<Updated> I realized I mis-read the part on Cry of Valar – you no longer need to use a trait to get the ICMR buff for it as that buff is just part of the Cry now! <Updated>

Not to be out-done by the Champion diary, Orion takes us on a seven page description of what all is happening to the Minstrel class.  Instead of outlining the diary here, I’m just going to give my takes on it page by page and try to summarize, otherwise this post would just be ridiculously huge.

The first page is mainly the introduction for the diary as well as the explanation of what happens with Medium Armor as Minstrels will no longer have the ability to trait for Medium Armor wearing.  Any bound Medium Armor the Minstrel is wearing when Isengard launches will be converted to Light Armor.

Page 2 mainly focuses on the ballads, which are one of the major changes to the class.  Gone are the ballad tiers as they are replaced by Minor, Major, and Perfect Ballads each having an instant effect as well as a “permanent” buff that lasts until over-written or you drop out of combat.  You can only have 3 Ballads active, but can use them in any combination for the desired buffs.  If you need the extra healing you can stack 3 Major Ballads, or maybe you need to boost your DPS, you can have 3 Minors active.  The Minor and Perfect are damage dealers like current Ballads, but if you’re in Melody, or no-stance, your Major Ballad becomes a group heal, otherwise it is a damage dealer.

Page 3 focuses on the stances which is really just an expansion of the current 2 stances (none which is now also called Melody and War-speech) by providing some stance specific changes as well as a new stance Harmony.  The stance also determines what the Coda does.

One interesting part of Melody is that Echoes of Battle now becomes a skill you use on a party member which boosts their parry and provides a small reactive damage shield.  The Coda in this stance is a large single target heal.

Harmony is the up-front buffing stance, and sounds kinda fun to me :)  The nice part here is the Coda becomes an AoE damage skill combined with an AoE heal, although I’m not sure if the heal is area based or group based.  This won’t matter much in PvE, but in the moors this would be a big difference.

War-speech is pretty much the same with its Coda being a single target damage skill.  Well pretty much the same with the exception that all heals are now self-heals :) which I’m starting to like the more I look at it, mainly because the healing penalty is gone.  I have a feeling this will cause huge issues out in the moors as War-speech minnies will now be VERY hard to kill, but they’ll also be quite hardy (and possible agro magnets) in group situations assuming there’s another healer for the rest of the group.

Page 4 is all about the Anthems, some of which (Anthem of the 3rd age) are stance dependant and were covered on the previous page.  There’s also a significant change in them in that all Anthems share a common 20 second cool-down and all have a 10 second buff duration.  In addition to the buffs provided these also have a further influence on the Coda.  This looks to be where the art in Minstrelling will come from in that you’ll need to keep track and use the right Anthems during the fight, but then set up your Coda as well.  There’s some pretty nifty Anthem/Coda combinations that I’m anxious to work with in group situations.

Page 5 gets into the Codas that have been mentioned a few times.  These are stance specific skills that will leverage the current Anthem but also wipe away all current Ballad and Anthem buffs, essentially working similar to the current Anthems.  There’s also the discussion on the host of skill changes on this page too.  Of note, some Anthems (Valar and Wizards) have become Cries such that they’re not tied to your build-up and are also available outside of War-speech.  Another nice change to both Call to Greatness and Song of Aid in that they provide more appropriate buffs with all of the class changes.  Although, the Warden buff for Song of Aid is quite pathetic :(

SongofAid from BR CtG from BR

Page 6 is all about traits and trait-lines, which also get significant changes.  Overall some nice changes in here:

  • Watcher line
    • Subtle Movements now removes the possibility of the Bolster Courage induction from being reset by damage – although it can still be interrupted.
  • Protector Line
    • Smooth voice no longer allows for Ballads outside of combat but reduces the Anthem CD and a power cost reduction for Ballads.
    • Battle Hymn loses the ICMR addition to Cry of the Valar but boosts the armor and evade boost of Anthem of Prowess, Cry of Valar now always has the ICMR buff attached to it!
  • Warrior Skald
    • no longer can you trait for medium armor, but Amour of Song provides an overall boost to Armour Values for the Minstrel
    • Enduring Morale not only boosts morale but provides a chance Calls will allow for healing others.

Page 7 wraps up with the discussion of the changes to Minstrel Instruments.  Although I like the idea, the changes here look like I might need to be a walking orchestra based on what I’m doing as each instrument now has a unique buff and all of them, except the Horn, can reduce threat upon critical success creation.

Needless to say, Minstrels are going to be totally different in Isengard but I think overall it will be more fun to play a Minstrel then it is now.  It will also be a lot more dynamic, especially while healing a group as there’s lots more you can do to manage your healing instead of spamming Bolster Courage.  Harmony stance also looks like it will provide a more melee focused Minstrel which is quite intriguing and could be a blast in groups.  For pure DPS builds, this looks like nothing but positives and unless they dropped our damage, we look to be quite a bit sturdier come RoI.  Especially when you consider the medium armor changes coupled with the healing penalty removal, Minnies will be quite tough.  And with the healing changes, it looks like War-speech minnies will be pretty tough and I’m betting they’ll be the new FotM out in the moors :)

Now that Bullroarer is back up, I plan to play my Minstrel quite a bit and will be providing more feedback as I go.  If I can get clarification on the NDA implications, I also would like to do some videos but I am waiting on those till I get the OK from Turbine.  I also suggest looking at the posts Orion made yesterday as there are some other changes coming for Minstrels sometime :)