Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Tempest (Yet Another Ranger Piece post Update 28)

There are a few artists to associate with today's title but for me it has to be Mike Oldfield. Update 28 has come and for me it has encouraged me to have a look at a first lifer in GrouseTanis my tempest ranger. There are many, many pieces out in the ddo blogosphere that will cover the ins and outs of a ranger and especially a tempest ranger but I don't want to focus on the high level end game around the builds but more those things that some one building a ranger for the first time might want to consider about the build and the combat mechanics. Once you have built 3 or 4 you will be able to do things from memory but I had issues building because I didn't understand the basics never mind the end game. And I still don't claim to be an expert just an ungifted amateur who writes too much.
The boring bit but it does give you some idea
So what are the different types of combat for melee? They are Single Weapon Fighting (SWF), Sword and Shield, Two Handed Fighting (THF) and Two Weapon Fighting (TWF). A lot of times you will see these abbreviations used by players and is denotes a style of melee combat. Each combat type has it's own benefits and certain classes are better suited to each style, however each player will have their own style and just because a style is supposed to be with a certain class doesn't mean it is the be all and end all. With the latest update however the focus has come back to the most specialised TWF in the Tempest Prestige Enhancement for Rangers. So why choose TWF style? Apart from the graphics looking pretty good the fact is you can do pretty good DPS (damage per second). The guide lines is any weapon in the strong hand which in DDO is right and a light weapon in the off hand (left hand), if you want to use two heavy blades then you require the feat Oversized TWF.
So I am now a bit overpowered for Gianthold 
As a ranger you get the key feats as freebies, TWF comes at level 2, Improved TWF at level 6 and Greater TWF at level 11. The simple saving on feats encourages anyone who wants to play using TWF to play as a ranger. Certain as a new player with a 28 point build you will struggle to get every feat recommended for TWF because of requirements such as the dexterity, when you consider you need a dexterity of 17 for greater TWF normally and a ranger does not need to meet the dexterity requirement. So in terms of feats a tip to new players is don't spend on TWF you will get the feats as freebies. This allows you to take feats such as toughness or weapon focus, I would avoid taking deflect arrows as that is granted in the core abilities of the tempest prestige enhancements when you reach level 12 so once again it is a feat you can save on if you are prepared to wait. I would say in terms of skills I am not a tumbler but I do put everything I can into balance at the start of the game, being knocked over is a good way to die very early on so personally I always invest in balance.
A rogue with Kukris is a fun TWF
So how to build a ranger? Really it is up to each player but I tend to split across strength, dexterity and constitution. If you want to be able to cast level 4 Ranger spells you will need a wisdom of 14 BUT with many pieces of equipment granting you +4 to wisdom at level 7 you need not worry too much about adding the wisdom points to your build. So concentrate on a build that will do damage and also focus on a weapon type such as slashing or piercing because you will want weapon focus and improved weapon focus. Whilst my ranger fights with paired Scimitars my rogue assassin uses a pair of Kukris and my fighter rogue uses a rapier/dagger combo which is more in line with the old dueling style and based on a character in a book that I have always loved. In terms of feats Toughness is always a good choice and I have a preference for power critical but so long as you remember what is free to a ranger you can work wonders on using feats. For those who know Dragon Lance you will realise that GrouseTanis will remain the race he has through every life.
Able to produce damage but a well built ranger will do more faster
So hope about equipping your ranger? You will obviously need to work on the weapons and also the equipment will make a big difference. Wisdom, Dexterity, Strength and Constitution items will have a tremendous impact but I also like to have speed, deadly, accuracy and seeking items which will increase your chances of doing more damage faster. These are likely to be the most over priced items in the Auction House (AH) so you may want to consider the amount of platinum you are prepared to pay early in game, health items are by far the most over priced items so look regularly and wait for a bargin otherwise you will see something that I have seen with a player begging for Plat to buy an item as they are new to the game. If you are lucky enough to be on Ghallanda I try not to over price items I auction so if you see a cheap health belt it may be me selling it.

Now there is whole piles of information on the community boards in the ddo forums but they may take a little effort to decipher so hopefully this will at least give some indicators to how to start a ranger.


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Shadow Warrior

I have always loved Blue Oyster Cult and always enjoyed reading Eric Van Lustbader so the song Shadow Warrior has a special place for me and thus it sort of fits for me to talk about my monk Grousehopper. And I am sure there are people of a certain age who sniggered when they got the reference in the toon name. So today I want to talk about one of my monks which I get from being a VIP, however you can purchase the monk class from the ddo store but be warned it is pricey.
All I need is just one more festival short sword, easier said than done though
Grousehopper has focused on the Ninja Spy Prestige Enhancement and although the song suggests empty handed combat Hopper actually focuses on the use of short swords. The concept for monks is fast unencumbered attacks and the ability to avoid damage rather than being armoured to stop attacks. The thing that I find really fun is how many feats a monk gets for free, one of my favourites is wholeness of body which allows me to self heal for the simple expenditure of 10 ki. Obviously not something you can do mid combat and you sit like meditating but sometimes you and  your healer get separated so the self heal can be a real bonus.
They don't make this easy
The Ninja Spy enhancements offer some interesting options like the core ability Poison Darts where you spit a cone of darts at nearby enemies giving between 1 and 4 stacks of poison. Now Hopper is only level 11 at the moment but rank 60 as I power level him, meaning this is an ability I will have in the near future. Target takes 1d4 points of Poison damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds per stack of poison. Now that to me is fun as the enhancement sting of the ninja allows any piercing or slashing melee or thrown weapon to dose an enemy with 1 stack of Ninja Poison on a critical hit. I intend to run Hopper as a Drow in the next 2 lives so he can have the ability to use venomed blades.

One thing that I do need to clarify for anyone starting a monk for the first time, the different stances can make a big difference to how you perform. Out of preference I go either Air or Earth stances as they have dexterity or strength bonus for your character which makes a big difference in your damage. At the moment I am running mountain stance because of the bonus to strength and hence the bonus to damage.
Stances can make a difference
Now here is the strange thing to me as a former PnP player I had the issue with my dungeon masters over the use of poisons and poisoned weapons. Certainly Lawful Good characters could never wield any weapon that had poison nor could they use poisons which meant the first time my pencil and paper paladin found an exquisite long sword I was disqualified from using it as it had poison on the blade. So the chance to use poison whilst being lawful good is great fun if a little strange in my very lopsided view of the world.

Hopper is running his first life right now but as I write this I am already to level him to 12 and push him further. The issue is I have two characters already on multi lives that will be reincarnating and 3 toons parked at level 20 ready for new lives. The demand for tokens of the twelve is going to go through the roof for me and I will not be rushing Hopper into his second or third lives yet. But I will say monks are superb fun to play and I have already played all the different options in terms of prestige but now the use of drow and their racial enhancement fitting so well into monk are calling me, they may just take a little time for me to explore.

The rice paper walking GrouseHopper.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Dance With The Devil

Drum roll please Mr Cozy Powell, time we looked at one of those quests that I have an extreme love hate relationship with, Devils Assault. On epic it is something I run as a staple to level characters as the cumulative experience makes it worthwhile and in the final chests you get tokens of the twelve which as I tend to reincarnate a lot I need. Most times I do this quest on epic normal with me and some hirelings I get 2 tokens which means 10 runs and I have my token to reincarnate. However this is one you can't bio break in as the waves don't have a pause button.
At this point Sly wishes he had of studied magic
In many ways it is like Kobold Assault, in that you have to survive and destroy each wave with the last 3 having a boss that is easy to recognise but not so easy to kill. From wave 3 onwards it becomes a little bit more difficult and it is very easy to become a bit arrogant after wave 2 which will probably mean we will be seeing your soul stone before much longer. There are two chances to shrine during the battle, first is at the end of wave 3 and there will be a treasure chest which last time I ran it with my guildie got a scream of impressive trophy, which we were happy about. The best I have ever seen in there is Legendary Victory but only seen that twice in the last 3 months.
Do you want to dance?
Wave 4 is where things get a bit more difficult and the boss fior wave 4 is one of the most irritating in the game. Blinky Baktor is one of those monsters you know how to defeat and you usually can but his hopping is just annoying and the 2 wizards that appear with him are just so frustrating. if you can take out the mobs before you crowd Blinky into a corner it is well worth it. The bowman tend to be easy to kill (relatively easy depending on toon), but the natural urge is to throw everything including the kitchen sink at blinky which allows the mobs to wear down your characters. I know many people don't like this quest because of Blinky but the amount of epic experience you get from this make it one of those packs you will consider buying the pack plus you get the raid Chronoscope in it so the 350 turbine points seem a good investment.
You ain't so tough
Anyway back to DA and the final wave, any character with a stunning aoe attack or a good arc attack will be worth his weight at this point. Unless you are ranged staying still is just inviting trouble so get active and chase down those wizards and warlocks. Or you will be acid rain for a quite a while. Interestingly the final boss feels a lot easier than the crowds attacking you before hand, he is just full of hit points and takes a while to wear down, on epic normal he is around 30k hit points so be prepared to grind that final attack if your melee, even spell damage takes a while. I have yet to use a warlock with consumption on him, that actually may be a good way of bringing him down quickly.
Just glad the bodies disappear or I couldn't find the door

My Maths start struggling at this point

So Devils Assault is a purchasable pack and the rewards for epic make is feel worthwhile to me, ran this over the weekend a few times and each time the cumulative experience was around 100k for 28 minutes roughly so as a quest I am comfortable with, that has 5 chests on epic normal, that gives tokens of the twelve and has given good guild renown occasionally it is a quest I can recommend even if the Devil Blinky is a nightmare to dance with as he likes to lead and his foxtrot tends to wander all over the place.

Happy Dancing