I simply had to log into Lamannia to get a sneak peek at the Artificer. I have a lot to say about it, probably more than I can get into this one post, but any Artificer conversation should start with one key fact: this is an entirely new way to play DDO.
- New personal “pet”: check
- New spells and abilities: check
- New personal laser cannon: check
The difference is quite deep: you seem to need a whole new style of play in order to use these capabilities.
Let’s start with the personal laser cannons. And yes, I did say “personal laser cannons”. Artificers have the ability to wear and use “Rune arms”. There are several different rune arms and each one has a different effect. To use them, press Caps Lock and the device builds a charge – hold it down to increase the charge. Click it again and the charge releases.
So right away, we have an entirely new and different key press pattern (two clicks to use) and an entirely new game concept – the idea of charging an attack. Not bad, just different.
The “pets”* are another example of a game-style-changing new capability. Artificers begin life with a tiny steel puppy which will remain with them throughout, growing progressively larger and more fierce as the Artificer levels.
* I really dislike the use of the word “pet” here. It is accurate enough, but it is also the MMO-generic term for any summoned creature and feels all WoW to me. But apparently it is here to stay regardless.
At first glance, pets seem to combine existing features. They can be summoned like a Summon Monster spell and are controlled using the hireling control bar; summons and hirelings are not new. But your pet must be trained and can be equipped with docent and trinket. The choices you make while training impact the pet capabilities, even to the extent that they change which Feats you can equip to the pet control bar. That is all new.
The biggest pet-based change, for me anyway, is managing the pet during quests. I found that I had to constantly fiddle with the pet to use it effectively. This means making a permanent place in the UI layout for the pet control bar, and remapping the hotbar slots to keys.
The new spells – “infusions” is the correct term – are another new factor. We haven’t gotten an all-new spell list to play with since … ever? One or two new spells here and there, sure, but this is an entirely new list with a surprising number of capabilities that exist nowhere else in the game.
Some of them use Potions as material components!
Playing the Artificer
For a variety of reasons too long to repeat here, my Lamannia Artificer was actually a 4th-level multiclass with three unnecessary fighter and wizard levels. Someone gifted me with a rune arm; Thought Spike, which normally drops in Redemption. Thought Spike fires two Force balls that wind out to the sides and then track back into your target.
Equipped with Thought Spike, a non-magic heavy repeating crossbow, a +1 flaming scimitar, and my trusty pet AdventureDog, I set out to conquer the ever-conquerable WaterWorks.
Sparksy Haversack and her trusty companion Adventuredog
Eager to try out the rune arm, I attempted to focus on that one capability, but quickly learned that I could not. For one thing, it takes too long to charge to use in a hurry. For another, the Force balls go so far out to the left and right that they often hit walls or impediments and never reach their target.
But the heavy repeater more than made up the difference. With the Update 11 changes to relevant feats it now has a greatly reduced reload time and singlehandedly transforms low-level quests into pleasant walks through unpleasant environs.
I developed a pattern. Charge the rune arm, then open up with the repeater. If anything survived long enough to get close, release the rune arm charge at point-blank range (this always killed the target, every time, but I was on Normal). If swarmed, limited crowd control is available through the Static Shock spell – which killed the target outright as often as not. I drew the scimitar a couple of times, but mainly because I felt I should, not because I really needed it.
The biggest challenge was trying to use all my attack capabilities. There were a couple of times when I found myself backpedaling and toggling through Static Shock spell, then the repeater, then the Runearm. I was trying to test these things and was determined to use them all, but I would probably have been better off just keeping my thumb down on the repeater button.
I had to constantly call my dog. He wasn’t much help. I was able to use him to draw agro once or twice, but generally he was more of a distraction that would sometimes get killed and cost me hit points. I will need to get better at manipulating him if I am going to level an Artificer on the live servers.
It is a fun class; I am going to go ahead and TR my capped wizard into an Artificer when the class goes live.
- The Rune Arm is very different and I am going to need time to figure out how to use it most effectively
- Artificers are going to be tempted to try and be a good caster and a good ranged user and a good summoner and a good meleer and a good trapsmith. Avoid this temptation. Pick one or two and build for them exclusively
- The pet is as much hassle as help. Maybe more
He is really cute though. He sits at shrines. Maybe that is enough reason to bring him along.
🙂 😀 🙂