LotRO Raids Aren’t Easy
Posted by Corelin
Ok so last time I talked about how Turbine had decided to trash raiding because there aren’t any raiders to do them. In itself that probably isn’t completely false. It does ignore that the reason for these raiders being so rare is that the raids are dated, buggy and generally poor in quality.
There’s even another layer to this. Making raids for LotRO isn’t easy. I’m going to give a brief overview of the classes, starting with the tanks, then the DPS, then the healers, then the troublemakers.
There’s two classes that are primarily tanks:
- Guardians – Traditional Heavy Armor tanks. High morale, high mitigations, lots of taunts.
- Wardens – Medium Armor tanks. Over the course of a fight they build up very high mitigations, and have a bewildering array of self-buffs, self-heals, and shenanigans that make them easily capable of soloing three-man content.
Primary DPS Classes:
- Champions – Melee blenders. Heavy armor. Great close range area of effect, and very good single-target damage. Ok mitigation.
- Hunters – Nukers par excellence. Orlando Bloom would be jealous. Serious heavy sustained damage in multiple flavors.
Primary Healing Classes:
- Minstrel – Medium Armor, lots of buffs, lots of heals, some bubbles.
The rest of the classes are troublemakers. In other words 4 of the 9 classes make a challenge for the traditional paradigm of tank-dps-heals. Let’s look at why.
- Captain – My current main. One class can fill three roles. Tanking? Decent. Heals? Decent. DPS? Decent. Most importantly it adds heavy buffs to the list. Every raid will have a captain. They add a solid character in any role, even if they are a bit behind the top rate at any position. Their buffs take other classes into the stratosphere and make them a requirement. They also mean that balancing requires you to take into account that a well played captain is going to break metrics. A raid set for a group without a captain will get crushed by a raid with a captain. A raid set for a captain would be impossible without one.
- Burglars – A really good DPS class to begin with. They add debuffing, and crowd control. WoW Rogues drool with envy. This class can cripple enemies and deal with dangerous adds with contemptuous ease. A well played Burglar is nearly indispensable in some fights. While not as raid-breaking as a Captain, they add another flavor to balancing that certainly makes things rougher.
- Lore-Master – Not your daddies cloth caster. A 2nd tier DPS choice, that adds debuffing, healing and ridiculous crowd-control. Oh and Power (mana) regeneration. For everyone. They also add pets to the party. This class is simply a requirement. It’s easy to game for something everyone is going to bring, but still the kind of power a good Lore-Master includes means that raids are going to have a pretty hefty difficulty. A good LM can keep everyone fed with power in a 12 man raid. Imagine running a 10 man dungeon in WoW without ever worrying about mana.
- Rune-Keepers – This one is challenging for everyone. A very good RK can jump between damage and healing mid-fight and provide high quality (not quite top tier) performance at both roles. A merely good RK can provide elite levels of either DPS or Heals with nearly contemptuous ease. The ability for really good players to swap roles mid-fight makes this class difficult to deal with when tuning different phases. DPS races and healer intensive phases just mean the good players are swapping back and forth. This class is again not as game-breaking as the cappy, BUT that the presence of them, especially multiples of them, can potentially make any challenge phase much less of a challenge.
These four classes make raid design an incredible challenge. WoW and most of its clones have traditionally dealt with this by simplifying their class structure. Turbine has not followed this route. They have kept the classes diverse, with controllers, buffers, debuffers, and the traditional trinity.
None of this excuses the buggy messes. The poorly thought out mechanics, and the severe gating of radiance had nothing to do with the problems of class balance. While Turbine has its work cut out for it in developing raids, they cannot blame that for the problems that have traditionally plagued them. The simple fact is they don’t have the wherewithal to develop raids that are current, that work, and that are interesting in the modern MMO paradigm.
Turbine has a fiscal issue. They have to prioritize their spending and that’s fine. They need to recognize that by saying “You guys don’t play raids so we won’t make raids” to an educated audience burns bridges. The raiders left in the game keep waiting for Turbine to support them. Now Turbine is blaming them. Sure they don’t make up a large part of the game, but they make up a far larger part of the community. Turbine is stabbing them in the back and you would think someone as savvy as Sapience would know better.