The winds of change are very much in the air at the moment. Not only do we have the release of Update 6, which has some nice little tweaks for the lore-master, but Turbine has posted an official class feedback thread on the forums, seeking input from players into the Riders of Rohan class changes. Based on past experience, the developers really listen to what the community has to say in these threads; basically every change in the big lore-master revision in the Nov 2010 update was lifted from a previous official feedback thread, and you should definitely expect that the responses in this thread are being closely monitored and will likely form the basis of the changes that we see in RoR. In the column this week, I’m going to briefly touch on the Update 6 changes and then take a look through some of the common threads from lore-masters replying to the official feedback thread.

Update 6 lore-master changes

Speaking of the November 2010 update, one of the biggest things that the lore-master community had asked for prior to that was a ranged slot item. I’m not 100% sure if we were the only class without a usable range slot item, but it was certainly an annoying missing aspect of the class. In the Nov 2010 update developer diary we were told that they had tried to implement ranged slot items in time for that update, but ran out of time and put them off to a “later update”:

We are currently working on a brand new ranged slot item for Lore-masters that will affect your companions; from giving them more morale, to higher Block/Parry/Evade ratings, to affecting their skills in various ways, and much more. Unfortunately, we ran into some issues getting them to work correctly and decided to leave these to a later update so that we could get them implemented the right way.

4 updates later and we finally have the promised range slot items – stickpins (why do they even bother calling it a range slot?!). And all I can say is…. meh. Meh, meh, meh. As far as I can tell, these are the two options that we have at level 75:

The first thing that stands out is just how pathetic the “rage” one is. 300 crit rating works out to about a 1% increase in crit chance at level 75 which is laugable, especially considering how pathetic pet DPS is. Turbine seem to have some strange aversion to allowing our pets to do meaningful damage, and frankly I can’t see anyone wanting to use this one basically ever. And the Regrowth one is just boring, it doesn’t do anything interesting like influencing pet skills in different ways (I was perhaps hoping for an effect customised to each pet), it’s just a straight ~10% increase in evade and a little bit of ICMR. Don’t get me wrong, +10% evade is pretty decent so you should definitely be opening up jeweller scrollcases and trying to find the (one shot) recipes, but I can’t believe they had to spend over a year to develop a boring stat booster like this.

We also got some new cosmetic skins for the limrafn pet, but unfortunately I haven’t yet got these and can’t find any screenshots so all I can say is that they apprently look awesome. If anyone has shots, I’d love to see them!

Riders of Rohan official class feedback

I’ve gone over a good chunk of the official thread looking at lore-master replies, and also started a thread on the lore-master forums asking people to post their responses in it. There’s definitely a few common complaints and themes that come up so you should expect that at least some of these will be addressed in the RoR expansion.

1. The blue line

One of the most common issues raised was the current incoherence of the blue line and how the various blue traits have mixed roles.

I really don’t envy the lore-master developer here. Lore-master traits fill one of four (currently) quite distinct roles but we only have three trait slots. We have traits relating to damage (red line), debuffing/cc (yellow line), healing/support and pet buffing (both blue line). Unfortunately there is very little overlap between our healing role and pet buffing at the moment. Sure, there is a bit of a link in that pet flanking ties to healing with the improved flanking trait, but with both the limrafn and eagle pets being not tied to any trait line (both of which are good options for healing or flanking), it becomes difficult to justify traiting down the blue line for healing. I know I’ve recommended doing so before, and the FM proc chance and high flank rate of the bog lurker do make it a decent option for healing, but I’ve come to realise that if you’re serious about trying to main heal 3-mans, you’re much better off going for the debuffing power of the yellow line and taking two extra blue traits. An extra 15%+ overall damage reduction from traiting yellow is much better than what you get out of going deep in the blue line (especially if you have the OD set to pump your BoH and/or AOE flanks up). THe problem winh the lore-master’s blue line is that four distinct roles don’t fit very well into three trait lines.

The captain was in a similar state pre-Isengard, with both tanking and group buffing roles being shoved, awkwardly, into the yellow line. Turbine fixed this problem by making the group buffing role independent of the yellow line, by removing the link between the fellowship brother legendary trait and that trait line and completely reworking the new yellow capstone. I think the same should be done with the lore-master. Move the combat sumoning effects off Nature Friend and onto Noble Savage and make the Bog Guardian simply a trainable pet at level 60, perhaps requiring it to have the Noble Savage trait equipped to actually use it (I don’t think you’d want to give the bog-guardian to level 40 lore-masters, nor would you necessarily want it to be independent of a legendary trait – it is quite powerful). And turn nature-friend into a healing capstone. Given that Turbine has now recognised how awesome the BoH HoT effect is, by putting it onto another armour set (one of the new PvMP sets), that’s an obvious candidate for a bonus, and probably doing something to fix the functionality of inner flame too would be welcome. This wouldn’t be a complete solution, because there’s still a lot of blue traits that have nothing to do with healing, but it’d go a long way to help the situation imo.

2. Bane flare

Poor bane flare. It was only 6 short months ago that bane flare was an awesome skill. It’s the only AOE daze in the game and at 15sec daze on 3 targets by default, or 5+ targets pretty easily (I had it up to 9 at one point), it was very powerful. A well placed bane flare or two could single handedly turn the tide of some of the toughest fights available at level 65; Gorothul, Lost Temple, Sambrog (non-exploited), Ivar trash, Osan etc. and it almost singlehandedly convinced many groups to bring two lore-masters along for the hardest level 65 raid fight – Gortheron. Unfortunately bane flare only works on the undead, and there is zero undead in the current crop of level cap instances (other than GB, but no one really plays that atm). So it is currently essentially useless and people are understandably complaining about this now-useless skill.

The reason it only worked on the undead used to be that it was a tradeoff for lore-masters not being able to mez the undead with blinding flash, so it was our cc option when our main cc didn’t work. With Isengard, that justification no longer exists as we can mez all genuses now. But I’m not sure that simply removing the genus restriction on bane flare is the right answer here – 15s AOE daze on 1min cooldown (resettable every 4min with CttV) is massively, massively powerful. So imo if there is going to be a relaxing of the genus restrictions, there should be some tradeoff – either a shorter mez, smaller radius, longer cooldown or perhaps make it only work on mobs up to signature strength; elites and above would be immune. Thus it would help out while soling and in a lot of 3-person instances, as well as in some larger instances and raids where there are swarms of weaker mobs, but wouldn’t overly unbalance most group content.

3. An interrupt skill

In my response to the official thread I named this as the #1 issue facing the class, and it’s good to see quite a few people agree with me. It’s pretty simple realy – lore-masters don’t have an effective interrupt skill. Blinding flash is sort of useable if you trait it, but that wastes a trait slot and leaves you without your primary cc which isn’t a good tradeoff. I suggested, and a few people agree, that this should be some sort of melee skill – either a change to staff strike (which would potentailly put it on a very low cooldown) or a completely new skill. I hope this feedback is taken on board, because it’s the only real gap in the class imo.

Conclusion

There are, of course, a bunch of other suggestions and creative ideas floating around so take a read over the consolidated thread if you’re interested. Other than the suggestions above, the most common suggestion was a scaling of pet damage (which is absolutely needed imo), some more interesting pet skill interactions or changes and some more single target damage options. Next week I’ll be heading back into my ToO raid guide series with a look at the Acid Wing which has one of the silliest mechanics in a raid fight ever (/cue yakkity sax).