a Swift Belt. Good for DD, tanking and just about anything else you do on Ninja. The next alternative is the Koga Hakama which surprisingly increases your swing speed even more than the 5% haste of the Byakko's Haidate depending on your level of Dual Wield. This is because Dual Wield acts the same as haste when it comes to reducing swing speed, the more you have the better the effect. It also has a huge chunk of HP on it which is nice, but it lacks the true haste for recasts and it lacks the 15 Dex which is a good chunk of accuracy. The next good leg piece are the Shura Haidate which have good accuracy combined with STR which is a nice additional bonus. Ninja Hakama +1 is probably the next step down the ladder of good Ninja leg pieces, having some accuracy but not much else. There are multiple other pieces of gear that can be used for the leg slot, like the Pahluwan Seraweels, the Galliard Trousers or the Denali Kecks but they are all pretty far down on the list.
Feet. The best and relatively easy to get item for this slot are the Fuma Suna-ate. The haste on the Fuma's are really the driving force here, and for the longest time they were basically the best and only option aside from the Fuma Kyahan or Sarutobi Kyahan which have the same haste just no AGI and lower defense. Recently though, with the addition of the Enkidu's armor set, there is a new option for the feet. The Enkidu's Leggings provide a decent set of stats for a slight reduction in haste, now for some jobs I would favor these over the Fuma's but for Ninja it is anyone's guess and I doubt any kind of parse would give you much indication one way or the other.
That is it for TP gear. Ninja is much more straight forward in gear selection no matter what kind of set-up you choose. There are no real gear selection trade-offs like with some other jobs and subjobs don't effect gear selection. For WS gear it is just more of the same, you are going to be using Blade: Jin almost all of the time that you aren't making skillchains. The modifiers for Jin are STR and DEX at 30% and a TP modifier of Critical hit chance, but remember that STR always increases your damage by more that other secondary modifiers so you will need a whole lot of DEX to justify a trade off with an WS that has an equal modifier of STR. In this case, and this is without doing any calculations to confirm it and assuming that you are at the fSTR/4 level (you almost always will be) you should have to gain at least 2 DEX for each STR you give up. I could be talking out of my ass here, but the only place this really matters is in the legs and smarter people than I have shown me the math to prove this is the case. The important thing to remember really is that STR and DEX don't have an equal trade off for Blade: Jin, so favor STR over DEX in cases of equal trade-offs. For Jin, my general rule are that modifiers are good because you will probably be eating Sushi and have a bunch of good places where you can make up accuracy from what you lose by using gear with modifiers, but when you don't have modifier stats to go in a slot, then go with more accuracy.
Head. I would aim to get a Shura Zunari Kabuto as your ultimate goal, but I can understand why it might take a while to get due to cost. In the end this is one of those pieces that it is worth dumping the money into getting. It is good enough that you can pay the cost and still be considered frugal. Voyager Sallet is a very good second option here, if a bit complicated to get one. The stats are good, and doesn't hurt the accuracy all that much. Alternatively, an Optical Hat can help in low accuracy situations or if you do decide to go with a meat set-up. A Fourth Haube has a couple of STR that can help out and there are a few other head pieces with some stats that are helpful, but in general the first three head pieces should be the ones that you should go with.
Neck. And here we have the ultimate debate: do Sea Gorgets work for multi-hit weaponskills? The more and more evidence that is provided the more that I believe that they do have some kind of modification on the accuracy of multi-hit weaponskills, so I am going to suggest, and I have used for a long time even before this information was available, a Breeze Gorget. Once you have Sea, this should be relatively easy to get and doesn't really cost more than the chip from the goblin to make it. If you do not believe that Sea Gorgets effect multi-hit weaponskills, then the tried and true Chivalrous Chain is the way to go. Decent accuracy with decent STR, it wont let you down.
Earrings. Since I already assume that you are going to have a Brutal Earring for TP build, you should be using it here too. Even a 5% chance of an extra hit on a WS is enough potential damage to outweigh almost any other modifier modifier you can get in one slot let alone how poor the modifiers are in the ear slot. After the Brutal, the Minuet Earring will do well in most XP parties as you will probably have a BRD and you are going to be getting the accuracy bonus. There is also the option of using a Triumph Earring but I do not think this is a frugal item and should only be purchased to finish off your Ninja, not to start it. The cost does not justify its use over something like the Minuet Earring.
Body. Use a Haubergeon. Good accuracy, attack, STR and DEX. Everything you want for Blade: Jin. I would suggest against using a Kirin's Osode as I do not believe the loss in accuracy is enough to justify the gain in WS modifiers. This is from my personal testing and most Ninja that I have talked to tend to agree with this notion. Just stick with the Haubergeon and you can't go wrong.
Hands. Universally, meaning both day and night, Ninja Tekko +1 are the best piece that you can get for Blade: Jin. A very large amount of STR and DEX and not really that difficult to get your hands on really. Depending on your other gear and the direction you want to go, this could be one of the first pieces you will want to upgrade of the Ninja AF. There is a pretty large fall after the Ninja Tekko +1 for reasonably obtainable gear with decent stats. You can alternatively use attack gloves which are supposed to be a good replacement for other items with fewer beneficial stats. The list includes Ochiudo's Kote, Ochimusha Kote, Horomusha Kote and a few others, but essentially any of the kote that give a good chunk of attack are very useful here. I would go with these before you consider something with lesser stats, like the Fourth Hentzes, but I would consider the new Enkidu's Mittens worth looking into because the stats are good, and the accuracy is very good for a multi-hit WS. Finally, stay away from Gigas Bracelets (Pallas's, Alkyoneus's, etc.) as they do have very good STR, and STR is definitely better for any WS with STR as a mod than any other additional modification, but it is a 1:1 trade off on WS modifiers and it decreases WS accuracy on a multi-hit WS which is a no-no.
Rings. Ok, now you can use your Rajas Ring and feel good about it. For the other ring it will generally depend on if you are using sushi or not, but my assumption is that you will be using sushi so I will stick with that, but if you are using meat then go with any of the accuracy rings that listed under the TP build section. Since sushi will almost always be the situation, or you will be in a situation where you won't be using food like Greater Colibri which really don't have enough evasion to justify a major change, I would go with STR rings. I think that a Flame Ring is just outside of the reasonable amount that I would immidiately pay for a STR ring. I would pick up a much cheaper Ruby Ring and spend your gil rounding out your Ninja, then come back to this later when you are doing your final tweaks.
Back. Amemet Mantle +1. I don't need to repeat myself again here.
Waist. Two good and easily obtainable options here. First, Warwolf Belt. It has STR and DEX in a very good portion, and the DEX also translates into a bit of accuracy. With sushi, I think this is the better option of the two good options, but if you are still lacking some accuracy on Jin then I think a Potent Belt is a perfectly acceptable option. Both of these options are cheap and easily available on the AH, and you probably even already have them for other jobs, so there really is no reason to look any further.
Legs. Ugh, another pretty long list because of the relative difficulty in getting the best pieces. First, is Byakko's Haidate and believe me, I asked and got a bunch of good math to prove it's quality. 15 DEX for WS mods, 7.5 accuracy. There isn't anything better for Jin. This is actually going to read close to the TP build set up but with a few excetions, but in this case, the Shura Haidate is the next best option with it's equivalent accuracy and 5 STR, but pretty much equally annoying to get from Byakko. Enkidu's Subligar followed closely by Pahluwan Seraweels are next. Actually, the Enkidu's Subligar may actually be ever so slightly better than the Shura Haidate, but I don't know if I would give up even 1 STR and 5 accuracy for 4 DEX. The damage bonus just isn't going to pan out over time. The Pahluwan legs are a decent filer until something better is obtained. If you are hurting for something quick and need it off the AH, then the Royal Knight's Breeches can plug that hole in the short term, but they aren't going to keep the boat afloat for long.
Feet. Finally, feet. The Denali Gamashes are just sexy for this slot. A little boost in STR which is going to be hard to find in this slot, a good boost in accuracy which is never bad considering you are making trade-offs in accuracy in other slots for Jin, and they are only a level 20 Nyzul Isle drop. I don't do Nyzul Isle, so I don't have these yet (but I know Highlife is going to take care of me eventually, LOL) so I think this is the first number 1 pick that I don't actually own yet myself. The reason I am not too pressed to get these quickly though (besides the fact that I neglect my Ninja more than Britney Spears neglects her kids) is because I have the ol' reliable Rutter Sabatons. Very easy to get the pop item, very easy to low man NM, and pretty universally useful across several jobs. The Fourth Division Schuhs have an equal amount of STR but lack the attack of the Rutter Sabatons. The last of the STR feet are the Heroic Boots which are one of those pieces that if you need off the AH quick in a pinch go for it, but quickly try to get something better. Now, there are a few pieces that are worth mentioning that lack STR but make up for it with a good portion more DEX and accuracy or attack, enough so to merit mention. Enkidu's Leggings The DEX is the secondary modifier sure, but it has a little bit of attack for Jin too. They are like the Rutter Sabatons done wrong. Finally, and I mention this only if you have them already because I don't think they are worth the 20k in Assault points but the Pahluwan Crackows have DEX and accuracy in surprising large amounts for the feet slot. Don't get them for Jin, but if you already have them, then why not use them?
So there we have it. Ninja on the cheap. I do want to emphasize that again for the people that miss things, like the fricking title of the series. Yes, I know that I didn't include everything, that was not my goal at all. My goal was to help out those that wanted a quick reference on how not to be gimp. Often times we see gimp people all over, and we wonder what the hell they are thinking. This is a helping hand to them to get them on their feet without the normal mockery that happens in the game all the time. My two main goals have always to include the critical pieces and the bargain pieces. The idea that you should get a Forager's or Cerberus +1 for your back piece is utterly ridiculous if you have other more important slots to fill first. If you are already to the point where you are considering a Forager's or Cerberus Mantle +1 then this guide is probably not for you at all because you probably already have all the gear you need and already know all of the information I have presented, or you are too dumb to figure out that spending that much gil on a very marginally better piece is not good, and you are more worried about what people will say when they check you than actually playing your best.
Now that I have railed on about what other people suggest, let me do the same to myself. I don't know everything, I don't even know a few things, I am just supplying what I think is help and if you don't think it is helpful, then let me know so I can fix it! Just keep in mind the goals of the series and I will listen to just about anything you have to say. For example, in the Ninja guide I already had to fix the fact that I included the Fowling Earring but forgot that Ninja can't even use it. LOL Anyway, I am willing to listen, learn and change these guides as new gear comes out and new opinions are presented.
Like I mentioned before, Ninja is more than just a DD job, and I might go back later and make a tanking guide for Ninja, but for right now I want to move onto another job.