I'm going the Sage AoE route and I've been doing some numbers on the AoE spells. Basically our options are Fireball, Thunder Storm, and Heaven's Drive. It's possible to get all three maxed but it will use up virtually all your skill points. I'm getting all three anyway because my goal is to rush it to 99 so I can have it ready for rebirth and forget about it while I rush other things to 99. Realistically, no Priest wants to party with a Sage when there are so many Wizards available. However sometimes friends and guild mates will party with you anyway. Having all three AoEs will open up a bigger variety of leveling options for when those rare parties occur, which might help prevent me from getting bored. Anyway here's some of my findings. Some are common sense but some might be helpful.
Versus 2 or less targets a Level 10 bolt is always the most damage per SP. I judge damage per SP rather than damage per time because SP is my limiting factor. I don't have the zeny to spam strawberries. I put a few points in SP Recovery and I'm considering maxing it and skipping Freecast / Dragonology entirely. (Freecast is just a nice luxury that however can be a detriment when firewalling. And Dragonology gives a few INT but most damage comes from the weapon anyway.).
Versus 3 or more targets and a neutral monster like Alarm, Heaven's Drive gets the most damage per SP, Thunderstorm gets the least, and Fireball is in-between. I calc versus neutral element because if there is an elemental advantage it's always most efficient to use the appropriate element AoE. So Fireball the Stings, Thunder Storm the Anolians, Heaven's Drive the Dragon Tails and so on.
The best way to get SP efficiency and faster exp is to mob bigger. It's scary to mob 8+ things that can 1 shot you but if you learn how to dance around monsters chase AI it will speed up your leveling immensely.
If you want to skip one of the AoEs I would say consider the places you're most likely to get a party and how those party compositions work. For example there aren't many great places to use Thunderstrom. Maybe Byalan, Anolians and the Freezers in Turtle Island. However Thunder Storm synergies with Storm Gust so that's a consideration too. It's also our hardest hitting AoE which might be the difference between killing a big mob and just aggroing it onto yourself. Though unlikely, The INT from Dragonology may be the difference too, but I don't know enough about this server's mechanics to do those numbers with 3 INt precision.
Edited by Seasmoke, 29 September 2017 - 10:30 AM.