Cleric DPS. Nearly the laughingstock of the game, except when it comes to AoE damage, and even then, only with Cabalist, or to a lesser degree, Inquisitor. Many people are saying lately that you cannot complete Hammerknell with cleric single-target DPS builds (Shaman, Druid, Inquisitor), unless they are hybrids with Justicar for Doctrine of Loyalty usage. It’s actually quite sad, really, how poorly cleric DPS souls scale relative to other DPS souls from the other callings. In fact, come 1.6, many mage souls are getting some major buffs, and in the case of Pyromancer, a near complete overhaul.

Strike of the Maelstrom

What I want to do with this post is not to be a naysayer, and do everything I can to try not to be a in the “sky is falling” crowd with clerics in general. That kind of thing doesn’t usually jibe well with me. But, to be honest, it can be hard not to throw yourself on that kind of bandwagon when there are very obviously some glaring issues in the current content. To that end, bear with me as I try to put this post forth in as much an objective manner as I can manage.

First, the cleric dev/lead/CM/whatever posted this on the cleric forums on 25 October.

Zinbik said:

There have been quite a few threads made lately regarding Cleric DPS. While we are well aware of the general concern regarding this issue, this is not something we are working on for 1.6. In the meantime, we would like to consolidate all of the constructive feedback into one place. This thread will be heavily moderated, so any discussion not directly related to Cleric DPS will be removed.

Source

What this says:

  • The developers are aware of the sentiment regarding cleric single-target DPS souls.
  • It is not currently in the cards for this to be fixed with the upcoming patch 1.6.

What this does not say, and should not be taken as:

  • Go heals or tank.
  • We don’t care about your DPS, that’s what the other callings are for.
  • Sucks to be you.

What this does not say, but can be inferred:

  • Cleric DPS will be looked at.
  • Some time in the future, cleric DPS will be tuned to better match or be balanced with other callings.

If I learned anything during my time in WoW, if there’s not something extremely vague about the posts from devs or CMs, then it should be taken at face value. The same is true in Rift. In fact, the devs and CMs for Rift are a lot more black and white than Blizzard devs and CMs when it comes to the information provided to the playerbase at large.

Now, I do want to discuss some other things regarding this. This post may get quite lengthy, so bear with me here.

A huge sentiment among the community is that because clerics have the option to heal and tank, they should take a hit on damage. Many times, people forget that mages have the option to heal and support, warriors have the option to tank, and rogues have the option to tank and support. Warriors currently do not have a third option (though many are saying Warlord should just be made a support soul), and clerics do not have an actual support role. This is where it gets a little into the grey area, though.

According to the in-game definition of a support soul, they should be able to provide damage, healing and control as necessary. In some manner, bards, archons and dominators (Rift’s current support souls), all of the above are true. In fact, bards and archons overwrite most other players’ utility buffs (such as Spiritual Protection, Heart spells, Living Energy, and in 1.6, will be able to provide a Spotter’s Order equivalent), in addition to some other unique buffs (such as Verse of Joy or Flaring Power). Dominator is a little different in this regard, since it’s mostly about control, rather than about buffs, debuffs or healing. There are some great utility spells a Dominator does have, though, such as Arresting Presence, Reflective Command, among other things, many of which are used in certain encounters.

Now, a cleric can queue up as a support role in a 5-man dungeon. But really, they’re just an off-healer in this case. You can queue up as support in a 5-man dungeon as long as at least one of your roles has 22 points or more in Justicar. Even if that’s purely a tanking spec, and it’s the only one you have. No, it doesn’t make sense, but there you have it.

As I said, the recent sentiment is that because of this, clerics should – according to a lot of forum-goers – have a hit to their DPS in order to be able to perform as DPS in any capacity. The big problem with this is that hybrid taxes aren’t, as far as I’m aware, meant to be in place. If they were, then we would have heard about this long before now. Moreover, there’s a lot of comparison to druids and paladins from WoW – and rightly so, to a degree – due to their ability to do the same thing; tank, heal and deal damage. But, the paradigm from WoW is different than Rift due to the support souls. Yes, WoW has a hybrid tax. But there are classes that are not capable of performing more than one role, otherwise known as pures – hunters, warlocks, mages and rogues. In Rift, every single calling is a hybrid. The only calling that should have any expectation on being superior in DPS is the warrior, and that due only to their lacking either a healing or support calling.

Another argument that people keep making is that if clerics could do better DPS, then why would you take other classes? Plain and simple, because people don’t necessarily want to play clerics. Buffing cleric DPS will not suddenly force everyone to roll a cleric. They will not suddenly become some “super-calling” that some people claim it will become. Apparently, according to some people, aesthetics have absolutely no place in a game. It’s all about what does the best. And for top-end guilds, I might understand that. But for the majority of players in any MMO, that will not necessarily be the case.

A person may choose a mage in Rift purely for being able to throw fireballs. No other calling can do that. No other calling can use a bow or gun primarily in the way a rogue can, either. Only a warrior has the option of using two-handed swords and axes. Clerics are the only calling that uses maces on a regular basis. Things as simple as this can determine what calling a person plays. Of course, there are more interesting things, too. Some people love the way Chloromancer heals. I have seen people roll a rogue specifically to play a bard. Cabalist is one of those appealing specs due to the way it works. Riftblade is a new concept to warriors, using primarily magic damage while being a calling that is dominated primarily by physical damage. These are the reasons people play different callings or classes, not because the calling can “do everything.”

Now, all that said, clerics only provide one debuff and one buff between all buffs and debuffs available that can stack or be alternated with either bard or archon. All the raid buffs and debuffs for shaman are useless or utility (Bitter Wind for interrupts, Vengeance of the Frozen Earth for snares). Raid buffs for Inquisitor are useless, and Spiritual Deficiency is the only non-utility ability that widely used (versus Purge and Impede). Cabalist doesn’t have any raid buffs, and its only debuffs are purely utility (Sigils). Druid has a buff that is a percentage increase, but I am not sure what it’s called, or if it stacks with the Beastmaster buff. I’m not familiar with the spec on the whole, but I think it does, and if so, it is alternated with a similar Archon buff.

Finally, a lot of people say that cleric AoE DPS is top notch. And for Cabalist, and to a lesser degree Inquisitor, this is true, since they can hang out with Marksmen, Saboteurs and Stormcallers. However, Shaman and Druid souls don’t really have an AoE niche, being primarily single target souls. At this time, Druid has more or less fallen by the wayside, to boot, most notably due to pet issues that rogues, mages and warriors don’t have to deal with.

To this end, I don’t understand what the issue with clerics being capable of competitive DPS is. There are no pure callings in Rift. Half of a cleric’s souls are damage dealing souls. We don’t provide anything unique except one buff and one debuff (and only in two of the four damage souls). And in most cases, a Chloromancer can perform the raid healing duties, and most tank healing duties, that a cleric can with ease, and some damage besides.