Notes 29th October 2014
New guide is up: LINK HERE
Module 5 Rise of Tiamat changes have been announced to go live on Nov 18 (which IMO is very rushed based on my time on preview).
I have been working on an updated DC guide. The guide is more streamlined and less wordy, and stylized to be more in tune with my CW/SW guides. A lot of information, especially related to gear is simply not as important anymore given that many good items are obtained very cheaply or without having to spend AD, and that there are multiple ways of gearing your DC. Also artifact equipment will be the standard and probably eventually everything you have will be artifact equipment. The only decent upgrade for DCs will be the Artifact Offhand, which allows you to add a small bonus to one of our class features (unlock with an item and you can change between them easily).
The encounter powers and almost all of the paragon feats have been changed. Sadly heroic feats have yet to receive their makeover but I am hopeful they will be looked at in the near future.
Overall the DC is still effective and helpful to the party. Healing is easier in some ways due to feats shouldering the load, and while our general DPS is similar our burst capability has increased from being able to spam divine enconters. DPS DC is a possibility in PvE.
The new guide will have its own post, and I will still make references to the charts and things here, where are still relevent. I will have the new Module 5 link here within a week with details and descriptions of the new feats. I will also have a few recommended builds and playstyle tips to help you with staying effective and getting used to the newer playstyle.
Work is getting busier and busier and I may not be playing much in Module 5 or do as much testing as I could. I'll still strive to keep things updated but I will need your help to include additional info/changes to keep this resource relevant.
Notes 10th October 2014
Both DC and TR class are getting a major overhaul for module 5. Preliminary changes are up on
There will be a major overhaul- divinity will be generated by at wills only but at a faster way. Divinity encounters do not share a cooldown (in fact have no cooldown), and divinity powered encounters generate an empowered stack for the normal version of the same encounter. In some ways it'll be like playing a brand new class. IMO previously the DC is too dependent on divinity mechanic which is clunky and punishes the DC when he tries to recover with no divinity (eg after dying in PvP). Hoping this new rework helps a lot.
DC also lost a lot of mitigation/passive tools from their feats such as Linked Spirit, Moontouched, Benefit of Foresight so our mitigation is weaker and buffs are more situational.
Update 29th July 2014
-Added Module 4 boons
-Added Dragonborn race description. Overall has highest DPS potential if you go +2 WIS/+2 STR/Pvorp. I would say also highest healing potential but since DC is not even a great healer class it's not a great descriptor. Generally not worth the money.
Module 4 will introduce BIS weapon and gear with the introduction of 'artifact equipment' which are not too hard to acquire but will be costly/grindy to level. Lock your wallet and cut up your credit card before it's too late! At rank 1 they are about on par with CN equipment. Belt of Wisdom is BIS for PvE (+1 WIS, 158 power, 148 recovery and defense at rank 1). Plated belt of Constitution is BIS for PvP or mixed/defensive builds. Weapons actually boost at will effect (ASeal healing, SF temp HP and LoF damage) and once you can upgrade to blue will be worth the loss of the set bonus stats. Like I said, Module 4 will tempt you more than ever to spend. New dungeon chest key is 20k each plus 2 day's worth of grinding dailys so there will be limited farming outside DD hour. Yikes.
*Note 20th July 2014
-Dear friends I will be limiting my playtime/testime in Neverwinter over the next few months as I focus on finishing my PhD. Right now I've written way more words for NW than my thesis but it was good practice for finding my style, structuring complex topics and becoming familiar with working across large documents. As there isn't much change for DC in module 4 it seems a good time for a break. I'm not quitting the game and I still will browse forums occasionally. You're still welcome to post questions here, PM on LGz/NW forums or mail in game.
Regards to mod 4 content there will be 'polymorph' tokens available to reroll stats/race. Here's your chance to try something else or fix the roll you wish you had! Dragonborn race seems to make for good DCs too if you want every last scrap of advantage.
Mod 4 also fixes the ArP issue making the offensively focused DC more viable in PvP and makes both ArP and lifesteal decent stats for us. PvE DCs also get a slight boost if you use a lot of BoTS and chains, although our damage is still significantly less than the other DPS classes. Remember, damage wise ArP is more bang for buck than power though it does nothing for you healing wise so you still need to be flexible with gear loadouts.
Lastly, in the next months both the Laggygamerz site and forums will be upgraded to the latest build. We will be having our own forums as designed by Scroll_Tro0L and it's going to be fantastic. It is likely all my guides will be hosted in the 'article' section of the site rather than the 'forum' section, and we will do our best to help redirect and smooth out the transition but this is just an advanced warning and you will need to update your bookmarks eventually. Thank you to all of you for being with us all this time and there will be growing numbers of quality guides and content across various facets of LGz.
Further update on our website is discussed below:
*Updates from 11th June 2014
-Edited and simplified section 6.3 on buffs. This is now its own separate guide and I may simplify this even more later.
-Inserted formula for tenacity in section 3
-Corrected/ updated skill descriptions for Anointed Army, Hallowed Ground and Astral Shield- I was wrong, the 30% bonus incoming healing is not from HG but from AS, thanks to @newterraneau for picking it up
-Will be posting results of mod 3 gear set bonuses when I get them.
-Updated some boons with info along with PvP boons
*Updates from 19th May 2014
-Module 3 is here, yay!
-Added more thoughts and info on CHA in section 2.2.2. I now recommend a build with CHA = 29- INT, (well, anything from 29 to 32 is fine) and then the rest in maxing WIS (if not using vorpal) and/or STR (if using a vorpal). Probably not too much a change for most of you. Also changed slightly how you should allocate stats.
-Added quick start guide in section 1.3
-Updated Gear pics in section 5.9.
*Updates from 29th April 2014
Guide is now Module 3 ready!
-Rewrote and updated options on stat sections (section 3.3) and their optimal distribution especially regarding crit, deflection, defense and hitpoints. Added formula for power
-Update companion info (section 5.6) for PvP and included module 3 artifacts
-Swapped race and ability score sections so it's more intuitive.
-Updated opinion on STR/WIS/CHA. Added section 2.2.1 to quantify and compare exactly the STR/WIS/CHA bonus vs DPS/healing.
I no longer recommend putting points in CHA (actually I might have overlooked something, CHA is still good, more to come)
*Updates from 4th April 2014
-Added Module 3 boons
-Reworked and extended section 6.3 after lots of testing and number crunching on how armor penetration, debuffs and damage resistance influence your damage output.
-Started adding Module 3 info for planning and gear where relevant
-Added section 7.3 Known issues, bugs etc with DC class
*Updates from 25th Mar 2014
-Added section on tenacity
-Removed some references of Linked Spirit from sunburst
-Major updates and revisions through skill, feat descriptions and minor modifications on build
-Revision and update of overall guide
-Updated PvP gear and advice with new changes
-Rewrote section 6.3 to discuss how debuffs stack with your abilities
*Updates from 13th Feb 2014
-Some revisions/updates and loadout pics in section 6.
-Slightly expanded section 7.2 on PvP
-DC At will comparisons 22.214.171.124 and minor edits throughout.
-New ArP vs power discussions
-Calculated effectiveness of Power in healing/damage
-Updated build strat for 14k+ GS, updated opinion on WIS
-More info towards playing in high GS parties
-Fixed and updated links for nwcalc.com
Welcome! This guide is a massive one stop shop for everything about Devoted Clerics, covering skill choices, feat discussion, gear analysis, recommended builds and practical tips. It is the result of reading almost every single guide there is, digestion of neverwinter mechanics and math backed with hours of gameplay in PUGs and in premade groups. Whatever stage you’re at with your Cleric, there should be something of use to you here. It has a strong PvE focus, but I do cover information about PvP, and you can take the mechanics from this guide to help you build and tweak your PvP character.
Since it's a lengthy guide, do consider bookmarking the page and read in sections rather than take it all in one setting. Use the links in the ToC to navigate to different parts of the posts. Also because this guide is already so long I use a lot of abbreviations and terms that may or may not be familiar to you. Check the Glossary for details.
As a resource, the guide aims firstly to inform and secondly to advise. You should not feel the need to commit to any particular build or gear sets 100% as the game is constantly evolving. Most of it is my opinion and experiences and my aim is to put the experience there so you can digest it, supplement it with your own testing and ultimately make your own decisions and know why you did it. You’re a Cleric after all, go make use of that high WIS!
This guide will be regularly updated to reflect new changes. As you can appreciate it is a significant effort to write and maintain with constant patch notes and evolution of the game, feel free to drop me a message here on the forums, in teamspeak or via in game mail about questions.
A lot of the content here is compiled from heavy personal research because game mechanics have been vague and in some cases downright misleading. As you can also appreciate I am human and am prone to errors, whether they be grammatical, factual or misunderstandings of game mechanics. Secondly the game is always changing and things are always getting broken/ fixed all the time. A lot of Neverwinter's combat mechanics have been, truly 'cryptic' and at times downright unexpected. While I've tested as much as I can about what I write in this guide there's a whole lot that I've also just taken on faith based on others' research. I have usually included links and references in such situations, though in wanting to keep this easy to read I'm not going to cite every source 100%. I would welcome your helpful suggestions and clarifications- there's still much I'm learning about the game daily and by no means see myself as authoritative on every subject matter. Read it, share it, bounce ideas off and go eliminate the concept of 'bad clerics' in Neverwinter!
DISCLAIMER: **This guide, excluding sections where references have been linked is the intellectual property of Kaelac. You may retain a copy for personal use but you may not repost, plagiarise or make unauthorised copies in part or whole on websites and forums without the expressed written consent from the author.** By all means feel free to share the link to this guide with those who may find it helpful.
Also a thank you here for those who have taken the time to say hi and thank me or bounced ideas around whether in game or various forums, your support is appreciated and is my motivation to keeping this guide relevant and accurate. As for those who've made donations whether in time or resources, thank you for your generosity.
Table of Contents:
4.2.1 At wills
4.2.2 Class Features
4.2.4 Daily Abilities
4.4.1 Tree based Paragon builds
4.4.2 Virtuous Feats
4.4.3 Faithful Feats
4.4.4 Righteous Feats
5.1.1 Armour set Analysis
5.1.2 Weapon set Analysis
5.1.3 Weapon damage vs power calculations
5.2.1 Best in slot gear recommendation
The Devoted Cleric is a Leader class in Neverwinter, and forms both a staple and backbone of any 5 man party. Contrary to popular opinion the Devoted Cleric is not a healer class, at least not exclusively. It is a Leader class, which means the DC has many abilities in his arsenal that help shape and enhance the party’s prowess, and abilities that can directly change and affect the outcome of battles. The Devoted Cleric also has a range of powerful healing abilities and tactical buffs and debuffs to help turn any difficult fight into a simpler encounter.
1.1 Should I roll a Cleric?
You should play a cleric if you enjoy playing a support/leader role, if you have a team oriented mentality, if you enjoy healing and protection, and if you enjoy experimenting with various strategies and being flexible with load outs and rotations.
Don’t get me wrong, the Devoted Cleric has decent offensive arsenal. However, because our value lies in our utility you need to be prepared to sacrifice personal DPS for group DPS, whether that means buffing your main DPS or keeping them safe and well healed through extended fights.
For those heavily into PvP: while DC overall are very useful in teams, playing one, especially when solo queued can feel frustrating and disadvantaged because you depend on the rest of the team and do not excel at 1v1s. That said, given the right loadout and team DCs can be bastions who keep themselves and allies up via defensive abilities, mitigation and heals. With the right gear and playstyle the DC has a lot of staying power and can hold contested points in 1v1 or 1v many situations. You won’t often top the scoreboard in kills, but you are essential in fortifying nodes and capturing and keeping points.
1.2 Cleric Class Roles
The key to being a successful DC is versatility- identifying you party's strength and weaknesses and either boost the strength and/or cover the weakness. NW dungeons are designed somewhat to allow various party compositions to clear it successfully, and whilst DCs are more a must-have at lower GS, higher GS parties may well experiment coping without a DC, which is a good thing because the DC can start to go from healbot to buffs and debuffs. Our class feature boosts a majority of incoming healing to party members by 70-100% regardless of whether we actually heal actively or not, and that is a very strong incentive to have a DC in the party.
DPS DCs shine at lvs 20-50 and at around 11-13k GS, but beyond that our target limits, lack of AoEs and cooldowns limit how much useful DPS we can realistically do. Searing light through singularity is nice but the mobs usually would be dead in follow up AoEs anyway. Daunting light crits hard, sunburst and chains do decent damage, but when CWs have 4 encounters and larger target limits, and GF/GWF/HR have powerful AoE at-wills you will struggle to keep up as pure DPS and often passed over for a GWF/CW. In such cases a hybrid buff/debuff/DPSer might fill the party niche better regardless of whether there is a healer DC or not.
Levelling- 7-10k average party gearscores:
In such groups the DC is there to dramatically increase the success rate of clearing dungeons by providing incoming damage mitigation and supplementary healing. DCs are essential in such parties primarily for healing to ensure the party survives and recover from encounters and boss fights.
10-13k average party gearscore:
In these groups most players have sufficient DPS, defense and capabilities to make encounters faster that extended healing may not be necessary. Here the DC again provides incoming damage mitigation, healing as well as buffs and debuffs to help fights go even faster and smoother.
14k+ average party gearscore:
At this stage party members are very strong offensively and most will have significant amounts of lifesteal to lessen your healing load. A fair few of these parties will start running without a DC because bringing more DPS often means clearing content faster and having less damage taken. However, DCs can contribute more to party DPS than a 5th DPSer by running buffs and debuffs. DCs in such groups should focus on incoming damage mitigation and buffs/debuffs to squeeze every bit of DPS from the party. Your damage buffs/debuffs will means party members hit even harder and thus get more self-healing from Lifesteal, so in a sense debuffs = more healing. Parties will start to pull entire sections of the dungeon or ignore/pile all the adds on boss for a high risk high reward playstyle, and you are there to help improve clearing speed and keep them safe. Hallowed ground and Astral shield (even yellow) becomes very important to reduce the incoming damage from multiple sources. Your HoT and debuffs will allow members to survive and lifesteal their health back to full. Don't lag behind your DPSers in such groups and shadow the GWFs especially when they pull.
The follow section talks about ability scores and stats. If you want to continue to the build/feats/powers/playstyle check section 4.
I recognize the next sections are somewhat long. For those who just want to quickly roll a character and do well, and save reading after you've had some in game experience here's information condensed for you.
Roll a Half Elf (put bonus in WIS) or Sun Elf (put bonus in CHA) go with whichever you like better, all are versatile as buffers/healers/debuffers/DPSers.
Pick the 16 WIS 15 STR 13 CHA 11 INT 11 CON 9 DEX base stat roll combination (your racial stats will bump this up).
For Half Elf, put 3 points in CHA, 1 point into STR and 4 points into WIS as you level.
For Sun Elf, put 4 points into STR and 4 points into WIS as you level. Those will give you the most optimised stats for lv 60.
Follow this link (Divine Oracle paragon, Faithful tree) for power/feat distribution as you level (switch tab for feats). http://nwcalc.com/dc...fo000&h=0&p=dvo
- Use healing word, sunburst, searing light lv 1-20.
- Flamestrike for daily when solo. Hallowed ground when in party
- Do quests, you can ignore 5 man dungeon if you just want to race to 60, you get to do epic versions at lv 60. Skirmishes are tied to level and can be good to try out.
- Replace searing light with chains at lv 15
- Replace healing word with daunting light ASAP at 20.
- Get sacred flame at 21 and swap out lance of faith.
- Replace Healer's Lore with Holy Fervor at 22.
- Replace divine fortune with Foresight at 30. Foresight will probably never leave your bar.
- Unlock Forgemasters at 31, use in party only (replace chains).
- Replace Astral seal with brand of the sun at 35, swap back when in party
- Replace Holy Fervor with Terrifying Insight at 40 when solo, swap back when in party.
- Replace chains with divine glow at 45.
- Unlock Astral Shield at 50 and use in party only (replace daunting light).
As you level look for gear with defense, Hit points, recovery, armor penetration, crit, power and regen. Ignore stuff with deflect and lifesteal. Keep your gear, especially weapon within 2 levels of your character. There's plenty of cheap stuff on auction house for 50 AD or less. Enchant with spare enchants if you have them, but not necessary. 15 min combat foundries are a great way of keeping gear current and gives good exp especially during foundry hour (recommend Tired of being a hero, get the wolf whistle for easy mode).
At lv 60 get a High Prophet set from T1 dungeons, raise defense to 2k, stack HP to 24k, recovery to 2600, rest into power. Keep studying the guide and build your own DC.
2.1 Race Selection:
I would say most races offer something for the DC class. They usually only give a few % bonuses so play what you like. If you are into min maxing though I have a brief discussion below (when there’s a choice in stats I usually choose the one best for class). Look for STR and WIS bonuses where you can. Overall I recommend Sun Elf (fastest recharge), Half Orc (highest crits) and Half Elf (most HP and minor bonuses) as the preferred races with a slight personal bias towards Half Elf. Halfling deserves special mention as the go to tanky deflect build in PvP. Dragonborn has the best aligned stats but has a $100 paygate for a very minor bonus. Race change tokens are now available if you would like to try something else while keeping all gear and progress.
Sun Elf: +2 INT +2 CHA, +2% AP gain, increase resistance to CC by 10%. Excellent stats. The +2 int and 2% AP effectively mean you have +4 charisma extra total. Given CHA is a key cleric stat (though easily stacked via recovery) Sun Elf DCs are very viable. CC immunity is not as important but you will appreciate if you PvP a lot and manage to run away from singularities. Good for healing builds and even DPS as you can put less points in CHA and shuffle them to something else. Sun Elves also are very strong in PvP after halflings, keeping the cc resist while having faster recharge. Good for hybrid PvE casual PvPers.
Half Orc: +2 DEX +2 STR, +5% crit severity. Very good stats with STR bonus (basically +2% crit), perfect for a crit build DC because crit severity matters in endgame (heals can crit too) and can only be increased with a vorpal or potions. The severity bonus is more noticeable when starting out and mid gear score. However when you have a perfect vorpal the actual DPS/healing increase from +5% severity works out to be around 1.2% average damage/healing increase at 35% crit. For the min maxers, comparing 37% crit (2% strength bonus) at +55% crit severity with 35% crit and 50% severity (another race) gives about 3% more damage/healing.
Half Elf: +3 CON, +2 WIS, +1% deflect, crit severity and gold find. Excellent stats, the most stat and HP bonuses of all races. The 1% bonuses are not game changing but are useful, especially if you consider 1% deflect is like 2 extra DEX. Put your +2 bonus in WIS as you will have the most powerful heals/DPS compared to other races (up to 26).
Dragonborn: +2 and +2 to any 2 stats of your choice. +5% to all incoming healing. You have a 5% chance when attacking a foe to apply Dragonborn Fury to yourself for 6 seconds, increasing your Power and Critical Strike by 3%. Stats can obviously be tuned to what you want. For offense/pure healers you want +2 WIS and +2 STR for best DPS DC (and heals, but it's not needed for PvE). For defense you want CON then DEX is still good but you might as well go halfling for deflect bonus though the healing bonus is not bad. For balanced char if you're going to end up with WIS and CON then you might as well go Half Elf. First racial is great for increased incoming heals. Second racial bonus is going to be very minor. Low proc rate, short uptime. For PvP I think Halfling is still better. PvE Dragonborn is good if you absolutely want to min max. PvP only go dragonborn if you want +2 WIS +2 STR. Not worth the $100 for it IMO.
Halfling: +2 DEX, +2 CON (for pvp), +3% deflect, +10% resist to CC. Stats are good, overall +3% deflect bonus is good especially for a tanky deflect build (arguably best niche build for PvP). Plus they are harder to target in PvP if you hide among allies because of smaller size.
Tiefling: +2 CHA, +2 CON or INT, 5% bonus damage to targets below half health, when hit 5% chance to lower attacker power by 10% for 5s. Good stats, basically a +2.5% damage bonus on average. In reality the 5% damage is more valuable as boss fights generally get harder towards the end, especially for DPSers, although not so much DCs. Other bonuses can be nice for PvP but unnoticeable generally otherwise. Good for DPS builds but healing ones might prefer Sun or Half Elf.
Human: +3 extra heroic feats, +2 in any ability score (recommend STR/WIS). +3% defense.
Humans are actually gimped for the DC class. Because DC's heroic feats are so bad there is nothing worthwhile to spend 3 extra heroic feats on. Basically you get 3% more divinity gain and 2 spare points that won't make any difference. You don’t miss anything featwise from not going human. 3% defense is off defense score, so if you have 3k defense you get 3090. Makes very little difference. That said, when I rolled my DC I rolled Human and still do fine, so differences are minimal really.
Moon Elf: trades 1% AP gain for 1% stamina regen. Sun elf is generally superior but not bad if you prefer a Moon Elf for appearance/lore. 1% stamina is good but not enough to make a difference.
Drow: +2 DEX +2 CHA or WIS. Darkfire: 5% chance to debuff foe defense by 10% for 4s. Good stats, however be warned that currently dark fire seems to proc on your party members rather than enemies. If Darkfire stacks with high prophet set it will be is very useful for a buff/debuff cleric to increase party DPS but it is very short. Better than Menzoberranzan Renegade IMO.
Dwarf: +2 CON +2 STR, increase resist to knockback and repel and DOT effects. Stats are good for a tanky high HP build. However resists are broken and doesn’t work too well in PvE (works in PvP and can be a solid choice). I advise going something else like half orc and building HP via other means.
Wood Elf: +2 DEX, +2WIS, +1% Crit chance, 10% resist to slow. Stats are ok, but everything a wood elf can do a Half Elf can do better.
2.2 Ability scores
Your ability scores are rolled upon character creation from one of these sets. The sets are fixed, so just look through and roll until you get a combination you desire. Choose carefully, however race change token allows you to change race and reroll if you wish for a zen cost. The Class scores for Clerics are Wisdom, then Strength and Charisma.
A good pick would be 16 WIS 16 STR 12 CHA for the highest starting strength. This is because the STR crit bonus is the hardest to get and is the most future proof roll depending on future content/gear directions.
A more efficient pick is 16 WIS 15 STR 13 CHA. What I like about this is you get 1 extra INT and CON, both of which help towards building your stats. Especially INT helps you save a point from CHA and is probably the most bang for buck pick out there.
I'm hesitant to pick anything less than 16 WIS because it is a key stat and should be maxed. However I would not recommend going above 16 WIS because you lose out on crucial secondary stat points which are just as important.
For racial bonuses, if you can put in WIS/STR pick those 2. STR is better if you will be using a normal/greater/perfect vorpal. WIS is better if you will not be using a vorpal. For the other stats CHA = CON > INT > DEX.
For the Table, DC Primary is WIS, Secondary is STR then CHA, A = INT, B = CON C = DEX
As you level up you get 2 points at lv 10, 20, 40 and 50 (8 total, up to 4 in each one stat) to add to any of your ability scores. At lvs 30 and 60 you get a +1 bonus to all scores. When you ‘tag’ a campfire you get a short buff which gives +1 to all ability scores. There is also a Potion of Heroism and Elixir of Fate that gives +1 to all ability scores for 1 hr. You can respect points you added with a retraining token.
For min/maxing you basically need to balance between maximising the total number of ability scores across ALL stats (72-77 points) vs maximising the total number of ability scores in CLASS stats only (42-44 points). You are not penalised for having low scores in any areas. For scores above 10 you will get a bonus for each point, with the bonus for each class shown here:
Ability scores matter to an extent, but not overly so that it would break your character because you can make up for it with gear stats. My approach is use ability scores to build up the stats that are useful to your build but are the hardest to stack.
Starting with non class scores, the most important non class score is CON, which gives 2% HP per point over 10. However as it's relatively easy to get HP it's not as important to stack CON unless you really prefer the extra HP (which does boost HP you get from gear/enchants). The next is DEX, which gives 0.5% deflect per point over 10%. INT is a nice +1% cooldown bonus but it’s also accessible via CHA so it’s safe to ignore it generally. In a majority of builds, unless you are particularly stacking HP or deflect for tanky builds (especially for PvP) you can ignore them all. There is no penalty in them being under 10.
WIS is our primary ability score and each point over 10 contributes +1% directly to your damage and healing capacity. While CHA certainly helps significantly when levelling and at lower gearscore (GS), for optimised damage/healing output WIS will outperform CHA (see graph below). If you are going to commit to using a greater/perfect vorpal however STR will out perform WIS.
STR gives a straight +1% crit chance per point over 10. If you covert that to damage/healing, that equates your crit severity, so at the base crit severity (75%) STR gives 0.75% damage/healing per point. If you use a normal or better vorpal enchant then it gives a better bonus than WIS (1.25% per point for perfect vorpal). Given the harsh diminishing returns on crit (see next section), STR is the easiest way to build your crit chance and thus should receive some investment. Crit is very important in any cleric build, and you should definitely aim to max STR and add attributes to it where you can. Having higher STR means you can get by stacking less crit stat and diversify. If your racial can be put in STR, add it in STR. Also stamina regen is very useful for more dodges. Dodges give your character 100% immunity for a few seconds, even when standing in red when timed correctly. Use it correctly and this will save your life. If you rather not gamble with crit and have a straight constant healing bonus, take WIS over STR. Some DC builds ignore it and it’s still fine, but I don’t recommend you ignore crit entirely, especially for my build because crits proc Repurpose Soul heals, which can account for 9-16% of overall outgoing heals.
Next is CHA, which gives 1% AP gain and 1% recharge speed per point, as well as companion stats and combat advantage damage. Seems a lot for one stat! The more important role of CHA is the AP gain and recharge speed. The basal recharge speed stack with INT and is fairly important for keeping encounters low. The AP gain allows DCs to have one of the fastest AP generation overall of NW classes (2nd usually, behind CWs). Having high CHA means you can stack less recovery or push it further after hitting DR. As a fresh lv 60 I used to recommend to max CHA after STR. This is to maximise your encounters coming off cooldown and AP gain to get your daily up. However since you won't really feel the need for recovery that much and STR/WIS both outperform CHA it's no longer competitive and you can save a respec later.
Assuming your base INT is 10 (12 at lv 60), I recommend getting 17-18 CHA. This is so you can keep your recovery at reasonable levels for recharging our longest cooldown spell, Astral Shield and Exaltation recharge down to 15s for 66% uptime. Derivations why I recommend 18 CHA is shown below in 2.2.2. If you get a very high GS then you can shuffle points from CHA back to crit and stack higher recovery (3400 for 17 CHA, 4200 for 16 CHA).
If you are at 18 CHA aim for ~2870 recovery. If you are at 19 CHA aim for 2700 recovery and 20 CHA aim for 2430 recovery.
CHA also grants companion stat bonus is applied only to the actual companion stats and not items/runes equipped so it’s a very small bonus. Combat advantage damage bonus is good for DPS classes, but in solo you rarely get CA and in groups you don't care as much about your own damage for this to be of significant consideration.
Where to allocate your stats for end game (updated):
You get free +1 to all stats at lv 30 and 60. Apart from those points you have 8 points to allocate in stats. My recommendation is
CHA = 29- INT (30-INT also fine, especially for lower gearscore characters). For example if at lv 60 you have 12 INT, you should aim for 29-12= 17 CHA. If you have 13 INT get 16 CHA etc. This is the bare minimum CHA required for min/max purposes.
4 points in WIS (if not using a vorpal enchant, and no, vorpal is neither necessary or BiS for DC, just one of many options)
Leftovers points in STR (Max if using a greater/perfect vorpal and put rest in WIS)
It seems a peculiar distribution but also means there's flexibility for other starting rolls. Reason I still advocate 16/16/12 or 16/15/13 roll is because at current level of gear Crit is still hardest to build and this roll gives you potentially the most crit, but you don't need all that potential at the moment so it is 'future proofing'.
You can substitute some STR/WIS points into CON for more hitpoints, but it's not necessary for PvE.
**If you care a lot about PvP you want a higher emphasis in defensive stats. You still need CHA to be 29-INT, but definitely make an investment in CON first, and then perhaps DEX for a heavy deflect/tank build. I would probably recommend the 15 WIS 13 STR 14 CHA 12 INT 12 CON 11 DEX roll because Crit isn't as important in PvP and you can't build your stats as much without an augment pet.
2.2.1 Quantifying bonuses for WIS, CHA and STR, advanced info only if you are into min maxing (work in progress, still checking facts + figures)
(Advanced section for min maxing, can skip for your first read through or if you're not into numbers and proof)
At a high GS you want to compared which stat does the most for you in terms of damage and healing.
WIS: +1% per point for damage. For healing I it's (WIS-10+ greater fortune rank) *(1+greater fortune rank/100) so eg 24 WIS with 3 points gives 14+3*(1+3/100) = 17*1.03 = 17.51% (tooltip rounds up to 18, not sure if actually true). The WIS bonus is incorporated as a multiplier in damage calculations.
STR: each point in STR gives on average (+1%* total critical severity) per point for base damage/healing. Eg perfect vorpal gives 0.75+0.5 = 1.25 crit severity so you get 1.25% damage per point in STR. For healing if you take Repurpose Soul it adds up to 5-15% more healing from crit depending on your party and loadout. For calculation purposes lets just lump it to crit severity for an average of 8% so 1+*(0.08+crit severity).
CHA (and INT): This is the tough one. In terms of translating CHA to DPS based on reduced cooldown the calculation is a little convoluted but i have plotted it below. Basically I calculated the increase in DPS from reduced cooldown from INT/CHA bonus assuming you spam the ability as often as you can (ie in ideal case). This also only notes the recharge speed bonus and not the action point gain, but it should be a fairly good guide. The value of CHA is tied to how much recovery you currently have. The more recovery you have the less CHA does for you. In reality you will always have a lag, lull between combat or you may save encounter powers to use for later so your sustained DPS will be less. BUT, CHA also gives you AP gain bonus AND combat advantage bonus, both of which will increase your damage/healing, so for simplicity's sake let's just assume the 2 cancel themselves out ok?
Of course, DCs don't care that much about DPS/healing. What is important to consider however is that by getting encounters off cooldown faster you get more uptime. This is important for Astral shield, divine glow and feats like Linked Spirit. CHA is important in this situation, and I elaborate specifically about CHA in the next section.
Figure showing the healing/damage bonus per point of CHA+INT, based on your current recovery.
For example if I have 3200 recovery CHA gives me 0.81% damage/ healing per point, but if I have 4400 recovery CHA gives only 0.79% damage per point. The gains for CHA is still above 0.77 for 6000 recovery (a very extreme case). Because you will probably have some RSI from INT, CHA is less crucial.
Summary on min maxing stats:
Wisdom is good. Put 6 points in it
Strength is better than wisdom IF you can get say 10% more severity, so for example if using any kind of vorpal enchant. If you don't use a vorpal and don't care about DPS, STR is better than CHA due to Repurpose Soul feat. Plus STR's stamina regen is better than CHA's companion bonus stat and CA damage, plus divinity from Righteous Rage of Tempus.
CHA is better than strength damage wise if you don't use a vorpal. However healing wise with Repurpose Soul strength has a very very slight edge. But the distinction is not that great so I wouldn't worry about it too much. CHA does have an important role in maintaining high AS uptime so it's never a 'bad' investment.
This finding holds true for other classes's primary stats. However some classes get additional or bonuses effects from crit or combat advantage and those should be taken into account also. Also I have only evaluated the offensive potential of these stats and not the defensive ones. In PvE it's generally not needed.
This is a fairly detailed derivation which you can skip if it's your first read.
Despite the above derivations which considers the value of RSI when it translates to DPS, CHA plays an important role in extending your buff uptime.
Astral Shield is probably the single most important encounter in the DC arsenal, providing siginificant damage mitigation (24%) and a heal over time effect for 10 seconds. Base cooldown of the spell is 20s (ie 50% uptime). We want to have the most effective way of improving the cooldown, and most of us experienced DCs agree that a 15s or less cooldown is most desirable and manageable. With a combination of Recovery, INT and CHA. Every point of INT and CHA over 10 provides a 1% bonus. You will normally start with 10 INT and this gets bumped up to 12 at lv 60. That's 2% RSI plus CHA bonus. In general you want a 8-10% bonus from stats.
The figure above shows the band of Astral shield uptime vs recovery and your bonus in stat. All players will be somewhere in the region between the red and blue lines. I'll talk about diminishing returns later, but you can see how the uptime gain is very slow after about 3k recovery. Incidentally, most DCs should be able to get 2-3.5k recovery from T1/T2 gear alone. Given the diminishing returns at high recovery values, it's pointless to aim for anything more than 70% uptime because the opportunity cost is too high for very little gain.
This second graph looks at how the AS cooldown speed time reduces with RSI bonus (0-16%). You want enough base RSI to push the initial part of the graph above 15s.
From this graph, we can derive the intercepts for 15s and replot as a function of RSI bonus, as shown below.
As our current DC gear generally gives 3k recovery quite easily, and taking into account rising hope feat which gives 15% more recovery this is why I recommend 8-10% RSI total. With a 12 INT this translate to 16-18 CHA.
High CHA builds (20+ CHA) are good too, especially as a fresh 60 when your recovery score is still low but it gets outperformed healing wise by a high WIS and high STR build. High CHA builds basically is a buffbot where you can get slightly higher buff uptime, however this is only a few % more uptime than my recommended build and you give up too much for it to stay versatile and useful as DCs should be.
3. Stats, gearscores and which ones matter
3.1 Introduction to Neverwinter Stats
Neverwinter has ten base stats which then affect stat modifiers. These stats are increased via powers, feats, gear, companion bonuses, augment pets, artifacts and boons. Stat modifiers are given bonuses by ability scores, feats, companion bonuses, artifacts and boons.
Power -> Damage/healing bonus
Armor Class (AC) / Defense -> Damage Resistance (DR)
Critical Strike -> Critical Chance
Recovery -> Recharge Speed Increase (RSI), Action Point (AP) Gain
Armor Penetration (ArP) -> Resistance Ignored (RI)
Regeneration -> %Missing health regen
Lifesteal (LS) -> %Damage returned
Deflection -> Deflection chance
Movement -> Runspeed (when not mounted)
Tenacity -> additional damage, crit and control resist (PvP only)
Max Hit Points
A plot of how the stats modifiers scale is shown here
Original formulae, plots and discussion here: http://nw-forum.perf...hr...ir-effects
3.2 Diminishing Returns
As you can see, most stats have a diminishing return (DR) where investing higher and higher amounts of investment gives lesser and lesser return (ie less bang for buck). Most of your stats in the game (except power) follow a exponential curve, which means your return on point investment (RoI) gives lesser and lesser return at high levels. In Neverwinter these DRs are ever present but hit really hard on most stats beyond 2.8-3.4k. Case in point- look at recovery. Recovery is a good stat because it shortens spell cooldowns. It would be good to get a lot of recovery so we can chain cast spells right? Here’s a scenario without looking at charisma and extra bonus (your actual recharge will be significantly higher):
At 1k recovery you get 8.5% recovery
At 2k recovery you get 16.8%
At 3k you get 22.2%
At 4k you get 25.6%
At 8k you get 31.5%
As you can see, when you get above 3k recovery you’re getting a very lackluster recharge speed bonus so those extra stats are ‘wasted’ and would serve you better being somewhere else. See section 2.2.2 above for further details. Even if you're not a power gamer who's into min maxing it's still no good to stack too high on anything that isn't Power or HP. Power and Hit points do not suffer from diminishing returns (DR).
Therefore the best allocation of stats is not to stack one or two highly, but to stack enough to get to a certain threshold then spread them around. When you evaluate gear therefore you should prioritise stats that you actually need over stats you have an overabundance of or never need and not even consider those points at all. Once you get over the gearscore trap you’ll understand why the more experienced player sometimes wear blue rings/belt instead of purples, and why one ancient ring may be worth 10x more than the next because they’re offer particular stats combinations they need rather than one useful stat and 2 rubbish ones for example.
Note: You may hear some people saying there are soft and hard caps on stats, eg 3.2k softcap on recovery and crit. It’s not technically a correct term, it is arbitrary as it just means a more severe diminishing return so I will not use those terms. The only true caps to stats in the game are defense, which caps at 80% damage mitigated (you get 24% from astral shield); and armor penetration, where bosses have 24% damage reduction so you don’t need >24% (in PvE only. In PvP ArPen has no hard cap as GFs, GWFs and DCs can stack very high damage resistance). Lifesteal and regen have very high DRs past 2k so you can never stack it highly (up to about 12-14%). Recharge speed and regeneration have ADDITIONAL diminishing return on their percentages (won’t elaborate for recharge speed, but for regen you can ever only gain up to half of the MISSING health displayed in tooltip).
Since beta various players have decided through various ways what they perceive to be 'soft caps' for these stats. Some of these methods have merit, a lot are simply arbitrary or one dimensional. These numbers have then been bounced around forums, classes and builds. I would say a lot of those numbers are not numerically optimised, and most players often pick a number or percentage and just stick with it. I will attempt in this guide (and in my related work) to show mathematically, from an empirical perspective why and how much you should stack specific stats with explanations, so that you as a smart player can make the appropriate decisions and trade offs based on facts rather than emotions and opinion.
Crit is the 3rd harshest diminishing return stat, followed by deflect. ArP has low gain below 800 points then very good almost linear gain up to about 2200 and starts experiencing DR. For PvE you generally won't need more than 2540 ArP for any class, and less if you class gives resistance ignored from ability scores (DEX for GF, CON for GWF, STR for HR). Recovery has moderate diminishing returns as does defense which has the highest ceiling. Power is not included on the graph and from module 3 every 500 power is a 3% increase in damage/healing (not a percentage increase, but increase compared to if you had zero power).
Weapon damage is the single most important attribute in determining your healing/skill potential and in most cases more important than the other stats of the weapon. If you want to know how weapon damage and power influence ability damage, see section 4.2.
The other aspect to note for DCs compared to other classes when sorting stats is the feat Linked Spirit. If you have Linked Spirit feated when using certain encounters you can proc Linked Spirit to your party (or those around you) which is an increase of 5-25% to all your stats as well as a very substantial boost to party DPS and survivability. This is particularly useful for lower GS 60’s as you and the party are not hitting DR yet and get lots of mileage out of this feat. In combat uptime is limited currently depending on what you use to proc it. It is currently bugged, but If fixed to work with Astral Shield you can expect at least 50% uptime for that stat bonus. This also means that you don’t need to waste stat points going up to diminishing returns and it’s better to spread them around so everything gets boosted. Linked Spirit boosts recipient stats by a % of their own stats (your stats don't matter), so if you don't have deflection for example and linked with someone else who does you won't gain deflection but they will. Linked Spirit works with your non-augment companion and ally NPCs if they are in range.
You’ve got to think like this- once your gearscore (GS) is above 12k how much beyond doesn’t really matter. You need to have the stats in the places you need, not the places where it just looks good. If you have an augment pet (Cat/Ioun stone of Allure, and you should get one) this is doubly more important, as they bump up your stats but don’t contribute to GS. If you want to min/max, you want every single gearscore doing something for your build, and preferably not hitting the diminishing return caps so they are wasted.
3.3 How to build your stats:
Stats when levelling:
When levelling prioritise stats which give defense, recovery, crit, power, hit points, regen, in roughly that order. Deflect is absolutely useless as is movement speed and you won't do enough damage to make use of lifeseteal so don't bother upgrading to equipment with those stats. ArP's usefulness depends on which abilities you use. For levelling I advise using Sunburst, Daunting light and Chains (lv 20) or Divine Glow (lv 45) and ArP does help a bit with most of those skills. Try to use 2-3 offensive skills when solo levelling. Healing word, sunburst and Daunting light will do nicely with Sacred Flame and BoTS/BoB. Don't use too many defensive encounters or you won't kill anything.
Stats at lv 60
(Update May 2014) With further theorycrafting, statistics and tests I am going to recommend something quite different. Your core stats are still Power, Crit, Recovery, Defense, HP, regen but the recommended amounts are going to change. If you like what you already have that's fine, I'm just slowly rebalancing stats in light of changes to Power, gear availability and the increased difficulty of Module 3 content.
You firstly need to work out how squishy/defensive you are comfortable being. For me due to high ping and the fact that I run endgame content with high risk high rewards parties and end up pulling aggro I prioritise defensive stats. If you have no issues getting out of red or taking hits you can shift more towards offensive stats.
Regardless, get defense to 2k, then build HP to at least 22-24k (the more tanky you want to be, the more you want to stack). Get recovery to at least 2.5k (look at your cooldown timers in combat, you want about 15s cooldown for Astral shield and not much less than that), crit to 1.2k if you are NOT using a vorpal and up to 3k if you are, then decide how much regen and ArP you want (0 or 1350) and dump rest into power.
We need to balance our offensive stats between Power, Crit, Recovery and Armor Penetration. Personal recommendation is get to 2.6k recovery first (depends on your CHA/INT), then 1.2k Armor Penetration (for solo/ PvP, you can have different gear for party play), then if not using vorpal and your crit is above 1200 or so stack power. If you are using vorpal stack to about 2900 and dump rest in power. Serious DPS DCs should consider boosting ArP to 1800-2000.
Power has no theoretical diminishing return and has linear gains. From module 3, power provides a fixed coefficient increase to your damage/healing output.
The formula for almost all abilities in NW is given as
Damage = C1*(1+(WIS-10)/100)*((1+WD*.00846)*(0.9+rank/10)*(1+Power*0.00006))
thanks to Abaddon523 for working out most of these. See his thread here
Where C1 is a constant unique to each skill/ability, WIS is the stat that gives you 1% bonus damage per point over 10, (other classes uses have different stats eg INT for CWs). WD is weapon damage, and rank is how many points (1-3) invested in the skill/ability.
You can see power adds a percentage based damage proportional to 0.00006. It is a decent boost, and you should use power as a dump stat when returns from other stats including recovery and crit fall below power in diminishing returns. Bumping power is almost always the right choice once you have at least 2k crit and recovery. If you can afford it (after crit/recovery are set), get 4-5k power, however I don't feel you necessarily need to stack it to 7-8k unless your defensive stats and survivability are solidly capped. Most DPSers dump points in power, but as DCs usually play a supportive role I bump HP concurrently with power.
I must also mention- depending on the focus of your skills and playstyle power may not necessarily be that important. For buffing/debuffing, Astral shield mitigation, divine glow damage boost, exaltation clutching, Hallowed ground buffs and Linked Spirit procs are fixed and buff values are independent of power. At the high level endgame (15k+ GS parties) your outgoing healing amount is insignificant, and your DPS amount is also insignificant compared to what your major DPSers can do. You are there for mitigation, in combat healing, righteousness boosts, buffs and clutches. In that case power does nothing for you except extra healing when needed and slightly more DPS output. For such a build, recovery may become the dump stat, so you can buff more often and build AP faster, depending on how you decide what is worth stacking above diminishing returns.
In summary, for healing, power is great, because player HP is finite and linear gains are useful. For DPS, power is good, but only after everything else is at the right cutoffs. My recommendation for your offensive stat is get crit to 33-35%, ArP to 1200 or 12% resistance ignored, recovery to ~35% recharge speed increase and then dump all in power.
For those interested in exactly how much return you gain from power and crit check out my Power vs Crit guide.
Recovery: Depending on your CHA/INT ability score (see section 2 above), you want at least 33% recharge speed. Traditionally this was to get Astral Shield down to 15s cooldown. Post AS nerf some recovery is still worthwhile to minimise AS downtime as well as generate AP. Often I don’t wish my heals to heal for more, I just want them to go off cooldown faster. Typically stacking this to 2600 to 3000 is enough as you hit DR. Recovery is abundant on your T1 and T2 set. Having high recovery also allows higher Action Point (AP) gain for your daily to be up more often. In endgame dungeons, you want to be casting dailies a lot and you need high recovery for this. When you transition from 12-14k GS you will probably find your recovery going up quite high. Many DCs overstack recovery sometimes to 4k and beyond- this is a personal choice based on how often you want your encounters to come off cooldown.
You can determine how much recover you need by checking this graph based on your INT and CHA. Because of rising hope you can generally subtract ~500 off the value listed.
Critical strike: (Update May 2014) Crits are good for DCs as spells and heals can crit for better burst healing/damage. You want a high base crit % via STR and feats. However you don't necessarily need to stack a lot of crit on your character. How much you need depends on if you are using a vorpal. If you're not using a vorpal (nothing wrong with that btw, vorpal is not the only BiS enchant) about 1200 is enough (you probably get more from gear anyway) and you should instead build power to be more effective. With a perfect vorpal, crit is competitive with power up to about 2900 then power wins in terms of return on investment. In addition to large numbers crit can provide heals from Repurpose Soul as well as divine power from Righteous Rage of Tempest feats. In the past Deistik and Unspecified recommend a high crit build and taking 3k+ crit which worked very well for early content. With module 3 changes power outperforms crit quite significantly and hence we are starting to depart from the high crit build. I feel that for most of us we may be rolling with too much crit for our needs and power may be a better investment. Basically roll with whatever crit you have on your gear and that's usually more than enough. Then don't bother investing in additional crit via enchants etc until your power reaches 4-5k then you can bump it back up. A more thorough dissertation on crit vs power is shown in my other guide 'Crit, Power and DPS- the numbers guide'. Sometimes we can't help overstacking crit- it's abundant on a lot of gear. Extra crit isn't bad, you still get an average DPS boost whatever crit you have, all I am saying if there is a way to shuffle those points to power you will see a net gain in DPS.
What if you do want more crit? As your GS increases I see a lot of DCs stacking crit to 4k+. This isn't effective, the RoI is too low (see link above in Power vs Crit). If your STR isn't maxed what you should do is shuffle points from CHA back into STR and stack recovery (it's cheaper and has better RSI as shown in graph below. Basically look at your current crit and recovery, if you want to build more crit and still have a point or 2 in CHA just shuffle slowly back to STR. However I feel for current content you still need 16 CHA minimum to be effective. Always compare what you can gain with power/recovery instead of building crit. Not always worth it.
Armor Penetration (ArP): Armor pen is hard to stack early on, so ignore it until you almost get all BiS (T2) equipment and Ioun Stone. DPS wise, you get the most return per point investment for ArP compared to any other stat (until you hit caps). At the state of the game most archer mobs have around 12% mitigation, trash around 14-16%, and brutes and bosses have 22 to 24% mitigation. Without armor penetration all your attacks will be reduced by their mitigation %. Fortunately, as we’re rarely on boss duty full time we don’t need 24% armor pen as we're only attacking bosses to place debuffs and gain divinity. IMO getting 12-14% is the sweet spot so you are at least dealing full damage to trash and minions. Note that armor pen has very limited return below 800 points then almost linear gain to 20%.
For DC ArP is somewhat of a funny stat. In solo dailys you want high ArP, close to 20% RI%, but in parties/dungeons you don't need as much if you're not playing a damaging role. Best thing to do is just swap rings and necklaces on your Ioun stone for ArP (piercing smiting blue gear and rank 6 darks give plenty) and switch back for dungeons. ArP is great for helping speed up clearing of easier content, skirmishes and especially daily quests in zones like IWD. You will notice a significant damage boost from 10-20% ArP.
As for PvP, whether you want ArP or not depends on what you see your role as- if you want to tank and heal, no. If you want to be more offensive, yes. How much? You be the judge, but I'd say 1.2k minimum. And at that point, you then need to check whether your loadout actually will make use of that ArP. if you're using Chains/BtS/FF/BoTS then forget it, they don't count ArP in damage calculations.
In summary: 7-12K GS: Ignore ArP and only take it if it's already in your gear. 12k+ GS you may stack up to 12-16% mitigation to help clear trash faster and no more than that. If you can't be bothered with dark enchants, skip ArP entirely and get 7k+ power instead.
Note also your ArP also determines how much your attacks benefit from extra debuffs placed on enemies (Includes High Prophet, High Vizier, Plaguefire, Terror, Elemental Empowerment). Not too important for DCs as we're not damage oriented but very important for DPS classes. More information on how ArP works in calculating damage in section 6.3 .
Building defensive stats is really important for DCs because we need to survive to keep protecting the party. DC gear have moderate defense just behind GFs and defensive GWFs. Usually we can get 1-2k defense fairly easily, plus decent Armor class. More importantly, because we have Foresight and Astral shield our actual damage resistance is fairly high and can be at 40% or above fairly easy with a moderate defense stat. Thus to make the most out of that buffer, building high max HP is actually one of the best ways to build tankiness.
With some analysis with defensive stats I'm fairly convinced deflection is ineffective unless defense is above 2.5k. However, building defense above 2.4k is less effective for most DCs than stacking Hit Points (up to 45k). I don't want to put 15 graphs here to proof but all I can say is for DCs get to 2k defense and just build HP HP HP. If you are defensively oriented (which is by the way, not totally necessary for PvE) try to get at least 25k, preferably 30k HP before raising defense to 2.4k. Then you can boost deflect up to 1.2k and go back alternating between HP and defense for most optimal tanky combinations.
That said, there's also regen and lifesteal which are useful for getting health back and reducing potion dependence between pulls. Regen gains a portion of health back every 3 seconds which is synergistic with a large HP pool while Lifesteal returns health back from attacking and both can supplement healing, and their relative importance really depends on your personal preferences and offensive capabilties.
Armor Class (AC): This comes on your gear and Anointed Armor feat. Each point in AC is equivalent to 0.5% damage resistance, no diminishing returns and additive with damage resistance from defense. Don't really need to go looking for it. Damage resistance is hard capped at 80% from AC and defense (and presumably tenacity) combined.
Defense: A key cleric stat as you generally want to be the last party member to go down. You want 2K defense as soon as possible, then build hit points (based on your playstyle and how squishy you’re comfortable being). Even if you are specced for DPS you still want 1-1.5k Def or you will go down very quickly due to aggro. Defense is not worth stacking beyond 2.3k in PvE, as boosting HP would be more effective, and you will spend a lot of time in Astral Shield, which gives 24% damage reduction. Generally compared to healers in other MMOs, DCs are not a squishy class at lv 60 and you should not be afraid of off tanking or managing adds while your DPS works on them. Quite often you will be in a party with 1TR and 3 CW/HRs and you should be initiating, pulling and tanking particularly because you control where the battle takes place via Astral shield location.
I do not advocate at all a backline healer approach in NW, it is ineffective, divides party aggro, makes it very hard to target party members with heals, and your best skills, feats and buffs get the best mileage only when allies and enemies are in close proximity. Practice getting comfortable with face tanking, knowing which red you can stand and when to dodge, and you'll find your heals and defense are more than capable of keeping you and the party safe.
Apart from +defense gear, your survivability increases massively by slotting the Foresight passive, using Hallowed Ground and/or Divine Armor dailies, picking Toughness/Holy Resolve feats and eventually slotting a soulforged enchant. You can slot azure enchantments in defense slots to boost defense. The way I play I actually run in and facetank a lot of trash mobs/elites in melee range to grant TRs combat advantage and so I can boost them with Linked Spirit and take some of the damage due to my high defense.
For PvP builds most builds will have high defense anyway from the Exemplar’s blue armor items and stack for tenacity (get at least 1k) and regen/deflection instead.
Hit points (HP): A large HP pool is very important for survivability. The higher your HP, the more return from regen or Holy Resolve/Miracle Healers/Divine Armor/Hallowed Ground because those heals are based on %HP. No diminishing returns here. Stack as much as you like (you get a bonus with CON), but usually in competition with defense so it’s a balancing act. Usually once you get around 2k defense you should put the rest into HP. Keep in mind it’s spike damage that kills you in this game, so having a higher HP pool gives you more buffer and the difference between life and death when it comes to Dracolich type bosses. I feel for PvE endgame content you'd want at least 23-26k and ideally more. Running 30k+ HP allows your to soak up a lot of punishment in PvE and personally I'd say it's better than deflect. It also helps in PvP and you might go even higher, as more HP gives a lot more staying power and helps survive 1-shot burst damage as most DPS classes have enough ArP to mitigate a significant amount of defense. Having a large HP pool makes your attacker think you're tankier than you are (they look at size of your health bar, not often at damage numbers) and might switch targets if they find they hardly put a dent in you. For mid-high gearscore builds HP is the most effective stat to stack on your gear for defensive purposes beyond ~2k defense.
Deflection: Base deflect from DEX and Anointed Armor is great. However I don't think it's really worth pursuing further via stats. Deflection is more useful for PvP than PvE because it’s not negated by armor penetration, however scales horribly at low values and hard to stack from set gear. Note that with deflection you take half damage, doesn’t mean you are immune to damage. My take on deflect is skip for PvE, and you can consider it for PvP after you have sufficient HP, Defense and Tenacity. I personally do not put points in it and just keep some deflect jewelry to swap in where survivability is warranted. I know deflect is a staple of tanky cleric PvE and PvP builds and many other put some points in deflect and like it. However from my math it just doesn't seem to work out well. I am not an active PvPer though, so take that advice with a grain of salt.
The key reason for stacking deflection in PvP is the burst damage mitigation. More deflect means you can hopefully survive some heavy hits and heal back rather than be a splat. For those worried about defense negated by ArP, the return on investment (RoI) for ArP is worse than that of defense. Value for value ArP will never fully penetrate your defense and if they are not HRs/TRs, stacking 4k ArP comes with a high opportunity cost. Deflection currently when either you capped DR (due to being in Hallowed ground/ AShield) or only useful for a lucky deflect vs TR's shocking execution and GF's Supremency of Steel which are bugged and bypass damage reduction in PvP. My personal take is stack HP if you mainly PvE and dabble in PvP, where as if you tend to mainly PvP then you need all of them (HP, def, deflect). However, I would never seek to build deflect when I can get HP instead.
For comparison, here's a plot of the effective damage resistance gained from stacking deflect vs stacking defense per 100 point additional stat investment. The RoI (return on investment) for defense drops to 0.4% at 2.9k, so you can stack up defense before bothering with deflect. You can see the return from deflection peaks early at around 400 and drops off at around 1200. Defense drops off to less than 0.47 at around 2500 defense and to less than 0.4 at 2900. What this means is for most efficient effective DR gain you should not bother investing in deflect until your defense is above 2500. Then you can put up to 1200 in deflect and get similar gains than defense for overall survival. Once you are at 2900 defense and 1200 deflect the gains are equal in either stat and you should alternate putting points in one then the other. (eg invest 100 defense and then 100 deflect). However don't bother raising deflect past 2200 unless your defense is well past 4.6k. All that said, that was a defense vs deflect comparison. The real kicker is at those values actually investing in HP is vastly better improvement numerically than both. For a typical foresight using DC you don't need to think about bumping defense past 2k till you have 33k HP.
Left: Figure comparing bains in effective DR from defense (blue) and deflect (green) vs mitigation via ArP (red).
Right: figure comparing RoI in deflect (blue) vs defense (purple).
Regeneration: Regen actually only heals you for up to half of the tooltip percentage per tick (every 3 seconds). Subject to healing depression in PvP. Regen was popular in many old DC builds, then ditched largely because it's not needed, and now making a resurgence from regen artifacts and equipment. The free constant heals are very useful, but in my opinion it’s not as crucial as open beta days because you don’t have as much aggro anymore. In most cases its burst damage in the game that kills you, not stuff chipping away over time which you can heal away. Has hard caps (cannot heal for more than half of the tooltip) and very high diminishing returns beyond about 1.3k. So you should stack HP after that to maximise Regen's gains. Regen is good for solo, foundries, PvP or Gauntlgrym PvE where you want to slot more offensive abilities rather than heals and have health restored between pulls. Also work with tanky builds for survivability in sustained fights where you kite to buy time. There are blue rings and Icons that give 110 regen each and are a lot more affordable than the purples. While regen is not at all necessary for T1 and T2 content, I feel for VT, CN and MC last bosses the constant damage over time needs to be countered by regen due to righteousness self heal nerf. For PvP it is very useful for staying power and a key reason most DCs stack Exemplar's gear of youth. With higher incoming damage from daily quests in module 3 regen can really help supplement your healing between fights and lessen potion use.
Again, a lot of people like to stack a lot of regen, but the higher your HP pool the more regen you get anyway. I believe once you get ~1.3k you should just focus into building HP because every single one of your defensive stats (defense, deflect, regen) get stronger with more HP.
With module 2 it is much easier to stack regen thanks to artifacts and pets, and you should be able to get 1k regen if you wish. Can help top you up that little bit between pulls. I just swap my regen and defensive rings/belt in heavy boss fights or PvP to increase survivability rather than DPS. Regen is an important defensive mechanic in PvP and you need it for kiting.
How to build regen without hindering your other gear: Seal of Executioner (+487 (grandfathered) /384 regen, see jewelry vendor in PE market and click on 'all classes' tab) on stone/cat + Thickgristle or new Mod 3 belt (+144/188 regen) +Dread ring boon (250 regen) + PvP Raven artifact (+183 regen at purple/300 regen at orange) + Waters Artifact (+166 regen at purple/400 at orange) + purple Cleric companion (+300 regen) =1922 regen or ~6% of missing health restored per tick. Whether it's worth it or not is up to you
Movement: Movespeed is nice, but you won’t notice a few % much, just slot darks in utility slots as you have the AD. It does make a bit of a difference in kite heavy fights like Frozen Heart. I'm poor and went for fey blessing instead to get more enchants. Completely optional, and easier to manage now that you can swap enchants in and out as you wish. Personally I don't put anything in movement and never really needed it except the rare occasion I'm chasing to kill somebody in PvP (right?). Also this only applies when unmounted. If you are on your mount this is overridden by your mount speed.
Lifesteal (LS): I have reconsidered the uselessness of lifesteal. In module 2 and 3 you feel the bane of righteousness more than ever and for the endgame bosses your self heals are barely able to sustain yourself in addition to pots. Still not worth going out of the way to get it, especially because when you're running for your life there's little time to attack something, but from combat log parses LS can account for up to 10% of my incoming heals even at 2-3% damage returned. Much better for DPS characters. However in solo situations such as daily quests in Mod 2 and 3 having lifesteal helps you slot 3 DPS encounters to kill faster (or use Miracle Healer's set). The Dread legion set is pretty good for this. Healing from LS is subject from healing depression.
Further lifesteal's effectiveness is hampered because a lot of our abilities don't benefit from ArP. This means we have reduced output, which means reduced return from LS. Buffs is a way to get around it, but still for most cases compared to DPS classes our outgoing DPS isn't sufficient to keep ourselves up even as a DPS DC via LS alone without help from regen/Miracle healer set/ healing.
Tenacity: Tenacity was introduced in Mar 2014 as a PvP only stat and only becomes active in PvP arenas or flagged for PvP. For PvE only players you can ignore it. Regardless of tenacity players will receive an inherent 10% damage resistance, crit resistance and control resistance (TeR %). TeR reduction is multiplicative- damage will be multiplied by (1-TeR %). Incoming damage from crit hits are reduced (1-TeR %)^2. Control resistance reduce the % of control duration and stacks with resist from WIS/artifacts. I don't have many data points, but tenacity appears to be roughly linear (100 points = 1% resist) for the first 1000 points then faces rather sharp diminishing returns between 1000 and 2000. You will be quite significantly beefier with 1k tenacity or so. Tenacity is currently not increased with Linked Spirit or similar stat boosting feats like prestigitation.
My equation for tenacity is
Equation 1.1 TeR vs Tenacity
TeR (%) f(t) = -3.69736E-6(t^2)+ 0.0139(t) +10
Where t is Tenacity. 0<t <1900. Beyond 1900 this graph is not accurate because of a lack of data. Now this is different from most of the stat formulae used which is in the form of f(x) = ax^b/(c+x^b )+d but without very high tenacity value the x square model fits the data much better.
As part of campaign progress in Module 1 Fury of the Feywild, Module 2 Shadowmantle and Module 3 Curse of Icewind Dale you can unlock up to 5 boons on your character. These boons can be powerful and should be considered in your build when min/maxing in combination with gear for the overall best bonuses.
There's also a PvP Campaign where after completing a number of objectives boons will unlock.
Boons can be changed when you respec feats and costs only about 78000 AD (don't need respec token).
Feywild Boons (Module 1)
First boon- Dark Fey Warder +250 defense vs Dark Fey Hunter +250 power
I recommend defense. For convenience point of view power is probably more logical because you are probably at 2.2-2.5k defense, so you don’t need more and prefer dumping into power. However, from a min/max point of view, defense is harder to stack compared to power (5 defensive slots compared to 7 offensive slots). Taking 250 def means you have more gear flexibility to build other stats. If I take the 250 defense that means I can slot a radiant in a defense slot instead of azure for 880 more HP. Alternatively I can swap one of the Rings of Undeath for a ring with offensive slot and slot for more arpen/recovery/crit.
Second boon- Fey Elusiveness +250 deflect vs Fey Precision +250 crit
Either one can work. If you are already stacking deflect from neck/rings/belt it’s worth taking deflect to make you even tankier. If you don’t stack deflect then more crit always helps.
Third boon- Feywild Fortitude +700 HP vs Elven Haste +2% AP gain.
Can’t really go wrong either way. At 3.2k recovery you need about 250 extra recovery to get 2% AP. For HP a rank 7 radiant gives 740 HP while you need a rank 9 silvery for 250 recovery. If you’re not stacking exclusively for HP 2% AP is the way to go because it’s more bang for buck. 2% AP is multiplicative with your AP gain. Taking this also means you can drop some CHA back to WIS.
Fourth boon- Elven Tranquility when struck you have chance to heal self for 400 HP (actually more like 600-700 post module 3) vs Elven Ferocity when striking a foe you have a chance to deal 400 Arcane damage. I’ve tested and it’s 1 proc per minute, so useless either way, even more so as the damage is mitigated by enemy armor and doesn't work with ArP.
Elven Resolve- Stamina/ guard meter regens 10% faster in combat
Fey Thistle- When you deflect you deal 400 damage to your attacker
Elvish Fury- When you kill a foe you gain 20 power for 45 seconds, stack up to 30 times
Redcap Brew- potions heal you for 10% more
I heavily recommend Elven Resolve. 10% more dodge in combat is very helpful because it gives you brief immunity- very helpful in seas of red and you almost have 3 dodges in a short space of time. Survivability trumps all as a dead cleric is probably a party wipe.
Dread Ring Boons (Module 2)
First boon- Reliquary Keeper’s Strength (125 power, 125 Movement) vs Conjurer’s Gambit (125 Crit, 125 Movement)
Depends on your gear- I’d recommend power if you already have close to 35% crit chance or more.
Second Boon- Evoker’s Thirst (250 Lifesteal) vs Illusory Regeneration (250 Regeneration)
Take Regen unless you’re heavily specced for DPS and stacking lifesteal.
Third Boon- Illusion Shimmer (3% Deflect Severity) vs Forbidden Piercing (250 Armor Penetration)
Deflect boon is currently broken and gives around 0.5% severity instead of 3%, go ArP no question even if you're deflect build until they fix it (if ever).
Fourth Boon- Enraged Regrowth (when taking damage chance for 1000 HoT, then +250 defense for 10s) vs Shadowtouch (when dealing damage for 1000 Necrotic DoT, then target lose 10% heal effectiveness for 10s)
Both have about 75s internal cooldown and very minimal overall. Take Shadowtouch, especially if you PvP so others can feel the pain of healing depression.
Augmented Thayan Bastion- when taking damage you have a chance to generate shield that absorbs 500 incoming damage and redirects it to nearby foe for 6s.
Thayan Bastion doesn't stack with ArP. Internal cooldown seems to be 1 minute although others have mentioned multiple successive procs. Not recommended.
Rampaging Madness – when you deal damage you gain a stack of ‘madness’, at 50 stacks you gain 600 power, 300 lifesteal and 300 regen for 10s and stacks reset. Tootip says you may only gain one stack per second. In actual fact you get a stack every time you do damage and thus can get more than a stack per second. Sunburst and similar multitarget skills can give you multiple ticks. If you are using DoTs such as BoTS or a Plaguefire on multiple enemies you get a stack per tick and can build it very quickly. Rampaging madness is a great feat and procs fairly often and is useful for all builds in PvE and PvP.
Endless Consumption -(chance for 3x Lifesteal effectiveness) No internal cooldown but limited benefit to DCs due to our lesser DPS uptime and low DPS output. Ok if you're DPS DC.
Burning Guidance (Healing has chance for 120 radiant damage to mobs). This is a party feat as it only works when you heal someone else. Procs off every tick of Astral Shield, can proc off Astral Seal and even health regen/Lifesteal as a small AoE. Doesn't work with ArP, spams your screen with flying text but arguable the best of the lot if you're into DPS. No, Burning guidance ticks do not place any debuff stacks like High Prophet or Plague fire on opponents. You do become an aggro magnet and will get targeted a lot when the party do big pulls which may or may not work out well for you. From combat logs Burning Guidance does about 10-15% of my damage in T2 dungeons using support loadout (AS/SB/DG) with a standard party and up to 31% in high performing ones. Difference being that in a high performing party you pull more and kill faster, so less time spamming at wills/encounters while Burning Guidance's AoE hit them all.
Overall my ranking is Burning Guidance (if you're tanky and want to be aggro magnet) = Rampaging Madness (suits everyone) > Endless Consumption > Augmented Thayan Bastion
Icewind Dale Boons (Module 3)
First boon- Weathering the Strom +250 AoE resist vs Encroaching Tactics +250 Combat Advantage
I recommend AoE resist for PvE/PvP. Limited combat advantage opportunities as DC class even if you play like a melee.
Second boon- Appreciation of Warmth +250 Incoming Healing vs Refreshing Chill +250 Stamina/Guard gain
Both are useful, pick what you feel you need more. Incoming healing makes your own healing from artifacts, abilities, regen and lifesteal more effective (doesn't work for fixed ones like Repurpose soul/ Moontouched etc) while stamina gain allows more dodges. Also the stats have high diminishing return if you already have some so compare wisely.
Third boon- Rapid Thaw 250 Recovery vs Sleet Skills 2% crit severity
Again, both useful depending on what you need. Most DCs already have very comfortable recovery so take crit severity because it's a lot harder to stack. However 2% crit severity isn't that big a deal.
Fourth boon- Cold Shoulder when damaged by a foe chance to proc cold shoulder which reduces their next attack by 200 vs Cool Resolve gain up to 500 power based on how much stamina/guard you are missing.
Both seem very situational and depend on proc rate. Cool resolve seems to be a better deal but honestly when you're dodging you care about survival and running away rather than stand and dish it out with your extra power so kinda a dubious feat. It's like a temporary 2% DPS/heal buff that quickly decays and if you have healing step you'll rarely get any use out of it.
Avalanche -chance to get a stack of Avalanche when damaged by a foe. At 20 stacks, upon taking damage the stack is cleared and deals 200 damage to nearby targets. I think this is really weak/underpowered. Not only do you only get a chance to proc, the damage is really low.
Rousing Warmth -chance when Healed to gain 500 damage on next attack. Usefulness depends on proc rate and how it works with healing
Winter’s Bounty -chance to gain 10% bonus AP when killing a target. Internal cooldown seems to be about 1 per minute. Seeing as you should be able to at least get a kill per minute this is quite worthwhile. You do get a whole actual 10% AP to your meter.
Shared Survival -Drinking Potions has a chance to heal nearby allies of 10% of that potion’s value. I don't think parties drink potions enough for this to give a decent return.
At this stage I rank them as Winter's bounty > Rousing Warmth > Shared Survival > Avalanche but could change in light of new info.
Tyranny of Dragons Boons (Module 4 Campaign)
First boon- Dragonheart +800 HP vs Dragon's Claws +200 Power
Wow, a boon that offer good choices! Go with what you need depending on build, both are solid. I suspect the HP boon might benefit from CON bonus but I could be wrong.
Second boon- Dragon's Shadow +200 Deflect vs Dragon's Gaze +200 Crit Strike
PvPers go deflect and PvEers go Crit, or whatever you feel you need.
Third boon- Dragonscale Defense 200 Defense vs Draconic Armorbreaker +200 ArP
Again, both useful depending on what you need.
Fourth boon- Dragon's Greed +200 Lifesteal vs Dragon's Blood +200 Regen
Dragon's Thirst -gain 3% increased lifesteal. To be tested, but it can either raise your lifesteal stat by 3% (useless) or increases the potency of incoming lifesteal heals by 3% (better, but not great for DCs)
Dragon's Revival -grants 10% increased incoming healing. Excellent for everybody but especially DCs, to make up for weaker self heals. Good even for DPSers
Dragon's Fury -+5% crit severity. Not that great but if you want that tiny extra bit of healing/DPS then that's the one for you
Dragon's Grip +10% control strength. Not for DCs...our control consists of chains, Hammer and break the spirit all of which have weaksauce control.
Overall the module 4 boons are straightforward and offer more flexibility to rounding your build. They give less stats (200 vs 250) compared to previous mods but at least offer something to everyone.
Unlocked by completing PvP objectives, these boons only active during PvP when you and allies are flagged. Doesn't work on non flagged allies even if you're flagged. Most of the ally buffs have a 10 feet range (ie radius of Astral Shield).
Supply Line- Gain 250 movement, allies within 10 feet gain half this bonus
Living Wall- Gain 125 deflect and defense
Legion's Valor- Gain 125 Power and crit
All are really weak, go with what you need.
Combat Triage- About 100 per second for 6 ticks healing to all allies. No internal cooldown but only one stack active at a time. Basically if allies are taking damage and within range (10 feet) this buff will continue to be active. Decreased by 50% with healing depression. Does not heal self. Stacks with Righteousness.
Inspiring Defense- Gain 0-10% additional DR as your health decreases. It is proportionally and additive to your base DR eg at full health 0% bonus, 75% health a 2.5% bonus and 25% health a 7.5% DR bonus.
Vanguard's Resolve- Players who strike you grant 100 power for 8s, Each foe only gives 100, max 500 from 5 targets.
I recommend Combat Triage and Inspiring Defense. Both require very close range and works out to be fairly minor but better than nothing. I think combat triage can proc cleanse so that's an extra incentive. The damage reduction from inspiring defense is arguably greater than from the healing but only works with a squishy team.
Versatile Warrior- Gain 150 power and recovery when an ally or enemy is within 20 feet (astral shield diameter)
Tactical Redeployment- gain 25% movement when there are no allies or enemies near you and you don't have healing depression. Doesn't stack when mounted
Unbroken line- gain 85 defense per teammate with 20 feet, max of 5 players.
Wicked Assault- gain 85 lifesteal per teammate with 20 feet, max of 5 players.
Again all fairly weak effects, you probably would have enough defense and lifesteal for it to hit harsh diminishing returns and chances are you only fight with 1 or 2 other ally most of the time. Versatile warrior is arguably more useful because always active and offer stats that you need in PvP.