Monday, 17 April 2017

Introducing the Captain: Level 1-20

Captains are melee fighters who can buff and heal their allies. They also have a herald as a companion in battle who can buff the captain as well. They are support characters that really shine in a group situation because of their buffs and versatility. They can heal, tank or dps as needed but are not as good as specialists in those roles.

Here I'll record my experience levelling as a captain from level 1 to 20, talking about skills and specs and anything else that may be useful to know.

Level 1 Woman Captain
Here's our brand new captain and some basic information about her:
  • Captains wear heavy armour
  • Primary stat is Might
  • Captains use a lot of power so Fate (which provides power regeneration) is also quite important
  • Captains are the only class that can use halberds, but can also use most one- or two-handed melee weapons
  • Starting abilities are: Battle-shout (a cry which buffs damage dealt and activates the "Battle-readied" state) and Sure Strike (a basic melee attack)

The first quest in the introduction provides a satchel that gives you a two-handed sword to wield instead of the one-handed mace you start with. At level 2 you gain two new abilities: Devastating Blow (a strong melee attack that requires the Battle-readied state and reduces damage taken) and Rallying Cry (a heal-over-time ability that affects the captain and fellowship). From now on, when you defeat a mob, Rallying Cry will be more powerful and will be displayed on the auto-skillbar as a reminder to heal up after a battle.

At level 2 you get sent to the Captain trainer who wants you to practise activating the Battle-readied state using Battle-shout and following up with Devastating Blow.

At level 4 you get the Cutting Attack ability which is a bleed that causes damage over time.

Level 6 is pretty important - you can now summon your herald companion and you can choose a specialisation.

You get three abilities so you can choose which herald to summon. You can only have one active at a time and you can give them different names (right-click on their portrait to rename or dismiss herald) and even customise their appearance later on. Call to Arms: Herald of Victory summons a herald who decreases the power costs of your abilities. This may be useful on occasions where you find yourself running out of power, but ideally you would find other ways to avoid that situation (such as having enough Fate, using buff foods or potions and watching your ability usage so you don't waste power). Call to Arms: Herald of Hope summons a herald who increases your mitigations. This may be useful when you're fighting tough mobs or if you're tanking. Call to Arms: Herald of War summons a herald who increases your damage dealt. Until you get the Archer as a herald, this will generally be the most useful companion to summon.

Herald of Hope
Herald of Victory
Herald of War

You get a pet bar to give commands to your heralds. When the herald is set to Passive he just stands near you holding his banner and does nothing but provide buffs unless you tell him to. If you set him to Guard he can help defend and assist you while you fight and if you set him to Aggressive he will attack anything nearby (which can be dangerous). These three heralds are melee fighters with only basic attacks that deal minimal damage. The herald may die occasionally but you can re-summon them in combat. They may also get stuck behind an obstacle such as a wall so there is a Rally! button that will instantly transport them to you if out of combat. Heralds are considered part of your fellowship and will receive the benefits of any fellowship abilities and buffs.

Here are the different specialisations you can choose:
  1. Blue = Hands of Healing - increases your healing abilities; you gain Valiant Strike which is a melee attack that also provides a fellowship heal-over-time, and if you use Sure Strike in the Battle-readied state there is a chance of gaining the Focus buff for your fellowship which provides a heal-over-time, increases healing received and tactical mitigation and reduces attack duration.
  2. Red = Lead the Charge - increases your damage-dealing abilities; you gain Shadow's Lament which is a powerful melee attack, and if you use Sure Strike in the Battle-readied state there is a chance of gaining the Relentless Attack buff for your fellowship which increases critical rating, physical and tactical mastery and outgoing healing.
  3. Yellow = Leader of Men - increases your tanking/defensive abilities; you gain Threatening Shout which is a taunt, and if you use Sure Strike in the Battle-readied state there is a chance of gaining the On Guard buff for your fellowship which reduces damage taken and power costs.
Red is pretty good for levelling - you can still heal and have defensive buffs but the extra damage from traits will help you kill things quicker. Of course, if you feel you or your group need more healing, go for blue, or if you want to protect your group, go for yellow.

After completing the introduction, don't forget to check your mail for the adventurer's gift. It contains several useful items and starts a couple of quests, including one that rewards 5 Tokens of Salutations which can be traded with the Barterer for a pocket item that increases run speed and some health or power potions. The run speed buff can be quite helpful, especially if you don't have a mount.

At level 7 you get your first trait point to spend in your chosen specialisation. You get additional trait points every odd level from now on, as well as from some quests and deeds.

At level 8 you get two new abilities. Routing Cry is a short range AOE cry that does more damage if you have just defeated an enemy and will be displayed on your auto-skillbar. Make Haste is a fellowship sprint (+25% speed for 20 seconds) with a 2 minute cooldown.

At level 10 you gain some more abilities: Pressing Attack is a melee AOE attack that requires Battle-readied state. Blade-Brother (red spec), Song-brother (blue spec) and Watchful Shield-brother (yellow spec) are spec-specific abilities that lets you buff the stats of an ally or herald. You are also now eligible to take part in Epic Battles such as Retaking Pelargir, but although you get scaled to level 100, without all the equipment slots filled and with limited abilities you will be very vulnerable, so it may not be a very successful or satisfactory experience.

At level 12 you get the Withdraw skill which lets you break out of a daze, stun or knock-down on a 2 minute cooldown.

By this stage, I have started finding the cooldowns on most abilities seem rather long and you can't just go from mob to mob mowing them down - you have to wait for those cooldowns or all you can do is autoattack, which is a little annoying. The lack of ranged abilities also makes initiating combat a little more dangerous - if your Battle-shout is on cooldown then basically you have to run up to the mob and either avoid other nearby mobs or be prepared to take them on as well (and you have limited AOE abilities, some of which rely on Battle-shout with its 20 second cooldown, so you'll be mostly fighting them one by one and needing all your healing). You could send your herald in to start attacking, but they don't always have the best pathing and may pull other mobs.

At level 13 I decided to try the Retaking Pelargir Epic Battle that became available at level 10. I helped kill a few mobs but once they focused on me, I died quickly and then the NPCs got overwhelmed and died so the mission failed. I also decided to do the quests in the Cape of Belfalas housing area (there is a quest-giver in Bree near the fountain). It was a lot of running around but it was beautiful scenery, some nice housing decorations as rewards, and I made about half a level of XP.

Cape of Belfalas
Sailing off into the sunset

At level 14 you learn the Words of Courage ability to apply healing-over-time to an ally.

At level 15 you gain some passive abilities - you can now wield shields or the Captain's iconic halberd. You also get sent a letter to visit your class trainer who asks you to assist Hazel Kenton in Bree, by retrieving a badge that was stolen by the brigand Aldis Oatbearer and returning it to its rightful owner. If you haven't already done Grimbriar's quests north of Bree, they send you to the same area as the class quest so you might want to do them all at the same time.

Aldis Oatbearer at Brigand's Watch

As a reward for completing your class quest, you get a halberd and the title "Inspiration to Men".

Level 16 provides some more group utility - Muster Courage removes a debuff such as disease, fear, poison or wounds from the Captain and allies, while Motivating Speech is a fellowship buff that can be toggled on to give increased maximum morale.

At level 19 I was questing in the Barrow-downs and tried out all three specs. Blue (healing) was pretty good - there was a lot of passive healing so I barely needed to use Rallying Cry (only when fighting multiple mobs or elites) and it didn't feel much slower than in red spec. In Red (DPS) I could take on a few mobs and used Rallying Cry occasionally, but there were still some times when I was waiting for abilities to become available. Yellow (tanking) is supposed to make you tougher but I found I was taking more damage, needed a lot more healing and fights were noticeably longer so it wasn't as enjoyable.

There are no new abilities until level 20 and then you get two resurrection abilities: Escape from Darkness lets you revive an ally in-combat and Inspiriting Call lets you revive an ally out of combat. You also get some passive abilities: a critical defence bonus that reduces chance of receiving a critical hit and you can now use armaments. You can get a Simple Standard of War to go in your ranged equipment slot from the Captain trainer which increases your physical mastery and morale. Tailors can make armaments which let you change the appearance of your herald and give them armour buffs. For more information on how to customise your herald's appearance, see my guide on Captains and Custom Heralds.

Once I reached level 20 I visited the Skirmish Camp vendors and replaced most of my questing gear with upgrades. Here's how she looks at level 20:

Level 20 Woman Captain

I then went to the training dummies in the Training Hall in Bree and tested each spec's DPS with no consumable buffs active over 3 minutes, and took a screenshot at the end to eliminate the effects of DoTs that kept going after I stopped attacking. For virtues, I had two tiers of Loyalty and one tier of Charity. With my 7 trait points, I focused on damage-boosting traits where possible. For all specs I had the Herald of War summoned for the buff, but set to passive so it didn't contribute any damage.

Here are my DPS results (collected with CombatAnalysis plugin):
StatisticsHands of Healing (Blue)Lead the Charge (Red)Leader of Men (Yellow)
Damage11,85216,43914,249
Time2 m 20.2 s3 m 0.4 s3 m 0.1 s
Average DPS84.591.179.1
Minimum Hit393940
Average Hit777878
Maximum Hit265466436
Attacks154209183
Critical Strikes (%)22 (14.3%)29 (13.9%)24 (13.1%)
Power (%)22/1016 (2.2%)275/1016 (27.1%)487/1016 (47.9%)
Skill Priorities:
  1. Battle Shout
  2. Sure Strike
  3. Devastating Blow
  4. Cutting Attack
  5. Valiant Strike
  6. Routing Cry
  1. Battle Shout
  2. Sure Strike
  3. Devastating Blow
  4. Cutting Attack
  5. Shadow's Lament
  6. Routing Cry
  1. Battle Shout
  2. Sure Strike
  3. Devastating Blow
  4. Cutting Attack
  5. Routing Cry

I had to stop the Blue spec assessment early because I ran out of power. I didn't think it would be a fair comparison to use a potion or wait for in-combat power regeneration, but I think the Average DPS gives a reasonable indication of it's potential if you can maintain your power. Red spec was also running low on power (almost down to 25%) and couldn't have kept going much longer without some help. I guess this reflects how Captains are designed more for support than sustained DPS.

My skill priorities were based on activating the Battle-readied state with Battle-shout (which can also be useful for engaging mobs from a distance),  Sure-strike provides a nice buff when in the Battle-readied state, and Devastating Blow requires the Battle-readied state to trigger the Battle-hardened buff. Then I want to get a bleed on the target with Cutting Attack so damage keeps ticking away, apply some burst damage and additional buffs with Valiant Strike/Shadow's Lament and finally, use Routing Cry when a defeat response is triggered or if there is nothing else available.

General Observations


Heralds are weak (they die easily if fighting a mob on their own) and stupid (they run straight into walls and mobs). They're like level 1 newbies, all enthusiasm but no skill yet. Give them some guidance and they can be valuable allies. Plus, it's nice to have some company, especially if you're soloing.

Potions, especially power potions, are very helpful to have on hand.

You can use Marks (Revealing Mark/Telling Mark/Noble Mark) before you enter combat.

Try to keep your buffs up and make the most of the defeat response opportunities.

Specialisations

Blue - Hands of Healing: It's great to be able to heal while dealing damage (health hardly dropped), but it's easy to run out of power. If you're having power issues, try to use Valiant Strike and Rallying Cry only when needed, and/or switch to using the Herald of Victory. Additional methods of regaining power will become available at higher levels too. Power management is the price for having so much utility (healing, damage and buffs). Overall, I think this spec has good survivability and makes you pay attention to how you play, which may help you become a better Captain.

Red - Lead the Charge: The melee DPS is so-so, but you should be able to take on a few mobs at once, with your AOE abilities, buffs, heals and your herald. A 2-handed weapon is probably best for damage output, although a sword-and-board may be useful for facing tough mobs. Overall, I think this is probably the easiest spec to level a Captain with.

Yellow - Leader of Men: Despite the defensive buffs this spec provides, I found myself taking more damage and dealing less damage with more waiting-time than in red or blue specs. While you can get a trait bonus that lets you block with a 2-handed weapon, perhaps sword-and-board would help, or perhaps this spec gets better at higher levels with more suitable gear, abilities and traits. The only good thing I could say about it was that it had no power issues. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this spec for levelling, but it may be useful in some situations.

Stats

  • Might - your main stat that increases damage and healing
  • Fate - increases power regeneration and critical strike chance
  • Morale and Vitality - increases survivability
  • Mitigations and resistances - reduces damage taken
These stats should help make the levelling process a bit easier in the beginning. Look for heavy armour with might and maybe some jewellery with fate. Morale is always helpful (vitality also increases morale). The best place to get mitigations and resistances at low level is probably from virtues.

Here are some virtues that may be helpful for Captains and how to get them by level 20:

VirtueActivityDeed
INNOCENCE

(physical mitigation, tactical mitigation, resistance)
Complete 75 quests in The ShireLife of a Bounder (Final)(The Shire)
COMPASSION

(physical mitigation, tactical mitigation, non-combat power regeneration)
Complete 15 quests in The Shire

Complete 20 quests in Ered Luin
Life of a Bounder (The Shire)

Defender of Ered Luin (Ered Luin)
DISCIPLINE

(might, physical mitigation, resistance)
Defeat 90 wolves in Ered Luin

Defeat 60 hendrovail in Ered Luin

Defeat 60 sickle-flies in Bree-land
Wolf-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Hendroval-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Sickle-fly Slayer (Advanced)(Bree-land)
PATIENCE

(physical mitigation, resistance, in-combat power regeneration)
Explore Dwarven settlements in Ered Luin

Retrieve spoiled pies in The Shire

Deliver mail between settlements in The Shire

Explore the ruins of Bree-land

Explore the Barrow-downs in Bree-land
Places of the Dwarves (Ered Luin)

No Place for Spoiled Pies (The Shire)

Restoring the Quick Post (The Shire)

The Ruins of Bree-land (Bree-land)

The Barrow-downs (Bree-land)

ZEAL

(morale, physical mitigation, armour)
Defeat 90 goblins in Ered Luin

Defeat 90 spiders in Ered Luin

Defeat 90 Barrow-spiders in Bree-land
Goblin-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Spider-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Brood-hunter (Advanced)(Bree-land)
HONOUR

(resistance, tactical mitigation, vitality)
Defeat 60 spiders in The Shire

Defeat 90 spiders in Bree-land
Spider-slayer (Advanced)(The Shire)

Spider-slayer (Advanced)(Bree-land)
FIDELITY

(tactical mitigation, vitality, power)
Explore landmarks in The Shire

Explore Dourhand strongholds in Ered Luin
The Sights of the Shire (The Shire)

Scouting the Dourhands (Ered Luin)

Pros of the Captain Class

  • Versatile - can heal, DPS, tank and provide buffs
  • Has a customisable pet (herald)
  • Good survivability
  • Popular in group situations

Cons of the Captain Class

  • Limited ranged abilities
  • Not specialised (i.e. don't expect to be the best healer/tank/DPS)
  • Power management

I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to leave any questions or advice for new captains in the comments below.

Coming soon in the Introducing X Class series: the Champion.

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