ArcheAge Consumes

My four-day weekend went by in a flash, as ArcheAge has me by the balls.

There are some strong technical reasons for this:
  • I invested about three times the price of a AAA title in acquiring this free-to-play game, which begets me to play it.  
  • I am booked until December with VIP "Patron" status.
    • Patrons get 5 "labor points" per minute logged out, 10 labor points per minute logged in.  Not playing for 3 days straight will give me 4,320 labor points out of the maximum 5,000.  So I absolutely must play this game if I do not want to waste labor points.
    • Patrons also earn 5 "loyalty tokens" every day they log in.  Those are able to be cashed in for nifty things, so I absolutely have a reason to at least try to log in every day.
  • I am level 33 out of the current maximum 50 already, primarily because this is one game my altaholicism can not derail:
    • I can learn all the skillsets on one character, although only 3 can be active at any one time.
    • The racial benefits of the four races are not so pronounced as to cause me to care overmuch about which I am playing.  If I start any alts, it might just be to see unique racial cinematic stories, but those are only a small, non-essential part of the game anyway.
    • The labor point pool is shared across my entire account, so it is best to invest it all in one character.
    • Expansion scrolls and other cash shop upgrades are spent on a per-character basis, so ditching my character is ditching cold, hard cash.
  • I have a little field in which plants and animals I have placed are growing.  Neglect them for too long, and that is time and play money wasted.   I find myself braving 2-hour-long login queues just to harvest what I have and start some more.  Farmville is built into this game.
This game is incredibly compelling for this power gamer, and I have not even got to the most compelling part of all: participation in the world domination struggle that makes up the end game.  It looks like I will be stuck playing mostly ArcheAge until I am totally sick of it, but it is paced in such a way that it will probably be awhile until I tire of the gameplay.
 Building a great character in ArcheAge is actually simpler than I earlier thought.
  • Want to do magical damage?  You absolutely must use a staff or scepter, as without the "magic attack" attribute you will do less than half as much damage as you would otherwise.
  • Want to heal?  You absolutely must use a club or greatclub, as without the "healing power" attribute you will heal less than half as much as you would otherwise.
  • Want to endure physical damage?  Wear plate.  It also boosts intelligence and strength, so gives a minor bonus to offensive magic damage and melee damage.
  • Want to endure magical damage?  Wear cloth.  It also boosts intelligence and spirit, so gives a minor bonus to offensive magic damage and healing.
  • Want to endure a medium amount of both kinds of damage?  Wear leather.  It also boosts agility and strength, so gives a minor bonus to all kinds of physical damage.  It is unusually useful to archers, as a full set boosts the range of their attacks.
An important takeaway here is the primary attributes are the defense and magical defense found on armor (including shields) and the healing power, magic attack, and DPS found on weapons.  Strength, intelligence, spirit, agility, and stamina are secondary attributes that mostly build the primary attributes at a pretty weak ratio of conversion.  In fact, that ratio is so weak that I am actually suggesting you can neglect your secondary attributes, you will still be pretty effective, but bear in mind that stacking the best attributes will give you an edge.

Contrary to what I was told earlier, it is not that you need an offensive skillset, defensive skillset, and utility skillset.  No, you only need to decide whether you will be doing magical damage, healing, or neither; both magic and healing is not an option unless you want to try to awkwardly switch from a "magic attack" to "healing attack" weapon when out of combat.  (Scepters and clubs are right-hand only to prevent you from dual-wielding both.)  Taking neither means you will be able to take a weapon with a little better damage per second, but it's only about 133% that of a "magic attack" or "healing attack" weapon, so everybody has pretty decent physical damage potential.

You end up with the following choices for your three skillsets:
  • Everyone can take Battlecraft and/or Shadowplay to utilize physical damage because, regardless of weapon wielded, you will have a decent amount of melee DPS. 
  • Everyone can take Archery to do longer-ranged physical damage, because your bow is actually a completely different slot.  However, chances are you will also want to take Shadowplay because it has some useful abilities to keep the enemy afar.  This, combined with leather armor's unique advantage, make it a fairly specialized path.
  • If you want to do magic damage, you will be wielding a scepter or staff, and your best bet to leverage magical damage is with the skills in Sorcery or Occultism.  Additional magic damage skills can be found in Witchcraft, Songcraft, Vitalism, and Auramancy.
  • If you want to heal, you will be wielding a club or greatclub, and healing abilities are found pretty much exclusively in Vitalism and Songcraft.
  • The Defense skillset has abilities largely focused on enduring physical damage, and is especially useful if you have a shield.  You could do a moderate job of enduring physical damage even wearing cloth with the right Defense skills, but for best results you will want to combine these skills with plate.
  • Auramancy has abilities largely focused on enduring magical damage.  You could do a moderate job of enduring magical damage even wearing plate with the right Auramancy skills, but for best results you will want to combine these skills with cloth.
Chances are you can pick one or two skillsets that really do what you're interested in.  With the remaining slot, go ahead and pick whatever skillset you like that has some useful utility skills you are interested in.  For example, the Witchcraft set is mostly made up of crowd control spells.

The number of viable classes (each "class" representing a combination of three skillsets) is actually quite high.  The only classes that work poorly together are magical damage and healing classes, and this is simply because you cannot simultaneously wield a "magic attack" and "healing power" weapon.  Any other combination should work, and you can experiment with specializing your character different ways as you wish.

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