I like bard

I didn’t use to. Back in the murky days I created what would have been a haggle bard. Just good enough to get to 20 and then it was going to turn stuff into plat. That was back when plat had value and there was a thriving market. That was also back when random items had no value (kinda like the post Shadowfells days when both plat AND random and most named items has no value).

So my bard turned into a mule. And there he remained until years later Turbine decided to get all ‘bards are cool’ and release a new enhancement (Swashbuckler) and redo two others. That made me curious. And I decided to invest some time in redoing my dusty Drow bard and see if I could make something out of it.

First – it’s clear that I don’t have enough gear to make it as well as I can, that’s alright. I barely had any tomes to give my Drow, especially now when tomes seems to be almost impossible to pull (remember that +2 loot the other weekend, the one that usually means that you pull a few tomes? Nah – cob web was more like it). But I can see a kernel of potential.

The thing with bards (and lets not pretend that I’m an expert) is that unlike some classes this one require a little bit of work to get into style. They’re not bad – but you probably should TR a few times for those additional ability points. Plus a couple of Sorc TRs (or whatever) adds evocation and it’s going to be useful with those new SLAs.

The reason why I like the changes is because the old bard was relegated to Buffing and weak in most other aspects. It was mainly crowd control with lukewarm DPS and no real offensive edge, either as a caster or skirmishers.

The new changes makes Spellsinger the caster type, Warchanter the caster fighter type and Swashbuckler the scrapper. And they’re okay with it. I like to combine Spellsinger and Swashbuckler and my idea is to run it on a draconic blue dragon destiny. That works well with Horns of thunder. Swashbuckler adds the in your face aspect of this bard build, with all the SLAs as additional damage. And most of the SLAs, like shout and horns of thunder hits for 500-1200 in damage. That’s pretty nice; the downside is that it’s a fairly short range, more like a cone. So getting close and dirty is a must to get the most out of those SLAs and that’s best achieved while stabbing something with a good weapon.

The benefit from this bard setup is a self sufficient caster skirmisher. With self healing, regeneration of SP, basic and essential buffs like blur and displacement along with whatever else is needed to get the most of the enhancement system and spells. This will work well with several items (at least in early epics) but less so towards cap. Like Sonic – the problem with this is that if you want to swashbuckle here’s nothing that works better than the chime from Canniths challenges. But it’s a Sonic lore 15% with 90 spell power deal. And while not bad certainly not the max at 28. You could add an augment, now you’re talking about 138 and better. Or you could tier 1 craft a thunderforged item and get 150. But then you’re giving up DPS, since you can only use weapon to get the benefit of Swashbuckling and there’s no sonic buckler or orb for late game stuff.

I’m opting for the libram anyways, but that also means saying goodbye some of the possibilities of a thunderforged orb. Such as using it for spell power and eventually tier 3 lore and perhaps Evocation DC for tier 2. That would go well with a all DPS type item like the citw rapier or a thunderforged one.

And that’s the basic dilemma. Give up Libram and additional lore crit and 11 charisma OR go for more sonic spell power and lore?

We’ll see, I’m only 24 yet and it’s going well, but I doubt it’s ready for EE. And that’s always the goal.

DPS is king, but not really

There’s one reason why DPS is king and that’s because very little else works in EE – but I don’t do EE all the time, in fact most of the time I do normal or hard, dependent on the quest and what I need to finish. I’m not in it for the ‘challenge’. Particularly after the first time. That’s not the same as challenging myself – I do that. Some people just have to play EE – good for them. So they’re flexing mortal fear thunderforged, multi classing with Monk and splashing Pally.

I look at what I like to play instead, find the solution to a particular problem and approve the odds until I’m able to do it without major issues, as difficult as I can. So when I first made my tier 2 thunderforged Scimmi and tier 2 Khopesh I had DPS in mind and then I started thinking. By inspiration I put a meteoric augment and noticed that the procs could knock over critters. So I figured 2 must be better than one – so I had some valor and mats and I created another scimmi, all with procs in mind for critter clearing (I usually burst multi arrow with fury shots to death, better temporary DPS). This one added 150 Devotion as tier 2 and the fire proc as tier 2, that’s 200-300 in fire AOE damage (5%) and tier 3 in the distant future will be the fire proc on crit with 2 negative levels on vorpal. With the Scimmi crit chance of 15+ it’ll be great where it counts.
And add to that 1 meteoric augment in each scimmi.

When it goes off it’s like 4th of July. The tier 2 proc is like a fire explosion and the 2 meteoric procs going off, some times at the same time (one from each side – kinda cool) will smack the goods out of anything. It works. I’m seriously considering creating a GS item with displacement clickies for when it gets REALLY hairy but the whole quick smack with lots of procs is nice. It keeps critters on the floor followed by occasional fury hits for the tougher stuff.

It’s definitely not ultimate DPS. First of all Scimmis. Better crit profile but only about 150-200 crit hits with my ranger. Add to that about 800-1200 fury hits. And since one has a tier 1 devotion it’s less dps overall. The procs are okay, I don’t know if the procs adds enough DPS to compensate for using scimmis or using less then ideal dps. But the key here isn’t about ideal or maximal DPS, but to solve an issue with being surrounded without a good way of knocking things over like stun or trip. Those features on my fighters makes their survivability ideal for pumping as much as possible into DPS.

The meteoric strikes are therefor great – it’ll knock things over long enough to add 1 or 2 more procs and I can’t wait for the tier 3 where it procs on crit – that’ll make things even better.

Ontop of this I’ve managed to pull a few more items to make my ranger a tad sharper (just need a few 3 to 4 upgrade tomes, dex and con and then a 4 to 5 for wisdom, just to add a few more SP). With the necklace from haunted I have more dex and con. That’s more hit points and more things like reflex. With a EE goat boots (with a sucky permutation) I have 15% alacrity for both melee and ranged. I need to find the trinket but I currently use the compass from TOR for true seeing and the augment slots. I’d love to find something that fills that ‘hole’ in my build that allows me to use a much better cloak than the Deadly of accurate. But these are small things. With a reflex save of 44 I’m doing okay – I’d love a much better reflex save but for what I need it for it’s doing it’s job. And that is what counts.

I like my Ranger

I sometimes evaluate things according to how useful a toon is in lots of types of quests. Not just maximum DPS. Like my Sorc delivers a barrage of spell that can clear out anything. It’s quite useful. Or my Arti – my arti excels in okay DPS through draconic and rune arm and the whole array of buffs and trap skills. And on the fringe we have my 2 fighters – one half tank but good 2 weapon fighting (while blitzing) and then the pure g-axe swinging half orc. He’s shelved right now because there’s no point dragging him into groups where he’ll require so much healing. Great DPS, just no self sufficient enough.

And then there’s my ranger (sure I got other toons too, but I’m trying to illustrate the bandwidth from specialization to massive DPS). He’s not superb DPS but good – using Fury of the Wild for those fury hits. Be it through multi arrow or just single hits. He sports a black dragon set, helmet and armor – 2 shadow weapons, a scimmi that will eventually become a mortal fear weapon and a khopesh that adds paralyze for tier 3 I will get it crippling flames. So Mortal Fear and a chance for negative levels. He also got a bow – and I’m thinking I want something more DPS for tier 3. Sure, mortal fear is nice, but a lot of the ranged bursts are aimed against bosses and mortal fear won’t really do much against them. True, there’s the force damage, but I’m thinking something a little more.

What makes my ranger so good is that it adds survivability – through a good reflex save, excellent dodge and other features like self healing. I still use a pair of con op goggles for that added SP, so I never run out while self healing. It’s great – and I proved it to myself by doing haunted halls and doing really well.

Not that my Arti or Sorc struggles, other then against Miior – both of them puts out lots of DPS, but it’s hairy against the white dragon and Miior is like 1 hit, run in circles until the stack goes away, then a few hits etc.

Now with my Ranger. Multi arrow will take care of whisper without worrying about the helmet horrors. The Mummy is a little bit hairier because of how the skellies keep spawning eventually overwhelming hirelings. But here’s where a good thing comes in – that meteor augment. 2% to fire off a meteor, doing fire and untyped damage. With a chance to knock down. I put it on my khopesh and it works.

Miior is actually a cake walk; other then the statues hits my Ranger won’t take electric damage (evades most of it) and with boots, ring and cloak, all adding electric absorb it’ll take a lot of stacks for that to ever count. So I just stand there, smack like crazy and add as much fury hits as possible. With a cocoon now and then followed by cure serious I’m good. Or you put the hireling healer away, tell him to stay and stand close enough to be healed but not to fry the healer and that part is even covered.

The giant skellie is just a matter of beating it up and then profit.

Even the white dragon is easy enough. The jumps and such will knock my Ranger over, but by circling and looking for the signs it’s easy enough to rotate. Most of the ice won’t hit him and I even have a cloak with some cold absorb. A few fury shots later and it’s done. To put it simply – he might not be the best DPS and most of it is burst, but through well rounded survivability and gear he’ll do most different quests without issue.

I’ve always liked him – from the many solo runs in Shavarath, slowly adding green steel items that provided survivability all the way to 28, where the different destinies have sharpened the edge a little. It might take him a little longer to clear a room, but he’ll do it without taking excessive damage. And that’s important too.

U22 revisited

I’m going to be honest; I was not happy with u22. Not because of E3BC mind you or anything else such as the guild ships. But because of yet another update with lots of new bugs and lack of polish. And I so wanted to like it.

So after my Ranger died a horrible death in a trap with a wonky trap DC – I took a breather – played some Warframe and got back in the game after a few days.
Update 22 is good – if you overlook the lack of polish and the broken mechanics. In fact I’ve learned to like the new ‘monster’ encounter – not because it’s ‘good’ but because while it’s mechanically broken the idea is pretty cool.

I really like precious cargo – it’s a fun ‘unusual quest’. I didn’t realize that you could finish the quest without being boarded by the massive ship but you can. Most of the time you will get boarded, but in this case they never manage to break the ship controls on the bridge and the ship kept on flying and the time ran out before they could ‘steal’ the engine.
I’ve also suffered one time when the pirates broke into the cargo hold and since there was no one there they plundered everything. I lost 3 chests and the chance of a named and to add injury to insult it was a time when I had managed to down 3-4 smaller pirate ships.

I have since learned that once the big ship arrives I will send all remaining crew to the cargo hold to guard the treasure. They’re going to get killed anyways and the large ship will break all remaining stuff. Might as well save the crew for other things.

I really like the items; I have one hat on my sorc – a great way to combine heavy fort, all the charisma he needs outside an additional +10 or +11 charisma item and true seeing. I also want one for my FvS. I also use the gloves on a lot of them; mostly for the heal amp and extra HP but also for the strength for secondary reasons like for my Arti – encumbrance.
I love the Rune arm, even if it struggles in EE and sometimes in EH. But for most part it delivers lots of 600-1200 hits and a lot of it is not saves, unlike before. Altho some of the critters still have a fantastic amount of reflex save – ridiculous so. The fix to rune arms so they take in account gear with evocation is great – it has really made a difference.
Speaking of gear; I now have an unlocked stealthy pilfer on my Arti and a unlocked libram on my FvS. They’re nice – I realize that this makes it very hard to find a good slot for something with true seeing since a lot of the trinkets comes with true seeing – but it has allowed me to combine a few things into one single great item. And now I can finally put the Cannith challenge belt in the bank – and replace it with something like con plus something else. Or whatever.

The current setup is pretty good – but lack maximized spell power. The Sage bracers for 20% Force crit. The stealthy pifler for everything but search (search augment added to the E3BC boots). EE Iron Beads for lightning lore and spell power – I know the rune arm comes with some but it’s not the 120 – it’s 114. Which is not shabby per say. Tier 2 shadow repeater – the one that’ll take me to mortal fear. I added a 138 impulse augment just to boost that as much as possible.

What I really want is a good deadly item for helmet – something like the dragon masque from the new raid. His search skill is now hitting 81 – 85 with GH and 4 more for find trap scroll. That’s almost 90 – that should be enough to find just about anything. Spot and such is not far behind either. Giving him a good solid advance warning of anything hidden.
All in all u22 is okay – I like the fact that you can easily teleport to any of the quests once you’ve done them previously and with the extended buffs you don’t have to go back and rebuff – you can now spend a few hours in the same place doing quests and wilderness stuff, which is great.

Update 22 and other stuff

I haven’t been playing DDO all that much. Pretty much since last time I posted. I think the whole ETR thing wore me out. And now with update 22 around the corner and other announcements I’m ready to get back in the saddle. U22 adds E3BC – I’m not entirely sold on the quests since most of them are of the ‘evade’ traps kind. It’s not really my thing; in fact when I ran it on Lam I took away that they’re translations of existing quests but not my cup of tea. Which of course doesn’t mean I won’t play them – I will. But they’re not going to be high on my list.

Then there are the new ‘monster’ encounter – pirate ships. I like the idea, but the AOE cannon stuff along with multum HP turns me off. Sure – they did seem to tune it down a little – but it’s still a HP grind – and the promise of boarding and destroying the ship from within is only possible with 1 or 2 of them. The others are just way to high up so we’re talking about standing there’s and beating it up. These are of course a couple of minor points but it negates the idea of many different tactics and make it nothing more then hit auto attack for x amount of minutes.

I’m more excited about changes to Paladins and armor in average with a better look at what heavy armor means compared to going without. Because right now no armor with evasion is king. And heavy armor might as well be like wearing tin foil. Shiny but inconsequential. With the changes coming PRR gets a boost for heavier stuff along with a new feature – MRR – Magic resistance rating. A way to resist magic incoming damage as part of wearing heavier armor – and I think a much better idea about the sacrifices with different armor types.

That gives the well armored player a boost in damage mitigation – the idea is that the no armor evasion tank gets hit for spikes of heavy hits (avoiding a lot of them) where as the heavy armor player have a more predictable damage distribution across the board.

The essential is a balanced approach where one takes massive damage in spikes and the other distribute the spikes across the board.

Then there’s a question of Paladins – they get more of a revamp where staying pure delivers the good stuff while splashing pally adds a benefit but not the entire enchilada. I think that’s great – instead of front loading Paladin splashes it’s not a question of light or heavy investment in Paladins – with the benefit of going pure. Which is really how most classes should work.

Hitting cap should be the best, unless you can finagle some kind of multi class that have a particular benefit without being so completely overpowering compared to doing a pure class. A pure class should be the master of its kind – a pure ranger should be either an excellent skirmisher (like tempest) or the best ranged (like arcane archer). A pure monk should always be sharper then a splashed. A pure fighter should always be a battle beast compared to a splash etc.

Right now x with Monk always have a better outcome than going pure – which is completely wrong.

And finally Epic Macabre. I’m not looking forward to it. Not unless they’re doing a serious rework of the quests. I don’t know if this means doing all the quests or just some as with E3BC – but all would add a tremendous amount of Epic quests that I personally would run much and some would at least enable Turbine to re-work them to be more solo friendly.

I know – some people just love to run in groups and I do too. But sometimes I want the freedom of running what I want and when and there are few Necro quests that works that way. Plus truth be told I find them boring.

The other thing is that it’s home to a raid that few dedicated groups run. And they are dedicated – but I’ve had my fill of raids with puzzles. I find them boring. Like the shadowdragon raid. There’s just too many mirror and special puzzles. And it’s no different than escorting Anna in CITW. I just doesn’t do it for me. Partly because functionally it’s so dumb. I get traps – but a choice of 2-3 special traps and what 6-8 ,mirror puzzles?

Vale would be a greater choice; there at least the puzzle is but one part. Maybe they didn’t see themselves trying to figure out Epic Green Steel but I have zero interest in Epic Macabre and those items.

True – there’s a potential to sell. Like E3BC most people don’t own Necro. Most people do own Vale. And this is a great way to add a little income for redoing old quests. I get why, I just don’t think it’s going to be met with great enthusiasm.

Big boats and quick ends

I went on Lam yesterday because a new version is up and some of the amenities were working. I have the second largest boat, since the Man o War wasn’t up and running last time. It’s big; I can only guess how much bigger the Man o War is.

This boat has top, first, second, third and Cargo hold. It’s big. There’s some videos floating around in the forum for anyone that want to get an idea.

Now I could finally add the stuff; which is pretty straight forward. Go to a spot, click on the thingy just as if you were adding a shrine, pick what you want there and set it. It’s easy to undo too – undo and you still have it and own it and you can either add it somewhere else or just keep it like that for another time. And they’re unlimited time; no more running to every spot to add more time.

All small amenities ends up towards the hull in smaller rooms where as the large ones end up in the middle of the ship in larger areas. And I tell you, once you put these things in every spot will turn into a fully functional area with all the tools for the trade. And it can be quite the djungle in there.

Downside is that right now there’s no good way of knowing what an amenity does. The mouse over doesn’t work right and there’s no info text other then what it’s called in the interface. Plus you can’t sort it, so you should guess that higher guild level requirements means better stuff, but since you don’t know for sure I was trying to buy everything that had high guild level, but had to scan the list first to make sure.

Once that’s all set you go to the top deck, hit the buff all button and suddenly have a buff bar full of stuff. You can mouse over those for info and most of them are guild buffs. So if you have some form of resist, the resist will stack with that. Not that it mattered much once I hit the E3BC wilderness area.

So here I am, fully buffed, ready to go out there and check it out. You know – what that hole monster/pirate ship was about. ¬†Well – to my surprise I didn’t really notice until I was getting hit, dying and dead.

Here’s the deal. I was close to the quest entrance to that quest where you have the ship wreck on the beach. There was some stuff there. I nailed them, and suddenly I started getting hit by these HUGE lightning spheres. Doing 300-400 in damage each (so much for 60 in resist). They fired quickly too. The guys coming down on ropes were not the issue; the big fricken ship firing lighting spheres was.

I hope that’s a question of balance; because these AOE attacks won’t miss you and unless you got evasion it’ll be toast quicker then lightning.

I revived, pulled away towards this ballista. I start firing. The ballista apparently either don’t do any damage or exploded BEFORE it hit the ship. Either way the pirates are roping down now and then and I’m destroying them and the ropes. So I pull out a bow. It’s my plinker. On a pally with no bow related feats or even good bow it is like 20-30 in damage. I’ll be hammering at this ship until the moon comes up. If it wasn’t for the fact that once I did that the ship took notice and fired it’s cannons again. I mean far. And I was hit with 4-5 shots and died fairly quickly.

I figured as long as that stuff is not balanced right there’s no point dragging in anything without evasion. I’d love to try it all out but this kind of stuff doesn’t appeal to me. Now I’m sure my tempest ranger would do well, evasion and bow and all that, but there’s something significantly broken about an encounter like that, that can fire these massive shots AND quickly over and over too.

Lets hope next build makes this a little bit more reasonable.

Other then that – the ships and buffs and how things work are very promising. Adding another source of middle of the epic questing XP, is not bad either. Some people gripe over the ML 24, but I think it’s just fine. I rather have items I can use for a few more levels than top level stuff that’ll sit in the bank while you ETR.

On a final note – Impossible demand, LoD and Rusted all adds about 5-7k per minute for the run. It’s well worth the investment of time since only LoD adds more of it (circa 10-12). I ran 6 quests earlier today; about 80 minutes worth, bagging 361k and about 4.5k per minute. The shortest took 4 minutes the longest about 25. This is of course not some type of dream numbers; if I did these 6 each day from 20-28 it would take me 18 days to complete an ETR.

That’s not exactly speedy Gonzales.

But sprinkle in some VON3, mirror darkly and what goes up with shorter runs and you got a range of 4 minutes to 40 to complete and a solid source of XP to get this to about 10-14 days. Which is just fine with me.

The illusion of big numbers

People know this from the good old red box days when we ran rusted and impossible demand until our eyes bled, souls escaped our bodies and we swore off gaming until we stopped dry heaving; it’s easy to get blinded by big numbers but sometimes short and rewarding gives you more bang for the bucks then long and huge XP finish.

Take VON3 – it used to be the gold standard for XP. 20-30 minute romp – close to 200k as a reward. Now it’s about 100k on normal and maybe 30-40k more on hard. We’re talking about mid to high 4k per minute. Not bad.

Now take Impossible demand and Rusted ¬†- about 5 minutes worth of all hell breaking lose (ignoring all optionals) and on hard you’re looking at about 28k for each. Now you’re above 5k per minute. Sure – there’s a run. But VON3 have that troll gauntlet, so accurately speaking the run is somewhat trivial. Both Rusted and Impossible Demand are close to the entrances.

This all get very important the more premium you place on your time. If 2 hours is all you got then trying to fit in short 5k per minute quests can bring in the same amount of bacon as a few long ones. And it’s also a question of getting more bangs for the bucks out of XP potions. And if you’re gung ho on preserving bank, time and sanity – a few short quests leads to far less attrition then doing another 30 minute romp for a similar reward in time spent.

All of this is common sense of course. This is not a secret to players who plan their reincarnations, but it is an important wake up call now when ETR is the new vogue. Partly because hitting 6.6 mill with fewer quests to pick from is quite different from doing a third life on heroic. At least with heroic reincarnation there won’t be the same trite feeling of repetition since you can do almost the entire level up without doing the same quest twice. Try that with Epic.