Lore-mastery: Taking ‘support class’ too far
Sometimes people complain about lore-masters they run across because they seem to think they’re playing a DPS class and neglect to perform all of the important support functions that a lore-master can do. This complaint obviously has some merit against some players in some situations, in fact running non lore-master alts through the great barrows I’m frankly amazed at how rarely diseases get cured or power gets shared by some lore-masters (somewhat forgivable at lower levels, but still).
I often have a different complaint, though. It’s against lore-masters who, in non-raid content, do nothing but their support functions and seem to forget that at the end of the day the goal of group content is to kill stuff and the best way to kill stuff is to hurt it. I’m absolutely not saying that people should play lore-masters as a DPS class, but lore-master’s can make meaningful contributions to the overall group damage output if they put their minds to it. There is a temptation to try to do all of the unique things that a lore-master can do just because doing them makes you feel unique and special, but sometimes you need to sit back and ask ‘would the group be better off if I was actually killing the mob instead of standing off with the healers doing fancy lore-mastery things?’
Much of what I say in this post is irrelevant to high level raiding, where you often will be spending almost all of your time doing special lore-master things and due to the nature of the content that’s optimal play (and your damage is much less relevant as a proportion of a full raid’s output). I’m pretty much coming from the perspective here of playing the class in 6- and 3-person content, or if you are the second lore-master in a raid and the other lore-master has the debuffing role covered.
Support – the basic requirements
As I said, I’m not advocating that you play the lore-master as a DPS class. There are fundamental support functions that you should be doing as a lore-master regardless of what content you are running:
- Crowd control – If there are particular, highly damaging targets which cc is of benefit against then ensure that you have at least 20s blinding flash duration and keep them mezzed. Use roots and short duration stuns where appropriate against other trash mobs.
- Power sharing – keep your healers and captains blue bars’ healthy. I generally start sharing power when there at or below 20-25% (appx 1000 power), except in long raid fights where it’s better to be a bit more pro-active.
- Curing – cure damaging wounds and diseases which will substantially hurt or hinder your party members. Sometimes, though, curing is a two-way street and there are effects (especially timed effects in raids) which all party members should be expected to pot themselves too. To help you perform this function, it’s basically essential that you turn on the ‘show dispellable effects only’ option. You should be constantly monitoring debuff bars of your party members to spot damaging wounds and diseases for clearing.
- Spot-healing – Unless incoming damage is very light (or your group is over-healed), beacon of hope should spend most of its time on cooldown.
- Stun-protection – When a fight involves stun effects which can be protected by sop:righteousness, typically where trolls are found, then keep stun prot up on your tanks and healers and possibly yourself too (depending on the nature of the stuns). Reactively apply sop:r to other party members who get long duration stuns. Note that quite a few stun effects are actually ‘cowers’ that get around this protection, eg. in SG and Sari-Surma. Turning on the ‘show effects cast by me’ option will help you maintain sop:r on necessary targets.
- Debuffing – Always use sop:c on the at least the current target and apply an appropriate lore-debuff (on cooldown) to particularly damaging enemies. Always use ancient craft, and use warding circles on mobs of the appropriate genus if you have at least one other tactical damage class in the party (or in long boss fights).
- Corruption removal – We have one of the best burst corruption removal skills around – use it when needed.
Support – too much of a good thing
For all of these functions, though, it’s definitely possible to have too much of a good thing. It is possible, if you want, to fill up almost your entire time just performing support functions. You should resist that temptation.
Very little non-raid content in the game at the moment, especially 3-person content, requires strong crowd control, assuming you have a tank (incl champ) and a healer (incl captain). So unless you know there is a strong crowd control role in the particular instance, or if your group is imbalanced and you think cc can cover for that, then you should be traiting red line for greatly improved personal DPS even though this hurts your primary cc tool. CC can be fun, it’s definitely a way to feel like you’re contributing something useful and unique to a group but really, being able to mez a trash archers or two in HoC or the occasional worm in lost temple just isn’t worth the large amount of personal damage you forego by traiting for it.
One of the best bits of advice I was given as a noobie lore-master was ‘you are not a blue bar healer’. This is a VERY true statement. If you think that it is your job to keep the whole fellowship’s blue bar topped off then you are doing it wrong and you’re going to spend 30s out of every minute drawing power which, needless to say, does terrible things for your DPS.
As a general rule, DPS classes and tanks (with the possible exception of wardens in situations where they need to spam aggro skills) should manage their own power. The only classes that by design is unable to manage their own power at their expected level of output over the whole fight are healers and captains (although even then, healers and captains do have tools at their disposal to manage their own power, some do better jobs than others). So unless you’re absolutely swimming in power, you should generally only help out healers/cappies and as a general rule, try to manage your own power well enough (with ICPR and pots) that you don’t need to rely on draw power, because it’s a terribly inefficient skill.
Many wounds and diseases that you run across don’t need to be cured. A -30 vitality disease, a 50 damage every 5s wound, a –run speed debuff in a stationary fight; it simply doesn’t matter if these things aren’t cured. The time you would spend curing them is better off doing something else. You should make smart decisions about which diseases and wounds to cure. The following table of effects might help you decide between the dangerous and the benign.
||The most common type of effect, these are normally piddly little morale (wound) or power (disease) drains. They are usually not worth removing unless there’s a lot of them on a single target or across the whole fellowship (if you have PAAI slotted).|
|Stat reducing diseases usually reduce will/fate or vitality. They are usually not worth removing until after a battle, although if a tactical class has a -100+ will/fate effect then it’s probably worth removing.
Stat reducing wounds typically reduce run speed (cripples). Don’t bother removing unless they’re on a tank that’s kiting or if movement is required.
||These are more powerful draining effects and are almost always worth removing.|
|Timed effect (including eyes)||
|Timed and eye effects typically do something very bad after a period of time (5-10s), eg. a full power drain and 15s stun for the disease in GB or a 6s AOE stun for the wound in OD. Almost always remove.|
|Blind (wound)||These wounds generally increase miss chance and add to induction speed/attack duration. Remove.|
|Disarm (wound)||Short duration effect, if you can remove soon after it’s applied then go for it, but if you’re in the middle of an induction or have to move somewhere then don’t bother because they don’t often last longer than a couple of seconds.|
|Armour rend (wound)||If these are on the tank then it’s definitely worth removing as they will noticeably increase incoming damage. If they’re on another party member, usually not worth removing.|
|Fire/Ice (wound)||Depending on the specific effect, these are normally quite damaging effects and should be removed. Do read the effect in question though, some of them are very weak and not worth removing.|
You should also consider very carefully whether you really need to trait proof against all ills. Sure, it’s easier to just hit one button and cure everyone, but most of the time you’ll find that only one person at a time has a disease that really needs to be cured. Get familiar with hitting F1-6 to target your party members and you can free yourself up a trait slot for something more useful, like light of hope, especially in Isengard when PAAI is no longer needed to cure wounds.
Unless everyone’s staying at full morale, you really should use beacon of hope at basically every cooldown (unless you’re saving it up for a particular attack). Especially when you have healer traited, which you usually should, it’s the most powerful single target heal in the game.
Don’t put sop:r on everyone just because there’s the potential for AOE stuns. With its annoyingly long cooldown and limited duration, it is a very time consuming skill to use and maintain on more than a couple of targets. Use it in a targeted way.
You can spend a lot of time debuffing if you want to. In between the long animation times of the lore skills and sop:see all ends, the long induction of gust of wind and the warding circles and the (currently) single target nature of sop:c you can easily spend 20-30s every minute maintaining the full suite on all mobs. This is not a worthwhile use of your time in a lot of smaller group content. With the exception of ancient craft, which is always a good idea, as a general rule you only need one or a maximum of two debuffs (sop:c + one appropriate lore skill) on mobs in smaller group content and don’t worry too much about debuffing more than one mob in trash pulls. In particular, gust of wind and wind lore (on non-ranged targets) have such a minimal impact that they’re not really worth using, and wind lore is a huge power hog to boot.
I know people are going to say ‘but lore-master’s DPS doesn’t matter’ in response to this. That’s rubbish. Even while performing necessary support functions in group situations, I can maintain about 200-250 DPS in many boss fights in group content. That’s 60-75,000 damage in a 5 minute fight. In trash fights in places like GB I usually push 350-400 (18-25,000 damage in a 1min fight). If I traited yellow, stood back with the healers, cured every little disease, put stun prot on every target, used every debuff under the sun, spent half my time filling blue bars and drawing power while throwing the occasional burning embers, then I would be contributing far less to the overall group’s performance than I could by just getting my hands dirty with the job of killing the enemy.
Sure, lore-master DPS isn’t often going to be the difference between a win and a loss (but there’s fights where it definitely makes a huge difference, like Osan and Fendur T2) but if you want to be the most effective that you can be in your role then you need to realise when it’s time to stop doing fancy lore-master things and whack the bad guy on the head with a stick. We are a class that can perform support functions; that doesn’t mean we need to spend 100% of our time doing them.
Up next week: First impressions of Isengard!