Archeage 101 - Classes
Key Terms in this Section
Character Level: This progresses from level 1 until level 55 where it pauses until you unlock Ancestral Level 1.
Ancestral Level: Unlocks after maxing level 55, opening the menu, using an Honor Forged Medal. Progresses up to level 34. Each Ancestral Character Level grants the following bonuses:
Accuracy +0.05% (+1.70% at Lv 34)
Toughness +10 (+340 at Lv 34)
Received Damage Reduction +0.1% (+3.4% at Lv 34)
Resilience +20 (+680 at Lv 34)
Skill Tree Level: Each of the 11 skill trees levels independently. It is possible to reach Character Level 55 prior to maxing any of your skill trees if you have swapped them out.
Utility: Crowd Control (CC), Crowd Control Removal, Buffs and Debuffs, that do not necessarily cause damage but create beneficial or detrimental affects (Examples: Vitalism: Mirror's Light or Shadowplay: Poisoned Weapons)
Mobility: Speed increases, escapes, jukes, used to either escape combat or maintain an attack.
Synergy: The interaction between two skill trees.
Toughness: A damage reduction ability that is applied in PvP only. It is a flat reduction of damage that occurs after your Physical or Magic defense is considered.
Resilience: A damage reduction ability that is applied in both PvP and PvE. Resilience lowers the possibility that you will receive a critical hit, and it also lowers the amount of damage that critical hits do. It is the last step in damage reduction.
How Classes Work
The major appeal of Archeage to me, versus games like Black Desert Online, Blade and Soul, Revelation Online, is the class system. I am a big fan of games where you can do everything on one character so you feel compelled to make a bunch of alts. My early gaming was in Final Fantasy XI and Eve Online where you did just that, you had one character who could unlock and level all the classes on it.
Now, the interesting thing with Archeage is because there are 11 unique skill trees, and you pick three of them to build your class, there are actually 165 different and unique classes. You can, at any time swap out of one tree and put another one in. The benefit to this is that you can become highly versatile and adaptable for any situation. The downside is that you end up doing the leveling from 10-55 for each of the trees.
The most common trick for leveling is to stick with the first three trees you put in and grind those up all the way to level 55. Once you have reached 55 on your commonly used trees, when you are farming or grinding slot in one or even two different trees to level up with. When doing a lot of labor intensive things, go ahead and put three trees that need to be leveled. This will help you burn through a lot of the lower levels and when you are out there grinding with these trees, they will more useful to you.
The 11 trees in Archeage are broken down into:
5 Main Trees (which are trees you can selected at character creation).
6 Support / Supplemental Trees
Inside the 5 main trees you have the following
Battlerage: Melee Damage
Sorcery: Magic Damage
Malediction: Magic Damage
Archery: Ranged Damage
Vitalism: Healing with Offensive Damage from Healing Power
The Remaining 6 Support Tress, well these have gotten very convoluted over the years. Before the 4.5 patch in April 2017 it was pretty clear which trees did what. They have changed a number of skills around the support trees all sort of fall over each other in what they do. With the exception of Defense every tree grants some sort of mobility skill. In addition, each tree brings with it utility and synergy with at least one, if not more, main trees.
Auramancy, Shadowplay, Witchcraft, Songcraft, Defense, Occultism
In previous versions of Archeage players received 28 skill points to build their characters with,
however, they were required to pay one point per passive they wanted to have in their builds. As of the 5.0 update, players no longer have to pay for passives, however, they are now limited to 18 skill points.
Additionally, prior to 5.0 you could buy any skill in any tree regardless of how many points you already had in the tree. Now, the last skill in every row requires an investment of 3, 4, or 5 points respectively, which means there are some skills that you are locked out from (Stealth being a big skill that falls into this category) unless you invest the proper number of points.
This has made a huge difference in builds, and has shifted some meta builds around due to the availability of points.
Before we jump into builds I think it is important to talk about passives. Passives are a key part of any build as they are responsible for massive amounts of boosts, especially when we get into skill damage, critical damage, and overall healing buffs.
One key point about passives is that you have to be very careful in the reading of them. Not all passives apply across the board. Some passives say, for example, melee crit rate. This means that any melee attack, including basic attacks, will earn this critical rate increase. Other skills, specify a specific skill tree, which means only those skills earn the benefit, even though there are similar skills in other trees.
As we discussed in the trees section there are several trees that share an inherent synergy between them. Some of them are directly shared due to skills and abilities that combo with each other. Before we get into this I want to remind you of a resource I shared with you at the beginning called Archeage Codex. The nice thing about playing with the build calculator at Codex is that it shows you all the different combos you unlock as you spend points in certain skills, and it also shows you the ones that you can potentially unlock.
You can also use the in-game Skill Combos box, however, this one does not provide anywhere near the information you will get from the one at Archeage Codex. It will only show you the combos linking from the skill you choose.
Archery & Shadowplay
Stalkers Mark Grants a 16% Damage Bonus to Ranged Attacks
Battlerage & Shadowplay
All of the Battlerage passives that affect melee skills carry over to the Shadowplay Skills as well
Malediction & Sorcery
The 7 point passives in each tree compliment each other
Vitalism & Shadowplay
Freerunner allows for no cooldown Antithesis (cannot be self-cast)
Drop Back allows for 3 Antithesis or Mends to be Insta-cast
Vitalism and Occultism
Pain Harvest allows for Mend to be spammed with no cooldown
While I'm going to be doing an entire section on Gear, I want to make sure to point out the only classes that really depend on specific gear are Archer based classes. That is because they want a 7 piece set of Leather for the +3 meter range on their bow attacks.
Beyond that, and the fact that anyone who wants to be a healer has to have a plus healing power right hand weapon and anyone who wants to apply magic damage has to have a plus magic attack right hand weapon, pretty much everyone can use whatever armor they want.
One thing we will focus on from this point forward is the Gear > Build > Class triangle.
The old metas are broken with Hiram Gear, and just because someone is in plate, doesn't make them susceptible to magic damage, and a cloth wearer can be more resistant to melee damage than a plate wearer. It all depends on their Gear, the Class, and their Build working together.
Section Two - B: Classes and Builds
When it comes to builds, I do not do what a lot of other guide writers do. You won't find full builds here with the "optimal" rotations spelled out. I find this to be more of a disservice than a service to the reader. The reason why is because if you get given everything, then you have no idea why you are doing what you are doing. So, when changes happen (like Zeal for example) you just keep trekking along like nothing has happened, obliviously to the situation that a key part of your build is now different.
Instead, what I will do is I will talk about Classes, why certain things go with each other, some key combos to look out for, and then I will leave it up to you to fill in the blanks. As an additional note, I will do a much deeper dive into Healing then I will anything else. The reason for this is due to the fact that I am in fact a healer, so I understand that class better than any of the others.
Also, as a huge disclaimer, I am basing these recommendations off of using Hiram Gear or Library Gear. I know this may be controversial for people, but, the ability to get Hiram and Library gear falls within the realm of new player achievable. Any discussion that uses Erenor gear as a standard base is assuming the player has already surpassed the minimum level of "new player" and is able to make some pretty serious detailed decisions on their own.
I'm going to begin with Archers, mainly because many years ago when Archeage was in Alpha and early release I played an Archer. I liked the play style, I liked the mobility, I liked the classes all around. I was running Ebonsong as an Archer/Bard combo before it was cool or the meta. Alas, I got asked to transition from Archer/Bard to Healer/Bard and the rest is history.
First and foremost, my discussions of Archery will be all based on Archery + Shadowplay + TREE. The reason why I find the synergy between Archery and Shadowplay to still be amazing. Even after all these years, all the changes, the synergy between these two trees is amazing. Although there are only two skills that directly Synergize, Stalkers Mark and Poisoned Weapons), there are a total of 9 simple and advanced combos between them. Shadowplay also offers an amazing amount of Mobility and Utility for an Archer class via Dropback, Freerunner, and Stealth.
As a starting template I like to go with: (https://archeagecodex.com/us/calc/477131)
Now a few things with this template, different archers like to run different things. You will notice that I have only put 6 points into Archery. Some people like Concussive Arrow, some people like Snipe, some people like Double Recurve. It doesn't matter what 7th point you put into Archery, you are going to want to put a 7th point into archery in order to pick up the 7 point passive Eagle Eyes in order to get that Range Critical Rate +9% for free.
I also only put down 6 points in Shadowplay as a base. This leaves 5 points for the 3rd tree you take depending on what you want to pick up from it. Now, some people are going to take less than 6 points in Shadowplay, and that is fine you can absolutely do that, I just find 6 point passive in Shadowplay for 70% Extra damage and duration on Bleed and Poison to be worth it.
When it comes to your third tree options you have a handful of options depending on what your flavor is
adding Songcraft makes Ebonsong
For a long time Ebonsong was THE meta for Archers. The benefits of Zeal giving an extra 50% Critical Damage and Rhythm via Disciplined Performance adding to Critical rate was absolutely amazing. When 4.5 hit in 2018 the inclusion of Double Time for a massive burst of speed gave Archers even more mobility, couple with the ability to disable shields for up to 6 seconds allow Archers to bypass a significant amount of defense, especially from cloth wearers who could draw as much as 60% of their defense from their shield.
Unfortunately, with the 5.1 skill changes, Songcraft took significant changes, specifically with Zeal and Rhythm. Now Zeal adds an additional +30% Critical Rate and Rhythm adds Critical Damage, but this is not the easiest thing to stack up in combat, although weaving in songs is still viable. Sonic Wave in Songcraft cannot be discounted either, as its ability to block targetting creates a massive advantage in PvP.
Even with the Songcraft changes, Ebonsongs are a common sight in and around Archeage still. I'm not sure if this is based on their continued usefulness, or if the community is slow to change. The benefit to Ebonsong is that it only takes 4 points in Songcraft now to get Zeal with the change to free passives vs paid for passives. This frees up an archer to go 7 Archery, 7 Shadowplay and still have enough points to pick up Zeal.
adding Aurmancy makes Primeval
Before Ebonsong became the meta, Primeval was the staple Archery build. There is some advantage to running Aurmancy, the first is Teleport and its new Ancestral Abilities (the 42% chance of teleport reset) as well as Warding Light which grants a damage absorption shield of up to 5,000 damage. The tree also brings with it a Self Heal in the form of Health Lift as well as a defense against Magic in Conversion Shield which converts 42% of received damage to health. Although not quite the anti-CC tree it used to be, there is a lot of utility that comes from Auramancy and the boon of the mobility from Teleport.
adding Vitalism makes Ranger
While not a common build to see, this unorthodox build gives you self heals, which you only need to pick up Renewal and Fervent Healing to have a pretty large Self heal boost. It will also give you Mirror's Light which is a vastly under rated Utility ability which is 1) a self purge that also grants +15% healing received for 90 seconds 2) an offensive snare 3) Increases enemies received damage by 12% (which stacks with the damage received from Stalker's Mark).
Now, this build will require you to have a healing main hand weapon, but this does work with Hiram gear builds because you can take a club and put Agility, Ranged Critical Rate, Ranged Critical Damage (or whatever other stats are your flavor) which still gives you a decent amount of self heals, while sacrificing none of the potency of your DPS output.
Another two classes that are still somewhat popular include Trickster (Witchcraft) and Shadehunter (Occultism).
Trickster benefits archers by giving them a health mix of Crowd Control (CC) and a dash of mobility via Mirror Warp. While the CC's provided by the Witchcraft tree are good, most of them require you to be in close quarters, which makes this a great anti-melee tree, but it takes practice to properly execute moving in out of casting range.
Shadehunters are probably the least common you will run into, but don't discount them, as the Crippling Mire applies a slow for 4 seconds which combos with Endless Arrows and this stacks up the damage from Endless Arrows by 26%. Additionally, the reworked Absorb Lifeforce doesn't inflict a lot of damage, but ti does heal the caster for 13% of their max Health while simultaneously reducing the targets received healing by 60% for 6.5 seconds and this is coupled with the fact that if the target tries to move away from the caster, they get afflicted with a stun.
Melee based classes are the most versatile classes in the game. While other classes suffered with the change in points from 28 to 18, Battlerage based classes weren't hit as hard because all 7 passives in Battlerage are useful. Given that you can run a 7/x/x pretty much every Melee based class picked up a few things unlike other classes which did not end up with a positive gain on the conversion.
Battlerage does not have a singular second tree with an "almost built-in" synergy via abilities or passives, as is the case with Archery & Shadowplay or Sorcery & Malediction. Taking Battlerage as your primary tree opens up 45 different classes that can be created. Now with all other classes building, there are a lot of things you can do with Battlerage, but that doesn't mean all of them will be useful or viable. Yes, you can run Battlerage, Sorcery, Vitalism and be a Fleshshaper, but that doesn't mean you are going to excel at anything, or you can focus your trees down to Battlerage, Auramancy, and Shadowplay and go with the standard Darkrunner, and pick up a good mix of Mobility, Utility and Synergy.
Now, before I get asked, yes it is possible to build a Melee Based Class around the Shadowplay tree. Yes, technically with 5 melee skills Shadow play has enough direct damage abilities to be considered a melee tree. Since XL Games has decided not to count Shadowplay as a main tree, I'm not going to count it as a main tree either.
While I'm going to talk about a few common Melee Builds, I want to overemphasize right here at the beginning, that Melee Class are probably the most reliant on the Class, Build, Gear, triangle. There is a huge difference between running a 2-handed weapon for big damage and a dual wield build for faster damage. There is also a major difference between running a max critical rate/critical damage build and a defense penetration build. I am still in the process of refining the math around those concepts. Also, I won't be talking about shield using builds here, those will fall under the Tank heading because I think those need to have some very pointed discussions. So what are our common melee based builds?
The common builds that you are going to end up playing as a Melee Focused Character are
Darkrunner (Battlerage + Auramancy + Shadowplay)
Once the king of the Melee Meta, Darkrunner was absent for a while during the time when Zeal was move to the 4 point passive and became too good to give up. Couple with Songcraft's ability to disable shields, and the loss of Mirror Warp, Darkrunner had lost a lot of its muchness. Now that Zeal has been radically changed to no longer provide a +50% damage boost, Darkrunners are starting to come back again as a pretty standard class.
The combination of Aurmancy and Shadowplay provide huge amounts of Utility (Courageous Action, Shrug it Off ) and Mobility (Teleport, Dropback, Freerunner) as well as big damage spikes from Shadowplay in the form of Shadowsmite.
Blade Dancer (Battlerage + Songcraft + Shadowplay)
Although Songcraft has radically changed, a lot of Blade Dancers are still making the build work. Although the benefit of Zeal has changed from +50% Critical Damage to +30% Critical Rate, it is still helpful in driving people to a full 100% crit rate. There is still a lot of mobility to be had from having Songcraft in, and if used properly there is a fair amount of mobility that comes from Songcraft via Quickstep and Doubletime. Plus, Songcraft does have a fair amount of utility with Startling Strain and Bulwark Ballad and lowering enemy defenses for a bit Def Pen hit.
Executioner (Battlerage + Occultism + Shadowplay)
For a slight twist in utility, some people prefer to swap in Occultism. This provides a moderate heal from Absorb Lifeforce, as well as as the slow from Crippling Mire, and the Accuracy Reduction from Hellspears into Summon Crows. Additionally the Cursed Thorns is great utility skill that harasses the victim and Boneyard can often be used to isolate a target from his allies or to provide the opportunity for escape.
Argent (Battlerage + Auramancy + Vitalism) or Inquisitor (Battlerage, Shadowplay, Vitalism)
Finally for a little twist on Melee classes I include Argent and Inquisitor. With the availability of Hiram Weapons that provide healing power, with customizeable stats specific to your needs, you can have a Club that gives 963 Healing Power, but adds Strength, Melee Crit Rate and Melee Crit damage as the 3 stats on the weapon. Each of these builds work for the same reasons that Aurmancy or Shadowplay are taken in other builds. It only takes 4 points in Viatalism (Mirror's Light, Renewal, Fervent Healing and 1 of choice) to pick up the 4 point passive which increases healing from Vitalism by 10%. This makes Renewal and Fervent Healing huge heals in their own right, and the 2 point passive will reset your timers allowing you back to back Fervent Healings which can easily top off your HP.
A very interesting development happened with Mages when 5.0 came out and that was the introduction of a second primary Magic Tree in the form of all the former Abyssal Skills coupled with Mana Stars in Malediction. As referenced in the Malediction skill tree video, all of the skills in the Malediction tree are Magic Attack Based, which means if you are already working on a build that stacks Magic Attack, Magic Critical Rate and Magic Critical Damage, Malediction becomes a powerful secondary tree to pair with Sorcery. It also means that Malediction can function as a primary skill tree in its own right.
So long story short, do you need to be a Sorcery + 2 trees to pull off a Mage? No. You can do it with Sorcery + 2 Trees, you can do it with Sorcery + Malediction + One Tree, or you can do it with Malediction + 2 Trees. There are a lot of options when it comes to Mages.
As we have already talked about each of the six support trees bring a lot of utility, mobility, and synergy to all the classes, and Mages are no different. One thing you will find with a predominat amount of Mage builds is the user of Shadowplay, the main reason being that with Shadowplay's Dropback the cast time for Flamebolt is removed for 2.5 seconds, plus with Stealth and it's ability to break target lock, plus the mobility from Freerunner. Given that we have talked about the support trees pretty in depth, I'm not going to go into them any further than that.
The common mage builds you will run into are:
Spellsinger (Sorcery + Songcraft + Shadowplay)
Reaper (Sorcery + Occultism + Shadowplay)
Fanatic (Sorcery + Malediction + Shadowplay)
Ebonshield (Sorcery + Malediction + Defense)
Spectre (Sorcery + Malediction + Songcraft)
Healers are going to be the section that gets the most attention, because I am a healer and I can get into the roots about healers and healer builds.
Right now there are a lot of different healer builds, although the main thing to point out is that Cleric, while once the King of the healer AOE builds has lost that title to Doombringer. Given radical changes in Songcraft over the past two builds, Healers no longer benefit from Songcraft as they used to. Ode To Recovery no longer ticks every second, no longer scales on healing power, no longer provides Additional Healing Received as a buff.
Doombringer (Vitalism + Occultism + Shadowplay)
The ultimate in AOE healing, but you have to be forewarned that the majority of the AOE heals in this build do not affect you as the caster. It is a side effect of the changes that XL Games has made, but it works wonders if you have several healers working in unison in a raid.
Other Common and viable healer builds are:
Assassin (Vitalism + Shadowplay + Witchcraft)
Soothsayer (Vialism + Shadowplay + Auramanacy)
Necromancer (Vitalism + Occultism + Witchcraft)
With the changes to songcraft, I no longer recommend Vitalism and Songcraft in the same build, unless you are doing some very specialized things. Songcraft (Ode to Recovery) no longer gives a Received Healing Buff to the party, nor does it it add Healing Power. So someone without a healing weapon is going to provide the same healing as someone with a healing weapon. This is why I’ve created the Bard role, as a dedicated bard is, in my opinion, better than a healer who is trying to weave in songs on an inconsistent basis. This is also why Cleric (Vitalism + Songcraft + Vitalism) is under the Bard section and not the healer section.
I have made this section tank/initiator because Tanking PvE content is different from being the front line Initiator in PvP combat.
With Hiram weapons being similar to Obsidian weapons in being able to support Hybrid Builds, it opens up quite a few interesting Hybrid tank options, specifically tank builds that run Vitalism for Self Sustain or some some of Magic for Attack.
The core of any Tank Build is base around the ability to get aggro and hold Aggro. For this, you are going to use the Defense Tree and skills such as Bull Rush (doubles aggro for 5 seconds) Boastful Roar (AOE Provoke), Mocking Howl (AOE Provoke), Lasso (Single Target Taunt), and this is going to be coupled with defensive mitigation such as Shield Slam (+100% Shield Block for Next 2 attacks), Redoubt (Shield Block Increase or Physical Defense Increase) and Invincibility.
An Initiator on the other hand is going to worry about being able to push through the front line of enemy raids and get in deep to where the healers and mages are. The trick to a good Initiator is being able to 1) push through the front line 2) disrupt and gather the casters 3) Survive. While Defense can certainly help with the survive part of that Initators need a tree to help push through the front line and disrupt the casters and Auramancy brilliantly accomplishes both of these things and helps with surviving.
Auramancy brings with it Teleport which allows you to bypass the front line, Bracing Blast to push enemies and Silence them, Vicisous Implosion to pull them and disrupt casting, Conversion Shield reduces magic damage taken, and Thwart not only affects enmies Move Speed and damage output, but also grants a 1 hit shield to absorb up to 5,000 damage, finally the first passive converts Damage to Life. All in all if you want to be able to disrupt casters in the backline, this is the tree to do it with.
For Tanks, there are three builds that work very well
Paladin (Vitalism + Defense + Battlerage)
Abolisher (Battlerage + Defense + Auramancy)
Templar (Vitalism + Defense + Auramancy).
The good news is that, there really isn’t too much content in Archeage that will face wipe a tank. A tank really just needs to keep the aggro of whatever the group is fighting and keep it turning and laying waste to the raid.
For Initiators in PvP, there are too many that are good to keep track of.
As we discussed Aurmancy is going to be a clutch part of your build and Defense is going to be a key part of your survival.
Several Initiator Builds that are viable, based around Auramancy + Defense and adding a third tree are:
Abolisher (Aurmancy + Defense + Battlerage)
Templar (Aurmancy + Defense + Vitalism)
Skullknight (Aurmancy + Defense + Occultism)
Bards were put into their own category, because with the evolution of the Bard's healing skills, and the fact that they no longer benefit from Healing Power, there is no reason to have someone who is invested in a healing weapon wasting their time performing songs. Additionally, since Ode to Recovery no longer grants Additional Healing Received, healers don't really benefit from song weaving anymore. This is the best class for a new player to run because anyone with any level of gear can do this.
This is not to say the songs are not important. You most certainly want songs being played at all times during combat. All the time. The goal is 100% uptime for songs. The difference now is that it doesn't have to be a healer doing it. This is a job that anyone can do, including someone who doesn't have the highest gear score in the raid and make quite a difference.
The basic Bard template can be seen to the left. You will want to get the 4 Performance Songs (Ode to Recovery, Quickstep, Bulwark Ballad and Bloody Chantey) rolling and keep them up with 100% up time. If needed you will want to send out a Healing Hymn and when useful drop down Battle Hymn, although you will want to place it in the direction of your push to maximize usage. Only 7 points were spent in order to get the 7 point passive to increase song range to 25 meters, however, I highly recommend taking Sonic Wave as well.
The interesting thing about Bards, is you can add basically anything on as your 2nd and 3rd trees depending on the situation.
You can pick up Battlerage just to throw Sunder Earth down and create an area that has 30% damage reduction.
You can throw in Witchcraft to throw Purge on people as needed as well having other CC opportunities.
You can take Vitalism and toss out Resurgence and Renewal and the Healing Pad and Mana Barrier (assuming you have a healing weapon)
You can add Archery in order to apply additional AOE damage to the enemy raid via Missile Rain and Concussive Arrow, but your job will be to keep songs rolling and only send in that damage at the precise opportune moments.
Some people would question the value of a Bard, but the boost of 16-24% Damage from Bloody Chantey, along with the attack speed of 250 plus the attack speed of 350 from Battle Hymn are huge boosts makes you a Force Multiplier. Especially when you consider that unless you are really well geared, adding 16-24% damage to 2 or 3 of your heavy Damage Dealers will be substantially more DPS than you would have been able to apply to your raid.
With classes finished we will now discuss the Proficiency System.