In Part 3 we looked at the question of whether clerics are fun in combat, to which many players said no. In Part 4 we looked at the question of whether lesser-used spells can improve on that fun factor, to which many players said no.
In Part 5 and Part 6 we looked at the question of whether bolting or using weapons can improve the situation, to which many players said “kind of”–giving qualifiers, critiques, or something less than full enthusiasm.
Before we move on to a completely separate topic in Part 8, it’s time to finally tie all of this together and look into one last subject that’s been underlying the previous sections: do clerics have good build diversity?
If you remember the chart in Part 3, you might already have guessed: the answer, both from those who gave written responses and those who didn’t, is much more “no” than “yes.”
Select some gameplay categories in which you find clerics especially satisfying or unsatisfying.
Build Diversity – Lores
Let’s ease in to the topic with lores. These weren’t talked about at enough length by enough people to merit a page to themselves, but they do play into the overall picture of cleric build diversity. Capped cleric players generally spent more time discussing this while lower level clerics tended to simply push Religion lore and say they’d eventually work toward full chrisms. Mid-level clerics, incidentally, did indeed train for full chrisms.
It lines up neatly with the results to the question about what drove players’ decision-making in lore splits, which heavily favored utility over even offensive power:
What influenced the way you split your cleric’s lore ranks?
Now let’s see what kinds of written comments that translates into. Below are various opinions on whether lore choices are an interesting part of life and decision-making for clerics:
I wish 40R lore was more useful than just adding my Arkati to my post-name title – it’s the only reason I went to 40 instead of stopping at 25 [for full chrisms].
118 bolt isn’t as strong as it could be if I were an empath/sorc. The cost of full chrisms though appropriate is not insignificant.
Cap is boring b/c there are not enough trade-offs. The lores aren’t really a choice, max chrisms and religion. […] The spiritual lores aren’t that exciting – they don’t unlock a lot of important new abilities, or be essential for any specific spell […] Clerics become self-sufficient early on, no real goals to shoot for at cap.
The reasons [my] blessings is so high is to provide 211/215/219 to my hunting partners if needed. […] I feel that I have a lot of utility, a lot of unlocked cool things (auto hide with 106), and still can do decent damage based on religion. I think, as long as you’re willing to 2x+ lores, we’re in a good spot with the balance of lores.
Lore choices were made to fit only the requirements of making Chrisms since this is one of the few remaining aspects that make clerics unique.
I need more blessing lore. I feel like all clerics are trapped into one or two splits – you either make better manna bread or you rescue better.
The 3 way lore subtype split within the spiritual lore sphere renders a cleric’s core combat spells mediocre at best while allowing for a much lower power ceiling than sorcerers and empaths can achieve. Since single target hunting is the basis of daily active hunting, and clerics cannot remotely do that reliably, there is little point in spending further time hunting with my cleric instead of using another pure as a main now. [response to another question:] The SLR as originally done was ideal.
I hate that we have to focus on lores at all, it has interfered with training in my traditional hunting skills like combat maneuvers, and it has been a real pain in the butt. Though now to be a decent cleric that makes chrisms you HAVE TO train in lores. I miss the days when things were based on level more. They should be based on level or fame or stats or stat bonuses more, imo. Boo Lores. Hey, you asked!
[regarding upsides of the lore split the player is working toward] 60 religion is purely for the new 317 buff and I honestly wish I could afford more. 95 blessings is because honestly, I really want +50 manna bread – with a +50 blessings enhancive set, it will be possible. If not for that, I’d probably stop at 65 for chrism purposes. 47 summoning…I’d like more but I think the diminishing returns on 240 (the main reason for summoning lore) are already rather high. If I dropped Blessings to 65 I’d probably raise summoning to 60 and religion to 77…though I’d consider just putting it all in Religion.
[regarding downsides of the player’s plan] I think the main sacrifice is the 30 ranks for bread, which take away from my 317/240 potency. I think we’re actually in a pretty good spot design-wise for each lore being compelling…but I think summoning is too heavily focused on 240 and religion is now too heavily focused on 317…I’d like to see new incentives for both of those!
Build Diversity – Overall Situation
Now we’ll step out to the larger picture of build diversity, starting with a hefty comment as this capped player explains in detail why they believe the design of clerics and capped hunting doesn’t promote variety:
Clerics suffer from a two-fold problem. They have mediocre offensive capabilities in CS spells and middling capabilities in bolt spells. This makes them poor/challenging solo hunters without trying to tip their CS to extremes to make up for their mediocre CS spells.
The other side of this equation is that so many of their spells are disablers, and using disablers grants minimal exp for contributions when a creature dies in a group setting, moreover most other classes don’t actually need your help/disabling to succeed.
The end result is that clerics either have a bunch of useless spells (max CS route) or take extra time to do everything because they have to do something other pure classes don’t (set up their targets). Since GSIV is a game of critical seconds mattering, (especially at cap) this leads to most players making the same and ultimately reasonable but boring choice.
There’s little variety in the identity of a capped hunting cleric. It’s max cleric CS or bust. The 100s and 200s are largely trash and they do not incentivize variety in the slightest. Limited offensive options in the cleric circle just make this problem worse. Putting a bolt spell in 309 won’t solve this, either.
Other comments were a bit shorter, but generally in line with what the above player said (though the fourth comment is from that same player):
Build diversity around 50 is really good. At a fresh 100? It’s either 3x spells or 240 use. You won’t get XP very easily as a war cleric, and bolting is out of the question too. Once you become double cap? Sure. You can mstrike away bandits or Reim, but you won’t be doing that outside of a group and so you’ll still need 3x spells or 240.
Back in the day I felt like a hybrid – I was sword/board with the ability to cast (mostly cast vs. undead, swing vs. living). I think pure warding is clearly the strongest option now and our overall toolkit is clearly lacking…so it’s a bit boring. The fact that I MA a sorcerer is probably the main thing keeping things interesting!
[My clerics] are all stuck [at mechanical walls], so basically everything is unsatisfying. There’s stuff there [in the survey question] they are effective at, but thats a different question. […] Design works in some of them in some level ranges but not where I am now.
[regarding Arcane Symbols and Magic Item Use] I keep hoping we’ll be given a reason for it to be relevant beyond the above.
[“the above” being Living Spell, runestaff DS, imbeds, magic items, scrolls, and small statues]
perhaps the least versatile profession I play due to strong focus on undead as a profession
Good group utility, fun roleplaying opportunities, need some build diversity (some melee/ranged component – Paladins have plenty of their own flavor, let Clerics also have some physical fun options through training, spell support).
Hopes and Suggestions
Suggestions specifically about improving build diversity mostly involved improving bolting or weapon use, which we looked at on previous pages. Additional maneuver spells were suggested many times too, though players rarely elaborated with any specific ideas; probably the most unique of those brief comments was one saying “more SMR attacks based on one’s own CMAN ranks.”
A few suggestions with more details or reasoning did come through. First are two shorter ones, then a longer one from me, and afterward we’ll close out with one of the most creative and potentially actionable responses from any question in the surveys:
I really like the idea of a hybrid CS/bolt spell. It would promote further diversity. You can… be a war cleric, 3x spells, 2x spells and lots of mana, go spell aiming. Go against undead? 306. Something else? 309 (the hybrid spell) and get double the action.
I wish there was a spell in which your deity grants you a special ability (like a nature god would grant you a bonus to foraging or a war god would help you with combat, etc)
I used to feel like I was playing my cleric, and now I just feel like I’m playing “a” cleric.
Mechanically speaking, that is. What tradeoffs am I making? My empath can’t instakill with 1106/1115 because I like 1117 more. My wizard can’t cast Minor Steam because I wanted double Core Tap and tons of space in my disk and max enchanting mana every week. […]
[response to different question:] In the vein of spells like 520, 1650, or 650, I want one or two new spells that have multiple “modes” or abilities–all of them usable with some base benefit regardless of lore training, but also taking advantage of each lore in different ways. This would make training choices more meaningful, add more mid-combat decision-making, and hopefully help alleviate the “I’m playing a cleric” feel[…]
[regarding ideas the player would like to see implemented]
Synergy with Minor and Major spirit circles. Utilizing the cleric base to enhance and vary effects with the secondary circles would be interesting. Spirit Fog is a spell that I never use, but if you could bless the fog, since it is water vapor after all and holy water can damage undead, creating a field of holy fog to cause a barrier or a scintillating fog that could damage or be a maneuver attack that could bring monsters out of hiding.
Also changing bless to holy energy that when evoked could become a bolt spell to create another bolt spell based on the flares generated by the alignment of the cleric would be interesting and allow them another bolt spell to create the viability of a bolt build from lower level. You could even have the holy energy create an alignment based flare by touching and blessing Web.
[…] Would be nice to see something like a spiritual cyclone that caused spirits [to] encircle a target and restrict them while causing some kind of damage effect, and possibly dispelling other cloud effects in a room. or possibly something like spiritual chains by evoking relieve burden, that would not completely bind a target but keep them in the same room so they couldn’t get away.
Overall I’m pretty happy with clerics and feel they are solid, however they are very cookie cutter to some degree and would just like to see a few more options or even just colorful tweaks to them. Evoking unpoison and undisease to create those effects on monsters would be interesting as well and allow a darker twist to those spells