I have had a bit more time with my Rune-keeper since my initial impressions. The class solos brilliantly, with great damage and few problems with being a cloth caster. It teams very well, burning through enemies on the easy stuff and healing during the hard stuff. I still feel the need to apologize for throwing around lightning and ice storms in Tolkien.
Soloing has been easy. As with most cloth caster classes, it excels in taking out little targets. The Rune-keeper burns and zaps a path through blues of various shades. Targets drop in a few attacks, particularly if I can use my long-induction opening attack, and RKs have a decent 0-cooldown, 0-induction zap. I traited for fire in my mid-20s, focusing on that opening burn, but my current solo slotting is pure zappy-zap, with spammable attacks that have a chance to buff my attacks.
Groups are where I get more use from the neat attack toys. Too few fights let me get fully attuned to dealing damage, so I hit the same few buttons unless I over-pull. In groups, RKs start getting use out of DoTs. Stack those Writs, freeze and burn the enemy at the same time. Even when fully attuned, I rarely use Epic Conclusion, the big boom spell that increases my power costs and rarely seems worth it for single-target damage, impressive though the big red numbers are.
Rune-keepers make better off-healers than Minstrels. Minstrels are the best way to keep your tank full, no doubt, with better burst healing. As with their DoTs, RKs need time to stack HoTs and build attunement. They excel, however, at spreading the love. Where Minstrels are mostly using one burst heal, RKs get a stack of HoTs, including the giant healing rock and a channeled, 0-aggro HoT that traits for more healing in the rock’s area of effect. My group-healing plan is to tier up the green side, use the stackable healing Writ on the tank, and otherwise try to keep everyone else topped off so the Minstrel can focus on the tank. I just got my spell that shields the tank based on how many Writs are active, so that works nicely.
But I feel guilty while playing him. Every time I set someone on fire by getting very angry at them, I feel a bit of lore dying. I summon snow storms and lightning bolts. Rather than “raising morale,” I really am doing some sort of healing prayer/chant, to say nothing of the giant healing rock. I am playing a Shadow Priest in Middle-earth, which is interesting in terms of gameplay but rather gutting of the lore, and the lore is a big piece of why you go with The Lord of the Rings Online™.
I also feel a little bad about the loot tables. All through Shadows of Angmar™, the weapons available as quest rewards are flexible. Half the classes can use an axe, or a sword, or what have you. There are very few class-specific weapons. Now, in Mines of Moria™, we have javelins and rune-stones that no one else can use. For other classes, the quest rewards have an even clearer “useless crap” sign over them, and most of the quest rocks are useless crap even for a Rune-keeper. And then I can use an axe, as a dwarf, so I feel like I should apologize to my ancestors for back-handing goblins with a rock rather than using the traditional weapons.
Not that back-handing the enemy with a rock is not stylish and ballsy. I should do more of that in-between zappity-zaps.