I don’t think Knicker is really the intended target character type for Frenzied Berserker. She is one, has been for as long as the prestige enhancement has existed. But it’s never been the perfect fit. Knicker is an Evasion barbarian, mainly DPS, definitely a two-weapon fighter.
Frenzied Berserker seems to be aiming for the two-handed fighting crowd. Although I wonder about that too; ever since we got the new-style enhancements there have been some FB enhancements that increase your chance to do splash damage when using a two-handed weapon, while other FB enhancements give you lots of extra Cleaves. When you Cleave you do not do splash damage at all; it is kind of an odd dichotomy.
But I digress. This is not about the way that Frenzied Berserkers are today, but rather, how they will be remade for Update 24.
Let’s take a look.
My original intent was to be super-careful about changing enhancements to make it easier to compare before-and-after. But no, a distraction occurs while waiting for Lamannia to load and my first action ends up being to clear all of Knicker’s enhancements. All of them. I don’t even need an enemy, my plan has failed to survive my first contact with myself.
So I pick enhancements again, for all the trees. I don’t have a blueprint, but I know what Knicker is basically all about and I use that information to guide my choices: as many Rages as possible. Power Rage. Hardy Rage. Extended Rage. Knicker is all about the rage.
Useful Evasion requires all of the Halfling DEX enhancements and Halfling Luck. Then the Cleaves.
As I do this I note that in fact, the changes to these trees are quite minor; I am picking from the same old enhancements that have always been there. The only radically new thing in the FB tree is a multi-selector that lets one add an extra 1[W] to all attacks OR the equivalent of a Cure Moderate Wounds that goes off automatically every two seconds when Raging.
There are differences to be sure, but most of the differences are in the text rather than in the enhancements themselves. For instance, Frenzy and Death Frenzy still grant bonus damage, but the damage is no longer Vicious.
Most of the changes involve extra hit points, extra melee power, or new healing amplification.
By the time I’d finished, I had less from the Halfling tree than I had before, but I’d added two more 5th-tier FB abilities: Tantrum, which has an improved knockdown chance, and the constant Cure Moderate thingie who’s name escapes me.
Looking at the number totals when done, it is not overwhelming. I added about 10% more hit points. I gained 13 melee power. I gained 30 healing amplification, but it is the new style healing amp and Knicker’s overall HAMP score may not actually be better than what she was getting previously.
Hit points, melee power, healing amplification, self-healing. All things that ought to make the character much more survivable. Yes? But there’s only one way to find out.
The new-and-improved Knicker approaches Impossible Demands with some trepidation. At level 28 this should be do-able, but Knicker never solos. Never. And here she is without even bringing a hireling. On Elite.
“Things are different now”, I tell myself, “Knicker is more survivable.” I can see her pixely-steel eyes staring back at me through the screen. Clearly she does not believe me.
The first fight against the red-named Lolth priestess does not go that well. I am doing plenty of damage, but it doesn’t feel like more than I’ve done in the past. And I am taking way too much damage myself. I have to pull away from the fight at regular intervals and wait for the tick-tick-tick of the Cure Moderate. It is nowhere near enough healing to keep up with the damage I am taking.
Maybe I don’t have enough healing amplification under the new HAMP calculation? I don’t know, Knicker just always needed to have a cleric with her before so I never bothered with that much HAMP.
The Priestess gets too far ahead and Knicker dies. There is a shrine nearby and she is quickly back up. I can’t tell if she died because she is still insufficiently survivable or if I am just not pressing the right buttons fast enough. Some of the buttons are new to this character and I need practice.
Knicker is able to finish off the Priestess without further deaths but is depleted. Standing about in a corner, she slowly drips back up to fully healed. Sloooooowly. But surely.
Throwing open the main door, she strides into the room containing about six Drow. Too much agro. Back out the door, try to crowd-control the bad guys with terrain and movement; Knicker mows them down when she can keep them at one-or-two-at-a-time.
These DPS numbers are low.
She’d do better, on and off throughout the quest,
depending on how well I was buttoning at the moment
Either she really does have better DPS now, or maybe my level 28 is just overpowering the level 23 Drow. Even if they are on Epic Elite. Or maybe, both? I am not sure the previous Knicker could have done so well … maybe? But I wouldn’t know, I would never consider soloing with Knicker.
Maybe that is the big difference. Now I am willing to at least try?
But back to the action! All of the common monsters are dispatched, Knicker is only slightly depleted, and ticks back to full health again fairly quickly. Now – after the Priestess!
This time I make certain to have all of my various buttons properly buttoned. Rage. Frenzy. Death Frenzy. Weapon Bond. I use my special attacks: Sly Flourish, Ear Smash, Momentum Swing. The new Tantrum. And especially, Haste Boost.
But still she is able to damage me faster than I can self-heal. Even with a Bottomless Flask of Rum (that you all voted her to have!). Even with a couple Potions of Sovereign Healing. The new self-healing and extra hit points are still not enough to keep her up against a quality red-named opponent, and Knicker dies with the Priestess at about 33% of health.
Which I guess is not really that bad. Old Knicker seems very unlikely to have made it this far.
I am still in range of the raise shrine and quickly, back into the fight. No further dying, just winning, as I mash all of the correct buttons enough times to get the Priestess before she can get me again.
I run through the rest of the quest, evading/running through the spell wards, fighting the rest of the common monsters. I can be overwhelmed; tactics are still needed. But only tactics, Knicker is now self-sufficient enough to make up the difference on her own.
I release all the captives and return to loot.
I think, with practice, or if I was on Knicker’s better Epic Destinies (rather than the Bard one she is earning at the moment), I might have been able to run that quest without any deaths at all.
Victory. Solo. On a barbarian.
Who’d a thunk it?
🙂 😀 🙂