Archive for September 18, 2011
Lore-masters have three or four long cooldown skills at their disposal; wisdom of the council, call to the valar and two big DPS skills – lightning storm and ents go to war. In Isengard, all of these will have cooldowns of 5min and unlike many other classes none of them can be reduced through LI legacies (although ents go to war is reduced to a two minute cooldown with the three-deep red line bonus). Given the length of the cooldown, these skills can generally be used once or twice per boss fight, and once every couple of trash pulls in group play. Knowing where and when to use them, and actually remembering to do so when they will help you, can make a big difference between good and excellent lore-master play.
Call to the Valar – the skill resetter
Most classes have a skill that resets the cooldowns of some of their class defining traits and this is the lore-master version. A full list of skills reset by this skill can be found here, but the most important ones are:
- CC skills – blinding flash, herb lore, bane flare
- Debuffs – Fire-lore, wind-lore, warding knowledge (not frost lore or ancient craft)
- Power of knowledge
- Inner flame (irrelevant at the moment, but may become important with the improved inner flame trait in Isengard)
Resetting your primary cc skills can be very useful. The most obvious situation that you’d want to use this in is if you get a blinding flash resist or a party member carelessly broke it (although see last week’s column for a discussion of who’s really at fault when cc is broken!). When that happens, hit call to the valar, make sure that the mob isn’t about to get hit by a party member again and then re-apply blinding flash. If you have herb lore available, it might be useful to use that to root the mob in place before hitting call to the valar so the mob doesn’t move around during the animation/application time. Resetting the cooldown on herb lore or bane flare can be very useful too. Both of these skills have cooldowns longer than their duration, resetting the cooldown allows them to control your targets for effectively double the default duration; 30s AOE mez on the undead can be very useful. Just remember with herb lore that you need to wait until the previous root has expired before reapplying, or else the new root will be wasted.
This use of call to the valar is a combination of reactive and proactive. Sometimes you’re using it to react to something going bad, but other times you will want to plan for a double bane flare, for example, and save it up for a particular point in the fight (eg. the wight phase in gortheron, or the final phase of the sambrog challenge to mez one of the healing ghosts for 30s while your party burns the boss down). Think about whether you want to save the skill up for a particular part of a fight before you use it in a reactive way; but if you don’t, then be sure to use it at any point where you can see it’ll give you benefit because you don’t want to waste the skill.
Being able to reset the cooldown on many of your debuffs is often less important, but can have applications. Again, this can be a combination of active and reactive use. If you have an important debuff resist (or if you use the debuff on the wrong target by accident), you can simply reset and recast rather than letting the mob stay unbuffed for 1min. You can also use it to get around bosses that wipe debuffs at certain morale thresholds (although I hear that this issue has been fixed in Isengard) or to reactively debuff some new dangerous add that just got spawned (eg. when a lieutenant comes down in the Osan fight and is beating up on your off tank). Alternatively, it can let you debuff multiple spread out targets at a time when you might need it, eg. getting both trees with wind lore during the second bog lurker phase in disease wing if your healers are stressing out, or hitting both the adds and the boss with fire lore against Gortheron.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of being able to reset power of knowledge (the draw power skill). While it will be rare that you’re actually having to draw and share so much power that you want to use the skill for the full 30s twice in a row, many things can interrupt your drawing half way through (aoe knockback/stun, forced movement out of fire, boss phase change) and being able to refresh and redraw power can be very valuable. I found this particularly useful against durchest, which is a fight that puts a lot of pressure on healer mana pools towards the end and has all sorts of nasty knockbacks and annoying phase changes.
Also, don’t forget that call to the valar (as of the November update in 2010) gives you a 10s window in which your inductions can’t be knocked back. This will only rarely be of use in PvE group content, but is obviously excellent in certain solo situations as well as PvMP and spars. 10s lets you get in lightning storm, ents go to war and another skill which is a huge amount of damage – and if you time the ents AOE stun to hit towards the end of your knockback immune period then you can protect yourself for about 15sec.
Lightning storm/ents go to war – the big hit
Not only do these skills look great, despite their long inductions, they are our highest DPS skills even in single target situations. But they REALLY shine in AOE situations – when DPS traited, ents can quite reasonably hit for 5-7k and lightning storm can easily hit for upwards of 10k (my personal best is about 17k in a duo skirmish). Knowing when to use them and planning their use isn’t quite as important as call to the valar, but it is often a good idea to think about when you will get the most effect out of what can be a pretty significant amount of burst DPS.
Many boss fights have periods where the group will want to be doing a big burst of damage. Often this is towards the end of a fight, when the boss is hitting harder (eg. Ivar in OD) or doing random aggro attacks (eg. Istum) or just something nasty (eg. Durin’s bane) and in those situations, it’s best to save lightning storm until the end unless the fight is going to be going for longer than 5min, in which case use it once at the start just to get through it a little quicker and then it’ll be off cooldown by the final burn phase anyway. Other bosses will have particular phases before the end that you want to get through quickly or where you need a burst of DPS. Disease wing during the initial tree phase or the fell beast flyup against the BG lieutenant are obvious examples, but also the trolls in DN (where you want to quickly get through the phase when both trolls are alive and stacking buffs on each other, before things settle down when one dies) and other fights have spots like that or specific adds that need to be killed ASAP (mezzing overseers in the mistress). Often your group will be saving up oathbreakers for these phases, and with 5min cooldown on both oathies and these skills, you can probably just time the use with oathies if your group is coordinated enough to be using their captain well.
You do want to remember though that both of these skills do much better AOE than single target damage, so if there’s an AOE phase to a boss fight, you might be best saving them up for it. Also remember that ents go to war has a useful AOE stun component, so you may wish to use it as a damage reduction tool against dangerous adds rather than a pure DPS skill.
And a final note on lightning storm – it can hit up to 5 targets, but only hits targets that are debuffed with ancient craft (which hits 3 targets by default). If you’re like me and don’t have –debuffing skills resistance or + ancient craft targets on your DPS book but do have them on your debuffing/raid book, you may wish to consider swapping books before using ancient craft and then swapping back for lightning storm. Debuff resists without the legacy are quite common and are really annoying when trying to do a big lightning storm burst.
Wisdom of the Council – the panic button
This one’s pretty simple – it gives you back a big chunk of morale and gives you a 5% chance of shrugging off any incoming damage and a 25% chance of stunning attacking enemies for the next minute. The morale restored scales without outgoing healing and so it will remain a relevant amount of morale going into Isengard.
The bottom line with this skill is that you should never be afraid to use it right away if you’re low on morale cause you just took a big hit from something (especially if that something was an effect you should have avoided!). Dying is just about the worst thing a LM can do in a group, and even just being an unnecessary drain on your healer is something you should avoid. The quicker you do it after being damaged, the less chance that a healer will have to divert their attention from their main targets and waste power healing you up, so if you’re going to use it, use it quickly. If you die from anything other than a one shot effect or a complete group wipe while this skill is not on cooldown then you should consider that a failure. There is basically no excuse not to use it – put it on an easily accessible hotkey and get used to hitting it whenever you’re sub 10% morale.
The temptation with cooldown skills is to save them up for a time when you ‘really really need them’. That temptation can lead to you basically never using them because the perfect situation never quite lines up. And then you forget that you’ve even got them on your hotbar. These skills can be really powerful though, and especially with the cooldown reduction in Isengard, make it your goal to use them more often – you might be surprised at how much they can do for you!
Up next week: knowing when you should, and just as importantly should not, perform your support functions
Rise of Isengard has introduced a TON of changes for the class, and Orion isn’t quite done yet. Although I have to admit this is a great change. Currently there are a number of changes that have been made to the Minstrel instruments to modify the benefits and make them more useful.
Friday, Orion posted on something he was able to get into the process for the upcoming Update 5 regarding the Minstrel instruments. He’s been able to change the craftable Tier 7 instruments such that any instrument can have any of the available bonuses leveraging the multi-output recipe feature. Only the Tier 7 recipes will be changed, the other recipes will function as they do currently. Here are the buff choices:
- Ballad and Coda – Damage & Ballad, Cry and Coda – Power Cost Reduction (Critical Bonus: Threat Reduction)
- Healing – Critical Bonus & Threat Reduction (Critical Bonus: Anthem – Power Cost Reduction)
- Healing – Critical Bonus & Healing – Power Cost Reduction (Critical Bonus: Threat Reduction)
- Healing – Bonus & Ballad and Coda – Damage (Critical Bonus: Threat Reduction)
- Healing – Power Cost Reduction & Anthem – Power Cost Reduction (Critical Bonus: Threat Reduction)
I have a feeling I’ll still be carrying multiple instruments as I can see both the healing and damage bonuses being nice, but then having another for power cost savings during longer fights or when I get stuck.
I’m pretty excited about being able to pick whatever instrument I want and not being forced to use the Clarinet for healing and Bagpipes for damage. These are the kinds of little changes that just make me all sorts of happy. Again, these won’t take effect until Update 5 but some good initial ideas for what’s coming.