Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Duality of My WAR

As I have mentioned in past posts, I’m simultaneously leveling up two characters at the same time. The primary reason I started leveling this way is because my good real life friends who play tend to play less than I do and I by spreading myself out, I can ensure that I am always in the same tier. As of this writing, I’ve hit Rank 28 on both my Archmage and my Bright Wizard.

Honestly, I wish I had done this in WoW. It’s technically taking me twice as long to level to 40, but I’m not missing much content and the change of pace when I switch toons is really refreshing. Of course, it’s not really taking twice as long as I get the benefit of rested XP pretty frequently. All in all, this is a really smart choice and I definitely think this will be my approach with future MMOS.

The Archmage
During preview weekend and open beta, my primarily goal was to find the class I would enjoy playing at release. I played every class (or the mirror) until Rank 8 or higher with the notable exception of the tank classes and the melee healers. The Archmage was by far my favorite class during this search.

As far as soloing goes, the Archmage might be the best class in the game. The ability to deal a moderate amount of damage from range and heal yourself is always a powerful combination in any MMO. The best WoW comparison would be a Boomkin Druid, but with a better range of damage spells. In my experience, few of the classes can easily solo Champion mobs of the same level, but the Archmage can solo anything short of a Hero as long as it doesn’t have a nasty knockdown.

This soloing ability holds true in PvP as well. Witch Elves eat Archmages alive, Disciple of Khaines/Marauders are beatable but difficult, Shamans/Zealots are a mostly a draw, and the others are easy to kill. Even a Sorceress is easy to kill if you realize that you are getting targeted by them before they deal too much damage. Even better, a series of long-range instant cast DoTs makes it hard to run from an Archmage and stay alive.

This is also a difference maker class in group PvP. The ability to heal (and more importantly resurrect) is powerful stuff. There is a reason why Healers get targeted first, so being good at what you do – staying alive and keeping others alive – is one of the major keys to success.

BUT – the impact you have on the group is more reactive. You don’t so much decide the outcome as prevent a negative outcome. If people do stupid stuff or won’t do the smart thing, then all the heals in the world aren’t going to help anyone. And really, as a healer, the fate of what the group does or doesn’t do is not really up to you but up to others. You are just there to make sure they stay alive to do it.

As I wrote a while back, that is particularly frustrating when healers get the blame for the group failing. I’m reminded of a few scenarios from this weekend in which we had a surprisingly large number of healers and little DPS. We didn’t die often or frequently, but we sure couldn’t get anything done either. A defensive game of constantly healing and never advancing is as sure a way to a defeat as an overly aggressive team that spreads itself thin.

Bright Wizard
If ever there was a game in which the term glass cannon was appropriate, it is the Bright Wizard in Warhammer. By comparison to the Archmage, the solo ability of a Bright Wizard is dismal and pathetic. Part of the issue is that Bright Wizards suffer from Combustion as a mechanic.

Basically, every damaging spell increases your combustion which increases your damage dealing output. However, as Combustion increases, so does the risk of an explosion that deals damage to you.

The Bright Wizard has incredible AoE damage output abilities. However, building these up on multiple mobs also means getting generating lots of Combustion. If you are solo, handling more than one (possibly two) normal mobs results in multiple Combustion explosions and lots of damage from the mob. Your survivability in that situation is really really low. In other words, you’ll die – a lot.

The same really holds true in PvP as well. If you are caught in a 1v1 situation, just about any class can kill a Bright Wizard. The only situation where that is not the case is when you catch someone by surprise and manage to hit them like a truck before they realize it. So yes – they do a ton of damage – but they also take a lot of damage from others and their own Combustion mechanic.

However, pair the Bright Wizard with a healer and they will unleash hell upon you. The Bright Wizard earns the reputation for being overpowered not because of their own abilities, but because other classes used with the Bright Wizard unlocks the full potential of the damage that they can deal.

One of my good friends is a Rune Priest. The other is an Ironbreaker. If the Ironbreaker places a grudge on me, and the Rune Priest is there for heals – the only thing limiting the amount of damage I can deal is the number of mobs or players within my AoE spells. Now it’s worth noting that it takes three classes to do this – two of which have little DPS on their own. It’s the synergy of the three that is powerful, not the Bright Wizard by himself.

This part of the equation is lost when people look at the Scenario scores and see Bright Wizards and Sorcerers at the top of the charts. They are simply realizing the damage output for a much larger group effort. That’s really the Bright Wizard’s job – to influence the fight by the sheer magnitude of the damage that they deal. Just like it’s the tank and healer’s job to keep the Bright Wizard alive long enough to secure victory.

Solo Players in Scenarios
One of my single biggest bitches at the moment is when a Bright Wizard, Witch Hunter or even Engineer goes into a group by themselves in a Scenario. The way XP/Renown contribution works, the most points are awarded to the PARTY that gets the killing blow. If a DPS player sits in a party by themselves, they don’t have to share the reward with the other group members when they get kills.

It really bugs the shit out of me when I see some selfish prick join a group by themselves to soak up the XP/Renown. The simple fact is that they can’t do their job without the support classes.

Even Shadow Warriors who do a moderate amount of damage have powerful support debuffs that enable the "group" to be more successful. In a Scenario, it’s never a solo effort and it’s complete bullshit that a Bright Wizard who is going to get 10+ death blows as a result of other players healing him and debuffing his targets won’t share the XP/Renown with that other player.

As my Bright Wizard, I make a point of staying in the default group or even joining the group with the healers. It makes their job easier and they get to share in part of the reward. As my Archmage, I pointedly DO NOT heal anyone who goes solo. I would rather lose than give that prick more reward than he deserves.

I actually wrote an addon yesterday for that exact purpose. I’m calling it Asshat and it allows you to mark players with a custom note. It will work for friendly or hostile players and the note shows up in big bold text in the target frame whenever you target them. While the purpose of it is for Asshats, you could actually use it to note exceptional players or enemy targets that you want to focus on.

Note: Asshat has been posted to Curse, but hasn't syndicated to the site yet. This will happen whenever the admin approves the file upload.

1 comment:

syncaine said...

The DoK plays similar, but has a bit more dps in exchange for weaker healing. The main weakness being a lack of a single, burst heal. Everything is either a full group heal or a HoT.

I duo with a witch elf, and we can basically tear anything up to a hero one level below us, assuming the hero is not a super high dps hero. Similar results in RvR, I can keep her up and she tears people up. I can also generally ignore one target attacking me, more and it gets tough.

But overall, WAR really nails class synergy, especially in RvR, which is very tough to do.