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Issue 8 Alt-A-Holicism

I had a plan A. I would get Nanites (my Spines/Dark Armor Scrapper) or Psi-Caster (my Illusion/Kinetics Controller) to level 50 before Issue 8 came out so I could start over with a Kheldian and enjoy the new content. Unfortunately, thanks to my taking a month off to play Phantasy Star Universe and Neverwinter Nights (and about 3 days of EQ2) I'm afraid I've failed in that goal. Issue 8 has arrived and my highest level character is level 34, just 16 short of my goal.

Fortunately, I also had a Plan B, which went like this: In the event I don't have level 50 by the time Issue 8 is released, start a Blaster. The rationale was that I liked having a few control powers but didn't much like the lack of damage on the Controller. A Blaster sounded like a pretty good compromise. On another level, a Blaster is a bit like a bit like a more challenging but powerful Scrapper: Swap out the powers that give the Scrapper durability (essentially a margin of error) and turn it into more attacks and utility powers.

In application, I had somewhat forsaken this plan B, experimenting with what came to be four separate characters today. The first, a Gravity/Kinetics Controller who never made it past the costume screen. The second, an Ice/Ice Blaster - there's a Blaster Controller, or what's more popularly known as a Blastroller - he made it to about level 3 or 4 before I decided I didn't like the way he was playing. The third, a Sonic/Energy Blaster - he's still a contender. The fourth, a Martial Arts/Regeneration Scrapper - also a contender.

I spent most of the day with my Sonic/Energy Blaster, and it was this one where I've found the majority of Issue 8 changes so far.  A run with a full group would have been much more interesting, but I did manage to complete the safeguard mission with two side missions and before the time limit ran out. Not bad for a little level 5-6 Blaster at the time.  Before I knew it, I had made level 8 and it was time to log out for the night.

Sonic/Energy is not a Blastroller set, it's really more of a pure Blaster set. I can say with relative confidence that this may be the Blaster power set with the highest damage potential. Yes, even more than Fire/something. The reason being that Sonic has a secondary affect of lowering foes' damage resistance and Energy provides full access to damage enhancement powers and powerful melee strikes. Even if the Sonic Blaster himself did not do more damage than another Blaster, the -RES debuffs from the Sonic attacks would enable his party to do more damage than a party with another kind of Blaster.

I did come to an realization about my Blaster, however, and it was this: his contribution to a group's efforts were decidedly one-sided. I was all offense, the only way I could save another group members' bacon is by frying, knocking back, or disorienting whatever was attacking him. It reminded me that there's more to the Scrappers secondary power sets than self-preservation: sometimes it's about standing in for a tank. A full group of Blasters needs a lot more awakens than a full group of Scrappers.

Contender 2: Citizen Enigma, a Natural Martial Arts/Regeneration Scrapper. Current level: 3. With a little imagination, one can pretend the trenchcoat looks awesome during in a roundhouse kick... instead of wrapping around my legs in a comical and perhaps realistic manner.

Just as I had gained enough experience from Psi-Caster to know that Controllers weren't that great at damaging unless they were Fire/Kinetics, I had gained enough experience from Nanites to know that Dark armor Controllers weren't all that interactive. Seven out of ten of the Dark Armor powers were ones you could toggle on and forget about or maybe keep them in the back of your mind if you want to micromanage your endurance expenditures. Unfortunately, this issue is the same for 3 of the 4 of the Scrapper Secondary powers: Invincibility or Super Reflexes were also mostly Toggle or (worse) Auto powers.

There was one exception to the lack of interactive secondary Scrapper powers, and that was Regeneration. It did have three auto powers (fast healing, quick recovery, resilience) and one toggle power (integration), but all the rest were situational click-use. Two of them were simple self healing powers, nifty in that they offered the player a free "convert endurance into health" option that they needed to remember to use at the right time. That left a self-rezzing power, a extra fast healing buff, and the moment of glory. The moment of glory was an interesting temporary invulnerability power that only left the Scrapper vulnerable to psychic damage. Being temporarily invulnerable when you're a Scrapper death-machine sounds way too uber. I even liked one of the auto powers of this set - Quick Recovery was a superior version of Stamina, so there's three more power picks I can do something else with.

However, I soon realized there was an issue with the primary power set I picked. Martial Arts is a good powerful, fun set, but I'm essentially killing my area of effect effectiveness. I had discovered with Nanites that there's such a thing as too much area of effect in a Scrapper, a archetype that was built to focus on taking down bosses, but there was also such a thing as too little. Having to go through each minion in a 20 minion group would be monotonous any way I slice it.

So I'm thinking that, if I decide to go Scrapper, I should try another primary set besides Martial Arts. Unfortunately, the only real AOE contenders aside from Spines (which I was tired of from my other character) were Claws and Dark Melee. Is it possible I'm going about this all wrong, and should just leave the AOE to the Blasters?

The debate is enough to drive me back to Shifter Prime all over again, and why not? The Blaster is not a poor choice, just one that requires I play smarter. Still, even Sonic/Energy can't do everything. It's easy to find this, and it's stressing over the detaisl that leads to alt-a-holicism. Still, I'm not sure which of the two, Blaster or Scrapper, I'll enjoy long enough to get to 50. Who knows? Maybe I'll forget about starting all over again and just work on getting Psi-Caster to 50, then play a Kheldian. Ah, but I hate giving up on visiting faultline so soon after it's been unveiled.

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