Hi everyone! Since the start of classic server, I've noticed that there weren't as many Bards as there are other classes on the server even though Bard is an "easy" class to play. So I've decided to make this Bard guide, with the help of some of my friends, to hopefully help you understand the basics of playing Bard. Also, sorry if it's long! I tried to simplify everything as much as I could so that it's easier for you to understand. If there is anything I missed or anything that you want me to explain further, please feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer when I can.
Disclaimer: I am not saying that you have to follow this guide entirely. Everyone is free to create their own build based on their own playstyle or apply whatever they’d like in this guide to their Bard build. This is stuff that I learned in the time I’ve been playing Bard and I want to share some of my tips with all of you. Please don’t forget, this guide is meant for pre-awaken Lv65 Bard (although a lot of this could be applied after awaken). Your build will change the more you practice and figure out what you like.
Cheapest class to build
All rounded, able to tank/heal/M-DPS
CC remover when clerics are unavailable
Anti-sleep, useful skill against the most common class in PvP aka Illusionist
Synergy with Blade Dancer/Martial Artist + Burning Metal is amazing
Player would have best map awareness out of everyone in the party
Best class to use in 10v10 if you are ungeared and need to farm medals
It's fun once you get used to it
Mainly a support class, M-DPS is possible but limited attack skills
Intense shield swapping (with swap lag for some s p i c e)
Lag on buff skills if you have instant Cast SPD during TW/GvG
Difficult to heal and consistently keep up all songs (unless you’re a Zumi/Frog)
Races (Passives+Racial Skills)
Retreat + Revive is OP in PvP but can be hard to put in practice.
More time spamming BM = less time playing song buffs for party. Once 'Spiritual Inspiration' racial is in effect, you have to prioritize the most important buffs per each scenarios.
Note: I don’t play Frog/Zumi Bard so I can’t give advice on this, from what I’ve observed Frog/Zumi make very great Bards because of the massive amount of healing from racial. I also don't play Bear Bard either, judging from passive/racial there are better race options than this and I believe Bear Bard is more efficient at Lv75 cap as M-DPS.
Best for Halfkin
Burning Metal spam
High M-Crit and M-DMG, decent resistance, relatively low EVA
Always near front lines with P-DPS
Tank/Pure Buff Support:
Most common for TW/GVG
Best for frog/zumi because of heal racial, overall any race does well with this playstyle
High resistance/AGI, low M-Crit/M-DMG
Positioned near the back/middle of party as the focus would be for M-DPS/Healers to get most of the buffs
Hybrid of Tank/M-DPS/Support:
Recommended for every Bard of all races
High M-DMG/AGI/EVA/Fire+Ice Resistance, decent M-Crit/heals
Shield swap whenever not using any skills, to use prevention on teammate and sometimes to heal yourself
Always moving screens to check for flanks
Never in a set position, high movement speed allows player to run back and forth from front lines to the sides and to the rear of party
Demonic Symphony Glyph: Useful against P-DPS especially after awaken. If you survive well against M-DPS then I recommend switching to this glyph. Should use this only if you can always cap 100% EVA with 1-2 procs. 95% EVA is fine. The difference in Crit damage isn't as noticeable as War Rhyme is with M-DMG. Mainly because P-DPS thrives with high ATK SPD. But you have a high chance of outhealing a P-DPS using this glyph assuming you have all the other necessary base stats.
Note: In PvP, it's a good idea to switch between War Rhyme and Demonic Symphony glyph depending on who is doing the most damage on you.
Basic example of a tank/support build setup:
Prioritize putting KP into buffs first since after all, you are a Bard. The rest is personal preference.
Basic example of a tank/support 4 blues cert setup:
Switch to different blues based on your preference and playstyle. The 3 AGI + EVA certs are changed a lot depending on who you’re playing against or what you/your team is lacking.
Ancient Spirit (EVA/G-Heal): I DO NOT recommend this set. No AGI base stat and the armor effects are not worth switching to this set.
Star Frost (M-DMG): Usable for M-DPS Bard but not recommended. Terrible armor effects.
Lost Empire (EVA/ Cast SPD): Best set for any playstyle and all races. High AGI/base Cast SPD stat are essential for tank/support build. *Orange version of Lost Empire is fine to use if you don't have time to farm arena and craft gold set.
Techno Performer: Can be used for 1/2 of debuff accessory. Best for tanky builds that rely on racial healing.
Infinity Rock: Standard guitar for Bards that do not have high base EVA. Great for M-DPS because of +49 M-Crit Rate base stat. *Orange version of Infinity Rock is OK to use
Devil Gold Strings: Imo the best guitar for bard but requires high base EVA. Better than pre-awaken (247 WIS > 120 G-Healing). Arguably on par or even better than awaken guitar because WIS includes P-Healing.
Gems, Titles & Heroic Trait
LCK Elimination Lv3 - Lck +5, MCRIT Rate +12
AGI Fast Cast Lv3 - Agi +3, Cast Speed +8 (If you are going for a tanky build, I recommend using resistance gems instead of this)
Note: Physical Resistance Gems, Elemental Resistance Gems, Rainbow Crystal Gems are OPTIONAL & up to you to decide whether you use them or not.
Sword of Reconciliation - Increases AGI by +34 points
Hero of the Ice - Increase LCK by +34 points
Guardian - DEF +10%, All Elemental Resistance +5%
Crack Shot - LCK +10%, M-DMG +10%
Depending on your playstyle, you will prioritize some stats over others but your main #1 stat that will never change is AGI. Bard is definitely playable with +3 gear and no fort stats but +6 should be the standard for all classes including a good Bard.
Cast SPD 80% base or 75% minimum. Do NOT rely on procs to achieve 80%+ cast speed, it’s a waste of accessories.
M-Crit Rate ideally 55% base minimum to cap. But 45% is OK, you will maintain ~70% M-Crit with pots/buffs in TW/GvG. *Ignore this stat if you won’t heal/M-DPS
M-DMG 2.80 base to cap with pot/Door buff, 2.75 is OK. *Ignore this stat if you won’t heal/M-DPS
EVA ideally 75% base but 70% minimum. Possible to play with 50% EVA but you will die noticeably faster.
Block 40% base minimum with shield on. If you do not have a block fort on your gold/orange shield you can use a purple/blue +284 Lv65 Block shield.
(If healing) WIS ~450 minimum, there will be plenty of times when you MUST heal in PvP.
The rest of the stats are unimportant but for gear upgrade Parry > HP > DEF
Example of base stats with all Lv1 pots and a pet with AGI +10% and AGI & LCK +6% prayer (everything is +6 except a +8 body armor):
Note on resistance:
Fire and Ice base resistance should ideally be at 45 but ~40 minimum.
Reason: like other supports, such as Cleric, you will be a target for -resistance debuffs. It's better to have high base resistance so when you are debuffed, GoW glyph proc will keep you capped at 50 or 40 resistance. Edit: ~35 Fire resistance is OK if you can't achieve both high base resistance, Ice is more important.
Holy resistance is OK to build but not a priority
Reason: you will almost NEVER die to Holy Smite/Templar when you are near your healers. 25 Holy resistance ideally but 20 is survivable on Bard.
Physical resistance with ring enchant or blue rings is not necessary imo.
Reason: unless you fully commit to putting lots of phys res gems on your set or guitar, you won’t notice any difference in received damage.
Note: If I did not post a certain accessory or trophy, I most likely do not recommend using them. Also, pick enchants that are suitable to your playstyle and what you think you need to build more of. You could use resistance enchants (Guardian for trophies or Dragon Scale for rings) or enchants like Healer and Amulet. And for necklaces, there aren’t that many that are good for Bard, but you could use Recovery (P-Heal), Comprehension (M-Crit), or Slightness (EVA).
ALWAYS use at least 2 debuff accessories for TW/GvG!
I personally use Ebaster for +10 fire resistance and Juan for AGI + M-Crit with Healer Lv6 TE.
DoubledoorT for the +10 Holy Res with Guardian Lv8 TE for +4 all elemental resistance is a very common choice. The “attacking” is a typo, it procs on attack AND cast.
Edit: Added Alice's Instruction Trophy as an option for higher base LCK and EVA.
Standard double AGI rings because there’s not many other Lv65 ring options with AGI procs for Bards at this cap.
Heal rings are also a great choice if you can easily cap EVA without an AGI ring.
Sacred Tongue Necklace: great choice if you don’t want to use a second debuff trophy/guitar and obviously 20% > 15% debuff chance.
Elemental Circle Necklace: recommended for main necklace choice because it easily gives you +13 Fire Resistance.
Guidance Springs Necklace: IF you have 2 debuff accessories equipped AND high Fire Resistance this should be your main necklace. Both of those requirements are needed to use this necklace efficiently unless you are in a match where fire resistance isn’t necessary. Otherwise, great choice for PvE or a highly winnable PvP match.
Blue cape: recommended as your main cape choice because of 2 elemental +8 resistance and +6 M-DMG OR 3 elemental +8 resistance if you are tank/support build.
Divine Protection Blessing: should be your cape choice ONLY if you have high resistance. Usable for any build, P-Heal is perfect for tank/support build (especially if you are not using 4 blue certs) and G-Heal for higher base/Crit heals on others.
How you want to set up your hotkey bar is personal preference and what your teammates want from you. There are only 1 or 2 main skills you should never change:
ALWAYS use anti-sleep first! If you do not have time to use other skills at least use this one. Use War Rhyme afterwards only if you are near your teammates or have the glyph equipped.
Example of a basic buff order:
Note: Revive, Prevention, Cure and your racial should be on easy to access hotkeys along with shield + weapon/guitar. For most people, skills after 5 or 6 on your keyboard are harder to reach. Prioritize the important skills on comfortable hotkeys that your finger can easily press.
Example of a hotkey setup:
Edit: Please use a set of all song buffs before you decide to use the 'Music of Life' buff. I didn't include MoL in skills/hotkey section because it's quite useless in PvP. I personally wouldn't use it at all, it's better to use those few seconds in Prevention/Cure. The only time you should use MoL is when there is no healer+majority of your team that has low HP and your bard isn't built for healing. Imo it would still be better to use Cure on your main DPS even if your heals are low.
Basic PvP Tips
Retreat+Revive (Human Only): If you want to revive during intense combat, I recommend using revive only when your cast is instant. Less chances of getting interrupted. If you want to revive from a safe distance, I recommend positioning yourself where there is less AoE such as standing behind enemy healers.
TIP for 10v10 only, if you struggle to find a safe distance because you are being targeted by enemy team to be kept in combat:
Target your dead teammate and run towards them
Move to a safe distance and pretend as if you are going to revive
You will get hit so run back to middle of party to buff (hopefully you will proc for instant Cast)
Run away while enemy team is distracted and revive
*All of this will be done in a fast paced environment and would take about 8 seconds or less
Shield Swapping: When you get cc’d immediately swap to shield AND mace/club/rapier. Use cure on yourself if you are solo or cure/prevention your healers or main DPS that need it (mace gives better procs, club has better base stats and Lv55 rapier ‘Rose Thorn’ has +5 elemental resistance).
Party Awareness: You should be looking at your teammates' debuffs every 3-5 seconds and get ready to use prevention. Can be quite exhausting but with enough practice/experience you will be able to look mostly at the debuff bar of your party and position yourself on reflex. You won’t have to prevent yourself often, your 2 debuff accessories have a very high chance of debuffing you every skill you use.
Map Awareness: Always be aware of your surroundings for flanks and if you're not on a voice chat to communicate, throw down burning metal in that direction and run back to position. Players with FX on will most likely look in that direction.
Party Target: In PvP if one of the healers is further away from the others (assuming your party has at least 2 healers, in best case scenario then 3 healers) and they are not in range of the other healer's PW's, make sure you're either targeting them or at least know their position to instantly debuff them if they get KD/CC. If you choose to target a healer that is closer to you, there is a high chance that you'll get the same KD/CC.
That’s the end of my Bard guide! Hope this was helpful to anyone that wanted to start a Bard but didn’t know where to start or simply needed help on fixing their current Bard. 😃
☆ Creds to my 911 guildmates that helped me make this guide:
✦ Sera and Immoral, active Bards that gave me lots of ideas for this
✦ Derak, Mark, and Aeri for reviewing my guide overall
✦ SPECIAL creds to Mehzu who originally helped me build my Bard ♡ THANK YOU