Planning our Warhammer hero
June 14, 2008
With no MMOG holding our attention at the moment, we’re left to dream of a time when we won’t be yelled at when we next dork it out, and that time approaches now that we’re again enthused what what Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (WAR) will bring to the MMOG table. What makes our impending go at WAR exciting is that we have our vast experience with World of Warcraft (WoW) to lean on, and so instead of gleefully pawing at the many class options like we did before WoW’s release, we’ve already narrowed down our options. Admittedly, these preferences may change as more details of WAR’s classes are presented, but for now, we have a fair estimate of the class options and play-styles WAR will present us. That said, allow us to think out loud for a moment as we grapple the idea of selecting a WAR class.
We look back, for a moment, at the classes we enjoyed in WoW. As far as class role is concerned, we’ve dealt damage, healed, and tanked in a variety of encounters, and have done the former two in raid environments. Deciding which we preferred is difficult, because each offered various benefits: damage was straightforward, healing was arguably boring in the long-term (but easy), and tanking was a rush, albeit with the greatest responsibility. There’s also the fact that healers and tanks are more likely to find groups, and for our return to MMOGs, group acceptance is a boon to casual gaming. While we won’t discard all DPS classes from the get-go, we’ll simply keep in mind that as a tie-breaker, we’ll be inclined to take the non-DPS class.
With the exception of the Hunter, every class we leveled to the end-game was a hybrid (Druid and Shaman), and the character we leveled furthest beyond these three was yet again a hybrid (Paladin). Of these four classes, two can be argued to be ranged classes, and two to be melee classes. All four, however, were good survivors, with powerful defensive capabilities. Even our brief stint with a Rogue (our fifth most-accomplished character) embodied the concept of a survivor. In fact, the things we liked about all of these characters was the fact that we could either out-live a battle, else escape it intact.
It’s pretty clear to us that outside of a tanking perspective, melee DPS is not our thing in general. During our Diablo and Darkstone days, we were huge fans of ranged classes, which we returned to when we adopted a Hunter as our main character in WoW. As it turns out, we’re also fans of utility, which is why we opted for our Hunter to eventually off-spec into something that wasn’t built around pure-damage. Oh, and we love PvP, particularly in a world-setting.
- No melee DPS. [Leaving us with 18 classes.]
- We like tanking, to a degree. With WAR’s de-emphasis on tanking because of PvP, however, we’ll ignore the option for a moment, even though it will undoubtedly be useful for PvE grouping. Still, it’s melee-oriented, and we were never huge fans of the combo system, the iterative manner of attacks required by WoW’s Warrior class, or the buff-bots that WoW’s Paladins were. In the end, we’ll reserve consideration for tanking classes down the road.
- We like healers. [Dropping melee-oriented healers, we have the Rune Priest/Zealot, and the Archmage/Shaman.]
- We like ranged-classes. [Leaving us with the Bright Wizard/Sorceress, the Engineer/Magus, the Shadow Warrior, and the Squig Herder.]
Still too many options with ten classes, even if we consider it six choices because some classes are reflections of one another. We can narrow down our ranged DPS classes by keeping those with utility, and dropping the one-trick ponies (i.e. glass cannons). While the Shadow Warrior sounds like it may be fun to play, the inability to quickly switch stances is bothersome, so we drop him, too.
This brings us to aesthetics, which we admit shouldn’t be a primary point in the decision-making process (because even ugly characters can be fun), but given the fact that each class in WAR has a mirror class from the opposing faction, aesthetics can actually narrow down the faction we decide to play. Perhaps the most subjective component in this brain-storming process, we’re left with the following.
- Rune Priest
- Squig Herder
Now we’re making some progress, both in terms of race, and class. For Order, we have a traditional healer concept that can be played as a DoTer/debuffer in the form of the Rune Priest, as well as a highly-defensive class that will likely excel at large-scale PvP (Engineer). On the Chaos side, we have a balanced hybrid designed to heal and damage (Shaman), as well as a very mobile class that can whittle-down opponents in the form of the Squig Herder. Obviously, we’re looking at Dwarves and Greenskins (Goblins) with this breakdown, which happen to mirror races we enjoyed playing in WoW. Let’s look at these classes in more depth.
Dwarven Rune Priest
This is clearly a group-oriented class, which isn’t ideal for a soloing, casual player. This doesn’t matter in WAR as much as it did in WoW, because in WAR, players can gain experience by PvPing, which means that soloing won’t be as necessary. Still, as a class whose runes act as buffs, the Rune Priest hearkens back to Paladin blessings in WoW, which was a pretty annoying component. In fact, one of the more tiring jobs of a Paladin was to renew blessings every few minutes, and it’s not an experience we want to emulate in a new game. Perhaps the only solace is that the Rune Priest has a mastery path that accentuates HoTs and DoTs, which makes the class a lot like a pet-less warlock. That’s an appealing factor, but the group-based abilities means that a group-less Rune Priest isn’t living up to his potential, and may very well be too simple when one wants to solo. In other words, the Rune Priest loses something when not played in a group. On second thought, the class may not be what we want from our primary, if not only, character, after all.
We’re tempted to liken this class to WoW’s Shaman class, in that the Shaman’s totems allowed the class to be the ultimate defensive class in Battleground scenarios. Similarly, the Engineer can crowd-control aggressors, place mines like Hunter traps, and fortify their positions with turrets that act like ranged, immobile pets. With at least one AoE heal, it sounds like the Engineer will be fantastic for PvP defense, but fails miserably in offensive or mobile situations. That is to say, the Engineer may find a use at an enemy’s defensive point by building up a counter to a Chaos Magus’ defenses, but the Engineer is very much a situational beast, who may not be the best class in short or mobile battles, which pretty much defines most solo play. If anything, the Engineer may be able to do well in the solo game if he can bring enemies to his fortification, but gives up a lot if he has to move. Still, the Engineer becomes our first choice should we decide to play on the side of Order, if only because he has high utility and survivability in the PvP game. Let’s hope they fix the weak dwarf movement animation before release.
The class name here borrows the from the totem-dropping class from WoW, only this time around, the Shaman is totem-free. Other than that, the idea of a ranged, spell-casting class with healing prowess is similar, only with WAR’s implementation, one has to heal in order to play effectively. That’s because the mechanics behind WAR’s Shaman is built around a “balance” meter, in which offensive attacks become stronger after a period of healing, and vice versa. Whether this means that the Shaman requires a back-up healer to be effective in groups (such as another Shaman to heal when the first is offensive, and vice versa) is a question we’ll have to wait to see answered, but in either case, the Shaman is a true hybrid. This may not appeal to those who enjoyed Enhancement or Elemental Shaman builds in WoW, but it’s the perfect Shaman implementation for us, and appears adequately flexible in PvE as well as PvP.
A pure DPS class with arguably less utility than WoW’s Hunter class. The types of Squigs usable, and how well of a “skirmish” fighter the Squig Herder is will determine just how into the class we are upon WAR’s release. This is the class we were most looking forward to when we first started reading about WAR’s classes, but for now, we’re in a holding pattern to see if WAR can truly fix the poor traits of WoW’s Hunter class. From videos on YouTube, we already dig the Squig movement animation, and the fact that Squigs fight on after their masters die is a nice bonus from WoW’s poor pet implementation. While we’re still gunning for some awesome information about this class, there’s simply not enough there for us to be set on playing a Squig Herder.
So it seems that, at the moment, we’re sadly following the masses when it comes to our faction and class choice. Yes, we’re also on the Goblin Shaman bandwagon, although we expect Shaman popularity to drop a fair amount once people realize that it’s not a class one can play as a pure damage dealer. Since we like healing so long as it’s not the only thing we’re doing, the Shaman makes for a flexible class that may never top a damage meter, but offers flexibility instead. The only real consideration regarding this choice is if the Shaman’s casting is ultimately not sustainable due to energy drain, but hopefully we’ll find out about that soon enough. For now, anyway, consider us a Goblin supporter, with a staff first, and a bow second.