Let me start by saying that I’m not a min/max player. I will occasionally run the numbers to help me make tricky decisions but I don’t have to be the best in order to enjoy a class. I won’t intentionally gimp myself but being at the top of someone’s damage meter doesn’t factor into the equation. However, I do strive for builds that allow me to kill things effeciently. Killing mobs is a major part of what we do in the typical MMO so I don't want to make it painful. On top of which, I actually enjoy slay quest.
Why Melee Ms. Caster?
My typical modus operandi (MO) is ranged caster. There have been a few exceptions like the WOW Paladin and Druid, AOC Shaman and WAR Warrior Priest. As you can see, those exceptions always surround a hybrid healer; otherwise I have no interest in melee classes. The Rift Cleric fits into this exception because it’s a healing class that has 3 melee souls and it made sense to try them out.
I didn’t like the playing style of the AOE caster combination which is predominantly Inquisitor + Cabalist. The Cabalist didn’t appeal to me in any way, shape or fashion. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong, it simply didn’t suit me. I never liked the WOW Mage either no matter how many times I tried rolling one and even when I’d played ever other class I had the even the most remote interest in trying and all that was left was Mage, I couldn’t do it. I think the Cabalist is the same thing for me but I want the ability to have an AOE build because I’ve been known to grind mobs as a way of decompressing at the end of a stressful work day.
The Unmounted Mounted
Trion is letting you have your mount at level one but the mobs have something to say about it. The zones are densely packed with mobs which is a good thing but if you aggro one while on your mount you’ll suddenly be on your feet, often times dealing with multiple mobs at that point. I find it much faster to dispatch unplanned encounters if you’re melee versus winding up casts that take 2 to 3 seconds each. I’m not sure what aggro radius Trion is using but it doesn’t seem like being 10 levels above a mob stops them from chasing and dethroning you. For me, melee wins for quickly dispatching pesky mobs.
My Melee Preference
All that said, led to my decision to have a melee combination as my primary build. By the end of beta and my time on the Alpha test servers, my favorite melee combination was Shaman + Justicar + Warden. Many players would have the Druid where I have the Warden but I’m a Rift Druid-hater. Like the Cabalist that soul doesn’t work for me, neither did the Druid.
As luck would have it, I didn’t try that particular combination until I was around level 25 and unfortunately, it doesn’t play as well in the lower levels. Because I keep the Warden in all of my builds, the Justicar in particular doesn’t shine or add much value to my melee abilities until I can spend at least 10 points into it which I won't allocate until after 8 in Shaman for Massive Blow and 4 in Warden for Crushing Wave (knockback). The bleh feeling of this combo at my current level range lead me to experiment during the third day of the Head-Start and found a build I really love.
Death Knight Anyone?
I liked the Inquisitor from the very beginning. Everything about this soul screams my playing style except for the fact that I’d decided on a melee build for questing. For a while in alpha, I had two questing builds – caster DPS with Inquisitor and the melee one. The ranged build was great for picking off mobs too high for me to actually be doing alone or clustered too closely. I could also do some DPS when healing a small rift or invasion force without changing roles.
Yesterday I started experimenting with Inquisitor + Shaman + Warden and it’s pure butter. I didn’t need to do much testing because I’d played all three of these souls often in beta and alpha, I just hadn’t combined them in this manner. My preference is for a critical hit build – always was with the Inquisitor. I don’t bother with reducing the casting time on Bolt of Judgment because I don’t use it. It’s casting time is shorter than Bold of Depravity but it’s damage is less by a similar amount. BoD can also have a DOT component added so by the time you cast it the first time, followed by Vex and recast, it hits just as the first DOT is expiring.
Unless you’re fighting a caster, you don’t cast BoD more than once. I use it as my opening move on the primary target, Vex (DOT) that target and anything else that comes with it then start rotating through my melee abilities until it’s all dead. Things are even better when with the first melee AOE from the Shaman soul and the Endurance + Crit or Armor + damage buffs from the Inquisitor.
Highlights of this build – at level 15 BASE talent boosts only
- Fight ranged or melee depending on situation
- 8% chance critical hit (physical damage and spells) - my gear brings it to 11%
- 12% damage and healing boost on critical hits
- DOT damage to help with AOE
- Knockback and 2 HOTs from Warden
- Utilize white damage to reduce downtime
- 2 instant cast spells
Here's the end state I'm considering but it's very premature selections as I won't know how things feel at that level. Obviously, if you prefer damage boost or damage mitigation, you'd swap the +crit talents for those.
It's all Buttah Baby
All of this is yours by level 15 and before you upgrade any of these spells. Buttah baby, all buttah. Five to ten more points in Warden and you can heal major rifts and zone wide events without changing roles. You could opt for more + physical damage (explicit damage boost) instead of critical hits and you’d have just as much fun! Or play it safe and take damage reduction spells if you want to off-tank in rifts. All three of these options are in these same three souls, it's a matter of picking with stat boost or reductions meet your needs and play style best. No right or wrong answers, spec it to suit your personal style.
So many options and you’re just a babe in the woods at this point. Given how much fun I had with an Inquisitor in the mid twenties, I might not be willing to swap the Justicar back into the mix. But don’t write it off just yet, by then the Justicar has compelling moves of its which I’ll discuss another day.
Link to my overview of the Cleric souls for those just starting to take a look.