Thursday, August 21, 2008

The White Tower Speaks: The Ironbreaker

I've always been a fan of Dwarves, and I'm not talking about Dwarves with contraptions, with their black powder weapons, and their whirly I'm talking about a good, old fashioned dwarf, the kind that still thinks cannons and organ guns are new-fangled devices and are no match for a longbeard with axe or hammer in hand. Of course, I'm talking about the Ironbreaker (R.I.P. Hammerer).

This was the one of the last classes I played around with during beta, I wanted to try one sooner, but I got distracted by all manner of things. Like my other main classes, I played this class to 21, and then played around with the templates, as well as spending an extensive amount of time in RvR.

My overall impression of the Ironbreaker? Not only is he the class I intend on playing at release, he is also, in my opinion, possibly the strongest class in the game at this time. The only classes I have seen that even come close to the survivability of the Ironbreaker are the Black Orc, the Chosen, or the Warrior-Priest. And if the Ironbreaker equips a shield? It's good game, you have arguably the toughest class in the game at your disposal. And if you're talking about damage, this little bearded man will definitely surprise you.

The truth is, I wanted to play the Ironbreaker with Axe/Shield in homage to their tabletop origins, and I wanted to tank my little heart out as Path of Stone. Here's the story of how my Ironbreaker learned to stop using a shield, and love the Great Weapon. For a short while during beta, shields were bugged and weren't blocking, and I won a pretty sweet two-hander in a PQ, so I decided to try it out in RvR.

Dear lord, what has Mythic done. Even without the shield, I mitigate a lot of damage, and thus still serve in tank capacity, especially with Guard and Oathfriend. If you have a pocket healer (Rune Priests are ideal), you can go on just about forever. Ironbreaker damage is moderate, but steady, early in the fight, but if the point ever comes where I build up 100 Grudge, the forces of Destruction start dropping like flies. Add Taunt into the mix, and the Ironbreaker's damage goes through the proverbial roof.

Pro Tip:
Target priority is very important in RvR. In Tier 1, you'll be seeing a lot of greenskins, so I recommend finding their Shamans and Squig Hunters early in every fight, and taking them out first. With full Grudge and Taunt (esp. if you're in the RR 6 gear), they go down easily. I recommend staying away from Black Orcs and Chosen, until all other enemies are dead, especially if they are toting a shield.

So what else do I love about the Ironbreaker? The deal breaker for me was their epic amount of CC (comparative to other classes in WAR). With proper tactics they have a slew of Snares, Roots, Knockdowns, Knockbacks, and AoEs. It's a Crowd Controllers wet dream. I can protect my healer all day with a slew of knockbacks and knockdowns on short to moderate cooldowns, add Guard and Oathfriend to the mix, and the two of us can take on quite a few enemies at once. I would even go so far as to say the Ironbreaker and Runepriest classes are some of the best classes in the game at this point, and when combined, they are nigh unstoppable. As others have mentioned, the synergy between these two classes is more than impressive.

As for specs, I see only one really. Vengeance/Brotherhood. The only question for me is whether or not I want to go all the way up the Vengeance line to Grudge-born Fury, or whether I want to get Earthshatter in the Brotherhood Tree. Two talents you should definitely keep your eye on are the Powered Etchings Tactic, and Punishing-Knock, which add a knockback and knockdown respectively to two of your core skills, always good.

Okay, now on to the bad stuff, and let me tell you, there isn't much. Firstly, Oathfriend's mechanic right now is kind of odd, you can only put it on a group member, not even on someone in your warband, and if you're just running around in Open RvR without a group, good luck getting grudge. Because the truth is, people avoid hitting me like the plague, which means no grudge, and without grudge, the Ironbreaker's damage is sub-par (as it should be). Allowing Oathfriend to be used on anyone in your realm would be an excellent change. If not anyone, then at least make it apply to Warbands to make scenarios easier. As recompense for this change, I wouldn't mind seeing the CD being increased slightly, or having our damage slightly nerfed (don't hurt me IB fanatics!).

Also, the Path of Stone is lackluster in RvR. Sorry, I said it, and I'm sad, because I'd love to throw on a shield and kick it old school, but right now the incentive just isn't there, many of the Ironbreaker's best abilities require or encourage Great Weapons. Sad, but true. If I had to suggest changes, I would say have knock downs and other CC (Silence or Disarm) be the domain of shields (Path of Stone), and maybe have Armor Penetration and perhaps AoE be the domain of the Great Weapon (Path of Vengeance). Right now, one of our best Knockdowns (Cave-In) requires a Great Weapon, that's a little backwards IMO. That said, Path of Stone is probably the premier PvE tanking Mastery, unfortunately, I didn't try any of the End-Game PvE, so I can't comment with any certainty.

Overall, the Ironbreaker is an incredible class, with extensive survivability and Crowd Control. With the right tactics and skill usage, their damage is also pretty impressive (I honestly expect this to be toned down). This will probably be my main class on release, duoing with my Rune Priest Roommate, we should have Destruction feeling the fury of the Ancestors in no time.

Cheers, and see you all soon!