Lore-mastery: Why play a lore-master?
I feel like the individual class forums on the official site all have their own personality. Burglars are resigned and melancholy, pining for the glory days when they could solo anything and abuse FMs anywhere. Hunters and RKs are the hyperactive kids, constantly (constantly! Yes, I already heard you the fifteenth bajillionth time when you said that Split Shot is bad!!) whinging about some perceived slight or another when things really aren’t so bad. Guardians and captains are the quiet ones, captains just sitting back in a contented way, while guardian’s are a little more depressed in their solitude, wishing someone would pay attention to them. Wardens are (usually) depressed too, but in a less quiet way, and they’ve got a manic side which is wildly overconfident.
Champions are the extroverts, self confident, brash and funny (best. post. evar. – “Minstrel carry around lutes and wear fancy hats. We need to keep them on their toes, or they will drift off and start daydreaming about butterflies, fancy hats, and butterflies in fancy hats.”). Minstrels are calm, helful, almost motherly, with an astonishing ability to roll with whatever’s happening (i’m not sure any other class would have reacted as well to a complete overhaul as they did).
As for lore-masters? Lore-masters are the nerds. This has good and bad aspects; questions to the lore-master class forums tend to get the most amazingly detailed and topical answers but the whole place has an air of self-satisfied smugness that can be a little hard to take. Lore-masters really like their class and are passionate about it, which is great, but they like to think that they’re absolutely indespensible and that people should be more thankful for how good they are, which can be a little hard to take.
Anyway, what’s all that got to do with today’s column? Not all that much I must admit, other than that the inspiration from the post came from a number of introspective threads on the official lore-master forum which are full of the typically helpful, long-winded, factual and somewhat smug answers that you usually get over there. The other reason for writing this column is that in what looks to be an extended period of down time as far as end game content goes before RoR, people might be looking to roll a new alt and I thought I’d give them a few reasons to try out my favourite class!
Three reasons to play the lore-master
It’s not a trinity class
In many people’s minds nowdays, there are only three types of class in an MMO – healer, tank and DPS. I’ve seen people hold up LOTRO, which has non-trinity classes like the lore-master, as in some ways revolutionary for breaking the trinity but in actual fact it’s a throwback to the earlier days of MMO where CC was a much more integral part of the game, with classes like the EQ enchanter or the AO Bureaucrat being fairly common. In fact, it’s only since the last couple of WoW expansions basically did away with all hybrid or support character classes that the “every player must be a damage dealer, healer or tank” mentality became entrenched.
Anyway, as I said the lore-master is NOT a trinity class. You’ll get people from time to time claiming that the lore-master is a top tier damage class, and I certainly know I frequently pull threat off people in PUG limlight dailies but quite franky just because some people are bad at doing damage with their class doesn’t mean lore-masters are a DPS class; we aren’t even close to people who know how to play their hunter/champ/RK correctly. So if tank/heals/DPS isn’t what the lore-master does, what’s left? Well, this is what makes the class so interesting to play. Lore-masters have a multitude of different things they can do, starting from their visit to a bard before the fight. In fact it took me two whole columns to simply outline the different trait setups and roles we can fulfil. Lore-masters are wonderfully flexible in both solo and group play, and can take things on in a number of different ways and this, I think, is the most enjoyable part of the class – the flexibility that not being locked into a clear primary role gives us.
In a fight, lore-master’s don’t have a set rotation or clear plan to execute. Yes, there are usually some things that we need to set up quickly, whether it’s initial crowd control, the first round of debuffs or a stun protection assignment. But this differs from fight to fight and there is a large part of our role that is reactive. Spot healing (people might not know that lore-masters have the biggest single heal in the game, measured by HPS), power sharing, disease/wound curing, reactive stun curing, cc, stuns, tar, pet skills and then DPS in between all that; group play can be absolutely overwhelming when you’re first starting out as a lore-master, but that’s good in my opinion. It gives you a lot to learn and improve over time, and you end up with possibly the best overview of the whole battle of any class, along with captains. Lore-master’s make good raid leaders imo, becuase their role naturally pushes them into watching the whole flow of the battle; we cannot just tunnel vision on one thing if we want to be effective. And all of this goes for solo play too. There’s a myriad of ways to solo effectively as a lore-master, from controlled and careful CC-based, to pet-based to AOE nuke em up and hope that their green bars run out before yours do. All of this can work.
So if you want to play a class that’s a bit different, has a diverse range of roles and a flexible, reactive gameplay style, then that’s a good reason to try out the lore-master.
Lore-masters make hard content easier, and impossible content possible
I’ve long been of the opinion that raid fights are designed such that they assume the presence of at least one lore-master in the raid (I’m talking about proper raid fights here, not silly stuff like the turtle or Draigoch). Raid fights are tuned such that most groups will have difficulty with the level of incoming damage without the presence of a lore-master. I’ve personally found that on a number raid fights that I can tell when debuffs have run out because the tank starts dying faster than the healer can keep up. The sheer magnitude of our debuffs (-30% melee damage, -25% tactical damage, -50% ranged damage from just the 3 main ones, depending on traiting) is such that the first lore-master in a group gives the whole group a massive and unbeatable reduction in incoming damage. Not only does the magnitude of this damage reduction compare favourably to the output of a healer over the course of a fight, the fact that debuffs reduce spike damage (which is typically the most dangrous to a group’s survival) means that this benefit can be hugely important. When a group is progressing in a raid, the presence of a lore-master will give that group a much needed room for error and when groups push the limit of what is actually possible, lore-masters can be the difference between potential success and an impossible fight.
You can see this in the experience of the groups that have just recently beaten the Saruman and Fire and Frost tier 2 challenges in ToO, fights which for months were probably literally impossible but which were pushed into the realm of just barely possible thanks to some tweaks in update 7. Every group that I’ve seen, including the super-hardcore German kins that got the earliest clears in both fights, had a lore-master in their kill shot. These were groups that had spent literally months and probably hundreds of hours strategising and optimising these fights. They tried every possible combination of strategy, class mix and had no problems with dumping a class if it wasn’t needed or stacking one if that gave benefit (both of the first F&F T2c kills featured burglar-stacking for mass single target DPS; the strategy used involved killing the first 665k giant in under 50sec which is some crazy DPS). These are fights which pushed the groups to the absolute limit, and had very high DPS and healing requirements (in addition to needing 2 tanks), meaning that there isn’t much margin for error in group composition. So it’s safe to say that if a lore-master wasn’t necessary, it wouldn’t have been taken.
Plus, there’s mechanics that simply can’t be circumvented without a lore-master. Stunning is the most obvious, but for many groups long, power-draining fights will only be doable with a lore-master battery. And places with masses of stacking diseases (some of the trash pulls in ToO fit this bill) seem purpose built for lore-masters.
In short, if you want to be an important part of a raid group and a valuable contributor in all group content then that’s another reason to roll a lore-master.
Flashy, fun “spells”
I can’t deny it. Part of the attraction of a lore-master is cosmetic. There are no skills in the game as flashy as lightning storm, ents go to war and sticky gourd and I get a huge thrill when you can throw these down in quick sucession. You can have an awful lot of fun with a lore-master if you’re prepared to live on the edge and incur the wrath of your tank/healer by opening a fight with those three skills! Not that it’s recommended for any serious content, but it certainly eases the tedium of romping through limlight or Foundry run #156 when you can just BLOW STUFF UP with flashes of fire and light. While we’re certainly not champions, we do have good AOE damage potential and our DPS skills are incredibly fun to use, it’s an undeniable part of the attraction of the class to me.
In addition, we’re the only pet class in the game (heralds don’t count, they’re free men!) and the only class that can have cosmetic pets. I enjoy playing around with my pets, trying out different pets for different situations and collecting the various cosmetics for the combat pets, and the cosmetic pets as well. As the only class which can have pets in the game, it’s another unique and interesting part of the class.
I’ve focussed on the positive here, but there are some down sides to the class too. Because our role is so unique and essentially none of our unique skills stack with other lore-masters, there are huge diminishing returns for a raid group to take a second lore-master. Also, while we shine in difficult content, while farming stuff that the group is very good at or which is just easy, we aren’t really necessary and basically function as a second tier DPS class. Finally, the learning curve can be kind of steep and some of the basic facts about a lore-master (like that we need to stand in melee range to do any sort of damage) aren’t very intuitive.