When is a tank not a tank? When he’s a champ of course!
Now I only half understand that myself. My recent transition from FPSer & SLer to role playing MMOer has not been without a steep learning curve in which I am still in the foothills gazing up at the lofty peak lost in the clouds of understanding above me. Tank? What’s a tank? Aggro? Pulling, DPS, threat, mob, healing in & healing out? What the hell are these things? In the Fervour vs Glory vs Ardour debate which should I chose and when? All these question, and many more, have been running around my head since I started LOTRO and realised I wasn’t playing the sort of isometric top-down simple hit-run-level games I had played in the past (the long distant past – I’m talking Deus-Ex and Vampire: The Masquerade on an old laptop 11 years ago!). So I’ve been boning up; reading all the blogs I can (I still can’t bring myself to read the forums – forums make me want to gouge my brain out) and listening to podcast after podcast and it was when I was listening to A Casual Stroll To Mordor’s two hour long cast on dungeons and raiding from a year ago that I began to wonder if all my recent good work understanding my Champion and trying to play better was, well, wrong.
One of the players (sorry guys, I can’t remember who) said how, when playing in a group, they hate Champions running in and tanking in Fervour, which is to say using the Fervour ‘mode’ of energy generation that comes with a Champ to go nose-to-snout with the bad guys. I *think* the problem is that Champs can’t defend themselves well in Fervour and therefore take a beating that can kill them fast and so need pretty much constant healing from one of the group’s healer (maybe the group’s only healer) to the detriment of other players including the ones that *could* go up against the baddies and not take damage as easily, such as the Guardian or maybe Warden. I think that’s what the complaint is and put like that it sounds damn reasonable but it leave me scratching my head all over again and having to re-evaluate what I do and how I do it.
I run Ranhold in Fervour all the time as it generates lots of energy to power his more complex combat moves so I can keep up an almost constant stream of blows on the enemy, but as you can see here it is at the cost of health regeneration, both his own & healer-created, and he can’t dodge or block any blows coming in. I guess, he is supposed to be in the grip of a fervour to fight and kill and defeat the forces of evil, but the important thing is I had not realised this healing penalty. This is because I am a noob (I keep telling people this and it is true. I have never played this kind of thing before and the last time I did any paper RPG that used stats I was still at school). So what are my alternatives? Well two, it seems: Ardour & Glory.
Ardour offers lower energy generation but no health penalties, presumably to reflect a deep love of the battle that is more calculating than the old red mist of Fervour or Glory. Using this Ranhold wouldn’t be able to hit as often but would be able to defend himself and keep his health higher. I’ve used Ardour briefly but it felt like Ranhold was wading through treacle if I’m honest so I switched right back to Fervour, but now I’m thinking that I need to go back and experiment a little more.
Although Glory still generates energy (I’m not sure how much in comparison to the other two ‘stances’ above) it has the odd effect of both reducing your hitting power *and* increasing your perceived threat to the enemy, an act that will pull them to attack you more readily than the other Fervour or Ardour. I really don’t understand this one (and being a level 30 skill, I’m still 6 levels away from a chance to try it). I presume it’s meant to reflect the glory of rushing into battle and dying a good death, which is great in a book or film, but who the fuck wants to play like that? I want to twat the enemy, not get twatted! Also it seems to me that this would cause the Champ to be exactly the kind of tanking-non-tank that so pisses off the CSTM raiders.
So what’s a Champ to do, eh? There really is only Ardour that can be run in a group as it won’t tank as Fervour & Glory will and demand the sole attention of a healer. But Ardour sucks like a cheap strumpet when it comes to my desire to twat things hard and fast. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m playing the Champ all wrong, but I thought we were supposed to be the wild animals of the warrior class (as this guide on CTSM tends to suggest). And if I’m not supposed to play like that, how am I supposed to play? Protecting the healers whilst the tanks pull the bad guys around and wear them down? What I need is someone to tell me what a Champ is expected to do and then I can start to practice until I can do that, because the way I’m going right now Ranhold is going to be hated in raids and I don’t want that for the poor bugger 🙂
I think I’ll re-read the Champion 101 before looking at this more advanced guide and taking a look at the ways in which the developers are planning to alter Fervour, Ardour & Glory (no doubt following similar comments as mine from their more experienced player-base) and then maybe, just maybe, something will click…