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.

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.

Book Reviews: Heldenhammer & Grudge Bearer

These reviews mark our first forays into the Black Library, novels based in the Warhammer universe. We hope to read quite a few to help us, and perhaps others, get a taste of the rich world the game draws lore from.

Heldenhammer by Graham McNeill

At the heart of the Old World lie the lands of men, ruled over by bickering tribal chieftains.

Set in the time of legends, hundreds of years before the Age of Reckoning, this is the story of Sigmar Heldenhammer, young chieftain of the Unberogen tribe. We follow the epic tale of how he fulfils his vision to unite the warring tribes of his homeland into a single empire. Yes, this is the same Sigmar who is currently worshipped as a god by the men and women of the Empire.

As well as uniting the disparate tribes by means involving diplomacy, wild sex (yes really), and monster slaying, he finds time to pick up a magic hammer from the dwarf king, acquire and lose a love interest, exchange smalltalk with his shield brother, and deal with a traitor who was once a trusted friend. Finally, in order to repel a massive greenskin assault, Sigmar must call on the sword-oaths which the other tribal leaders have sworn to him and lead the men of the Empire to fight alongside the stalwart dwarf army at the Battle of Black Fire Pass.

With all these epic adventurings, there isn’t a lot of time for character development so don’t expect anything deep here. The battle scenes are exciting and well described, and the atmosphere of the savage warring human tribes is convincing. If you’re interested in the history of the Empire and their alliance with the Dwarfs, it’s not a bad way to pass a few hours.

Grudge Bearer by Gav Thorpe

This gold Barundin had dubbed dammazgromthi-umigugalaz, which meant gold that he found particularly pleasing and beautiful because it was from the man grudge

My first foray into Warhammer literature was the book Grudge Bearer by Gav Thorpe, published in 2005. Obviously, from the title, it’s a dwarf-centric book and deals with the life and grudges of King Barundin of Zhufbar as he goes from grudge to grudge, settling each in turn as dwarf life and lore dictates so he can finally seek vengeance over his father’s betrayal.

It’s better written than I thought a game-related book would be, and it definitely gave me a ton of insight into dwarf society and got me quite excited by it all. I loved that the book was divided into grudges, and I felt that it was a great book to start with for some hearty dwarf-lore and setting. From the connection between dwarfs and gold to the strict order of carrying out grudges, and the importance of both the Engineers’ Guild and beer, I learned a lot.

Ironbreakers, Hammerers, Skaven, Greenskins and the Empire all made appearances and there was a particularly icky battle scene between Dwarfs and Skaven inside an old Dwarf mine which definitely gave a sense of what’s to come in WAR. So I’d say a damn good place to start if you fancy playing a Dwarf and want a short, easy-to-read intro into the setting.