Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Melee DPS Learning Curve

After hitting EQ2's level cap, I happened to run into Stargrace (yes, on her actual Dirge named Stargrace), hanging out sporting the Dirge Fabled Epic Weapon. This reminded me that she had posted how the Dirge Epic is "one of those fast easy painless epics" (she would know, she's at or approaching a dozen of them).

I had actually done the solo pre-requisites for this quest (you have to learn a couple of languages, and get access to an old dungeon) while leveling, just in case the opportunity to work on this ever came up. Lo and behold, I opened up the server chat channel that evening and there was a group AT THAT VERY MOMENT looking for another warm body or two for Sebilis, where the item that starts the quest drops. Apparently having picked up the "Luck of the Dirge" AA had paid off, and Lyriana was off to her very first EQ2 PUG.

Point and stab is harder than it sounds
I've been in group content in EQ2 a few times with guildies (shout-out to Sev, Ely, and Ria if you all are reading this), but the pressure is somewhat different with strangers.

The good news was that this particular PUG was not a situation where the group in question was depending on me to survive the content (which was a few levels below many of us). Also, as a buff-heavy class, my Dirge makes a non-zero contribution to the group just by being alive and present to buff everyone else. That said, my performance on the DPS "parse" (which a group member linked repeatedly in party chat) was predictably underwhelming. (In fairness, that group member also did offer me some reasonable advice on improvement.)

I've spent a fair amount of time in WoW groups as ranged DPS, and the basics are pretty straight-forward. Stand somewhere (changes by fight), face the mob (it's pretty hard to miss this unless you're in really close) and cast spells (which spells you cast matter, but you're usually better off casting the wrong spell than no spell at all). I've also, from time to time, attempted to purposefully hold aggro on a mob (generally to keep it from beating on the healers). There have even been a few situations where I have attempted light healing/decursing duties. None of these things gave me nearly as much trouble as the simple-sounding task of walking up to the enemy and stabbing them.

Part of the problem is that Sebilis has some tight, cramped, poorly lit hallways. Throw in six players and typically 3+ mobs in a pull, and that's a lot of bodies piled up on top of one another. One tip I learned reasonably quickly was that I can target the tank, rather than the enemy, and my attacks will proceed to hit his target, rather than some unrelated target that he doesn't have much aggro on. What really screwed with me was that several of my attacks require being behind (or at least on the flank of) the mob, rather than in front of him. I had a lot of trouble even seeing which mob I was fighting, and spent a fair chunk of time ineffectually doing nothing as a result.

There are probably various other tips that I haven't even begun to consider. Still, I was surprised at how hard it was to melee compared to anything else I've tried. Being solo means never having to ask someone else which mob you would like to stab first. If it's attacking you, you want it dead, and it's almost certainly going to be facing you unless you do something to prevent it from doing so.

In the end, I got my Quill, an extra AA from named mob kills, and even a shiny piece of loot. And, perhaps, a new insight into class roles in MMORPG's, if I can figure out what it means.

Lyriana's ill-gotten gains


Armagon said...

I should keep a link to this post handy for future reference when some of our (WoW) Mages or Warlocks proudly post the damage meters when they don't have to move a single inch over the course of the fight.
"You are not in range" is a daily companion.
Good luck on the light side of DPS :)

Ysharros said...

Ooo grats on 80! :D

"You must be behind to use this art" -- man I am tired of seeing this on my swashie when as far as I can tell, I'm staring at the mob's backside...

Good luck with that weapon!

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

Heh, I'm with Armagon. Nice to see a ranged person appreciate some of the problems with playing a melee DPS class. My least favorite time was when my old WoW guild was doing The Eye and some of the trash out front had a nasty AoE. The ranged DPS always yelled at the melee DPS about "not getting out of the way". I threatened to go to bear form, grab aggro, and drag the enemy into them if they didn't STFU. See how good their dodging ability is. :P

One thing I do like about my LotRO melee DPS character (Champion) is that I get heavy armor. I still can't tank while doing full-out DPS, but I'm not instantly dead if I grab a boss' attention.

Stabs said...

Well done, the epic looks amazing (I'm still fresh enough to EQ2 that anything that isn't blue or green seems impressive).

Thanks for the tip about using the Implied Target feature. I'm playing a wizard and am looking forward to fireballing some tank somewhere soon. Hopefully the game will know what I mean even if I don't.