Preliminary Spell Weaving Research

Well, first day back in Age of Conan and playing it at a pace I can enjoy it, my Necromancer's now up to level 13. At 10, I decided to make sure I was making the right choice. So, I took a little break from the game and do a little class comparison between the different "spell weaving" classes: Priests of Mitra, Tempests of Set, Necromancers, and Demonologists.

I used two good resources for my data:
  1. Habes.de Ability List
    A pretty comprehensive list of all the abilities (spells and combos) from 1 to 80 for all the classes. It's not all-inclusive, but it's close enough.
  2. Goodheim Feats Calculator
    An excellent feat planner interface. It doesn't show specifically what every feat does, but it does have a lot of good data entered into it.
I'm a great believer that you can determine the general ideology of a character class by taking a look at a healthy portion of their opening abilities. So my approach was to do a quick rundown of the first 20 levels of spells and then looked at the feats at the end of the two major trees related to the class. The resulting quick summary of the general abilities of the classes went like this:
  • Priest of Mitra - Extreme healing, decent nukes, and a self-invulnerability line.
  • Tempest of Set - Serious healing, better nukes, and some mob control.
  • Demonologist - Extreme damage.
  • Necromancer - Serious damage (most of it dot) and some unique utility.
While this is probably about 80% true, I made a few interesting discoveries in my analysis:
  • All four classes seem to offer the same general values of party buffs. Offensive or defense, it tends to balance out.
  • All four classes possess a goodly amount of offensive and defensive capability. Even the weakest nuker (the Priest of Mitra) is no slouch at applying holy-charged damage, and the apparent nukers seem to mitigate almost as much damage as the healers via their wards.
  • Although Priests of Mitra are mostly focused on being the best healers, they do have some interesting mob control that starts up at about level 30. However, contrary to my earlier impressions, the Tempests of Set are actually better at mob control.
  • Demonologists are surprisingly focused on nuking, just about everything they do inflicts damage in some way. This one-dimensional focus is the reason I really couldn't stomach them when I tried them earlier.
When I considered all four of the spell weaving classes, I was shopping for the most diverse set of meaningful choices because this is what I really like in a MMORPG character. I was pleasantly reassured to discover that the Necromancer (who I had already put the most effort into advancing) had the best set.

With options such as "build your pet formation to best suit your party and foes," "sacrifice one of your minions for an AOE fear affect," and "sacrifice some of your health to summon additional minions," it looks like the Necromancer really delivers. Some of their pets can even heal the team. Unfortunately, my Necromancer is proving much harder to play than my Herald of Xolti. This is partly because they have weaker damage wards and their pets draw seem to divert their aggro directly to the Necromancer (unless the-once-every-3-minute Frenzy affect is applied).

So, basically I'm just a cloth mage with nothing to stop the bad guys from flattening me. The difficulty is bad enough that I've actually filed a petition to ask if I can move my old Herald of Xolti... but I'm not expecting results. Perhaps in time I'll learn some nice Necromancer tactics or abilities to get around his apparent weakness. Somebody was mentioning over the OOC channel that there's some developer love around the corner for them, but I'm not sure how true that is.

Comments

haslo said…
Necros certainly are among the loudest whiners when it comes to viability both in PvP and soloing. So either they're just emo, or there's really something amiss with the class and developer love is inbound :)

I'd guess it's a mix between the two.
Poking around the official forums, it looks like every class has some serious issues stickied on the top of their forum. For example, it seems that stat points currently don't do anything.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, there's other reoccurring issues such as spells/combos costing twice as much to use but doing the same damage as the player levels up.

It's surprising Age of Conan has put on such a good appearance, and is even relatively fun, considering the underlying mechanics appear to be in such disarray.

Necromancers in particular might be suffering from this game's melee-centric balance. I've actually been dabbling a bit with a Dark Templar lately.

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