Lore-mastery: Two is the lonliest number
As you should know by now, I really like the lore-master class and I think it’s well designed and very useful in both group and solo situations. Today’s column, however, focuses on one of its weaknesses – lore-masters don’t play particularly well with other lore-masters in tougher group content, especially raids. While most other classes can quite happily stack with each other up to a point, a number of features of the lore-master class mean that it’s almost always less than ideal to take more than one lore-master along for a tough large fellowship instance or raid.
I want to be really clear here that what I’m talking about in this post is tougher large group content. In 3-person instances lore-masters play together wonderfully well, being able to simultaneously fill DPS and healing roles is really nice. Some of the best small group runs I’ve done have been with, like, 2 lore-masters and a hunter – stuff just melts and you’re still really survivable. And in easier large group content, including skirmish raids and Draigoch, there’s no harm in taking along a second or third lore-master – the content will get done, absolute efficiency in class makeup is not required.
First, it’s worth going over what lore-masters contribute to a group:
- Debuffs. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that the #1 unique role that lore-masters fill in a group is debuffing. End-game raids (Draigoch excepted) are typically tuned to assume that mobs are debuffed by a lore-master. Wind/fire/frost lore, ancient craft, sign of power: see all ends – these are exceptionally important debuffs in difficult content and no one can match the debuffing power of a lore-master.
- Crowd-control. Another important role that is filled by lore-masters. While it’s slightly less of a unique role, given that other classes also have good cc tools (especially post RoI now that riddle works on beasts etc.), no other class matches lore-masters for variety and reliability of cc.
- Curing and stun immunity. Removing diseases, wounds and (both proactively and reactively) stuns is a key lore-master role in a lot of content.
- Spot-healing and power sharing. Generally, tougher content assumes some form of backup healing in addition to a main healer, and longer fights will often drain healer and captain power bars. While captain’s ability to improve power recovery has improved substantially post RoI with song-brother, to the diminishment of our battery role, it can still be an important role in some fights.
- DPS. Very much a secondary role in tougher content, but we can (and should!) still contribute some DPS even while performing our other support functions.
The reason I put this list up here is to point out that all but the last two roles can be fully performed by a single lore-master almost all the time. The biggest single problem is that none of our debuffs stack. Lore-skills, sop:see all ends and ancient craft cast by different lore-masters simply overwrite each other (unless the initial one is an improved version). So our most important role is not at all enhanced by adding a second lore-master. Now, I completely understand that allowing two -30% melee debuffs to straight out stack would be totally broken, but surely some version of diminishing returns could be implemented (as with burglar debuffs). Make each subsequent debuff apply half of its effect or something.
Crowd control is another area where you’ll rarely want a second lore-master. You’re much better off taking a burglar (even a second burglar, thanks to the fact that their debuffs do stack) or a yellow traited hunter if there’s too much cc for a single lore-master to handle. There used to be some fights like Gortheron where specific cc requirements (ie beasts, which burglars didn’t used to be able to cc) meant you’d potentially be best off taking two lore-masters. But with the cc normalisation in RoI, that’s no longer the case.
And if you’re looking for spot healing, power sharing and a secondary DPS role, you’re much better off taking captains or burglars. A raid or 6-person group will almost always be better off taking a captain or burglar (even a second of either type) over a second lore-master for a support role, simply because they bring more that’s unique to the table than a second lore-master does.
What to do if you are grouped with a second lore-master
Given that groups often aren’t, and don’t need to be, fully optimised, you’ll probably find yourself grouped up with another lore-master from time to time. There’s ways you can make sure you’re not duplicating each others role too much if this happens.
First, make sure you’re not both traited full yellow. There’s no point bringing a second debuffing lore-master, one can do the job just fine. You do have the option of having neither of you trait down the yellow line, and trying to coordinate your debuffs, but I would recommend against that for two reasons. First of all it’s really hard to coordinate the timing on all of your debuffs. If you try to fill in each other’s cooldowns, then there will be gaps in the debuff coverage and that could just be the spike damage that kills the tank. Second, without the yellow traits, the debuffs themselves will be weaker. So in general, I’d say if you need debuffs (ie if it’s a tough raid) then have one of you go yellow and one either red or blue, depending on what the group needs more of.
Apart from that, make sure that you’re not duplicating each other’s role too much. Coordinate separate stun immunity, power sharing and curing targets. Make sure you use different pets (eg. one uses the bear for shatter arms, the other uses the raven for fire debuffing). Don’t put sticky tar in the same spot at the same time (no movement debuffs in this game stack with each other). You should both feel free to spam burning embers though – the latest patch fixed an issue where improved burning embers wouldn’t stack more than 3 times no matter how many lore-masters are in a group. You now get up to 3 for each lore-master which is nice.
Finally, if the fight is a real stretch on the fellowship’s power supply, eg. Lt HM in BG, then work out a power-share bouncing strategy. As long as you have the healer trait and a decent amount of outgoing healing (the staff legacy helps), share power will always give away more than it costs. Thus, as long as you don’t over fill each other’s power bars, you can create unlimited amounts of power just by sharing with each other.
I’ve mentioned the simplest solution above – let lore-master debuffs stack. This would be an almost complete fix for the stacking problem, although somehow I don’t see it happening. It’s too big a change to a basic game mechanic I suspect. Even just letting ancient craft stack though would be a big improvement, it would at least allow a second lore-master to contribute a meaningful amount of extra group damage. Reveal weakness stacks, I don’t see why AC couldn’t.
Another option would be to further improve the lore-master’s DPS. At the moment you lose a significant chunk of DPS by taking a lore-master over a pure DPS class (appx 30%), which can definitely make a difference in a raid environment or a 6-person instance with a tough DPS element. Another possibility would be further improving the limrafn pet (probably by making its pseudo-revealing mark have 100% uptime and increasing its auto-flank rate), which could mean that in 6-person instances you’d be able to get away without a main healer if you had two lore-masters.
Any of the above changes would be fairly large buffs to one of our three roles though, and I think the chances of them happening are fairly low. In the end, I guess the price lore-masters pay for filling a unique support role is that there’s only so much ‘uniqueness’ a fellowship or raid really needs. Not playing particularly well with other lore-masters might be something we just have to live with.