Expectation of Balance

What follows is, a nitty gritty nerdy look at certain legacies on legendary items and class balance, so be warned.

Some time ago, I was trying to determine the value of different fire legacies on runekeeper items by determining their exact relation to the dps of runekeeper skills. There were two legacies which were causing me confusion. One of those legacies was called “Wrath of Flame Damage Over Time” and the other was called “Fire Skill Damage”. Because every single runekeeper fire skill does damage-over-time and every single runekeeper fire skill is considered a “Wrath of Flame” skill, I found this to be confusing. I thought that there must be a reason behind their separation. I thought that if one effected “Damage over time” specifically, the other must somehow… not do that.

After running some tests I found that no, there was no reason. They both buffed all of my fire skills in the same way for the exact same amount, except for one skill was buffed slightly more by the “Fire skill damage” legacy. I had an unrealistic exception of logic behind the creation of the two legacies. As I looked over my skills more carefully with a calculator, I confirmed that skills which cost massive amounts of power and had long inductions often did less healing or damage than other skills with smaller costs and less inductions.

This expectation of logic to the system is something I see when I take my Runekeeper in to heal in instances. Raid leaders usually put me in the group that doesn’t have the tank or key members. They usually look for a minstrel first. This is because the minstrel is the healing class. A runekeeper can do damage, and is therefore a hybrid class. The assumption people have is that a runekeeper could not possibly heal as well as a minstrel, or be superior at healing because they can also do damage. Surely, anyone who is a “jack of all trades” in an MMO can not be the best at any of them. Or can they?

I’ve now played a minstrel with first ages that included such legacies as Healing and Motivation maxed out, Bolster courage maxed, and Triumphant spirit. In addition, I’ve served as primary healer in the watcher and DN with my runekeeper with such maxed out healing legacies as Words of Grace, Healing Over Time, Glorious Forshadowing and Healing Power Cost. After playing both classes as healer, I no longer make such assumptions. As long as I used the right skills and threw the worthless skills off my hotbar, I was able to keep my group maxed in fights such as the watcher and still have time to reach over to the other group and give the tank heal over times and -50% incoming damage every so often. In addition, my heal to power-cost ratio is far friendlier than that of a minstrel.

So what is the main trade off of having the ability to do both DPS and healing? The main trade off is that people assume you don’t do either of those things well as a class. And if they start to think that I can out-heal a minstrel and out-dps a hunter, they will say on globalLFF, “Nerf Runekeepers!”

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Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband. Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

10 thoughts on “Expectation of Balance”

  1. My general experience with RKs is that asking one to heal is kind of like asking one to eat a puppy. Sure, they can heal, but that’s not the role they really prefer. Even if they have legendary items with some healing on them, they’re more than happy to let a Minstrel come along instead of having to respec to heal.

    One time when I mentioned on my Champion main that I had an RK alt, another person with level 60 Champion and RK characters mentioned that “every Champion has an RK. Champs want to do damage, but keep getting nerfed, so they create an RK instead.”

    So, while there are some balance issues here, I think it’s also a case of player perception and expectations that are beyond the control of the developer when it comes to RKs.

    1. I think this is definitely the case. My RK is heal-specced, because I found by doing that he was still quite able to deal good damage, and could heal just as well as my Minstrel. It was VERY rare though for me to run into people who had that expectation.

      There is one other issue with RK healing, which is that it’s preemptive instead of responsive. To heal well as a RK, you need to have a good idea where damage is going to be dealt in the next 10 seconds or so, while with a Minstrel you largely only need to know where damage has just been dealt, with a minor awareness of upcoming damage. By planning in advance I found my RK could keep my whole party at full health, levels 1-60… but I think it’s easier for most players to heal using a Minstrel where less planning is needed. This probably contributes to the common expectation that RKs don’t heal well.

      * coughs * My main is a Champ, too. But I didn’t want the RK because Champs have been nerfed… I just liked the class. I like flexible characters that can serve in different capacities based on the situation. And, ok, I confess, I like the whole Sith Lord thing too. :D

  2. I think one of the main reasons why people roll a Runekeeper is because it is a flasy mage class with flashy mage spells AND… they also have the smart idea “when I am alone, I do damage and kill stuff, in a group I can heal if there is no bard around”.

    As Brian mentioned it… my level 59 (still not 60) main is a Champion, and my alt of choice, I will play her sooner or later, is an elven Runekeeper. ;)

    You are right, players really wonder “why should I roll a Minstrel/Hunter/Champion if I can have heal & damage in one package?” This is also the reason why the class is so popular.
    I also think people are quite right if they think this way. And early on they will not know all intricacies and details about how the classes are different / disavantaged or advantaged vs another healing or damage classes.

    This is also a WoW dual spec problem: No wonder that Hybrids are so popular by now! If you can be DPS/HEAL/TANK and just need to switch spec, you have a distinctive grouping advantage over DPS/DPS/DPS.

    This is why we usually assume that hybrids are good, but never best or even close to best a particular task, because it would feel “unfair”.

    I have no idea how powerful Runekeepers are in the end, but they seem to do very well, are very popular, and I created one, too.

    Hm yup, sooner or later I can imagine a Runekeeper nerf coming, despite the attunement system. :P But first they want to replace the uber-champion legacy that adds damage to Fervour and add several more totally useless ones! :( Not sure if faster skill execution and new legacies in Mirkwood can make up for a global % of damage loss! :(

    (Now let’s talk about a very interesting design that is the ugly stepchild: The Warden. Class discrimination par excellence incoming. People want a “REAL” tank, a Guardian, as main tank. In early instances they often even prefer Champions!

    And what does a Warden do if he does not get the tank spot? Right, he is no DD, he is a tank – tank spot filled, you are out. GG… this is so sad, as this is a very cool class and the gambit system really rocks)

    1. Haha! I think it’s funny how an off-hand observation turns out to be so true! :)

      To be honest, I hated my RK when I first played it. One of my biggest frustrations with playing a Druid in WoW was that I had all these abilities and so few to use at one time. The RK felt the same way, with it taking a lot of effort to swap between roles in combat.

      I still play my Champion more, but I’ve been dismayed with the lack of direction for the class. It seems that the designers at Turbine don’t really have a good concept for the class, and it keeps getting adjusted because it’s perceived as being too powerful. If I were in charge at Turbine, I’d spend more time figuring out how to boost up Burglars and Lore Masters who seem in much shorter supply, at least in my experience.

  3. Hi there,

    my first char I’ve created back when the game launched was a Champion, but he’s still parking in Angmar somewhere at lvl 51, thanks to the XP boost which came with MoM by rearranging the xp levels.

    At some point I rolled a LRM alt, who became my main in no time. And it’s not the flashiness of the Lightning Storm, no. It’s the mechanism of a perfectly balanced CC class that caught me. Even if the class gets the slightest share of any loot, ever. (could use a bit of balancing there, btw)

    My Warden hit 60 a bit before my Minstrel did and it’s because I wanted to play a Warden, and I still do really, but other people around forced me to play a Minstrel instead if it comes to alting, if I don’t want to stick to soloing only that is. (I won’t start moaning about the hate and ignorance towards the spear hurlers, but I can only play him in Oldlineth Oaks normally, because these people know the game a bit more, than others apparently)

    All in all, my RK is purely an experiment, but I don’t play him very often, coz it’s way too easy to me. I can Zip-Zap whole villages in 2 minutes without feeling the challenge of the battle. On the other hand, I levelled to 34 in maybe 2 days /played time, but I will check it next time I’ll log. Hope it gets a bit harder with SoM, because easy mode is no fun. my babe. no fun.


  4. The funny thing is… I’ve got a Minstrel and 2 RKs at 60. The reason there are 2 different RKs is for RP/character reasons – the battle-spec RK used to be my hunter, but I can’t stand the glass (and she’s parked at 59 halfway to 60 and shall never be touched again except to craft or play taxi.)

    The Minstrel does better damage, generally speaking, than the RK. Sure, the RK does a lot of DPS, but I’d say the Minstrel, when traited War-Skald, generally does equally well. The difference between them is that the Minstrel runs out of power so much faster. Then again, the Minstrel has a shield and can wear medium armor, and has several passive self-healing abilities, two of which do damage. Once the RK is at full red attunement, she either has to blow a cooldown to get back to begin healing herself, or hope she can nuke through the enemy, while wearing her flimsy cloth armor and smacking at the enemy with a bar of soap.

    In healing, I find them about equal. I’ve healed pretty much every instance in the game with both RK and Minstrel so far, except for Watcher and DN, since only my Minstrel has enough radiance to go. They’re equally powerful in heals, the HoTs add up to more than enough to keep everyone topped off, and give plenty of room for the long-induction heals when on the RK. The Minstrel’s bigger, meatier heals mean that it’s easier to “save the day” in an emergency with her.

    That being said, I prefer the Minstrel because she can *do both* healing and DPS at nearly the same time. I can run an instance in War-Speech in red spec, drop WS and heal when necessary, then go on DPSing at a reduced rate until the fight is over. Minstrel ballads, while they tier up for +healing, do damage to the mobs. On the other hand, every time my RK wants to contribute to the DPS of the group, she’s hurting her healing actively – to the point where she CAN’T heal if she does too much of it, without blowing cooldowns and wasting time that the party might not have as she desperately tiers green and throws on enamels.

    The reason people think of Minstrels as “the” healing class, and that RKs would rather eat puppies than heal, is because that’s what people make them do. People are afraid to let an RK heal, and people insist that Minstrels do the healing, even though BOTH classes are DPS/healing hybrids.

    And BOTH classes can out-DPS most hunters at this point. >.>

    1. “On the other hand, every time my RK wants to contribute to the DPS of the group, she’s hurting her healing actively – to the point where she CAN’T heal if she does too much of it,”

      The way I work around this one on my RK is to get to full healing attunment first, then just do one Fiery Ridicule inbetween each each writ of health. You have to have 2 fire traits… I go for a linnod and one to make fiery ridicule shorter induction by a bit.

      Honestly, it is harder to try and stay at full healing attunment while contributing to DPS with a RK. In someplace like the watcher, where just about everyone is taking damage, I honestly do not contribute to DPS. All my free time is put into refreshing a HOT in either my group or the other group.

      Sometimes I join a pug and ask, “Do you want me for healing or dps?” and they say, “Can you do both?”… “Not at the same time.”

      1. Yup, I do the same thing (most of the healing RKs I know are traited 5 blue/2 red for that purpose) but it does bump you down a green every time you do it, and you’re only refreshing one long-induction DoT every minute or so.

        Basically, the point I was making :)

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