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Thread: [Guide] Riftstalker Tanking for Beginners

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    Rift Disciple Kiseki's Avatar
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    Default [Guide] Riftstalker Tanking for Beginners

    Being a Rogue Tank – A Beginner's Guide to the Riftstalker Soul in PVE

    This is an FAQ and guide intended to help players new to Rift better understand what Riftstalker tanking is all about. The idea of this guide is not to outline the only way to do things or even necessarily the best way to do things. The hope is that by presenting the capabilities and options new players or players unfamiliar with the soul will be able to make decisions about their spec and their playstyle on their own.

    I have posted this on Riftjunkies.com as well. The link is: http://www.riftjunkies.com/forums/sh...ted=1#post5201

    With that disclaimer-y bit out of the way... welcome to Rift and enjoy the guide!

    Part One: Frequently Asked Questions


    Why should I tank as a rogue and not just roll a warrior?

    Variety is the spice of life! In all seriousness there are many reasons to play a Riftstalker instead of a more traditional warrior tank. Maybe you played a rogue up to max level and your group needed you to tank in a pinch. Maybe you like the teleporting playstyle. Or maybe you just like to play something non-traditional and different.

    Are rogues really viable tanks in endgame? If so, why bring warrior tanks at all?
    The short answer is: it is too early to tell. The slightly longer answer is that all indications seem to point to yes. There hasn't been any direct statement from the Devs that implies that Riftstalkers won't be able to tank in the endgame or that we are meant to be “just an off tank”. On the flip side having rogue tanks or even rogue main tanks doesn't eliminate the viability of warrior tanks. Warriors have different souls for tanking and a dedicated warrior tank with multiple tanking roles will always have more options available to them than their Riftstalker counterparts.

    But my warrior friend has a shield and wears plate armor! Surely that is better. Is there tanking gear for rogues?
    Armor values are really just a fancy way of saying damage reduction. Riftstalkers have many soul points that increase their armor and provide damage reduction or absorption. In the end our mitigation will be on par with our plate brothers.
    In beta 6 there was a full set of leather armor with tanking itemization. Only time will tell if the stats on it are ideal or if it will need tweaking. I have faith in Trion to make good decisions on this.

    There are two damage shields in the Riftstalker tree. I always see people arguing about which one to take. Which one is better?
    Due to the soul tree changes in the last patch, it is now more convenient to take both skills. Rift Barrier and Rift Guard give a similar buff, but they are very different tools.

    Rift Barrier puts a damage shield up after using one of our many Plane Shift abilities. This is very useful on a pull to get your damage reduction shield up right away. It can also be used if your shield goes down for any reason during the fight and you don't have the combo points to reapply it. The tricky part about Rift Barrier is that it requires a teleport to apply and while some of them can be used without changing position using the wrong teleport at the wrong time can spell disaster.

    Rift Guard is a stronger shield that absorbs all damage types by default, but requires combo points. The best way to use these two abilities is to open a fight with Rift Barrier and switch to Rift Guard once you have the defensive buffs up you need and plenty of combo points.

    I've heard that Riftstalkers are “avoidance tanks” and that avoidance tanks don't work in the long run. Is this true?

    You are misinformed. Riftstalkers are no more avoidance tanks than their warrior or cleric counterparts. It is true that our high dexterity will give us natural dodge and that we have several soul branch points that can increase dodge and parry chance. We also have a cooldown available (if specced into it that) gives us a hefty increase to dodge but this isn't our main strategy for dealing with damage. Our primary mechanic is actually damage absorption and reduction. Don't confuse having some buffs to dodge and parry with being an avoidance tank.

    Part Two: Riftstalker Passives and Buffs


    Here are the buffs relevant to tanking that a Riftstalker can expect to end up with:
    20% increased armor (Toughened Soul)
    30% increased armor (Guarded Steel)
    50% increased armor (Guardian Phase)
    10% increased armor (Improved Guardian Phase)
    15% increased endurance (Great Fortitude)
    5% + 1% per point (up to 25%) increased endurance (Improved Guardian Phase)
    X* increased endurance self buff (Planebound Resilience)
    6% damage reduction (Phantom Blow)
    6% damage reduction (Exceptional Resilience)
    30% increased healing taken (Boosted Recovery)
    X* debuff to enemy attack and spell power (Rift Disturbance)
    15% damage absorption up to 60% max health (Rift Barrier)
    OR
    15% damage absorption up to 50% max health (Rift Guard)
    2.5% plus .5% per point damage (up to 17.5%) absorption plus 25% max absorb plus 5% per point spent (up to 175%**) (Improved Rift Guard)

    *unsure what the level 50 value will be on this skill
    ** this number sounds high. If I made a mistake, please point it out to me.

    Part Three: Quickstart Guide to Riftstalker Tanking


    This is for the impatient or those who have already a handle on the abilities and want to know how to put them together. If you are very new to the class skip to the last section to look at the abilities and refer back to this to get an idea when to apply them.

    Single Target with Rift Barrier

    Teleport to your target using shadow stalk, shadow warp or your teleport of choice.
    Apply the Phantom Blow buff to start generating combo points to get a stack of three.
    Build to five combo points using whichever combo point skills you use in your build.
    Apply Guarded Steel.
    If Rift Barrier has less than about 6 seconds left, use a teleport ability if possible.
    Build five more combo points and apply Rift Guard.
    Apply False Blade if it is in your build.
    On free global cooldowns maintain the Rift Disturbance debuff.
    Maintain all buffs without letting them fall off for longer than a second or two.
    Use defensive cooldowns as needed.

    Single Target without Rift Barrier

    (This can be risky if you don't have cadence or another ranged combo point skill.)
    Check to make sure that your positioning is good for the mechanics of the fight.
    Pull the mob to you from max range. (The bard skill Cadence works well for this because it builds three combo points as the mob pulls to you.)
    Add two combo points using Phantom Blow.
    Apply Rift Guard.
    Build five combo points.
    Apply Guarded Steel.
    Apply False Blade if it is in your build.
    On free global cooldowns maintain the Rift Disturbance debuff.
    Maintain all buffs without letting them fall off for longer than a second or two.
    Use defensive cooldowns as needed.

    Multiple Targets

    If possible open the pull with Shadow Blitz.
    Immediately follow with Rift Disturbance.
    Continue fight as above while keeping Rift Disturbance and Shadow Blitz on cooldown.

    Part Four: Specs and Secondary Trees

    In past beta builds it looked to be possible to make a viable tanking spec with as few as 20 points spent int the Riftstalker tree. With beta 7 we have two soul branch skills that scale based on the total number of points spent in the tree. This new development makes it much more desirable or even mandatory to spend a hefty portion of your points in the tree.

    In order to present spec options without sounding like I'm advocating cookie cutter builds I'll present the specs in as minimalistic fashion as possible. Feel free to flesh them out to your taste and to add or subtract to suit your playstyle.

    A skeleton Riftstalker build with no side specs would look like this:
    <a href="http://rift.zam.com/en/stc.html?t=1MpVc.xIt0uzzozoM">Riftstalker (28) / Bladedancer (0) / Bard (0)</a>
    The point in shadow mastery is a place holder to get higher into the tree, and can either be moved to one of the other utility talents lower down or can be maxed out for shorter cooldowns on shifts.

    There are three side-specs that are generally considered a good match for Riftstalker tanking.

    Here are skeleton builds for those three:

    Bard: <a href="http://rift.zam.com/en/stc.html?t=0Mc__.xhz">Bard (9)</a>
    Bard offers a channeled ranged spell called cadence with zero points spent. Further points give a 3% reduction to chance to be hit and to be crit, a party wide armor buff, a party wide endurance buff that stacks with Planebound Resilience, and 10% increased health for yourself.

    If you spend more points in bard than above you can pick up some party wide healing for your cadence spell, some raid wide buffs from the bard tree, and increases to the armor buff you picked up before.

    Bladedancer: <a href="http://rift.zam.com/en/stc.html?t=0MV__.xzb">Bladedancer (8)</a>
    Bladedancer offers a tanking cooldown that gives 50% dodge for 15 seconds with no points spent. Further points give 5% passive dodge, a 5% dodge increase finisher, an ability that hits two targets, a self buff to dexterity, and free attacks when you dodge incoming attacks.

    If you spend more points in bladedancer you can get a passive 15% increase to dexterity, energy returned when using finishers, and an extra 6% parry added to the dodge finisher you picked up earlier.

    Ranger: <a href="http://rift.zam.com/en/stc.html?t=0MN__.xh">Ranger (8)</a>
    Ranger offers 5% increased health, 6% damage reduction, a self buff to attack power and depending on how well pets scale with player stats a temporary emergency off tank.

    From a purely tanking perspective there is little incentive to spend more points in the ranger tree.

    Part Five: Abilities and Soul Points In Detail

    I've included the most relevant abilities from the Riftstalker tree along with the abilities from the cross-spec trees that seem to be the most useful. These aren't the only skills that will ever be useful, just the ones that are more apparent in their usefulness.

    Plane Shifts

    The signature abilities of the Riftstalker tree. These are commonly called our “teleports”. There are many potential and creative uses for these abilities including setting up one of our damage shields.

    Shadow Shift – this ability moves us forward 15 meters. Useful if you need to move away from a boss or reposition a pull.

    Shadow Stalk – this ability teleports you behind the target and removes roots, snares, and stuns. Useful if you want to turn a boss so that it faces away from the party on the pull. Also handy for the root, snare and stun ability on certain fights.

    Shadow Assault – this ability is similar to Shadow Stalk, but adds an attack and does not remove the harmful effects.

    Shadow Blitz – this ability teleports you to the target and triggers an area of effect attack around the target. Useful for holding aggro on several targets at once.

    Shadow Warp – this ability allows the rogue to pick a spot to teleport to within range. Useful for either changing pull positioning or as a quick way to put up Rift Barrier without drastic movement changes.

    Flashback – this ability returns the rogue to the spot where memory capture was last used. The applications are similar to those of Shadow Warp, but it requires pre-planning to use it fully.

    Planar Attraction
    – this ability teleports mobs to the player and forces them to attack us. This is useful as an AoE taunt should we have mobs break loose from us while we are tanking.

    Combo Point Abilities (and Rift Disturbance)

    Planar Strike – a strike that generates a very large amount of threat. This ability is the only ability in the game that says it generates a “very large” amount of threat. Planar Strike could prove handy in situations where threat generation is dicey or in situations where your DPSers severely outgear you.

    Phantom Strike
    – a strike that generates a large amount of threat and builds up a buff that reduces incoming damage by 6% when stacked to three. This ability gives both a strong defensive buff, and handy way to generate a good amount of threat.

    Rift Disturbance
    – our primary AoE ability. This should be used whenever you need to generate aggro on mobs other than your primary target. It also debuffs the target to lower incoming damage. This should be used defensively on hard hitting single targets whenever you have a free global cooldown.

    Cadence (bard) – builds up to three combo points per cast with a 20 meter range. A quick and easy way to generate combo points. Tends to build up points at least slightly faster than using single point abilities.

    Twin Strike (bladedancer) – deals damage to the mob and one other mob nearby. Useful if extra threat is needed on a secondary target.


    Finishing Moves

    Rift Guard – This ability applies one of our most important defensive buffs. It is important to apply Rift Guard as quickly as possible and then to make sure that it never lapses.

    Guarded Steel – Our second important defensive buff. This buff should be applied after Rift Guard is up and then kept up for the duration of the fight.

    False Blade (bladedancer) - The third defensive finisher available to us. If specced for it it should be kept up as often as possible, but should take less priority than either Rift Guard or Guarded Steel.

    Annihilate – An offensive self buff. Though it gives a buff to threat this ability is far less critical to maintain than the other finishers. If you have enough extra combo points this could be a decent way to use them, but the defensive buffs should take priority on anything that is dangerous enough to matter.

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    Rift Disciple Kiseki's Avatar
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    Defensive Cooldowns and Misc Abilities


    Planar Refuge – Reduces incoming damage by 30%. Useful to during heavy damage phases on an encounter.

    Defer Death
    – Delays all incoming damage for 10 seconds. Can be handy if a fight has phases of intense incoming damage followed by relative lulls. Also useful with healers who use damage absorption shields as they can use one at the end of the 10 seconds to soak some of the damage. Be aware that this ability can be risky to use.

    Scatter the Shadows – Removes all harmful effects from the rogue and makes them immune to damage for 3 seconds. It is speculated (though not yet confirmed) that it will be possible to time it in conjunction with Defer Death for an effective 12 second damage immunity.

    Side Steps (bladedancer) – Increases dodge by 50% for 15 seconds. Note that this will only help against physical attacks and should not be used against spell casting bosses. One trick is to use Side Steps during a pull as a threat generating ability. When coupled with Strike Back in the Bladedancer tree you will get a free attack with both weapons every time that you dodge an incoming attack.

    Closing Notes:
    I hope that this was helpful to the community. I would love to hear feedback on what I can do to make the guide better. If you have your own tips and tricks for certain abilities, I'd love to hear about those too. Please PM any typos or other mistakes that you find to me so that I can stamp them out with great prejudice.



    Edit: Trying to fix my links to the builds. If anyone sees where I messed up feel free to point it out.
    Last edited by Kiseki; 02-22-2011 at 11:16 PM.

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    Plane Walker Zayrinoke's Avatar
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    We now have a good 5 threads going that are all about the same exact thing.

    Effective Health: 51 Riftstalker/7 Bard/8 Ranger - Avoidance: 36 Riftstalker/8 Bard/22 Bladedancer - Healthy Mix: 51 Riftstalker/7 Bard/8 Bladedancer
    Riftstalker Tanking - Key Abilities and Mechanics 2.0
    Zayrinoke, Level 50 Bahmi Rogue - Zerstorer, Level 43 Bahmi Warrior - Asche, Level 20 Kelari Cleric - Haifisch, Level 32 Eth Mage
    Multiple Shards

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    Rift Disciple Kiseki's Avatar
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    There wasn't anything posted like this when I started working on it during the last beta. I spent a lot of time typing everything up, and wanted to post it before I have to get on a flight tomorrow to be with my dad for surgery.

    : / Glad the first reply was to point out that I'd wasted my time writing this.

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    Soulwalker
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    Fantastic thread, as are the other ones. Yours is extremely well formatted and provides some practical applications and examples. I am more excited to play a RS after reading your guide than ever.

    The thing that I am really loving/hating is all of the different combos of builds that are possible. Every time I think I have settled on a build I see something that alters my perspective. Right now I am extremely interested in knowing the actual facts on Defer Death and Scatter Shadows and if they do work in conjunction together.

    Please keep adding to this thread as you learn more, it is greatly appreciated.

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    Rift Disciple Kiseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IIntrude View Post
    Fantastic thread, as are the other ones. Yours is extremely well formatted and provides some practical applications and examples. I am more excited to play a RS after reading your guide than ever.

    The thing that I am really loving/hating is all of the different combos of builds that are possible. Every time I think I have settled on a build I see something that alters my perspective. Right now I am extremely interested in knowing the actual facts on Defer Death and Scatter Shadows and if they do work in conjunction together.

    Please keep adding to this thread as you learn more, it is greatly appreciated.

    Great! I'm glad that you found it helpful. Part of the problem with any guide at this stage is that Trion has been very good about being responsive to feedback and data from alpha testing so there are pretty big changes nearly every build. I plan to keep this updated as much as possible. I hope that the others that are posting helpful threads continue to do so so that we can bounce ideas off of each other and come up with things to be tested in the future.

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    Telaran Tyrany's Avatar
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    Thank you for this well written guide!

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    Rift Disciple
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    A very helpful guide. Hopefully I can get a group to let me tank now, in beta it was difficult to get a group if I wanted to tank IT and I was lvl 24 at the time. Sigh.

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    Rift Disciple Kiseki's Avatar
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    The biggest problem to Riftstalkers tanking at first will be getting people to believe that you can do it.

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    Telaran T0CK's Avatar
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    Those improved rift guard figures do seem extremely high but as far as I can tell it's correct. At 51 points it'd be 32.5% absorption up to 225% of your max health (assumed 5 combo points).. that seems kind of ridiculous.

    Was the scaling added recently? I don't recall that being present in the OB.

    And great guide!

  11. #11
    Rift Disciple Kiseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T0CK View Post
    Those improved rift guard figures do seem extremely high but as far as I can tell it's correct. At 51 points it'd be 32.5% absorption up to 225% of your max health (assumed 5 combo points).. that seems kind of ridiculous.

    Was the scaling added recently? I don't recall that being present in the OB.

    And great guide!
    The scaling soul branch points were added during the open beta. There is quite a bit of debate as to just how many points in the tree is optimal. For raid bosses that number might very well be 51. For expert dungeons and regular high end dungeons the number is probably lower - likely the 38 to 44 range. Only time will tell on that.

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    Shadowlander AddoExAtrum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiseki View Post
    The scaling soul branch points were added during the open beta. There is quite a bit of debate as to just how many points in the tree is optimal. For raid bosses that number might very well be 51. For expert dungeons and regular high end dungeons the number is probably lower - likely the 38 to 44 range. Only time will tell on that.
    Personally the issue is more about what build brings more damage mitigation. If you stop at 38 points in RS you miss out on an ignore all dmg for 3 seconds, as well as 13 points in RS that = 13% endurance 6.5% mitigation on Riftguard and 65% to the shield size.

    The question is, is that worth say... going deep into Blade Dancer for the 5% dodge 6% parry from improved False Blade?

    Or say you want to go 51 in RS and max out your HP which is more important 8 in bard giving you -3% to be hit -3% to be crit hit and +10% max hp? Note that this also gives your tank the ability to buff the party/raid with 5% crit for 15 seconds.

    Or 8 in Ranger to give you 5% max hp -6% damage? Note that nothing at 8 points in Ranger gives your tank really anything worth mentioning.

    I personally am leaning towards a Max hp blend for deep instancing that will go 51 RS 7 Bard 8 Ranger, giving the max guaranteed reduction and max Hp i can think of from available souls.


    Also the math posted earlier on Imp RIftguard is off. At 51 points in RS you are 35 points over the 16 in RS for Imp to get bonuses. Just for taking Imp Riftguard at 16 points your Riftguard will give 17.5% absorption and gains a 25% size bonus to the shield, note this is based on the 50% of your max hp not on your full hp. 35 points gives you another 17.5% absorption and 175% shield size. This means that your shield will absorb 35% of the hit and has 200% of half of your max HP in size if you are using a 5 point Riftguard.

    Not 225% of your max health and 32.5% absorption.

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    Rift Disciple Kiseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AddoExAtrum View Post
    Personally the issue is more about what build brings more damage mitigation. If you stop at 38 points in RS you miss out on an ignore all dmg for 3 seconds, as well as 13 points in RS that = 13% endurance 6.5% mitigation on Riftguard and 65% to the shield size.

    The question is, is that worth say... going deep into Blade Dancer for the 5% dodge 6% parry from improved False Blade?

    Or say you want to go 51 in RS and max out your HP which is more important 8 in bard giving you -3% to be hit -3% to be crit hit and +10% max hp? Note that this also gives your tank the ability to buff the party/raid with 5% crit for 15 seconds.

    Or 8 in Ranger to give you 5% max hp -6% damage? Note that nothing at 8 points in Ranger gives your tank really anything worth mentioning.

    I personally am leaning towards a Max hp blend for deep instancing that will go 51 RS 7 Bard 8 Ranger, giving the max guaranteed reduction and max Hp i can think of from available souls.


    Also the math posted earlier on Imp RIftguard is off. At 51 points in RS you are 35 points over the 16 in RS for Imp to get bonuses. Just for taking Imp Riftguard at 16 points your Riftguard will give 17.5% absorption and gains a 25% size bonus to the shield, note this is based on the 50% of your max hp not on your full hp. 35 points gives you another 17.5% absorption and 175% shield size. This means that your shield will absorb 35% of the hit and has 200% of half of your max HP in size if you are using a 5 point Riftguard.

    Not 225% of your max health and 32.5% absorption.
    I think that's my favorite part of the game. There might even be fights where the 51 points in Riftguard is without a doubt the way to go, and then the next fight the interrupt from Bladedancer could be stronger or the buffs from Bard are best for your raid. Lots of options and reasons that one strategy could shine more than another even from fight to fight.

    Thanks for the correction on numbers. I'll fix those later if I don't forget.

  14. #14
    Soulwalker
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    Quote Originally Posted by AddoExAtrum View Post
    Personally the issue is more about what build brings more damage mitigation. If you stop at 38 points in RS you miss out on an ignore all dmg for 3 seconds, . . .
    Keep in mind, last I knew we still didn't know for sure if StS made bosses/mobs ignore you for the duration (similar to how pally bubble works in WoW).

    For such a powerful cooldown on a relatively short timer, I could definitely see them putting this kind of funcionality in.

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