Second Class Citizen - Part One
Runes of Magic correspondent Robert Sollazzo takes a look at secondary classes in Runes of Magic, detailing class combinations that work and some that don't.
By now you've heard all about it and it's definitely one the most notable feature in Runes of Magic. For those of you who missed the beta boat, you've got a tough decision ahead of you: Choosing your character's primary and secondary classes. If you don't already know the particulars of the classes, just fall back on every other MMO you've ever played, or simply hit the RoM website here for the details. For those of you who already know the difference between a Priest and Knight, this article is less about the classes themselves and more how they work together, specifically some theory behind choosing your second class at level ten.
Before we get started, it's important to note that once you make this decision, only an act of God or convenient cash shop item can undo it. Don't be afraid to take a moment, because your choice can make all the difference between rolling a good character versus a great one; and some of the choices aren't as hot as they would first appear... Such as the Rogue/Warrior combo. Yeah, we'll get back to that one. So who's first on the list?
The Priest. This class as a Primary needs no introduction. Traditionally the most sought after, least played class among MMOs, the Priest is usually relegated to a support role that makes it quite unattractive to those looking to do something more than fill HP bars for hours on end. Here in Runes of Magic, however, the Priest is solid gold. It is hands down the most useful secondary class in that game. Why?
What part of the word "Priest" don't you understand?
It's with a priest secondary that the dual class system really shines since it does two very important things for not only the player, but the game itself. First, it allows you to solo without support. Whether it be grinding or PvP, any class with a Priest secondary can heal damage independently and provide spot heal support for allies in need. The implications there should be obvious. Tanks can continue to operate in higher threat environments. DPS can engage in far more aggressive tactics. Imagine your horror when you find out that Rogue you just beat within an inch of his life suddenly pops back to full health. Yeah, it's like that. Second, and more importantly, it popularizes the class. With the above traits, it becomes a very desirable secondary, which in turn means unlike other games where you can "LF1M heals LBRS g2g" for hours on end, you're almost always guaranteed a party member with heals and that person can simply pay a visit to their house, swap classes and roll out. That alone is huge and there isn't a single class that doesn't benefit from having it as a secondary. Sure, you'll take a hit in terms of DPS when compared to, say, a DPS/DPS combination, but the flexibility you gain is generally worth the trade off.
Lastly, this class alone changes how Runes of Magic plays. Particularly, it's probably the single biggest reason that instances are rated much harder than their MMO contemporaries. When anybody, any class can dish out heals and still run as a DPS or tank, things absolutely have to be tougher to accommodate the new dynamic. In any case, you cannot go wrong with a Priest as a secondary.
The Mage. Priests are great, but when you need DPS, the Mage is normally right up there with the rogue on the damage short list. Sure they're squishy, but that's hardly our primary concern here. As a secondary class, they bring ranged DPS to the table, allowing otherwise short ranged melee classes the option to reach out and touch someone. It's hard to envision a class that mages don't benefit since their job is fairly straightforward, though your mileage definitely varies depending on what you match it to.
Priests benefit greatly with a Mage secondary as it provides the class with two crucial abilities: A much need bump in DPS and an effective snare. While there is usually something negative to be said about linking two classes that use the same energy pool- mana/mana as opposed to rage/mana, for example -Priest definitely benefit from the Mage secondaries and when it comes right down to it, you're probably not going to be healing and DPSing in parties at the same time anyway. Another class that benefits immensely from the mage is the Scout, turning your bow wielding combatant into a ranged DPS powerhouse with the ability to cc for days. Combined with the Scout ability to see through stealth, and you have quite an effective counter to the Rogue in PvP encounters.
Then there's the not so good, and one class stands out in my mind in particular... The Knight. The main tank of the game plus ranged DPS... What could go wrong? Well, here's where we go back to that statement about not linking two classes of the same energy type together. This is one of them. The Knight uses its mana pool for everything from aggro retention to DPS. The problem arises when you start lighting off the mage secondaries as well, leaving you with a wall of steel with no ability to create either the aforementioned aggo or DPS. Likewise, while it does give you a limited amount of standoff attack ability, the majority of your killing power is inside melee. For every point of mana you spend at range, that's less to apply to the target when it gets within your most effective killing envelope. In other words, the high road to fail. As for the other classes, the Mage secondary performs exactly as advertised; though the rogue takes a bit more advantage due to the fact that it can utilize the Mage's CC as well as launch ranged attacks from stealth. Like many melee/caster pairings, gear and stats will become somewhat of an issue.
The Knight. Another class usually in short supply for the standard MMO is the Tank, aka the meat shield. Like the Priest, people that truly like to tank are in short supply for the sole reason that killing stuff actually comes secondary to the job of keeping the mob's attention while other people kill it. Fortunately, dual classing comes to the rescue here as well, if not to the same extent it benefits the Priest.
Knights as a secondary class tend to be fairly straight forward, specifically benefiting melee classes the most with their ability to seal nuke and apply armor buffs to lighter classes. Typically the classes competing in that category are Warriors and Rogues, though if one had to pick a match, the Rogue comes out as the clear winner. The decisive factor comes down to DPS control, something a rage reliant class cannot depend on. While a Warrior/Knight can work, a Rogue/Knight has the ability and its combination strikes, apply seals and pump out sick melee DPS with precise control for as long as energy and mana hold. Oh, did we mention stealth? Ranged combatants also benefit from the Knight secondary though to a lesser extent, gaining additional toughness and DPS at melee ranges, though little else.
Priest/Knights gain a particular bit of synergy since both classes can use shields, introducing not only another stat'd armor slot, but additional stun effects as well. Combined with a maxed out bubble, Priests can operate reasonably well in a melee environment even though the same mana/mana concerns apply. Simply because they can does not make it the best of ideas and care should be exercised making this choice, though the number of armor and HP buffs gained between the two make it a very good support combination. Look for the continuation of Second Class Citizen in Part Two next week, where we'll beat a Rogue with a stick, smack a Scout and wonder what the hell is going on with the Warrior.