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Epic Education Episode 4: Casting Roles

Hello and welcome to Epic Education – a show of tips and tactics for surviving epic content.  I’m your guide Shamgar and this is Episode 4: “Casting Roles” alternatively titled “Disaster Control”

 

This Episode is the last in a series of 3 on how to play the basic roles in epic content.  Today I will be focusing on casters – but some of this content will be heavily applicable to the other roles as well.  As with other roles you will find that most of what I will discuss is applicable not just in epic content, but throughout the game at any level.  These are things you can start planning for and practicing now so that when you reach level 20 you are ready to venture into epic quests.  Again, remember that these are only the basics.  Actual tactics may vary depending on the quest, party style and your party leader.

 

Lets begin as always with gear and potions.  Potions are pretty much the same as what everyone else should be bringing.  Big idea with potions is bring one for any condition you might have to deal with.

 

Just like the healers you should bring a weapon or two.  A portal beater and a multipurpose weapon will do the trick. I like the dreamspitter for the energy draining effect on critical hits, but it can be hard to acquire.

 

AS far as items go anything that increases hps, sps and your effectiveness as a caster are always extremely beneficial.  You’ll want to bring a stack of mnemonic pots as well.  Just like a healer, you shouldn’t expect to go through a bunch, but you should have them on hand for any train wrecks you encounter.

 

Now then, arcane buff spells.  Blur and displacement both reduce a large percentage of damage on the party and are probably the most useful.  Rage adds to group dps and gives extra hps.  And of course haste, the every popular haste.  If you need to know why haste is a great spell you aren’t ready for epics.  Other spells that are very handy are dimension door, fire shield, and invisibility.  While not actually a buff spell, dimension door allows you to quickly return to the beginning of a quest – handy for both convenience of running and avoiding some mobs.  Fire shield is only a personal spell, but it will reduce the fire and cold damage you take by 50% – and since casters tend to be on the lighter side of the hit point spectrum that can be a huge difference.  Invisibility and mass invisibility will allow you to run past some mobs without affecting the dungeon alert.  You can get those 3 spells in scroll versions, though dimension door scrolls are rare and cannot be purchased

 

Arcane casters tend to fall somewhere in the spectrum between nuking and crowd control.  While there is a place for both in epics, most of what you will be expected to do as an arcane caster is crowd control.  Nuking can help the party kill faster, but in general you will increase party DPS more by using effective crowd controlling and reducing the number of active combatants quickly.  Having said that however, there are several places where a well placed firewall or ice storm can be effective.  Boss fights can be a great place for nuking, just remember to keep enough spell points to do any crowd controlling that is needed during the fight.

Crowd Control in epic quests is typically the difference between a nice smooth run and a disastrous party wipe.  Crowd control quickly neutralizes monsters so they are unable to attack and do any damage.  This is particularly important when the mob size is larger.  If you can keep the mob controlled they will be severely limited on how much damage they can do to your party.  If you cant control the mob they will likely tear you to shreds.  Mass hold monster is by far the most effective spell for crowd control.  Not only does it neutralize monsters, but it puts them in a state where they take an extra 50% damage from most sources.  Ottos irresistible dance is another invaluable spell as it does not allow a save.  While its not an autocrit state, irresistible dance is effective for monsters you are having problems landing a hold on, however, it has a very short range and is only a single target spell.  Flesh to stone is another spell that puts monsters into a state where they take an extra 50% damage from most sources.  Unlike hold spells, it’s a fortitude save instead of a will save, making it more effective against a different variety of monsters, but it too is only a single target spell.  Web is another spell that targets a different save, this time reflex saves.  Hypnotism is a great cheap spell, but it ends when someone hits the monster, so with swing happy 2 handed barbarians in the group it tends to be less effective.  Fascinate is very similar to hypnotism but equally, if not more effective.  While its only effective against a small selection of monsters, halt undead is another very useful spell.  It works against monsters that are immune to most other crowd control spells.  If you are a divine class greater command is another option.  Charm spells if use properly can be very useful as well.  Getting the monsters to attack themselves keeps both the monsters you have charmed and the monsters they attack occupied.  However, if you charm everything theres nothing for them or your party to attack.  It also tends to aggravate your party if you charm everything in sight. 

 

Most people will tell you to be successful in epics as a caster you need to have a DC of around 40.  While this will certainly make it easier for you, if you are clever you can make do with a lower DC.  Energy drain will lower monsters saves and if all else fails you can dance everything you see.  Mass charm spells are in my opinion better if your spell DC is only marginal.  Only being able to charm about 50% of the mobs is really ideal.

 

EDIT: In update 9 there were sweeping changes to spells, epic ward, and autocrit states.  Most spells were changed and epic ward no longer provides deathblock.  Update 9.1 re-gave oranged name bosses in epic content deathblock   These changes make instant kill spells far more use in epic content.  However, the minion save debuff was reduced and many monsters have better saving throws on epics.  This can be countered with many of the spell changes that now apply a save debuff even if the target saves.  These changes vastly widen the usefulness and variety of available spells that are effective in epic content.

 

Also in update 9 were the changes to helplessness.  Before update 9 being helpless (usually being held or turned to stone) gave those attacking an autocrit.  This was completely changed to remove the autocrit state (and thus crit effects like life stealing) and replace it with a 50% increase to damage from almost all sources.  While this does make holds slightly less effective, it is still a great crowd control spell and very useful.  Yes it did get nerfed, but it still neutralizes monsters and increases the damage they take.

 

Finally in update 9, minions in epic content had their hit points reduced.  This makes nuking a far more viable tactic for casters.

 

Just like the DPS party members as a caster you will need to prioritize targets based on threat level.  However, you will be switching targets much more rapidly.  Once you have neutralized a target or a group of targets you should be looking for the next.  This doesn’t mean you should agro more mobs because we still want to observe agro management, but you should constantly be looking for mobs that are a threat and hit them with some crowd control.

 

This is the beginning of an explanation of situational awareness.  While everyone in the party should be maintaining a good situational awareness, casters will find it somewhat easier to do so and good situational awareness will augment your effectiveness of crowd control.  Situational awareness is simply put an awareness of what is happening around you.  As a melee it is very easy to focus on your target, particularly when they are large monsters.  Healers have a tendency to become very focused on the party’s life bars.  Casters and archers will find having a broad view fairly easy because of the distance they will usually have between themselves and the mob.  For a caster who is focusing on crowd control it is vital to have good situational awareness because you need to quickly locate, prioritize, and neutralize targets.  You will also need to gauge how effective your crowd control is.  If your spells are not landing reliably you need to change your tactics.  Use different spells, energy drain, or use irresistible dance more often.

 

Another tactic you can use is kiting.  Really any class can kite, but generally only an archer or a offensive caster can kite without losing their DPS options.  Kiting is where you run away from mobs whose agro you have acquired.  Generally this tactic is used on mobs you do not intend to kill or if you do you don’t intend to kill them at that time.  IT can be an effective way to spread out monsters – particularly when the mobs size has grown larger than you can handle – but there are some hazards to avoid.  First, you will mostly be wanting to avoid getting any more agro than you already have so try and run in the direction you have already come from.  Second, if the mob that you are kiting will need to be killed try not to get too far from your DPS and when they are trying to pull one off to kill try to either run the mob past the party or stay still for a moment.  If you are constantly running mobs away from your DPS party, they will likely grow frustrated, place bets on how long you will last, and leave you to your fate.

 

Kiting can also be used to augment your nuking and crowd control.  By kiting in small loops you can continually run monsters through your lasting area of effect spells.  Blade barrier, web, firewall, ice storm, and other similar spells all hit a monster every time they enter the area of effect.  While its true that some of these spells will continue to hit monsters while they remain in the area of effect, you may find it to be advantageous to keep hoping around to reduce their ability to hit you.

 

That will end this week’s Epic Education.  If you have any questions, comments, or corrections you can email me at DDOEpicEducation@gmail.com that’s all one word.   Join me next time as I discuss questing with ettiquitte for epics.  Thanks for listening.

 

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