Zumbaro's Ultimate Guide to the Spiritmaster
UA: The following guide is written by Zumbaro for free distribution via Aion Source. It may be replicated for free distribution but may not be reproduced or quoted in any document not available to the general public absolutely free.
Version 0.0.1 (under construction)
I. The Basics
II. Skills Review
The following guide is intended to help those in the community wanting to play a Spiritmaster. I intend to cover everything starting from the very basics of pet control and finishing with very detailed strategies for end game player versus player situations. The guide will cover topics including skills, equipment, player versus environment, and player versus player. Everything stated in this guide is the result of my own experiences and testing on various clients but primarily focused on the Korean Retail Client runnig patch 1.2, unless otherwise stated in the version information following the user agreement.
Before we get into the details and intricacies of the Spiritmaster class it is important that you set aside the common misconceptions surrounding the class. There are a lot of what I consider to be general misconceptions surrounding the class that are either the result of inexperience or out dated information. I will not be dealing with these specifically now but will give you the facts surrounding each one and do my best to convince you that they are nothing more then myths. After reading this guide you should be able to go to the forums and better understand the arguments surrounding several of these issues.
As a final note, readers should be aware that as an Elyos this guide reflects specifically upon this faction and may not represent all the faction differences associated with playing Asmodian.
The following paragraphs cover basic concepts involved with playing a Spiritmaster. It is broken down into subtitled sections for easier browsing and future reference. If you ever think there is something that is left out or you are having difficulty finding something you believe is contained within this section please send me a private message or respond to this thread and I'll do my best to resolve any issues. Please keep in mind this guide will be continually evolving along with the game and while under construction may not contain everything so please be patient in your requests.
If you are not familiar with the basics of the game in general such as attribute names then I advise you familiarize yourself with such concepts before reading any further as I will not be discussing such information.
Spiritmasters at this time may choose to summon any of up to five different spirits. These spirits make are often referred to as our "summons" and represent the namesake of our class. The spirits are not available initially but will be gained via skillbooks as you progress through the levels. Each spirit is based on one or more of the four core elements; fire, earth, wind, and water. Each of our four base spirits represents one element and as of patch 1.2 we receive our 5th spirit as a representation of the two elements most related to our faction. That makes six total spirits in the game with each faction having shared access to four of them and a unique level 50 spirit requiring DP.
The following paragraphs will go further into depth on each individual spirit excluding the Tempest spirit until we have concrete information from the western client relating to it. I will be covering the strengths and weaknesses of each spirit as well as a general overview of its purpose. For each spirit I will also discuss any unique abilities related to the commands that may come up at a later time in this guide.
The Fire Spirit - The Fire Spirit is a melee style summon with high burst damage. It is prbably the spirit that will be used the most by players before they reach the level cap. It has average Vitality, Speed, Attack, and Physical Defense while suffering from a lower then average Magic Defense. The commands are almost entirely damage focused usually consisting of a single nuke accompanied by an effect lowering the targets defensive capabilities. When used with the Wall of Protection command the Fire Spirit provides a boost to Physical Attack and a shield that reflects damage back upon its source.
The Fire Spirit is a solid source of damage for any party but is preferred especially in situations where the target may be significantly higher then the Spiritmaster. Its high damage single shot abilities have a lower chance at being resisted then many of the over time damage sources associated with other dps spirits.
The Earth Spirit - The Earth Spirit is a melee style summon with average damage accompanied by strong defensive capabilities. When soloing there is no better choice as high Vitality and Defenses mean very little healing is required. Accompanying its high Vitality, Physical Defense, and Magic Defense are an average Speed and Attack. Not only are its attributes built for tanking but many of the commands are similarly directed through effects like the returning of damage to the spirits health. When used with the Wall of Protection command the Earth Spirit provides HP recovery as well as the elimination of debuffs.
Parties will rarely have a need for the Earth Spirit as it is uniquely designed to serve as a personal tank to the Spiritmaster. The Earth Spirit also suffers against higher level targets as it splits damage sources between burst and easily resisted over time effects.
The Wind Spirit - The Wind Spirit is the third of the melee style summons offering high damage and the ability to stun. Probably the preferred spirit for PvP prior to the level cap, the Wind Spirit is the fastest and strongly based around criticals. High Speed and Attack are the cornerstone of the Wind Spirit backed by average Vitality, average Magical Defense, and below average Physical Defense. The Wind Spirit is designed with damage in mind and functions much like the actual Spiritmaster itself, combining high damage over time effects with an element of control via stuns. Through commands the Wind Spirit can bolster its critical values or go directly for a stun on the target. When used with the Wall of Protection command the Wind Spirit provides boosts to Accuracy and Evasion.
Parties may wish to use the Wind Spirit for rare fights where interrupting a longer cast skill is highly beneficial. Its damage output will be similar to that of the Fire Spirit but it will lack a little bit of survivability. Additionally several of its command effects may be easily resisted making it a suboptimal choice for fights against higher level targets.
The Water Spirit - The Water Spirit is the only of the four original spirits to be of a ranged nature and also deal mostly magical damage even on auto attacks. Although most people may feel a need to acquire a Water Spirit prior to the level cap, its use is almost ansent from existance prior to reaching said cap. This spirit is very focused in its nature and as such suffers across the board with below average Vitality, Speed, Attack, and Physical Defense but standing out with the highest Magical Defense. Its command ability to crash opponents from their flying state causing them to immediately fall to the ground or their death is unique within the game. When used with the Wall of Protection command the Water Spirit provides boosts to Magical Accuracy and Magical Resistance.
A Spiritmaster may find that it prefers to use the Water Spirit in many parties because of its ranged nature and magical damage. When most of your targets are going to have high Physical Defenses then the magical burst style damage of the Water Spirit can be very useful. Additionally it can be kept at range during fights containing significat aoes and can help to prevent escape during PvP.
The first thing to understand is that the basic controls for your pet have two modes; manual and automatic. Changing between the two modes is as simple as clicking a small button located on the spirits control bar. I highly recommend that anyone serious about this class plays only in manual mode. The reasons for this will be clarified later but it allows you much better control of your pets' actions. Automatic mode plays much more like the defensive modes of other MMOs pet classes and can be a problem at times in Aion.
Automatic Mode - While in automatic mode your pet will always be in what is best defined as defensive mode. This means that anytime a hostile target attacks you it will automatically begin attacking, seems nice but can be a real bother if you don't want your pet running off after every little bit of aggro. Times when this mode becomes especially hindering are during PvP situations where there are aggresive mobs in the area or when you are attempting to just run through an area of aggresive mobs in order to reach another area. This mode also makes it very difficult to pull your spirit off of a mob with which you are already engaged in combat. Again I don't recommend anyone uses this mode if your are serious about playing the class.
Manual Mode - In manual mode you gain a higher degree of control over your pet relative to how and when it atttacks, or doesn't attack, a hostile creature or player. In manual mode your spirit will not automatically attack something that attacks you but it will still initiate auto-attacks following the issuance of a command. Manual mode also allows you to easily withdraw your pet from combat when you wish in case you want to run away without losing or having your pet despawn. Initially you may not find much difference in these two modes but the ability to have absolute control over when your pet attacks is highly advantageous.
Both Spiritmasters and Sorcerers in Aion are very mana intensive classes and as such understanding of mana efficiency is crucial to properly playing either class. Different situations may alter things like cast sequences thus changing your mana usage and effecting efficiency accordingly. Depending on whether you are in a group or soloing you may use different pots or have more or less time for recovery effects. All these things need to be considered and as such I'll cover the basics of certain aspects here and leave more detailed examples for later in the guide.
As a Spiritmasters the first recovery skill we receive is Energy Absorption, a Sorcerer skill by trade but one that all mages receive as a tier 1 skill. It may not seem like much but you should always use it when its available as it ends up being about a 4 mana per second regen. The next skill we receive is Mana Treatment which every class in the game receives and I will discuss in conjunction with potions in the next paragraph. The last skill we get is Spirit Absorption, a skill that sacrifices a fraction of our spirits health pool in order to restore a percentage of our maximum mana. The Spirit Absorption skill is a phenominal skill for our class as it comes just as we're starting to fall off the losing side of the mana efficiency curve.
Potions and the Mana Treatment skill offer us several combinations of mana recovery methods available at any time. A couple of things everyone should realize is that the over time effect of the weaker mana potions may recover slightly more mana each but does not stack with mana treatment. This means you cannot have both up at the same time which suggests that the use of the stronger instant potions in combination with the mana treatment effect goes much further towards maintaining our mana pool. This means in situations where you are constantly casting you'll receive more mana recovery without using over time potions but when moving slow the over time potions may be cheaper and just as effective.
The last thing to note about mana efficiency is casting sequences and the relative value of a skill based on its damage versus its mana cost. For the sake of PvE combat its generally beneficial to only use the most efficient skills in this sense while in PvP combat the necessity for more damage or a certain effect can override the value of efficiency. For example at level 20 we gain our first stigma, a skill called Vitality Absorption which many people mistakingly use as a nuke in PvE. The problem being that the skill is very expensive because of its overall effect making it massively less efficient then the majority of your other skills. Details regarding skill efficiency, cast sequences, and situational use will be covered in depth further but keep in mind that if you find yourself having mana trouble it may be due to the use of just such an inefficient skill.
I'm choosing to place the skill reviews early on in the guide because in order to properly understand the strategy sections you will need to recognize and understand the terminology being discussed. When I evaluate skills I will do so using several calculated numerics as well as its overall value in the greater scheme of things. I'll start by explaining the numerical values discussed and what they mean followed by detailed descriptions of skills and stigmas.
Damage Per Second (DPS) - DPS is a direct measure of how much damage you get from a skill based on the length of time it takes you to use the skill including any globally associated cooldowns. So in the case of an instant cast it would be the total damage a spell does during its duration divided by the global cooldown. Obviously the higher the DPS value of a spell the higher its priority in any situation.
TOTAL CAST LENGTH
Efficiency (Eff) - Efficiency is a measure of a skills cost versus its reward, basically comparing the damage done by the skill to its mana cost. Higher efficiency spells would take precedence assuming two spells have the same DPS value.
Comparative Adequacy (CA) - I've chosen this term to evaluate the effectiveness of a "crowd control" skill such as fear or silence. The actual calculation of this skill is based on the duration of the effect, its associated cast time, the associated cool down, and the range of targets against which it is effective. A skill that does not have a damage coefficient associated with it will be assigned a Comparative Adequacy value in order to determine the priority of a spell when several are available. As this is a very hard thing to assign a numerical value the exact calculations for this variable are still developing and when I am happy with a version it will be placed here.
I'm choosing to ignore this until I find it required or have better developed the numerical representation!
Note this equation does not have a factor involved regarding the fragility of a given cc effect to differentiate between a cc skill that breaks on damage versus one that doesn't. This is difficult to evaluate considering that some skills will break on direct damage but not on damage caused by a DoT which effectively acts as a debuff instead of damage. Additionally I'm hoping to find a good way to encorporate the difference between a cc effect that disables only part of a skill set versus a cc that entirely incapacitates.
It will likely be a value set based strictly on the state of the environment and other skills and will not reflect any specific calculation based on values actually associated with the skill. Additionally at this time for the %PvE value I'm assuming 40% of mobs use melee skills, 40% use spells, and the other 20% fit into neither. These values will be better adjusted as we gain a better understanding of the world population in Aion. The %PvP value is simply the number of classes out of the total available classes for which melee skills or spells make-up the majority.
Skills are listed in order of the level at which the first tier is achieved. Where applicable all tiers will have associated values for different tiers represented within tables (when I figure out tables.) Passive skills are ignored as they involve no decision on use. Also ignored are the summon spirit skills as they are discussed based on the spirit that is summoned and not the skill itself.
Flame Bolt - DPS=26.50 - Eff=1.395 - Your primary DPS skill until level 13 at which point you should never cast it again.
Restraint - CC - Since its chance of success is static across all levels its just as useful at level 50 as at 1. As basic and as useful as crowd control gets you'll use it frequently in PvP and PvE situations.
Ice Chain - DPS=33.00 - Eff=1.571 - A preferable opener at low levels you may use it for its follow-up ability until level 22 when you receive your Earth Chain follow-up. The spell should never be used after level 22 as it shares a cool down timer with your Earth Chain.
Blaze - DPS=92 - Eff=1.533 - The follow-up combo with Flame Bolt, usable until level 13.
Erosion - DPS=180 - Eff=4.865 - Your primary damage over time effect and your most commonly used skill. Keep in mind this skill acts as a debuff on the target so there is a chance to resist the over time effect after the initial damage is dealt. It should also be noted that if multiple Spiritmasters are attacking a single target only a single instance of the over time effect may be present so the Spiritmaster with the highest Magic Boost should be the only one casting Erosion. Note the high values for DPS and Efficiency.
Frozen Shock - DPS=101 - Eff=2.02 - A solid temporary stun good for openings in PvE during the low levels but get replaced by the Earth Chain effects at level 22.
Stone Skin - Effectively a health boost when in use it can save you in many situations. Notable should be the fact that when the shield is up certain skills like the Templar's pull ability of Stunning Strike are prevented. Take note as well of the differentiation between the duration of the shield and the cool down as it lets you effectively have double the effect available for 2 minutes. Keep in mind as well that damage over time effects are a debuff present on you so the shield only prevents the initial damage of such an effect and not the damage from the following debuff.
Energy Absorption - Definitely a solid source of mana during the lower levels you should always be using it since even at higher levels it will grant you an extra cast or 2 and effectively increase mana regeneration for free.
Command: Thunderbolt Claw - Your first and primary pet command until it is replaced at a much higher level. It should always be early in your cast sequence and is a great way of starting out your pet's assault on any target.
Strengthening Spirit: Armor of Light - As your first Divine Power skill its easily the most useful in the game at this level and it makes you a Player vs Environment god. Not as useful in Player vs Player at this level but honestly no one should be concerned with PvP until the level cap.
Root of Enervation - The definition is incorrect at this time, the skill decreases the targets attack speed not its movement speed. A good skill in pvp early on when you don't have many other option but relatively useless in the larger picture. It can be used in end game Player vs Player but only in situations where you are probably going to lose anyway.
Command: Threatening Stance - All there really is to say is that for Player vs Environment it should serve as your opening skill for the remainder of your play.
Summon: Energy of Fire - DPS=300+ - Eff=2.205+ - Your primary damage skill, the orbs will hit as often as once every 2 seconds for a total of up to 5 strikes. At worst they hit 2 or 3 times and generally the damage even at the lowest levels and without resistance debuffs is 75+ per strike. This skill is the single highest DPS skill you will ever receive and should be the first non command skill you cast in any situation.
Chain of Earth - DPS=150 - Eff=2.205 - These numerical values are the maximum possible for the skill, if the damage over time effect is resisted the numbers are approximately a sixth of those given. That said it replaces the ice chain you received as a mage once you get its combo skill. It should generally be the second non command skill cast during combat slowing an enemy that may be getting a little close for comfort.
Dispel Magic - Almost never useful as you won't be pvping until you receive the enhancement burst effect which is preferred in almost every situation. Get to used to using this and you'll just find it acts as a massive waste of mana.
Element Replenishment - It heals your pet by sacrificing your own health but since you later get a health drain and have the ability to use cheap methods of health recovery its way easier to let your pet do the tanking while you use this skill to keep it alive. You'll probably want this skill on a click bar as opposed to using a key bind.
Command: Wrath Position - Depending on the pet you may have a hard time noticing the effect of this skill. With its short duration and pet based effects I find that it generally isn't worth the time or the mana to use it. The only time it is useful is certain Player vs Environment situation where an enemy is much higher in level then the player or the spirit. It can also be used in certain Player vs Player situations when you have the wind or water spirit out and have a lot of time without someone targetting you.
Summon: Wind Servant - See the skill "Summon: Energy of Fire" and take note that the two skills are basically identical if there are no resistance debuffs on the target. This means that generally you will want to coordinate the damage type with that of your currently summoned spirit. The exception may be choosing an element that matches another debuffer such as a sorcerer in party.
Vitaltiy Absorption - DPS=125.500 - Eff=2.229 - Although one of the higher efficiency skills in your book its long cast time makes it less preferable in most situations. Its a good follow-up to a spirit heal that sacrifices your health but can cause you to pull aggro from a spirit quite easily. I generally use it only as required in Player vs Environment situations and usually find the DPS value of it to make it very rarely usable in Player vs Player although don't rule it out, especially against melee opponents that you know are not able to catch you in the 2 seconds.
Body Root - This skill is probably one of the more overlooked in our group of crowd control skills. Although useless in Player vs Environment it can shine when used properly against melee opponents in Player vs Player. For example, drop it on a Chanter that may be catching up to you and use the extra few second to cast more solid crowd control skills and increase your distance. The better you become at Player vs Player combat the more you'll realize there are some situations where this skill is absolutely incredible.
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