The Art of the Cleric

Fallout 4 is, and continues to be, a complete blast. While I’ve only recently discovered the joy of settlement building (the key is to build one giant fortress, not a bunch of stupid houses), I have thoroughly been enjoying the playstyle that I laid out at the start of my journey, that of a Gramaton Cleric, teeming with reckless abandon and itching for destruction. He is cold, calculated, and ruthless with a trigger finger quicker than his wit. While I expected to be able to play this style, I never expected the type of massive destruction I am capable of waging was part of the game.

When I placed my stats, I hemmed and hawed for a bit about the perfect placement. I fudged around with a number of different combinations. None made me happy. Ultimately, I gave up on balance and skewed hard into the two S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Traits I wanted the most: Agility and Perception. Luck was a close third. Charisma, Intelligence, Endurance and Strength all suffered as a result, but I tool it in stride. I rarely play characters with those specific deficiencies. One major side effect, though, was that I was not going to be able to be good with Melee Weapons. With a starting Strength of 4, my damage with close combat weapons was going to be mighty low. I gave up being a Ninja before it even started.

With that decision made for me, I was dedicated to becoming a Cleric. I would need as much damage boosting perks as possible to make up for the significantly reduced damage that pistols do. I had my eye on a few perks that looked to be standouts, and started pursuing them.

It was simple, really, as I went all in on Agility, pushing it to 10 almost as fast as I could in order to get the first level of Gun Fu. That perk, combined with Gunslinger, was going to help me put out the most damage as fast as I could, to as many targets as I could see. Gun Fu gives you bonus damage when your attacking additional targets in V.A.T.S, adding 25% damage to the 2nd target and beyond at level 1, 50% to target three and over at level 2, and at the final level, each target, starting with the fourth, takes automatic critical hits. This single perk made me near fearless as I stroke into Raider encampments begging for each mob to step into the light so I could push the damage up further and further.

Gunslinger is the simple and obvious perk for the build, giving additional damage to non-automatic pistols at each level, plus additional bonuses: 20%  at level 1, 40% and further range  at level 2, 60% and even further range at level 3, and 80% + Chance to disarm at level 4 with level 5 being double damage, huge chance to disarm and the possibility of crippling limbs.

Lastly, I picked up Better Criticals as soon as I could. I really enjoyed the active critical system, so I thought this would be a great way to make them worth while. I wasn’t wrong. The perk is amazingly simple in its execution, buffing your critical damage by 50%, 100% and 150%. Just that easy.

Early on, I thought these were going to be the bread and butter of my build, and for a long time, It was. I didn’t feel a need to focus further on killing, so I took some of the basic perks. Then, when the opponents got a bit harder, I started searching for a way to do a bit more damage. It was in this search that I found the two best abilities I have, the ones I use every fight no matter what, and that make me very dangerous to the wasteland denizens.

Penetrator: Oooh boy. This one does a million things, and not one of them are advertised in the description. The first rank lets you shoot through cover at a reduced accuracy. I tool this because I was sick and tired of only having a 10% shot on someones face as they peeked around the corner. The second level lets you shoot through things completely unimpeded, taking no penalty to accuracy in V.A.T.S.

Those abilities sound good enough by themselves, but what they don’t tell you is that being able to shoot through cover and objects means that you can shoot through anything to hit anything.
For Example:

  • I can shoot through the front of a robot to hit the combat inhibitor on the rear of the robot, turning it on his friends.
  • I can shoot through the chest of a man in power armor to take out his Fusion Core. This depowers his armor, creates a mini nuclear explosion, and likely forces him out of the power armor, making him easier to fight.
  • I can shoot through the chest of a sentry bot to take out its Fusion core. This takes a normally very difficult monster down in three hits.
  • I can shoot through other enemies to hit the enemy I want. This will do damage to both targets. With Critical hits, If I can get a pair of heads lined up, I can, and have, kill two enemies with a single shot. This ability does not work on energy weapons, so I’ve kept myself limited to Ballistic  weaponry, but it does the trick right good.

Penetrator is so good, I recommend it to anyone not using energy weapons or explosives. Turns out, neither have the ability to punch through objects, so will fizzle or explode on contact with the first object.

The second perk that bent the game neatly in half is Critical Banker. Criticals are an active part of the game, and being able to have more than on on tap has been exceedingly helpful. in addition to them being extremely potent on my character (see: Better Criticals), they are automatic hits in V.A.T.S, meaning that I can choose a tough target for my third or fourth choice in vats, and get a pile of bonus damage on an almost guaranteed miss that I can manufacture into an unavoidable attack. I’m not going to lie, its pretty rad.

The final piece of the puzzle is my gun. the 10mm pistol is extremely versatile, able to have a number of mods attached to it. By picking all of the modifications that add to fire rate (and therefore reduce the AP cost in Vats) and maxing out my agility, I am able to get about 15 shots in a single vats bar. Further, I have a Lucky Pistol, one that dropped from a legendary encounter. This Gun does Double Critical damage and my Critical Bar fills 15% faster. Now, I’m not a genius when it comes to math, but reducing my crit bar from needing 14 hits to fill to needing 4 is not something that seems to be “15%” I don’t know how this gun works, but its damned amazing.

With Critical banker and the Lucky Gun, I’m storing a crit every 4 shots for later use. With my modified Pistol, I get 15 shots in an action bar. This means, from a purely, 100% hit ratio, I can get up to 6 critical hits on a single target if I come in fully stocked up. Sadly, the Critical hits don’t seem to play into filling the crit bar.

At level 34, I am currently able to walk into almost any like-level supermutant camp and start destroying them. I really, really enjoy this build and am looking forward to 80 MORE hours with it, and I’ve wrote out my build below. Its not completely optimized because there are somethings I think you need to have. I could do better:

E: 3


Armorer 1: (for those must have armor mods!)
Lockpick 4gotta have either this or Hacker.
Toughness 1: +10 DR sounded really good at the time
Cap Collector 1: Caps are money. Money is time. I need more money.
Gun Nut 1: To enable better mods on my lifeblood, the Pistol
Medic 1: 40% healing with the Stimpack is leagues better than 30%
Gunslinger 4: because more damage is the best thing in a game like this.
Gun-Fu: See above. Massive damage to numerous mobs.
Fortune FInder: Caps. must have more caps.
Scrounger: Bullets are something that can be very hard to come by. Thankfully, thanks to an early scrounger, I’ve never run out of 10mm.
Better Criticals: Big spikes of damage when you need it most.
Critical Banker: Pig Spikes of Damage when you need it most ON DEMAND!





  • Devonian Maher

    I went full sniper and wish I had put a few more points in a starting Stat to skew. I have gone sniper all the way to gun upgrades have been very important

  • Tionas

    Its one of the two predominant styles I’ve encountered. Everyone is a sniper or a Melee Character, so I went a different direction.