Sylvette’s Future

So, recently, I ERed my Cleric Sylvette. I decided now that Sera is back to cap and after burning through a bunch of Reaper quests and raids, I figured I could now dedicate some time to alts. 😀

It’s a bit strange for me. I suddenly feel motivated to start farming up stuff that some of the alts are lacking compared to Sera, like a Jibbers blade or a Bauble. I did a lot of thinking, and I think I finally figured out what my 4 alt dynamic should look like. A DC caster hybrid Favored Soul, a DC CC Bard, a DC AA Druid, and last but not least, a tanky healbot Cleric.

Yeah, that last one does kind of fall out of line a bit. But perhaps lore wise, it makes sense. I never really figured out what kind of Cleric Sylvette was to be. At first, I thought some sort of pseudo Clonk, back when those were a thing. Man, her first life was just so bad! Then I moved on to her first iteration of THF Cleric melee. That’s what her third life wound up being, a refined version: 15/4/1 CLR/FTR/WIZ. This was during the time when I kept thinking “I really need to utilize the benefits of being able to multiclass with 3 classes” sort of mentality. But now… after fighting with it back and forth, I think it makes sense to move forward with this Cleric tank build.

It kind of sucks. I know I won’t be high Reaper capable as a first choice tank, but she will be able to back up a lot better than Sera, or so I think. It’s weird because I have this feeling that I still would be a better character on Sera for even a specialized role as this, just because of all the Reaper points and gear. Crazy at how much time and energy put into one character can truly affect its well roundedness. But, at the very least, Syl can serve as a secondary healer for raids.

I wouldn’t say I exactly was inspired by a couple Cleric tanks that I’ve been running with lately; actually, if I did have to name an inspiration, it would be Dolgie. After observing his own hardy Cleric, and playing various alts whom I strictly played as pure healbots, I realized my love for traditional healing again. Although, this build has strayed far from that traditional meaning, even from Lydel’s original build!

So because of an ER, she remained the 15/4/1 split. But it actually seemed to work out quite well. That original split is a feat monster, in the sense that she has a plethora of feats. Essentially it allowed me to pick up all the necessary metamagic feats along with the Shield Mastery/Deflection and Mental Toughness lines. Nothing too special, just simply… lots. 😀 Oh well, I guess I did pick up the Dragonmark of Sentinel. Not sure how that’ll work out yet, but I think I like the idea of it. At first I was thinking Passage for DDoor, but because this build also has great close range synergy, I’m a huge fan of Globe of Invulnerability for certain quests. This would make it fantastic for use in high Reaper Memoirs for example where I don’t need to worry about failing scroll checks during combat.

Speaking of close range, this build will excel at that I think. There’s the Positive Energy Aura, Radiant Burst, the aforementioned Globe, and then Cleric Domains. I guess it is aura based, since it relies on my uses of turns and affect party members as well. But because I went Protection Domain, I also now have Radiant Forcefield! Woohoo!

This is one of the Domains I wanted to play, and thus partly sparked my interest in building a Cleric (pseudo)tank. It’s just so unique as a Domain comparatively. I know Elemental Domains are also very unique and useful, but Radiant Forcefield is an extremely valuable and rare spell to use. I think it’s worth a mention for tanks these days.

As for tanking in general, I suppose this isn’t a first choice Reaper tank, but it certainly wouldn’t be a Cleric standing back. I may have only picked up one stack of Block Energy for her EPL, but she’s got Shield Deflection 40% with a tower shield, along with the Block Energy from US ED. So, definitely packed with % absorption, along with Protection Domain granting her +15 to PRR/MRR essentially. Stats so far at level 20 look good, except for her AC I feel, even with the 10% increase from Mage Armor in EK. I think I’ll have to keep pushin’ to 30 to figure out the grand totals I guess, but this already feels like a huge improvement as a build. Remember, these alts are ancient — since years ago, I’m a new player building them now. It’s a bit nostalgic.

I’ve only done a few quests on Syl, but I’m having fun, and in a new way. I’m not rushing to instakill and DPS stuff down. Instead, I have the leisure of survivability (at these levels) and focus full time on healing only, along with spamming Intimidate. It’s definitely something uncommon, I feel. The Clerics I’ve seen generally focus healing first; for Syl, it’s been sort of this half and half effort. I’m a bit strange when it comes to min-maxing: obviously the term suggests optimal investment in a core area (often giving up others), but I tend to always seek a balance in building. I suppose, however, balance is key in a game like DDO as well even with min-maxing as part of the equation. 😀

So… Sylvette finally has her Domain. She’s a lot more enjoyable, although I miss DPS a bit. But my biggest struggle with her was that she could not excel at either, and wound up less than average. I figured, ‘OK if I want DPS, or agro, then I’ll have to get it another way.’ Or, that if I wanted better healing and healing styles (meleeing while healing does not account for even the best of reflexes to get out of that half a second delay, which often caused my targets for healing to die, annoyingly), that I should pick another fighting style that would be more target friendly. So, that’s where shield blocking as a tank comes into play. 🙂

Maybe I might change my mind later down the line. Who knows! I struggled for a good while on whether or not I should just convert her into a DC Cleric like the others, but Syl is the only one without any sort of caster past lives sadly. I figured I might as well go with this for now. Part of me gets OCD and hates that she’s breaking the mold of the caster theme I have going, but arguably Niveax isn’t exactly a caster herself (although it is very arguable). Oh and, Meredithium did get a name change. So the alt shelf is feeling a bit tumultuous at the moment. 😀

If there’s one thing that’s consistent, it’s the fact that I’m definitely making all of my 4 playing toons their own unique race. I think I’m still figuring that out, but if all goes as planned, it’ll be Aasimar, Half-Elf, Elf, and Human. And of course I surely want to make more! I definitely would love to make a Drow Elf and Gnome at some point. I really want to make so many alts for endgame and Reaper, but the amount of time and energy for that… ugh. Not sure it’s worth it, especially for caster toons.

But, we’ll see. I might read back on this later and find out I’ve completely changed Syl’s track. After all, the only thing constant is change.

Alternate Build Choices?

So, in an alternate universe where I can duplicate a Sera copy, what build choices would I make different?

It’s hard for me to make the obvious optimal choice because of flavor/specific preferences. And I mean, these choices are quite significant, in that they can “easily” be exchanged for their optimal option. To list them off, Sera has:

  • Lawful Good alignment
  • Scion of Fire (arguable)
  • Silver Flame Faith
  • Mental Toughness line

In a perfect duplicate of Sera’s character, I would probably exchange alignments to be Lawful Neutral to compromise, or optimally, True Neutral if I just let everything go. Scion of Fire would be a tough choice, but I could go Scion of Air just as easily for more of a DC based caster. Of course, Olladra faith would be ideal compared to Silver Flame faith in so many ways: Articles of Faith implement bonus, Displacement capstone, and the signature ability to grant a 1d6 Luck bonus to all abilities scores. Surely that is better than a bugged banishment ability…

I still have not yet decided whether or not I want to TR Sera one more time. Should I let go of these clearly weaker flavor preferences? Will TRing be worth the hassle at all? I still have a lot to decide, but I think either way I will be fine. I can either try something new (which has its own high costs) or keep things. If I don’t like the changes, I suppose I can always revert them. In that sense, that would require 2 TR’s, which is something I’m not sure I’m too keen about, but that would give me +1 Wisdom at least since Sera is Human. It is too bad I likely will not remain WIS specced – but who knows. Part of the process includes whether or not I want to change that, and ultimately I may not. We will just have to see, and I will have to prepare for potential 1, 2, 3 or even more TR’s!

And ultimately, I’m both excited and stressed for this patch. Kind of says a lot about my growing outlook of this game, and I should also keep that in mind. A lot of things have been stirring, I feel.

A New Self Foreshadows

Just like that, I will have to face a new change that I honestly am both excited and concerned about.

As much as I’m stoked for the long awaited Favored Soul pass (albeit slightly miffed that Clerics are getting a buff too), it is hard trying to accommodate the changes. The biggest changes in regards to the build include, and are not limited to the potential following changes:

  1. Reversing build stat primary spec, from WIS to CHA
  2. Changing deities from Silver Flame to Olladra
  3. Experimenting with feat tetris to update twists
  4. Updating Heroic/ED enhancements

I become nostalgic thinking about going from WIS spec all this time to suddenly a CHA spec. While I’m not too entirely opposed to the idea, it is hard to accept even such a “mainstream” stat that is prevalent and useful in a lot of builds. My stubbornness has officially reached a new level.

A lot of these are still things I am thinking about. Mostly, I need to play the new updated changes in the build itself to see how performance pans out. And while I cannot truly write about a lot of the changes publicly, I am definitely curious as to how much this will improve the statistical numbers. I’m thrilled to see a potential higher SP count, although I feel that the curve will only rise linearly as with comparison to all others, of course. Beyond just the pass that affects everyone, it is almost inspiring enough to embark on yet another TR project… OK, no.

Perhaps this journey to being the best is something that is in vain. It’s fun, but after realizing the weight of the major previous project, I realized that was a year of me missing out what I truly enjoy about this game. And I only hope that this change to Favored Souls is something that makes it more fun, rather than just focusing on the numbers. Even though that is literally all what the pass is about, strengthening Favored Souls as a core class. Who knows, maybe it might throw my build off completely. Although there are indeed a lot of good things.

I hope after the pass I can at least, and at last, say that it was worth it. That Favored Souls, after over tens of updates, finally has a proper enhancement pass in addition to a third tree. While I personally do not think I would need a power boost, Favored Souls as a collective whole can certainly use it more. Of course, I am sure this is what all the Paladins, Monks, Barbarians, Bards, and more have been saying prior to their passes.

I’m not too scared that I won’t like the new build/changes, rather something I am just thinking about deeply about how to solve. I like the mental challenge, but I can only hope as of now that all turns out according to my calculations. *pushes up nonexistent nerd glasses*

But what can I say, I don’t like sudden change. And maybe this is just another push towards another venture that I may enjoy.

So this is my last chance to say good-bye to the wise Seraphemia that she has always been. She’ll still be WIS secondary, but now she will have to fit the lore of a charismatic character. I still can’t shake that sad feeling away, as I always found Wisdom, in essence, to be of greater beauty than Charisma. We shall see.

To the beautifully wise Seraphemia, devoted and favored follower of the Silver Flame: Until the End of the World.

R1 ToEE Part 1 & 2 Solo Experience

Boy, is this going to be a fun story to share!

Lately I have been writing more about my questing experiences because they have been eventful – which is totally awesome in my opinion! The game should be fun and exciting – full of storytelling material and content. And this is just another one of them.

What inspired me to do these solo runs is a couple of things: solo performance in high level reaper content, and most importantly, the thrill of exploring an expanse dungeon, one that is of preferably and generally unbeknownst to me. This was an excellent learning experience in not just refreshing my memory in how to run the quest, but to immerse myself in a dungeon that I consider to be fun if and only if I am running it for that sole purpose. And this was just one of those days when I needed some solitude and quiet time.

I have to admit, I am thoroughly surprised at my performance. I was farming the rares in ToEE part 2 today solo and I was just not able to survive or play as well as I did in the previous completion run. Something about my attitude and mood greatly affects my play style performance, it seems… as if I was almost in a trance like state playing through the two part dungeon.

But enough of generalities. Let’s get to it!


ToEE Part 1

Let me just say that first and foremost, these two quests were full on exploratory runs – I spent a decent chunk of my evening that day running both parts, and while it was difficult and challenging at various instances, it was also loads of fun. I got to re-learn the quests and re-familiarize myself with the pathing, quest objectives, and other areas otherwise left unexplored in a normal zerging run.

ToEE Part 1 was more of a successful run than Part 2 for many reasons: Part 2’s end fight, lesser death count, and overall, better tactical strategies employed. At first, I was almost unsure about the performance because even the outer perimeter mobs were difficult to deal with at first. But I plowed forward, and did my best. To be honest, ToEE is not much different than Slavers in terms of mob-spawn placement – they are placed in almost every 5-10 feet distance of the next “cluster.” In that regard, the same psychology of difficulty-familiarity, I suppose, was translated here; so I felt as if it were possible after all, since I’ve ran countless Slavers’ runs (a little hard to explain, but that’s the best I can do).

Surprisingly, I realized that the difficulty tier for these types of quests are variable in my experience and level of play. The other day I was trying to replicate a solo rare farming run, but I was killed far more often than the completion run here. Perhaps it was the level of determination that separates the two cases, but I was kind of surprised that the latter performance varied by a large margin.

R1 ToEE P1

As you can see, I spent over 86 minutes, with a death + a Jibbers death due to an unfortunate encounter, and while the first part has NOTHING on the second part’s duration, Part 1 did feel a lot more of a drag because I enjoyed the elemental nodes sections a lot more than running to each elemental area and grabbing their keys. Part 1 was fairly straightforward, and I had to remind myself how to calculate my SP and conserve enough before the next shrine, a bit more dangerously than in Part 2. All in all, the mobs were mostly susceptible to my spells and I was able to dispatch most of them before they could take me out (although there were many close calls + the one instance when I did die). I remember running nearly out of SP at the Water room where we fight the aquatic gelatinous cube and water elemental guardians. There was also another point when I was keeping a good 15-20 meter distance from the Medusa rare near the Earth area location in order to stay alive and physically evade her deadly force blasts. Lots of memorable instances!

ToEE Part 1 is definitely more “do-able” as R1 solo compared to ToEE Part 2, by a long shot.

ToEE Part 2

Part 2 was… very interesting. The screenshot should say a lot in itself.

R1 ToEE P2

In this case, this was maybe a 90% solo. The boss fight was a huge 10% that I needed assistance with (and rightfully so, that end fight is nuts!). But we’ll get to that at the end.

I spent almost 5 hours exploring the entire ToEE map, and I have to say it was quite fulfilling. My favorite areas are the Water and Air elemental node sections, and while Earth and Fire were more easier sections to complete, it was not quite as interesting and Water and Air in terms of environmental design.

However, at one point, I started getting some crazy latency – as in, above 3K with the yellow symbol. My internet very rarely does this where the wifi connection kind of starts losing it ever since we moved and downgraded from high speed. And running R1 solo, as a caster, there is close to 0% forgiveness ratio when it comes to damage intake. I also feared that if I crashed, which at one point I almost did, I’d lose the entire progress – which I was already 3-4 hours in.

R1 ToEE P2 Latency

Thus, I had asked a guildie (Jynxx) to help hold the quest down in case that happened, which she so graciously did. I was really glad to ask her because she wasn’t going to help me in the quest (at first) or talk to me nonstop since she was busy browsing around FaceBook, so I was content in just the quiet company of another friend. Of course, as soon as I took such cautious measures, the latency disappeared. With +1 party member scaling too I was noticing a lot more respawns and greater clusters of mobs, which added a little more difficulty, but nothing impossible.

Now, boss fight was just pure hectic. I was really nervous and excited at the same time entering the boss fight arena, only to be shot down very quickly. I lasted maybe 5 minutes before Zuggtmoy took me down with one of her Earthquakes and a barrage of attacks. Spending nearly 300 minutes in the quest, I was not about to give up though. I burnt through maybe about half a dozen Siberys cakes before I finally gave in to ask for help. The biggest obstacle was that I already had the maximum death penalties stacked on Sera, with me being unable to dodge or evade from her Earthquakes once I realized I was in the affected area too late, along with the final mobs that release when she reaches the third HP threshold. The red named Goristro, minimal compact environmental space that I actually had, along with a barrage of other mini mobs, spells, and toxic mushrooms she was throwing at me, on top of her deadly mushroom wave attack, all made it quite difficult to make it through. By the time I got to my 6th cake, I realized I was out of tactical strategies to use to defeat her unless I got help – the fact that I had no other reliable player to help keep some or most of the heat of mob agro made it immensely challenging for me to solo the end fight. As well as no one else being there to raise me when I needed it, hence burning more of my own personal resources, much to my dismay.

So once I got Jynxx’s attention from her semi-afk to ask for some help, she tried her best to come rescue me, as she didn’t fully know her way to end fight. In the meanwhile, I searched through as many alts as I could, and finally found Palieup available to use who was flagged. Dualboxing her, I summoned a hire, invised through the entire dungeon, and met up with Jynxx, right before the end fight. Discussing tactics, we were going to rush in together and raise Sera – but as I read in the wiki moments before (I did have to reference the wiki in Part 2 a few times), Zuggtmoy’s attacks can affect the area right before the entrance. And we basically died right there to the mobs that teleported outside the entrance barrier. Except my hunch told me to park the hire in the previous area before.

With the hire to raise me, I ran all the way back with only 1 or 2 seconds to spare, and got Jynxx up. We eventually dispatched the trash mobs that teleported outside of the area, and then after recuperating and rebuffs, we entered the boss fight together. The rest of the boss fight, with all the trash mobs gone, was mostly a breeze – Sera was revived and restored of all her death penalties from Palie’s Unyielding Sovereignty effect, and Zuggtmoy’s remaining health was depleted to our completion.

The moment of relief washed over me when we finally got it, mostly out of exasperation, so I was just glad that even with assistance at the end it was done. While I didn’t like to use the cakes, I almost never use those cakes in other situations as I have Jibbers and often run in groups where I raise someone who can in turn, raise, or others raise me. And, there are the other 41 supreme cakes that are sitting in my bank. 🙂

All in all, I had a blast, despite running into challenging situations or other “micro-challenges” such as lag. I really hope to do another challenging solo (attempt at least) run like this, particularly in large quests where I can spend my time enjoying the quest. The primary reason for running this on R1 at all was mostly for the first time bonus though – but now, perhaps some other time, I can relax and explore even further at an easier difficulty. Mostly because in some cases, I couldn’t explore 100% because of lack of resources (SP) or out of caution.

This is just one step towards refining the Favored Soul build, as this does indicate a lot of weaknesses (and strengths!) that the build holds. But really, I just had fun simply running solo in the solitude of my own, without any worry for others, or “ruined” by even running with just one other person, at least the entire quest. Learning to be accountable on my own in a high level quest is what I’d like to see and test for myself.

How I Play my Favored Soul (Celestial Radiance Build)

So this is more of a post intended for the build page, but figured I’d talk about it here as a general overview as well. This may be edited over time to add more new things that pop up or revise the wording of certain things, but for the most part this is the final deal.

To preface, this isn’t exactly to say that the build should be played only in this or that way, but is more centered around how I personally play, as well as my rationale for its choices and quirks.

As a side note, one of these days if I ever get to post a video, I will. But forgive me for a pure wall of text beyond that. 😛


Overview

First off, the build breaks down its stats, but what are the finer points to playing the build? Often, people will only ask for the Favored Soul build, but the build is more than just “copy and paste” stats, feats, bam. As with a lot of end game builds, there are not only strategic aspects in actual gameplay that applies to all characters as a general whole, but also caster tactics that affect whether or not you choose this spell, or use that ED ability, all within the matter of seconds and/or even milliseconds. Celestial Radiance (abbreviated as CR for short), played effectively, requires a heavy focus on fast reflexes and conscientiousness by end game caster nature. Let’s break down what that exactly means, through the use of examples, as I primarily learn and can explain this best by using very specific examples to share greater insight as to how the “min-max-ception,” in a nutshell, is so.

The rationale below assumes LE – R1 content; specific high reaper content addressed in its own topic.

Quest – Heavy Mob Density

Quests where there are heavy mob spawns, particularly regular trash mobs that litter hallways and areas every 5 meters, are typically the fairly large and recent quests such as ToEE and Slavers. Having ran Slavers so much, it is important to know that as a caster, I typically follow a pattern or routine in my spell “cycle.” This means thinking ahead and utilizing spells in such a way that allows enough cool-down time to wear off and reuse (or not use) in time for the next mob cluster. For instance, there are many areas in Slavers Part 1 where there are Undead, which are very easy targets for Implosion. They tend to be in clusters enough for 6 Implosion ticks to wipe them out, or at least 90% of them, allowing the rest for nuke clean up or party members to take a swing at them. While it is inevitable that the next mob cluster may be environmentally disadvantaging to the spell rotation, keeping mental tabs on cool-downs allows for a much smoother run and maximizes a Favored Soul’s play-ability significantly. Thus, enabling cool-down timers in UI Settings for spells is critical to not just a Favored Soul caster, but to any caster.

Quests with a heavy mob concentrate tend to be where AoE nukers such as Favored Souls, Sorcerers, and Warlocks shine the brightest. Using the same Slavers example, I quite often start off with a Greater Command and/or Burst of Glacial Wrath for the CC and/or 50% helpless damage increase, Energy Burst (Fire), and then a Divine Wrath to top it off. If leftover mobs are still alive, I’ll throw a Hell Ball, Cometfall, possibly Blade Barrier if there is space, and return Hell Ball after its 6 second cool-down. I generally keep the high DPS spells first in the chain, then use other spells and abilities to follow them up if necessary so that the cool-downs return faster, in a sense. In this fashion, you are also saving your lesser spells from going on cool-down at all, conserving potential SP. Divine Wrath is a close follow up after Energy Burst due to prolonged “to-hit” range exposure. The issue with this is that sometimes, I will be too late to cast Divine Wrath to heal myself in time if surrounded by, say, champion mobs. But in complement, the rest generally do not require a closer range, so after I jump in mob clusters for close range AoE spells, I will wing away or tumble backwards for safety and “fight on the flight,” constantly in motion. After using the two closest range spells that puts me at a vulnerable window for melee attacks, the healing from Divine Wrath covers the damage taken if survived. While it can be a deadly risk if jumping into a mob of more than 2-3 champions or just hard hitting mobs (particularly ogres with their consecutive attack sequence), the Glacial first in the rotation, if holding an Affirmation weapon, allows at least a 1K temporary HP “shield” to help mitigate the incoming damage, along with tossing a Cocoon beforehand. Hence, one of my habits to constantly spam Cocoon no matter if I don’t need the healing on the run (especially in randomized trap heavy quests as Part 1). Aside from those precaution measures, you will have to eye the cluster of mobs that your character is jumping into and make an educated and expeditious judgement as to whether or not how far into the heart of the cluster you’ll jump into, or if not at all, to hard target a single monster and hit your spells just close enough (or select casting from a distance).

Update: due to build changes in exchanging Hell Ball with Mass Frog, similar concepts may be applied for gathering mobs. With Mass Frog, it is important to try and isolate mobs who may be immune (whether by high spell resistance or fortitude saves, or champions such as Hero’s Soul or Light Bearer with Deathblock) and target vulnerable mobs for instakills.

Distance and Positions

Maintaining the proper distance is important for such higher level content, not only due to the previously stated example of the vulnerable melee “to-hit” range window, but in regards to ray spell positioning as well. Sometimes, the environment may feel claustrophobic in narrow hallways and such, which is generally an indicator that you may need to drag mobs away or forward to another location where there is ample room. This safeguards your character from being trapped in a situation where it is at its most vulnerable to maximum damage intake with little room for escape/forgiveness. For a ranged character, hallways are perfect due to IPS — for casters, radial areas are ideal due to AoEs that tend to follow similar form (fogs, stationary spells, etc.). For a Favored Soul, this is especially true; a Blade Barrier works best in a room with plenty of room to strategically set up multiple cored circles and kite between the outer edges. Other spells will benefit in general (Energy Burst and Divine Wrath) simply because of their radial form, and still affect mobs so long as they are clustered in the same general focal point. Otherwise, ray spells and Hell Ball will be more forgiving in terms of mob organizational structure management.

Sun Bolt, the only penetrating ray spell that blasts through targets (similar function as IPS) is probably one of few, if not the only spell pertaining to this build that requires a little more set up. Simply positioning to line up as you would a ranged character can treat it as a linear AoE.

As a final note, playing in mouse look on mode by right click only helps immensely in swerving the camera/character around, as well as, more importantly, strafing directionally. This means being able to pan the camera at all angles, which allows for a smoother, more contained, kiting form, despite the amount of strenuous work it creates physically if you have small hands like me. 😛

Kiting = Jumping

Kiting is generally frowned upon and mostly executed by ranged characters, but casters will also make use of it too. The distance between the seasoned caster and the mobs often indicate how high level the content is scaled to; in high level end game content, you want a close to 0-5% range of the mobs being able to hit you (not AC wise, but rather physically in space). In most content as assumed here, shorter distance is ideal to allow for more containment in the pathing so that not only can melee party members can at least have a shot at attacking them, but also due to closing the distance almost immediately as soon as front-range AoE cool-downs wear off.

As a contained kiting tip, I often jump and weave over between monsters. Jumping from, literally, one side of the monster to the other creates a stalling effect, where the mobs have a greater range (50-60%) chance of being able to hit you due to closer physical distance. However, the mobs having to face one direction and then turning around gives you a second of kiting space and a breather, hence stalling the mob from its regular combat routine. The difficulty in mind allows for you to be able to take some hits to heal between jumping. Jumping physically disentangles you from the slowness of casting while running. For instance, I will fail to jump and cast a spell if I jump too late; that is, not less than 1 second in terms of casting animation of the spell (including visual and auditory aspects) and actual character motion speed (gestures in character casting motions). The collateral damage from mobs attacking me while in mid-cast sometimes will kill me before the healing and/or killing effect occurs, as opposed to Energy Burst or Burst of Glacial Wrath, which are near immediate within milliseconds of the actual (casting) click. By jumping away properly and appropriately, particularly in close range with mobs, taking one or a couple less hit(s) may be something between life and death.

Gear/Weapon Swapping Sets

If I had to say one thing about the build’s gear set up that annoys me greatly, it is the amount of swapping and “sets” I have in total. There is a max SP set up to take advantage of buffing and light casting, and then there is the actual casting set up, with a plethora of items all for situational uses. While this current set up is so much better in terms of output than when previously updated (during Thunder-forged times), it is still a lot of effort and mental muscle work to constantly keep check of which items I have on, and which to use in quests all while thinking ahead of the game.

For weapons, it is very important to know which sets are where and how to get to them fast. As mentioned, playing in higher level content with this build requires fast physical and mental reflexes. Some sets I’ve created for potential use never get used because I only have room for the top 4 in the main weapon hot-bar. This means I must minimize the amount of commonly used and/or necessary weapon sets, and place those in the main weapon hotbar. The rest are set aside for potential usage, provided that mental reflexes do not fail me.

As a prime example, what I need situationally needs to be translated mentally-effectively. If I am taking too much agro from mobs and need a way to CC them, I will use Greater Command, Burst of Glacial Wrath, and/or Soundburst in combination with an LGS weapon CC effect (Salt, Radiance). This all depends on the mob profile: Is it red named, or orange/non-named? Does the mob typically have a high save against Fortitude/Reflex/Will saves? What immunities does it have both naturally (Undead being immune to holds) and conditionally (champion status)? Do I need to kill the mob relatively fast, meaning adding the 50% helpless condition, in terms of CC? These factors determine what spells I will specifically choose in order to counter all of its strengths in accordance to its weakness — knowing your mobs is truly “half the battle.”

For the record, if it is an orange named, high Fortitude mob, I will almost always Energy Drain it for fool-proof guaranteed subsequent DC cast, then use an immediate follow up Hold Person, provided there aren’t any immunities against holds + mob type. For general non-charm/enchantment immune mobs, I’ll use Greater Command, and for miscellaneous immune types, Cometfall + LGS effects as last resorts. Again, it all completely depends on the mob profile, current resources, and all in all, the scope of the situation.

Gear juggling also follows a very detailed approach. When I planned out my Slavers 5 piece set + Dominion LGS 3 piece set, I had to pick the best slots as of currently available in accordance with swaps. For instance, I made my Wisdom necklace a necklace because I swap to Draconic Necklace for a GH clicky, or Epic Noxious Embers for the Lesser Maximize x5 clickies. Boots are never changed so they are made Slavers shackles (the Charisma item) in their secondary slot, meaning they are absolutely never taken off via hot-bar. The obvious question is then asked: Why not Wisdom on the boots so that I don’t lose any casting DCs from the swapping time window, or if I forget to swap back? The sake of SP maintenance in case the swap is done before the first 15-20% section of the SP is depleted would mean a slightly greater loss than the usual “swap backs.” Either way, both are very narrow considerations towards efficiency, but efficient nonetheless.

Hotbars Setup

Hotbars are a very personal aspect of playing any build — so long as they suit the player’s mental habits, they are a valuable part of playing to the full extent.

As a caster, that often means unloading 90% of your hotbars on the screen. While I maintain about ~3 nested inside the main hot-bar, using “-” and “=” keys to swap back and forth quickly, just about every slot of each and every hotbar is filled. Carrying ample scrolls, potions, and other consumables improve the gaming experience in cases of emergencies or flexibility, more so the latter than anything else. Being self sufficient in just about every scenario is always ideal and valuable to a party.

Placement of the spells particularly is of great importance in playing a caster. Dragging debuffs (Energy Drain) by the instakills (Destruction, Slay Living, Implosion) allows minimal mouse traveling time and distance, and is easily organized and grouped mentally. This method might seem like common sense, but nearly everything should be within 1-3 slots of each other that break into specific sections or have relation with one another (save for a miscellaneous bar). Keep in mind very minor details such as having a swap item that affects your SP – for instance, my LGS INT Skills/SP gloves are right by the Vile Blasphemies and a stack of Scrolls of Protection of Energies, Mass (which is in the masses buff section). Rather than placing the Scroll right by the Viles which potentially means a significant loss of -20% SP due to Dominion 18% set and 3 tiers of LGS SP, placing the Viles towards the last slot of the hot-bar with the Gloves next to the scroll prevents any misclick and ultimately, the loss of SP (since clicking on the gloves that I already wear has no effect due to redundancy).

Healing

The art of healing others was mostly lost during the MOTU era when self sufficiency became the new and expected norm, and quite so in demand. With the introduction of Reaper content, healers are once again accepted outside of extremely skilled players who know effectively how to heal each other. The role of a pure healbot greatly lifts the burden of self healing penalties off the average party/PUG group, and is often expected to be quite reflexive at it, which calls for maximum survivability rather than a jack of all (casting) trades or perhaps even a secondary trade at all. Celestial Radiance still and has always striven to be a build that will perform the act of healing (notice the difference of healing at all versus maximum healing itself) while still being able to land respectable DCs.

Healing has always been a second nature to me, regardless of the class I play. If the party goes down, more likely than not you as well. There is a significant difference between Sera running R1 Slavers solo versus a group, even if the party members are lacking in gear or build. This may sound bad, but they can serve as agro distractors at the very least — which allow me to dispatch mobs as quickly as possible and restore the party to full health again. Part of why I love being a divine so much is that even in an imbalanced party, if you can play your toon effectively, you potentially have the power to further the group forward towards a successful completion/run. At least in DDO, instead of the more hardcore and traditional MMOs that leave no room for flexibility or such thing.

Some tips about healing: there are some hard set rules that I personally follow. If a character falls below 80%, I’ll top them off with a Rejuvenating Cocoon; if below 50%, I hit them with a Cure Critical Wounds (single target), and if below 30%, I use a full Heal spell. The trick is to keep an eye on the entire party as a whole, and individual special needs. For instance, a Pale Master or Warforged should be noted as such. Because the build does not carry Harm, a Pale Master can only benefit from Cocoon’s temporary HP or Circle of Hatred/Malevolence clickies, so Cocoon would be the main expeditious option to help pad their HP count if low, or stabilize them if they are incapacitated. With any normal healbot, I would advise targeting a Pale Master and always facing their direction (since a Heal can be tossed backwards), prepared with a Harm. But as such, that is not necessary with CR.

As the whole party begins falling below the listed HP thresholds, it is important to track these patterns and in a sense, learn about your party and party members as a whole and as an individual. Are there any melees? Are there any squishy characters that require a lot more attention? Is one person worth healing over three other people gathered in a cluster? Is the content Reaper, and if so, how high of a skull difficulty? Is it worth healing the guy who constantly dies over and over again? All of these factors, and surely more, are things considered as a healer. When it comes to dealing with fluctuating HP in depletion, it is imperative to watch the health bars as a whole, and isolate one or two health bars to focus on. Sometimes, construct (particularly melee) players will be on this list as their reduction to healing amplification causes their HP total to be under-healed by normal flesh standards. Thus, watching for this pattern may prompt you to use stronger mass cures, for instance, when healing in groups, despite the nearby party members who may be flesh characters who do not necessarily need the amplified healing. This applies in high level Reaper content as well when healing amplification is severely reduced. Most often, will the lowest depleted HP bar be the weakest, squishiest (melee) characters, in terms of group healing. While it is important to always do your best as a healer to keep everyone alive and well, there are some situations that call for you to make the decision towards ultimately, a successful run. That isn’t to say there aren’t any expectations, obligations, or “healers’ ettiquette” that we should follow. A respectable divine puts forth the effort to take care of one another to the best of her ability. Keeping tabs on your surroundings is a highly appreciated bonus: the sound of mummy rot or diseases warrants you to start checking each and every party member on who has the disease or visually see that someone does (save for Xachosian Eardweller, be wary of this); an energy drain sound effect means you should check party members’ health bars to see if one is abnormally low; and a curse sign above someone’s character signals that they should have it removed, provided that they haven’t already done so within ~10-20 seconds of the initial debuff cast. All of these things constitute the “conscientious” portion of the build game-play — the ultimate goal is to have no one tell you what to do, but to look for it yourself and be one, two, five steps ahead of the game. This saves the extra effort of people asking you for anything at all. On that note, I always try and keep a mental note on which people ask for which buffs, and it goes a long way when you remember. Quests that are obviously calling for certain buffs such as Shroud phases 3 and 5 for Freedom of Movement usually are good measures to take to check each player’s bio if they have the FoM permanent effect, or not. Bio checking is a very frequent albeit odd habit of mine that actually pertains to game play.

Boss/Red Named DPS

When fighting a red named boss, you are limited to strictly raw DPS, as instakills, energy drains, and CC effects are all considered immune (unless by bug). My spell rotation list consists of: Arcane Initiate Magic Missiles + Arcane Pulse + Divine Punishment + {Light Ray Rotation}: Avenging Light, Searing Light SLA, Sun Bolt, [optional] Searing Light, Nimbus of Light + AoE Nukes (Divine Wrath, eBurst), end cycle then rinse and repeat or combo select. Wielding Vacuum weapon primarily for 20% more damage via Vulnerability multiplies the DPS, and the Colors of the Queen procs may or may not stack additional damage. Because most of the DPS will be directional and ray types, it is ideal to find a perch or safe spot – one tip is that Divine Wrath being targetable allows you to range cast, and eBurst, provided that you are generally close enough range whether laterally or above, will still affect the boss even from a nice chunk of a distance.

Hard & Soft Target

Targeting is more of a discussion with the longer cool-down spells such as Divine Wrath and Energy Burst, but it affects all spells, regardless of whether it is an AoE or a ray spell. If you fail to complete an animation + cast of the spell before the target dies, your spell, as a general rule of thumb, fails to process, meaning that AoE spells such as Energy Burst will completely be useless even if other mobs are alive that are within clear and viable target. It is very common to miss your target because the focus orb’s target, whether hard or soft target, is lost due to the premature death of said monster’s target. Thus, it is important that your focus orb is targeted on the mob with the most health, or a more durable one at least, such as an orange or red named if available. Strategic placement of the camera so that your focus orb (assuming auto-target is enabled) will immediately target the next mob if it is within proper distance and angle, will save your spell and proc as it should normally. The way this targeting issue works is that because of the lost target, if the focus orb’s target remains absent within the span of a second, the game is led to think that there is no available target, hence failure to complete the action (despite the animation completing in some cases). Very rarely, does Divine Wrath make it in time even after a mob dies if it is within an extremely small time window, perhaps within milliseconds, but aside from that, the spell either goes off or it does not. This applies to even rays such as Searing Light (bends sideways or flickers from two focal points back and forth); Sun Bolt (save for when there is a mob behind the targeted mob); and Magic Missile (erratic twisting or flying); or other abilities like Hell Ball as it slowly voids into dissipation in the distance; and AoEs like Flame Strike and Fire Storm that fail to even fully animate.

Reaper Content (R5-10)

As a mostly varied Reaper player, I almost never run into the issue of altering my entire play-style for mid-high Reaper skulls (5+). From R5-6, DCs are 85-90% reliable; 7-8 are fairly still reliable of about 70-80%; and 9-10 the range may fall anywhere from 60-70%, with exceptions to very easily targeted mobs that have a low save regardless of the skull, and not accounting for Spell Resistance, which can easily drop percentages close to a 10% range in very specific heavy-SR content. In R10, saves are increased by 1.5 * skull #, for a maximum total of a difference in 15 saves between R10 and LE (excluding Reaper enhancement factors). However, in the highest Reaper skull difficulty (9 and 10) the build falls purely into a healer role, simply due to the nature of what R9-10 requires in party makeup. Because of such an intensive role, it becomes strongly unforgiving to multi-task both casting and healing, and so defensive-healing measures are then accounted for.

While the build doesn’t list a healer specced gear set yet, it is important to increase defenses as high as possible, possibly even changing to the US ED in order to maximize survival.


Ultimately, all of these things makes what playing a Favored Soul caster so enjoyable for me. The rush of being able to heal someone right before they die, fighting a healing battle between a hard hitting mob and the tank, or blowing up several clusters of mobs at once — the beautiful blend of self sufficiency, party health control, AoE DPS, zerging synergy, and so many other finer points as mentioned above — all make what Favored Soul become a class that is powerful in its own way; a way that most overlook. And deep down, I’ve always known the strength of the Favored Soul class! ❤

By no means do I mean to brag saying Favored Soul are the best (I mean, they are) or that I can play it the best, or that this build is even top tier material. In fact, there are several shortcomings — very minute details (flaws) that bug me to no end, that with my OCD self can see in both the build and play-style, as I’ve outlined several throughout this post already. But what matters is that we continue to improve and strive to be better players at the game, towards stronger and more challenging content. Well, then again, I’m happy in just R1 too really. 😛

All in all, I hope this analysis guide/breakdown of the intended (or at least my personal) play-style of the CR build provides further insight. A peek of the inner workings of my mind and passion.

🙂