Editor: Instead of deleting this guide, I find it actually informative to discuss this topic! I would like to make use of this guide to argue against this end-game theory, so that people can understand the importance of keeping the Soul Crystal equipped.
After researching classes and jobs, and the benefits of each, I'm starting to become inclined to think that if you prefer playing a purely DPS-oriented ranged Disciple of War (just archer atm), it might be better to not transition to Bard and instead stick to the Archer class due to the ability to take some DPS-maximizing skills from across the board of other classes. I'm really curious, more than anything else, if going the non-bard, archer-class route will make the archer viable in competing with a BLM in regard to pure DPS output. Wishful thinking perhaps? Let's speculate!
Since we haven't been able to dive into cross class flexibility so much in the beta, this is all speculation so please correct me if I'm wrong as I most likely will be making more than a few assumptions, and my numbers might be off so please correct me when necessary:
- Marauder's Fracture seems to be the better DoT skill than Venomous Bite by a slight margin
> Fracture is 18 second physical DoT with 20 potency, while Venomous Bite is 9 second venom DoT with 35 potency. Both have the same cooldown, so you wouldn't have to re-stack the DoT as much with Fracture and spend that precious GCD opening for another skill instead of another Venomous Bite somewhere down the line. Although 2 Archer passives help Venomous Bite's effectiveness, if passives take up slots (inquired below) then maybe Fracture might still be the better option.
>> Editor: Both Fracture and Venomouse Bite actually provide very minimal damage. However, the biggest advantage of using Venomous Bite is that on every tick of DoT it has a 50% chance of resetting the recast timer of Bloodletter. This adds a lot of DPS. Thus, Fracture is absolutely NOT worth using by an Archer.
- Marauder's Bloodbath (90 second cooldown, restores 25% of damage dealt by all offensive skills you use for 15 seconds): Definitely a nice way to keep up the DPS while being self-sufficient in healing yourself without taking time out to activate a separate healing skill, especially if you pull off some crits while Bloodbath is on.
>> Editor: Bloodbath only works in restoring HP from melee attacks. Archer's ranged attacks does NOT result in any HP recovery using this skill.
- Marauder's Mercy Stroke should be considered on an archer's cross-ability bar as well since it deals an attack with a potency of 250(!) if the target's level is below 20%. The cooldown is also 90 seconds for this skill, a little long but it might come in handy once you get to the later stages of a boss fight to seal a victory with great clutch DPS output. Also nice as a mob finisher since an added bonus of the skill is repleshing 20% of your max HP upon getting the killing blow, although as an archer you shouldn't be losing HP too badly anyhow if you know what you're doing
>> Editor: Never tested this. But I question about its effectiveness since it's only available when target's HP is below 20%. Also, I wonder if its range is only melee...
*EDIT: OMG totally realized Fracture and Mercy Stroke have potency, which mean they are dictated by Marauder attribute VIT. These might not be so viable after all, if you're focusing more on DEX than VIT in your build. Input please!
>> Editor: Attack potency is never dictated by Vitality. It's dictated by "damage". Marauder's damage is affected by Strength, where as Archer's damage is affected by Dexterity. So potency is not the reason why we don't us these skills.
- Pugilist's Second Wind (Cooldown 130) is a nice skill for soloing, and might be the saving grace you need when you find yourself in a raid with the healers too busy giving their cures to the tank. This skill should be considered better than utilizing CNJ's Cure (restore HP with potency of 300) since Second Wind won't rely on an attribute (MND i think?) to determine the potency, and is instead at a fixed result of 15% of your Max HP. This theory would have to be tested though, since I'm not sure if a base Cure with zero attention given to the potency-laced attribute in an Archer would be better than 15% of your Max HP, and of course this would also depend on your VIT attribute as well. Cure also has zero cooldown which is nice (but casting time?), so you should always be hitting those DPS skills on your bar instead of worrying about curing yourself or others!
>> Editor: Second Wind is indeed a great skill to include for both Archer & Bard. But since it can be used by Bards, you don't need to unequip your Soul Crystal to use this skill.
- Pugilist's Internal Release is a no-brainer: with only a 60 second cooldown, this skill gives 20% crit chance increase for 15 seconds. I'm sure I don't need to explain why this would be great to have for a DPS-heavy archer.
> Question: Do crit chance increases stack? I believe they do... So if you have both Straight Shot's 10% crit chance increase (10 seconds) and IR's 20% increase active at the same time, it should be a 30% increase while both are active. (correct me if I'm wrong)
>> Editor: Once again, Internal Release is indeed wonderful, but since it can be used by Bards, there's no reason to unequip your Soul Crystal.
Answer: Yes, crit chances do stack up.
- Lancer's Invigorate (180 sec cooldown) instantly restores 300 TP. If TP management will become harder as players reach higher-tier content as I suspect (and hope), I'm sure this cross-class ability should end up on everyone's bar (Bards and Monks for jobs) so that you can squeeze in a little more skill output before running dry and having to resort to normal attacks or waiting for TP to replenish. Jury is still out on this one!
>> Editor: Again, this skill can be used by Bards too.
- Lancer's Blood for Blood is arguably the best cross-class ability for a pure DPS archer (as well as THM, BLM can't use however), as it is fairly similar to Raging Strikes (20% increase in ALL damage for 20 sec, but a long 180 sec Cooldown) but the cooldown is only 80 seconds for BfB with the caveat that you also take 25% extra incoming damage. The caveat might be no laughing matter to the melee classes, but for an archer... just stay back and enjoy turning on both RS and BfB for maximum effect!
>> Editor: Again, this skill can be used by Bards too.
- Remaining Cross-Skills: With the 7 must-haves (in my opinion) being covered above for a DPS archer (second wind maybe being replaced with Cure depending on which has better effect), the remaining three can be slotted with preservation skills or passives (inquire below) since there aren't any other useful DPS-driven ones left other than the ones stated above:
>> Editor: Unequipping the Soul Crystal to be able to cast Cure means directly sacrificing a significant amount of DPS in exchange for a very weak healing ability. Cure depends on Mind stats, so a Cure cast by an Archer will be so weak, that the Archer will need to cast about 5 times to actually significantly heal somebody. This is something that a true Healer can do with a single cast. While the Archer is casting all those Cure, the Archer is not DPS-ing, thus it is extremely ineffective for the use of the Archer's time.
> Conjurer's Stoneskin is great to cast on yourself or others (phys damage mitigation equal to 10% of Max HP lasting 30 minutes) since I think it changed from 1.0 as being attribute/potency based to now just fixed on your Max HP. I'm not sure what the cooldown is, so if it's long, then it would be especially good to have this as a skill that you would use as a Bard anyhow.
> Lancer's Keen Flurry (90 sec Cooldown) increases parry rate by 20% for 20 seconds. Not sure how useful this would be for a DPS-based archer always at a range, but definitely useful if you're going to solo.
>> Editor: Parry might help at lower levels. But at level 50, this is completely useless. If you're a Bard, you're not supposed to get hit! You can DPS while running around! Not to mention most attack at end-game are magical anyway, so they cannot be parried!
> Maybe (hopefully) something useful from Arcanist?! There was nothing useful to be taken from THM for a DPS archer, and I'm guessing it might stay like that with Arcanist as well, but who knows. ^^
** Note: I read in the realm guide of this site that passives also take up cross-class slots (archer passives only, you can't use other class passives) so if this is the case, you can maybe utilize those three remaining slots with valuable passives such as Increased Action Damage II (20% base damage increase - no brainer), Enhanced Dexterity III (increases DEX by 6), and Enhanced Barrage for triple-strike normal attacks or Enhanced Quick Knock for taking down mobs. Can someone please confirm if this is true?
While I think it's still yet to be seen if Bard will be on par with DPS as Archer with Bard only being able to slot 5 CNJ and LNC abilities/passives at Max LVL, I'm hoping to stick it through as just as Archer and hopefully do enough respectable DPS to be considered alongside BLMs. I know Bards have great team-support abilities and I think Minuet of Rigor helps boost DPS while Rain of Death is great CC, but for a non-magic ranged DPSer, I would think the things listed above in combination would result in slightly higher DPS.
What do you guys think? Share your thoughts and correct all my misconceptions! Thanks Realmers
>> Editor: When a Bard unequips the Soul Crystal to become an Archer, he/she loses the following skills:
Rain of Death
As you can see, this is a big deal. Mage Ballad is something needed for soooo often when healers run out of MP.
Foe Requiem when paired with Battle Voice reduces 20% magic resistance on all enemy targets, making the attacks of Blackmages, Summoners and Ninjas a lot stronger. Rain of Death is part of the AoE combo of a Bard (Wide Volley -> procs Rain of Death -> procs Quick Nock). Chopping away Rain of Death means breaking the combo of procs.
Also, the Bard Soul Crystal adds 20 points of Dexterity and 10 points of all other attributes including Vitality. Without it, all these stats are lost.
In conclusion, unless you're just doing it for fun, unequipping the Soul Crystal is extremely undesirable. It greatly lowers DPS, and destroys the supporting functions of the class by eliminating its ability to sing songs. gaining 5 extra slots of Cross Class Skill by sacrificing the Soul Crystal is absolutely not worth it.
DPS Archer maximizing cross-class abilities (end-game theory)
A Guide for endgame Bards for how to maximize their DPS and a look at choosing cross-class skills.