I want to play through the game as a cleric, I did a three wquarter gameplay as a thief and wish to try something else. Could someone recommend a strategy and build for the early game(up untill ringing the first bell) I would like to focus more on offensive casting and healing myself, I will default back on a sword(an occult weapon of sworts not sure which though)
You'll struggle with offensive casting early on since you won't have any offensive miracles until you get them from events and covenants. If you want to use offensive casting early on, consider adding pyromancy into the mix. --- Luck and skill go hand-in-hand.
It's probably the hardest build to use early on, strait up. Until you can make divine/occult weapons and have access to sunbros and have beaten the Tomb of the Giants, you won't have much offense.
As the above said, use Pyromancy and I suggest either keeping on top of upgrading your Halberds/Claymores/Scythes to +10 until you can get divine, or just stick with a Drake sword and Lightning spear until you can manage to snag the embers needed to make faith scaling weapons.
Also, search Faith on here. There are a few good faith topics only a few pages down that have some nifty information.
You would still need faith to meet the miracles' prerequisites.
Pyromancy doesn't require any stats. So, as along as you make sure to free the pyromancy trainer in the sewer as early as possible, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to wield pyromancy as a cleric. --- Luck and skill go hand-in-hand.