3 is the charm

I now have 3 Warlocks. Or 2 pure and 1 hybrid.

Not because I LOVE Warlocks, but because 2 are experiments and the 1 (the current one) is the one I always wanted to be a Warlock.

Pure and simple; I converted by hybrid caster – a Bard Spellsinger/Air Savant to a Fey pact pure Warlock. I’ve enjoyed it greatly.

I got curious about synergy between Warlock and melee and did a fighter (for extra feats) Sword and board PDK Warlock (6/14). I’m still reserved about that one. Sword and board almost demand a full plate of tactical feats and perhaps a 2 weapon swinging one would be better. I used Fiend pact for that guy – because combustion is fairly common (Cannith Challenge cloak for example).

And now I’ve taken my Sorc and made him a Bladeforged pure Old Ones (acid based pact) Warlock. My Fey one is based on Morninglord iconic, the melee PDK and now this one Bladeforged. Boy – that’s a pain. Because in order to Old one you can’t be lawful and Bladeforged must be lawful. So not only did I do an iconic TR, but used a +1 lesser to blow away the 1 level of Paladin (requiring you to be lawful) followed by another lesser after I’ve did a true neutral alignment change. All just so I could make my Sorc a pure Warlock and use all the gear I’ve collected (specifically) for Bladeforged/Warforged (docents).

Acid in itself is not that much different from Sonic or Fire, except that you have less monsters that are immune or have DR against it compared to fire. Sonic is nice, but I have so much acid based gear that I wanted to keep that going.

I’m doing primarily Tainted Scholar, with some Souleater and enough Enlightened spirit to get the first burst. It’s terrific for those close combat shots of burst damage.

I’m currently well invested in Enlightened Spirit with my fighter – those 2 bursts replaces the cleaves.

My Fey based Warlock has a similar setup to my ex sorc, but I’m thinking about going more Souleater instead to see if that makes much of a difference.

I also ended up running a lot of Crystal Cove this weekend. In a moment of DBaggery I and another level 20 (I was with my recently TR’d Fey pact Warlock) entered CC on 20 – another person asked to join and promised he was level 20. Turned out he was 28. I did’t notice (since I was not the leader) until later when I was somewhat surprised that no gems were dropping. So I checked and yes, we were 8 over level and wouldn’t get squat. I was livid and told the group how extremely DBaggy that was.

That entire run wasted and if I see that guy again (didn’t catch his name but it was shorter and I bet I’ll remember it when I see it) I will squelch him. Period.

After that I soloed everything and it was a pain since hirelings are borked. I so wish Turbine realized just how terrible it is that they’ve more or less destroyed hirelings when it comes to challenges.

If they only worked as they did back in the day it would have been less of a mess. Thank gosh for dimension door, a must have on any caster including Warlock.

Why I like Cannith Crafting

It is true that Cannith Crafting is not as ‘useful’ in todays Epic as it was in yesterdays heroic, but there’s still room for it when you TR into either heroic (level 1) or Iconic and specifically when you need a little more ‘obscure’ items.

Like solving the issue of effective impulse/kinetic lore boosting for a melee type fighter Warlock along side combustion (Fiend pact).

The combustion is ‘easy’ enough by using the cloak from Cannith challenges. That can grow with you all the way until Epic and then you’re simply going to have to figure out another combination. But impulse/Kinetic lore is much, much harder.

Particularly if you prefer to use a functional weapon instead of a caster type one. So how do you solve it. There are only 2 non weapon slot items that provide impulse in the heroic range.

Sage bracers and Shadowmail. Combine both and you have lore and impulse power. I got neither on my melee guy. Getting the bracers is easy but pulling the right shadowmail is a lot harder. It also takes up slots for better items such as a good medium armor or bracers.

This is one of those conundrums that Cannith crafting can solve. First, Warlock needs DC breaking items. Evocation for the pact damage part of the Eldricht blast/bursts. Conjuration to boost the chance for a successful black tentacles, enchantment for a lot of the ‘charm’/silence based stuff and Necromancy for a functional finger of death. All of which can be crafted since there’s a clear limitation of items with it.

In my case I am working on crafting a evocation II+Kinetic Lore 15% ring. I could potentially do it for the trinket slot, but there are so many other nice things that can fit into a trinket slot. So having the flexibility to add Cannith crafting to rings opens up a whole new world in crafting. And it also allows wonky builds with hard options to finagle in options that don’t exist either among random or named items.

One of the reasons why I look forward to a improved Cannith Crafting this or next year. Being able to extend crafting into the Epic levels can only add diversity, not minimize it. And adding more diverse options and perhaps even a more improved system can only add to the game instead of detract.

ScreenShot00217

I can, but why should I?

I’m at the tail end of the 28 run – halfway through 27 and ready to convert my Vanguard rager into a Fighter Warlock (I really need to come up with a cool name).

I’m trying to unlock some more slots so I can empty the TR bank (I so wish Turbine could come up with a better system than that) and IR. I’m still going to be a PDK and then go for Charisma for damage instead of Strength.

I ran VON3 on EE. Okay – I know it’s not much of an accomplishment, but I mention it because it seems to be the fastest way to unlock enough favor. Or is it?

There seem to be an attitude that EE is it – that if you don’t play EE you’re not good enough. I know that’s a simplification of some extreme voices on the subject. Personally I’m happy with EH for most part. That doesn’t mean I can’t – I’ve done it on a few chars – and some classes and builds are better where others are worse.

This build with ample self healing and running Crusader alongside Barbarian self healing and lots of tactical feats happen to be able to do it. Plus it’s 4 levels below cap so it’s doable simply out of that standpoint.

But why?

When I compare Hard and Elite there’s only one significant reason for it – 80% percent more XP compared to 50% (first time bonus). But it also takes longer.

To me it boils down to use of resources and time compared to the overall benefit. Example – doing short quests like MOTU1, Middlers Farm or Web of Chaos the first quest on EE (if you can handle it) makes sense. The payout is fairly high for a much shorter romp. Even if it takes longer (because of more HP etc) it’s still marginal overall. 5 minutes?

Take a longer quest like VON3 and it’s not just the run, but also adding the extra 30-60 seconds per fight and in the long run you’re talking about 15 more minutes to the length instead of the 30 overall.

Maybe that’s not significant for some, but to me the cost benefit starts to slide. So it’s not that I can’t do it; I just don’t feel that it’s worth it unless the end XP is that much higher per minute than if I’d settled for EH.

I’m already thinking about a different Warlock build

I have a toon that I like to experiment with (for melee) and another that I used to for casters. Now my hybrid caster is a pure Warlock and my melee guy is a vanguard rager.

I like vanguard, but vanguard on it’s own is a truly nice and ‘medium’ enhancement tree. Back when I was a pally/fighter split I put more into Vanguard for those nice double procs. Now when I play more on the barbarian side I get less of the double procs and more of the self healing ticks. Yet DPS wise it’s fairly similar.

The idea I have is to make it a 6 Fighter, 14 Warlock, Vanguard Enlighten Spirit. For ticks and bursts, running the Fiend pact (so added fire damage and the fiend related spells). That would mean 7d4 worth of pact damage and 7d6 worth of Eldricht Blast. It also means 4 Fighter bonus feats.

The nice thing is that the Warlock tree gives you a few additional nice items in addition to the aura, such as a permanent shield spell and a tier 5 displacement SLA. That’s pretty darn good if you intend to run using medium armor rather than heavy.

It’s true that if you do a PDK and charisma for damage instead of strength you can benefit the Warlock side more but it also means that you move away from effective tactical feats (except for perhaps stunning shield that is based on the highest ability value).

The more I’m thinking about it I wish Lam was open right now for showcasing update 27 so I can make this hybrid build and try it out in Epic Shavarath.

Kelno

I told you so, but it doesn’t make me feel better

I finally hit 27 and decided to do among others Macabre and ToEE. Here is where the lack of a Warlock centric Destiny starts rearing it’s ugly head. it’s not that Draconic is bad or Shiradi don’t work. They do – but just as with artificer, the problem is less ‘working’ and more ‘does little to main attack’.

First and foremost – the only thing boosted from draconic is the pact damage – if you’re Fiend or old ones (acid or fire). Fey is completely unboosted. There’s the burst, vortex and breath, but that’s true for any other class playing it.

Shiradi procs on the pew pew. This is a little bit more effective on chain as it gives it 3 chances to proc at 7%. This actually turns out to be as far as I can see the ‘best’ destiny for the main attack, but it still remains fairly the same for all other classes – meaning wiz and sorc will get more out of Shiradi with more potential procs and all other ranged can proc rainbow attacks. Again – it’s a boost but almost nothing else in the Shiradi destiny works better (or worse) for Warlock.

In other words; there comes a point when you simply do not have that much benefit from destinies and the typical Arti problem of less then stellar DPS and such sets in. This is also true with the black tentacles. You can keep on putting lots of points into conjuration, from gear or otherwise, but once you hit the 30 something quests it’s not as useful. Mostly because it’s only 10 seconds and that’s not nearly good enough to deal with hordes  5-7k HP.

And then there’s the ToEE issue of ‘I told you so’.

First – with shrines expire on exit, you don’t have the use of the extra DPS to deal with critters and bosses. That wouldn’t be so bad if Turbine in their wisdom rebalanced some of the monsters. But as far as I can tell, it’s all the same except for a ‘higher’ spawn rate of rare monsters (not shrines tho),

slag

Like Slag here, or Kelno in the featured image. Kelno with an absolutely insane 170k HP on EH with only 3 people in the group (1 hireling and 2 players).

Slag – with 103k. Thank gosh the Warlock can do untyped damage since every single monster comes with globs of DR in many different elements.

spiritrunner

And here’s Spiritrunner. 94k.

This is painful on the Warlock who can deal with trash mobs okay – but do not have an okay DPS attack (good medium pew pew, no ‘big and nasty’). First I tried with Draconic, but the DPS was simply not good enough. Shiradi at least had lots of procs, adding much needed DPS to these dreadful boorish fights.

I don’t know what Turbine was thinking by just adding ‘more’ spawns but leaving the red named massive bloated piles of HP, but without shrines the 2 hour tedious Warlock romp felt like crawling across rubber glue. It was probably the longest most boring session I’ve done in DDO so far.

As you can see from the images the Warlock do everything from 150-500 sonic damage and 200-600 untyped. That seems to be the usual range, which is not bad considering it’s basically a resource free attack. But that’s it; unless you decide to burn lots of SP dropping the black tentacles, the other backup for DPS would be draconic SLA.

You can of course use the different Tainted Scholar and Soul Eater type SLAs, but most of then do evil damage and in lousy amounts. And all of those being singular attacks it won’t help much against the deluge of spawning trash mobs.

So is all this moaning and groaning about wanting to make it ‘easier’? (that is the goto fallacy some defenders of this nonsense usually dribble out). No – I want it more fun. The measure of a good encounter is not how long it takes, but rather how much fun it was.

I’ve stated this before but lets do it again; when I run the Macabre quests one of my favorite monsters is the Lich.

It negates a range of lower level spells, it’s fast and its attacks hurt. Every second gets intense. The boss lich in ToEE is an example of how ToEE fails. It piles on gobs of DR, massive glut of HP and does mediocre damage. Enough to make the minutes you spend lobbing spells after spell at it as boring as possible.

That’s ultimately the truth about all encounters, Kelso most of all. 170k HP, lots of DR and you stand there and fire whatever you have at him for minutes and minutes until he’s done. That’s not hard, not fun, not interactive and it’s typical of balancing a game according to the super DPS toons in game rather then what’s fun and intense. That’s true with Slag and Spiritrunner.

For example when I ran into the rustmonster I ended up running back and forth in the same corridor pew pewing. For minutes. Seldom got hit, took little damage and just ran back and forth until it was slain.

Thus – Turbine removed the one thing that makes the nonsense less tedious – shrines (they’re there, but few and far apart and they expire), added a higher spawn rate, so you can spend more time gnawing at Mount HP until you go ‘to heck with it’ and unharness and let gravity do the rest.

Turbine – for Pete sakes – the earth priest still only got 7k HP and you get a chest and Kelno have 170k and have NOTHING. Do you want people to buy and play this quest at all?

Kings forest how it used to be

Re-imagining DDO

I love kings forest – it’s my favorite wilderness and when DDO became fantasy for me. I started playing when DDO launched as F2P and less then a week later I became (and remain) a VIP.

I stumbled through Macabre, marveled over the Vale and even with eyes wide followed 3 people out into the battlefield. Those were the days.

I since run slayer and rare like crazy – always working to be able to do it on my own and eventually without hirelings (before Epic levels when things were more of a challenge). But as nice and big as the Vale was and as gloomy and frightening as the Macabre is – they never made me feel like I played a true high fantasy game.

I don’t blame anything in particular, but I think it was the cyberpunk themed Music – the atmosphere that sounded more like pots and pans and old 50’s Sci Fi movies than fantasy.

Until Kings Forest and the Menace of the Underdark. That content pack is the revitalization of DDO into high fantasy to me. With classic Drow in fantasy armor, with the sound and atmosphere and dragons. Not just a fire dragon end boss – but lots of dragons. Green, white, black in wilderness areas (Epic Gianthold but still – Kings forest had a green dragon and it was cool. Underdark has a red dragon).

Up until about a week ago that remained my opinion – that other than MotU and ToEE – these two places had the greatest atmosphere and the most immersive feel. That was until I added 2 more monitors and started running DDO in 5760×1080.

kings forest 5760 1080

The Featured image is how my view used to be. 1920×1080. It’s not bad. In fact my 660 Ti spat out some really nice smooth frames, from playing DDO on max graphics to pretty much any other game. However expanding it to triple monitor, as you can see from the image above, opens up an entire world – a world that seem so spacious and incomprehensively big that it’s hard to image why the world can seem so different?

But it is.

At level 22 I ran Kings Forest and for the first time I noticed the gnarly tall trees in the periphery of my eye as I ran by and along with it – parallel and away, ran a Fox ; from me no doubt and my hireling Owlbear. At a point I was ambushed by Drow, normally I wouldn’t have noticed it until they were right ontop of me – now I saw their red piercing eyes on my side monitor as it flanked me. And I turned and started pew pewing.

underdark

In the underdark, at level 23, I marveled at the expanse of the cave system, seeing the glow from Salamanders and reeling from when purple worms that exploded out of the ground on my flank.

The Drow City

In the Drow city I stood at the top of the temple and gazed at the entire Drow city before me – one I had invaded, slayed the evil Drow and done the flagging quests so I could finally confront the head Mistress.

Gianthold

And now – level 25 – I am venturing into the depth of Gianthold so I can enter TOR and confront the dragons.

Marveling at the new sights and realizing just how small my world was all those years when I started running DDO on a 17″ monitor and 1680 back in 2009, upgraded with a grin to a 21″ Monitor and 1920 and now feel awestruck at 5760, running 3 23″ Monitors.

It’s DDO re-imagined and I’m doing it all with a new class (Warlock) to get that fresh feel of new-ness, just that one time I can enjoy it before everything becomes familiar and mundane again. Safe to say – once you go Triple, you’re not going back.

Doing some Epics

I can do EE on some toons – I don’t know if my Warlock can do them and I’m not exactly eager to find out. It only has 400 something HP so it’s not the best candidate for it. Now I do think that I might redo the enhancements to remove some features I don’t use as often and add it more to the enlightened spirit – either for adding more MRR and PRR and perhaps even boosting hirelings.

The truth is – when auto attacking it’s hard to get anything else in right off the bat (it seems that the Eldricht blast is hard to interrupt). So if you want to use some of the other funs stuff you have to press down the function a few times to make sure it fires.  In that respect I’ve noticed that I don’t really need or use some of the things that much so becoming a medium armor using Warlock seems a lot easier. Altho the truth is that I really don’t have that many medium EPic armors laying around and none that works that well on casters (Shadowmail is the given option, both heroic and Epic, but none in early Epic levels that beat the robe from Cronosphere).

Since I’m currently leveling up some divine destinies I can’t really say if Draconic or anything else add good synergy but then there’s very little among the destinies that boost specific core blast damage, only pact (acid or fire).

If anything; Warlock finds itself a kissing cousin with Arti’s – both are very good in Heroic but lack good synergy with destinies in Epic. So much so that you end up boosting some features but the main stuff remains untouched.

Now is the time for Turbine to start adding some destinies. Primarily for Arti and Warlock since they’re the furthest removed from any synergy in Epics right now. I can understand the previous addition of divine destinies, but the problem remains that the higher up you go as an Arti the more reliant you are on gear for anything with little backup from the destiny itself.

Example – melee gets a nice boost from both Crusader, Fury of the Wild and Legendary. The ‘differense’ all depends on what tactics you use, but all of them offer a boost to the base DPS with features that enhance the overall build.

Fury adds the huge spikes of DPS, Crusader medium DPS with survivability and a great tool set for solid higher DPS. Draconic for example provide lots of benefits for the main DPS of both Wizards, Arcanes and Divines. But only secondary for Warlocks and Arti’s. Primarily because it boosts DC, spell power AND add additional high end attacks.

For Arti’s it only add secondary attacks, the main of both repeater and rune arm is entirely unaffected (sure it’s spells get a slight boost from the element you pick, provided that it’s something that boost that particular spell, but the spells themselves don’t make the Arti). Warlocks benefits slightly from pact increase damage (if the element is say fire or acid) but here again the primary function of the Eldricht blast is unaided.

To me the best option should therefor be the addition of 2 more arcane destinies – one that works primarily for Warlock but also as an okay secondary for other casters and an Arti destiny that does the same for Arti’s.

I could see the Warlock one adding a basic pew pew attack for anyone other than Warlock (in the same way as the Bard one adds basic Bard features to other classes and some of the Divine add specific divine features to other classes, such as lay on hands etc).

It would add interesting boost to the pew pew for Warlocks as well as some SLAs and slight boost to overall DPS and for everyone else it would be a ‘smaller’ version of the pew pew.

Similarly the Arti destiny would boost Arti runearm and ranged weapon to add procs for runearm hits and boost charge rate and level, while giving basic rune arm use to other classes. Say up to a specific Heroic ML – this could then boost multi classers so they can also use higher end rune arms and it would add some basic synergy for anyone that wanted to use it.

Imagine an Earth Savant with the Glorious Obscenity (at the most) for some nice acid based damage synergy.

However, going back to my early Epic experience on EH I notice that the DPS is okay for now. It’ll scale up to a certain point – but without a destiny that can provide a powerboost to 30, Warlock will surely fall behind, just as Arti’s do.