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Cleric Support Basics

By: Ziphayl


Table of Contents

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Support specs
Part 3: Playing support
Part 4: Random advice for new 50s support clerics
Part 5: The case against Duracell, and why it is NOT a support spec.
Final Note
Acronyms & Glossary
Appendix A

Part 1: Introduction

Edit 1/26/11 - This guide is now somewhat out of date. Take everything with a grain of salt, experiment, and see what works best for you. As a side note, I no longer run the 45/11/10 warden build, instead preferring 45/11/10 sentinel. I'll list my reasons when I have time later, but most of it has to do with gearing. I'll explain later.

Part 2: Support specs

Note: Support builds without Justicar - I'll need more details from people who have more experience on this. From what I can tell, the greatest amount of utility comes from including the -car "core" - 11 points up to reparation, and so I'll only cover builds that have at least 11 Justicar. There may be a niche super-control build that has some awesome CC, interrupt, silence, purge, dispel, and great damage all rolled up into one, but losing out on passive and burst healing is a fairly huge loss and difficult to justify.

These are all only just recommendations from specs I've tried. Experiment and optimize for your playstyle, that's the beauty of Rift.

"Inquisicar"
There are the two main variants I've run at some time or another.

45 Inquisitor/11 Justicar/10 Warden - Main build at the moment

This gives you strong, consistent DoLs and overall higher DoL healing than the 10 sentinel build (see Appendix A for calculation). This is my build of choice since you also get a cleanse, instant cast no-cooldown ranged damage (Waterjet), and instant cast HoT with no cooldown you can "fire and forget" on people. I believe each tick of the HoT also has a chance to proc your healing trinket/greater essences.

45 Inquisitor/11 Justicar/10 Sentinel

This gives you the occasional extremely strong DoL due to crit bonus, and some direct heals. However, I find this loses a lot of utility to the warden build for several reasons:


  • I don't like variability in my heals if I can avoid it. Crit is a bonus, not something I want to plan my build around. I like to know that I need about X number of DoLs to get the party up Y hp, and to be able to count on that. I'd rather have consistent strong DoL than occasional crit DoLs, since unexpected crit DoLs are likely to overheal.

  • The endurance buff will be overwritten by party/raid healers.

  • The resurrection is not a battle resurrection and is useless when it actually matters.

  • The only reason now for me to include sentinel would maybe be for damage. You get a spellpower boost and a crit multiplier bonus. On the other hand, I don't have an instant cast damage spell I can spam while running, and if I only have time during a fight to put down DoTs and move on to other, more necessary duties, the 10% instant cast damage bonus is superior.


Why I do not run Rantology's "Healing Heavy" 38 Inquisitor/17 Sentinel/11 Justicar:

I feel like I'm wasting potential with Protect the Flock. Usually, if there's AoE damage going out you won't be the only one putting out AoE heals, and a sentinel who will be casting AoE heals WILL have Protect the Flock, and it does not stack with itself. I lose 7 points of damage talents and a chunk of spellpower scaling from Ritual of Judgment in Inquisitor to do this.

Why I do not run Rantology's "DPS Heavy" 51 Inquisitor/11 Justicar/4 Warden:

Loss of cleanse, loss of a 15% stronger DoL, gain of questionably useful abilities (Harsh Discipline, Determination, Bewilder), and gain of a DPS ability that I not only have to devote attention to remembering to get off every minute, but also channels for 3 seconds. In many raids, which can unexpectedly require movement, a 3 second Nysyr's Rebuke channel is likely to get interrupted early. I only get around 100 more dps from 51 inquisitor, so by the time I start running 51 Inquisitor I just start running full-on damage specs.

Addition - 12/17/11

Been meaning to add Olora's Weticar build to this guide for a while since it's what I've been running since I got the 4-pc Raid T1 set. I did so to take advantage of the +50% Salvation healing bonus the Justicar synergy crystal gives. The spec is a small alteration to the Warden Inquisicar I've posted above, since it just drops a few points in Inquisitor to pick up Righteous Mandate in Justicar (and allows me to transfer my Salvation overheals to the tank). As for crystal choice, I'm not running the Inquisitor crystal because I vastly prefer an endurance bonus to a spellpower bonus for fights where there may be dangerous levels of AoE/adds going out, which is nearly every raid fight. In terms of passive tank healing, the Justicar 4-pc bonus gives me more healing than the ~80 dps increase from the crystal will. Still, it all comes down to personal preference. I am sacrificing a small chunk of damage for a small chunk of survivability. As with anything else in this guide, experiment and do what feels right for you.

"Shamanicar"

There are several variants of this, play around and see which one works best for you.

44 Shaman/12 Justicar/10 Inquisitor

You get access to nearly unlimited mana with Purpose, Ageless Ice, and Endless Winter, so you can DoL to your heart's content. You get an interrupt, a purge, a snare, and for the super-rare emergencies, a taunt. With inquisitor, you also get a couple more ways to generate conviction from range. The drawback to all this, of course, is the melee DPS aspect, no bonus to DoL strength, and an AoE melee attack that only hits three targets.

44 Shaman/22 Justicar

This is mainly a solo'ing build, but I put this build here because I use it to clear trash in Master Darkening Deeps and for the spider boss fight. I use this build to solo Ember Isle invasion packs. This is a variant of the build in which a cleric on the discussion forums used to solo normal Abyssal Precipice in its entirety.

Here's why it works well for MDD and any situations where you need similar features:

  • Tank can take a LOT of damage even on trash packs in MDD. If the healer is struggling, Righteous Mandate and Doctrine of Righteousness on the tank allows you to take a huge amount of pressure off the tank healer. Any time you need extra strong tank heals, more than Reparation can provide, you'll want a spec with Righteous Mandate or Doctrine of Righteousness.

  • You have an interrupt. The shamans are known to toss out nasty healing invocations for 50k health or so and the wildmages put out nasty cinderbursts. If there is no melee dps, you are a HUGE benefit in this regard.

  • Your primary damage and healing abilities are all instant cast. This is especially important for maneuvering during the beginning when you need to do damage and healing while dodging infernoes on the spiral down. If you don't have time to put down a soul drain or a fight requires a lot of movement, you may want to consider running this.


Granted, there's about 4 extra points here which could go into inquisitor, but ignoring the lost 4% spell crit you've got a solid healing/damage spec and you can use it for solo'ing too (a 44/18/4 spec would not work as well for soloing due to losing the mitigation)

"Senticar"

32 Sentinel/31 Justicar/3 Inquisitor

This build starts to border on a full-on support healing build. I do not recommend this as support for dungeons (though it may work as healing for dungeons). Your party may never die, but it will be moving slowly due to your terrible damage output (seriously, 31 points in Justicar - what can you expect?). This can be terrific in raids especially when raid heals and battle resurrection is at a premium. This build gives you access to TWO battle resurrections and a very sturdy face, which can be useful for progression if your group is still learning fights. Some people consider this a healing build, but I do not, because a Senticar will not be able to save the tank in raids like a full spec healer can when Joloral Ragetide hits the tank at the opening of the fight for 10,000 damage.

Part 3: Playing support

  • Watch for buffs/debuffs/HP/deaths

    This is what makes you a support cleric. You're not DPS; you don't get to focus purely on the boss and yourself. You need to be checking several items constantly and responding as appropriate:

    Boss buffs/debuffs
    Party buffs/debuffs
    Party Health
    Death of a "critical" member (someone on purge/dispel/raid heal/main tank heal duty)

    If you don't have your UI set up so that you can easily monitor these things and quickly switch targets, do that now. You don't get the luxury like DPS or some healers have to just focus on the party or just focus on the enemies.

  • DoL liberally. Mana is cheap(er).

    Regardless of the situation, if ANYONE gets low on health, slam the DoL. I have a macro that first does a stopcast then DoLs, so that if I'm mid-cast and I see someone near death (25% or less), they get an instant 1k hp injection, or up to 2.5k if I crit and have Tidal Surge up. Mana and conviction is fairly cheap to obtain, battle resurrections are not. This should be an instantaneous response you train yourself into. It's not worth mentally pointing accusatory fingers at each other after a wipe; just DoL since it's so cheap. Remember, you're support. You're that last line of defense. Getting caught without conviction or sitting on a stack on conviction while people are dying is like a goalkeeper running off to play offense while the ball is on his side of the field.

  • Stay stocked up on conviction

    Aside from extremely heavy AoE healing (every GCD in a row of four is a DoL, in which case, your raid is pretty much dead no matter who's healing), you have no excuse to be low on conviction. Worst case scenario, alternate DoL with an instant-cast life-damage ability after three DoLs. Remember, ANYTHING that does instant life damage will generate at least one conviction. This includes knockbacks like the Inquisitor's Excommunicate.

    Life damage DoTs do grant conviction, but keep in mind that they do so only after one tick and only generate one. This does mean, however, that abilities like Sanction Heretic end up generating two convictions due to the fact that there's instant initial life damage and a follow-up life damage DoT. Don't just rely on the counter on your screen, try to keep a mental tally of approximately how many convictions you have ready to go so you can focus on other things.

  • Make a conviction generation macro

    This macro ONLY contains life-damage abilities, preferably instant cast. This is THE go to button you will be alternating with DoL when heavy AoE damage is going out and you need to maintain conviction levels.

  • Get a meter or a parser for calibration.

    I had sworn a couple years ago that I'd kick myself in the head if I tell people to get a meter, because that would mean I'm becoming an elitist prick. Well, there's a dent in my forehead with toenail marks spelling out, "Elitist Prick". In all seriousness, though, playing support is not an excuse to put out 100 DPS and 100 HPS, even if you're a heavy passive shielding build with Frozen Deep One Tear + Hailstone Tideshard. If you DoL properly, as in, when it's actually needed, you should be getting more than 300 HPS on encounters requiring heavy raid healing. T2s may be fine if other people can supply enough firepower. Raids, usually not.

    There is very little forgiveness in raids and lackluster DPS makes the fights drag on longer, meaning more mistakes and more chances to wipe. If your DPS is so low that it causes another phase of the encounter to trigger (compared to if they replaced you with pure DPS or buff support), it may not be worth all the benefits you provide. If the group has to wonder about your utility, you shouldn't be there. Checking your performance with meters on a dummy provides you with some peace of mind that you're not being a hindrance where no one wants to tell you because it's too awkward.

    I recommend a minimum of ~500 DPS on a dummy before you step into a T2, and ~800 DPS before you step into a T1 raid. Remember that you will be doing nowhere near as much damage as you see on a dummy in a raid since your attention and GCDs will be split between multiple tasks. These are your "maximum potential DPS" number, though, for if the raid leader is asking for a number to help them determine whether they can beat timers or avoid having another phase repeat.

    I know guides will list things like minimum spellpower for raids, but I could care less. 1200 spellpower utilized by someone who doesn't play the role properly and lets GCDs stroll along past them will perform worse than 800 spellpower by someone who knows what they're doing. If you have the required focus and the at least the minimum damage/healing numbers, in my opinion, you're fine.

    I am neutral about running the meter/parser during the real encounter. If you can get distracted by it, at any point DURING the encounter, turn it off. Now. Check your dps on the dummy, and disable it until you want to recheck. Someone else can provide numbers on the encounter if you're curious. There's no excuse for losing any attention to it at any point. Dungeons/Raids aren't a race against each other, it's a race against the encounter. On the other hand, I personally like having it up to check hps after, since it's hard to get group/raid hps otherwise for a good approximation.

    Remember - it's a team effort, you're not doing this to be "top" anything. You will NEVER outheal a dedicated raid healer and you will NEVER out-DPS any dedicated DPS, assuming equivalent skill/gear. You want to be in the "ballpark". For DPS, a good number to shoot for is no lower than 75% of the lowest performing dedicated DPS in your group, but it all depends on how much non-DPS activity you had to spend GCDs and attention on.


Part 4: Random advice for new 50s support clerics

  • Learn the T1/T2/Raid boss fights with a healing or ranged dps/support spec. Inquisitor is recommended, or Cabalist if you can make it work. Then you can watch the melee flail about as they try to dance around the mechanics. It's a lot less fun to watch the melee run around with their heads on fire when you're one of them.

  • EDIT: Update for 1.6.1
    The addition of the Mien of Aggression adds another dimension to playing a support cleric. You do NOT necessarily need to have Mien of Honor up at all times. However, it is the safest mien to have up if you're unsure whether heavy raid heals will be coming up. With MoA, your DoL will be hitting for a little more than half strength compared to MoH (150% healing versus 80%), a significant difference. When in doubt, stay on MoH. Remember, there's a 15 second shared cooldown for the miens, so it's better to be safe than sorry. If you know for sure the healers can handle the damage, though, by all means go for MoA for superior DPS.

    If you do run a -car spec, most of the time you should have Mien of Honor up. This makes your DoL competitive raid healing and reduces your damage threat by 50%, meaning you will almost never pull off the tank no matter how hard you nuke. Mien of Leadership is usually not worth bothering with if the tank goes down, since you won't be able to tank dungeon/raid mobs even if you somehow managed to slap on Mien of Leadership and taunt before the healer gets eaten. The best course of action is up to you, but I like to DoL hard unto death, hopefully buying the healer some time to brez the tank.

  • You should still give the tank a moment to get some threat on a pull, especially if it's a new tank. No, you don't generate as much threat as DPS players and Mien of Honor halves whatever threat you do generate, but it never hurts to give the tank a couple of seconds before opening up.

  • Look for a Frozen Deep One Tear essence and Sacred Heirloom of Eth trinket, and also maybe a Crystal Vine essence or Hailstone Tideshard essence in addition.

    Frozen Deep One Tear and Crystal Vine are available for a small cost at the rare planar goods vendors in IPP and Stillmoor. Hailstone Tideshard you'll need to run the Water Raid Rift for.

    Frozen Deep One Tear is terrific for -cars. Every reparation heal counts as a chance to proc the 564 damage shield, which is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it happens passively and you do not have to spend any addition mana to get it up. The drawback, of course, is that you lose control of when and where you want it. However, over the course of a long fight, I find it helping quite a bit, more than just stuffing a lesser in that slot.

    SHoE is the xDSM trinket you'll see healers/bards spamming for the hope of a drop, and the reason is that the terrific proc happens often for classes that can passively heal. It shoots up to 2100 hp to the whole party simple for casting ANY healing. This includes healing done by reparation. So any time you attack OR heal, you have a chance to heal the raid for an additional 2100 hp. Not a bad deal at all.

    For consistency, you may want to consider getting a Lost Favor or +spellpower proc trinket, since that has nearly 100% uptime in a fight, I hear. I can't really comment on this, since I'm still trying to get one.

  • Rantology's DoL guide I consider almost mandatory reading for any cleric wanting to run a spec with DoL, and you'll notice that many of the builds here are based upon what Rantology has up. The Cleric Discussion Forums in general is a good place to just spend some time browsing. If you can look past the trolling, you'll find people discussing and testing out unconventional builds, which is what makes this game exciting. Remember, many of the effective builds you see nowadays started as unconventional builds at some point.

  • An excellent resource into not just cleric topics but also rift in general is Dulfina's Cleric blog. In addition to Cleric theorycrafting, she has a section on how to get started on Ember Isles. She has my greatest respect.

  • Your best bet is to run with guild members, but if you absolutely must pug, keep this in mind:

    - You can queue as DPS with a pure DPS setup, but do not be surprised if puggers' initial response is that you are just underperforming DPS that might help heal a little. Trion developers have acknowledged that pure cleric DPS is approximately 20% behind other callings (as can be evidenced by their want to create a "damage" mien for 1.7). As long as you are doing "enough DPS" and fights go smoothly, no one should really care.

    - You can also queue as support with a -car soul, which is more popular with pugs (covers for an inexperienced healer). You'll need a spec that has at least 22 points in Justicar to queue as support. However, I do not recommend supporting with that spec; instead, use a spec that has fewer points in Justicar. Be aware that you may get kicked in favor of a bard or archon, especially in a party that is heavy in warrior or rogue dps (people WILL get annoyed that you can't make their ability costs cheaper)


Part 5: The case against Duracell, and why it is NOT a support spec.

I've heard about and seen people who want to run Duracell into dungeons and raids for DPS and support healing. I still love Duracell for the purpose it has - leveling and quickly nuking down packs of 3-4 weak mobs at a time. For those who don't know, 31 Shaman/21 Justicar/14 Inquisitor is the bread-and-butter Duracell cleric spec.

However. I do NOT recommend Duracell or Duracell variants for dungeon/raid groups for several reasons:

  • You do not go deep enough into Shaman to pick up Vengeance of the Primal North, which is superior to Soul Drain as spec'd in Duracell.

    To give you an idea of how important that one ability makes in terms of AoE on a trash pack of at least three mobs, consider this: with the 44/22 Shamanicar build, if I use even justice I hit the pack for 3x300 (base damage) + (3 x 3 x ~100) (damage from vengeance of the primal north). This is 1800 damage per swing, not including crits.

    With Duracell, I get 3 x 300 (base damage) + 3 x ~100 (damage from vengeance of the winter storm) = 1200 damage in a swing.

    As you throw more mobs in, for example, a trash pack of 5, the difference becomes more noticeable. We get 3000 damage per swing versus 2000 damage per swing on Duracell.

    Duracell has access to soul drain, which shamanicar does not. However there is a 10 second cooldown here. Assuming no crits, on 4 mobs (optimal for soul drain, we want to give duracell the most advantages we can)over a 12 second cycle, we have 8 swings (1.5 second GCD, instant cast even justice) doing 2400 damage each, and that's 19,200 damage.

    In the meanwhile, Duracell spends two seconds casting Soul Drain, of which we get 3 x 4 x ~600 = 7,200 damage then spends the next 10 seconds getting 6 swings in for 6 x 1600 = 9,600 damage for a total of 16,800 damage. Even in the most optimal trash pack for Duracell, the shamanicar pulls out 200 more dps than Duracell (2400 damage difference/12 seconds) every 12 seconds. Yes, the Duracell has stronger burst, but this is its strength: taking down packs of weak mobs by soul draining then cleaning up with even justice. Most mobs in dungeons will have 10,000 or more health.

    Strike of the Maelstrom has not been included in this calculation, but there is no advantage to be had here ceteris paribus since both specs include 3/3 Eye of the Storm. If Soul Drain is interrupted or takes longer than 2 seconds to cast (which I find can happen fairly often), or if the trash pack has 5+ mobs, the Shamanicar's lead grows even larger.

    Shamanicar also wins single target because going 44 into shaman gets you a stronger massive blow, soul drain is useless for single targets, and Primal North does more damage than Winter Storm even on single targets.

    Remember, with Reparation and Salvation, more damage = more healing, whether that's you or the tank receiving righteous mandate.

  • You do not go deep enough into Justicar to... well... you *shouldn't* be going so deep into Justicar if you're not tanking or solo'ing.

    If you need the 4% damage reduction you'll get from Shield of Faith or the 6% Dodge/Parry in a dungeon/raid while DPS'ing, you may doing something wrong. You'll want to avoid the Shamanicar spec I have above, in fact. If you DO want to support with Shaman, I'd recommend something along the lines of 51 shaman/11 car/4 whatever or 44 shaman/11 car/11 whatever. You will be doing a lot of things while supporting, but unless you're playing an offtank raid healer, which has questionable and niche usage as of Rift 1.6, you will never be tanking.

    In general, if you are not tanking or playing a role that can offtank, specs with more than 11-16 points in Justicar has wasted potential. You want to go deep enough to pick up DoL, Purpose, Righteous Mandate, or DoR and and not much more than that. Those other points are likely better off in other damage souls where you can get the scaling spell power bonuses for going deep into them (shaman, inquisitor, etc.)

  • You do not go deep enough into Inquisitor to have useful ranged dps.

    You don't have the +50% DoT and +15% bonus damage talents or reduced cast time on Bolt of Judgment, meaning your ranged dps will be so weak that even transient wet noodles scarfing down cotton candy from the local carnival will come by to beat it into a pulp for their wanton, depraved amusement. Please, won't you think of the poor ranged dps?


------------------------------------------

Unfortunately, unless you're AoE farming small weak packs to small weak packs, the Duracell has been almost obsoleted at level 50 entirely by Shamanicar 44/22 for soloing. Duracell does have a purge, snare, and Armor of Treachery that the 44/22 build does not, however, if you want these, the 44/12/10 Shamanicar build also has them (although you won't be able to solo as well with that), and I maintain that for soloing on tough/elite mobs, 6% additional dodge/parry and superior healing through damage beats the HP/armor boost from Armor of Treachery. But to compare the advantages that the original author claims:

  • Zero downtime. Can keep going forever.
    Shamanicar 44/22 also has this advantage, and I find that I don't even have to use Ageless Ice or Purpose due to Endless Winter.

  • Higher survivability from sham/just dmg reduction/parry/healing bonus means more mobs at once
    Shamanicar 44/22 has superior survivability, with 2 points in Devout Deflection instead of 1. This means 12% dodge/parry instead of 6% dodge/parry, a significant avoidance gain which makes a difference when an elite gets thrown into the mix.

  • Only 1 casted spell means less vulnerability to pushback and silences
    Shamanicar 44/22 has NO casted spells, meaning no vulnerability to pushback and even less vulnerability to silences.

  • Battle charge is great for mobility
    Shamanicar 44/22 has the same advantage

  • Rage of the north gives 6 sec of huge dmg/heals. Fanaticism only affects one spell.
    Shamanicar 44/22 also sports Rage of the North Star, and is slightly better at making people explode on touch.

  • Single target damage is slightly higher
    Both the Shamanicar 44/22 and 38+ Inquisitor specs would like to have a word with you in his office, Mr. Duracell. Please bring your boxing gloves and a coffin.

  • Macros make things very convenient.
    Shamanicar 44/22 is also a two macro build, with the added convenience of not having to stand still for soul drain.


Final Note

If something looks wrong or you have had differing experiences, please respond - if I'm playing a gimped spec I need to get slapped upside the head immediately and pull this down.

Acronyms & Glossary

GCD - Global Cooldown. The delay between when most abilities can be used, 1.5 seconds for most classes (I believe rogues are 1 second?). Abilities that are "off the global cooldown" can be used while the global cooldown delay is in progress. Usually referenced in this guide as a shortcut for "ability that creates a global cooldown".

DPS - Damage per second. Raw damage output, factoring attack speed and damage. A mage shooting a fireball every three seconds doing 1300 DPS is essentially firing off a 3900 damage fireball every three seconds. Usually referenced in this guide as a shortcut for "a player or class whose role is to inflict high DPS upon enemies."

HoT - Heal over time. A spell that does not impart its healing benefit immediately, but does so over an extended period of time.

DoL - Doctrine of Loyalty. A justicar's instant cast heal consumes a conviction and heals 10 raid members for several hundred hit points each depending on spec.

DH - Drowned Halls. A T1 raid instance.

Hydriss - An individual who is proficient at eating your tank alive and then spitting his bones back into your healer's face.

MoH - Mien of Honor. Justicar buff which reduces damage threat and increases justicar healing effectiveness. Mutually exclusive with MoL.

MoL - Mien of Leadership. Justicar buff which increases hit points, armor, and threat generation.

DoR - Doctrine of Righteousness. Heals the target of your Righteous Mandate.

Appendix A

Crit % breakpoint at which Inquisicar Sentinel beats Inquiscar Warden at DoL healing output, regardless of variability.

We assume 100 DoLs cast in both specs, 1.7 base crit multiplier (so sentinel has 1.9) and sentinel has a 5% healing bonus (maybe less than that, not sure 5% spellpower gives 5% healing) and warden has a 15% healing bonus.
(100 - x) * 1.15 + x * 1.15 * 1.7 = 115 - 1.15x + 1.955x = 115 + 0.805x
(100 - x) * 1.05 + x * 1.05 * 1.9 = 105 - 1.05x + 1.995x = 105 + 0.945x
105 + 0.945x > 115 + 0.805x
0.140x > 10
x > 71.42
So, unless you have 71.4% crit, which I believe is FAR past the crit cap of 40% (thanks Lexxus), your DoL healing will not only be more variable, but also heal for less on average.



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