- Answer 1: None, no one wants Bards in their group when they have to do any kind of Epics.
- Answer 2: One, to buff the guy who is actually changing the light bulb. But no more than one because who needs two sets of the same buff on one guy?
Bards have always been kind of a weird mashup class. Sometimes they are overpowered like in the 1st edition Advanced D&D rules (a multi-class outlier that had to earn levels as a thief and as a warrior before earning any as a Bard). But more often they are kind of wimpy.
Famously so. This is not just a DDO thing.
The problem is their design intent: they are usually designed to be “jack of all trades” kind of characters, ones that are not the best at anything but are very good at many things. Except most versions of D&D (including DDO) do not reward that approach. It is better to be the best at one thing (combat? casting? something) than to be merely adequate even if you are merely adequate at everything else in the game.
To put it another way, in a min/max world, only those characters that are the best at something are going to get played.
DDO is a min/max world. Bards bring nothing to the table except the Fascinate song, a truly nice crowd control that is uniquely effective against almost everything, but which falls apart when accompanied by AoE attacks and/or uncoordinated party meleers. Or in other words, in every PUG and even in most guild groups.
Yes there are Bard buffs and so forth but lots of classes can provide various buffs. Even if you think Bard buffs are good enough to cause you to want a Bard in your group, you certainly aren’t going to want more than one.
Poor, sad Bards, sitting on shelves all over Eberron and Faerun, just wanting to play but instead collecting neglectful pixel dust while their owners sadly overlook them and choose other, more useful characters.
So there you have it. A sad state indeed.
Vargouille and friends are trying to do something about it. You could say that Update 22 is really the Bard Update, except it’s not, it’s only going to be the Melee Bard Update. Other kinds of Bards will have to wait for the future. But apparently there will be a future, as evidenced by this forum thread; Turbine is planning a Bard enhancement readjustment pass.
The thread is many pages long and has been attracting the kinds of detailed responses that we nerds love to provide about topics that we care about. Evidently we care about Bards. A lot.
My contributions to the thread have been minimal, attempts at getting Vargouille to provide more information about their design intent: when they are finished with the three Bard trees (three includes Swashbuckler), what will they look like? I posted this graph with a question mark:
But this wasn’t correct. I didn’t mind being wrong, that’s why I posted the graph in the first place, I wanted a correct understanding of where they were trying to go. In a posted reply, Vargouille explains:
The current proposal would give Warchanter superior Support (of all kinds) and Healing, compared to other trees, including caster (but not for self-casting as much as Spellsinger would get). This doesn’t mean Spellsinger necessarily loses the abilities it has that relate to that, and we’re happy to hear feedback about whether or not that should happen. (Leaving some of those in Spellsinger would make it harder to focus on support, but impact existing characters less.)
So far it seems like more players prefer Warchanter as the primary Healing tree vs. Spellsinger (though that doesn’t mean Warchanter needs to be primarily about healing), though that’s one of the more contentious points. There also appears to be a range of opinions as to how much melee support should be included in Warchanter. Again, this doesn’t mean we’re necessarily removing much of what’s there as options.
Some of the changes to support Spellsinger may include spell changes, though exactly how much is not determined. (Wall of Sound still isn’t anything more than accidentally leaked text.)
So I adjusted my graph to look like this:
But I still don’t know if I have it correct.
To me, it is important that each of the enhancement trees is different from the other, bringing a wholly different reason to exist to the table, and a wholly different set of abilities to the party. And different is not enough; they also have to be effective. Vargouille seems be be aiming for an effective offensive caster, an effective supporter and healer, and an effective meleer.
What do you think? Is this the right direction for Bards? Will it work? Do you have any specific ideas on achieving these goals?
Let us know in the comments, but just as importantly, make yourself heard in the forum thread!