Archive for March, 2012

TERA (Belated Tuesday) Thursday: Slayer Class

Welcome back to another TERA Tuesday! I sincerely apologize for not having a post up in a week, have been suffering from a nasty cold coupled with ridiculous allergies. Now that I’ve bled all over the virtual world and coughed all over the real one, we’re back and ready to take another look into the beautiful world of TERA. Today it’ll be the first pure-damage class, the Slayer!

Role: Damage
Difficulty: [***]

The Slayer is the middle-ground of Warrior (as damage) and Berserker as damage, mixing in wide, sweeping attacks with agile play and movement. Slayers wear medium armor and, like Warriors, specialize in dodging around while whipping their sword around into the enemy’s face. Slayers are also specialized in absolutely murdering everything around them at any time.  All of their attacks have sweeping arcs and their abilities have a similar reach, alloying the slayer to cut through large swaths of creatures.

Early Slayer skills are kind of bizarre to play with. My favorite classes are the Lancer and Berserker, and one of the reasons is because of how seamlessly the skills transition into one another. Lunging Charge can combo in after either three basic attacks in a row, or from a double-tap of the shield slam. It looks solid and feels good to do. By comparison, the early Slayer skills all feel off, by having this lag in between all the skills. They don’t feel like they flow because of this animation lag, even though the skill chains all feed off each other, building up damage and control for the player. Glyphs can’t really fix this, but that’s really the only place the class is bad.

Combat still feels visceral with the Slayer, with their wide, sweeping auto-attacks being able to clear massive packs of enemies. The attacks feel weighty enough, but to me they also feel a bit lacking. Warrior attacks much faster, but hits for less individually, which fills in the more ‘rogue’ like slot for players. Berserkers, from what I’ve seen, can hit for insane damage above what Slayers can do on some attacks, and hit slower, filling a more plated damage role. You could treat them as a middle-ground, trading in the survivability skills of a Warrior for damage-oriented ones while maintaining their mobility, but without gaining the raw defensive power of the Berserker. Give Slayer and Warrior a chance before deciding, since they both fulfill similar roles. The one major difference is, Warriors were meant to be tanks, so like the Lancer, they naturally want to regenerate to full mana over time, and attacks fuel this process. Slayers are the first class introduced that wants to be at zero mana, and will constantly deplete when out of combat rapidly to hit that natural mark. In combat, your attacks will give massive amounts of mana back, so knowing when it’s safe to start a skill chain is paramount. You can’t rely on regen to prevent you from bottoming out in a combo, it’s already trying to do that.

Boosting your damage as a slayer is incredibly simple through crystals. If you’re playing solo, grab some knock-down damage amplification crystals. The Slayer class has a ton of in-built control, and a high chance to just knock things right over from pummeling it. Increasing your damage on things in this vulnerable state just gives you full reign to demolish things. Even if it makes you a jerk. Kicking a guy when it’s down like that. For party play, you should invest in damage-bonus when fighting from behind. They give great bonuses, it’s just stupid hard to get behind something when you’re alone and trying to kill it. For armor, my personal favorite is of course health regeneration to give that staying power and a little back up to natural regeneration out of combat. Raw mana and health crystals wouldn’t go wrong either, giving more breathing room on the red bar and more total mana to dump in skills once you get the bar full.

Compared to the other melee damage, Slayers offer a good starting point for looking into the damage role. You can flip around and abuse their mobility to the heart’s content, then decide if the class is the right fit. If you feel like something meatier, try out Berserker. For something that has more survivability and a willingness to sacrifice a little damage, try Warrior. In any case, Slayers represent some of the higher damage late game, so you can cut faces off five at a time at any point in time. Soloing large monsters will be a little tricker though, so keep that in mind.

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Now that slayer is complete, the next class will be Berserker!

TERA Tuesday: Warrior Class

Welcome back to another addition of TERA Tuesday! Today’s target of verbal slaughter is the warrior class, which is in something of a strange place at the moment. So, without delaying for too long, let’s get into it!

Role: Tank/DPS
Difficulty: [***]

The Warrior  is a strange beast of the TERA universe. Originally slated to be an evasion tank, they’re slowly being pushed into a damage role over on the Korean version of the game. Don’t mistake that as them not being able to tank anymore, because they’ve still got it. If you plan on tanking, know that difficulty is borderline four-stars, because of some inherent difficulties with dodge tanking. For starters, Warriors are restricted to medium armor, so tanking hits with your face is going to hurt like all hell. There are skills that mitigate damage while casting, but Warriors thrive on dodging. The Warrior dodge has a shorter cooldown than the other dodge skills, and has longer invincibility-frames, which is the part of the animation where you are invulnerable, but spamming it will be constantly moving the mob, making aggro harder to gain and preventing the dps from hammering into the enemy’s shins. Once you get around those limitations, Warriors still make capable tanks, able to hold hate and ninja-flip over massive attacks.
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Managing Resources

This is something I’ve actually been wanting to talk about for a while, mostly because of how insane its extremes can be. Resources can be literally anything, the most basic definition is “something you need that the game provides, in limited quantities.” This is anything between what a mana and health-point bar are to minerals, vespene gas, and unit cap can be, across any genre and skill-level of game. Labyrinth of Touhou, a personal favorite dungeon crawler that actually has an insane number of combat-based resources, is the game with the most amount of resources that doesn’t break combat down into a cluttered bombshell during ordinary game-play .

The systems at work in Labyrinth are actually massive and way beyond the scope of what I’d be able to squeeze into one-thousand words or so, so we’ll just be focusing on resources to juggle around once combat actually starts. The mind-boggling stats and item system will have to come at a later day, sadly. Even removing all of that, the list is still large. In total, there are six things to keep in mind; Health, Mana, TP, the ATP bar (also called the Active Gauge), position, and mana regen. That looks a little excessive, but the game helpfully breaks everything down. All of them are interconnected, but separate enough that not having an intimate understanding of the mechanics will lead to a party wipe.

This screen is something you'll see a lot.

Of them all, Health and Mana are the most basic resources to keep in mind, and are basically hammered into a gamer’s mind from the get-go. When health hits 0, that character is knocked out (or sometimes dies), and no longer able to fight. Losing everyone means game-over, but it’s possible to survive with one and run back to town to revive everyone. So keeping a party happy and healthy is the first concern. Second is where mana comes in (In Labyrinth, it’s referred to as “Spell Points,” or SP, but it’s only a name swap), and this is usually some of the fun parts of combat. You can see from the screenshot that there are multiple spells with different costs. Early in the game, casting something like ‘Royal Flare’ can utterly bankrupt a mage’s mana… but it can also be a party-saving nuke to clear out enemies. Managing just these two alone ratchets up the complexity as decisions now revolve around offensive and defensive actions. The player could go for an all-out spell… or use something cheaper that might do the job and have someone else clean up. Or the enemy may get a turn in, causing the decision between lost hp (from the enemy attacking) versus reduced mage power (from bigger spells draining their pool faster).
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TERA Tuesday: Lancer Class

So here’s a new thing that should be fun, introducing TERA Tuesday! With 9 weeks left until launch (which happily enough is on a Tuesday itself), I thought it’d be a good idea to go over the 8 classes in TERA and give a first impressions and overview, along with any other relevant information about the class. Be something fun to wind up the weeks to the launch of the game, and totally not because I forgot to back-up my files and lost the 7 or so hours of content that was supposed to go out on the weekends. Certainly not that. Luckily, I do have footage to add to the end of each article, showing off the finer moments of the class-of-the-week in action!

Role: Tank
Difficulty: [**]

Starting off, the Lancer is the main tank of TERA, and any parties first line of defense against the slings and arrows of an uncaring world. Besides being able to stab, you’re second skill at level 1 is a block that scales to your weapon. Any amount of damage under the block value can be stopped by the shield, and even better, anyone behind you while the block is up takes reduced damage.  This isn’t an immortality skill, anything that hits for a single point over can guard-crush, and will simply hammer you in the face. Knowing when to tank it and when to run, especially when taking on higher level mobs, is the key to living long and inflicting the most shin-stabs with the lance. In terms of damage, lancers tend to be bottom of the barrel, but compensate for this with absurd staying power. The Lancer shines in the long haul, and can bring down most monsters that would rip apart another player, but it will take some time.
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Playing What You Got

Thinking about what I said before, I don’t really think I went into enough detail about how you can use each of your champions moves to better your play and to get the most out of any engagement. While this is still true for junglers everywhere, it is still important for everyone to know at least some of the ways they can use their skills in non-standard ways to benefit themselves and the team. Obviously, damage skills have their own catagory, and I can’t sit here and list off all the plays some ninety-something champions can do. So instead of looking over, say, Brands E -> Q stun, we’ll go into simply using your other moves better.

First up are actually not directly tied to champion skills, but are the spells each summoner chooses before the battle begins. Some have obvious utility like Teleport being able to blink you across the map, which allows you to split push/farm/gank from fog of war/whatever, or Ignite which deals a bit of true damage as a damage over time effect and a heal reduction effect. The most obvious and well-known summoner spell for being used in a multitude of situations, and the star example to start with, is the summoner ‘Exhaust.’ Exhaust lowers evenmy attack speed, move speed, and ability damage for a short time, and you can see people using it frequently in offensive situations (exhausting a target for an easier kill) or defensive ones (exhausting someone trying to catch you). What is primarily an offensive skill can be used in other ways to save yourself or a teammate.
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From the Bushes

As promised last week, a piece I’ve been looking forward too writing and getting out. Namely, the art of ganking. This is the aspect of the game that will truly set apart bad junglers from the good ones. Everyone has played a game with a jungler who just sits there all day and farms without ever helping, but sometimes even worse is the jungler with a terrible gank. Starting with the basics, we’ll cover what a gank is and how you can do it effectively.

Obviously, a ‘gank’ is when you go to a lane with the purpose of harassing or ultimately killing an enemy. The are a large number of benefits that come from a good gank, or even what a good gank is. Personally, anything that involves a waste of resources is a success. If you run out of a bush and the enemy instantly blows their summoner flash, perfect. Even if you do nothing else in lane, they still lost a very powerful tool for about four minutes. This lets your own laner be more aggressive, as they now have an escape (or initiate) tool where their opponent doesn’t. Even better is when you can kill an enemy, giving your team a gold advantage (kill gold + assist gold) and giving your laner an experience advantage. Every second the enemy is dead or running back to lane is a possible last hit’s worth of gold and experiance vanishing down the drain.

Successive ganks can even be used to harass an enemy mentally over the course of a game. Merely by sitting near one lane and ganking it repeatedly, the enemy will begin to become paranoid, especially if they are getting killed, and can sometimes even begin to ‘zone’ themselves, too afraid to move up near the creep line. This can give your laner a constant advantage as the enemy simply falls behind, even if you’re off merely farming the jungle.
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