Monday, March 22, 2010

The Swordmaster and group utility

The Swordmaster is an odd tank, and requires a group to be spec'd to take advantage of what he can offer to play at it's best. It has great synergy with some classes.

The Swordmaster has excellent synergy with the White Lion, Shadow Warrior and Bright Wizard for DPS classes and the Warrior Priest and Archmage (more for the dps AM than healing AM) healer classes. The Swordmaster is not as well suited to supporting Engineers, Slayers, Witch Hunters, and Rune Priests. The best tank support for the Swordmaster is either another Swordmaster or a Knight. Swordmaster and Ironbreaker together is not as effective.

The definitive group support ability for the Swordmaster is called Whispering Winds. This ability has two effects. First, it's a 4 second silence, which is useful in and of itself. The second effect reduces the cool down timer on abilities by 5 seconds. The biggest decision about how the Swordmaster should spec depends upon which group of classes he is with.

If grouping with mainly WL, SW, BW, AM, and WPs, the SM should take WW. If he is not grouping with mainly those classes, he should not. The SM if using WW should announce it in vent once the proper target has been called. Usually, the SM will silence a healer while the group kills a different target.

A White Lion working with a Swordmaster should have Lionheart slotted. While WW is up, Lion's Fury is a 20 AP, spam-able, spirit damage attack that hits extremely hard. It normally has a 5 second cool down. Not only that, a Swordmaster can typical drop anyone's spirit resistance to zero by himself. WW also makes Blindside zero cool down, and makes Cull the Weak, Thin the Herd, Coordinated Strike, Fey Illusion and Pack Assault only a 5s cool down.

The Shadow Warrior synergy with the Swordmaster comes from the tactic Leading Shots and the ability Blurring Shock. Blurring Shock adds extra damage when a target is hit with a critical hit. Leading Shots makes more crits happen. Also, like the White Lion, they have a lot of very strong abilities on 5-10s cool downs. Festering Arrow is the classic example. A SW could get 3-4 Festering Arrows off during Unshakable Focus. Brutal Assault is another one, especially with the ignore armor tactic for it slotted. Rapid Fire could be kept up for 12s. Usually the SM would place BS on a target one balance cycle before hitting WW to make sure it dies when playing with a SW.

The Bright Wizard has a lot of fun while WW is up. Sear becomes zero cool down. Nova becomes a 5s cool down. Fireball, Sear, Nova, Fireball, Sear, Nova becomes possible. Withering Heat becomes 6s cast with 6s recast, meaning is can be kept up for 18s. So a BW could pre-dot a target then just focus WH on it once the WW fires. Or in a big clump of targets, Annihilate could be kept up for 12 seconds straight. Or notice how most of the AoE dots BW has happen to be 5 seconds shorter than their recast.

The Warrior Priest gains the ability to spam Smite under WW. Unlimited RF ftw! Divine Assault becomes 3s channel, 3s recast. That's a lot of single target healing. Or imagine Hammer of Sigmar on a 5s recast. Castigation has no recast under WW. Neither does Sigmar's Fist nor Sigmar's Vision for you WP buff bots.

The Archmage gets even more ridiculous with AP draining able to keep up two Drain Magics during the 10s WW is up. Also, like Withering Heat, they have a channeled spell called Searing Touch, which is spirit damage. Also, more Transfer Forces can be kept up with 5s recast. Personally, I like the synergy is better with the WP.

Also, all healers can use their cleanse ability with no recast. Abilities that remove enchantments and blessings also have no recast under WW.

When playing with a second Swordmaster, the two will alternate WW, although this usually requires some form of extra AP generation or it's not very sustainable.

The Swordmaster is a powerful class, if you work with it. You can't just throw one in a random group and expect miracles. But with the right players and classes around it, the SM is extremely deadly.

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