Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The White Tower Speaks: The Swordmaster

Being a staunch fan of the Swordmaster in the tabletop, and based on the lore in general, you can be sure it was the first character I made upon downloading the WAR Beta. Let me say, firstly, that I was not disappointed, but it was not what I was expecting. Please note this is strictly from an RvR point of view.

I was not as "tanky" as I thought I would be (what did I really expect, I specced Khaine and Hoeth), but I was dealing more damage than I thought, also, so it all evened out. Please, realize, if I specced deep in Vaul and equipped a shield, this would probably have changed. But, I believe that style of tanking is purely the domain of the Ironbreaker, and I believe he does it far better at this point in time.

You're probably already aware of the Swordmaster's mechanic, the "Blade Dance", so I won't explain it further. It's a cool mechanic, I really like it, it's engaging, and requires choice and foresight (always good!). I really love the idea of "chains within chains", and many times you want to know what your finisher (perfect balance technique) is going to be before you start.

Firstly though, let me break a bubble for you. Early on, your finishers are not ZOMG DMG, they are utility, pure and simple. Unfortunately, the ones with the greatest utility (Knockback and Silence), were moved deep into the Vaul and Hoeth lines respectively (BOO!).

Unfortunately, the skill chain is sometimes cumbersome. Your snare is an "Improved Balance" ability, which means it has to be the second ability you use. That means you have to wait a vital global cooldown in order to slow your opponent. This is, simply, not good.

You want to know what is good though? The Swordmaster's damage, holy crap, it's impressive when specced and tacticed (um... sure tacticed is a word right?) correctly. I came into the Swordmaster class wondering (lore wise), why it wasn't Melee DPS, but also accepting the fact that it was going to be a tank, but by God I was not equipping a shield (I have scruples you know!) unless it was for a PvE tanking encounter.

At the current time, I have found two ways to play an effective Swordmaster in RvR (I'm sure there are more, these are the ones that popped out to me):

Khaine for single target, extreme burst dps using Ether Dance. You might not deal as much damage as pure melee dps but with taunt up (and it's pretty much always up) it comes pretty close, and you gain a moderate amount of survivability as well.

Or you spec to become what I like to call the DoT Master of Hoeth, which was my preferred spec, emphasizing DoT's, Blade Enchantment procs, and minor AoE. Throw up taunt, proceed with your chain to debuff Spirit Resistance, then spam Ensorcelled Blow and your snare as necessary... it's disgusting damage.

Overall opinion of the Swordmaster? Fun class, very fun. People will be happy to know that you can, in fact, play this class as DPS (IMO the way it's supposed to be played!). You can, probably, also play this class as a tank in RvR if you really wanted to, but I'm not going to lie: the Swordmaster is seemingly lacking in the CC department compared to the Ironbreaker, and to me, that's what makes an RvR tank.

Well that's it for now, hope I've provided you all with some useful information, and, as always, I'll see you soon!


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