One of the more unique souls in the game is the Bard. It’s a support soul that offers buffs and healing to the group they are through the power of music. There is an ingrained nostalgia with many player with the bard that goes all the way back to Everquest over a decade ago. The class was continued in Vanguard and with the Minstrel in LOTRO. Bards are typically one of those jack-of-all-trades type of classes, usually with a unique subset of skills that can turn the tide of the battle in any group. Regardless of their power they are usually incredibly fun to play and carry their own unique way of doing things.
Unfortunately this is not the case in RIFT. The Bard in RIFT is an uninspired and boring soul to play that offers no special gameplay mechanics nor do they provide any satisfying game feedback that allows the player to feel either special or that they are accomplishing anything. Let is also be known that the purpose of this article is based strictly on PVE-gameplay elements, though many points transition into PVP-gameplay. Also, we are not saying that the buffs Bards bring are insignificant, we are trying to point out the way they are brought to the group is lame.
The Toolbox of the Bard
Before we get into the reasons of why the Bard is uninspired and incredibly dull, let’s describe what the role of the Bard is in RIFT. It is flagged as a Support class rather than a Healer or Melee/Ranged DPS. Support classes in RIFT are designated so due to the buffing and debuffing they offer, and that is exactly what Bards do through Motifs, Fanfares and Anthems. Motifs are 15 second duraction buffs that can be made to last 30 seconds with talents and there are five in all. Fanfares are 60 minute buffs where a player may only be the recipient of only one. Finally Anthems are auras surrounding the Bard with a specific radius, though usually it is large enough to encompass the whole group or raid.
Bards also provide two debuffs; the first increases physical damage on a target, the second is non-physical damage. Both have a 30 second duration that can be improved to 60 seconds. These two debuffs are Codas, where the amount of combo points on a target effects their duration.
Codas are another thing that Bards have. Codas are their finishers. Like all other Rogues, Bards operate on combo points. Almost all Rogue abilities create combo points to a max of five. Depending on how many combo points are on a target, a Bard’s Coda has a different potency. The three other Codas are Restoration, Fury and Wrath; Wrath being the only other Coda that is provide without needing a talent point. Restoration is an AOE heal, up to five targets, and Fury is a AOE damaging attack and Wrath is a single target damage ability.
There are two main combo builders in the Bard toolbox and those are Cadence and Power Cord. Cadence is a two second channeled ability that creates three combo points over it’s duration and Power Cord (which is an ability gained via talents) that has a three second cooldown that does damage and generates two combo points. Cadence is the bread and butter of the Bard soul though since you can sink three talent points so that it has a 100% chance to heal up to 5 five party or raid members for the damage done.
If you place enough points into the Bard Soul you’ll also have another ability type called Verses. The two primary Verses that you’ll find yourself using is Verse of Joy and Verse of Vitality. Verse of Joy, on a 2 minute cooldown, returns energy, power, charge and mana to all raid and party members. Verse of Vitality is an AOE heal for the whole party and raid on a one minute cooldown. There is a third Verse, which is gained via talents, called Verse of Fascination which is an 8 second AOE stun that is removed when the target is damage on a 30 second cooldown. It also has a counterpart called Verse of Captivation which is a single target stun, without a cooldown. These are not as important, though most useful in PVP settings, in PVE they are secondary. Keep reading to find out why.