WARNING - This thread isn’t made for new players or those that seek guidance on how to use said class, please look for proper threads regarding it such as class overviews and build guides. Design Breakdown is a design discussion thread only and has no purpose to help players on practical aspects of the game.
Before get into the discussion itself i want to defend IMC for being so bold as to move classes out of trees altogether, as the goal is to set classes into more path options without power scaling and decrease punishment for certain combinations it looks like a good decision. However no big change comes with no drawback and this is visible from class migration and builds being taken away, both on synergetic value and the fantasy achieved by combining them. That said it wasn’t the only way to reorganize trees and this will be one point to be explored here, additionally the new tree has to be discussed as a new element in the already settled balance of roles and how their basic characteristics have to be fleshed out.
The main topics to address here are the unique value of each tree, how advanced classes are connected to it, which classes were/could be taken out due identity and theme, how shifted classes work on their placement and what these classes may face on their new environment. It may be impossible to restrain some comments that are more appropriated to a full class analysis so they may come back depending on how things go. With these threads i’ll also point out some undiscussed natural synergy and identity overlap within the tree. Don’t forget that the development team is subject to limitations and some ideas may not work due engine, practicality and balance issues. Sometimes it isn’t IMC’s fault.
This tree always stood into a chaotic balance state as their main direction is to be support and ideally any class that is less of a support is as hybrid of some nature, this remained true up to rank 8 (ignoring Monk as the only exception) release and following class additions. Until Exorcist’s release there wasn’t a single pure magical offensive classes and those able do the job weren’t that effective in either ends, it slowly progressed to a better state with new additions on the offensive side that brought up more attention to hybrids. What gets a class to be under Cleric tree is religion and/or purge the wicked and if a class met any of the two requirements it can be taken, those may sound quite simple but it’s always good to review them.
Religion - A belief system based on metaphysical entities that is structured within a hierarchy, has followers/adepts, offers guidance for the well being and provides answers to philosophical questions (usually about life itself), this state of order can be as simple as a group of elders that spread the teachings or even a formal institution and/or written guidelines that serve as an anchor to the faith. It’s important to point out that even dead religions, often referred as mythologies, are as eligible than contemporaneous ones. If said belief systems don’t (or didn’t) have adepts and has an unusual relation of power between the higher entity and the emissaries it is taken as occultism, that said it can still be taken in if said power is a gift to be used as their intermedium.
Purging - Also possible to be interpreted as exorcism and punishing heretics, banishing the evil is a common aspect of any belief system that has duality in it and those are often taken as cause of supernatural harm which includes demonic work and unholy practices. It’s the enforcement side of religions that want to keep their influence and power.
Clerics are easily split into support, magical and physical groups which is also the source of their synergetic problems, picking classes under different spheres will result into a hybrid build that may end with no strengths yet the options for a purer type aren’t that flexible. This also forces classes to have an awkward stat distribution ratio despite their nature. Before get into the classes themselves i’d like to point out that this tree could make use of some new icons since Cleric, Pardoner and Priest are similar from afar and the holy tree is overused as seen in 4 classes (including Exorcist as is in the book cover).
Easily the best group out of the tree, it has options to combine on both sides and presents tools for every kind of scenario. Even in the gameplay side has some sort of twist to spice it up since traditional support isn’t appealing to everybody as it often lacks agency.
Priest - It always had protection as the main element of the identity with generic support as secondary, without Stone Skin it lost some of the value it had and leaned more into the generic side as the system changed completely. With Resurrection and Revive it is hard for it to be sweeped out but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to focus more on the protective side of it. The major improvement here is how Pardoner’s Spell Shop had buff efficiency greatly decreased and isn’t dominant over the real buffs, as such Sacrament, Aspersion and Blessing will be valuable beyond shops.
Kabbalist - One of the classes which the guideline is subtle enough to be invisible, it’s a class that works with multiplication (glorified addition) in every single skill which is an interesting concept but can be troublesome to work with if players don’t notice it. It’s likely for it to be picked for the massive healing on Tree of Sephiroth combined with Ein Soft HP increment, the identity has to be reviewed in order for it to shine as right now it doesn’t feel present and sets the class on the gimmicky field.
Plague Doctor - Explore the nature of buffs, another interesting concept but is slightly off as the game needs more mechanics to have a dedicated class on this segment (which is ironic since Krivis also used to be on that line). Without Bokor the class will be hit hard as it was the major synergetic option and nothing else has nearly the same impact nor efficiency, it was never class that really felt like part of the tree and only shined when Agny Necklace was overtuned. Plague Doctor does score some points here and there but without classes to follow up its poison-like nature (even tho is a support class) it will be on a tough spot (whomse Zealot and Krivis may be the most fitting options), it’s also questionable if the buff skills are enough to sustain itself. On the theme side Plague Doctor are a special subject as they were, or tried to be, doctors and taking care of the ill was often responsibility of the church, in fact the only connection between those two is how the plague was said to be a divine punishment for mankind’s bad conduct. With Scout being a new tree they can fit in by taking the theme more into chemistry and smoke taking their grimmer side, this forces some skills out such as Healing Factor but promotes some traditional support elements out of the Cleric tree which is not only something unique but also doesn’t impact the former as it has flavors to pick from.
Oracle - On a front the class seems to work with prevention and prediction but that’s just a fraction of the class, skills that don’t deal with those aspects are just gimmicks with questionable utility. Due the lack of direction Oracle can be outclassed by any other option in the tree except if a player wants something generic on support side and ironically this is the best version of the class so far. It’s great that IMC is trying to make it work out but all the rushed changes that made class relevant also sentenced it to be a ticking bomb, any mistake on balance will turn it into oppressive dominant or useless which is a sign it is in dire need of a full rework to have a defined identity and a cohesive kit.
Dievdirbys - Cut and dry, aura support. The whole class works on the concept of creating interest zones in the battle field that either help allies or hindrance enemies, it’s a simple concept but effective as these zones can be destroyed. Losing the invincibility effect from Statue of Goddess Ausrine will hit the class considerably especially when the other statues were nerfed as well, it seems like Carve Owl will be the major attraction of the class despite being a support.
Pardoner - A curious case of a class with visible identity but has it too much of a thin line to be special, money is acts more as a theme aspect than a gameplay element and that requires it to have another thing to go out for. Here it is important to comment the Spell Shop change as it won’t require Priest to be taken anymore which was always the lowest point, additionally it removed the oppressive nature of the skill allowing Priest to be an effective class on its own.
Miko - As any other hidden class it had to be adapted into the new class system without a proper identity check, however in this case we see the class is slightly favorable to to support magic as a whole but that still has to be polished to become a real identity. The old synergy with Dievdirbys may play an important role for the class but that’s not enough to sustain it, after all Miko isn’t that good by itself and empowering a static element won’t generate the most exciting experience. One sad and interesting thing related to Miko is that it will never be able to be paired with the other oriental Wizard classes for a thematic build, as it is a priest (or holy maiden) in the strict sense it doesn’t have a theme as flexible than Onmyoji and Taoist to be taken out of Cleric.
Paladin - The anti magic defensive class, it is the only one from support group that is slightly more inclined to the physical side. It would be interesting to have it slightly more into the identity but that isn’t needed for it to stay relevant, after all it is one of the best support classes for physical builds and a direct complement to Inquisitor. With Barrier duration reduced and Pardoner getting new functionality on old skills these classes may meet again, in fact they have complementing elements regarding healing and resistances. Paladin’s theme is of a holy soldier which doesn’t barely met the tree requirements and is right at the edge of Swordsman, if needed it could be relocated there (which skill changes) but it may not work that well due the anti magic identity. Regardless, Paladin has an important role in Cleric both for physical transitioning and the defensive support and would open a huge gap if removed.
The main offensive division of Cleric’s tree. It has great synergy with itself and the support group as these often carry one or two magic damage skills along the utility, even the stat distribution is favorable for those making it a great match. It’s not as easy to integrate with the physical group as their stats and focus are opposites yet some classes do take the challenge and are often have their skill set split in zone of interest being seldom picked for the hybrid value.
Exorcist - AoE magical damage, the enormous coverage on skills and this enough of a driving reason to pick it but the class also presents different mechanisms to deal damage. Additionally it also provides extra damage toward demon type monsters that is twice as powerful when their main element of choice is dark.
Sadhu - The biggest offender on the identity matter especially when it has such unique mechanics, Re:Build seems to have changed it into a massive AoE magical Cleric but that was already into Exorcist’s territory and Sadhu isn’t as fluid as it. It is unclear how the class will perform in the tree it has a similar option available when facing its rival, the major differences being that Sadhu has slight variation on a single skill for its playstyle and deals Psychokinesis property damage.
Druid - Arguably the most versatile class in the tree which can be both good and bad, it seems like the idea for Druid is to serve as a bridge between physical and magical clerics through buffs split between transformations and interest zones. A side effect from this direction is that the class itself offers little on the active part of skills and relies too much on passive effects, that said the class needs other classes to follow up their strengths. This kind of identity is far from ideal in a game that allow players to pick their routes and as such combine physical and magical sides if they so desire but that isn’t practical as they are polar opposites, it makes sense to have a class that smoothens up this transition as an exception in a tree that has such gap and Druid has a theme that fits the task. Unfortunately it is harder for a physical build to incorporate it when the class favors magic way more specially when the hybrid nature makes it proportionally weaker on both sides than being a pure type, with a small push on the melee aspects (perhaps a physical offensive skill that doesn’t force transformation) it can reach its goals.
Krivis - Even when the first design was scraped in order to make it an early magical Cleric they didn’t gave it a true identity, it did improved the class overall but at the cost of another problem. In part Krivis tries to be a bridge for magical and physical sides but leans too much on the first part, which isn’t ideal to promote itself and is also less effective and directed than Druid. It’s also important to point out that the absence of Taoist in the tree will affect decrease its value significantly (despite being unhealthy design), the only reason to pick Krivis is for the extended buff duration which is far from ideal.
The second offensive branch within the tree and the one that has the short stick, in sheer stats and skill direction they have the worst synergy with classes outside its own group. As the tree is organized taking one class from the physical will force others to be taken as well, there are some few other classes that have some degree of synergy but the drawback may decrease performance significantly. What this group needs the most is ways to transition itself in other groups and lose less value, with the exception of Druid and Krivis no other class has a favorable stat distribution nor skill set that matches the physical side without weakening it. One thing to point out is that despite certain classes being compatible on the skill side, as not requiring unwanted stats to be effective, they bring along INT or SPR as their main alignment diluting the overall power of physical builds with unwanted stats which is counterproductive for those that decided to take a neutral support along, this is the case with Kabbalist, Oracle, Dievdirbys and partially Paladin as supports that have all power granted on skill level only.
Chaplain - The one and only true AA oriented Cleric in the tree, despite being a hidden class IMC did a great job adapting it into a complete class and managed to remove Priest requirement, skill distribution stress and stat allocation issues. Interesting enough the class kit uses magic as damage source but stats are aligned in STR and DEX, this means the class can be taken be successful with any sphere as it benefits from both SPR and INT as well. It’s such a clever way to design a physical class in a tree that is inclined to magic and support, in a way Chaplain does the same job as Druid but being more inclusive as it fits all routes. As a side note this class may be quite unpopular due the niche nature but will be satisfying for those that want to take this route.
Monk - For a long time Monk was the only physical class in the tree and due that the skill set conceived was quite generic, over the time it adopted attack speed as one of its quirks and this is the identity direction it has today. Aside for that there’s nothing special in the class itself, the gameplay is quite dull for a fighting based theme and can is comparable to any melee class in the game. Being a physical class in Cleric that has active skills to use is the only advantage provided by it which may disappear once a new class with a similar concept steps in.
Zealot - In games risk and reward play a vital role for conveying the feeling of satisfaction when overcoming a challenge, Zealot takes this design element and builds itself on it. Despite that the class goes fairly mild into the risks the player has to take but that’s understandable as self harm has to be worthy of the benefits. A big advantage Zealot has in it is the (unusual) neutral route presented available through buffs only, this gives it some potential as a complement for hybrid oriented classes and even magic ones for those that are bold enough to take the challenge.
Inquisitor - Upon release the identity proposed was of a an aggressive anti magic class but that was quickly dropped, right now the class is nothing more than disperse mix of skills that may be effective in PvP. As the class with best active skills it is likely to stay as relevant as the others on physical oriented builds, however it is in the same danger zone as Monk where it will be shaken of considerably with next physical Cleric addition.
Both classes in this category were moved to Wizard for better synergy and to fill replace the removed classes, it is acceptable in their thematic spheres but those two are tied to religions and nothing will change that.
Bokor - As the only summoning class in Cleric it had the most value in the tree but also the least follow up for the fantasy, for that to be beneficial the class needs to distinguish itself from similar play styles and that seems to be at the very edge. It’s important to point out that by being an SPR based class it always had place in the tree as any support class can follow it up and in Re:Build it could even be the main class in a build.
Taoist - The only job Taoist had was to empower Krivis to an endgame class power level and this isn’t needed in Re:Build which leaves the class hollow, that said the class was reworked into a lightning magic caster skill keeping the zone based playstyle. However lighting is a piece of Taoist’s thematic scope which can be extended based on the trigrams, it could stay within Cleric and have a brand new skill set if said care was taken but that’s a matter for a full analysis.
What will define Cleric in the future is the ability to make hybrids feel less generic and be useful in game, for that the tree needs to offer reliable transition classes that won’t slow down or take out the build power. As seen in Chaplain one of the best ways to address it is by having inclusive mechanics that won’t care for the build direction or that will adapt to it, Sadhu could be a class that extends the range of melee classes if the spirit could perform their skills instead of using it from the physical body.
The next thread will take the opposite side of divinity in Wizard which will follow this same format, following that Archer and then Scout. As usual drop by in the comments to share your take on the subject or give it a like to show your support.