The World of Warcraft is a strange one, because right now it’s hard to get away from the absolute lull between expansions. Unlike the transition from TBC to WotLK, my bucket list is very very short, as I only want to add Kingslayer to my collection of titles and otherwise am done with it. I am done with daily frost emblem farming. I am done with reaching my gold goal of going into Cataclysm with 100k gold. I am not quite done with my Zandalar rep farming, but I am 8% through Revered.
So what’s a girl do when not raiding in WoW? Checking out other games! In not raid-time I currently play Lord of the Rings Online. Back when it launched in 2007 I played the beta for a while. It didn’t hold my attention at all. It was too similar to WoW, and at the time WoW was too exciting, with TBC almost ready to launch, so I never dedicated much time to beta-testing.
Fast forward to summer 2010 and the announcement that LotRO would be going Free to Play in fall. Back then I already planned to revisit the game, and so that’s what I started a couple weeks ago, downloading the client and getting a trial code for LotRO in Europe. I then enjoyed the game so much that I picked up a copy of the game plus the first expansion for a whopping 4.99 Euro and continued playing. Big advantage: I got to say hi in game to Spinks and Arb from Welcome to Spinksville. Yay! I intend to play LotRO casually until Cataclysm comes along, and F2P will be a blessing. Even when my sub runs out (though I have yet to subscribe, but likely will), I will still be able to log on and play.
Naturally, I felt drawn to the tanking classes. First observation: LotRO has no shortage of tanks whatsoever. When you look at their LFF (looking for fellowship) channels, healers are in high demand, specific utility classes are as well, but tank spots are usually filled. I have only run one instance so far, The Great Barrows, and our 6-man group consisted of FOUR tanks plus healer and DPS.
LotRO has two classes specifically designated for tanking, guardians and wardens. Guardians are LotRO’s version of protection warriors, but with a twist. Wardens are a so-called premium-class and require access to the first expansion or that you unlock them for a fee if you are a F2P player, and are…well, don’t know how to describe them. Javelin-and-spear wielding leather-clad woodspeople who use HoTs as their form of mitigation.
My Guardian Kadowyn on US-Brandywine is now level 17, so very far from the level cap. Still, I think I can compare a little bit to warriors in WoW.
Guardians just like warriors have different stances they can fight in. At my level I have 3 different stances: a block stance, a parry stance and Overpower stance which foregoes a shield and adds more melee damage. I tried going the 2H route for solo play, but you don’t really have enough non-tanking skills at my low level to make any effective use of it, as parries are few and far between. I mention parries because guardians have multiple reactive abilities. Kinda like Revenge, but with a twist. They have two lines of abilities, the first called Block and Counter and the second Parry and Retaliate. The first line of abilities get used when you block an attack. Like Revenge you then get to do a Shield Swipe, and once that’s hit you get another powerful attack called Bash. Alternatively, instead of using Shield Swipe, you can use Draw your Breath after blocking to self-heal yourself. When you parry an attack, you unlock Retaliation and that ability in turn unlocks Overwhelm. Instead of using Overwhelm, which is a single target powerful attack, you can use Whirling Retaliation which can hit up to 5 targets and transfers threat of all group members to you. How awesome is that? Screw Vigilance, here’s everyone’s threat!
What I really like is that you get two very distinct sounds that make it possible to immediately identify when you have blocked or parried. Two different kinds of chimes. Using DXE has taught me to respond to different sound queues in game, so I really appreciate that and wish Revenge had a unique sound now.
That’s just the basic tenets of the class, there’s a lot more. It really plays a lot like a warrior. You have a single target taunt, an AoE taunt, big threat attacks, stances. The major difference really is the range of the reactive abilities. Now, my tanking experience on this character is limited. You get a few escort solo instances, and in those I have no problems tanking. I also did a few fellowship quests with friends who started the F2P with me on Brandywine, and though they were 3-4 levels above me, I surprisingly managed to hold mobs on me for the most part. I think at level, this will turn out even better, and I think guardians pack quite a punch threat-wise. Their solo abilities are good too, though it’s all a bit slow. LotRO in general is a lot slower in pace than WoW.
My biggest beef that I have with tanking is that the controls are slow and the way combat animations work. Let’s say I whack a mob, lose aggro and then taunt the mob. In WoW I press Taunt and the mob is mine. In LotRO, I press taunt, my guardian does a taunting animation, and only after the animation has finished the mob turns to me. Some of the combat animations of abilities are loooong, though that’s less of a problem with guardians and more those of a warden. More about those at a later time. It just feels like the controls are not anywhere near as responsive as they are in WoW, and as a tank, that matters.
As I have not tanked instances or skirmishes yet (scaleable encounters in LotRO) on this guardian., I will leave it at that, but might tell you a bit more about Kadowyn another time.
Before anyone asks, no, I am not quitting WoW and this is still predominantly a WoW blog. But it doesn’t hurt to post about other stuff as well, especially as I still tank like a girl.
How about you guys, have you tried the tanking classes in other MMOs? Tempted by the F2P releases of LotRO and Everquest 2? Speak up!