All classes are getting an update in Isengard in conjunction with the level cap raise. These changes range from the extreme (Minstrel) to the minimalist (Guardian). The proposed lore-master changes, which are outlined in this initial post and this and this follow-up post, fall somewhere in the middle. The proposals contain an excellent mix of changes, from small usability to changes, to significant increases in the powers of our core abilities. There’s also one change that on the face of it looks like a bit of a nerf but really shouldn’t be of concern and could even, in my opinion, improve some lore-masters’ play.

Ancient master – more CC and debuffs in more places

The yellow trait line is in a pretty good place at the moment so it’s not surprising that there isn’t too much changed here. There’s one new skill (improved sop: command which makes it an AOE like many of our other debuffs), a couple of relatively minor but useful skill and trait consolidations and a few tweaks to the way skills work.

The headline change here is that blinding flash, our signature mez, will now work on any genus of mob including the undead. While I might not be entirely happy about this and the similar change to riddle from a class homogenisation and lore perspective, it’s unquestionably a big boost to lore-master CC and something I will appreciate from a gameplay perspective.

The other fairly big change is the new Improved Frost Lore trait which will further increase the tactical debuffing ability of the skill (an extra +5% reduction), which is particularly relevant to raiding lore-masters as raid bosses often do tactical damage (*cough* dragons *cough*). This trait will also add a +50% induction time debuff which is very large, and the debuff will presumably stack with other induction time debuffs from burglars and RKs.

Master of Natures fury – lots of DoTs and one BIG hit

Again, this is a trait line in a pretty good place so there’s not too many changes. However, they could have a big impact on lore-master rotations in both single and multi-target situations and also put the spotlight on a couple of book legacies which are currently only really desired by PvMP lore-masters.

Two proposed changes will greatly increase the power of two of our DoT skills. First, the new skill Improved Burning Embers will cause the DoTs from the skill to stack (up to how many is currently unknown). Coupled with the book legacy adding DoT pulses, this could cause a big shakeup to the lore-master’s single target rotation as it could be worthwhile hitting this skill literally every time it’s off cooldown (ie every 3 seconds).

The other change is removing the cooldown on SOP:Wizards fire. Given the extremely low cast time of this skill (no induction, so its just the ~.5s animation time) and the potential for adding DoT pulses with a book legacy, this could open up the practice of ‘multi-dotting’ targets in AoE situations (for PvE anyway, it’s a silly strategy in PvMP). Obviously this will only work if all of the mobs in question will stay alive for the full duration of the DoT, but it might be worth putting a wizards fire DoT on every mob at the start of an AOE fight in Isengard.

Finally, improved staff sweep adds an interesting reactive component to our DPS rotation as it will enable us to line up cooldowns on staff sweep with big hitting fire skills like ents go to war and sticky gourd to get guaranteed or near guaranteed crits. This is going to be extraordinarily powerful in AOE situations – getting a guaranteed ents crit (which hits for about 3k currently) on up to 5 targets is massive burst DPS.

Also, I have no inside information to suggest that this is the case, but in line with the more recent announcements on trait line bonuses from other classes, I would expect our current 4-deep bonus (+10% tactical damage) to change to +2% tactical damage for every red trait equipped. I could be wrong though.

Keeper of Animals – now with added healing

As described in last weeks column, two new traits – improved flanking and improved inner flame – and a new 4-deep bonus (-60s inner flame cooldown) are going to make this a very interesting off-healing line. Improved flanking, which shares flank heals (currently about 900 morale) with the target of your air lore, will have excellent synergy with the legendary capstone pet thanks to the bog-guardian’s high flank rate. It may or may not also have synergy with the new pet, which was initially announced as an aurochs but the lore-master dev backed away from that in response to feedback that no one will want to group with lore-master who’s trailing a giant pet like that.

The other changes in this trait line, which gives you the ability to boost pet DPS 15% higher than is currently possible, mean that this could also become a pretty good single target damage line. While the red line is clearly the king in AoE fights, already the difference in sustained single target damage between going full fire damage or full pet line isn’t as large as you would think in single target situations. This is especially true in a group boss fight where you might be spending a lot of time doing other support functions or moving around a lot. The pet is a constant source of damage in these situations and this can really narrow the gap in damage when you’re unable to keep up a full DPS rotation. These new damage boosts might close that gap even further.

Finally, the ‘nerf’ that many lore-masters are complaining about – our wound/disease cure skill will lose its resistance boost (which I agree is a straight and slightly unfortunate nerf) and get a 10s cooldown, reduced to 5s with 3 blue traits. I’m fairly unconcerned about this increased cooldown. Something lore-masters need to learn is when to NOT do things like share power or cure wounds. Lore-masters are not blue-bar healers and nor should we be wasting a lot of time clearing every single piddling negative state effect that hits party members. Adding a cooldown to this skill will require us to prioritise which diseases/wounds to clear which will reward smart play. It might also teach people to rely less on lore-masters to clear very dangerous ‘bomb’ diseases and actually use their curative potions – it amazes me when I run something like the great barrows on non-loremaster characters and see people completely ignore that disease which sits on you for TEN SECONDS before proccing a massive 15s stun and power drain – it’s a bad disease, but you get plenty of time to pot it.

I should also add that this curative skill now cures wounds without traiting PAAI which is a great change and means we’ll often be able to go without that trait.

Conclusion

There’s a couple of other changes I haven’t mentioned here for space, particularly cooldown reductions, but I think I’ve touched on the main ones above. I’m really excited by the proposed changes and especially look forward to playing around with some new DPS rotations a powerful off-healing spec. Lets hope these proposals make it through testing relatively unscathed and they come up with a truly awesome new pet!

Next week: How to do damage as a lore-master and why you should /slap any lore-master which isn’t standing in melee range of a mob they’re trying to kill.