Book 12: The Ashen Wastes: Week of the Champion
Book 12: The Ashen Wastes, the upcoming free expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, will make major changes and add new powers to the Guardian and the Burglar classes. But Guardians and Burglars aren't the only classes that will be getting a little love and attention, as Book 12 will also see smaller scale changes for the Champion as well.
Although the Champion was one of the first classes to undergo the "Month of" design process shortly after LOTRO's launch, we didn't yet have the wealth of feedback we've since received. In Book 12, we're taking the opportunity to address some of the issues that have been voiced since LOTRO went live. Since this is the second time we're looking at Champions, the update won't be as involved as the full-on "Month of" updates that Guardians and Burglars are receiving, but we hope to address most of the issues brought up by the Champion community as well as giving them the tools necessary to fulfill their class roles in LOTRO.
Currently, Fervour is the only choice of stance for most levels. The Book 12 Champion update will include a new stance, available at low levels. It won't be as all-out offensive as Fervour, but it will include in-combat power regeneration as well as allowing the Champion to Block, Parry and Evade, though at some penalty. In addition to the new stance, Glory is going to get a small boost in effectiveness and will be available at mid-levels.
These two changes should give Champions a good choice of trade-offs in their stance selection between offense and defense.
Fervour is the base Champion stance and is the basis for all Champion balancing. There are no changes to Fervour in this update.
Ardour is intended to fill the gap in the Champion's stances. The high cost of Champion skills, in power and pips, really limits their ability to function without being in some kind of stance. Fervour comes with severe penalties to the Champion's defense, however, and Glory is only available at higher levels. For most of the level range, Champions that needed some defense but still wanted to be effective with skills were out of luck
Ardour is a new Toggle skill exclusive from Fervour and Glory. It's gained at level 10, granting power regeneration and fervor pip generation at a rate somewhat less than Fervour but more than Glory (but with no inherent damage bonus). Parry and Evade defensive skills receive a percentage based penalty rather than being de-activated as with the Fervour Stance. The Block skill is unaffected. The Ardour stance will also convert the Flurry skill into Ardent Flurry.
Ardent Flurry -This skill has the same effects as Flurry, but is activated only on a monster defeat event and lasts until the current combat ends. Switching out of Ardour stance converts the Ardent Flurry buff to normal Flurry.
Glory is getting a few tweaks to make it a more effective defensive stance for the Champion. It's been perceived to be too penalizing a stance for Champions, and also comes very late in the level progression -- far after the Champion is called upon for tanking duties.
Glory is now available at level 30 instead of 46. A Champion in the Glory Stance will generate Fervour pips over time, though not as fast as in the Fervour or Ardour stances. The threat modifier has been increased and the damage penalty has been decreased to help the Champion hold the attention of enemies, but his power regeneration will be somewhat reduced to help offset these changes. The Glory stance will also convert the Exchange of Blows skill into Glorious Exchange.
Glorious Exchange - This skill has the same effects as Exchange of Blows, but is activated only on a monster defeat event and lasts until out of combat. Switching out of Glory stance converts Glorious Exchange into the normal Exchange of Blows.
An almost universal complaint from Champions is that their Legendary skills aren't all that, well, legendary, and we agree. As a result, most of the Champion's Legendary skills are getting an upgrade
Second Wind - This new skill is granted at level 14. It can only be used after an enemy is defeated and will restore some of the Champion's Power. Second Wind is intended to cover any shortfalls in power regeneration for Champions that are utilizing Ardour or Glory.
Melee Critical Passive Traits - Champions will now be able to train Tier 3 at Level 35 and Tier 4 at Level 46. The masters of straight up melee combat no longer receive fewer passive melee traits than Lore-masters.
Legendary Skills Upgrades
Fight On retains all of its previous functionality as an area of effect power drain, and is a skill best used when the Champion needs to end a fight NOW. The Champion will receive a substantial short-term damage bonus, but when the damage bonus expires he'll be exhausted, with a substantial penalty to power regeneration until the current fight ends.
Raging Blade adds an additional attack with all the damage numbers tweaked to give around a 15% increase in total damage. In addition, the Winds of the Storm trait will increase Raging Blade's maximum targets to 10.
The damage numbers for Ferocious strike have been increased to give around a 5% increase in total damage. Ferocious Strikes from dual-wielding Champions will see a substantial increase in damage to make it comparable to damage from a 2-handed weapon using Champion.
Other Fixes and Upgrades
Many other Champion skills have been changed to make them more convenient to use, or just been given a boost in power to make them more attractive choices to add to your hot bar. A few highlights are making Sudden Defense easier to activate when in Fervour stance, giving Hedge the ability to remove Disarm effects, and an upgrade to the old Shoot skill to make it more effective than just auto-attacking at range.
Sudden Defense and Eldar's Grace
Both of these skills have been upgraded in usability for Champions. There are no changes to the skills themselves, but they can now be activated while in the Fervour or Ardour stances. Sudden Defense and Eldar's Grace will suppress the defensive skill penalties of these stances for the duration of the effects; then, when the effects expire, the full effects of Fervour or Ardour will return.
A side effect of this change prevents Sudden Defense from stacking with Eldar's Grace. If both of these effects are activated, only Eldar's Grace will be in effect. After it wears off, Sudden Defense will apply for the rest of its duration.
The de-taunt effects of Hedge have never worked to our satisfaction. We've decided to completely change this skill to address another issue raised by Champions, their vulnerability to Disarm. Hedge will no longer reduce the Champion's threat but will instead remove the effects of being disarmed and grant a Wound Resistance buff. The Champion will also be unaffected by disarm while the buff is in effect. Hedge's power cost and cooldown has been increased.
There are too many cases where the Ire skills are seen to be ineffective, so we've increased the amount of threat these skills transfer and modified their costs. These skills transfer a percentage of accumulated threat; the later in combat they're used, the more threat is transferred.
Ebbing Ire now transfers significantly more threat than previously. Its power cost has been increased and its Fervour pip cost has increased to 4.
Rising Ire now transfers a moderately increased amount of threat. Its power cost has been increased, but its Fervour Pip cost has been reduced to 2.
Shoot is a remnant from the time when there were no ranged auto-attacks. Champions still have this skill, but in its current state it serves little purpose. Shoot has been renamed to "Let Fly" and given a damage bonus and a slightly increased range. (This will affect Guardians and Hunters as well.)
Clobber is used as a reaction skill to interrupt an enemy's induction skills, but its long animation time was interfering with this purpose. Clobber has been given a faster animation for faster response time.
Sprint will now override all other effects that attempt to change the Champion's movement speed. Effects that prevent any movement at all are not affected. While we would like to think Sprint is used by Champions to heroically charge into battle, we know that in practice it is largely used when fleeing from overwhelming odds. This change will make Sprint more effective in escaping fights by negating Hounding Fear and other snares.
This skill drained a significant amount of power from the Champion, while in return the Champion's fellowship only gained a limited amount of power -- in many cases, not enough to even use a skill. The power cost for Heroics has been reduced and the amount of Power granted to the Champion's fellowship has been substantially increased.