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Engaged in the Saga of Heroes: Class Assessment

This is my last day off in a long ol' time, I'll soon discover just how much free time 12 credits of university courses gives me. So, how did I spend it? Mostly in Vanguard, assessing the base class characteristics.

By playing each one for just a few minutes, visiting their class trainers, and verifying bits I'm confused against a third party source, I'm able to piece together a pretty good picture of how the interplay of classes works out. Scoff if you must, but being able to recognize these patterns after only a few hours of playing is something overgrown geeks who have been playing computer games nonstop for 24+ years can do.

Protective Fighters
Warriors, Paladins, and Dread Knights are the "tank" in groups, built to take the foes aggression away from the more vulnerable players. Many of their melee attacks will do bonus damage if allies are flanking their target.
Class: Warrior
Notable Early Abilities: Melee Attacks, Counterattacks, Blocks, Battle Cries, Taunts, Rescues.
Notes: "Battle Cries" are potent short-duration influences that are restricted to being initiated once every 60 seconds. Their effects are much shorter than 60 seconds, e.g. instant or 12 seconds.
Class: Paladin
Notable Early Abilities: Melee Attacks, Anti-Undead Attacks, Boons, Blessings, Judgements, Auras, and Virtue.
Notes: A surprisingly complicated class, Paladins can have one active Aura (AOE benefits allies), one active Boon (specific buff), one active Blessing (specific buff), and one active Judgement (affects foes). They also accumulate "virtue points" which slowly regenerate over time and are consumed with actions such as "laying on hands" for a powerful heal.
Class: Dread Knight
Notable Early Abilities: Melee Attacks, Siphoning enhancements from foes, instiling fear in foes, and Dread Continuance.
Notes: Has auras that are offensively oriented, probably one every 5 levels. Dreadful Countenance builds up on foes, rendering them more vulnerable. The dreadful countenance count seems to buff certain effects, such as auras and taunts.

Offensive Fighters
The Ranger, Rogue, Monk, and Bard provide a goodly amount of physical damage, but also seem to offer the group utility in their own ways. The only thing they share in common is powerful melee attacks.
Class: Ranger
Notable Early Abilities: Elementally Charged Melee Attacks, Powerful Ranged Attacks, Self-Buffs, Snares, and Foraging.
Notes: Starts with an offensive stance. Likely gains more with levels. Foraging is actually a source of reagents and Ranger tools.
Class: Rogue
Notable Early Abilities: Stalking (stealth), Melee Attacks, Finishing Moves, Back Attacks, Damage Over Time Attacks, Pickpocketing, Loot Finding.
Notes: A pretty robust implementation of the token Rogue, pickpocketing is actually a source of reagents and Rogue tools.
Class: Monk
Notable Early Abilities: Melee Attacks, Ally Buffs, PBAOE damage.
Notes: Monks gain "jin" with some attacks and use it with others. Jin points are visible on the HUD and drain over time between combats.
Class: Bard
Notable Early Abilities: Melee Attacks, Melodys, Harmonies, Rescue
Notes: Has the capacity to twist bard song effects into custom buffs.

Defensive Casters
Clerics, Shaman, Disciples, and Blood Mages are primarily party supporters, but often include a surprising variety of powerful melee attacks or nukes as well.
Class: Cleric
Notable Early Abilities: Healing, Nukes, Resurrection, Self-Buffs, Ally Buffs, Anti-Undead abilities, powerful Turn Undead ability.
Notes: Has stances that influence spell and melee abilities. Has a GUI indicator that tells the number of times they can turn undead, a powerful anti-undead ability which replenishes with every 2 1/2 hrs of play.
Notable Early Abilities: Nukes, powerful Damage over Time spells, Heals, Roots, Buffs.
Notes:A pretty straight forward caster until about level 15, when they gain a pact that earns them a pet and a general focus.
Class: Disciple
Notable Early Abilities: Melee Attacks, Counterattacks, Blocks, Heals, AOE heals, Group Buffs, Resurrection.
Notes: An interesting fusion of an unarmed fighter (like the Monk) and a healer. They even get safe fall. The Monk's 'Jin' indicator shows up on the GUI, but I'm not sure what Disciples can do with it, if it's not just a bug.
Class: Blood Mage
Notable Early Abilities: Siphon Health, Buff Self/Party, Heals, Resurrection, Nukes.
Notes: Blood Mages build up Blood Union points on foes through casting of certain abilities which modify spell effectiveness. They also gain certain stances that affect their spells and health in various ways, possibly killing the Blood Mage if they're not careful. Currently very powerful, may be first on the chopping block when the ban stick makes its rounds.

Offensive Casters
Class: Sorcerer
Notable Early Abilities: Nukes, Shields, PBAOE attack, cone mesmerize, summon ring, spell crit.
Notes: The purest of the pure nukers, does great damage but possesses minimal defenses or utility.
Class: Druid
Notable Early Abilities: Nukes, Ally Buffs, Roots, Summon Heal Item, Heals, Evac.
Notes:A fair jack of all trades in that Druids can heal as well as nuke, they may have some more extravagent abilities in later levels that do things like change the weather or shape change.
Class: Psionicist
Notable Early Abilities: Nukes, Power Regen Buff, DOTs, Mesmerize, Simulacrum that distracts target but does no damage.
Notes: Vaguely monster control class related, but with a lot more focus on just plain offensive firepower.
Class: Necromancer
Notable Early Abilities: Nukes, Buffs, Abomination Pet, Abomination Support Spells, Evac
Notes: The only real "pure pet" class, mostly focused on nuking.

So, there you have it, a rough encapsulation of what the different classes do based primarily on their main classification and ability saturation. It doesn't tell the complete story though, as some of the most influential abilities in Vanguard (such as Paladin auras or Shaman pets) are granted with level, not off trainers. In the end, I'm just impressed with the sheer variety of class play that Vanguard offers. Beyond the bugs and need for further tweaking, Vanguard is a game with genuine unique gameplay value.
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