Dark Age of Camelot Hero Guide

Gruesome’s Big Fat Hero Guide

(Version 1.0)

by

Jeffrey Whitfield

As I’ve played a number of the melee classes in all of the realms, I’ve become somewhat familiar with their various fighting styles, strengths, and weaknesses. For various reasons I have come to love the Hero class of Hibernia, and I’ve focused a lot of my time and energy putting my hero through his paces. Further, I’m an old hand at MMORPGs, and so I have a working knowledge of how melee tactics work in general. In fact, if you ever read my old EQ guide, The Bogmonster’s Guide for Frustrated Warriors, you’ll be familiar with my work. In many ways, this guide is derivative from that one – a few sections I pirated right out of that guide, and into this one, with barely a rewrite (can you plagiarize yourself?). Further, there are a number of melee guides out there, and I’ve seen one or two about the Hero class specifically, but my thoughts on the subject differ substantially from what others have written, and I thought I’d share them with the ever-growing Camelot community.

I currently play a purple-haired Firbolg hero, complete with a ring in his nose. I’m an offense-oriented guy, and as such a CS and LW user. As I’ve been nuked, burned, shot through with arrows, chopped, slashed, hacked, rooted, snared, and beat up, I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve also taken countless hammer blows to the helm, so I do realize that I may not always be right about everything in this guide. All your sword-swingers out there should take this for what it’s worth. As I continue to learn more and develop new tactics, I’ll update this guide. I plan on adding a section on RvR in the near future, so watch for that.

This guide is basically divided up into three sections (with a random number of subsections, sub-subsections, super subsections, and double-secret subsections), including Character Design (you can skip this if you’ve already built your hero), Strategy and Tactics (pretty much a grab bag of stuff), and a small section on Gripes and Fixes.

 

CREATION AND FRUSTRATION

This is the section in which all aspects of character design are hashed out, thrashed about, and trashed throughout. Enjoy.

Before you build a hero and spend hours playing a pure melee character, there is one thing you should know in the interests of full disclosure: Hibernian weapon styles are by far the weakest in the game. They appear to have been thrown together at the last moment. In particular, virtually all of the "use anytime" styles cost high amounts of endurance, and stick the player with a low or medium penalty to your defense. This is unique to Hibernia. Most other "use anytime" styles (in Albion or Midgard) use medium endurance, and there is no penalty to the player’s defense at all.

You might think that since Mythic has penalized Hibernian tanks with this approach that the rest of the styles would be pretty great. You’d be wrong. Hibernian "anytime" styles all give medium bonus damage, and a low or medium bonus to hit.

Albion and Midgard styles do not penalize their fighters in these ways. Consider Ruiner, a Midgard hammer style, which costs only a medium amount of endurance, gives high bonus damage, and a small bonus to hit. Defensive penalties? Nah. Or consider Pillager, the Midgard swords style. It costs medium endurance, gives a small bonus to hit, and medium damage. On top of all that, it gives a nice medium duration bleed. Disadvantages, weakness, or defensive penalties? None. The same can be said for the Albion polearms style Crippling Blow, and really virtually every other Albion or Midgard style in the game. But not in Hibernia: our "anytime" styles use more endurance, give fewer benefits, and give you greater defensive penalties than any other styles in the game. As you use these "anytime" styles about 85% of the time, and virtually 100% of the time in RvR, this is a significant disadvantage.

Mythic’s strike team is apparently working on fixing styles, but the significance of what I’ve just written is apparently not clear to them, and may not be on their "to do" list at all. I love Mythic – this is the best MMORPG out there, and they are responsive to their customers – but I’m one small voice among 200,000 subscribers. The styles might not change anytime soon. To play a Hibernian tank, you are going to have to be creative to overcome this.

Two Breeds of Heroes

Now warrior types are generally not so bright, so I’m going to state the obvious: only two of the DAC races can become heroes. They are the Celt, and the Firbolg. Like everything else in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

The Firbolg hero is going to be significantly stronger than the Celt. He starts with a base strength of 90, and can easily boost that up to 100 or 105 at creation. He is a bit slower and clumsier than his Celt brothers, but he makes up for that in damage dealing. In fact, that is the main advantage to the Firbolg. As he grows as a hero, he gains one point of strength each level, and after he grows up a bit he really begins to dish out the damage. If you are more offensively minded, and you want to really put the hurt on your enemies, then being an oversized orange-haired Irish giant is a good choice. If you look closely, you can even pick one with a goatee. Trendy and barbaric. Wahoo.

The Celt is smaller and weaker than the Firbolg, as he starts with a base strength of 60. He also starts with a base 60 for his dexterity (which will affect how much he parries, blocks, and evades) and a base quickness of 60. As a result, you can easily push your Celt’s dex up to 70 at creation (or even 75), and this will make him more of a survivor. A Firbolg starts with a base of 40 for both dex and quik. In other words, a Celt is going to block and dodge more attacks than a Firbolg will and, because of his quickness, he’ll also throw a few more attacks in a given amount of time. Overall, if you are more defensively minded, the Celt is probably your man. And as if this weren’t enough, you can choose from a bunch of extremely stylish haircut and facial hair colors and combinations. There is that one guy who apparently had a real bad day with the eye makeup, but the others all look pretty cool.

One quick note: Celts and ‘Bolgs start out with the same exact constitution, but this is not really all that obvious. As people tend to judge things according to their appearances, and Firbolg look so much bigger than Celts do, there is something of a tendency to think of ‘Bolgs as being able to take more hits and absorb more damage than their Celtic colleagues. This is just plain false. Celts and ‘Bolgs have the exact same starting con, it goes up at the same rate, and they gain the exact same number of hit points along the way. If you think about this for a second, it is clear, but many people simply believe that the bigger ‘Bolg is a better damage taker than the Celt. (And they say that fighters are dumb…)

The simple truth is that Celts are quicker and more dexterous than Firbolg are. ‘Bolgs are stronger than Celts. And that’s really all that it boils down to. Oh wait, except for the fact that ‘Bolg hairstyles tend to be a bit more, uh, medieval punk, and Celt butts are so perky that you may actually become attracted to yourself. But it’s nothing a little psychotherapy wouldn’t cure.

Once you’ve chosen your race, you’ve made the first of three choices that will determine the rest of your career.

Building things, then breaking things

So where should you spend your points when designing your hero? Again, this involves trade-offs (Mythic and the DAC team are absolutely gifted when it comes to building trade-offs into the game), and it depends on what kind of hero you want to be. I call the various character designs builds, and they will shape your character’s career path for the rest of his pseudo-life. I’ve discussed some of the more common builds below. Each build focuses on how you spend your design points, how it will affect you, and what the advantages and disadvantages of each build are. Choose wisely, young padawan. This cannot be changed later on.

One common build involves spending 10 pts on str, dex, and con. This will give you a balanced hero, with significant offensive and defensive abilities. This I call the balanced build, it’s an cost-efficient way to spend your design points, and you really cannot go wrong with this one.

For those who emphasize defense over offense, the defensive build is a good choice. In this case spend 20 design points to raise your dexterity by 15, which will push your blocking, parrying, and evading chances higher than would normally be the case. A Celt can get his dex up to 75 with this, which is pretty respectable. Then spend the rest on your con, to get some nice extra hit points. This build ignores strength, so your offense is going to be reduced by this strategy, but you will make up for that with your defense.

A variation on the defensive build is the tanker’s build. The emphasis here is still on defense, but this is for players who see themselves as real damage-takers. In this build, put 10 pts into dex, and then put 15 into con. You still get the advantages of the higher dexterity, as well as the extra hit points that the con gives. This has some subtle advantages during the later levels, as a hero’s shape-shifting ability and several realm abilities increase or heal you based on a percentage of your total HP. In other words, if you have more HP to start with, the total value of the increase or heal is greater. Think about that for a minute, and you’ll see that this build takes maximum advantage of those abilities.

The brawler’s build is for those who wish to do as much damage as possible. In this case, boost your str by 15, and your con by 10. A ‘Bolg that goes this route can push his starting str up to 105. The overall advantage is that you will hit harder. The disadvantage is that you will parry your enemies’ sword strokes with your face.

The quick build is for heroes that like the idea of hitting quickly and often. This build usually involves a player putting 10 pts into dex or str, and then putting10 to 15 pts into quickness. The hope here is that you will hit more quickly than your slower comrades in arms, and do more damage over time. Unfortunately, quickness is an attribute that is significantly debated and controversial at this point in time. Without going into detail here (which would take forever, become very complicated, and cause my brain to melt down like an overclocked processor) it appears that quickness does not give all the benefits that it should, and may even impede you as much as it helps in some situations. This is hotly debated and, of course, subject to change as Mythic improves the game, but I cannot recommend this as a build at this point in time without some reservations.

Another unusual build is the glass jaw build. This build involves raising your str by 15 and your dex by 10 (or vice versa) and forgetting about your con. This is unusual for tanks, who tend to emphasize hit points, but does give the player both an offensive and defensive boost. In other words you will be hitting harder, and blocking, parrying, and evading more, but you’re kind of skinny and fragile. The obvious down side to this build is that when you do get hit, you have less HP to suck it up with. Bring some extra tape to fix your glasses with, Poindexter. When you get hit, it’s gonna hurt.

Your build is the second of the choices you’ll have to make as your design your hero, and those discussed above are not your only choices. You can build your hero any way you like. I would just encourage you to think about where you are spending your points as this, too, will have a big impact on how much you enjoy your time in DAC.

The Many Flavors of Heroism

For whatever reason, much of what has been written about heroes tends to divide them into two categories: the shield hero, and the spearo. These two overly broad categories lack a lot of detail, and I prefer to deal with the hero types a bit differently.

For the purposes of our discussion here, I think it’s best if we deal with heroes as two broad types (the offensive hero, and the defensive hero), and then break those types down a bit more as we go.

One other thing: it’s helpful to think of the differences between the defensive and offensive heroes as a matter of 33%. Okay, that’s confusing, but what I’m trying to say is that a defensive hero is approximately 1/3 better at defense than his offensive counterpart. By the same token, the offensive hero is putting out about 1/3 more offense than his defensive, shield-wielding buddy. Thinking about this important difference is critical to knowing your role, and understanding what to expect from your performance as you romp happily through the fields of Camelot, killing all the happy creatures that cross your path.

Choosing between an offensive type and a defensive type of hero is the last of the three big decisions you’ll have to make in finalizing your design. This decision, too, will make a big difference on your play style and enjoyment of the game as you push toward level 50.

You’re Just Being Defensive

Obviously, this section begins by discussing shield heroes in broad terms, and then breaks them down into three sub-categories as we go.

The shield is a powerful tool in DAC, and is the trademark of the defensive hero. First and foremost, it blocks a lot of what your opponent in throwing at you. This is quite possibly more important than your stats, most of your other gear, or anything else. Just consider, for a moment, how many hit points a skilled shield hero doesn’t lose during the course of a fight. Combined with a high parry skill, a high-level shield hero can effectively avoid 60% of the attacks directed against him. In other words, he can survive nearly anything for a long period of time.

Further, the shield offers some defensive skills and abilities that spearoes and LW heroes simply cannot match. The guard skill is extremely powerful, in that it allows a shield user to block attacks on another player. This means that the shield hero is extremely useful at saving his own hit points, but he also saves the hit points of his friends at no real detriment to himself. This, combined with the protect and intercept skills, makes the shield user very group friendly. Shield users get engage, rendering bows (and bolt spells) far less useful, and some nice shield styles as well. In particular, the lvl 42 shield style is considered quite uber (so is the lvl 23 skill, and the lvl 35 skill, but everyone seems to ignore those), as it causes a nice, long, 8 second stun. This skill is essential for RvR play, and is very nice for PvE as well.

There are three types of defensive heroes in DAC, and they are all, of course, shield-wielders.

The Sword Swinger

The sword-and-board hero is a bag of advantages and disadvantages, just like every other melee class in the game. The advantages of playing this kind of hero include the fact that swords are common drops, and that swords are quicker than blunts, so you’ll hit a bit more often and get off a few more reactionary styles. Blades have a fair amount of both bonuses and penalties when fighting various types of opponents, and this is reasonably balanced. You’ll do extra damage against about half the monsters out there, and you’ll take a damage penalty when fighting the other half, but so does everyone.

In addition, blades styles don’t totally suck, and that’s saying a lot in Hibernia. As you reach higher levels, you’ll find that you get styles that are both side positional and back positional. Further, you’ll get styles that key off parry and block. You also get a decent bread-and-butter, use-anytime-you-want chain starting at level 18, followed by its follow-ups at lvls 39 and 44. On the down side, many blades users gripe about how they suffer penalties versus most opponents in RvR, and they have a point – a big one. Also, the level 50 skill is, unfortunately, unbelievably useless, as it keys off your opponent fumbling. Oh yeah, that will come in real handy. I’m usually so busy doing so much fumbling myself that I don’t have time to notice when someone else does.

The Head Cracker

As you have already guessed, here I am referring to the blunt and shield hero. Like the sword user, this hero has his share of strengths and weaknesses. Blunts are a bit slower than swords (but only slightly) so reactionary styles are a bit harder to use. Blunt weapon drops are also a bit less common, and a few classes will compete with you for them, so getting a great blunt weapon may be a tiny bit more challenging.

The big advantages of using blunt weapons are that they do a bit more damage than swords do, and there are a couple of great blunt styles. You get a nice side positional chain starting at lvl 10. At lvl 25 you get a great back positional, and there is a nice follow up style that chains off of it at 44. The reactionary styles are also ok. Your "anytime" style still uses high endurance and only gives a medium damage bonus, but you’re one of only two Hibernian weapons that doesn’t nail you with a defensive penalty.

The Eye Poker

This section covers the rarest of rare heroes, the piercing hero. For various reasons, piercing heroes are few and far between, but they have many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the others hero types do.

First and foremost, I would argue that the piercing styles are the best available to the hero. You get a pretty good use-anytime chain starting at lvl 12, with its follow-ups at lvl 18 and 39. You get a decent back positional at lvl 4, with a follow-up style at lvl 8. You also get a two-step side positional chain at 21 and 29, which does nice damage. There are other good styles buried in that confusing list of weapon abilities. Take a look at the styles for yourself. It’s subtle, but you have a lot of options, and many of them are pretty good.

Furthermore, piercing weapons are so quick compared to the others out there that getting reactionary styles off is no problem. Where slower heroes fail to use these styles, the cat-quick piercing hero will succeed. In fact, with the way you can choose primary and backup styles now, I suspect that you will rarely, if ever, fail to land a nice style.

In addition to all of this, keeping aggro with a piercing weapon is pretty easy. This is, quite simply, because you are attacking so quickly. Many have suggested that as you pepper the monster with quick little pokes, it is more likely to turn on you. It is certain that you will taunt more quickly than any other hero out there, perhaps saving that fragile little caster (you know the one? He generally screams "Ahhh! It’s on me!" in a nasally, little girl voice as soon as a baddie even looks at him) from getting his pointy little face pushed in.

Some have argued that getting piercing weapon drops is more difficult that other drops. This is because the stalker classes all want them as well, and they seem to be a bit more rare than either blunts or blades. Some melee types have also complained that they do less damage than others when using piercing weapons, but this may be an illusion. If you are hitting twice as fast, you will be hitting half as hard, so try to gauge your damage over time, as opposed to judging it by your heaviest hits.

It is very important that you realize that piercing damage is based half on your dex, and half on your str. Every other type of damage that heroes do is based only on strength. Your strength goes up every level, while your dex goes up once every third level. In other words, you need to get your hands on some nice dex items (as well as strength items) to keep your damage going up, or you’ll slowly lag behind the other heroes out there in terms of your damage output. The beauty of this is that as you push your dex higher to get this extra damage, your defensive skills also get a bit better. It’s harder to do, but in a way you are double dipping and getting two advantages in exchange for one disadvantage here.

Lastly, do not be deceived. Piercing damage is the worst in the game for PvE. You will suffer twice as many damage penalties, and half as many bonuses, versus various types of monsters. This is going to irk you as you level up, when you repeatedly see yourself doing 15% less damage every time you stab a bug or similar critter. The advantages may very well be worth it, but this is a significant problem.

You’re pretty offensive, but don’t take that the wrong way

This section covers the last two types of heroes: the ever-popular spear hero, or spearo, and the relatively rare large weapon hero. These two guys are obviously offensive heroes, and they have a lot in common.

The Big Pointy Stick Specialist

The spear is the defining weapon of the hero class. According to the Prima DAC guide, it has slightly better stats and ratios that any other class of weapons in the game, with the exception of Albion pole arms. This means that you are doing more damage faster than nearly anyone else. And you don’t have to put points into two weapons skills to get the most out of your spear, while the Albion pole-armsman does. If this all sounds like a pretty good deal, it is. The only disadvantage to spears is that they do thrust damage, as opposed to slashing or crushing damage. (This is one ugly disadvantage, too. Uglier than your Firbolg momma.)

As stated earlier, thrust damage is the worst for PvE of any damage type. This is because it has more penalties versus various types of monsters than do either slashing or crushing weapons. To be specific, both crushing and slashing weapons have an approximately equal number of bonuses and penalties versus an equal number of armor/creature types.

A hero that uses crushing weapons, for example, will have a certain number of armor/creature types that he gains a bonus against (of either 5, 10, or 15%), and an approximately equal number of armor/creature types that he suffers a penalty against (again, either 5, 10, or 15%). In other words, depending on what you are fighting, you are either gaining a bonus or suffering a penalty to the damage that you do. This has a surprisingly big impact on how well you solo and how much damage you are doing to any kind of monster your group is fighting.

The problem is that thrusting damage has more disadvantages and fewer advantages than either crushing or slashing. Where the ratio of advantages to disadvantages for the other damage types is approximately 1:1, for thrusting its approximately 1:2. That’s right, you take a damage penalty against 2/3 of the monsters your fight in PvE. Further, against the few armor types from whom you gain an advantage (like furry animals) the bonuses are relatively small. To sum up: thrust damage penalties suck worse than the giant leeches of Lake Connacht.

Having said that, many have pointed out that the spear does gain a significant bonus versus Midgard chain (15%), which is quite important. Further, there are a number of other classes (like the Albie Merc, Cleric, and Minstrel) that also wear chain. Thrusting suffers only a small penalty versus Albion plate (-5%), so overall thrust damage is considered by many to be a big winner in the RvR world.

Lastly, the Celtic Spear skill yields a few pretty decent styles. Early on you get a back positional style that will, if you are smart enough to use it, do a surprising amount of damage. This style also benefits your teammates in a number of ways, making you an asset to your group. CS is also one of the two weapons that doesn’t get nailed with a defensive penalty with its lvl 34 "anytime" style. The style is still high end, and only does medium damage, and has only a low bonus to hit, but at least it doesn’t lower your defense like most Hibernian "anytime" styles. I’ll include more on styles later, but suffice to say that CS is relatively strong (at least in terms of Hibernia) in that department.

Overall, the spear breaks down to be about dead-even in my opinion. You get better damage and speed than other weapon types, but you suffer more penalties. The styles are decent, and you do pretty well in RvR.

One last note: CS weapon damage is based on strength alone. This is unlike piercing weapons, which do damage based on a combination of str and dex. There is, and has been, recurring confusion about this because spears do thrusting damage, and nearly everyone has repeatedly (and understandably) confused thrusting and piercing weapons types. Mythic has stated, very clearly, that Celtic Spears do indeed do thrusting damage, but this damage is based upon strength only.

The Big Knee Knocker

The other type of hero that uses two-handed weapons is, of course, the Large Weapon hero. The LW hero is fairly rare, and is often ignored in hero guides and literature. The LW hero uses weapons that do not, apparently, have the same damage and speed ratios that the Celtic Spear does (LW is apparently 5th overall in the game, if I have analyzed the data from the Prima Guide correctly). However, you get one major advantage if you choose to go LW. You get two types of damage for the price of one.

If you specialize in LW, you get to choose between five different weapons -- three blunt and two edged. In other words, you can do either crushing or slashing damage to any monster you are fighting. If you are fighting bugs, use a big hammer, so you get the biggest bonus possible. If you are fighting animals, put away your hammer and pull out your oversized sword, and you’ll get a damage bonus there, too. Being a LW specialist means that you will almost always get a damage bonus in PvE.

In RvR, you’ll use a blunt weapon against both Albs and Middies. You’ll get a bonus versus the plate wearers, and no penalty versus chain. You can switch to swords if fighting leather or cloth wearers, but it’s probably not worth it.

There are two disadvantages to Large Weapons. The first is that you don’t get them until level 10, and this makes levels 6, 7, 8, and especially 9 really very hard to get through. If you have been saving your training points (as you should) you won’t be doing much damage with the sword or mace you’ve been using as an interim weapon. You won’t be much use to groups (as you won’t have a taunt style yet) and you won’t be able to solo. The role of the hero is to be a meat shield, not just a lump of meat. Up until level 10 you’ll suck at this, and it’s about as much fun as doing your homework (Which you should be doing right now, and not reading this).

The second disadvantage is that the styles are not quite as good as those for Celtic Spears. In fact, I would argue that the LW styles are the worst in Hibernia, if not the game. You get side positional, which is harder to use, and some of the chains are just plain silly. Overall, however, I think that LW is a pretty good choice because of the damage bonuses, and will make you pretty powerful as you level up.

On another, somewhat related note, there has been a ton of confusion regarding Large Weapons damage, in that many people still think that you have to train in two weapon types to maximize your damage with LWs. You don’t.

In Albion (and only in Albion) your maximum damage with a pole arm or a two handed weapon is determined by your skill with that weapon, and your minimum damage is determined by your skill in the related one-handed weapon skill. In other words, to do the most damage with a crushing pole arm, you’d have to put points into both pole arm and one-handed crushing weapons. Albion is the only realm that does damage in this manner, however.

In Hibernia, your LW damage is determined by your skill with Large Weapons. Period. No matter how many points you put into blades or blunt, it won’t improve your LW skill one bit. This confusion was caused, I think, by some confusing information that was posted on various websites when DAoC was first released and, like an ugly rumor or an insta-healing cleric, it just refuses to die.

Putting It All Together

In the above passages, I’ve illustrated the various factors that go into building your hero. I know, I know, we’re fighters, and we are much better at wrecking things than building them, but building a good hero first will lead to a lifetime of happy wrecking later, so it’s worth the effort.

You’ve had three big decisions to make so far. You’ve had to choose your race (the quicker Celt or the stronger ‘Bolg), you’ve had to choose your build (i.e., how to spend your points), and you’ve had to choose your play style (offensive or defensive).

Now, in putting these all together, it can be helpful to look at how this is going to impact your career as your feed your Camelot addiction.

If you’ve decided to go for the all out offensive hero, the purest form of this is probably a Firbolg, using something similar to the brawlers build, and choosing an offensive weapon type (CS or LW). This guy is a one-man wrecking crew, and can do some impressive damage. His ability to block and evade? Hahahahahahahahaha.

If you’d like the purest form of defensive hero, go for a Celt, using the defensive build, and wielding a shield and the weapon of your choice. This has maximized your dex, and will make you an expert at frustrating anyone and anything that tries to hit you. Unfortunately, your offense is going to be a bit on the light side. In fact, small children with sharp sticks will, on occasion, be able to out-damage you, but don’t let that bug you. You are the best at what you do, and as you level it actually becomes quite impressive.

Every other variation falls somewhere between these two extremes. It is important for you to realize, in making the above three choices, where you are going for the next 50 levels. It can be extremely frustrating for players who’ve built largely defensive heroes when they are bugged by the fact that their offense isn’t all that hot. It can be equally frustrating if you’ve built an all-out damage dealing CS specialist, to realize that you’ve just gotten destroyed in the first ten seconds after a nasty pull. Spend a few minutes thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of the hero you are building, and you’ll enjoy the next 50 levels much, much more.

You simply cannot be everything, so choose an overall approach that you like best. If you like pure tanking, make a few decisions that will give you some decent defense; if you want to become Conan’s meaner, tougher brother, then make your choices with offense in mind. At some point in your career, you are going to be jealous of the other heroes in the game, simply because they are better at some aspect of tanking than you are.

Having said that, it is important to realize that most heroes end up, somehow, fairly balanced, and this may be a good thing. Many players have, without realizing it, chosen a combination of race, build, and style that lends itself to being reasonably well rounded. A balanced hero does most things pretty well, puts out decent offense, and has a nice strong defense. His frustration level is generally pretty low.

You can take your hero in whatever direction you like. I’ve seen everything from super-defensive ‘Bolgs to Celt LW specialists, from those who spent every training point on shields, to parry masters, to high dexterity CS users. Each of these was able to make his hero work, albeit with some mixed success. One of the happiest heroes I ever met was a ‘Bolg using piercing weapons – he simply loved it. There are so many possibilities that your hero will be unique to you. Pick what you like, and enjoy yourself as you crush, kill, and destroy. Now go play with the monsters.

STRATEGY AND TRAGEDY

In this section several broad-based ideas, suggestions, and tactical tips are discussed.

Speccing

Speccing is the oh-so-cool term that Camelot people use for specializing. (I think sometimes that we forget that we are role-players, and that this game is basically a giant game of Dungeons and Dragons. We are not exactly, uh, hip and trendy).

But I digress. When specializing, I have one very strong suggestion: specialize fully in your weapon. Further, get the best weapon you can (high yellow preferred), enchant it if it’s player-made, and keep it in a constant state of repair. Why? Simply because the weapon you are wielding is the single most import piece of gear you own.

Your breastplate comes in handy a few times during a fight. If the mob gets past your shield, doesn’t get parried, and manages to hit you, it has a random chance of hitting your BP. It also has a chance of hitting some other body part/piece of armor. In other words, a given piece of armor is important, but only comes into play maybe every 8th or 10th time a mob swings at you.

This is in complete contrast to your weapon. Your weapon comes into play with every single swing. If you use a weapon style (and you use them all the time) you don’t miss very often, and the quality of that weapon affects the damage that you do. Furthermore, if you are fully specced (aren’t I cool?) in your weapon, you get a significant damage bonus over what you would normally do. A character fully specced in any weapon type does 125 to 150% of normal damage. If you are around 75% specced, you’ll do 75 to 125% of normal damage. It’s all on a sliding scale, but I hope you see that you do much more damage the higher you spec. And the biggest single jump (25%) in damage comes when you fully spec to match your level.

It is also possible to over-spec (I just made that term up. Waaaaaaay cool). This is done by acquiring weapons or equipment that give you an additional +1 or so with your weapon type. By using this type of gear you can rather easily become a lvl 22 hero with a 25 sword skill. Each of these points over your maximum spec also adds to the damage you do with each sword stroke.

Overspeccing does not give you additional styles, however. If you are a fully specced level 25 blunt user, you’ll get to use the level 25 blunt styles. If you are using equipment that pushes your skills with blunt to 29, you won’t get to use the level 29 style. You’ll do extra damage because of your overspecced skill, but you’ll still have to acquire any additional styles the hard way.

Weapon Damage and Brain Damage

Since we’ve all been playing this game for a while, and most of us have taken a few too many sling stones to the head, let me spell out in the clearest possible terms the ways in which you can increase your offensive output. Virtually everything on this list – eleven ways to improve your offense -- is extremely elementary, but I’ve caught myself more than a few times ignoring even these basics, and wondering why I was hitting like an undernourished little gremlin. After making a few of these changes, I was back to hitting like the ‘Bolg that I am. Grrrrr!

    1. Use a weapon that is high yellow or low orange to you. There is a weapon DPS cap for your level; doing this makes sure you are at your cap. If your weapon is blue, upgrade it. Your weapon is your most important piece of gear.
    2. Have your weapon enchanted (if it’s player made), as this will give it at least a 5% bonus. (This bonus affects your ability to hit your opponent, not your damage.)
    3. Use a higher quality weapon. Quality is a measure of how good your weapon can ever really be, due to materials, workmanship, design, etc. A weapon with a listed DPS of 10.0 will only do that much damage if its quality is 100%. If its quality is 85%, it will have a real DPS of 8.5.
    4. Have your weapon repaired at the local smith. Weapon condition (how much wear and tear is on your weapon right now) affects how much damage you are doing in a pretty dramatic way. Try to keep your weapon close to 100% most of the time -- you are better off. A weapon with a condition of 80% is actually doing 20% less damage than it would be if repaired to 100%.
    5. Overspec with your gear. Acquire and use weapons that give you a +1 to your weapon skill. If you use swords, there are many swords out there that have a +1, +2, +3 or higher on them. This can dramatically increase your overall damage, as you are doing a bit more harm with every swing. The same holds true of other gear that gives you +1 with your weapon type. A ring that gives +1 to your swords skill is probably more valuable than one that gives you +3 dex.
    6. Acquire and use weapons that proc (i.e., it occasionally nukes or otherwise damages the mob you’re fighting). The procs vary, but many are pretty good. If you have two weapons with similar DPS, and they seem to be doing about the same damage when you try them out, use the one with the proc.
    7. Use medium or high damage styles whenever possible. In groups, positionals are actually fairly easy to use. Further, try for an occasional chain. I often see heroes failing to do this, and just standing in front of some mob, using whatever crappy anytime style is available, over and over again, when it’s easy to do more damage.
    8. Whenever possible, hunt mobs that you gain a damage bonus against. If you are a blunt weapons user, hunt bugs – you get a 15% damage bonus when you do. Do not, if possible, encourage your group to hunt fleshy undead mobs, against which you suffer a 10% penalty. The overall difference is a whopping 25%, so use this to your advantage.
    9. Spec your weapon skill up to your level, every chance you get. What I am saying here is that you should visit your trainer whenever it’s practical. I’m not suggesting that you become one of those geeks that abandon their group to train the moment they level, but I am suggesting that you do so when you get some down time. I have found myself struggling along, wondering why I suck so bad, only to realize that I haven’t visited my trainer in two levels.
    10. Acquire and use strength enhancing gear. This has an affect on how much damage you are doing, so make yourself as strong as possible. There are some very nice items out there that do this, and it really isn’t very hard at the higher levels. For heroes that use piercing weapons, this is a bit more difficult as they have to increase both their strength and dexterity to improve their damage, but the same principle applies.
    11. When you cannot decide between two weapons, try them both out on identical mobs. It all can be very confusing, trying to decide between the low yellow, 85% +2 spiked mace with the proc, or the 95% quality high yellow/low orange +2 hammer without one. After a few short fights with each weapon, you’ll probably be able to tell very clearly which is doing more damage.

DPS

DPS stands for Damage Per Second, and is the standard measure of how effective a weapon is in DAC. It’s also as confusing as that freshman calculus class you’re failing.

You see, DPS assumes a number of things that may, or may not, be true for your character. DPS assumes that your character has a quickness of 60. It also does not take into account how strong your character is (or isn’t). It doesn’t consider your weapon’s quality or condition. It doesn’t consider any bonuses the weapon may have due to having it enchanted. It doesn’t figure in your skill with that weapon, or if you are overspecced. DPS won’t tell you if you are not getting your full damage from the weapon because it is above your level.

DPS is simply Mythic’s way of telling you about a weapon’s relative damage-dealing ability compared to other weapons. Nothing more, nothing less. If two different characters use the same weapon, their offensive output will vary due to the factors I just mentioned. If you use shift-I (more on this later) the game will give you a more detailed display of your weapon’s relative effectiveness compared to other weapons, but this still will not take into account your quik, str, or skill with that weapon.

Training, but not the choo -choo kind

Your trainers can be found in TNN (obviously), Howth, Connla, and Drium Cain.

What about dexterity?

Dexterity contributes primarily to your defense. In part, it determines how often you evade, parry, and block, so a decent dex is a nice thing to have. If you are a shield hero, dex is even more important because of your emphasis on defensive tanking.

Dex is also the sole statistic that determines how much damage you do with your bow. However, I’ve never met a single hero who has ever been able to do very much damage with his bow, no matter how high his dex.

Having said all of this, I regard dex as moderately important for most heroes. For offensive heroes, it helps them parry a bit more, but will be less important than strength. For defensive heroes, it will be slightly more important, as it affects both block and parry. For piercing heroes, dex is actually pretty significant. For the reasons mentioned elsewhere in this guide, piercing heroes are the one type of hero the really should emphasize dex as much as str.

On being defensive…

Defense is a pretty straightforward affair in DAC, but a few points seem to be lost on many heroes (and fighters in general). As mentioned above, dexterity has some impact on your defensive skills (block, parry, and evade) so obtaining items that add to your dex is pretty important.

Another way to impact your defense is to visit your trainer whenever feasible. When there upgrade your shield and parry skills – it may not seem like it helps a lot, but when you haven’t visited your trainer in a couple of levels, it does add up.

Your armor is absolutely critical. This cannot be overstated: if you have poor armor, you are a poor tank. A major portion of your stock in trade is your ability to take abuse. Every piece of your armor should be high yellow if at all possible. If it isn’t, upgrade it. (You have an AF cap, just like the DPS cap on your weapon. You can only be a certain AF at your level. Making sure your armor is high yellow [or even low orange] helps ensure you are as close as possible to that cap.) One weak piece of armor makes you very vulnerable. It lowers your overall AF (meaning you get hit more), and when you do get hit in that body area, you take a significantly greater amount of damage. Feel free to experiment with this; you’ll see exactly what I mean very quickly.

If your armor is player made, get it enchanted and it will last a bit longer, and need to be repaired less. Also, repair your armor from time to time – condition affects your armor tremendously, and repairing it increases your actual AF. Upgrade it, enchant it, repair it – these steps are your lifeblood. Literally.

One quick tidbit on player-made armor versus the stuff dropped by mobs. You need to look at the "great" pieces of armor that monsters drop very carefully before equipping them. Often the quality is 80 or 85%. This means that the advertised AF of those oh-so-cool arms is actually 15 to 20% lower than you think. If the arms give you a +2 strength and +5 hit points, it’s probably not worth it to give up all that AF. In my opinion, player made armor with no stats in it is often better than the dropped loot with a couple of flashy stats. I’m pretty careful when I buy or trade for drops – that breastplate that I needed and fell in love with has, all to often, turned out to be worse than the cheaper player-made one.

Enchantments

The exact impact of enchanting your equipment is something of a mystery. One thing is certain: enchanting your gear makes it last longer, and it needs to be repaired less often. (It also adds to its cost, but that’s another matter).

Mythic has stated that enchanting a weapon gives it a slight "to hit" bonus. If you get your weapon enchanted, and it has a 5% bonus, you hit 5% more often. It does not give you a corresponding damage bonus. You simply hit a bit more often.

It has also been said that enchanting your armor reduces any bonuses that others may have against you. I.e., if another player has a 15% bonus on his weapon, and you have a 10% bonus on your armor, he will have a net 5% bonus chance to hit you. If this is the only effect, the primary impact of enchanting your armor would be felt in RvR. The impact of this in PvE would be negligible. There may be PvE bonuses for enchanting your armor, but they are unknown at the time of this writing.

When it comes to shields, some have speculated that the 5% bonus increases your chances to block. It also seems likely that it increases your damage with a shield style by 5%. It may make skills like engage more effective. Again, speculation abounds, but I’ve yet to see any tests on the subject.

So is enchanting your gear worth the additional cost? In my highly speculative and subjective opinion, I think that it is. I cannot articulate exactly how it works in every case, but in my experience it seems that enchanting my weapons and armor does make me hit a bit harder and (maybe) absorb a bit more damage.

Shift-I

With recent upgrades to the shift-I command, the usefulness of this set of keys is very important for heroes. Shift-I does something that is often so confusing in DAC: it tells you the pure, naked, unadulterated truth.

You see, the equipment panel of your character display (the one that shows the weapons you are holding and armor you are wearing) shows you all manner of statistics about your character. The problem is they are displayed in what is probably the most confusing and misleading manner possible. Look at your AF. Guess what? That’s not really your AF, that’s just what your AF would be if your gear was all 100% quality and condition. What’s your real AF? Good question….

The same holds true for your weapon damage. That number supposedly represents the amount of damage that your weapon does, and it’s related to your weapon’s DPS. In fact, for reasons that no one can explain, the zero in that figure is actually supposed to be a decimal point. It’s a bug, and it’s on the list of things Mythic wants to fix, but it still confuses the heck out of everyone.

So how do you figure out what your real AF is? You have to do it manually, and this is where the shift-I keys come in. Right click on a set of scale legs, and you get some stats on them, including the AF. Now press shift-I. A more detailed statistical display pops up, and this display gives you your real AF. The game figures everything in, puts it all together, and sorts it all out for you, and tells you what the actual AF of your legs are. It will probably be a bit different from what you thought it was.

Shift-I works for every piece of gear you have, and will help you in deciding which pieces are great, and which ones just look that way. Use it often.

For some players, shift-I doesn’t work. When they try, a panel on their character display opens up instead. This is due to a conflict in your config settings, and this is an easy and worthwhile fix. Simply camp your character out, and go to the login screen (the one where your avatar is standing there, looking all bad and menacing in his armor, and you get to choose between your four characters on that server). While on this screen choose options, then config keyboard. Look at the keyboard commands, and you will see that shift-I is used twice. Disable the one that enables shift-I to open up one of your character display panels. This caused a conflict on my system, causing shift-I to not work at all.

Are you a hero, or some type of shopkeeper?

As solid gear is critical to a hero’s survival, let me clarify something for you: you are only as good as your equipment. This has two major (but related) consequences for you, little Xena. First, you must constantly get your hands on gear that is, at a minimum, blue to you. Better yet, it should be yellow or orange. This gear is going to be either expensive, or hard to acquire by getting those uncooperative monsters to drop some of it. Second, in order to get this gear, you’ve simply got to play merchant from time to time.

Here is the game plan that I use, so that I make the most of the time I spend in town. I take all the items that I’ve acquired over the past few bubbles of experience and I head off to TNN. I often find that I’ve obtained loot that no one in my group can use, so I usually have a grab bag of odd things for sale. I know ahead of time that it’s gonna take a while to unload all of this stuff, so I plan on committing some significant time to this task. If I don’t hang out in TNN for a good while, I’ll never unload/buy/sell/trade anything. Once there, I wheel and deal, and hopefully sell or trade all the stuff I’ve got for all the stuff I need. Patience is a huge virtue here, as this takes time.

Weekends are, without doubt, the best days to do this kind of thing. TNN is as crowded as a shopping mall on Christmas Eve every weekend. And nearly as irritating.

While you’re there, this is the perfect time to grab a bunch of arrows, sell off any of the non-descript loot you’ve been acquiring, visit your trainer, and stop by the vault. If you stock up on arrows, and you stack your loot between pulls as I suggest elsewhere, it’s actually amazing how long you can stay in the field before you have to return to town. You can reduce these trips to TNN to once a week or less, and accomplish a lot while you are there.

While in town, practice your trade skill, if you have one. This is a golden opportunity for you to multi-task, as you make your trade items, sell and trade your loot items, get some arrows, visit the vault, dye your armor, and accomplish a bunch of other little errands.

A word about the vault. It’s amazing the stuff that just sits in the vault, unused, forever. I’ve saved all kinds of things, thinking someday they’d be useful. It never happened. So I saved them longer. Still didn’t need ‘em. So I saved them even longer. Soon they were grayer than Santa’s beard, but I still kept them.

Make sense? Nope – so get rid of it. Grab a bunch of your built up junk that’s 8 levels below you, and give it to some cute little baby newbie. He’ll love you for it, as your junk will seem like a present from heaven to his young little character, and you’ll be doing your good deed to help your fellow Hibernians.

Also, make a macro button for each item that you’re selling. Put these on a separate hotkey bank, and push them from time to time while you’re in town. You can make this macro by typing /macro sell /b Selling Earthen Defender, 7.5 DPS sword, lvl 24 item!

Also, make sure you keep your selling macros very short, as longer ones simply get cut off, and you don’t make any sense as you shout out "Selling or Trading Earth…" instead of what you are really trying to sell.

Sometimes you’ll upgrade just one piece, and sometimes it’s two or three pieces of equipment. Often times you won’t even buy anything, but just sell what you’ve got and bank the cash. But the buy-sell-upgrade cycle is one you’re just going to have to get used to, you little salesman.

Does your father know you’re wearing all that jewelry?

While I’m on the subject, let me make a few quick comments on the ever-so-popular non-armor items, namely cloaks, bracers, rings, necklaces, and the vaguely-named jewelry slot. You should not just equip items at random in these slots, but instead give a bit of thought as to what you are wearing. A bracer that gives you +5 quickness may sound great, but not be really be all that valuable. It’s more likely that the bracer that gives you +3 str or +1 with your shield is actually better.

While you are doing your in-town trading, try to trade some of these uber-sounding items for ones that may be less glamorous, but a bit more useful. You’ll be surprised at the deals you can make, especially when someone thinks you’re an idiot for trading away your necklace that adds +5 dex and +2 to intelligence for one that adds +2 to your weapon skill. Uh huh. Who’s the idiot…

Have a seat, Hercules

Let me add one strange tidbit on something I see quite often, even after big fights, when people are half dead, and everyone is out of power. When the brawl is over and the casters are medding, don’t run in big circles, jump on and off nearby objects, go swimming, stand around and emote randomly, or anything like that. Instead, have a seat. And do it right away, if possible. By the time a healer has enough power to throw a heal on you, you’ve probably healed to full anyway. And you’ve just saved everyone a little bit of time, power, and effort.

Further, if you sit even for a minute, you’ll generally recharge your endurance to full. I don’t know how many times a mob has popped on my group when I was low on endurance. If, in those situations, I’d been bright enough (hey, I’m just a ‘Bolg…) to sit down right away after the fight, I would have been able to taunt or do some high damage styles, instead of just doing my most basic attack, hoping the baddie turned toward me and away from the caster he was trying to eat. Yes, I know that this tip is as dumb as the average armsman, but it just might save your group from an unnecessary disaster.

I was once in a group with a fighter who repeatedly just stood in one spot while the casters medded up. When I asked him why he didn’t sit and heal, he said "well, it takes a long time." Yes it does, Ironhead, and it takes 3 times as long if you are standing.

Suicide Camping

It’s important, when hunting, to camp in a safe spot. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common errors in the game, and often results in needless deaths and total group wipeouts.

Generally this occurs in a couple of ways. The first way to kill yourself and your group is to constantly creep forward toward the mob spawn spot with each pull. As the puller pulls the mob to the group, invariably the group moves forward to assist him. This may be the fault of the puller (he stops running to the group too soon) or of the other group member (who are a bit overanxious to help the puller), but the result is the same: the group gets too close to the monster camp. Eventually the monsters (all of whom are endlessly unhappy and aggressive) aggro on you all, and pulling is, uh, no longer required.

The second suicide camping technique generally takes place in dungeons. As your group kills whatever mobs you are currently hunting, several members will often sit down wherever they please. Sadly, this is often way too close to the spawn point of a monster you killed five minutes ago – and forgot about.

The answer to both of these problems is the same. Pick a landmark, and call that your camp. This way everyone knows where to form up, sit down, and the location the targets are being pulled to. Whether the camp is a nearby tree, rock, ramp, stairs, or whatever, this simple technique will work like a charm, and keep your group alive.

Are they temperature-hot, or just spicy hot?

I have four banks of hotkeys that I use in PvE. The first bank is for my melee hotkeys. The second is my bow/pulling bar, the third is my "combat utilities" set of keys, and my fourth bank of hotkeys is for my non-combat buttons and macros. They look something like this:

  Melee Bow/Pulling Combat Utils Non-Combat
Button 1 Weapon Icon Bow Icon /y /Dir
Button 2 /stick /face /g HEAL ME! /follow
Button 3 Taunt /point   /loc
Button 4 Anti-taunt /g I just shot a monster! Inc! Stag form /g Ok everyone, we are leaving…
Button 5 Reactionary     /who "favoritezone"
Button 6 Positional   Protect /who "myguild"
Button 7 Positional 2   Intercept /y 33 HERO, LFG!
Button 8 Anytime Sprint Sprint Sprint

Obviously some of the slots I’ve left blank – use these for anything else you like. You can change any of these keys to anything else you prefer. I’ve just found that this arrangement is orderly, easy to remember, and makes me a more effective tank.

Melee Hotkeys

Making a hotkey for your primary weapon (or weapon and shield) to put on your melee bar is a good idea. This solves that problem of trying to melee with my bow still in my hand, which always made me feel like such a genius. I follow that with the /stick macro in the second position, then by my taunt style, and my anti-taunt style. I fill the other slots with the weapon styles I like best and use most. This particular arrangement is nice because of the nice, easy, 1-2-3 quality to it. I equip my weapon, stick to my target, and hit my taunt style with easy and rapidity. I then settle into the fight and use my styles as appropriate.

The Pulling Bank

My second bank of hotkeys is for pulling. The first button is my bow icon (which arms, loads, and fires my bow), followed by the /face macro. This is followed by several macros that, I have found, makes very clear what I am doing. I have a /point emote, which points right at the mob I’m about to pull. I also have a macro that tells everyone that I’ve just pulled. This macro is made by typing "/macro Inc /g I just shot a monster, and it’s incoming!" (without the quotes). You can obviously change the text to suit your personality. Lastly, I put my sprint key on the bottom of the pulling bar, so I can outrun anything I shoot if necessary.

Combat Utilities

I have found a few other hot keys helpful for combat purposes, but I don’t use them all the time, and I don’t want this stuff taking up space on my combat hotkey bar. The /y macro is effective if you are ungrouped and need a hand, or your group mates didn’t notice that every mob in the vicinity suddenly turned on you. This lets ‘em know.

A "Heal me!" macro is also important, and probably underutilized by just about every tank in the game. The problem, as you already know far too well, is that healers vary widely in skill. Some are great, others…well, they should have been nukers, stalkers, or tanks. I’ve honestly met healers who apparently had no idea that their primary job was actually healing, even if they were the only healer in the group. Others have seemed to drift off, fail to pay attention, or be at the fridge getting a Coke when the battle starts. Some cannot heal more than one person at a time. If that one person is you, you’re ok. If not, he simply won’t notice that you are dying. It’s unbelievably infuriating, but it’s true.

One answer to this dilemma is to make a nice, bold, "Heal me!" hot key. This can be done by typing "/macro /g HEAL ME!" at the command line. This will alert the inattentive healer to throw down a bit of his precious power on you, and probably save everyone in the process. Once you make this macro, place it on your combat utilities hotkey bar, and use it when necessary. I do NOT suggest that you overuse this key, however, or you will irritate everyone in your group. You know how that screaming, running, crying caster that panics when he is being hit or chased? That’s how they’ll feel about you if you use this too often. Overuse of this key is the quickest possible way to join his crybabies club.

Actually, I once grouped with a bard that simply refused to heal anyone. He preferred tanking. He sucked at tanking, and we had no other healer, but he just kept banging away on the mobs. Finally the group leader had to threaten to disband him if he didn’t start healing us, and he began to actually do his job. This is more common than we’d like to think, too.

I also put protect, intercept, and stag form on this bank of hotkeys. If you have guard (I don’t since I’m a two-hander all the way), put that here also. I put the sprint key here because, well, I had an open spot and you just never know.

The Non-Combat Hotkeys

I stack my utilitarian macro hotkeys on bank 4. This bank is useful when I’m traveling (alone or with others), looking to see who is hunting my favorite zone or the RvR areas, looking for my guild buddies, or trying to get grouped.

Sticking and Slipping

Perhaps the most useful macro is the /stick command. You can make this one by typing "/macro stick /stick" and, viola, you have your little magic button.

The stick macro works like a charm. Once you target a monster and hit your stick button, you are stuck to him like the Siamese twin he didn’t know he had. If he moves, you move with him, and you never miss a sword stroke, mace smash, or spear stick. Use of this key basically eliminates a big problem in most MMORPGs, wherein the caster or nuker gets the monster’s attention, the monster takes off to eat him, and you look all around like some sort of idiot trying to reacquire your target. By using stick you are all over the baddie, and saving the caster is one quick taunt away.

To make this even more useful, utilize your Z and X keys while stuck to an enemy. Z and X are used by virtually no one in the game, as they are merely the strafing or sidestep keys. Combined with stick, however, and they become extremely useful.

While stuck to an enemy, push one of your strafe keys. This does not break stick, as other movement keys do, but instead it causes you to circle to either the right or left around your opponent. Why is this useful? (Sure, you’re strong in the Force. But you still have much to learn, my young padawan.) It is the fasted way to get front, side, or back positionals! For those of you who have not found much use for your positional attacks, this will literally change everything. You will soon find yourself constantly maneuvering to get behind or to the side of your target, making small adjustments when it moves or when you miss, and hitting him harder than ever before.

The Wonders of the F8 key

As a little bit of icing to sticking and slipping, you can add the use of F8. If you push F8 several times, you’ll notice that you cycle through a list of all nearby monsters. This means that you can, if you practice a bit, hit F8 (and select a nearby monster), hit your stick hotkey, and hit your favorite attack style, all very quickly. This "select/stick/attack" sequence I call the three-button technique, in which you pounce on nearby opponents so quickly that your reaction time is cut by about 50%.

Your Friends

This leads into my next point, the use of your ‘friends’ list. The list currently has space to list 30 friends. Now maybe you are an extremely social guy and you have 30 genuine in game friends, but often times I can’t even remember who half the people on my list are, much less why I considered them a friend. I haven’t seen half of them for 16 levels.

The truth is, I have about half a dozen friends in the game. I genuinely like these folks, and would do anything for them. So I am suggesting that you put a few other folks on the list that you need to know, but aren’t necessarily ‘friends’ per se. Use the friends list like a list of business contacts.

You might want to consider putting a few craftsmen on the list (you know, guys who can make you a solid weapon at a good price, or someone who makes armor you like). Further, a few people who’ve shown some ability to lead dungeon raids, or who can put together some good RvR activities. If you run into a few healers or nukers that are particularly talented, put them on the list too.

Warmongers and File Clerks

I heartily recommend that you do something in the real world (you know which one is real, right? For most of us, it’s the one where you’re not really a powerful nomadic warrior). My suggestion is that you make a paper file for all the game data you acquire, write down, or download off the web. It doesn’t need to be a big file, but it’s helpful to put a couple of downloaded maps, quest info, equipment you need (and where it can be found), etc., in a paper file folder and leave that on your desk. This can be extremely utilitarian and convenient.

You may want to make an actual paper list of the friends I just spoke about, and on the list indicate why the heck they are on that list in the first place. Put this paper friends list with your maps, horse routes, and other errata. Doing this will actually make the friends list somewhat useful.

Room Dumping

Heroes don’t get any special maneuvers to split up groups of mobs, so breaking up that tough spawn can be extremely difficult. What often happens is that you pull one baddie, and all his homeys come with him, and they just beat you down. Often the healers simply cannot keep up, even if they chain heal you. I would like to suggest a couple of techniques that tend to work in many situations.

Variation number one works if an NPC guard is fairly close by. It is critical that you con this guard first. If he is a sentinel, guardian, or regular guard, fine. If he is a "realm guard," he will only attack enemy players, and won’t help you one bit against monsters. In fact, I thought I saw out of the corner of my eye one of these guys actually laughing at me as I got killed by a monster, but I can’t be sure.

Approach that fearful spawn. Pick a target. Push your sprint button, and shoot. Run like you’re on fire toward the nearby guard. If screaming helps, then do so. When you get to the guard, stop running, but keep the guard between you and the mob. Use him as a human – uh, NPC – shield. Don’t worry, the U.N. won’t protest.

After the guard kills the group of baddies, it will be much easier for your group to manage them as they repop, one by one.

There is a second variation, which often works in dungeons or anywhere else where there is a zone nearby. As in the above example, approach the deadly spawn, shoot, and sprint toward the zone. As the baddies chase you, your group mates should not attack them. Again, feel free to scream as you run, and flail your arms if that adds to the effect. Zone out.

Wait a few moments, (use that ‘sit’ key) on the other side of the zone. One of your group mates will spy on the mobs, and tell you when they begin to wander back to their spawn point. When most of them have wandered away, he grabs one and pulls it to the group. You zone back in, and run to help out your buddies. If this works out, you have split the spawn in two.

This works even better if another group picks off a few of those pulled mobs that you left at the zone.

Mythic had the foresight to put some anti-training code into the game. This code prevents those deadly trains (ever play EQ? The trains to the zones were hellish at times) that can clear a zone out. In DAC mobs will chase players to the zone, but often won’t attack others in their path. Further, they will sometimes disappear when the player zones out and reappear at their spawn point, or wander harmlessly past everyone and walk back home. My suggestion above basically exploits anti-training code for all its worth.

This is an extremely dangerous technique if your group is camped anywhere near the path to the zone that you are using. The mobs might detect them, somehow, and attack them. If someone in your group nukes or heals even a little, the mobs will likely turn and attack the group as a whole. It’s also real bad news if a not-so-bright low-level group is camping the zone. The lowbies might be tempted to attack one of your mobs, and a wipeout could result. Also, the anti-training code doesn’t always work, and the baddies you pull to the zone might kill all the newbs hunting there. So be nice.

Yeah, ok, so this isn’t rocket science -- I’m a guy with a purple mohawk and a ring through his nose. What’d you expect?

You wait over here. After we kill your friends, we’ll get back to you.

On another crowd control note, you can’t actually control anything, but you can help a bit.

Pull the mobs. If one comes, bring him right back to your group. Chop it up into little monster cakes.

If you pull two or three, stop at a pre-arranged spot a short distance from your camp. The casters send in their pets, and the other tanks run up to help you out. Hopefully the pets will get aggro from at least one mob. If they do, you can then bring the others to your camp. By the time you’ve chopped up one or two of the nearest baddies, the other mob (the one the pets have been keeping busy) is good and ready to be dismantled.

Off Tanking

The concept of "off tanking" is often discussed, but it is often underutilized. As a hero, (especially a shield hero) you are, without doubt, the very best at this crowd control technique.

Have someone else pull the mobs. (If you pull, you will attract all the initial aggro from the mob and all his buddies, making off tanking virtually impossible.) When the mobs rush toward your group, you choose one and taunt it. Stay a short distance away from your friends, and fight. Your whole goal here is to simply stay alive as long as possible, while everyone else kills the other mobs. As you pound away on your opponent, you require very little attention. A few heals, and you could do this all day. Also, try using your anti-taunt style, as it gives you a defensive bonus, making the baddie miss you more often. The goal is not victory for you, it’s survival until your buds can deal with the mobs at hand, then come and help you out.

Although this is common knowledge, engage is extremely useful in these situations. A shield-using hero can hit his engage button, do no damage to the mob, but block just about everything it is throwing at him until his endurance runs out. Very useful.

You know why I don’t life weights? They’re too heavy.

One of the great things about being a hero is the fact that you can carry a ton of loot, and you’ll probably never be encumbered. I’ve found that no matter how heavy my armor and weapons are, I still couldn’t overburden myself with loot if I tried. Heroes are simply too strong.

The real problem is space. You have five bags, with eight slots each. Since most of us spent our virtual youths swinging sharp objects at whatever crossed out paths, and just never got around to getting that advanced degree, I’ll be a bit more specific: you have forty slots available to you for carrying loot.

If you fill the last two or three slots in your fifth bag with arrows (you can stack 40 arrows per slot, by the way), that reduces your available slots a bit. If, like most heroes, you are carrying a spare weapon, or a couple of pieces of extra gear, you have even less slots to put your spoils in.

Having said all of this, I have three suggestions. First, learn to stack your loot while you sit. This is easy to do, and gets to be a habit fairly quickly. If you do this routinely, you never have the mildly nasty surprise of opening your bags, seeing that they are full, and realizing that you haven’t gotten one drop from the monsters you are fighting in over an hour. I hate that. Especially when there have been some sweet items dropped, and that irritating whiner in the group has gotten more than his share of them (Isn’t that always the way!?!).

My second suggestion is this: carry less spare gear. Most of the stuff you have in that last bag is not really unnecessary. If you are like me, some of that stuff seems useful or important, but when was the last time you actually equipped it? Most of the time, I’ve found that these items seem much more important than they actually are. Put them in the vault, or sell them, or give them away.

Lastly, ditch the crappy loot. Learn what loot is valuable, and stack it. Learn what loot is trash, and dump it on the floor while you hunt. No sense hanging onto torn pelts when your bags are full, as this keeps you from having any chance of getting that nice new breastplate that just dropped off the nasty boss mob.

Groupies and Guildies

It takes a while to find a group in DAC, which can be a major pain. After going through this hassle, I really hate to leave a group, and start the looking-for-a-group process again. If my group is dysfunctional (for any number of reasons) I have found that speaking up helps. Also having a plan for when things go badly often keeps me (and all of us) alive. Silently wishing everyone would start playing smarter has often resulted in many needless deaths.

When telling the group about the error we are making, I am polite, and it does often result in a change in behavior. Sometimes a simple, private /send to the person who is causing the problem gets the job done.

My plan for disaster is usually a simple one: running as soon as the predictable disaster occurs. It’s dumb, but it is amazing how much thinking about this ahead of time helps. Suggest to your group members that six monsters are probably going to arrive at camp if you guys keep engaging in the behavior in question. When the six monsters show up as you predicted, type /g RUN! and, well, run. As an example, I was once in a group that was double pulling (one official puller, and a tank that kept getting up and scouting the surrounding area spontaneously). Another group member and I tried to get the player to be a bit more patient, all to no avail. Both pullers brought mobs back to our group as the room popped. Running as soon as this very predictable event occurred would have saved our butts. Instead I hung around a bit too long, as we all typed messages to the group and reached consensus on whether or not we should jam. I died like the idiot that I was that day. So did my groupies (okay, their not my groupies, like in rock star groupies. They’re groupies like in group mates. Oh, never mind.).

When it comes to guilds, I highly recommend joining one. Your guild mates will provide you with some transportation and crafting abilities that you lack, as well as assistance in completing long and involved quests. It’s a great place to trade gear/drops/loot with others. They also help you find groups much faster. Being in a guild, especially a large one, has a number of subtle advantages, one of which is grouping with your friends.

There is a responsibility to being in a guild, in that you also have to help them with their quests, go on raids you have no interest in, etc. But do it, as it’s helpful to your buddies, who have been so helpful to you.

Mindlessly Mocking the Mobs

This is a note on mindless taunting. It’s rampant. So have a plan, and use your taunt skill wisely.

What does the typical hero do? Often I’ve found that heroes methodically use their taunt style over and over and over and over and over. And when they are done doing that, they use their taunt style. This is a mistake.

You have no effective method of self-healing. Many of the other fighting classes have an AF nearly as high as yours (if they are smart in picking their armor, that is). Their hit points are close to yours, and if they get buffs, they are even closer. So why are you mindlessly taunting the mob off of them?

Heroes even taunt mobs off of pets. Pets are replaceable.

If your casters or healers are getting hit, then it’s time to taunt. If one of your fellow tanks is taking too much damage, and is in danger of death, then its time to taunt. If the mob is facing a nightshade or other backstabber, then that is another time to taunt. Other than that, use taunt sparingly. Why use taunt like it’s some sort of uber use-anytime style? Try using a style that is a bit better and causes more damage. And if your group is tearing the mobs to shreds, or you are running low on stamina, conserve a bit of endurance and don’t use any styles at all. This way if things suddenly go badly (a nasty pull, or a bad pop, or an unexpected wandering mob, or a key player going LD, or any of a hundred other possibilities) you have plenty of endurance left to taunt when needed. Also, if you don’t use taunt repeatedly and mindlessly, then your taunt is available without delay when you need to get the baddie off that oh-so-fragile mentalist. You won’t have to wait that precious few seconds while it recycles to save your friend.

Furthermore, if you mindlessly taunt throughout a tough fight, and you take a bunch of abuse, and you are near death, and the mob suddenly turns on the bard or druid, what good are you? No good at all. Because you have taunted without thinking, and therefore taken too much punishment at the beginning and middle of the fight, you have no reserve hit points to save your buddy. In this situation, if you don’t taunt, he dies. If you taunt, you die.

You may wish to consider the idea of shepherding your precious hit points a bit more than you do now. These are your life-blood. Keep some as a reserve. Let all the melee types take some hits, and at the end of a long, drawn out fight you’ll have some decent HP left.

Steady Pulling

We have all had the experience of being in a group and getting unbelievably good experience. This is a rare, but apparently extremely addictive experience, and we all want more like some sick junkie needing a fix. Put the crack pipe down.

I’ve found that this Monte Haul harvest of experience is a very rare event. It happens from time to time, but it’s by no means common. Most of the time the exp I gain while grouped is much less dramatic.

This results in one big problem, and it’s a major pain in the butt. It’s the whole "I’m not getting any experience, lets run all the way over to the Outer Mongolia camp, the Uzbeks there give great exp!" thing.

We’ve all been there. You’re in a group, killing some decent mobs, and really nothing dramatic is happening. The exp is okay, but not great. Pretty soon one of the addicts starts jonesing, and the griping, whining, "I don’t like this camp, lets go over to the other camp" thing starts. Ugh.

The solution to this problem is twofold. First, try doing some steady pulling. By this I mean pull, and pull, and keep pulling until someone (usually a caster, who is out of power) tells you to stop. If you explain to everyone what you are doing, they generally like it. (Actually, a surprising number of people will simply love you if you practice thoughtful, steady pulling.) And when you are at a not very exciting camp, filled with mobs you can easily handle, it’s a great way to get experience. Don’t even use your styles if you don’t have to, as it will cut down on your down time. In fact, if you take a look at your experience after five minutes of this, you’ll be surprised to see how much it’s gone up. It’s when you look at your experience every single time you kill something that things look grim, when really your group is doing pretty well. I’ve hunted camps full of yellows and oranges, with only an occasional red, that have given me very nice exp when I’ve done this.

Second, explain to them that steady pulling can be good exp, and that running to the other side of the known universe gives zero. Once you get there, you still have the hassle of binding (and someone will forget), breaking the spawn, finding that it’s already camped by four other groups, getting lost, and losing two group members that don’t want to put up with this nonsense. Truly, many groups break up as a result of the whole "lets move to the other camp" thing. It’s often not worth it.

Also, steady pulling keeps them so busy that they do a lot less talking. So pull some more mobs, and it will probably keep the addicts quieter.

Pretending that you’re a rogue…

There seems to be a significant bonus to hitting a mob in the back. Certainly if you have a back positional style, you can use it and cause significantly better damage. But even if you don’t use any styles at all, attacking normally from behind makes it a bit easier to hit the bad guys. It appears to me (in some very limited testing) that every creature in the three realms has a lower AF when attacked from behind than when attacked from the front.

This has two consequences for you, tough guy. If at all possible, get behind the mob. I’m amazed at how often all the melee types in a group will stand right in front of the mob and hack away. Jump in behind it, and your offensive production goes up (for you Firbolg out there, that means you’ll do more damage). If you are behind it, and your buddies are all gathered in front of it, taunt. You are giving your melee groupies back shots now.

The second consequence is that you should never, if at all possible, let a mob get behind you. You are taking lots more damage from him. This usually happens when additional mobs add-in or aggro your group after you’ve already started fighting something. Maneuver around, taunt, do whatever you have to, but get any mobs that jump into the fight in front of you. You’ve trained in parry and shield, but those skills useless if the mob is behind you. Don’t give them easy shots at your low AF rear end. My sweet little Firbolg booty is way to precious (and dead sexy, I might add) to give them those free hacks at it.

Hybrid Heroes

Heroes get 2x training points per level, which means that in most cases, you will eventually end up with more points than you know what to do with. This won’t happen until you get to your 30s, but eventually you’ll want to spend these.

This has resulted in most heroes speccing in two or more weapons styles. Unfortunately, these heroes have come to be called "hybrids," a confusing term. In most MMORPGs, hybrids are characters that can both melee and cast spells. Calling these heroes hybrids confuses some of us and, well, we are easily confused.

I prefer to call these heroes Multi Weapon Utilizing Experts at Melee Warfare Tactics, Strategy, and Armor, Specializing in Shields, Parry, Blunt, Edged, Piercing, Large Weapons, and Celtic Spears. This is shortened to the acronym MWUEMWTSASSPBEPLWCS, which is easy to remember and pronounce. It also makes me seem really really intelligent. Maybe it will catch on.

Hybridizing is a bit easier to do for LW and CS users, as they have only two skills (their weapon and parry) to spend points on. This means that, over time, they will have a number of unspent points. This is rather easily spent on a second weapon style, and a couple of levels of shield skills.

Shield heroes have a more difficult time doing this, as they start off spending their points on three skill areas – shield, parry, and their weapon of choice. However, after training their weapon to full and training shield and parry up nicely, they too will find that some extra training points may be available.

If you use some thought when hybridizing your hero, hybridizing can be very helpful. LW or CS heroes can train their shield up to lvl 7, when they get engage, and this can be helpful against archers and bolt casters in RvR. They will still have enough points for a few one-handed weapon styles. Shield heroes can train CS up to fairly respectable levels, and this can be useful in RvR melee.

One of the most unusual types of hybrids is the CS/LW hybrid. Heroes who spec in both CS and LW are trying to make the most of the damage bonuses and penalties discussed earlier. These guys will be getting a damage bonus in almost every situation if their weapons are equally specced, no matter what mob they are fighting. These guys tend to suck at parry, but it seems they are somewhat offensively oriented anyway.

Another unusual hybrid involves CS or LW heroes spending some significant points on their shield skills. This means that they will have a lower parry skill, but it is possible to get your shield skill up to 42, when it is gives that nice, long, 8 second stun. These guys can start with weapon and shield, stun their opponent, then whip out their CS and go for all offense. Very effective in RvR.

In complete contrast to this, some shield heroes prefer to stick with what they are best at – weapon and shield. As there are items that add to parry, shield, and weapon skills, it is possible to fully spec out all three skills. A hero with 50 sword, 50 parry, and 50 shield is, obviously, going to be very powerful.

One of the most useful tools in planning this type of training and specializing out can be found at http://daoc.catecombs.com/ a site I highly recommend you visit.

Shoot and Scoot

As a hero, your bow is not one of your primary forms of attack. With poor damage/delay ratios, poor range, and no ability to train in bows at all, there is really no way to change this fact. I don’t know any heroes that use their bows and do any significant damage.

When in town, I buy (from a merchant, or better yet from a fletcher) about 80 arrows. These arrows stack nicely, and fill only two slots in my bags. I go through all these arrows quickly.

I often use the shoot and scoot method of pulling. Shoot the mob, and run to your group. I recommend that you don’t walk straight out to the mob, and pull it straight back to your group. If you pull in this linear way, you have two choices the moment you shoot. You can turn around (which takes precious seconds) as the mob catches up to you, and run back to the group with the baddie kicking you in the butt. Or, if you prefer, you can shoot the mob and back up toward your group. When you do this you are moving slower than a one-legged dwarf, giving the mob many chances to attack you as you trundle oh-so-slowly backward.

Instead, I recommend that you triangulate a little when you pull. If the mobs are right in front of your group, then move a little bit to the left or right – not straight forward toward the mob -- before you pull. This way you can keep the mob more or less in front of you, but you won’t need to turn around 180 to run back to your group. You’ll only need to turn slightly to the left or right, then run back to your buddies. Try it -- it cuts down on the damage you take.

In addition, you can save yourself a bit of harm if you run toward your group the moment you fire. Most of us have developed the bad habit of shooting and waiting the precious half-second to see the arrow hit, and the mob react. I find that when I do this, the mob gets the jump on me, and gets a bit closer to catching up with me as I run back to my group.

An alternative, still occasionally used, is to run up to the mob, hit it with your weapon, and run back to your group. You get hit two or three times by the mob and his buddies before you can turn and run, sometimes more. You return to your group injured, and you’ve done minimal damage to the mob. This has sometimes been called "hack pulling." This can work if you use a style with a long stun (like a few of the shield styles), but it can be dangerous. Generally, the benefits of bow pulling are obvious.

In addition, if a mob runs after a dying, fleeing, or panicking group mates (and it’s usually a finger-waggler, isn’t it?), and I cannot catch it, shooting often does enough damage to slow it down or cause him to turn away from the caster the monster is chasing and toward me. This is effective in situations where the geography and pathing causes the mob to run in odd patterns, or when the mob gets a good head start.

Bow pulling is also the preferred method when the mob spawns in an odd place. When hunting in an odd or awkward location, you could shoot a mob, do some damage, and run back to your group without having to make too many turns (and end up falling, etc).

If I’m not the puller, I sometimes wait with the group with my bow in hand. As the mobs follow the puller in, I get off a free shot. Again, not super effective, but it’s a few hit points less that we have to chop off of the baddie. This can also get one of the mobs to break away from running toward the puller, and toward me. I can then off-tank it.

Guard, Intercept, and Protect

Guard is a skill for shield users only. If you guard someone, you are using your shield to block shots for them as well as yourself. You must be very close to someone to use guard on them. For this reason, it’s often useful to put guard on another melee character in your group. You won’t be standing very close to that mentalist, so guard will be wasted on him, but you are standing right next to that nightshade/champion/spearo. Guarding him saves everyone a bit of healing power. When guard works, it blocks an attack on one of your buddies and doesn’t hurt you at all.

Intercept is similar to guard, but this one isn’t a free block. Instead of trying to block an attack with your shield (which doesn’t hurt at all), you try to block an attack with your body. I put this one on the casters and healers in my group, who can’t take many hits at all. I take the hit for them, and they (hopefully) heal me up in exchange. Hopefully.

Protect is probably poorly named. Protect is like having an always-on taunt, designed to save only one person. When you put protect on someone, you are basically focusing on saving that person from the mobs. As soon as a mob turns toward them, you automatically taunt the nasty thing. It changes its mind, and tries to chew you up instead. Again, useful for saving wispy little casters.

When using these three skills, talk about this with the champions, blademasters, and other heroes in your group. There is no sense putting guard on that enchanter standing way over there (it will never be used), and there is no sense in each and every one of you putting all of your protects and intercepts on Barbi Biguns the Bard. For one thing, it’s much wiser to spread those protects and intercepts out among all the casters, and for another, Barbi doesn’t really look like that in real life. In real life, "she" is really some 16-year-old high school kid named Jason.

A note on weapon procs…

Many weapons have a proc effect on them, and these can be quite effective, as they add to your offense. I have noticed, however, that DD procs (which do one shot of damage to a mob) are better than DOT procs (which do damage over a period of time).

This is because procs go off at random times. Your DD proc might go off right now, then again 2 seconds from now, then again 5 minutes from now. You never know. If your DD proc goes off three times in a row, so much the better. You just nuked the mob three times. If you have a DOT proc on your weapon and it goes off two or three times in a row, it will not stack with itself. In other words, the proc is not doing much more damage than if it had gone off only once.

On Being So Stylish

As I mentioned before, I believe that Hibernian styles are the worst in the game, and need massive reworking. They seem to have been utterly thrown together at the last minute.

Having said that, wisely picking from the styles that are available can be very beneficial. I know of many heroes that use their taunt style for every attack. Others use the first "use-anytime" style that they get with their weapon type. We are not trolls, people. Let’s use our heads!

The first style you may want to use is no style at all. I mentioned this earlier, but there are times in which you don’t need or want to use a style. In those situations, don’t. Just fight, and save your end for when you need to do massive damage or taunt.

The second style you might want to make use of is the positional. There are front, side, and back positionals available, but I see few heroes using them. They tend to do more damage than some other styles at a lower endurance cost, and other styles chain off of them. If you use the "sticking and slipping" technique I discussed earlier, they are fairly easy to use successfully.

I wrote earlier about the superiority of back positional styles, and it’s very true. They are the easiest position to get into (just try it out. If you use /stick, you’ll find yourself using it all the time. As the mob moves toward your group, you are behind it. If it wants to attack a caster, you are behind it. And it’s easy to tell if a mob is facing you, or facing away.).

Although they are harder to use, even side positionals are pretty good. Again, using the /stick macro is extremely important. Also, if you position yourself about 90 to the side of another tank in the group, you will very likely find yourself to the side of the mob throughout the fight. One last thing: a mob’s side may not be all that obvious, as many mobs angle their bodies a bit. This can fool you, and make you miss your positional. Judge what is the side of a mob by looking at its face. The face is always the front, and the side is always 90 away from the face.

One last note on styles: they often have a defensive penalty to them. This can be very dangerous, and I suggest that (if you have one) you put at least one anytime style on your hotkey bar that does not have a defensive penalty associated with it. Blunts get one of these styles at lvl 18, and CS users at 34. Sadly, blades, piercing, and LW "anytime" styles all have defensive penalties attached to them (although no other realm suffers this penalty). Shield styles are available too, and they never have a penalty. I’m not saying these styles are great, but that there are times in which you’ll not be wanting to take that defensive penalty. In the same way, your anti-taunt style can be useful when you are off tanking, or in trouble. It uses medium endurance, and generally gives a high bonus to your defense. These can be handy, so use them.

The Deer With A Spear

Yeah, you know what this is about: your "Huntsman" ability. You have a bunch of funny nicknames for it: Bambi’s Revenge, Moosing Out, and Going Stag. But what’s it good for?

Let’s get one thing straight right up front: your ability in this area has exactly two effects. First, it gives you a 20, 30, 40, or 50% increase (depending on your level) in your hit points, and second, it changes your form. That’s all. Stag form does not increase your offensive production, make you stronger, or increase your AF. I wish it did, but it doesn’t.

First, let me advise you to put this button on your "combat utilities" hotkey bar. I put this on my third set of keys (the one I put my various combat utilities on) and this keeps me from using this accidentally.

Secondly, use this more often than you do now. It often goes to waste, as we save it for emergencies. In those situations in which you are about to die, and wonder if you should use it, go ahead. I know, waiting 30 minutes for it to recharge seems like a long time. The game clock runs a bit faster than the real world clock anyway, so you’ll get it back in something like 22 minutes anyway.

Stag form has three common uses. First, it is often used when you are near death, and no heal seems to be forthcoming. Always a good idea, as dying is really a pain. Use it.

The second most common use is when there is a bad pop, or some other semi-disaster strikes your group. Again, if you feel that the extra hit points are going to give your group the edge, go ahead. Remember, it lasts for 60 seconds, so make the most of that time.

Lastly, stag form can be used in those "nightmare pull" type situations. Most heroes underutilize this ability here. Whenever you are pulling a particularly nasty spawn, or you have a long, hazardous pull to your group, or you are about to pull the Lizard King and all of his homies, I suggest using stag form right up front. It lasts 60 seconds, gives you some bonus HP, and generally prevents the die the moment you pull thing, which happens a bit too often.

Game Fixes, Gripes, and Wishes

In this section, I very briefly suggest a number of fixes and improvements for the game. These are in no particular order, and are as random and chaotic as the rest of this guide.

One: Fix the Hibernian styles, particularly "anytime" styles. They use too much endurance (most use high end), are pretty weak overall (low to medium damage), offer few (if any) bonuses (like bleed or stun) and there are way too many defensive penalties. Other Hibernian styles also use disproportionately high endurance, and the second and third steps in chain styles aren’t any better than the first step. Who designed these, the citizens of Albion?

Two: Fix parry and block in RvR. This would make RvR better for all the melee classes, particularly pure tanks.

Three: When I kill a mob, and sit down right where I killed it, the game tells me I’m too far away to get the loot it drops. This is unnecessary, weird, and irritating. And minor. I can see that now. Thank you, Doctor.

Four: When sitting, allow people to spin around while seated. This is a surprisingly great feature of Anarchy Online. Again, way minor.

Five: Give the pure tanks the use of long-range bows. Also, bows with shorter delays (bows are all 4.0 seconds or longer as it is) would allow us to keep some people unstealthed and interrupt some casters. I’m not saying we should all be able to train in them, I’m simply saying that there is no reason we can only use short-range ranged weapons. We will never come close to the archer classes under any circumstances. This would make us better pullers, and would increase (slightly) our usefulness in RvR.

Six: No one uses the first person view. This is because it doesn’t show your weapon swinging, or your head bobbing, etc. In other words, you cannot see yourself fighting. This is surprisingly important in tactical situations (you simply can’t tell if you are swinging your weapon or just standing there), and because I’ve had friends quit because "you don’t feel like you’re IN the game." Fix this, please.

Seven: The realm ability "tireless" only increases your ability to recover endurance only while in combat. This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen (and I used to play Everquest!). Endurance allows pure tanks to sprint (extremely important), and use styles (also extremely important). In short, this ability is way too limited and underpowered. If it gave us an increased end recovery anytime, it would make playing a tank in RvR more viable – you could out-sprint your foes, stand and look for the stealthier that just attacked you (sitting will get you killed), and still have styles to spare in most cases.

Eight: Add an anti-magic combat style or ability (ducking behind your shield? Going prone to avoid the spell? Calling upon your anti-magic talisman? Perhaps reciting the one anti-magic charm you learned in fighter’s school? The justifications are many…). It should use a lot of endurance, or have a timer, but make you resistant to roots, mezzes, stuns, and the like. Again, this balances RvR decently.

Nine: Improve stag form a bit, please? Using this once every 30 minutes is a bit long – can we shorten it to once every 15? Or, if it made your AF a bit higher, boosted our strength a little, gave us a small amount of extra damage, or made us a bit more magic resistant, it would be oh-so-much cooler. I’m not asking for a lot here, just a little boost. I know, I know. I must be high to ask for this. I’ll go to rehab tomorrow.

Ten: Fix the thrusting/piercing damage penalties in PvE (and the blades in RvR while I’m on the subject). These are simply too many, and the penalties themselves are too high. Even a Highlander (or a Norseman on a good day) could see the problems with this.

Ok, ok, that’s enough yammering. As I said in the beginning of this guide, this is all subjective, and my opinion. If you have something you’d like to share with me, make corrections, or give me feedback on my guide, feel free to contact me at [email protected] . There will be updates to this guide, so look for newer versions. I also plan on putting out a RvR guide for pure melee characters.

I’m also very much interested in doing some professional writing (Sci-Fi stuff, or articles for games magazines, Prima, Mythic, or others). If anyone in the industry is interested in giving me a shot at this kind of thing, also contact me.

That’s it! Good hunting!

Gruesome

© 2002 by Jeffrey Whitfield. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is forbidden (and very bad manners).