The Melee Experiment

This year is the fifth anniversary of Lord of the Rings Online! Hooray! Admittedly, I’ve only been playing for a year, but it’s still exciting! None of my other MMOs celebrate their birthdays quite like LotRO does, complete with beer battles, fireworks at night (with a show you can actually participate in), shiny new cosmetic gear that you may or may not be interested in, and several other surprises you might not expect. (For example, the other night, I discovered a horse in an envelope while gathering lost festival invitations around Bree.) And, while I don’t know if this is common during the anniversary festivals or not since this is still my first year playing, Turbine has even offered us double the experience points beginning on April 24th and going into the 30th, although I’m unsure if it extends until the new end of the festival (May 9th) as the festivities have been extended. Regardless, this makes it perfect if you have a character that’s been a bit more difficult to level than others. You can level up, go on all the festival quests, and even earn some tokens as you do which you can exchange for gift boxes and even marks which you can put towards pretty much anything.

This being me, however, I was ignoring the marks and the gift boxes and all the other fun things. I instead looked at the double experience bonus and saw it as an opportunity to create a new alt and to see how far I could take her while the bonus was in place. With this in mind, I decided to revisit my original LotRO character (who has gone under multiple class changes while I attempted to figure out who she was): Engeled of Rohan. After looking over every single class that Men could be, I eventually decided I wanted to try something she could be that no other race could. I decided she would be a captain.

I did waffle over the choice quite a bit, though, since, as I’ve stated before, I have issues with melee combat. To me, it isn’t all that fun. However, I was in love with the look of the Captain class. If you were to spend enough time in Bree, you see a handful of them running around at any given time, and all the ones I’ve seen have looked absolutely amazing. Sometimes certain things just look so amazing that you kind of want to have one, regardless of how you feel about the type of class in general. Then again, maybe that’s just me. In any case, I realized this would make an interesting experiment. Was I still completely out of love with melee or could I put that aside for a class I loved? (Well, providing I fell in love with the class at all.)

Engeled pondering her next move.

Once I settled on a design I liked (close enough to her original design where I would feel comfortable), I dove in, and it wasn’t until I was running around Archet after it’s destruction, happily slaughtering a giant spider that a NPC had asked me to kill around level 9 or so at the time that I realized something.

I was still having fun.

In a moment where Engeled was about to die, I quickly switched targets to kill something else just to trigger a defeat response so I could heal her just a bit and land the last few blows on the signature-portrait spider, I realized it was just as challenging as ranged DPS was to me. Sure, it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t like the fact that things could wail on me the second I started wailing on it, but somehow, none of that mattered. Besides which, Engeled could heal! If she lasted long enough and I was brave enough to venture into dungeons, I could heal them! (Paladin healing is still very much a love of mine and I’m always eager to see if I can find something else close to it.)

So far, Engeled has reached Level 16 and has only just gotten through the prologue of the epic storyline. And I’m still having fun. I hear that captains really start getting amazing around level 30 or so, and, as of right now, I’m planning on sticking it out until then, at least. I really haven’t had this much fun with a class in a long time.

Melee and Me

Ages and ages ago, when your beloved author first began gaming, I was very clueless about role types when it came to games. Certainly, I knew that you had your warriors and your casters and people who could heal you, but I knew them by class name, not types. It wasn’t until years later, when I picked up World of Warcraft, joined my very first guild, and began raiding that I learned that class types even really existed. Before then, my only real experience in group combat had been in the form of Dungeons and Dragons, where I preferred to be a sorcerer, standing in the back and quietly shooting at things. This idea of class roles was completely foreign to me.

It didn’t take me very long to fall in love with the paladin class, though. I could hit hard, take damage, and heal myself if I needed to. Because I was so in love with the idea of the armored warrior with a sword and shield, I thought to myself that I’d be a tank (this was after I learned what class roles were, mind). How hard could it really be? So I dove in and it was awesome. Well, for a little while. Unfortunately, I realized being a tank was incredibly intimidating and definitely not for me. Besides which, my guild at the time needed healers, and paladins could spec into a tree that let them heal. It seemed like a good plan, so I switched to a holy spec and never looked back. Eventually, a server switch happened and, when it did, I tried all sorts of other classes. The next class I ever did any sort of raiding with was a rogue (Jinaki before I went and rerolled the poor girl multiple times). However, I soon learned this was also a bad plan. Because the computers I played on were less than optimal, any time I got close enough to a mob where multiple spell effects went off at any given time, lag happened. Sadly, I also couldn’t turn them off because, if I did, I’d be heavily SOL and die more often than any DPS class really should. The lag was so bad that I couldn’t do anything, and that effectively put an end to my melee career.

Since then, I went back to my roots, and stuck with my caster/ranged DPS classes. I love them. I did heal occasionally, but to be honest, no other healing class holds my love like paladin healing does. And yet, when SWTOR came out, I jumped at the chance to be a commando, solely because I could heal. The fact that I can heal at all has saved my butt more than once, I can tell you that. However, the trooper was one of those classes I honestly didn’t think I’d play come launch of the game, and, keeping that in mind and also taking into account that our guild Imperial-side needed healers, I decided I was going to try an Imperial Operative.

Yeah. It wasn’t happening.

You would think it would, because it had pretty much everything I loved about my commando when I first got her. I could heal if things got too bad. I could still attack things, still hide behind cover if I needed to. The problem was that the majority of my abilities required me to be in melee range. This meant I was mostly running up to things and shooting them in the face. You might say I should have stuck it out longer, but after twelve levels of running around and falling in love with cover and then suddenly not really having it as an option and gimping myself unless I refused to use it was just not for me. I couldn’t do it. It makes me sad, because I’ve seen some pretty badass Operatives. I know they can be bamfs. They’re just… not for me.

As a result, I started to think about why that was, and I thought back to Jinaki. I didn’t hate her as a character; I love her to bits. I (sort of) knew what I was doing. I mean, I didn’t top DPS charts or anything, but I like to think I wasn’t being carried. Taking the lag out of the equation (and, in fact, it’s a moot point since I got my new computer), why was I out of love with melee? And then I realized what it was.

I found it boring. I liked being able to pick things off from a distance or sending something else in to take care of it for me while I sat back and slowly picked things off at my own pace. It’s a game for me. How best to survive the encounter? What combination of abilities can I use to pick things off at my own pace? What can I do to ensure I live and they don’t? How much of their health can I take away before they get anywhere near me?

Healing is a bit like that for me, as well, where I can stand back, look at my healing spells, and say, “All right. What can I cast when to make sure my tank/DPS/whatever lives so the enemy can die?” Melee combat, however… where’s the challenge in it? Melee, you rush in head first, and, most of the time, you’re lucky to be alive by the time the thing you’re fighting dies. To me, that isn’t fun. That’s suicide. I can see where other people would find it fun, but, for me, not so much. So, if you want to rush right in, you go right ahead, my dear. I’ll just be back here, shooting at things or keeping you alive.