Monthly Archives: June 2015

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.

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?

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.

Hitting 20

As to prove a point, the very thing I discussed in my last post, happened as I did the High Road.

Warlocks are good at doing a general amount of solid DPS. DPS that will damage most critters and won’t be saved by many of them. Now pact damage is entirely different, but the Warlock blast damage itself is pretty solid. At least in Heroic and it ranges from light, piercing, evil and force.

I use tainted scholar and soul eater (and a smidgen enlightened spirit) so I have the entire range except for light damage. And it’s good since untyped (piercing) seems to work the best across the board. Also (as I mentioned) I use Fey – Sonic is by far one of the most diverse of the ‘elements’ since very few things negates it completely.

However even with that it amounts to something like 200-300 in crit damage for both of them per hit and this pretty much bottomed out around level 18, even with incremental increase in spell power. Partly for that is that there’s very little ‘enhancement’ increase of spell power in the Warlock trees. You see more crit chance increase as well as die increase. This won’t immediately translate into a great shift in damage.

And it was entirely clear when I did the high road. Suddenly the damage from blast seemed to trail behind. Both because it was saved (for half or no damage) but also because it took a lot of hits before taking care of business. the Black tentacle spell however worked nicely. There’s a bug right now (fixed for next patch) where anyone entering it takes no blunt damage, but they can still be held from it. It’s terrific in so much, but it wasn’t even enough in some cases.

I’ve also noticed a change to Medusas – they no longer go through the whole charge to stone you (with light beaming from their face) that you can outrun. This often ‘killed’ you in the process. Now they simply stone you, using the spell. Probably ‘better’ for the creature but of course you can’t use a specific tactics against it. In fact that probably make the shield worthless in the lordmarch quest if it’ll simply stone you. Plus those two mirrors in the end quest.

All in all I hit 20 by doing the 2 separate heroic Eveningstar quests (the one with the werewolfs and the one with the hags) and by doing a quick wilderness romp for some early and easy slayer.

Now I’m geared for Epic – not so much using superior sticks, but I got 3 out of 5 of the Abashai set – that should increase and help both evocation and conjuration. I have the Web of Chaos Epic helmet. Not so much for electric (no use) but void spells power and lore. And I’m going to get some divine destines upgraded to add more spell points – always needed it seems despite it not being a prominent feature of the class (PnP). After that I’ll do Draconic. Personally it’s less useful for a Fey pact than any of the others and primarily because Fey have little synergy with the draconic elements (the old one is acid and Fiend fire so obviously that will work better with draconic).

Hit 19 running mostly chains

I can say one thing about Warlock – it is a well rounded caster, good at everything, master of none.

First and foremost the Eldricht blast is decent enough DPS – in Heroic it scales well with your spell power and the combination of pact and enhancement damage (such as say Sonic for Fey and Force for the basic blast) adds enough DPS to deal with most issues.

Tainted scholar adds the ‘chain’ attack where you aim and fire at one and it ‘chains’ to up to 2 others. Souleater adds a cone shape and the last enhancement tree adds an aura that either ticks or can be burst.

These costs no resources and can be fired repeatedly over and over. With that there are a number of SLAs, either outright spells (such as burning blood and command) or specific to Warlock. Some are regular spells that abide by regular costs and metas (such as Otto’s disco ball, blind etc) or special spells, such as silence creature and the black tentacle one.

One noticeable difference is that Warlocks pick from less spells and can only have 2 from each of the 6 tiers available. That makes each choice harder. There are also a number of spells provided dependent on the pact you pick.

Fey seems to be your average CC pact, where as the others provide a number of different ‘schools of thought’. Currently I’m running Fey since I like the use of Otto’s disco ball (not a choice among the regular tiers, you have to get Fey and at least 18 Warlock levels in order to get it).

I’ve played a lot of the level 15-20 content lately with several different builds, much to the fact that Turbine have released not only new classes, but redone several enhancement trees. So safe to say I compared most of my experience by noticing the main difference from one type of quest to another.

It was also the first time I tried out many different chains, as suppose to run a bunch of quests – leveling pretty much entirely one level per chain.

First, I ran one Lordmarch quest just to get the feel. Figured I didn’t want to run an entire chain just to blunder through stuff. This way I could get my finger dexterity down and change stuff I didn’t care for.

This is how I figured out that the Black Tentacles spell was nice and expensive to use – allowing me to drop down a quick AOE type CC spell that added blunt damage and then follow up with a chained Eldricht blast. The combination is delicious.

Next I hit Gianthold – the main quests are 16 on Elite but the alternative ones are 15 – all in all you can easily hit a level doing them all and they’re all doable solo except one.

Here the combination of black tentacles in narrow spaces and the chained Eldricht blast did wonders. I even decided for the option that adds a 10% chance to slow an opponent as suppose to piercing damage (piercing damage is more or less untyped). Force and sonic worked fine. This was true even in POP, where the black tentacles held the orange named bosses and the chained blast mopped everything up.

I was surprised how well it worked in all the different quests. With this chain done I hit 16 and moved onto next.

This time I did Necro 4. Now Fleshmakers can be problematic if you can’t keep the air elementals down long enough until you coordinate hirelings and such to press all the runes – this is fixed in the Epic version with longer time before expiring. But not heroic.

However this never became much of an issue and I managed to get this done in one attempt. What didn’t work so well was dropping down to battle the flesh golems in the pit for the possible shield piece. Yeah, the healer was more busy doing melee than keeping my guy up. So that was a bust. After 2 cakes I gave up – I was not desperate enough for a chance of a shield piece to waste more resources.

My greatest challenge was to survive the traps in Temple of Vol, but once I got past that (after a few deaths) the rest was less problematic.

My next chain after hitting 17 was the Wheelon plus the 3 pre-wheelon quests. I hit 18 after finishing the last one and went onto Vale.

 

Vale is an oddball. Great XP, 5 diverse quests, all with their ‘specifics’ – some that can be challenging to certain classes (like sleeping dust and cleaving melee) – some are short and sweet but still a pain (Running), others longer but less specialized (Coal chamber – it’s a pain to go up and down but most of it is one slayer area after another).

Warlocks are not particularly diverse, but what they do know seem to cover most bases. They have a solid pew pew attack that damages most different monsters and they have ‘enough’ different other spells to fill out some gaps. They’re not Wizards or Clerics with spellbooks that covers the entire kitchen sink and they don’t have the spell points to burn tons of spells, but they don’t need it.

The few spells they do have are in addition to the main attack and the main attack is good enough as a universal DPS against all.

This is important especially in areas like sleeping where you kinda have to be very careful and only kill Ogres. Particularly if you’re not lucky in hitting the upper area book right away. Considering that only 1 dead spider will most likely spell doom I ended up having to redo the quest once. I don’t know what killed it, but sure enough – 4 more to go and I felt that it was pointless to see it all through since the book wasn’t at the first 2 spots I checked (out of 3).

Another is Running, moreso than Rainbow – Running have a lot of really painful guys and I’ve had issues with them on pretty much all different toons and classes. Not so on the Warlock. Sure – they still hurt – all that light damage is painful on Elite. But the combination of Warlock main attack, particularly the chain together with the other spells work.

I did die once because of stacking light damage, but that was minor compared to how many times I generally die in that quest.

BTW, the blast attack (piercing damage) works wonderful on Clay Golems. Sure – the sonic damage is reduced (Fey Pact) but piercing being untyped works like a charm.

So here I am – level 19 and I have lots of content left to run to hit 20. My current 3 choices are both of the harper chains and then the thunderholme Mountain one. I doubt that I will have to run all 3 chains to hit 20.

Gear wise I suggest one stick (or something) with Impulse. Here the Sage bracers (for Kinetic lore) is nice. I also used the hammer from Gianthold with sonic spell power and lore alongside an Elite orb that I pulled from one of the Gianthold quests. That also boosts void spell power and I put a impulse (force and untyped) augment in it.

That have worked fairly okay from level 15 and onward but I do notice that the spell damage from the blast is trailing. So finding a good 90 impulse/Void/Sonic item at this stage seems like a good strategy. In that case there’s always the Wizard’s Orb, Impulse that’ll boost spell DC and spell pen (ML 16 -18). There’s also Shadowmail – a medium armor that (provided you pick the enhancement feature) works nicely with Warlock. Both can be used to boost different features of the Warlock pact. Old ones add acid and Fiend, fire.

The only downside is that very few things boosts sonic (unless you find a good random stick or use an agument) but this is less of a problem since you only really need to boost a few spell powers unlike if you want to be an effective caster in a lot of different spells. And the stuff you do boost, say in this case impulse (for force and untyped) works well on almost everything.

All in all Warlocks are not one trick phony’s per say but they are un-glamorous generalists and masters of Heroic Elite..