Back to the Tier 1

Me and Spinks launched ourselves into Norsca with a Magus/Zealot combo and puttered around with some of the early quests. As with the last time I tinkered in Destruction lands, I had an overwhelming feeling that there was more.. character than in the Order lands (and I happen to think both Empire and Dwarf lands have a fair amount of character). So it made me wonder if it was just because it was something so new to me.

I was also fairly impressed at Karak-Azgal and the lack of waiting times for scenarios. And found myself quickly at Rank 5. We also started a normal public quest and rapidly a full open group formed up around us, making it fairly easy for us to complete. It was a totally different experience even to the Warrior Priest I created recently, though that was a little over-run with Slayers.

The lesson from all of this, it’s worth trying something new, and perhaps on a different server even. I’ll never turn my back on my Rune Priest, but it’s definitely re-energised my WAR time for the moment. I think the Rune Priest is kind of waiting for the Land of the Dead, because I’m finding it hard to find a place for myself when I log in with her at the moment, it all seems a bit distant, and that’s completely my fault.

Tier 1 is fun because there’s a lack of crowd control and everyone is finding their feet. Also because Mythic throw us straight into everything we can do later in the game (barring keep taking and city sieges, but there is open RvR) and don’t make us mess about too much. We had at least one amusing moment where I admired Spinks’ shoulder tattoo and to investigate my shoulder I stripped off and discovered that my Magus had worrying skin-coloured underwear. I can do a VERY good impression of being naked (let’s put it that way).

The Destruction thing will eventually settle to being 1 night a week for us, but at the moment we’re grabbing an hour here and there as we can.  I’m still an Order gal at heart, but it’s nice to take a walk on the wild side.

Stop! Hammer Time!

Wotcha everyone,

Many of you may have noticed, if I haven’t made it completely obvious anyway, that when it comes to games I’m more than a little obsessed by the way things look.  I am fully cognizant of the fact that, just as in real life, in online games looks are most certainly not everything.

But having said that, underneath the looks in an online game, you get a lot of meaningless technomagical mumbo-jumbo that somehow makes things…  work.

So when Hawley swings his hammer, all that mumbo-jumbo does stuff.  Arcane, obscure, technomagical stuff.  That is then translated into numbers on my screen, so I can understand what just happened.

Now, when it comes to those looks, I do like a bit of variety.  Frankly, I don’t give a tinker’s cuss whether or not I look like anyone else.  I have no need to look like a unique special snowflake.  But I do like a change every so often.

If I’m wearing an outfit for too long, I get a bit antsy for the next piece of kit.  Not for the stat upgrades, but for the opportunity to change the way the character looks.  To look at something new, and hopefully cool looking.  And yes, in the past I have chosen not to upgrade to something that looks nasty and most decidedly uncool.

But.  And it’s an important but…  I’m still using hammers.  I swap from the two-hander to book and hammer when I need the extra healing stats (more from a sense of propriety than anything else – I don’t usually care over-much for carrying multiple item sets) but at the end of the day, they’re both hammers.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the looks of the hammer.  Sledge hammers look cool, in a 70’s British Crime film way, but in the real world, if you start hefting one people start looking at you as if you’re some sort of weird stalker with a  diy issue.  Same for any sort of hammer really.  Grinning at any viewers, to help allay any fears they might have, never helps.  And the other styles of hammer out there just look worse.

Most of the time, in online games, I lust after axes (I lust after other things in the real world.  Sometimes this includes Monica Bellucci in a vat of tea, but that mainly happens when it’s been at least 10 minutes since my last brew) .  Sort of brutal looking, with a bit of wood-choppy utility.  Couple that with an innate ability to choose every class that isn’t allowed to wield axes, and I spend the whole time playing with the self-imposed quest “Find Usable Axe” running in the background.

Warhammer Online is different, though.  I get the ability to use “Hammers”, and “Great Hammers”.  That’s it.  Even the ability to use “Harsh Language” is a hard skill, not a software skill.  Have I missed the usual arbitrarily (it sometimes seems) set of weapon skills for my chosen class?

No.  And I’m wondering why.

I am the sort of person that has a favoured weapon type for a character.  I like my dps murderers to carry knives, my clanky-tanks to carry swords or axes, and my healers to carry something fun and funky, to make up for the fact that swinging it in anger usually means it’s all gone a bit frantic.  In a “special” sort of way.

Having said that, I also like variety.  Sometimes it’s nice for a dps murderer to carry something longer than a shiv.  Sometimes I let the tank put down his sword and shield, and put a honking great double-handed axe in his hands.  Variety is, apparently, the spice of life (despite the fact that Lemon Pepper seems to go with everything).

Yet here I am, and I’ve forgotten all about that.  Weapon choice is practically down to a binary option; wield your allotted weapon, or don’t.  And when I first started a Hawley, all that time ago in beta, I did notice the fact that weapon choices were one handed hammer, or two-handed hammer.

And, as mentioned previously, promptly forgot.  To the extent that I only remembered recently, when I was looking at one of the empire NPCs and started having covetous thoughts about his pretty shield.  Almost to the extent of luring him down an alley for a quick coshing (No, that’s not a weird, or even not-weird, sex-thing.  It’s the sharp, nasty contact between a leather-wrapped bag of sand and lead pellets, and the back of an unsuspecting head).  So there I was, wishing that I could carry a shield for a bit, because even though books are cool, they don’t quite have the level of protection that a shield does.

Unless it’s “War and Peace”.  As the old saying goes; “No-one gets through War and Peace” (thankyou, HOL).

The fact remains that I’m not missing the variety in class weapons.  For once, I’m enjoying the game enough to just not care.  I might be coming down with something…

Cheers,
Hawley.

October Newsletter hits

Brief highlights again, as I just got home from work and want to play 🙂

  • Heavy Metal event advertised, Nov 18th-Dec 2nd in Europe (so place your bets for launch of 1.1 here), scenario called Reikland Factory – open to all levels, all tiers and doesn’t contribute to campaign. 10% bonus to renown for playing it. Basic influence gives a trophy, advanced gives a cloak, elite gives access to the two new classes a full week early.
  • Overviews of Knight of the Blazing Sun and Blackguard
  • Witching Night announced – now till Nov 4th (has a couple of mask photos)
  • Advert for Red Alert 3 and Kossar’s Helm
  • Mark Jacobs’ State of the Game (for those who don’t know it already)
  • Concept Art – Order Epic Armour, Greenskin NPCs
  • Paul and Adam Gershowitz podcasts on Knight of the Blazing Sun and Blackguard
  • Paul’s videophone blog
  • Grab Bag (as previously reported)
  • “WAR Europe is the place to go for the most up-to-date news regarding your favorite (sic) game and ours – Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning!” (I had to quote this, as I’m still laughing)
  • Developer Profile: James Casey (Content Design Lead)
  • Blackguard and KotBS wallpapers
  • Community Spotlight – Warhammer Movies
  • Ads for Empire in Chaos (Warhammer Online novel) and joint DAoC/WAR subs for Europe

Destruction Eye for the Order Guy

Wotcha everyone,

I have always been somewhat bemused by the vaguaries of fashion.  It’s something that happens to other people, and to be perfectly honest, if I walk down the street and people don’t point and laugh at what I’m wearing, I take that as a “win”.

So I’m constantly surprised at how much I care about how my online characters look.  Lord of the Rings Online may have had (to my taste) some really duff clothing, but the cosmetic system was really, really well implemented.  And I loved being able to go and get a shave and a haircut whenever I fancied.  Similar to the amazing level of detail in Star Wars Galaxies, with cosmetic surgery added to the mix.

And yes, I do have a habit of continuing to wear something “out-grown” when the replacement looks rubbish.  Even in World of Warcraft, where it’s *all* about the stats.

Now, I don’t really have a “look” that I prefer in my gaming.  I tend to go with whatever I think makes the character look cool.  Or, in Warhammer Online’s case, “Cool” and “Yellow”.

Which looks like this:

Does my Fury look big in this?

Does my Fury look big in this?

One thing I’ve been constantly impressed by is the look of Warhammer Online.  I like the way that it references the models of the Games Workshop range, whilst making sure that each and every class has a distinctive, easily recognisable silhouette on the battlefield.  Even Dark Elf spotting is easy (for this hobby, you will need a pad, a pencil, and a flask of weak lemon drink).

This fashion parade also serves a valuable function in that it shows the ideological differences between Order and Destruction.  You dress for your class, not just for your role.  So Ironbreakers, Black Orcs and Chosen won’t be seen at a jumble sale arguing over who put their hands on a suit of platemail first.  But more than that, the Ironbreaker wears a suit of armour that is clean, well-formed, and designed to protect his chubby frame.  The Black Orc wears a set of armour that looks cobbled together from bits of his victims, and the Chosen clanks about in a baroque, disturbing suit of metal.  Looking like he doesn’t even take it off in the shower.

It’s echoed throughout the classes.  Order might not be all sweetness and light (between a bunch of humans who are willing to murder their own to stop the encroaches of their enemies, a group of elves who have trained for war for generations, and a gang of dwarves who positively enjoy gaining fanatical hatreds, is there *any* sweetness and light?) but Destruction look far worse.  No-one can complain that “they’re just like us, really”.  There are no hippy-peaceniks around here, demanding that we all just get along, because we all have a right to live.  No-one is “misunderstood”, and no-one looks “misunderstood”.

Oh, remember that clown suit I mentioned earlier?  Well, nothing was worse than Warcraft’s ultimate example of fashion chic, the red hat, purple armour, and lime green trousers ensemble.  Whilst the tiered armour sets could and did look fantastic, most people spent their time levelling (and possibly for some time later, dependant on how much raiding they did) wearing such outfits (I always worried that they would end up burning out my monitor, as I saw them jog past).  I was even forced to wear similar crimes against colour myself, at times.

Imagine my joy, then, when I discovered that each class got its own wardrobe.  Whilst the “special snowflake” players might rebel at having to dress like everyone else in their class, I’ve got no problem.  I’m in the Warrior Priest gang, can’t you tell?  I have my individuality packaged in little pots of dye, available at all good merchants.  And the benefit is that, through the experience and good taste of generations of Warrior Priests, we have outfits that don’t make us look like idiots.

Unless we choose to.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Physician and Patient

Wotcha everyone,

I am the Healer.  Whilst Tanks might think they rule the battleground, and DPS might think they are gods, without me they are corpses.

That is my little bit of god complex out of the way.  I find that the arrogance that such a belief engenders helps focus me, and enables me to do a better job.  So it does vaguely annoy me when I hear that no Warrior Priests are healing.

Much has been said about Archmages, and the way that their grand gestures and sparkly effects light them up like Christmas trees bestrewn with little Renown filled presents for any Destruction characters in the area, but from my perspective, I don’t see much difference between twirling a staff and glowing and shoving your hammer in the air and glowing.

The only real difference is that when I do my poncey healing showing off, I’m stuck in the midst of the grand melee, with everyone *already* trying to smack me.

(I can’t really comment about Rune Priests; I believe they’re little healer show-offs too, but generally when they’re healing I’ve got my dander up, and am too busy annoying my neighbours by shouting “Sigmar!  Sigmar!” at the screen to notice them.  Sorry.)

So, this whole “keeping everyone alive” malarkey.  Well, I like to think I’m fabulous.  And the way I get to show how fabulous I am is by healing well enough that no-one dies.  In other games, this is easy (he says, nonchalantly.  I kill balrogs for fun, me).  Because most other games are designed as PvE games with PvP added to the mix, your pure and hybrid healers get big heals, flash heals, and heals over time.  Usually more than one of each.

Boy do I miss them…

Although I will admit, I do like the way that Warhammer Online is a PvP game with PvE added.  I can see why some of the design choices have been made; Nothing is more soul destroying than chipping away at someone, getting them most of the way to Mostly Dead, and suddenly they’ve been healed up to full.

Morale does let you have big heals, but they’re not that big, and they’re not that clever.  They most certainly can’t be spammed.

Instead, I get the ability to do damage, and heal at the same time.  Sort of novel, really.  But it does mean that whilst I get to show off with my hammer in the air (“Look Ma, I’m healing!”) most of the time when I’m healing, it’s not that noticeable in the midst of all the fighting.

It’s melee.  Weapons are flying all over the place, and every so often some ranged DPS decides to help out by lobbing some lovely particle-spamming aoe goodness in there.  Everyone’s adrenaline is up, and to be perfectly honest, I’d prefer it if the tanks and dps around me are doing their job of crushing my enemies, rather than watching their health bars.  Or looking for a little sparkly bit of healing goodness coalescing around their character.

So, all being well, you’re not going to die (or at the least, die slower), whilst I’m smacking Destruction in the face for Sigmar.  How will I do that?

I don’t see much point in giving out crunch here.  If you want crunch, there is a scary amount of scary statisticians feeding crunch to various sites on the interwebnet, without me failing to make any useful contribution to them.  So I’ll not bother with the numbers, but I’ll see if I can get some of the skill names right, at least.  Hopefully.

During closed beta, I preferred using a Path of Grace build.  I’d looked at Salvation a lot, but found that Grace allowed me to get in and mix it a lot more than Salvation.  I’d choose my tank, stand next to him, and by using Divine Strike and Sigmar’s Radiance (with the tactic Grace of Sigmar slotted) it meant that I could do quite a bit of group healing to the melee contingent around me without having to retarget.  If you’re within 10 feet of me, you get healed for a small amount every time I swing that hammer.  Add Sigmar’s Shield (for the next few seconds, you’ll get healed every time you’re hit), and you get a lovely damage mitigator that will eat my Righteous Fury, but there’s nothing to worry about, as I’ll be getting it all back again soon enough.

Prayer of Devotion also rewards a group for getting stuck in there (20% of the time, you’ll get a heal just for smacking something.  See?  Sigmar loves you too), and Divine Assault is also a good heal, and the nearest I can find to (and I laugh) burst damage that a Warrior Priest can do, even if Path of Grace doesn’t enhance it.

All of these heals can add up, in time.  At the very least, they’re great damage mitigation, allowing my Rune Priest and Archmage comrades the opportunity to get some healing in and save all our souls from a distance.

But in order for me to do that, I need to be in combat, swinging the hammer.  Same goes for other Warrior Priests as well.  So whilst it might not *look* like we’re healing you, we most probably are.

Cheers,
Hawley.

What does it take to be a front line healer?

Wotcha everyone,

Warrior Priests.  God I love’em!

What feels like forever ago, I decided that Warrior Priests were for me.  They ticked all the boxes; they healed, they smacked things, they wore armour, and they looked like angry eggs in a human power-suit.  Many of you know how much I like Warrior Priests already, but hey, I need an introduction.

Now that we’re here, and the game is live?  Nothing has changed.

Every time I’m in combat, and I hear the words “Bugger!” and “Nadgers!”, not only does Sigmar smile, but I smile too.

I’ve said “Bugger!” in PvE, in open RvR, and in scenarios.  I have also been smiling my way through them.  Why?  Well, I’m really enjoying my Warrior Priest.  He’s a feisty little fellow, with a good range of skills (even at level 11, which is rare in an online game), that allows me to fight using differing styles, so each fight is as different as I want it to be.  It also means I can perform multiple roles, dependant on situation.

Not only that, but for the first time in PvP gaming, when I see one of my enemies charging towards me, I’m not immediately looking to run like a startled bunny towards my nearest ally.  I’m confident that I’ve been given the tools to really make a go of a one-on-one fight, and not only that, but I won’t be punished unduly for making the odd mistake.  I have emerged victorious from these fights due to good play, and knowing my class.  Through use of strategy and tactics, rather than by spamming my “I win” button as fast as possible, as much as possible.

This, more than anything else, makes me happy.  The developers haven’t made the Warrior Priest overpowered; they’ve made it viable.  To the same level as the other classes.  Hell, I have been charging stragglers, uncaring if I’m being followed by allies, I’m that confident.  Sometimes I do the happy Hawley dance, and sometimes I’m danced on.  Either way, I know it’s going to be a fun fight.

Group RvR is also a lot of fun.  Healing with a Warrior Priest is different to playing a healer in most other online games that I’ve played previously, and at the moment I’m thinking he’s a great “top-up” healer.  I don’t have big heals, I have a few Heal Over Time spells that will keep people out of harm’s way, as opposed to saving them when they’re at death’s door.  They can also be pretty short ranged, so the moral of the story is; Get in the front line, with your Warrior Priest!

Which brings me to the melee part.  Mmm.  I’m not a melee powerhouse.  Witch Hunters have nothing to fear in terms of damage output, and Iron Breakers and Swoooshmasters have nothing to fear from the amount of pain I can take.  But smacking people in the face with a hammer is wonderfully cathartic, and it’s most certainly not a case of melee only being useful for regaining Righteous Fury in a rush.  During beta I tended to concentrate on learning how to heal with a Warrior Priest, but with launch I am learning how to smack things at the same time as healing, and it’s fun.  Challenging for me, as I am at heart a slacker, but still fun.

So for me, the Warrior Priest has sailed out of Launch day having lost none of it’s fun factor.  Nice one, Devs.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Postcard from Praag. Wish you were here?

Wotcha everyone,

Burning Tower?  Check.  Open Space?  Check.  People fighting?  Check!

Burning Tower? Check. Open Space? Check. People fighting? Check!

For those who have not seen it previously, welcome to Martyr Square, in Praag.  It’s hard to get in one screenshot, but it’s about the largest single space in Praag, and is almost slap bang in the middle of the zone slap bang in the middle of Tier 4.  For all you lore/role-playing fans. not only is it a city in Kislev, but at times it felt like battling in a medieval Leningrad.  Cool.

I took this picture when it was “quiet”.  I could have taken it when there was about 300 people fighting hard, with bodies flying everywhere, but there will no doubt be plenty of those on the interwebnet soon enough.

No, I wanted to check out what it was like on a Sunday morning.  This Sunday happened to be just before the end of Closed Beta, and Order must have been busy little beavers overnight, because every Tier 4 zone clear to the Inevitable City had been locked for Order.

Now that was rare enough as it was.

But what surprised me was to discover that my sneaking suspicion was right; there were people fighting at Martyr’s Square.

Now, I’m not going to start shouting “Njubs!” in my best “leet speek” (that’s about all the “leet speek” I know.  “Njubs”, “leet” and “speek”.  Someone should shout “Get with the times, grand-dad!” at me.  In “leet speek”, of course) at them.  They’re PvPing, they’re having fun, and they’re ideally placed when the front makes it’s way back to Praag.  It has become *the* place to go if you can’t find RvR anywhere else.

Personally, I’d want to follow the front, be it attacking or defending where appropriate.  But I do think it’s entertaining that whilst the marketing men might be wrong that “War is everywhere!”, it’s comforting to know that it will always be at Martyr Square.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Whose breasts are they anyway?

There’s a certain advantage in being a female blogger. It means we can bring you this overview of the breasts in the WAR universe. So, here’s a screenshot of every female char’s breasts – clothed and unclothed (and rank 31, since we’re working with templates at the moment). There’s one from a rank 1 char in there, and I think I left out 1 set of high elf ‘naked’ breasts as the racial unclothed breasts all look pretty similar – showing clothes make all the difference.

Go on, see if you can tell which class each pic is from?

Many thanks to my husband who took all the screenshots while I was out at work and then with our visitors. He managed to capture this screenshot while working on the project – it made me laugh a lot, because the other player is clearly checking out the naked dark elf!

The Shallow Players’ Guide to Warhammer Classes

Order

Empire (Humans)

Witch Hunter: gets the coolest sounding abilities, and fab gear (arbitrary) Be the coolest kid on your street (hawley) Watch out, it’s the new romantics! (spinks)

Bright Wizard: got put off when I blew myself up at rank 2 (arbitrary) got put off when I read the list of spells, it’s all fire fire fire (spinks) Got put off by the ’70s glam rock gear (hawley)

Warrior Priest: like the baldness, like the hammer and robe stuff, but having too much fun hitting to heal (arbitrary) too much hassle to bounce around in melee in PvP and heal and try to use buffs too (spinks) Being righteously furious made me bald. If “angry” is your bag, (s)he’s in it (hawley)

High Elves

He IS more useful than you are!

Is he more useful than you are?

White Lion: elves run funny, didn’t last long, forgot I had a pet (arbitrary) The lion looks fantastic, but I got worried people would decide *it* was more useful than I was (hawley) The axe is pretty badass, but lions were meant to be kille^D^D^D^D free! (spinks)

Swordmaster: looks great, very.. stylish whirly technique – quite liked it (arbitrary) Very tempted, looks great (spinks) Loved the look of the swords and shield, but a bit too… tanky… for me (hawley)

Shadow Warrior: pew-pew ninja, very stylish and mask hides the elfy face (arbitrary) Looks great again, but didn’t grab me (spinks) One I’ll probably “explore” at release, but for now I’m just giggling at the hippy-ninjas (hawley)

Archmage: prettiness in a light-show, preferred it to shaman actually, but elves run funny (arbitrary) Best class in the game! heals! nukes! twirls staff! good robe! (spinks) They run funny because they wear slippers. Slippers! Are all probably evil, with their healy-nukey slipper-wearing ways! (hawley)

Dwarfs

Ironbreaker: What’s not to love about a cute girl dwarf with an axe as big as she is. I have this great weakness for tanking big monsters with teeny characters too (spinks) love ’em, just don’t want to be one! (arbitrary) Best thing to follow and heal (hawley)

Rune Priest: the whole package in a rune-y dress (arbitrary) Solid healer type, didn’t like the hat though. The runes look great. (spinks) Great to hang around with, when feeling furiously righteous (hawley)

Engineer: bang, splat, powiee – nothing like batman (arbitrary) We need bigger guns! (spinks) Most fun you can have with your trousers still on (hawley)

Destruction

Greenskins

Shaman: spent far too long doing /special and /cheer, maybe I should have been healing? (arbitrary) Role-playing opportunities abound. Hard to know where the “clothes” stop, and the shaman begins (hawley) It isn’t easy being green. (spinks)

Squig Herder: Spent too long being eaten by squig (arbitrary) Squigs look fantastic. Like vicious space hoppers (hawley) Loved the squigs, not so big on gobbos (spinks)

Black Orc: huuuuuuge biceps dude, bit of a grunter (arbitrary) Be the “straight man” of the greenskin races. Still impressively wide (hawley) He really looks the part (spinks)

Chaos

Zealot: Kind of sexy in a hunched over way, love the skull, preferred RP (arbitrary) You’re never alone with a skull. Class most likely to tempt me to the dark side(hawley) She’s one of those creepy goths who tells really good horror stories. (spinks)

Magus: omg, I love the disk! I kept making her jump around so that I could see the animation where she landed back on the disk and rebalanced herself. The rest seemed cool too but … it’s all about the disk. I can’t get excited about a demon called a pink horror — maybe I’ll make a spore creature that looks like it though (Spinks) disk, disk, disk, disk – didn’t try any skills, floated a lot (arbitrary) Really fun to chase after (hawley)

Chosen: see a lot of them, was a bit.. male for me (arbitrary) too many of these around already (spinks) The armour looks amazing, but is a bit too kerrazily baroque for my liking (hawley)

Marauder: if I was going to be a chaos-boy, I’d be a marauder, it’s like playing dolls with exchangeable arms (arbitrary) Must get a free “Target Hawley” button. Died to these boys *a lot* (hawley) Arrrgh, naughty tentacles! (spinks)

Dark Elves

Witch Elf, wearing first grey drop

Witch Elf, wearing first grey drop

Witch Elf: it was awesome, the first grey drop I got was EVEN SKIMPIER than her starting gear. She still has more clothes on than Gisele in this months Arena though… (spinks) Slut! hrrm, where did that witch hunter go again? (arbitrary) Surprisingly distracting in combat. Change video details to “low” when fighting them (hawley)

Sorceress: spell list sounded cool but her skirt just hangs wrong. didn’t like the look (spinks) she looked bored at me, I got annoyed, elves and me just don’t connect (arbitrary) Squishy (hawley)

Disciple of Khaine: I like the look, but she’s under-fed – seriously! no wonder she looks so mad (arbitrary) dual wield, yay! (spinks) Second most likely to tempt me to the dark side. The gear looks amazing, and you won’t catch cold in a breeze (see Witch Elf wardrobe) (hawley)

Addendum: Classes your parents would like

  • White Lion – who doesn’t love a pet cat?
  • Black Orc – he has a plan, and parents always ask what you plan to do with your life
  • Witch Elf – Your dad will play one when your mum’s out. Your mum will play one when your dad’s out
  • Warrior Priest – They’ll bond with the Righteous Fury mechanic on an instinctive level

For Sigmar! For the Empire!

Wotcha everyone,

I have a sneaking suspicion that when Mythic first started to put the Warrior Priest together, they circulated a mugshot of my ugly face, and told everyone; “Make the class for this guy”.

Because they did.

I’ve always liked healers. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve played a lot of characters over many different games. But there’s something about playing a healer that calls to me. I think it’s because my first ever MMO character – an Everquest Shaman – showed me the joys of playing a class that could not only heal itself, but could heal others too. Knowing I could influence other people’s gaming through heals and buffs somehow made it *more* online, *more* massively, than a dps role, or a tank role. It meant I could influence other players, and therefore the world.

So here we are at Warhammer Online. I’ve more or less grown up with Warhammer, in one form or another. I remember during one boring chemistry lesson (sorry, Mr Judson) a mate first telling me all about Warhammer. I played the battle-game, and I was there when the role-playing game was released, as well as the science fiction version. I’ve also played the pc games, so coming to the MMO seems like a natural progression.

I decided to check out what classes were available. After all, what can one do when the game hasn’t even started taking applications for the Closed Beta? I needed a fix… So, here I am checking out classes. And of course, the first thing I do is check out the healers. Order or Destruction didn’t matter – that choice would most probably revolve around whom I would be playing with – so I checked them all.

My criteria were simple.

1) Must look cool.
2) Must be able to heal.
3) Forget “cool” – must look *really* cool.

And I found the Warrior Priest. A dangerous looking bald guy with heavy armour and a big stick.

Okay, the armour isn’t going to be as heavy as the Chosen’s plate, and the big stick won’t do as much damage as the Witch Hunter’s blade, and anyone can be bald. But I’m not playing the numbers, I’m following the cool looking avatar around the world, and if I don’t think he looks good, I won’t follow him for long.

Then there’s the mechanic. “Righteous Fury”. Even the name sounds cool. I build up Righteous Fury slowly between fights, in a walking ball of rage sort of way. And in combat, I build it up at speed by whacking my enemies, well, Righteously, with my big stick. I then use the Righteous Fury to heal my comrades.

So, for the first time in a long time (since my very short and disappointing time as a Cleric in Everquest 2), I get to play an honest-to-goodness front line healer. Even Lord of the RIngs Online didn’t let me do that with a Minstrel, and World of Warcraft seemed to have convinced the world that healers should wear tissue-paper based “armour”, stand at the back and shut up.

But would my rather brutal looking walking ball of rage stand up in combat?

Thanks to the Closed Beta, I got to find out. And I found out that he did. He did! My joy was released upon the world! I started kissing babies, I helped little old ladies across the road, I danced through fields of lavendar hand in hand with my bald-headed avatar… Ok, might be going a bit too far, there. But I was happy to note that I could go toe-to-toe in the front lines, and not go the way of the dodo inside ten seconds. I could last minutes. Which, in a PvP fight, is like saying “forever”. And whilst I was fighting, I was healing. How cool is that!

There are, however, a number of important caveats.

I had to learn how to play a Warrior Priest. Which I found refreshing. You don’t get a big direct heal to get you out of trouble. You get a big heal over time, and a few other “support” heals. They’re all small, and they’re there to supplement your heal over time, not replace it.

You will not be a healing powerhouse. At least, not at first. You can’t sit at the back and heal without a bit of practice. And knowing how to use your heals to their best effect will take time and effort to find out exactly what they do, and how they do it.

You will not be a damage powerhouse. That big stick looks scary, and the animations tend to be at just the right height to show your hammer smacking some misbegotten heretic in the face (in a remarkably satisfying way). But you’re like a tank, with none of the aggro-generation/survival skills. Your melee capabilities are mainly there to get you all Righteously Furious, not to turn the tide of a battle with your ‘leet dps’.

You are not a one-man army. You will still fold like a cheap suit when there’s a small gang of Destruction-based nastiness all over you. If you go toe-to-toe with someone, the fight will last a loooooong time. And against another healer, it could end up being more of a career than a fight.

Having said all that, I can’t think of a healer I’ve enjoyed this much for ages. I’m not even saying I’m any good at playing one, here. But I love the way that the melee capabilities mean I’m not easy meat for prowling dps, and the healing means I can play a role I really enjoy. At the same time, I get the fun of figuring out how best to play the class, without it feeling like I’ve just changed skins from my last online healer class.

Cheers,
Hawley.