Throughout your journey in Eorzea, you’ve probably come into possession of some colourful orbs known as materia. While they may not have been important at low levels, once you get to FFXIV’s endgame you’re going to want to know how to use them. In this post I’m going to talk about what melding does, how it works, and why and when you should do it.
Requirements for Melding
First you should know that everyone has access to materia melding through the Materia Melder NPCs found in cities. You just provide the materia, and for a small amount of gil the NPC will attach it to your equipment for you. You don’t need a crafter levelled, but you also won’t be able to overmeld. Overmelding is only for crafted gear, anyway, so if you’re using ‘blue’ gear – like raid or tomestone equipment – then you can’t overmeld those anyway.
If you’re looking for the Materia Melders, they’re found in the starting cities, as well as the expansion cities and hubs. The icon on the map is a light blue oval.
If you prefer the freedom to meld wherever you want for no NPC fee, you’ll need to complete the quest ‘Waking the Spirit‘ in Central Thanalan. You’ll have to have a level 19 crafter (something other than ALC or CUL) to do this quest. However, having materia melding unlocked isn’t enough. You can see at the bottom of the item tooltip under ‘Materia Melding’ what level your crafter needs to be. So until you have a level 80 crafter, you’re still heading to a Materia Melder NPC to take care of your endgame combat gear. At least you don’t need a specific crafter for each item; any DoH will do.
There are different grades of materia, from 1-8. These offer increasing amounts of substats, but require the piece of equipment to have progressively higher base item levels. This prevents you from piling huge amounts of stats on low level gear. For the most part you don’t have to worry about this requirement, since most people only start melding equipment once they reach max level.
The lowest grade materia requires an item level of 15. The current endgame materia (7 and 8) require a base item level of 420. So, as soon as you get your level 80 Job gear (i430) that’s the first time you can start melding these (but there’s higher level gear which is still easy to get).
You can retrieve materia from your gear after you’ve melded it, and you should do this before you discard, sell, desynthesize, or augment a piece of equipment. But if the materia was high level then there’s a chance of it breaking in the process. Grade 8 materia has a 40% retrieval success rate, while grade 7 has an 80% success rate.
Every lower grade materia is guaranteed to be retrieved, so you can meld and retrieve as much as you need to. This is worth knowing for completing one of the easiest challenges in the Challenge Log, which requires melding 5 times. You can just meld and retrieve the same materia to collect your gil and crafter experience for that task.
Why Should I Meld?
If you’re not max level, there’s not much benefit to melding your equipment. You can certainly jump in, try it out, and learn how it works without losing anything, but it won’t make any noticeable difference to your experience playing the job. At least not for combat. For crafters and gatherers, some extra CP or GP can actually be impactful because it allows you to take more actions per task. Certain gathering nodes will also give you bonuses if you reach different stat thresholds, but those are still just little perks, and you’ll be able to level quickly enough that you won’t be hanging around those nodes for long.
When you get into endgame content on the other hand, you’re going to want every little advantage you can get, and melding is standard practice. This means filling all materia slots, and using the right materia for your desired stats. Given how much combat materia and materia tokens you get handed from playing max level content, melding is very low cost, so you might as well take the extra stats and deal more damage.
For Savage Raids and Extreme Trials, melding is generally done as a means of squeezing out as much damage as possible, because these fights have ‘enrage’ mechanics. A boss enrages after a set amount of time, which automatically wipes the raid. You need to kill it before then, which requires your party to have a specific amount of DPS. Too low, and you won’t bring the boss’s HP to zero before that time limit is up.
More casual content like Alliance Raids, level 80 Dungeons, and Normal Raids don’t always have enrage mechanics, but the extra damage is still appreciated so everything goes quickly and smoothly. Similarly, certain melds offer other benefits like skill speed, spell speed, and piety (MP regeneration rate). These indirectly increase your damage, but more noticeably affect your experience and pace of playing a Job. Some recommendations you might see will say things like “piety to taste” or “spell speed to comfort level”.
Which Materia to Meld?
First off I should restate that you don’t need to worry about melding until max level. Once you get there, your gear will be high enough level to make use of grade 8 and grade 7 materia, so there’s little reason to use anything else. There are lots of different varieties of materia: seven types of combat (DoW & DoM) materia, three types of crafting (DoH) materia, and three types of gathering (DoL) materia.
For combat you’ve got red materia for damage substats like critical hit, direct hit, and determination. There are purple materia for skill speed and spell speed to make the GCD faster for DoW and DoM jobs respectively. Yellow materia includes tenacity for Tanks to (slightly) reduce the damage they take, and piety for Healers to increase their MP regeneration.
Each piece of equipment has a cap for each stat and substat. As long as the equipment hasn’t reached that cap, you can add more of that substat by melding the appropriate materia. In general you want to avoid melding materia where it would push your over the cap, because those substats have no effect and are wasted.
If you look at The Balance Discord, the Job channels there have Best-in-Slot (BiS) lists that show you the best combination of gear you can use, along with which types of materia should be melded into them. Some jobs have more or less desirable substats, and the resources and mentors there can tell you which ones you want. While you’re still working your way up to those BiS pieces, you can still prioritize using materia with the appropriate substats.
If you’re melding equipment for a combat Job, most of the time you’re going to be able to meld two pieces of materia for your leftside gear, and one for accessories and belts. You should always put grade 8 materia in these for the biggest boost in stats. If you know you’re going to replace it soon, you could use grade 6 because you can retrieve it without fear of it breaking.
You may notice that grade 7 materia has lower stats than grade 6, despite being a higher grade. This is because grades 7 and 5 materia can be used freely in overmelding, while grades 8 and 6 are restricted.
Grade 8 materia is your general use materia for the guaranteed melding slots in your high level equipment. If you are overmelding, you can meld one extra grade 8 past the guaranteed slots. Anything further than that cannot be grade 8 or 6, so your best options are grade 7 or grade 5, but anything lower can also be used.
What makes overmelding so expensive is that overmelding has a chance to fail, which destroys the materia you were trying to attach. High grade materia have lower success rates, but obviously if you want the highest stats that’s still the way to go.
When you look at your melded gear’s tooltip, materia have a blue symbol next to them if they fit in the guaranteed meld slots on the item. Materia that are glowing red are overmelded past the guaranteed slots. Additionally, if your materia had some of its potential wasted due to the item’s stat cap being reached, that materia’s substat will appear in red text, showing how much it’s actually providing, even if normally that materia would provide a bigger bonus.
For many overmelds, you don’t need too many stats to reach the item’s cap, so you can get away with a much lower grade materia and it will have the exact same effect. For crafters and gatherers it’s also common to use lower grade materia because it’s cheaper, and you can still reach stat thresholds that are sufficient to successfully craft most things with a little effort.
Combat Jobs sometimes overmeld, for example if it’s early in the tier and you can get a set of crafted gear before you can get a set of the weekly-locked raid gear. This crafted gear can be overmelded, and usually you max it out with as many substats as you can. The first overmeld can be grade 8 materia, and the rest should be grade 7. This is just about the only use for grade 7 combat materia in my opinion.
Where do I get Materia?
I’ve covered the best methods in my Materia Farming guide, so check that out for in-depth tips, especially if you need a lot of materia.
For the most part, combat materia is gained through trading tokens. These will be Cracked Stellaclusters and Cracked Planiclusters for grades 8 and 7 materia respectively. Some common sources for these are Adventurer in Need bonuses, Wondrous Tails rewards, and Treasure Hunting. You can also exchange Fae Fancies with the Pixie Beast Tribe for materia of your choice.
For noncombat materia, you usually need a lot because overmelding is so common. As such, the farmable method that everyone uses is turning in collectables to Rowena for scrips, and purchasing whichever level materia you need. Check the turn ins through your Timers Menu [Ctrl+U] and look for any that are starred that day. This gives you better rewards for your time than normal.
Hopefully this shed some light on the whole process of melding materia; it’s a fairly easy system to use once you get familiar with it. If there’s any other questions you have about materia, leave them below and I’ll try to help clear things up.
When did you first try out materia melding, and do you do it yourself or make use of the materia melders stationed around the world? I’m curious what others thought of the process when they were new, so let me know!