Bandwagons Part 1

September 14, 2009 at 4:44 am | Posted in Captain, LotRO, Minstrel, Runekeeper | 6 Comments
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Wotcha everyone

Siege of Mirkwood, eh?

There’s going to be a scary amount of leakage, comment and Prophecies of Nerf and Doom about what’s coming up for Lord of the Rings with the next paid expansion, so why should we be left out, eh?

Well, apart from the Prophecies of Nerf and Doom.

I’ve really enjoyed my time in Middle Earth so far, and whilst there are things that I wouldn’t have put in the game if I were one of the almighty developers, I feel I can look back, judge them by the content so far, and be pretty sure that they’ll continue to put more fun in the game.

Besides, I have a lifetime subscription, so I’m unlikely to be going anywhere soon.

What will this new and exciting expansion mean for Minstrels, Lore-Masters, Runekeepers and *cough* Captains?

I’ve no idea, really.  But I think I’ll be following the leaks with some interest.

Cheers,

Hawley.

Half-Brick Heroes?

September 5, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Captain, healing, LotRO, Minstrel, Runekeeper | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I do wonder if I get a little too jealous of Minstrels at times.  I can’t help feeling that Captains are made of purest evil because they have the odd healing skill.

Let me explain in a little further detail.  I get jealous of the skills and abilities of my chosen class, and I hate it when other classes can do something that my chosen class can do.  I could probably try and dress it up so that I sound very reasoned and learned, but it all boils down to the fact that I want to be as much of a special snowflake as online gaming will allow.

A belief I adhere to is; “Do whatever it is that your class alone can do, and do it well”.  In Lord of the Rings Online, Minstrels used to be the healing class of choice.  In fact, one of the things I really like about Lord of the Rings Online is that with so few classes compared to other games (ten for World of Warcraft, two hundred and seventy-four for your average SOE game) you could have quite a cool amount of individuality in a group.

So, apart from Captains and their evil healing ways, Minstrels were somewhat alone in that whole healing thing.  And yes, I’m ignoring the fact that the Lore-Master has a heal every half-hour or so (it feels like that when you’ve no Minstrel in the group, at least).

But then Moria gets released and the Rune-Keeper appears on the scene.

Boy, did it look like a threat.  In fact, it felt like every time Hawley even thought of chucking a heal, I could hear a flick-knife *snick* from a Rune-Keeper grinning in the shadows.

Paranoid?  Nah…

Now I might sound like someone who only ever plays a Minstrel, but there are times when I do like to get out a stick-hitter, and go and hit things with sticks.  And I’ll never be a stranger to low-level alts (it’s having the patience to get them to high levels that’s the issue).

So I decided to see what these here little fellers are like.  Do they really hide out in shadows with flick-knives, ready to shiv up Minstrels?  Time to find out.

A couple of fences needed climbing first, though.  The first was race.  Yeesh, playing the race card in online games…  I’m (generally) a humanist (is that a real term?  Does it apply here?).  It’s rare that I play a race that is not human.  It’s a deep-rooted thing of long experience, but it largely boils down to this; Elves are bow-wielding super-beings, whilst dwarves are the boiled down essence of dour and doughty.  But humans fighting huge, evil monsters?  That’s a struggle that real people could be facing.  It could (it never would, though) be me.

However, Humans can’t be Rune-Keepers.  Bah humbug.  Dwarf or Elf only.  So I went for…  An elf.  Why?  Well, I don’t like short in online games.  It makes the perspective look all wrong to me, and I’m easily confused at the best of times.  Oh, and those beards scare me.

So, an elf it is.  But then again, I find it hard to act all refined and posh at the best of times, so I named him a good barbarian name, and I’ll probably offend many players of elves by being far too common.  Thus Ataulf the elven Rune-Keeper popped into existence.

From here, it’s having a look at the starter zones, and extremely low-level rune-keeping.

I didn’t see much healing to begin with.  Starter zones seem more of a soloing thing to me anyway; you don’t particularly need to group up to complete any quests, and there are no instances that require you to group up.  Time flew by.

And it was only at level 14 that I realised that it might have been some time since I last visited a trainer.  Only to discover that yes, it had been eight levels since I’d last visited a trainer.

This was possibly because I was having fun playing a low-level Rune-Keeper.  I had one heal that was a small heal over time, and I could drop a rock that looked like something that bad guys should impale themselves on at the climax of the movie (surprisingly sharp and pointy), that healed a small amount every few seconds, but did it for some time.  A bit like a Shaman’s Healing Stream Totem.

Only more rock-like.

And I also had a few ranged damage spells.  Some fast casting light damage, some mid range damage over time, and a lightning spell that was a lovely fast hitter, but only once I’d “attuned” during the course of a fight.  It looked great, like a miniature version of the Loremaster’s lightning, and was a fantastic way to finish a fight.

It really did get to the stage where I had to resist the urge to shout; “The power!  The POWER!” and then laugh maniacally.  In point of fact, discovering I had all these extra powers somewhat diluted my power-crazed trip into DPSland.  Suddenly I had a bigger heal over time, and some utility spells.

So now I’m close, but not at, level 15.

How was it?

Well, with a lack of heals and quite a bit of ranged nastiness, levelling was pretty easy.  It’s a strange feeling seeing mobs hit the deck half way to me, but I could get used to not being clawed half to death every fight.  The effects look pretty cool, and are a lot more obvious than the Loremaster, which at times seems almost ashamed to be a spell-flinger.  Yes, Tolkein’s world doesn’t have wizards as a rule, but there has to be a game somewhere.

Not having a big stick, or even a weapon of any kind, looked very different.  Runes seemed a strange choice to me, but they’re quite a funky and different choice.  And there is also the fun of running around unleashing all sorts of malarky with what amounts to a couple of half-bricks.

Will I continue playing Ataulf?  Aye, I think I will.  I’ll see about getting him to the point where instancing starts, and then see about joining a few groups so I can see what he’s like as part of a group.

I like the Rune-Keeper.  It’s combined two elements which I rarely get to use; heal over time, and damage over time, and put them in a fun and funky half-brick brandishing package.

Using hots and dots is novel and interesting enough for me to make the whole package seem fresh and fun, especially when taking a break from playing direct heal chuckers.

Are they made of the same purest evil that Captains are made of?  Well, they don’t have all the really useful mini-buffs that Minstrels can cast, and I can’t tell if they can heal as well, so the jury is still out.

Cheers,

Hawley

The Secret Lives of Healers (or, how we met)

September 3, 2009 at 4:28 am | Posted in Captain, Grouping, healing, LotRO, Minstrel | Leave a comment
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A long long time ago, when I was still playing Dark Age of Camelot I think, I read a piece somewhere about how the best healers were those who could chat in group/raid while healing. As a multi-tasking test more than anything else. Since I’m horribly chatty, I took this as gospel and as a validation of the fact I’m just as likely to be chatting as healing someone at any given situation!

So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that the way me and Hawley met was via chat, during a raid where were were the only healers. Our kin ‘borrowed’ Hawley from our allied kin to boost our minstrel numbers for the 12-man Rift raid in LotRO. I am even relatively sure he offered himself up for this. We didn’t have enough minstrels to regularly go twice a week, and his kin had plenty of healers and weren’t actually raiding as seriously as us. So Hawley became ours for the nights we needed.

Me, I played a minstrel up to 50 so I could also bolster the numbers of real healers. But I quite often went as Captain healer anyway. And of course, we introduced ourselves on the way to the first fight, had a little chat about strategies, who was most likely to die first, what order we tended to heal people, etc etc. Just in way of a professional greeting.

But, by boss no. 2 we’d kind of moved to chit-chat, and jokes. I’ve always chatted to the other healers on raids, during the raids. We share tactics. That’s good. In some MMOs we have to take care of overhealing, so discussion is very important. But, in other cases, it’s just nice to hang out and chat with people who face the same strategic choices and stresses as you.

Let’s face it, we all know healers get yelled at a lot. Whether right or wrong it’s basic human instinct to want to not die! Especially if there’s someone there who can prevent it by pressing a few buttons. But, there are times, when fights are going well.. when healers are really just on stand-by mode. And we can spot those times, and break out of them when needed. In those times, I’d say I generally exchange some kind of chit-chat, mostly via page. Teamspeak makes raidwide chatter easier, but often, in a new raid, the talk needs to be kept down a little. So typing offers me that release. And I was glad to find, in Hawley, a fellow chatterbox.

No-one died unnecessarily on our watch, and we continued our conversations every friday and sunday at the Rift for many months. It helps to be friendly enough to de-brief after a rough fight also, or to reassure that nothing could have gone differently (or discuss how healing could have been better). I chat with most healers I raid with.. sometimes I think it’s just me, but they always join in and seemingly enjoy it! I think it helps build a healer support structure, since the only people that really know how it feels to heal and to be yelled at are the raid healers. And to support one another and be sociable is the main reason I play MMOs. I’ve made a lot of healing friends, and no-one’s ever told me to shut up and get back to healing!

In other games, I have been told off for typing in group while healing, I guess that’s why I page people mostly these days. And because I don’t think my healing suffers in any way from the chatter. I’m no fool, I pick my moments, as do the people I chat to. In fact, we need the behind-the-scenes chat to let off steam. It can be a little stressful, and anything said in a raid in private chat, stays in private chat and is forgotten afterwards. Honest!

Arbitrary

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