Ahh, Dragoon, my first job. Also, one of the jobs that I have been working on rebuilding for quite some time. Dragoon today is not your father's Dragoon. Today it is one of the best DD's in the game. Period. In any situation. Anyone that tells you different is a merciless twat with their head so far up their asses they can use their own eyeballs as glasses. I won't claim it is the best, because it does have limitations, just like all of the other DD jobs, but it is so much better than people expect. One of it's old limitations was the horrible gear selection it had, but today it has essentially been added to the "plate" class of armor about the time that Salvage came out, and it has access to just about every good set of DD gear outside of the original Haubergeon class of armors. It also has access to the second highest base damage class of weapons, and it's highest weapons even have nice additional bonuses on them. The thing though that really makes the difference is the Jumps. Two extra full TP giving attacks which can crit and DA and everything else a regular attack can do. It may not seem like much but when they are merited down they really can add to the TP build of a Dragoon.
The really hard part about picking gear for a Dragoon is trying to build a 6-hit set-up. This is a personal preface I need to make about 6-hit set-ups: Even if in general the goal is to get to a 6-hit set-up, there are some places where a 6-hit build is more important than others, luckily for Dragoon those places where it is more beneficial (XP, Einherjar, Dynamis, etc.) the WS of choice is likely to be Penta Thrust. For places where were is it less important, because of sub choice or need to make a specific skillchain, the WS of choice is likely to be Wheeling Thrust. The reason this difference matters so much is because of the additional TP you are going to gain from Penta Thrust, which is up to 4 additional TP, while Wheeling Thrust will give you none. Just so you know, pretty much all of the decision making about Dragoon is based on the idea that you are subbing SAM. It really is the best sub for Dragoon in my opinion. Ok, time for a little TP math. Base TP for all the best Polearms except for some HQ's is 13.3. The base Store TP for subbing SAM is 15. The normal universally good Store TP gear is a Rajas Ring and a Brutal Earring for a total of 6 Store TP that you are always going to have. In 6 hits that will get you to 96 TP just 4 TP short of your what you need. As noted before though, Penta-Thrust gives you 4 extra TP to round you out perfectly to 100TP. As you increase the amount of Store TP you require fewer hits to get to 100TP, and at +5 Store TP you get to 100TP with just the first hit of any weaponskill landing.
All that being said I would say that it is not something to worry about that much if you can get to a 100TP set up with some amount of hits on Penta Thrust. Some people worry about this more than others, but in the end it just isn't as important to a DRG as it is with some other jobs. DRG/SAM gets Meditate and two different Jumps that can have added TP with Barone gear. That is not to say that it isn't important, just that there can be ways to "cheat" to get to 100TP through a couple of different routes if you don't have the gear to get more Store TP or have better gear than the Store TP gear needed to get to a true 100TP set up. Try to get a 100TP set up on DRG, definitely, but in my opinion it is slightly less important as SAM, WAR or DRK. If you disgree, that is fine, and you can tell me, but in the end it isn't going to matter very much because you can't really do anything about it without the Askar or Aurum bodies and then you will we in a situation where you will always have a 6-hit set-up in decently optimal gear.
Anyway, lets get to the gear, but first the rules of 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 here we have TP gear for Dragoon:
Weapon: Some people like to pretend that there is some kind of huge difference between the Thalassocrat and the Mezraq when in reality the difference is so small as to be non-existent for the purposes of testing. In the end the Thalassocrat is the better choice by a very slim margin, but if you already have a Mezraq then there really is no reason to switch unless you can make money on the deal. I have a signed Mezraq that was given to me by friends way back when they were super expensive, and I am not going to get rid of it. Either way you go you will not end up badly at all.
Head. This is pretty easy, get a Walahra Turban to start. This should only be an issue if Dragoon is your first job to 75. The best but reasonably obtainable head piece is the Askar Zucchetto. It will take some time to get the Askar but it is a low impact item on time and effort compared to anything that is better. In the interest of inclusion and completeness, you can also use an Optical Hat but Dragoon isn't lacking for accuracy in general so it is not really that much of a demand as a Walahra Turban.
Neck. Ok, the options here are Chivalrous Chain and Spectacles. Normally, I suggest the Spectacles over the Chivalrous Chain, but the Chain's Store TP actually has an effect on the number of hits from Penta Thrust that have to land to get to 100TP. This is just a case of one stat outweighing the benefit of another stat.
Earring. Ahh, finally an area with a little variety. As always the first earring you should get is the Brutal Earring. It's the best universal earring for almost all melee jobs in the game. After that, there is no definitive earring like there is for many other jobs. The next best earring for Dragoon is the Assault Earring which mixes accuracy and attack into a nice little combo. Alternatively, an Ethereal Earring is also a good option but definitely not up to par with the other two. Finally, you can use the old reliable Coral Earring or the HQ of it, the Merman's Earring. They are both good attack, but lack any other benefit that the other earrings offer. As a side note, you might want to pick up a Dragoon's Earring from Chamrosh, which is a Colibri NM in the new ZNM system. There is no reason not to use it with Angon, and it will save you a little bit of gil. Maybe even have it swapped in after you do a WS, but I doubt its worth the effort.
Body. And here is where things get long and complicated. Ok, to start, lets do the sub-optimal choices, because Dragoon even today has relatively limited choices when it comes to body gear. Before I start I do want to mention that there are even more choices than these because they involve much more work than those that I am going to list here, and are in general beyond what I would think of as "On the Cheap". The best of the rest starts with the Homam Corazza which has a ton of accuracy and the Triple Attack bonus really puts it over the top. Since most Dragoons should be eating meat now, the Homam Corazza has a ton of accuracy to support the meat without having to worry about hit rate. The next step down is the Assault Jerkin which was the old reliable body piece for Dragoon's for a long time. It has a little bit of accuracy, but quite a bit of attack to increase damage. It's a decent piece and can carry you for a long time until you get something better. The next option down is the Barone Corazza though it lacks the accuracy and takes a cut in attack it is still a decent body piece because of the Regen and also the additional TP gain on Jumps, which can partially fill in for the lack of a 6-hit build too. After that, the last of the off options is the Scorpion Harness or the Pahluwan Khazagand with the Pahluwan body taking the slight lead with the boost to Crits and the slightly higher HP, but they both ultimately serve the same purpose by having +10 accuracy. The optimum body piece for DRG that is looking to be frugal is the Askar Korazin. It has the requisite Store TP for a "true" 6-hit build for DRG, it basically has the attack and STR of a Haubergeon and it has Double Attack which is always nice. Now, there are even better pieces than the Askar Korazin, but again they are beyond the scope of this guide, but I might think about adding the ZNM HNM drops after the next update, I need to do the fights first to know how difficult it is to get them.
Hands. The tip top of Dragoon hands are the Homam Manopolas followed closely by Dusk Gloves for the simple reason that Accuracy should generally be favored Attack by about 2 to 1. Dusk Gloves don't have enough attack to justify them over the Accuracy given by the Homam Manopolas. The Askar Manopolas have decent haste and some DEX which can help with accuracy a bit too. Not exactly as good as Homam but still very good. With the cheap cost of the Dusk Gloves now, I don't think there is a reason to be without them so there really isn't a need to go much further, but in this case I will mention the Aurum Gauntlets, because even though they do have negative accuracy, the other bonuses on the gloves are kind of nice. I doubt I would use them, but if you are hard up for money they could work too. There are a bunch of other hands that you could use including the Tarasque Mitts but with the availability of Dusk Gloves and other free alternatives I wouldn't spend more than the cost of the Tarasque Mitts on anything else.
Rings. The Rajas Ring is the "must have" as usual for any two-hander. You can't really beat it's stats, the Store TP is needed for any hope of a 6-hit build, and it is so good that it should be used universally on many different jobs. The next ring you should consider is the Ecphoria Ring because it can help you get to one less hit needed from Penta Thrust for a 6-hit build or will let you get to a 6-hit build using the new WS Drakesbane. The next best reasonable ring is the Ulthalam's Ring having good Accuracy and Attack. After those two rings, it is just more accuracy rings, starting with the cheapest (i.e. free), the Blood Ring then the Sniper's Ring or the Woodsman Ring will also suffice.
Back. If you have read any of the previous "On the Cheap" series, then you already know that the answer to this is the Amemet Mantle +1. Everything else is much more expensive and not worth the price difference.
Waist. The Swift Belt is worth the time and the effort. I wouldn't skimp on that for the waist slot, especially because the other options for this slot aren't anywhere as good. The alternatives are the Warwolf Belt which is decent all around, the Life Belt for more accuracy which you probably don't need, and the Potent Belt for a slightly more balanced piece, but if I didn't have a Swift Belt, I would probably pick up a Swordbelt +1 because I think it would generally boost my per swing damage the most overtime. If you can get your hands on a Wyrm Belt then that is the best waist piece you can use for TP build after the Swift Belt and it is also probably the best possible Jump waist piece.
Legs. Again the best is going to come from Omega, the Homam Cosciales should be the goal of pretty much all Dragoons and is pretty much the end-point for Dragoon legs in end-game. The problem is that after the Homam Cosciales there is no easy or cheap to obtain haste gear for the legs for Dragoon. There are several decent accuracy and DD legs varying from the very accurate Drachen Brais +1 and Askar Dirs to the more damage oriented Galliard Trousers and Pahluwan Seraweels. I should also mention the Barone Cosciales which can be used full-time if something better is not available for TP build, but they should definitely be kept for Jumps because the added TP bonus can be great for when you miss too much on a Penta Thrust and need to make up some TP to make sure you still keep your six hit build for that 100TP phase.
Feet. Finally, the end of the TP build for Dragoon and a slot with some decent options too. The best option, following the trend for Dragoon, are the Homam Gambieras. Great accuracy and the best haste in the slot available for a reasonable cost. Close to the Homam Gambieras but still a smidge behind them are the new Aurum Sabatons which have great stats but just a little less haste. After the Aurum Sabatons, the Dusk Ledelsens are next with equal haste, but lacking the bonus accuracy from the Aurum feet. The last couple of options lack the haste, and therefore are definitely a step down, but are still viable until something better comes along. The Amir Boots have good accuracy and attack, and the Barone Gambieras are decent damage dealing feet.
And there we finally have the potential TP build options for Dragoon. There are many more different options for Dragoon just because it doesn't have the old-school generally available good gear that many other jobs had. I would say that some of the basic good gear is harder to obtain than for Monk or Samurai but to balance that, the cost of much of this gear is minimal to non-existent. Also, you should consider what gear you are going to use for Jumps which should have it's own macro equipment swap, noting that the modifier for Jump is VIT, but High Jump has no adjustment. You don't have to have every piece swapped for you Jumps, but there are some pieces that are so good they should not be ignored. Now, onto WS equipment.
Head. This is a pretty easy for the most part. The Wyvern Helm is a good and cheap option for Dragoon weaponskills. A very good potential alternative would be the Askar Zucchetto with more accuracy traded for losing only 1 STR. In a pinch, the Optical Hat can be used for Penta Thrust if you need the accuracy or lack anything else.
Neck. For starters, the appropriate weaponskill gorget from Sea is probably going to serve you best, so find the one that you need for each weaponskill and get them made. At a minimum, Shadow Gorget for Penta Thrust and Flame Gorget. If you don't have those yet, then a Chivalrous Chain is the best way to fill the gap.
Earrings. Ok, first lets start with the Brutal Earring. It has the DA you are going to want for any of your WS's, and the Store TP you are probably going to need to get a 6-hit build, or at least close to it. After that the most frugal option to me is the Minuet Earring which is a great balance of WS mods and cost. An easily competitive alternative is the Fowling Earring, which has slightly less for WS mods and is more expensive, but the accuracy is permanent. I would avoid the Triumph Earring because I don't think the cost equates to the additional benefit of one more WS mod, but if you already have a Bushinomimi from another job, then that would be the perfect cheap alternative.
Body Well, outside of the Hecatomb Harness and the Drachen Mail +1 this list is going to look very much like the TP-build options, so lets start with those two options. The Hecatomb Harness is probably the best piece that fits the role of the On the Cheap series, it is not cheap, and it is still relatively tough to get, but it is so good that it is worth the effort. The STR and the Accuracy are pretty much unparalleled, and it will serve you well on several different jobs. The Drachen Mail +1 is more of a middle of the pack option but it is a WS only piece. The STR and Attack are nice but it does lack accuracy if you need it. It should also be mentioned that it can also be used for Jump because it has good offensive stats and VIT. Of the repeats from the TP-build section the Askar Korazin is the best, with the STR, Attack and Double Attack for the best damage output, and also the Store TP for critical extra TP on your WS to make sure that you can maintain a 6-hit build even with Wheeling Thrust. After these options, you are only left with Attack or Accuracy options. For the Attack options, the Assault Jerkin, then the Barone Corazza are both ok, but definitely not as good as the previous options. The Accuracy options can be useful for lower accuracy situations but with alternative Accuracy to be found in other slots, they are probably the last place you want to go for WS. That being said, the Homam Corazza is the best option for low-accuracy situations, followed by the Pahluwan Khazagand then finally the Scorpion Harness.
Hands. Hecatomb wins out again here, with the Hecatomb Mittens being the optimal choice. A good second choice are the Drachen Finger Gauntlets +1. Both of these items have the STR and DEX you are going to want for good WS damage. After these two hands, there are many different Attack or Accuracy hand pieces that you can go with, but they are far too numerous and also a far sight worse than both of these options. I do want to mention the Gigas bracelets here though (the Pallas's Bracelets and the Alkyoneus's Bracelets, for example) because I don't think you should use them. The reduction in DEX undercuts the higher STR for several reasons; the both are modifiers on most of the good DRG WS, the loss of DEX works to decrease your accuracy, and the loss of DEX will decrease your potential to crit. Now this wouldn't have mattered much before unless you liked to use Skewer, but with the addition of the Drakesbane WS, the ability to crit on a good WS is now available and this should be considered before pulling DEX out of your WS set.
Rings. The first ring you should have is the Rajas Ring. The STR and DEX can't be beat and you will need the Store TP for a 6-hit build in any case. The other ring should be dedicated to more STR for WS damage. The Flame Ring is the upper end of my frugal range, but I believe a worthy investment after you have other staples down. If you want to put off the Flame Ring then a Ruby Ring will be just fine while you work to finish up more important items.
Back. Amement Mantle +1, done.
Waist. Probably the best option here is the Warwolf Belt with all the WS mods that you want. You can also use a Potent Belt if you need more accuracy for Penta Thrust, but it is only a marginal increase in accuracy with a pretty large cut in WS mods.
Legs. The cheap and easy starting point here are the Barone Cosciales with a little bit of STR and some decent attack. Alternatively, with a little more STR and accuracy instead of attack are the Pahluwan Seraweels. Both are good, and I personally use the Pahluwan Seraweels but either are good for WS purposes. A step up from there in STR but without any addition bonuses are the Fourth Division Schoss. I have not tested these but 4 STR is pretty nice for essentially a free piece of gear. Finally, the best reasonable piece for the legs slot are the Aurum Cuisses. They have good STR and Accuracy and they can be used for Jump with the nice bonus to VIT too.
Feet. Finally, the last slot. Hecatomb Leggings, by far, are the way to go. Nothing is close for Dragoon in this slot. Lots of STR and DEX is exactly what you need. After the Hecatomb Leggings there is a big drop, but still some pretty good options. The next option are the Rutter Sabatons, which have good stats and are easily available from a pop NM in Molvopolis. The AH option are the Barone Gambieras which are just a slight step down from the Rutter Sabatons in STR. The problem with the Barone Gambieras is that the cost is kind of steep for something that has a better alternative, and I don't know if it is worth the cost. Almost equal are the Fourth Division Schuhs and the Askar Gambieras both of which have the 3 STR of the Rutters but no other good WS mods on them, but they are free so they might be a better option than the Barone Gambieras depending on your income. Finally, the cheap AH option are the Heroic Boots. Just to emphasize, these are the cheap AH option and should be treated as such. They only have 2 STR and nothing else of value, so keep that in mind and don't sit on these for very long.
And there you have it! Dragoon On the Cheap is finally done! This was a lot harder and longer than I expected it to be to put together, but I think I have covered pretty much all of the option that should be available to anyone that is trying to be the best they can without breaking the bank or being wasteful. I do want to mention that there needs to be some testing on Drakesbane which became available as I was finishing up this guide. It is a four-hit WS with a Crit hit TP modifier, which should make it the strongest WS that Dragoons have available. There is some new gear that is available in the update that could be good for Dragoon but I can't tell yet how difficult they are get so I didn't add them. I will revise this once the quality of the gear and the difficulty in obtaining it becomes more clear. Well, I hope you like this guide because Dragoon was my first job and still one I look at with great pride, even if I barely use it any more.