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Wisdom from the Elder: Clerics in top progression guilds talking about 1.6 Cleric DPS

November 25, 2011

This article is co-owned and first released on

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Hello everyone, recently I had a chance to interview a couple clerics from some of the top progression guilds in the game and get their feedback & opinions about cleric DPS in 1.6.

Shortly after that interview was conducted, we saw a flurry of posts from Zinbik, the class dev lead. Here are some of the changes he proposed!

Clerics

  • Mien of Aggression: Now available at 21 points in Cabalist, Druid, Inquisitor, or Shaman. Increases the single target damage of the Cleric and their pet by 20%. Reduces healing by 20%. Does not affect the healing from Balm of the Woods, Contempt, Glory of the Chosen, Harsh Discipline, or Ravaging Darkness.
  • Mien of Aggression, Mien of Honor, Mien of Leadership: Increased their individual and the shared cooldown for Miens to 15 seconds.

Cabalist

  • Curse of Discord: Now lasts 15 seconds as indicated in the tooltip.
  • Symbol of the Ancient: Reduced the bonus per point spent in the Cabalist soul to 2%.

Inquisitor

  • Armor of Awakening: Increased the spell damage bonus to 10%.
  • Clinging Spirit: Now lasts 30 seconds.
  • Shroud of Agony: AE now hits 10 enemies.

Justicar

  • Doctrine of Authority: No longer uses projectiles.
  • Mien of Leadership: Will no longer cause immune messages under certain unusual circumstances.

Our ultimate goal was to increase DPS without changing existing playstyles or increasing the power of -icars. We currently intend to release these changes prior to 1.7, so we would really appreciate as much testing and feedback as we can get as soon as possible.

Anyways, here is the content of that inteview, hope you enjoy and remember that their opinions do not in anyway represent that of their guild.

Ahov – Cleric from <Maximation>

Rantology – Cleric from <Voodoo> and author of DoL Hybrid Healing Guides

jMerliN – Cleric from <Addiction>

1. What role(s) you play on raids as a cleric?

Ahov – I usually play a full-healing role as puri/sent, but on some encounters I run a hybrid healing spec such as senticar or inquisicar.

Rantology – On fights where AoE heals aren’t required I usually play full DPS as either Inquisitor or Cabalist (most of the bottom floor of HK). On fights like Grug, Molinar, Inquisitor, Darktide and Akylios I run DoL hybrid healer (inquisicar). I MT heal as sent/puri on Matron and run 51 warden for Estrode.

jMerliN – I play a lot of different roles depending on the fight and our composition. As we start to outgear content, though, I settle into mainly tank/raid healing in 51W or W/S in P8 gear or falling back on inquisicar for raid heals + DPS with the inquisitor 4pc. If we need more ST DPS, I’ll run either a 51 sham or 51 inquis depending on the fight, if we need AoE damage for killing turtles on Garau, I’ll go cab, etc. I don’t ever really tank, though.

2. As of 1.6, clerics are reporting that they are 30-35% behind in dps compared to other callings; is this what you observe in your raid as well? Would running a pure cleric DPS hinder the raid?

Ahov – Clearly stating the math (and understanding it) is very important when discussing balance. The top Sicaron parse in the world is right at 4200, while the top cleric parse is at 3100. That means clerics are 26% behind the top parse. However, to match that level of dps we would need a 35% flat dps increase. Running a pure cleric dps would technically be less beneficial than running a dps mage, and to an extent my guild has balanced around minimizing the number of clerics. We run four clerics in our raids, and I honestly consider more than three as suboptimal for most fights. All of this being said, you can complete any encounter in Hammerknell with excess clerics.

Rantology – As a pure DPS, the reports are true. At the moment I can do 3-3.1k on sicaron and about 2.3-2.4k on Murdantix as a 66 point DPS. On our raid this week I was 27% behind the top Sicaron DPS and 30% behind the top Murdantix DPS (10th on DPs and 8th on DPS respectively), anywhere from 15-30% behind the top 5. I don’t think the 35%+ figures are accurate but we are definitely 20-30% behind other callings in equal gear.

jMerliN – I’d say that’s pretty accurate looking at just single-target damage. Our AoE is fairly competitive and doesn’t need much change. It’s hard to get a really accurate number because every fight is different, some have AoE parts, others have movement or mechanics that make the DPS from parses unreliable. Around 30% lower than others in an optimal setting for everyone (like Sicaron with no contracts, no purges) is roughly what I’m seeing from clerics in comparable gear, though.

I wouldn’t say running pure DPS from a cleric would hinder a raid. It might if the raid is just starting HK when not everyone is even fully geared in raid tier 1 gear. The DPS requirements for most fights in HK are pretty low, so unless you’re running a significant number of undergeared clerics, you won’t have much trouble with a solid 20 man downing bosses. It’s far more important that the DPSers are aware and know when and where to put their DPS than it is that you have so much DPS that coordination doesn’t matter. In general, unless you’re hitting an enrage, you have plenty of DPS.

3. In your opinion, should a full dps spec’ed cleric ever come close to the DPS of other callings? If not, how much behind you think its reasonable?

Ahov – I believe clerics should offer the worst dps of any calling. However, they should still not be so much of a liability as they are now. A rough 20% increase would balance things in my eyes. I understand my opinion is not very popular among clerics, but I am against homogenization. I feel that everyone having the exact same dps removes any noticeable differences between callings aside from which few buttons you spam.

Rantology – I do think clerics should be able to be competitive. The RIFT soul system was something unique to me, with certain soul combinations you could gain great utility or specialize in a certain area. Trion obviously wanted clerics to be able to fill a damage roll, we have 4 souls dedicated to nothing but damage. It’s Trion’s choice on how they want to balance the various callings and souls, and there are plenty of ideas put forth by the community as to how to go about making the cleric unique, fun and competitive to play as a DPS, I would hope they’d step up and try to take a stab at it. It’s definitely possible.

jMerliN – Absolutely. A cleric in a build and in gear solely meant to DPS should be competitive with other callings. The reasonable difference would be up to the normal ups and downs of changes to souls, not a steadily increasing gap over months of patches as clerics have seen.

4. Even after the 1.6 druid “minor” fix, its dps still does not come close to that of shaman and inquisitor souls. Its that a problem that needs to be looked at? If so, how do you propose the devs should approach this?

Ahov – Alongside dps increases to shaman and inquisitor, druid should gain a few powerful support buffs that make it viable, as opposed to a flat dps increase. We need more variety and viable options as opposed to another dps build that will offer nothing special.

Rantology – I think it’s a problem that could be solved in a number of ways. Right now the Druids DPS is poor in part because the pets scale so poorly. You can either homogenize pets so that all of their abilities are based on player gear, buffs, consumables (as if the player themselves are attacking, but those attacks come from the pets) or you could increase and/or expand the pet scaling. Currently pets do not gain any benefit from player consumables, talents (+5% SP or +5% crit etc etc) or self-buffs (such as Armor of Devetion)… I think it’s damaging to the soul as a whole, the Satyr will do about 40% of a clerics DPS as a 51 Druid, and if that pet isn’t able to benefit from self buffs and consumables then it puts it at an immediate disadvantage in a raid setting simply due to scaling. Zinbik stated the reason for this was so the pet wouldn’t "double dip" from raid buffs, but this makes it so player-only buffs, consumables and talents are wasted on it as well and I definitely think that aspect of pet scaling needs to be revisited. It’s still very crippled at the moment and even if they buffed the Satyr damage to be competitive, unless they address the pet scaling the other DPS souls would quickly out-scale it as gear progresses.

jMerliN – I don’t often play druid but from my understanding the scaling on most of its abilities are absolutely horrendous. This is pretty common among most of our DPS souls but the other 3 souls bring heavy hitting abilities and with 30+ points (resulting in a 51 point build) increase the scaling in a few others to bring their DPS up quite a bit (ST for sham & inquisitor and AoE for cabs). A huge problem for druid is that the 36 point passive only scales pet damage/healing. The way to fix this is the same that should be done for all of our souls: make base ability scaling more potent and remove the dependence on 36 point passives to achieve "good DPS." This shouldn’t make sub-50 clerics too strong but would allow us to keep scaling with other callings as we gear up.

5. A common concern among other callings is that increasing cleric DPS would also increase cleric’s healing ability via the Justicar soul abilities, making clerics “overpowered”. Is this concern valid? If it is, how could we address it?

Ahov – The amount of self-healing is trivial, and only really helps in solo environments or, to a certain extent pvp. If it becomes an issue, Trion has been known to balance pvp separately from PvE. Therefore, self-healing against players could be decreased proportionally to the dps increase.

Rantology – I don’t think this would be an immediate concern. 11 point Justicar healing is already pretty weak in PvP and offers little Survivability in reality. The heals cost GCDs and putting 11 points into justi is a big deal when most of our viable PvP DPS builds are 51 point builds, you lose a lot of DPS and burst that you could have otherwise gotten from crit modifier talents and instant-cast modifiers via Sentinel and Warden. You can dump more points into Justi to gain a bit more survivability via being more tanky (esp geared toward being anti-melee) but you won’t actually kill anything or offer much effective healing in a group PvP situation. In PvE I don’t believe it would unbalance anything. Chloro’s are actually capable of outputting a fair amount more raid healing and have much more utility than a hybrid cleric. If we were to gain more personal DPS I think it would actually help solidify our unique role of being higher DPS raid healers who specialize in countering continuous raid burst damage, as opposed to Chloros who can offer more sustained HPS and utility via tank heals and brezzes.

jMerliN – This concern is just unreasonable, at best. People seem to equate justicar to chloromancer. This is a completely invalid comparison. Chloromancers heal primarily through damage. Justicar hybrids heal primarily through casting DoL. Yes, if the ST DPS of a chloromancer were significantly buffed, it would be outrageously overpowered. However, reparation is a tiny percentage of the healing we can do with a justicar build. Further, maximum healing as a justicar hybrid implies managing convictions just for healing and spending most GCDs on healing. We have almost no DPS to be seen and we heal competitively with W/S, 51W, and chloro for raid healing. To top it off, the very act of investing 11 points into justicar lowers our DPS by close to 15% and provides less valuable reparation heals as a result. So these builds remain a balance: they can’t DPS as well as a pure DPSer and they can’t heal quite as well as a pure healer. The beauty of them is that they allow you to dial in the healing to exactly what is needed while DPSing competently otherwise. This reduces overhealing and this is their primary utility.

In short: buffing our ST damage won’t cause these builds to become too powerful. They will be better (in terms of available DPS), but they won’t suddenly be solo healing Sicaron nor Akylios, nor will they be mowing down teams of warriors & rogues in PvP, as many feel they would. Buffing our AoE damage absolutely could have the potential to break justicar hybrid builds, though. Reparation heals from AoE damage are significant.

6. With the recent 1.6 tank changes, how do cleric tanks stand now against warriors and rogues? It looks like stats wise we are a bit worse off? Are we still having threat issues? Stats aside, how is the cleric tank actual survival compared to others? Are we hurting a lot from the 5% damage mitigation nerf?

Ahov – When it comes down to picking a tank, you have to ask several questions:

a. Does the tank stay up? Is the tank healer overly stressing to keep them alive?
b. Can the tank generate sufficient threat to hold aggro against DPSers with similar gear?
c. What utility does the tank offer?

Our cleric tank noticed the new Mein of Leadership ability is not properly generating threat when overhealing the raid. This becomes an issue as they go back to their higher-threat 38 justicar build, losing mitigation. Once this is fixed, threat will be highly competitive and mitigation won’t be as much of a concern. It mostly comes down to utility, and looking forward to the future. Cleric tanks offer more utility than rogue tanks (except on Grugonim, where Physical Wellness is a handy raid buff for the knockbacks), but arguably less than a warrior. Warriors can keep up leader’s mark, allowing other DPSers to avoid going out of their way to throw on the armor debuff. Properly-specced warriors also bring Cutting Distraction, a 5% armor debuff. Cutting Distraction alone probably isn’t enough to warrant bringing a warrior over a cleric, since the true difference in damage is nowhere near 5%. However, when you combine this with their superior mitigation and threat generation, warriors are the go-to tanks for any min-maxing guild.

All of this being said, clerics are the best off-tanks. They are able to provide additional raid healing when not actively tanking. The problem with this assertion is that most encounters are not designed around having off-tanks. They are designed around having two of your best mitigation tanks. Any encounter that is not too heavy-hitting in magic damage, and requires two tanks, a cleric is your next best choice after the warrior. This actually applies to almost every HK fight involving two tanks. However, into the future the differences in mitigation may become much more noticeable, especially if content is balanced around the stronger mitigation tanks.

Rantology – Being as I don’t tank in raid scenarios any more I cannot really comment on this with any great amount of depth. I do think warriors have been over-tuned to the point of trivializing (or to a lesser extent making some fights a little easier) tanking in some of the content in PvE at the moment.

jMerliN – I don’t really tank, but from what I’ve seen in my own guild and from the concerns of other skilled cleric tanks, we’re definitely behind warriors and rogues in every department. The only benefit a cleric tank has is their ability to stance dance and heal, which is an important one to be sure, but not so much that a cleric should have difficulty keeping threat. I’m not so worried at the moment with clerics not being able to mitigate as much damage as warriors and rogues (that being said as a person who heals tanks), but I do have a real problem with threat still being an issue. We’ve been told by developers that threat should never be an issue for tanks. I don’t feel like it is for rogues and warriors (depending on the build). It still seems shaky for clerics, even with overhealing threat.

It may also be the case that cleric mitigation is a tad bit too far behind. After 1.6, our cleric tank was taking significantly more damage on phase 4 of Akylios. It was noticeable, but it didn’t cause us to wipe (for instance, in the video I posted, we did most of phase 4 with 2 tanks). It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. In my opinion, though, tanking is probably the most balanced archetype in this game.

7. It seems like a lot of our viable builds are 51 builds. Is that a concern? Should hybrids just be as effective?

Ahov – In a perfect world, yes. In a world where the mage dev had no clue how a Building Storm rotation would work and how effective it would be, it just goes to show that players will develop new builds quite often, that devs had not even considered. The end goal of Trion should be to balance different builds for dps, but I’m more concerned with them having unique utility and buffs to provide the raid.

Rantology – If they could be balanced in such a way. I’m skeptical that they could make hybrid builds competitive to 51 point builds in PvE but I do think there could be room for PvP hybrids to have some success.

jMerliN – It is a concern. We have far fewer options in terms of builds when we are forced to spec 51 points to be effective. This problem is entirely centered around most of our scaling coming from 36 point passives. There are only a few places where hybrids are still effective (W/S, P/S, and justicar healers mainly). I feel that from how this game was sold and what the developers have said throughout its lifetime that it is incredibly important that hybrids be effective. If we’re forced to spec into 51 point builds, we lose out on the very basis for Rift. I do think that 51 point builds should have something unique to offer (an incentive for going 51 points, perhaps), but they should not trump every other build hands down because of it. That goes for every calling, not just clerics.

8. Do you think our versatility as clerics is making us into “Jacks of all trades, master of none?” (other than healing of course).

Ahov – This is an interesting question, and it mostly depends on what Trion’s intentions are. A recent dev quote would suggest their goal is balancing all callings to perform similarly with DPS, healing, and tanking. Is this an admirable goal? I’m not sure. I’m afraid of homogenization, and feel it may ruin any immersion this game offered before. I chose my cleric to heal, not to be Superman. This does not mean I’m against having multiple roles. It just means I’m against everyone being equally effective at them.

Rantology – I think that term is just a way to describe poor class balancing.. no class should have a "muddy" feel. Honestly if they can’t balance cleric DPS they should give us more tank trees or more healing trees to make us more successful or have more options in those respective fields. Healing in PvP and PvE is "ok" at the moment but I think a lot could be done with the trees to give us more options on playstyle. Or even give us a support soul. But to leave our DPS souls in their current "muddy" and "not particularly useful" (aka jack of all trades, master of none ;) ) state is just not acceptable.

jMerliN – I think a lot of people want this to be the case, but that it is contradictory to both the design goals of the game and with the developers stated intents for Rift. Every class in this game is, to an extent, a jack of many trades. We have no true support soul, so we can’t really be a "jack of all trades," so why should every other class be a jack of many trades, master of them all when we can’t? I primarily see this argument from various trolls and primarily people who feel threatened by any move to make clerics competitive, and by the fundamental concepts of Rift (that it should be the player that matters, not their class). The reason it really doesn’t apply to Rift is because nobody can really do multiple things at the same time and do them all well. You don’t see Warrior or Rogue tanks doing competitive DPS, for instance.

9. Is there anything specific that you would like Zinbik to take a look at/fix?

Ahov – The larger issue with Doctrine of Loyalty, even than the fact that it’s located in a tank tree, is that it has a base 35-meter range. This is far too much compared to healing communion or any other aoe spell. Healing Communion+most other aoe heals need to be increased to 35 meters, and Doctrine of Loyalty’s range reduced to 20.

Rantology – The Druid tree is the one that concerns me the most in it’s future in PvP and PvE. Other than that, (unrelated, but) I think if they would get rid of focus-less cleric gear and put talents in the healing trees to make focus useful for healing (high up in the trees, maybe converts 1 focus into .5 sp? idk) so that raid healing clerics were not confined in their role and versatility (essentially punished for being the 1 MT healer a raid needs on some fights) because of gear.

jMerliN – I want Zinbik to take a more active role in fixing our DPS souls. It wouldn’t hurt for him to try to be more open and active in the community, either. I’ve recently heard that his primary role at Trion is not as a class lead, which would make sense. Though this is purely speculation as I’ve not seen any proof of it, I think this is a fundamental reason why clerics are so upset with the game right now. We don’t truly have someone who has it as a priority to work on balancing our souls, or at least it doesn’t seem that way. It feels like someone else is going to have to step in and do this, and I don’t know how much more patience regarding the matter the cleric community has to offer.

10. Finally, kinda unrelated, what you enjoy most about clerics?

Ahov – As a healer, the decisions you make in a raid may drastically affect the outcome. Otherwise, I can’t imagine my black dwarf with a pink afro being anything but a cleric.

Rantology – I enjoy hybrid healing and the versatility we bring. Especially in the early GSB/RoS days when our DPS was decent, it felt really cool to be the monkey wrench in a raid and it’s very fun to learn and be able to utilize several very different builds over the course of a single raid. Being able to DPS on the fights that needed it, and to hybrid on others, etc.

jMerliN – I enjoy being able to heal and to DPS. When I started playing Rift, I carefully read all of the class and soul descriptions to find what I thought would suit me the best. I was left with deciding between a mage or a cleric. I tried both in beta 4, and preferred to play a cleric. I found it really awesome that I could DPS as well as others but switch to healing if we needed it, and the souls felt a lot more coherent to me than did the mage souls, and at the time, chloro healing was not what it is today (nor was it at launch). Recently though, I think our gear (HK gear and P6 gear) looks pretty awesome, too.

One comment

  1. [...] first installment, we talked about cleric DPS in a raid setting. You can see that interview here or here.  Shortly after,  we received a 25% boost to our single target DPS through the usage of [...]



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