Warhammer Online Order Class Capabilities Simplified Guide

Having decided to do a bit of shopping from my Archmage last night, I came under an interesting realization that the balance in Warhammer online is even simpler to grok than I previously thought  This is good for altaholics like myself as it causes a marked reduction in time spent spinning my wheels.  I thought I’d share the spoils.

By abilities alone…

By rank 40 (maximum) everybody has about 20 activatable “core” and “mastery” abilities. Most of what is on your advancement list will be not directly activatable abilities but rather “morale” powerful emergency moves or “tactics” which one can mix and match for various potency adjustments. Compared to a game like EverQuest 2 (which gives 1 a level for 70 or so levels – most of them replacements of earlier versions) this is very small number of activatable abilities. Further, many of these abilities are shared cross-class. This is why it’s actually quite easy to break down the varying class roles in Warhammer Online.

(Fortunately, the game is still quite satisfying, proving that if you’re a good and experienced game developer – as MythicEA certainly is – less can be more.)

Beyond abilities…

That said, I’ve a chart I think everybody should see that shows it’s not just abilities, but the overall offense and defense of the classes, which are streamlined down to the important bits.

Class Role Defenses Offenses
Rune Priest MHeal 25 + Heal 13 (Me) + ? (Ra)
Iron Breaker OTank 75 + SH 9 (1H) 13 (2H)
Engineer DEF-DPS 25 + Pet 9 (Ra) 9 (Me) + Pet
Witch Hunter MDPS 25 9 (Ra) 9 (Me) + Conviction
Warrior Priest SHeal 50 + Heal 9 (Me)
Bright Wizard LDPS 25 13 (Ra) + Burn
Swordmaster DTank 75 + SH 9 (1H) 13 (2H)
Shadow warrior ASSLT-DPS 25 + 2XStnc 9 (Ra) 9 (Me) + Veng
White Lion SDPS 50 + Pet 13 (Me) + Pet
Archmage LHeal 25 + Heal 13 (Ra)

This is not an all-inclusive table because the goal of it is to simplify rather than complicate.  A breakdown of the columns follows:

Class is self-evident, the actual name of the class.

Role refers to the specific niche of the class, but also much more.  This actually is pretty organized and shows some unique insight into the design.

  • “Heal” classes will get about the same heal abilities, often even sharing the same name, which heal over time, directly, a whole team, remove adverse effects, ect.  However, each also get a battery of attacks: SHeal has short ranged attacks, LHeal has longer ranged attacks, and MHeal will have a mixture of long and short ranged attacks.Compared to the other classes I’ve looked at, Healers are remarkably narrowly focused. They pretty much heal and attack with very little falling outside that. (Everybody gets buff/debuffs.) This is possibility to facilitate the difficulty involved with keeping your team healed – who has time for anything else?
  • “DPS” classes, in contrast, will typically get a number of roots, snares, and team action point restoration facilities in addition to the large battery of attacks you’d expect of a DPS class.  DPS classes don’t just have high damage themselves, they typically possess abilities to boost the whole team’s rate of action, which ultimately boosts everybody’s ability to act.  SDPS attacks are predominantly short ranged, LDPS attacks are predominantly long ranged, and MDPS have a good mixture.It should be noted that Engineers are focused on protecting an area (DEF-DPS) while Shadow Warriors are better built to harass and defeat single targets (ASSLT-DPS). Thus, the more “pure” MDPS is the White Lion, “pure” LDPS is Bright Wizard, and possibly “pure” SDPS is the Witch Hunter.
  • Order currently has but two “Tank” classes.  They differ most in that the Swordmaster leans on rigid combos in exchange for greater power while the IronBreaker leans on building “grudge” to make enemies regret ignoring what they protect.An interesting thing about Tanks in Warhammer Online is that they are battle flow control masters.  This lends them even a wider focus of abilities than many DPS classes, as Tanks not only possess powerful control abilities of their own (such powerful snares and mutual roots) but also a battery of damage redirecting abilities that manipulate the damage being done in battle in often quite unexpected ways.

Defenses begins with a simple number taken from the actual armor values found on the first merchants in the game.  It’s a good base to start but (as I said) this chart is not all inclusive.  Supplementing this are additional abilities I may have noticed helped defense for this class.

  • “Heal” indicates this class has the ability to heal, restoring allies hitpoints but also enhancing the healer’s own tenacity markedly.
  • “SH” refers to shield, which adds a substantial amount to the block statistic, which is a chance to block all attacks.  This gives the Tanks a defense markedly higher than their already substantial base armor values, but only if they choose to use a shield.
  • “Pet” refers to a pet, which (defensively) can be used to distract aggression.  Though this is primarily useful in PvE, Warhammer Online mechanics are built in such a way as to make players regret ignoring the pet in PvP.
  • “2XStnc” refers to the unique stance ability of the Shadow Warrior that allows them to double their armor, usually used for melee engagement.

Defensively, healers and DPS specialists generally avoid being hit while doing their specialty, while Tanks seek to engage foes in melee combat where they will usually have an upper hand.  There are few interesting hybrids, though:

The Warrior Priest has armor only a step below the tanks while retaining the ability to heal, but relying on him as a tank is still sketchy because he lacks reliable means to hold aggression or take highly concentrated damage. The White Lion is remarkably durable thanks to the same armor protection and the addition of a pet. (That pet can currently taunt better than even a Tank can, though obviously it would not be as durable.) Finally, the Shadow Warrior’s assault stance gives him a little (but not much) more staying power in close-quarters combat than you’d expect of a predominantly longer ranged fighter.

Offenses begins with a simple number taken from the actual weapon DPS values found on the first merchants in the game.   A key follows for the rest.

  • (Me) stands for melee range only.  Classes with only (me) often have predominantly only melee attack abilities.
  • (Ra) stands for range damage only.  Classes with only (ra) often have predominantly only ranged attack abilities.
  • Those with both (me) and (ra) are mostly ranged with a few melee attacks. I added a + ?(Ra) to the Rune Mage because I know it has ranged capacity in his abilities, just not actual ranged weapons.
  • (1H) is specific for tanks, standing for if they choose to use a one-handed weapon (with a shield), while (2H) is if they operate without a shield.   It almost goes without saying that Tanks are predominantly melee.
  • “Pet” refers to the same thing offensively as it did defensively – the pet boosts both offensive and defensive aspects of this class.
  • “Conviction” is the Witch Hunter’s special ability to build up “Accusations” on a target, enhancing their offense in many ways.
  • “Burn” refers to the Bright Wizard’s boosted offense that often comes at price of their own defense and health.
  • “Veng” is short for the Shadow Warriors’ “Vengeance of Nagarythe” ability, which boosts damage even further (stacks with the unshakable focus), lasts longer, and often brings about additional secondary effects to the Shadow Warriors’ attacks.

Offensively, all combatants will likely seek an optimal range and fight from there.

Generally speaking, melee damage will be higher than ranged damage, and consequently Tanks will dominate the front lines. The exception would be the short ranged DPS classes such as the Witch Hunter and the White Lion. The White Lion’s damage (like any short ranged DPS specialist) is exceptional. However, the Witch Hunter sheds the White Lion’s protection, so I assume one has the highest single-target focused DPS in the game (tied with the Witch Elf) because Witch Hunters essentially fight with about the least defense at close quarters.

Most other combatants will simply attempt to avoid melee range, or rely on screening to prevent being there from being fatal. The Bright Wizard carves out a considerable niche in being an all-around good damage dealer, thanks in part to his area-of-effect specialty. However, the Engineers and Shadow Warriors have their own niches: the Engineer’s pet and various abilities serve to exterminate enemies who invade his territory, while the Shadow Warrior excels at harassing the enemy in their territory.

A cure for altaholicism…

To be fair, not all aspects of altaholicism are counterproductive. In shopping around for a better class, I think I’ve created a article that can help one foster a better understanding of the balance of the classes in a game. One need only read close enough to find interesting insights here about the simple sophistication of Warhammer Online’s class system. This is good not only for choosing and playing your own role, but also in understanding the roles of those around you.

However, most people would probably be better off not following my example, as it is a path that means largely abandoning your progress and following behind your compatriots, leaving the higher tier battlefields lessened by your absence. By all means, avoid that, just choose a role and have fun.

Ultimately, there is no best choice: all roles are equally important, and their absence will inevitably create a void for the altaholic. As an Archmage, I find myself dissatisfied when me or injured party members receive insufficient protection for me to heal. As a Swordmaster, I find myself dissatisfied with a lack of healing, preventing me from protecting others. As a Shadow Warrior, I find myself dissatisfied with either insufficient protection or insufficient healing, the lack of sufficient quantities of either leads to an inability to continue the vital work of defeating the enemy.

Consequently, what class you play does not change the fundamental fact: Only by accepting (or ignoring) the limitations of your class, and your allies’ inability to play theirs as well as you might think you can, would you be able to find complete satisfaction in your role. What the altaholic should probably do is simply choose a class that’s fun to play – not because of what it does but simply in terms of game enjoyment yield – and stick with it.

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