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BioWare Mythic
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 09/18/08)  | Pub:Electronic Arts
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Warhammer Online - High Elf Swordmaster Class Overview

Our Warhammer Class Overview series continues this week as MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood speaks with WAR Combat and Careers Strike Team Lead about the High Elf Swordmaster class.

Have you ever wished that you could play a character who was so good with the sword that you could walk toward a curtain of arrows with nothing but the cold steel in his hands to deflect the incoming onslaught? Well, now you can with the High Elf Swordmaster of Hoeth in Warhammer Online.

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Late last week, I had a quick opportunity to sit down to talk with Adam Gershowitz, the Combat and Careers Strike Team Load over at EA Mythic about this class in our continuing Class Overview series.

The Swordmaster of Hoeth (name generally shortened just to Swordmaster) is a formidable opponent. Master of the blade, she has the ability to cut her foes down not only with the cold steel in her hands, but also through the mysteries of magic.

The Swordmaster fits into the tank archetype. As a character that is generally better at defence than offence, she is the High Elf contribution to Order's line-up of tanks. The Dwarves contribute the sturdy Ironbreaker while the Humans of the Empire contribute the Knight of the Blazing Sun.

So, what makes the Swordmaster so special?

Wanting to know the answer to that question myself, I asked Adam to tell us a little bit about the background of the Swordmaster of Hoeth, starting by telling us about this Hoeth place. It turns out that their name comes from a place called "The White Tower of Hoeth". The tower is a place of learning and a haven for knowledge. Swordmasters go to this place to study and to serve as the organization's martial arm.

For the Swordmaster, it's all about prowess with the blade (preferably a two handed sword). Their motto: "Enlightenment through martial prowess".

While that does give us a little bit of background on the lore behind the class, I asked Adam what else the Swordmaster had to offer.

It turns out that the Swordmaster is not only able to do some serious damage with a sword, but he can also "manipulate the winds of magic" to bolster himself and his allies in combat. He has the ability, for example, to improve his offensive prowess. For example, he can convert some of his attacks into magical attacks that ignore the opposition's armor. He also has special "blade enhancements" that allow him to attack effectively against certain resistance types and give him special abilities. Nature's Blade, for example, will allow the Swordmaster to steal a statistic from an opponent (a core stat like strength, weapons skill, etc.).

Then there's the fact that the Swordmaster can summon magic from the world in order to help them to absorb damage or bolster their allies.

We've talked a little bit now about what exactly the Swordmaster is capable of doing, and where they come from, but we should also talk for a second about the game mechanic behind them. In short, how do their powers work?

The Swordmaster has the ability to attack using their sword dance. The sword dance is a custom combo chain that consists of three tiers of attack. The first tier attacks can be used at any time and serve not only as attacks, but to improve the character's balance (more balance = stronger and cooler attacks). Once enough balance had been attained, tier two attacks can be used until finally their third tier attacks become available. It's a fairly simple mechanic to understand, but drives the Swordmaster character to keep fighting and implies that the class is at its most deadly when attacking fluidly from one move to another.

As people who are familiar with the mechanics of Warhammer Online will already know, each class has access to three different mastery paths. Mastery paths provide players with the opportunity to further customize their characters toward their own playstyles. As a player advances, he / she can improve their mastery path which will in turn give bonuses to abilities from within that path.

The Swrodmaster's mastery paths are as follows:

  • Path of Vaul - Includes combos that draw aggro and also increase your defence. This path also makes a swordmaster more effective and durable against multiple opponents.
  • Path of Khaine - This path is for the more aggressive tanker, making use of area attack combos and other damaging attacks.
  • Path of Hoeth - This is the more magic-oriented path, helping the swordmaster to be a more traditional tanker through magical effects that support shielding or damaging.

So, how does this stack up against the other tanks on Order that we mentioned earlier?

Let's put them and their basic functions next to one another:

  • The Dwarf Ironbreaker is a physical tanking dynamo, as you might expect from one of the stout folk.
  • The Empire Knight of the Blazing Sun has average physical defences and average magical support.
  • The High Elf Swordmaster of Hoeth has lower physical defences but has stronger magical defences.

As you can see, if you are a tank-style players, you should have a number of interesting choices when playing Warhammer Online.

So, we know how the Swordmaster stacks up against classes on his own side, but what about Destruction? What class or classes parallel the mechanics of the Swordmaster?

It turns out that there are two classes that make use of mechanics similar to the Swordmaster:

The first is the Black Orc. Black Orcs use a combo system that is quite similar to the Swordmaster's dance. In short, they're very good at stringing attacks together to great effect.

The other parallel for Destruction come in the form on Chaos' Chosen. As the magic tanks for the Destruction side, their magical attacks work in much the same way as their Swordmaster counterparts.

I hope that this served as an interesting introduction to and overview of the High Elf Swordmaster class, and we look forward to bringing you more information on more classes as WAR marches closer and closer to launch.

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