Wrapping up the bards in all their sparkles.

This class challenge has been a lot of fun (except for Aion not working and dungeons and dragons online just being itself).

So as always (he says after at least one completed class challenge) here are the ramblings for each of the games played.

Allods

If you are fond of the cartoon style graphics of World of Warcraft but are not keen to fork over a subscription each month then Allods could be well worth your time.  The classes and races of the game are familiar with a little twist or two.  However anyone who has played a fantasy mmo should have no problems understanding the majority of the game systems.

Therein lies Allods strength and its weakness.

If you are looking for a game that departs from the standard tropes then Allods is not the one and if you are already playing a well developed fantasy game there is not a lot to tempt you into picking up this game.

a. Feel of the class 

It was nice to be able to pick an orc for my race and the bard class itself felt very musically focused. When making attacks you were surrounded by musical notes, often with your lute or similar instrument in hand instead of your weapon. Each of the spells and talents were music related giving the entire class a solid bardic feel. However the bard from my game time seemed to be purely a dps class and it did end up being a fairly stock standard attack: press x until it dies or until you can press y once something occurs sort of class. it was fine and functional but lacked any real oomph at the lower levels. Bare in mind that with the talent tree system your bard might end up being very different class once you have sunk enough points into its talents.

b. Easy of play

The bard had no problems in questing, in fact it was so easy to play that coupled with the auto run to quest locations I found it slightly disengaging. I was not sure in the first few zones if it was possible to die in combat unless I was to go afk for a few minutes mid battle.  If you want a potter about game without requiring significant brain power then the bard was a perfect fit.

c. Type of play

The bard at lower levels is a dps class with short range attacking music. Talent points were fairly uninspiring at first and building up to more specialist roles further along.

d. Fun

The animation on combat was cute, especially with the use of a lute in the casting animations. The skills all had a satisfying musical twist to otherwise standard dps class.  Overall the game just suffered too much from  “Seen this all before in other games” syndrome. The variation from the norm was not significant enough to hold my interest for long. The game was easy to log into and equally easy to log out of.

e. Its place in its world

Like a lot of fantasy games Allods makes no effort to have any class based interactions with the world. There were no bard specific quests, all of  the quests I encountered were generic kill x or collect y types of quest.  No use of musical instrument outside of combat animations meant that you had no scope for roleplaying as a bard.

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Dungeon and Dragons Online

a. Feel of the class

Bards in D&D online are rogues with a small collection of spells. There is very little musical about the class other than some short term long cool-down buffs that have minimalistic animations. Using two weapons is a satisfying spam fest at the lower levels, everything dies fairly much from a blur of blows. As every dungeon has a solo settle in the early game there is very little requirement to group up so a support class wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

b. Easy of play

There is little to challenge you in the first levels of most mmo’s and D&Do is no exception to this rule – the standard solo dungeons have some minor traps and puzzles but nothing to cause any of their classes problems. The bard itself lacks some of the nice additions that other games give it, it has no self heal, no buffs and no long ranged song damage. Instead it must act as a poor rogue.

c. Type of play

It is really hard to tell what roll the bard in D&D is to fit into. Although solo dungeons presented no problems for the bard it is hard to imagine a group situation where it would be beneficial to take a bard over a wizard, sorcerer or thief as it  lacks the big support class buffs, has only a minor collection of spells.

d. Fun

It is as fun as other other classes I’ve played in D&Do which is to say not especially. The combat, quests and as mentioned before, hideous graphics makes the game seem duller than I think it actually is. Combat spamming of two weapons can be fun and there is a little amusement in barrel bashing (every dungeon stores all its loot in barrels and boxes that cannot be opened and must be hacked apart.

e. Its place in its world

The bard sits somewhere between a spell caster and a rogue without begin particularly good at either of these. the world of D&Do as mentioned before has no interaction with your character other than at the most superficial “you are the hero come save us from rats/dogs/litter/lizard things etc etc”.

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Everquest 1.

a. Feel of the class

With multiple buffs to be twisted together you never have any downtime as a bard. When everything works out and you have 4-5 buffs floating about your character bringing mana, hp, healing and all sorts of goodness surrounding you its a treat. When you lag out, miss a note or mess up your twisting things rapidly go downhill. Add to this is the fact that you can use a variety of musical instruments to boost an effect and you have fairly complex system.

b. Easy of play

Due to its unique play style the EQ1 bard is not the most easy character to play well. It is easy enough to solo with, you have some lovely speed buffs and an area of effect damage dot that can combine into a fantastic kiting experience.  EQ1 being an older game it takes a bit to get use to some of differences between “how it was” and “how it is now” in game play/style and general ease of access.  If you are looking for a class where good connection speed, nimble fingers and a bit of luck can allow you to shine then EQ1 may be your cup of twisting tea.

c. Type of play

When EQ1 was first out the bard was a pure support class, bringing critical combat, regen and buffs to a party. Solo play was a little trickier with plenty of space needed to quad kite around mobs until they died.  Now with mercenaries a bard should have no problem soloing up the levels and still be welcome in a group.

d. Fun

I think the bard is one of my favorite everquest 1 classes. It shines in groups but is solid in solo and its spell effects have dancing musical notes all about them. If you could have a little more forgiving system it could be the perfect combat bard.

e. Its place in its world

Apart from epic quests there is no particular bard based interactions with the world.

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Everquest 2

As mentioned in my class challenge I, everquest 2 characters are variations of the four basic fantasy archetypes: the fighters, priests, scouts and mages. The bard is a variation of the scout archetype and many of your starting skills will be generic rogue skills called songs or ballads or various musically based themes. As the bard levels however you begin to get buffs which move the bard into a support class roll rather than a pure dps. At higher end of the game some of the key bardic abilities are large temporary buffs (the cacophony of blades for dirge, jesters cap for Troubadour) which give a big dps spike for melee (dirge) or casters(troubadour).

a. Feel of the class

The troubadour felt very much like a chain wearing rogue when beginning play. They have stealth and stealth based melee attacks very early on and pickup their first buff at level two which adds to some caster attributes. The buffs in Everquest 2 are limited by a total of 5 buff slots a character can fill, once you cast a buff they remain untill you die or you stop casting it. Some more powerful buffs use to take a few more slots than 1 but I am unsure if this is still the case. Unlike the Everquest1 twisting the EQ2 bard is about chooseing the right buffs to maintain based around your party/solo requirements.

At 20th level the troubadour gains Rousing Celebration a fun spell that plays a musical instrument.

b. Easy of play

The bard is a little tougher to solo however there are template lines for your alternative advancement points for solo play which increases your durability. Add a mercenary in and things get considerably easier, however mercs require either unlock through the store or purchase of the Age of Discovery expansion. Without the requirements to twist buffs the EQ2 bard is far easier to play than its predecessor.

Having stealth at level 1 gives the bard the option to skip dangerous content and movement speed buffs can allow them to outrun some foes.

c. Type of play

Bards shine in groups, be it a dungeon or raid, they can add a wide selection of welcomed buffs. As a support class it is your job to make everyone else heal/fight/defend better and often its a little hard to tell how much value you can bring to a group.

d. Fun

Buffs, sneaking, fun spells and all manner of musical notes flying about when you cast things makes the EQ2 bard a lot of fun. It is a lot easier to play than EQ1 but as a support class it feels a little more “special snowflake” than say the dps bards of Allod.

e. Its place in its world

Aside from the epic quests and some fun spells there is no special treatment for bards in the game.

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Lord of the Rings online

a. Feel of the class

Unlike all the other games the bard of lord of the rings (called a minstrel) is the healing class. This gives it a very different group dynamic and skills which allow you to to perform your healing role (which the game calls moral so it makes sense that a bard would restore a groups moral).  Outside of healing groups the minstrel  feels a little like the Allods bard – dps with colorfully named attack skills and abilities.

b. Easy of play

Questing is a breeze, the character was about to one shot most of the starting quest monsters and had little trouble with any creature she encountered. Combine the good dps with a solid heal and the minstrel felt unkillable during solo play during the first few levels of questing.

c. Type of play

As mentioned above the minstrel is a healer class and are responsible for keeping the moral of a party up during group play. Outside of groups the same healing spells makes soloing easy.

d. Fun

The minstrel is a joy to play – really I found it by far the most fun class I have played in Lord of the rings. It has a nice way of healing and questing plus the instruments in game can actually be played to make a tune (check out youtube or similar for some amazing videos like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNLdtkZzVHI ). Sadly my talents do not run into creating music but even a few poorly formed strums of my lute had me feeling like a dapper wee bard.

e. Its place in its world

Although there is not a lot of direct NPC interaction around the minstrel in the starting area the server I was on had people people doing some light roleplaying. I haven’t had much experience with online rpg – I tend to keep my roleplaying to tabletop games – but after some nice interactions I plucked out my lute and had some hobbits cheering and dancing around. That is one of the great things about games that spend time on fun items and abilities, it gives the players the opportunity to craft unique stories themselves, and that can add so much to a world.

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Rift

a. Feel of the class

Like Everquest2 the rift bard is based around a rogue archetype and inherits much of its abilities from that. As mentioned int he Rift necromancer review a class in Rift is made from three talent trees – typically one primary one and one secondary one and a third talent tree with only a few points in it. As you add more points in a talent tree you open up more skills. If you want to check some out have a look at  http://riftroguebuilds.com/ where you can find a large section of the talents tree options.

b. Easy of play

The bard is a little trickier to solo with and most players would keep it as a group/raid based character and swap out to a much more friendly solo build such as a ranger heavy one. It is possible to quest with a bard (I did till the mid 30s) but it can be very frustrating and slow. In a group you have a fair amount of things to manage (the did reduce the micro management down but a macro to recast your short duration buffs is still handy).  The bard has up to 4 short duration buffs to try and juggle (they last 20 seconds each) and although these are refreshed automatically by using a finishing move when you have the talent called Bardic Inspiration. However this requires 5 combo points (scouts resource – they gain up to 5 with attacks and spend them on finishing moves). So it still requires a little timing and fiddling to get right.

c. Type of play

The bard is a support class, it has the same role as the bard in the Everquest games – aid the party in fighting/healing/casting better. As well as support it brings a modest amount of dps to the group.  I have encountered while leveling more than one group that I was asked to swap to a dps build at the start of an instance so your mileage with the bard in a group may vary.

d. Fun

The bard was the first build I played in rift so I have a soft spot for it – when Rift was first released it was a challenge to keep all the buffs up and running but as I had been raiding as a feral druid in WoW having a juggle based character felt natural to me. If you are looking for a bard class with the ability to swap out to a more solo friendly build with the click of a button then Rift has you covered.

e. Its place in its world

As always the nature of the Rift game means that no talent tree has any impact on how the npcs relate to you.

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So with the bard rambled through its time to think about what class challenge to embark upon next time – feel free to tweet/leave any suggestions in the comments and Ill pick a winner (Please read my first class challenge post about the general guidelines for suggestions)

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3 thoughts on “Wrapping up the bards in all their sparkles.

  1. Xannziee says:

    u should try the bard in ArcheAge:):) its fun! based on Songcraft like the Exorcist im playing now and then.
    about bard in Rift, I had huge amounts of dps with it in pvp. Mostly 1 of top 3 dps in warfronts..and i did hundreds of them .maybee pve is different??

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