Raiding Defiler Guide

Defiler is the newest soul for clerics with the release of Storm Legion. The primary purpose of the Defiler is to intercept damage from tanks (effectively providing extra mitigation), and keep them alive with exceptional burst healing. Defiler is also capable of pulling the highest DPS of any healing soul in Rift, but you should not confuse this with your primary purpose. The Defiler is a staple role for most raid content, though you won’t need more than one in a raid. It is also arguably the most complicated role out of cleric healing options, with a full DoT-based DPS rotation and array of healing abilities to utilise.

There are three key features to Defiler which makes the soul unique: Links, Husk and Foul Growth. The links are fairly straightforward to understand – you apply a link to someone in your party or raid and you will then intercept a percentage of damage that they would take. A Defiler has up to four different links available, in 30%, 20%, 10% and 5% flavours. Each size of link can only be applied to one person (so you can link up to four people).

Bear in mind that as a Defiler you are intercepting damage from other players. This means you’re going to be taking more damage than you usually would. Don’t worry though! You can mitigate this intercepted damage with your Husk of Indifference, a self-shield that absorbs damage you take from your links. This is kind of like a Purifier shield, except it will only absorb link damage. With points in Cardial Conversion in the Defiler soul tree, your Husk will be automatically re-applied whenever you use one of your healing abilities, so you should end up not taking any additional damage to your health pool if you play correctly.

The last concept to understand is what Defiler uses to power its burst healing abilities: Foul Growths. The most basic way of thinking of Foul Growths is that they operate a bit like combo points on each of your links. The Rampant Growth trait in the Defiler tree makes it so that whenever you cast one of your damaging abilities, you have a chance to build a stack of Foul Growth on your linked targets. Once you build up Foul Growths, you will use your other healing abilities to detonate them for huge amounts of healing.

The Defiler spec you want to use in almost all situations is 61 Defiler/9 Inquisitor/6 Sentinel. 20% additional spellpower gives you incredible scaling as you acquire more gear, and Healer’s Blessing adds an extra ~1.2k to all healing abilities except Feedback. If you absolutely have to have a purge, take 3 points out of Sentinel and put them in Inquisitor (1 Corporal Punishment, 2 Agent of Affliction). If you’re really confident in keeping your husk up, you can drop Pursuit of Truth, though the extra range on offensive spells is still quite nice (but doesn’t work on Unholy Nexus).

Standard Spec:
Purge Spec:

There is one last Defiler spec worth mentioning, which is 11 Warden/4 Inquisitor. This is the maximum DPS spec for Defilers under the correct conditions, though I personally don’t advise using it for most content. The highlight of this spec is being able to use Tidal Surge -> Unholy Nexus -> Pain Transmission for huge burst damage. Unholy Nexus does not consume Tidal Surge but applies the damage bonus to all DoTs that are spread, and then Pain Transmission hits like a truck with the added 50% damage. The caveat is that this spec is only going to outperform the standard if you can take advantage of the bonus to both abilities; that is, you need a cleaving fight where you have a relevant target to spread dots to/from, and where you can take advantage of 4-6 Pain Transmission sources (i.e. melee friendly fight). The best examples of when to use this are Matriach in EE and Twins in FT (if using 2 tanks), but this spec is also passable on a few other fights including Gelidra HM (not ideal for PT), Salvarola (no PT in phase 2) and Ultane (if cleaving cannons).

Tidal Surge Spec:

If you want to stick to one spec, take the Standard one. Bear in mind that the standard spec does more damage and healing with its abilities because of the extra spellpower; it is only through Tidal Surge that the warden build pulls ahead in DPS (and only really on a few select fights).

Rage Blight – Increases your damage done by up to 20% as you take (link) damage
Grief Blight – Increases your healing done by up to 20% as you take (link) damage
Chimera’s Gift – Prevents you from dying the next time you would receive a killing blow
Feast of the Fallen – Heals up to 5 allies whenever an enemy is killed
Inherited: Armor of Devotion (Inquisitor), Healer’s Blessing (Sentinel), Heroic Resolve (Sentinel)

Link of Agony – Intercept 30% of the damage taken by target ally
Link of Suffering – Intercept 20% of the damage taken by target ally
Link of Misery – Intercept 10% of the damage taken by target ally
Link of Distress – Intercept 5% of the damage taken by target ally

Bond of Pain – DoT that procs the Defiler synergy crystal (+100 Spellpower for 30 seconds)
Siphon Vitality – DoT that applies a small HoT effect to you, which will refresh your Husk
Marrow Harvest – Delayed damage, applies Tenebrious Distortion for 30 seconds (+5% non-physical damage debuff)
Pain Transmission – Deals massive damage to up to 3 enemies within melee range of you and your links
Somatic Desecration – Direct damage single target bolt (filler ability)
Unholy Nexus – Spreads Bond of Pain, Siphon Vitality and Marrow Harvest to up to 5 additional enemies
Inherited: Vex (Inquisitor), Sanction Heretic (Inquisitor), Dehydrate (Warden)

Foul Growth – Applies one stack of Foul Growth (never cast this except before a pull!)
Hideous Reconstruction – HoT spell that doubles in potency with the Defiler synergy crystal
Loathsome Restoration – Single target heal that triggers your Foul Growths
Ghastly Restoration – Off global cooldown single target heal that triggers your Foul Growths
Feedback – Five-target AoE heal that triggers your Foul Growths
Jealous Intervention – Single target cleanse
Explosive Growth – Instantly applies 3 stacks of Foul Growth to a target (mana intensive)
Unstable Transformation – For 10 seconds, decreases damage taken by 50%, increases healing taken by 50% and heals when damage is taken (the ultimate healing cooldown)
Death’s Embrace – Combat rez
Inherited: Healing Breath (Sentinel)

Summon Beacon of Despair – Immobile tanking pet for solo play; also acts as a source for Pain Transmission
Empowered Affliction – Restores some mana but temporarily reduces your maximum health

Not particularly useful for the purposes of this guide
Bond of Corruption – Intercepts 10% of the healing received by the enemy
Bond of Torment – Causes damaging abilities to heal you for a miniscule amount (just use Hideous Reconstuction on yourself)
Blighted Greed – Gain the benefits of your Blight buffs without having any links up
Husk of Indifference – This is automatically applied by any of your healing abilities, no need to cast it

You will want 2 addons in order to play Defiler optimally, because you have a lot of abilities and responsibilities to juggle to get the most out of the soul.

DefilerFG – Keeps track of your links and how many stacks of Foul Growth they have. This addon is necessary to get the most out of Defiler!
KaruulAlert – Use this to keep track of your DoTs and cooldowns, to minimise the amount of time you have to spend thinking about your DPS rotation. Also useful to alert you about boss mechanics that require immediate reaction, because a dead Defiler = raid wipe in many situations.

Here is a preview of the Karuul alerts I have set up for Defiler, in addition to the code for the alert set to import. The cooldowns of Unstable Transformation, Pain Transmission and Unholy Nexus are tracked on the left above DefilerFG, and above my hotbars it shows which skills to use (based on what DoTs the target is missing and whether or not PT is available). It also shows if you are missing Chimera’s Gift, which will save you from dying if you take fatal damage. You will probably find yourself needing to readjust the text, size and placement of the alerts depending on your UI setup and keybindings.


Pain Transmission 2;1;T;player;2;T;T;F;Pain Transmission;AFFD69BB146BCB2FB;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;950;745;48;48;1;1;X;CENTER;1;;1;1;1;30;T;F;CENTER;30;T;6;F;0|Sanction Heretic;1;T;;1;F;T;T;Sanction;AFB24FB2F125FF68B;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;900;745;48;48;1;1;4;CENTER;1;;1;1;1;30;T;F;CENTER;30;T;6;F;2| Marrow Harvest;1;T;;1;F;T;T;Marrow Harvest;AFC4264675F711AA8;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;850;745;48;48;1;1;4;CENTER;1;;1;1;1;30;T;F;CENTER;30;T;6;F;2|Unholy Nexus;1;T;player;2;F;T;F;Unholy Nexus;AFF862A0B2CA41D11;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;625;670;48;48;1;1;;CENTER;1;;0;1;0;30;T;T;CENTER;30;T;6;F;0|Siphon Vitality;1;T;;1;F;T;T;Siphon Vitality;AFDFEE3277975AE4B;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;800;745;48;48;1;1;3;CENTER;1;;1;1;1;30;T;F;CENTER;30;T;6;F;2|Unstable Transformation;1;T;player;2;F;T;F;Unstable Transformation;AFBEDD6F07A8364D7;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;525;670;48;48;1;1;;CENTER;1;;0;1;0;30;T;T;CENTER;30;T;6;F;0|Chimera’s Gift;1;T;player;1;F;T;F;Chimera’s Gift;AFB296FA17467DDA1;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;1000;745;48;48;1;1;4;CENTER;1;;1;1;1;30;T;F;CENTER;30;T;6;F;0|Pain Transmission;1;T;player;2;F;F;F;Pain Transmission;AFFD69BB146BCB2FB;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;575;670;48;48;1;1;;CENTER;1;;0;1;0;30;T;T;CENTER;30;T;6;F;0|Vex;1;T;;1;F;T;T;Vex;AFD8F04B379CD7379;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;750;745;48;48;1;1;2;CENTER;1;;1;1;1;30;T;F;CENTER;30;T;6;F;2|Bond of Pain;1;T;;1;F;T;T;Bond of Pain;AFD5C3F51F3FDA6D4;0;1;F;F;0;0;Rift;Data/\UI\ability_icons\;700;745;48;48;1;1;1;CENTER;1;;1;1;1;30;T;F;CENTER;30;T;6;F;2

Before the pull: Manually cast Foul Growth 3x and Hideous Reconstruction on the starting tank. Cast Bond of Pain on the boss (this will not cause him to aggro). Marrow Harvest also won’t deal any threat until it detonates, so cast it immediately as the tank pulls to apply the 5% magic debuff.

Opening rotation: [Bond of Pain] -> Marrow Harvest -> Vex -> Siphon Vitality -> Pain Transmission -> Marrow Harvest -> Sanction Heretic -> Filler

General DPS priority:
1. Pain Transmission
2. Bond of Pain
3. Vex
4. Siphon Vitality
5. Sanction Heretic
6. Marrow Harvest
7. Somatic Desecration

When faced with a situation where multiple skills become available at the same time, this ranking should give you an idea of skill importance. Marrow Harvest moves up to the top of the priority list when faced with a target who does not already have Tenebrious Distortion’s 5% non-physical damage debuff (i.e. whenever adds spawn, debuffing for the benefit of the raid is your main priority). Otherwise, Marrow Harvest remains a fairly low priority for pure damage purposes.

For multi-target fights you will use BoP -> MH -> SV -> Unholy Nexus to spread DoTs, and then individually Vex relevant targets. Use PT whenever it’s off cooldown, refresh MH and other DoTs as much as possible.

When I use the word “Filler” as part of a rotation, it doesn’t specifically refer to spamming Somatic Desecration and Marrow Harvest. Casting Somatic Desecration is what you should do only if you have no immediate or upcoming responsibilities during a fight. Other valid filler examples are casting Hideous  Reconstruction on tanks, regenerating some mana with Empowered Affliction, healing with Loathsome Restoration (to preserve your Ghastly Restoration for upcoming spike damage), or reloading a tank with Explosive Growth. The filler you end up using will vary from fight to fight, so make a judgment call about what you should be doing once you’ve laid down your DoTs.

To save a few spaces on your hotbar, you can use the following spam macro:

#show Somatic Desecration
cast Marrow Harvest
cast Sanction Heretic
cast Somatic Desecration
cast Siphon Vitality
cast Break Free

You will notice that this macro will use MH before SH, despite MH being lower DPS priority. It is correct that such a macro is a slight DPS loss – the main reason to use this macro is simply to save bar space (since Defiler is very keybind-heavy). If you macro these abilities at all you want to ensure MH is first though, because you want to apply the 5% magic debuff immediately to new enemies (and you usually don’t want to throw SH against an add by accident). This macro will also refresh SV if you are running and nothing else is available. This will  refresh your husk and SV applies its first tick of damage immediately, so you’re not losing DPS by clipping the DoT.

This is the aspect of Defiler that many people dismiss because it can be quite mana-intensive, is subject to RNG, and pretty much requires an add-on (DefilerFG) if you want to be able to do it properly. It also requires you to become familiar with every fight because the healing is based on pre-emptive decisions and knowledge of how safe your tank is at various health percentages.

On every fight you will go about building the majority of your Foul Growths simply by performing your DPS rotation. Each offensive spell you cast has a passive chance (60% on main tank, 40% on off-tank) of building a stack of Foul Growth, up to a maximum of three. You never want to cast the spell Foul Growth itself – it’s a huge waste of time for what it does. This randomness does have its drawbacks and I will discuss those and how to work around them a bit later on in this section.

In general, you don’t want to pop your Foul Growths if they’ll just be overhealing the tank. As long as the tank is over 80% health you should be fine just throwing Hideous Reconstruction on them, which will heal for 1500 per tick if you have the Defiler synergy crystal. This is the best cleric HoT in the game and it has the added bonus of refreshing your husk, so use it liberally.

Once a tank dips to somewhere between 50 and 70% HP you want to detonate your Foul Growths. If you are 100% confident that you will not need to heal the tank again for 10 seconds or so, you can pop Ghastly Restoration (which is off-GCD). However I would personally recommend not doing this and actually taking a GCD to heal with Loathsome Restoration. The interruption to your DPS rotation is fairly minimal and it means you reserve your emergency off-GCD heal in case the tank takes another huge hit immediately after you heal him. In situations where it is beneficial to heal both tanks with your FG stacks at the same time, you should use Feedback.

When a tank gets low (30% or less) you need to be quick to react. If you have at least 2 stacks of Foul Growth on them you should hit Loathsome Restoration, followed by Explosive Growth -> Ghastly Restoration. This should bring them back up to full health and is the reason why you save Ghastly Restoration. If the tank has 0 or 1 stack of FG you should immediately pop Unstable Transformation which activates god mode on them for 10 seconds.

So now let’s talk a bit more about Rampant Growth. This is a trait you pick up in the Defiler soul tree that enables you to passively build stacks of Foul Growth on your links while you DPS. This is where Defiler healing can become a bit unreliable in nature, and is why you need to use DefilerFG to track stacks of Foul Growth (since your Foul Growths will always accumulate at different rates dependent on RNG). There will be times where you get 3 stacks on both tanks within a few seconds, but also times where you may not get any stacks for an extended period of time (or have 3 stacks drop off because you didn’t manage to apply another stack for 10 seconds to refresh the timer). In situations where your luck is terrible you need to cast Explosive Growth on a tank before he takes heavy damage (for example when the tanks get frozen on Gelidra HM). Explosive Growth instantly loads your target up with 3 stacks of Foul Growth, but it’s very mana intensive and something you can’t afford to do all the time. This is where the real skill of Defiler comes into play: you must be able to predict tank damage. Learn when you can afford DPS to conserve mana, and learn when you have to keep the tanks fully stacked without leaving it up to chance.

In the end, it all comes down to experience. When first learning an encounter you probably want to be quite liberal with your applications of Explosive Growth to make sure tanks are safe, and you may lose DPS because you need to regain mana with Empowered Affliction (be careful not to take your health down too low by casting it repeatedly). You may also choose to use Grief Blight, particularly on new tiers of progression when the raid as a whole may be slightly undergeared. You should be able to use Rage Blight for everything in the game once you familiarise yourself with each encounter, but Grief Blight gives you and the raid more room for error during progression. Regardless, you should always focus on learning the limits of the tanks and other healers as you progress. Raid your UI like a boss if necessary to keep track of your DoTs and Foul Growths, just make sure you don’t die to avoidable mechanics.

Handling your Beacon
In group content, your Beacon loses its primary purpose (tanking for you). However it is still a valuable source of DPS because it counts as a source for Pain Transmission damage. Since PT hits like a truck, having an extra source for its damage can be a nice boost to your DPS. That being said, the beacon can cause problems on some fights where it will take AoE damage and die (taking off a huge chunk of your health and sometimes killing you). Not all AoE affects pets, but that which does tends to kill the beacon fast. Experiment with the beacon on different fights and figure out where you can use it. Also use the following macro to instantly despawn the beacon if it’s in a precarious position.

#show Summon Beacon of Despair
cancelbuff Summon Beacon of Despair

Link Swapping
If you’ve played Defiler for any length of time, you’ve probably realised that once you have someone linked, you can’t change the size of link on that person. In order to get around this, it’s useful to make a macro that cancels your current links. This is also useful on Regulos in Endless Eclipse, where there will be 3 tanks rotating aggro on the boss, with 2 players tanking at any given time. You’ll have to rotate links as the tanks swap in and out, so being able to cancel and re-link as fast as possible is quite important.

cancelbuff Link of Agony
cancelbuff Link of Suffering
cancelbuff Link of Misery
cancelbuff Link of Distress

Mouseover Healing
If you don’t like having to click to select a target before you cast a healing ability or cleanse, you can make mouseover macros so that you only have to hover over the raid frames while using the ability. This isn’t mandatory, but it makes it easier to keep the boss targeted so you can quickly switch back to dealing damage. You’ll need to make a macro for each individual ability (refer to the list earlier in this guide for ability names). Use the following format:

#show Hideous Reconstruction
cast @mouseoverui Hideous Reconstruction

Hopefully you have found this guide useful! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Spence@Blightweald (EU) or Sheridyn on the official Rift forums. I have also written a more in-depth guide specifically catered towards Salvarola and Ultane in Grim Awakening, which you can find here.

View the original article here