What can I say, I have somewhat of a love hate relationship with the class mechanic of my SwordMaster right now. I guess hate is a strong word, its more like I see so much great potential for what it could be in addition to the good things it already has. For those who don’t know the Sword Master fights with abilities available on three tiers. We open with all starter moves (lets call them 1’s), once we hit with a 1 we have access to all our middle moves (2’s) or we can use another 1 again. Once we use a 2 we have access to all our finishers (3’s) or we can use a 1 again and start over. We can never use two 2’s or 3’s in a row. The last part to mention is most (if not all) the 3’s have no attack power cost. This is done in a way to encourage us to cycle through 1-2-3 then start over. If you are constantly 1-2ing anything you will run out of attack power super fast on a SM.
So that out of the way here is my list of Pro’s Con’s to start this off:
Here is what I like:
The mechanic forces me to think constantly. This is mostly done with the second and third moves since openers are pretty limited right now (will get into this later). For the second move I have to choose, do I snare that guy if he is running or might run soon, do I debuff spirit resists (my main damage type and also aoe attack), do I put my 25% parry buff on myself to keep me up? There are more but this is the basics. Finishers are somewhat the same. Do I put on the extra damage crit proc on my enemy, or do I debuff the amount of damage they can do? I like all these possibilities, it really makes me think as a SM and plan out my moves as well as keep me constantly thinking and not button mashing.
Here is what I don’t like:
In high lag situations the mechanic really borks what you can do. High lag will screw up anyone for sure, but for SM its even worse because we can’t mash a button and eventually have it go off, if we don’t know what balance we are in due to lag its like pressing down a hotkey for a skill that is not ready yet, it won’t do anything. This however is mostly not a factor for me, but it could be improved to be a lot smoother for sure. Minor annoyance.
Also as I said above we lack a choice in openers. Pretty much everyone regardless of spec uses EA (spirit based attack) with a tactic that adds a dot to it. That is a good attack and worthy of using, but the others just aren’t. We have an attack that does physical damage that can be close to on par with it (without the tactic) but it suffers from being physical and also from costing more attack power. Both not good things. There really isn’t any good choices for consistent openers, we should have more choices here. I would like to see the parry buff skill or snare be moved here so we could decide in the first hit, do I parry more, snare or go for a damage skill. Wouldn’t be overpowered at all since all other classes don’t suffer from having to wait to use their skills that do the same exact thing.
On that note the balance mechanic is a hinderence limiting what skills we can use at any given time. That alone should make our skills better than other classes who can use any of their skills at any time. We are restricted pretty badly. So why are a lot of our skills actually weaker? Take for instance the parry buff, lasts 5 seconds. We have to use this every single cycle and even then probably can’t keep this buff up. Other classes have a similar defensive buff that lasts for 10 or 20 seconds, and they can use it whenever they want with no cooldown. That seems odd. Similar comparisons can be made to our other abilities which require us to be in the right stance, in fact if we are snared and range is hitting us we are sitting ducks, we can’t do hardly anything without being near enough to the enemy to stance dance, yet we aren’t compensated for it.
You might thing from my much longer list of things I don’t like that I should maybe re-roll or play another class. Here’s the thing, the SwordMaster is the first class I’ve played in a MMO where I haven’t been overly concerned with the actual numbers on my hits, nor what abilities I’m going to get next. I’ve just been enjoying playing the class, logging on and choosing to Orvr, Scen, Pve, PQ, or whatever else I might fancy. The class didn’t really get any huge upgrades from 20-30 and yet I didn’t care. All I know is when I put on my Str Offensive gear and a 2her, I can kill pretty much any class, and when I put on my tough/wounds Defensive gear with 1h and shield, I can survive pretty damn well. The talent trees and tactics add nice flavor, but none are needed to perform either role.
So bottom line, I’m not blind, I see Iron Breakers talent trees and think damn, those are well designed, but I’m still not jealous either. I’d like to see my class get some of its tactics and abilities fixed to meet the design of other more “finished” or whatever you might want to call them classes. But even without the fixes I am fine, and I’m excited to see what 1.2 brings and try out new things. I will keep forging on with my SwordMaster, and I hope somewhere down the line some improvements can be made to the balance mechanic to make its abilities worth the drawbacks and limitations the system presents.