Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The Healers of WAR
So you want to play a healer in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Good choice, because unlike other games the healers in WAR aren’t gimped for damage, and have no problems whatsoever to solo. And, of course, they are always welcome in groups, be it PvE or RvR. But what kind of healers are there in WAR, and which one is right for you? Here is an overview:
First of all, it doesn’t matter whether you play Order or Destruction. Both sides have 3 kinds of healers, and every kind exists on both sides. The class might be called differently, and the spells might have different names, but essentially there is a close copy of every healer kind on both sides. Great, that reduces our choice from 6 to 3. They are:
The regular healers
The Dwarf Rune Priest and the Chaos Zealot are the kind of regular standard healer you find in pretty much every game. Like all characters in WAR, they have action points, and they consume those action points by using their abilities. The regular healers have both damaging spells and healing spells at their disposal, plus some buffs. The regular healers have no special game mechanic; they can cast any one of their spells at any time, with no restrictions or bonuses. They could be healbot in a group, or damage caster. They have low armor, although here there is a slight difference between the two factions, as the Dwarfs have a natural bonus to armor, which makes the Rune Priest somewhat better armored than the Zealot.
The alternate healers
The High Elf Archmage and the Greenskin Shaman are healers with a twist: They perform better if they alternate between healing and damage dealing occasionally. They have similar healing and damage dealing spells as the regular healers do, with slightly inferior buffs. But whenever they cast a healing spell, they gain a damage spell bonus point, up to a maximum of 5. And whenever they cast a damage spell, they gain a healing spell bonus point, up to a maximum of 5. These bonus points are called Waaagh! for the Shaman, and High Magic for the Archmage, but they work the same. Depending on the particular spell they either increase the effectiveness, or decrease the casting time by 20% per point. And yes, that means that with 5 bonus points you can cast some spells as instant which had a long casting time before. Only downside is that you can’t have both, the first healing spell you use after casting some damage spells will reset the healing bonus to zero, and start the damage bonus at one.
The effect of this is that while you *can* still act as a healbot if you want, there is an obvious advantage to at the very least use one instant damage spell every five healing spells. And when you are solo, and mostly using damage spells, the bonus makes it easier to heal yourself occasionally. Similar to the regular healers, the alternate healers have low armor.
The melee healers
The Empire Warrior Priest and the Dark Elf Disciple of Khaine are more limited in their healing abilities. They start out with 250 points, called Righteous Fury for the Warrior Priest, and Soul Essence for the Disciple of Khaine. Any healing spell they cast uses up between 30 and 70 of these points. Any melee damage ability or spell they use adds 15 to 50 of these points, up to the maximum of 250. That means that melee healers can use damage abilities without limit, but if they cast several healing spells in a row, they run out of points, and will need to use damage abilities again to recharge. Thus they can’t function in full healbot mode. They have enough points to keep themselves healed most of the time, but as main healer of a group they are less useful.
So why would you want to play one of these? Because the melee healers have a much better survivability; they have more health and better armor than the other healing classes. They play differently than the healers you might have played in MMORPGs, they are more similar to the priests in Dungeons & Dragons or medieval bishops in plate armor. If you like your healers to dish it out toe to toe instead of casting spells from the back, Warrior Priest or Disciple of Khaine are for you.
Personally, I’ll be playing a Shaman in WAR (my guild is going Chaos). I like the idea of getting free spells if I used one kind often enough, whether that is to cast an instant damage spell from the back while in a group, or casting an instant big heal after a solo fight. If I would only consider soloing, I’d probably play a Disciple of Khaine instead, because I like melee damage more than ranged spellcasting; but then, I don’t think the melee healers will be all that great in groups, running out of healing energy too often. I tried the Zealot, and he isn’t bad, but they are too much similar to a WoW healer, and I’ve played that one too long. I like what Mythic did to shake up the healing classes, and recognize they had to put in a standard healer for the conservative players. But I’m looking forward to gather some Waaagh!