Monday, March 26, 2012

Rift Bard Full Explanation



The Bard class in Rift can easily be the most rewarding character you play in any MMO.

You possess the ability to buff and heal your allies; you can debuff your enemies and do a decent bit of damage when you need to. There really is not much this soul cannot do. With the proper application of your two remaining souls you can focus on supporting your team, unleashing damage or even tanking an instance or two.

Bards have this flexibility because their skill set provides them with a large assortment of skills that work in conjunction with everyone else so well. The Bard is everyone's best friend - he's like that one friend everyone likes. You know when the bard is around that a good time will likely follow.

The possibilities are many but for now we will focus on one: the Support Bard.

The Support Bard's main focus is to support (duh!) his allies with stat enhancing motifs, anthems and fanfares, as well as doing their fair share of healing. To explain how the Support Bard works I'll detail some of the more important skills and even a few soul tree builds that will work very nicely. I won't be listing ever ability the Bard has - because there is a lot and some are more geared towards DPS or other uses. The main thing I will stress about this synopsis is that I am leaning more toward a bard who has as much hit points as possible and can do the most healing and buffing of his allies. There will be no huge white or yellow numbers popping up with this setup - but an absolute ton of green! I would classify this as a more dungeon/pvp oriented build.

Fanfares and Anthems

These are your primary buffs that last the longest. The Fanfares last for 60 minutes and the Anthems are always on. In total you have seven of these abilities (three Fanfares and up to four Anthems) and you may have one Fanfare and one Anthem up at any given time.

Fanfares
You have three fanfares and they all have a three second cast time and will be your primary stat buffing ability.

Fanfare of Vigor
No Cost
Casting Time: 3.0 Seconds
Plays a Fanfare that increases the Endurance of party and raid members by 5. Lasts 1 hour. Players can only have 1 Fanfare per Rogue at a time.
Requires: 4 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 4Increases your party's Endurance (i.e. Hit Points). This is the Fanfare I have up almost all the time. The extra Endurance will help you and your buddies absorb that extra hit from a mob or give you or another healer that extra second to get a heal in. Of all the stats that are in any MMO Endurance (a.k.a Stamina) is always in the top priority. More hit points means more time fighting and less time running to your corpse. This is the buff I keep up all the time in Warfronts.

Fanfare of Power
No Cost
Casting Time: 3.0 Seconds
Plays a Fanfare that increases the Strength and Dexterity of party and raid members by 10. Lasts 1 hour. Players can only have 1 Fanfare per Rogue at a time.
Requires: 16 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 16Increases your party's Strength and Dexterity. This is another good all-around buff. If you are soloing and just trying to grind through mobs this will help a lot. This is also a good Fanfare to use when you are in a group that is predominantly Warriors, Rogues or other melee characters. While I may lean towards the defensive side of things there is always a time and place to just hit someone as hard as you can. This makes you hit even harder.

Fanfare of Knowledge
No Cost
Casting Time: 3.0 Seconds
Plays a Fanfare that increases the Intelligence and Wisdom of party and raid members by 30. Lasts 1 hour. Players can only have 1 Fanfare per Rogue at a time.
Requires: 40 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 40Increases your party's Intelligence and Wisdom. The yin to Fanfare of Power's yang. Does the exact same thing but for all the casters out there. If you are running around with a lot of Mages or Clerics this is a good bet. These two buffs are good situational buffs in dungeons. On trash pulls you can usually get by with Power and for some fights that are a bit more healing intensive Knowledge will give your healers a little extra mana for getting that much needed heal off.

Anthems
Very similar to Fanfares but they lack a cast time. All three of these are instant cast and can be switched out on the fly. This gives the Bard a lot of situational options to help out his group. You are able to custom tailor your buffs to whatever you happen to fighting at any given time. While Fanfares are a direct stat buff these are more general character enhancing abilities.

Anthem of Competence
20 Energy
Instant
Plays an Anthem that increases the movement speed of party and raid members by 15% when they are out of combat. Lasts until cancelled. Players can only have 1 Anthem per Rogue at a time.
Requires: 10 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 10This really is the quintessential Bard buff. Everyone who played Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest or World of Warcraft will recognize this buff. It just makes you run faster. At the baseline this ability gives you an additional 15% run speed. With Soul points you can push this up to the 20-30% range and even keep it up in combat. Depending on how you and your group like to operate this is the main Anthem to run in PvP. No one likes to have a low health enemy survive by running away. With Competence you can make that scenario happen a whole lot less.

Anthem of Defiance
20 Energy
Instant
Plays an Anthem that increases the magical resistances of party and raid members by 31. Lasts until cancelled. Players can only have 1 Anthem per Rogue at a time.
Requires: 18 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 18This is a great buff to use when you know you will be pummeled by a lot of spells. Dungeon bosses that are primarily caster mobs will give your group a lot less headaches if you throw this on. In Warfronts you can handle Mages easier. While the buff will not drastically alter your resistances it will make those fireballs and DoTs hit for less.

Anthem of Glory
20 Energy
Instant
Plays an Anthem that increases the Armor Value of party and raid members by 109. Lasts until cancelled. Players can only have 1 Anthem per Rogue at a time.
Requires: Anthem of Glory Rank 1
Requires: 5 Points Spent in BardThis Anthem gives your group a boost in Armor. This is the opposite of Anthem of Defiance and should be used when you know you will be dealing with a lot of melee damage. Most dungeon mobs and bosses are melee intensive and this will save you some headaches as they will not be able to beat you to death as quickly.

Anthem of Fervor
20 Energy
Instant
Plays an Anthem that reduces the cost of all abilities of party and raid members by 10%. Lasts until cancelled. Players can only have 1 Anthem per Rogue at a time.
Requires: 32 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 32This buff is really useful for those long, drawn out fights. It makes all of your party's abilities cost 10% less than normal. This will save casters mana and energy for warriors and rogues. I would mostly consider this to be an Anthem best used in dungeons or when you just need some resource efficiency. Coupling this with Fanfare of Power/Knowledge and you will see a decent increase in damage/healing of your group.

Motifs

Motifs are your song buffs. They are all instant cast and can all be up at the same time. The only catch is that they do not last that long. Baseline duration is 15 seconds and can be pushed up to 30 seconds with Soul points. These are really a mixed bag because they can do almost anything. Some of them are buffs and others are debuffs. There are a total of six Motifs and they all have some benefit. I have mine setup on keys 4-9 on my keyboard and basically just go one by one in importance until they are all up. At about 5-6 seconds left in the duration just refresh them. Is this tedious at times? Yes. Should you just deal with it to be a good Bard? Yes.

Motif of Grandeur
Motif of Grandeur
25 Energy
Instant
Plays a Motif that increases the amount of healing received by party and raid members by 5%. Lasts 15 seconds.
Requires: 28 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 28These two I will list together as they are the two main healing Motifs. With Regeneration you can constantly keep a HoT spell running. Seeing green every second is a good thing. Everyone likes being healed and this buff is indiscriminate in who it heals. Your whole group benefits when this is up. Grandeur does nothing by itself but it does increase all healing for your group by 5%. Everyone loves healing so why wouldn't everyone love more healing? This makes you a better healer and anyone else a better healer. Everyone wins. These two should be up at all times. Solo, warfront or dungeon: don't go into a fight without these two.

Motif of Bravery
25 Energy
Instant
Plays a Motif that increases the Attack Power and Spell Power of party and raid members by 3. Lasts 15 seconds.This is your first motif and will serve you well for your entire playing time. It simply increases your damage. For melee characters it will increase your attack power. For casters it will increase your spell power. It does exactly what it says and no more. This is a motif that you should refresh for every encounter while you are playing. You can get by soloing without it if you are lazy but in groups this should always be up.

Motif of Focus
25 Energy
Instant
Plays a Motif that increases the Critical Hit and Spell Critical Hit chance of party and raid members by 5%. Lasts 15 seconds.
Requires: 8 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 8This buff ups your critical chance so you can see more big numbers more often. Casters and damage classes will love you for this because it makes them a lot more efficient when they can get more damage for the same resource cost. Again, this is essential in dungeons because no one wants to be stuck fighting things any longer than they have to. More damage equals faster dead creatures; equals faster dungeons runs.

Motif of Tenacity
25 Energy
Instant
Plays a Motif that reduces the damage taken by party and raid members by 5%. Lasts 15 seconds.
Requires: 12 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 12This buff gives you and your group a nice 5% damage reduction. You get hit for less damage. This is a win in my book. Keep it up as often as you can. Taking 5% less damage means you get to live 5% longer.

Attacks

We weren't going to sit around talking about buffs the whole time and now we come to your attacking abilities. These are broken into a couple of areas: ones that build combo points and your finishers, also known as Codas.

Combo Builders

These are the attacks that give you some damage dealing capacity and help you build up to unleashing your Codas at full power.


Cadence

20 Meter Range
50 Energy
Instant
Channeled
The Rogue continuously strums the Lute, dealing weapon plus 26 Life damage over 2 seconds. Awards 1 Combo Point. While channeling, the Rogue gains an additional Combo Point per second. This attack cannot be blocked, parried or dodged.This is your bread and butter ability as a Support Bard. You can just sit back and spam this one all day. It builds three combo points with each use so you will be up to five every couple of seconds. With Soul points you can also make this heal for as much damage as it does. This healing will heal everyone in the group so don't be afraid to spam this like it is going out of style.


Riff

20 Meter Range
50 Energy
Instant
Cooldown: 60.00 Seconds
Plays a succession of notes that deals weapon plus 31 to 33 Life damage. Awards 5 Combo Points. This attack cannot be blocked, parried or dodged.
Requires: Riff Rank 1
Requires: 20 Points Spent in Bard
While the damage on this ability is negligible it does put five combo points on your target instantly. This is the activation ability for any "Oh S#%&!" situation. If you need a full stack of combo points right this very second then just click this guy and go. The only downside is a one minute cool down but you should not be finding yourself in situations where you need it between uses.

Codas

These are your finishers. They can do damage, heal, buff or debuff. You can pick and choose which one you want to use at any time so you get even more freedom in what you are doing. There is a Coda for almost every situation so never worry; you will use them all at some point.

Coda of Restoration
20 Meter Range
40 Energy
Instant
Plays a Coda that uses Combo Points to instantly heal up to 5 party and raid members. Energy Cost is reduced with more Combo Points.
1 Point: 47 health
2 Points: 95 health
3 Points: 142 health
4 Points: 189 health
5 Points: 236 health
Requires: Coda of Restoration Rank 1
Requires: 20 Points Spent in BardSince we are focusing on support we will start here. This finisher does no damage but does drop a big heal on your group. This heal hits everyone in your group for the same amount. In any situation where you find yourself taking a lot of damage this can be a lifesaver. Use Cadence to get up to five points and hit this to heal everyone. Rinse and repeat and you have a good attack chain in a lot of fights. This is the best Coda to use in the aforementioned "Oh S#%&!" situations. Hit Riff then this for a big heal right when you need it most.

Coda of Wrath
20 Meter Range
40 Energy
Instant
Plays a Coda that uses Combo Points to deal weapon plus Life damage. Energy Cost is reduced with more Combo Points. Damage bonus from Attack Power is increased with more Combo Points. This attack cannot be blocked, parried or dodged.
1 Point: 20 damage
2 Points: 33 damage
3 Points: 47 damage
4 Points: 54 damage
5 Points: 67 damage
Requires: 2 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 2
Coda of Fury
20 Meter Range
40 Energy
Instant
Plays a Coda that uses Combo Points to deal weapon plus Life damage to the enemy and up to 8 enemies around it. Energy Cost is reduced with more Combo Points. Damage bonus from Attack Power is increased with more Combo Points. This attack cannot be blocked, parried or dodged.
1 Point: 36 damage
2 Points: 62 damage
3 Points: 86 damage
4 Points: 98 damage
5 Points: 123 damage
Requires: Coda of Fury Rank 1
Requires: 15 Points Spent in Bard
These are your main big damage spells. Wrath hits a single target for a large amount and Fury hits a group for a little bit less. In most situations you will find these to be your main Codas. If you are being tasked with a lot of healing you may be stuck on Resto duty but there are plenty of times when you just need to kill stuff. When that happens you can use one of these. Fighting bosses, single players/mobs, or big Rift spawns just use Wrath. In trash dungeon pulls, world mob groups, PvP groups or Rift trash spam Fury to hit everyone around your target. If you want to be lazy you can just use Fury. It hits for a tad bit less that Wrath but there are a ton of times when you are not facing just one thing.

Coda of Cowardice
20 Meter Range
40 Energy
Instant
Plays a Coda that uses Combo Points to harm the enemy and enemies around it, increasing damage taken from physical attacks by 5%. Duration is increased with more Combo Points. Energy Cost is reduced with more Combo Points.
1 Point: 6 seconds
2 Points: 12 seconds
3 Points: 18 seconds
4 Points: 24 seconds
5 Points: 30 seconds
Requires: 14 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 14
Coda of Distress
20 Meter Range
40 Energy
Instant
Plays a Coda that uses Combo Points to harm the enemy and enemies around it, increasing the damage taken from non-physical attacks by 7%. Duration is increased with more Combo Points. Energy Cost is reduced with more Combo Points.
1 Point: 6 seconds
2 Points: 12 seconds
3 Points: 18 seconds
4 Points: 24 seconds
5 Points: 30 seconds
Requires: 20 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 20These are your main debuffing Codas. Both will serve to increase your damage to your enemies by a certain percent. Cowardice increases the amount of physical damage done by you and your party by 5% and Distress increases the amount of non-physical damage by 7%. Both of these Codas can be used one after the other so that you can get both the physical and non-physical bonuses. Coupling these together is a total win-win!

All the rest

These are the abilities that are just situational button mashers. Use them when you need them. They all have a cool down so make sure you use them at the right time.

Verse of Fascination
20 Energy
Casting Time: 1.5 Second
Cooldown: 30.00 Seconds
Plays a Verse that mesmerizes surrounding enemies for 8 seconds. Any damage on affected enemies removes the effect.
Requires: Verse of Fascination Rank 1
Requires: 25 Points Spent in BardThis is your PBAoE mez. This is great to use if you are being beaten down by a few people or as an opener in PvP. There is no downside to making other players/mobs just stand around for eight seconds. This gives you time to burn down on specific mob, time to heal up or time to escape. Like most crowd control abilities this will wear off if the targets are damaged at all. It has a small 30 second cool down now so don’t be afraid to use it if you’re getting jumped or grab too many adds.

Verse of Captivation
20 Meter Range
25 Energy
Instant
Plays a Verse that mesmerizes an enemy for 8 seconds. Any damage on the affected enemy removes the effect. Only 1 enemy can be mesmerized at a time.
Requires: 34 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 34This is the baby brother of Fascination. It is instant cast, has no cool down and will keep one person at a time mesmerized for eight seconds. Useful for when you pick up any unwanted adds or if you are getting jumped. One-on-one this is a great ability for any Bard. If you get attacked you can hit this then set up your motifs, hit them with riff and pop virtuoso and burn them down.

Verse of Vitality
30 Energy
Instant
Cooldown: 60.00 Seconds
Plays a Verse that heals party and raid members for 462 to 469 health.
Requires: 44 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 44This gives the Bard a once a minute group heal. You can use this to supplement direct healing from Coda of Restoration or combine them for a really big heal all at once. This gives the Bard a lot more healing than you would initially think. The one minute cool down is a bit of a downer but you shouldn't need to use this more often than that.

Verse of Joy
20 Energy
Instant
Cooldown: 2 Minutes
Plays a Verse that rejoices party and raid members, restoring 50 Mana per second, 5 Power per second, 5 Energy per second, and 5 Charge per second. Lasts 15 seconds.
Requires: 51 Points Spent in Bard
Requires: Level 50This will help top up everyone’s resource bars in a jiffy. It’s on a two minute cool down but should always be up for the times you need it: during a tense phase of a boss fight, flag defense in Warfront or during a particularly tough phase of a Rift/Invasion. You need to invest 51 points in Bard to get it so most may never use it. If you go that far then you will be rewarded with a nice ability that should keep everyone casting/slashing/whatevering when they need it most.

Virtuoso

20 Energy
Instant
Cooldown: 3 Minutes
A moment of musical brilliance is displayed. All Codas do not consume Combo Points for the next 15 seconds.
Requires: Virtuoso Rank 1
Requires: 30 Points Spent in BardThis is the final Soul point spell for the Bard and it sure is a big one. Once every three minutes you can spam all of your Codas without using combo points for 15 seconds. You still need Combo Points on the target though. This allows you to do just about anything in those 15 seconds. You can heal like a madman, debuff the hell out of someone or throw out a lot of max damage in just a short amount of time. Don't waste it every time it is available but don't just ignore it either.

Souls and Soul Points

Obviously one of your three soul points is a Bard if you are going to go this route. The other two points can be spread out amongst the many other Rogue callings. There are some that I think work better for a Support Bard and some are better for different Barding aspects. I’ll go over the better Soul point expenditures you will want to make in the Bard tree and then list some of the Souls that should mesh well with them.

I’ll be placing a few sample builds in the list as well. If anyone else has a specific build or idea you think would work feel free to post it and I’ll try and work it into the guide.

Tier One
Good Health – Five Ranks. Increases your total health by 2% per rank. With five points spent in this you will get 10% extra hit points. This is probably one of the best first tier abilities that any class has. This will ensure that you will be able to take a couple of more hits in combat and live long enough to dish out some hits of your own or get some heals/buffs off. Put all five points into this. You need five points to get to the next tier. Just do it.

Bardic Inspiration – Five Ranks. Increases the duration of Motifs by three seconds. This is helpful to put points in for two reasons. First, you will be able to keep your Motifs up longer and have to refresh them less with this. At five points your Motifs will run for 30s. Someone asked earlier how this works with Motif of Regeneration. It basically doubles the healing done if you max it out. Each point in this will get you one more tick of the HoT. Secondly, it is a good place to put some points into as you go up the tree if you don’t want to use some of the other damage dealing abilities.

Tier Two
Talented Composer – Two Ranks. Increases radius of Motifs, Fanfares and Anthems by five meters per rank. This will make sure that everyone does not have to stand right on top of you to benefit from your skills. While not spectacular or essential it is a good place to spend some points if you need to advance to the next tier.

Anthem of Glory
20 Energy
Instant
Plays an Anthem that increases the Armor Value of party and raid members by 109. Lasts until cancelled. Players can only have 1 Anthem per Rogue at a time.
Requires: Anthem of Glory Rank 1
Requires: 5 Points Spent in Bard
Street Smart – Three Ranks. Reduces your enemy’s Hit and Critical Hit chance against you by 1% per rank. Good to have if you want to be uber defensive. The extra 3% avoidance is nice but there are other areas you could spend the points. This one is more personal preference I think. If you go all the way to 51 you’ll have it; if you don’t go that far then you can skip it.

Invigorated Soul – Three Ranks. Gives Cadence the ability to heal 10 party/raid members for 33% of damage done per rank. If Cadence is your bread and butter then this is the jelly on the toast. This is what makes Cadence so good. Put all the three points in it.

Tier Three
Street Performer – Five Ranks. Increases effectiveness of Anthems by 6% per rank. This will augment your anthems to make you run faster, have better magic resists, increase armor and decrease ability cost. It is more useful than its counterpart in this tier so if you have to choose one – pick this one.

Power Chord
20 Meter Range
40 Energy
Instant
Cooldown: 3.00 Seconds
Plays a Chord that deals weapon plus 54 to 58 Life damage. Awards 2 Combo Points. This attack cannot be blocked, parried or dodged.
Requires: Level 46One Rank. Instant attack that does decent damage and builds two combo points. It is great to use while soloing and decent in groups to help with damage or getting to five combo points, though Cadence should be priority. It does have a three second cool down but that is rather negligible while you’re pressing other buttons.

Stage Presence – Five Ranks. Increases effectiveness of Fervors by 6% per rank. Same thing as Street Performer only for Fanfares. Like I said it’s more or less a tossup on these two though I prefer Performer.

Tier Four
Coda of Fury – Mentioned above.

Deafening Music – Five Ranks. Increases damage of Coda of Wrath and Fury by 3% per rank. Damage intensive selection so it is not essential for support. Only put points in here if you need them to unlock higher levels.

Extended Grief – Two Ranks. Increases duration of Coda of Cowardice and Distress by 50% per rank. Useful if you do a lot of dungeons or just really like debuffing people. Get it if you are planning to max out the class; otherwise choose something more beneficial.

Tier Five
Improved Anthem of Competence - Anthem covered earlier. One point allows you to use it during combat. Great in PvP and for escaping too many mobs.

Riff – Mentioned above.

Coda of Restoration – Mentioned above.

Triumphant Spirit – Three Ranks. Increases healing from your main abilities except Cadence by 5% per rank. Max this out to get the biggest bang for your buck on your healing abilities.

Tier Six
Verse of Fascination – Mentioned above.

Resonance – Mentioned above.

Tier Seven
Virtuoso – Mentioned above.

Soul Pairings
There are plenty of souls that work well the Bard. Some work better for damage, others to survive and others for their utility. I’ll list a couple that I think work well and if anyone has some other suggestions then I’m all ears. In general, you want to look for souls that will allow you to increase your survivability or healing/damage output with attack power or dexterity increases.

Riftstalker –I really think the defensive skills you can pick up from this calling are excellent in conjunction with the Bard. Even early on in the tree you can increase your Attack Power, Armor, Endurance and Healing Received. With a minor investment of anywhere from 5-15 points you can give your Bard some much-need survivability.

Nightblade – Use Blazing Fury to increase your combo point abilities damage. From what I’ve seen here this will work to benefit the damage and healing of Cadence so that’s always a plus. Unstable State will also increase your Cadence damage and any non-physical attack damage. This means with 8 points invested in Nightblade you will be seeing a large increase in your Cadence damage/healing and your Codas damage. Like the Riftstalker the Nightblade provides a lot of versatility that make it another great option for a secondary soul.

Bladedancer – This could become an extremely vital tertiary soul for any PvE bard. Using 5/5 in Combat Expertise you can increase your chance to hit by 5%. At the end game hit percentage can become an extremely potent stat. Missed Cadences or Codas mean missed healing, damage and debuffs. In a raid environment this could be a game changer. Thanks to Zerromi for enlightening me on the Bladedancer.

Saboteur – This maybe the best zero point calling for a Bard. You get a nice snare from Adhesive Bomb and some added damage through Detonation. If you want to move a little higher up you can take advantage of the 15% dexterity increase in the first tier. For support I would say just stick with zero or five points though.

Ranger – A good leveling soul. To use it after 30 you need to put at least 10 points into it for the Wolf pet. Other than that it gives you some ranged utility.

Sample Builds

There could be hundreds of these so I will just throw up some that I have been thinking about.



This build is for PvP purposes:


Summary

If this looks like a huge wall of text - it is. The Bard has a lot of abilities and a lot of things they can do. The key is knowing when to use each one.

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