Playing Rogue: Bard

Playing Rogue: Bard

As with the other roles a rogue can play in a group or raid, the support role is something rogues excel at. Buffing companions, debuffing enemies, healing, and light crowd control are all abilities the bard brings to the table. None of these abilities are anything to be scoffed at – the constant buffs and debuffs provided by a bard can make or break a dps burn phase in a raid and the group healing can safely outpace many aoe damage effects in a dungeon. The Bard is truly a valuable asset to any team attempting to squash bosses.

There are many nuances to barding that, at the hands of an experienced player, can make a Bard a must-have on a raid – but many of these nuances require careful micro-management that can annoy some players into avoiding the role altogether. There is often little payoff to barding – a Bard will never top a damage meter and likely never top a healing meter in a raid. These factors combine to make the Bard a less appealing role to play; but the Bard still plays a vital role to both small groups and raids. Prepare for details on the Bard and how to play one to amaze your friends.

Bard (51) / Nightblade (8) / Ranger (7)

There are two schools of thought on Bard sub-souls: one is to take Riftstalker for extra attack power while the other is to take Ranger to gain crit. The controversy here is whether or not Cadence damage is affected by the ranged weapon when using the Ranger sub-soul. The above link is for the Ranger spec – sub in Riftstalker and take 5 points in Unseen Fury and 2 points in Resilience or Fortitude. There is also a more obscure spec that takes Saboteur’s Nimble Fingers for bonus dexterity, with 2 more points to play with elsewhere.

I spent about an hour browsing various forums, including the RIFTgame forums, and found no sign of a consensus on the ranged weapon situation. To test this myself, I equipped my normal melee weapons (both 37-68 damage / 29.2 dps) with a white 5-9 damage rifle. I then tested again using my primary ranged weapon (65-122 damage / 36.0 dps) with no melee weapons equipped. This resulted in a 10 damage gain per Cadence tick when using the bow. To further emphasize the point, the daggers have more crit, AP, and dex then the bow has alone, meaning my stats were slightly higher using the daggers. In short, it appears to me that Cadence will in fact use the ranged weapon as the damage modifier.


Whatever spec you choose, the bread and butter principles of playing a Bard do not change. Your goal is to keep 100% uptime of all five Motifs. There really is no way to macro your Motifs – I simply place them at 6 through 0 on my hotkeys. However, I use a Belkin Nostromo N52TE game pad. This keeps all my hotkeys on one hand easily. You may need to rebind your hotkeys to keep Motifs readily available. It’s up to you how you do it, but however you do it, keep those Motifs rolling.

Building Combo Points

The Bard’s standard attacks throughout the fight are Power Chord and Cadence. Power Chord instantly adds 2 combo points. It is best to open your rotation with this because you have 2 points to use a Coda if the enemy is nearly dead or you need a small, quick heal. Cadence is channeled and will generate 3 combo points if it runs its full duration. Cadence also heals the group for 100% of its damage done, making it the primary means of continuous healing, finishing off with a Coda of Restoration. The simple spam macro for this is:

#show Power Chord
cast Power Chord
cast Cadence

Coda Debuffs

After your Motifs you will move to debuffs: Coda of Cowardice and Coda of Distress should always be on the mob. The one stipulation to this is in most raid groups, Distress will be overwritten by a more powerful ability from another soul – in this case, you only need to use Cowardice. Keep in mind these Codas will apply to all enemies nearby your target, so you only need to hit it once on packs of enemies.


The finisher you use is the key to separating a good Bard from a mediocre Bard. Which finisher you will use is based entirely on the situation currently unfolding. If the group is taking damage or the healer is struggling to keep up on the tank, pop Coda of Restoration for a little breathing room. If the group’s health is fine, hit Coda of Fury (aoe) or Coda of Wrath (single target) to do some extra damage. Resist the urge to use Headshot if you are sub-souled in Ranger: while Headshot does around 30 more damage, Wrath cannot be blocked, dodged, or parried.

Remember, consider the fight and the strategy involved. If you are barding on the last boss of Abyssal Precipice (expert), remember that the boss will smack the group with a massive aoe attack periodically throughout the fight. This is a good time to save a stack of 5 combo points until after the attack goes off. Having a group heal readily available in situations like this can save a wipe and truly set you apart from the rest of the Bard crowd.


If there was only one reason to have a Bard on every raid, it would be Verse of Joy. This 2-minute cooldown is a 15-second long, massive energy regeneration buff that essentially allows all classes to burn their abilities at an incredibly fast rate without burning off whatever energy pool they use. It is invaluable in situations where DPS is of the utmost importance – for example, the final phase of the Infiltrator Johlen fight in Greenscale’s Blight. Make a macro for this ability that alerts the raid to when it is used.

#show Verse of Joy
raid Casting Verse of Joy – burn those cooldowns!
cast Verse of Joy

The next most valuable cooldown for the Bard is Virtuoso. This 3-minute cooldown stops Codas from using combo points for 15 seconds. This means you can either spam Restoration, Wrath, or Fury. A great “oh s@%t” moment macro to keep a group alive for just a few more seconds is:

#show Virtuoso
cast Riff
cast Virtuoso
cast Coda of Restoration

This macro will first stack 5 combos points with the 1-minute cooldown ability Riff. Then it will start Virtuoso giving you 15 seconds to continuously hit Restoration – just spam the button. Accounting for latency, you should be able to pop off around 6 or 7 Restorations, leaving you with a great burst of healing. Likewise, replacing Restoration with Wrath provides you with an excellent DPS macro to spam after burning Verse of Joy.

Anthems and Fanfares

Anthems and Fanfares are toggle and long duration buffs, respectively. In most situations, the best Anthem to run is Anthem of Fervor, which reduces the cost of the group’s abilities by 12%. In some cases, there may be a mage in the group running a similar buff – these buffs do not stack so the Bard should run the resist Anthem, Anthem of Defiance instead. Occasionally it may be useful to run with Anthem of Competence as it provides an in-combat run-speed boost of 20%. These buffs are toggled on and they will remain on until the Bard dies or toggles them off.

Fanfares are tricky, but a well versed Bard will be able to get both Fanfare of Power and Fanfare of Knowledge on his group. The best way to do this is to cast Knowledge on the group then take all the melee and ranged DPS out of line-of-sight of the casters to cast Power. This will provide the casters with their int/wis buff and everyone else with the dex/str buff. Fanfares last 1 hour.

Lastly, don’t forget your sub-soul buffs. Nightblade provides the Bard with Hellfire Blades which grants a minor boost to overall DPS for 1 hour and Ranger provides Predatory Instincts which is a toggled buff that grants an extra 46 attack power. Both buffs should always be applied.


The Bard spec brings several useful utilities to the group. Firstly, Verse of Captivation (single) and Verse of Fascination (aoe) provide short-term crowd control. Both last only 8 seconds and Fascination has a 30-second cooldown. Captivation has no cast time and can be repeatedly applied to lock down a single enemy at the sacrifice of the Bard being able to do much of anything other than keeping Motifs up.

Nightblade brings stealth (Conceal) and Lost Hope – a ranged, 45-second incapacitation ability. This allows the Bard to sneak up to within 20 meters of an enemy to stun them for 45 seconds.

Finally, Verse of Rebirth provides the Bard with a resurrection spell. Even if the rogue chooses not to play the Bard often, it’s handy to have a pocket Bard role to soul walk and raise a dead party up after a wipe.


There is no doubt that the Bard is a high-maintenance role to play. Keeping 25-second duration Motifs running at all times and keeping debuffs on the mob all while trying to maintain a useful amount of DPS or HPS is a heavy task. What you do for the raid will never truly be realized on any parser – you provide the group with a respectable amount of personal contribution as well as increasing the personal contribution of every member of the group. It may not be the most glamorous job, but, along with Archon, it is one of the most important roles in a raid.

Just remember, anyone can play a Bard. Anyone press 5 keys to keep Motifs rolling. A great Bard can make the difference between a win and a wipe by knowing when to use combo points and what Coda to use. There is more to barding then there first appears to be.

Go onward, into the inglorious brotherhood of Bards, and remember to stay awesome.

6 Responses to “Playing Rogue: Bard”

  1. Vam Says:

    Have you tried 44 Bard / 14 BD / 8 NB for the extra healing you get with Cadence after Deadly Strike?


    Aalwein Reply:

    I have not tried this one yet. I’m currently trying out the 51 Bard / 15 BD that seems to be the talk of my official forums post atm. I will give the 44 Bard a whirl at some point for testing, but I know my raiding guild absolutely relies on Verse of Joy for some fights – such as Infiltrator Johlen in GSB.


  2. Die by the Arrow » Blog Archive » Bringing a Little Music to the Group: a Bard Guide Says:

    […] Read “Playing Rogue: Bard” » […]

  3. Porkbeard Says:


    First off, I appreciate you taking the time out to making this guide. This has given me alot of insight to playing the Bard on Rift. Now that I have decided to Bard it, considering it is one of my favorite classes, I had a few questions for you.

    So do you prefer dual-wield daggers over the bow? ..or do you just keep a bow out and then switch when mobs get close?

    I see your build uses the Ranger tree a bit, so should I use my pet to keep some mobs at bay while I throw out my music at them?

    Last but not least, early on in my Bard adventures (levels), what combinations should I be focusing on? Considering the fact I won’t always be in 5-man groups.


    Aalwein Reply:

    With ranger as one of your souls, your weapon modifier for all abilities will come from your bow. This is good because a bow will usually have a higher base damage than any one-hander, giving your Cadence and finishers a boost.

    You can use a ranger pet for soloing up until level 30, but after that the pet won’t get any higher level so you’ll have problems using it to tank. You might want to put 5 points into Enduring until then, if you chose to pet tank, to gain that extra pet health. Switch to the Riftstalker/Bladedancer or Ranger build at this point.

    I tended to only use bard when I needed to solo an elite or particularly difficult enemy. For any other soloing, I preferred a full ranger spec simply because it’s a lot faster. Bard soloing is about outliving your opponent by self-healing. With a ranger or bladedancer solo spec, you’ll kill the enemy much faster and usually not need heals.

    If you’re looking for a soloing spec, check out my melee solo guide – you’ll probably be much happier soloing with that spec then with bard. Save your barding for groups and elites.


  4. syldon Says:

    damage modifers are based on range to the target. If you are in melee range then main hand and off hand weapons are the base damage. if at range then your ranged weapon will be the baseline for damage.

    thsi works the same way with sab specs


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