Just felt like throwing my own 2 cents into the ongoing discussion.
I’m mostly going to be focusing on Nocturnal Sect, since that’s currently the biggest piece of dead weight on the class, and I see a lot more potential for it than SE has currently given it in terms of giving AST a more unique feel. I’ll give an example of a possible revision:
Nocturnal Aspected Benefic: Heals for 190 potency, shields the target for double the amount healed.
Let me explain. The current NAB is rarely worth using over Benefic II in terms of raw heals, and doesn’t measure up favourably to Adlo either. This revision is still a weaker total effectve heal than either, but it’s 380 potency shield is actually better than Adlo on a regular hit. Crit Adlo is still miles better than this even on crit, so SCH doesn’t lose that aspect of it’s identity, but the better regular shield combined with the instant cast makes this a force to be reckoned with, and worth considering.
Nocturnal Aspected Helios is more directly comparable to Succor in it’s current state; the potencies aren’t that far apart, and unlike Adlo, Succor doesn’t benefit from the crit bonus. However, there is still one crucial difference between the two: NH has to compete with the regular Helios for use, while Succor is the only AoE heal a SCH will reliably have (all his other ones have cooldowns). Therefore:
Nocturnal Aspected Helios: Heals for 90 potency, puts a shield on the target equal to double the amount healed.
Again, the total heal is still less than Succor and regular Helios, but the shield is better. Between those changes, not only does AST’s identity as the party support specialist get more established, but Nocturnal ASTs become viable partners to a WHM. I could even see a N!AST/SCH pair here, with SCH no longer needing to cast their expensive shields needing fewer ED, leading to more Lustrate and Soil going out.
And I’m not even done yet. Part of the problem with Nocturnal Sect was that it worked badly with Time Dilation and to a lesser extent Celestial Opposition. Extended times work great for HoTs, but are useless on shields. Thus:
Time Dilation: When used under Nocturnal Sect, beneficial effects on the target have their potency increased by 50%. (This might not be possible to program into the engine, so having it affect every buff applied to the target by the caster in the next 3-5 seconds should do the trick)
Combined with a card, that’s like a second RR, just like in Di. Combined with a shield, it’s a very powerful piece of mitigation. Making CO put a 5-10% increase on buffs should serve similarly, although 5 seconds only amounts to 1-2 extra ticks on regen, so it might not be worth changing.
The other things that need adjustments are the cards and Collective Unconscious. I have nothing to say about the cards that hasn’t already been suggested. I had an idea for CU that would make it into more of an AST thing than a bad copy of a WHM or SCH thing, but thinking about it, it has a few problems.
Basically, standing in CU would make any buffs applied by you stop counting down. In keeping with the theme of improving Noct, this would cause your shields to absorb damage equal to their potency from every attack without ever falling off, but combined with a crit AB enhanced with TD with the other changes I’ve outlined risks spiralling into OP territory fast, even if you reduce the duration, extend the cooldown and make it double the potency of Diurnal regens to keep the two stances from getting unbalanced again. Although one might say that an invincible tank for 18s, RNG permitting (for crits) isn’t worth the risk of one of the healers having to stand right next to the tank in question for the entire duration. It’s just a thought. Everything here is just thoughts.