My Personal 2020 Updated TR Checklist

Objectives:

☐ Pick up any Saga rewards:

  • Heroic / Racial TR:
    • 3BC / Sentinels
    • Ravenloft
    • Gianthold
    • Sharn City + Sharn Cogs
  • Iconic TR:
    • (Heroic) Gianthold
    • (Epic) MotU (4)
    • (Epic) Ravenloft
    • (Epic) Sharn City + Sharn Cogs
    • (Epic) 3BC / Sentinels*
    • (Epic) Gianthold*

*Unlikely to run.

☐ Turn in favor achievements and rewards (not all required):

  • Twelve favor for ingredient bags
  • Harper favor for Greater Harper Pin
  • Yugoloth favor for Yugoloth potions
  • Agents of Argonnesson favor for Gianthold reward (Flawless Siberys Dragonshard or Portable Hole)
  • Cannith favor for crafting items
  • Silver Flame favor for SF potions and Blessing of the Silver Flame token
  • Purple Dragon Knights favor for upgrading Caught in the Web raid weapons
  • Total Favor tome reward from Nyx (+2 tome of choice) to convert into 9 Purified Eberron Dragonshard Fragments

☐ Run the first four quests of Korthos for cheap (5 TP exchange) Siberys Cake.

☐ Max out on inventory and bank slots (5 inventory slots, 3 bank slots, minimum): House Kundarak favor (150) for 2 more bank slots, Coin Lords favor (75/150) and a Portable Hole required to grant access to 4th and 5th inventory slots, respectively.

☐ Sell unnecessary items such as spell components. Destroy all Iconic gear, if any.

☐ Purchase expensive items while the character has a good haggle at cap such as Raise Dead and Resurrection scrolls.

☐ If close to next 100th favor point reward, run some quests for favor to reach next favor reward.

☐ Pick up any 20th raid rewards as well as any raid/quest completion.

☐ Swap to two weapons to grant 1 more inventory spot for maximum usage.

☐ If TR’ing on a Druid or Artificer life that has items in pet’s gear slots, remove them.

☐ Place hold consumables such as potions, scrolls, cookies, and more in the guild chests. If space is needed, toss out expendable items to repurchase in the next life.

☐ Pick up a free Ravenloft heroic / epic Morninglord weapon and a Sentient Jewel to feed per life.

☐ Remember to quit the client and reincarnate upon startup.


Optionals:

☐ Repair Sigil of the Dal-Quor if flagged/possible.

☐ If not on final life, and close to 5000 favor reward, go for it. If at XX50 or higher favor, go for the nearest 100th to pick up last bit of favor for DDO points.

☐ If wanting to test a feat, use the free feat exchange per life opportunity.

How I Play my Favored Soul (Celestial Radiance Build)

So this is more of a post intended for the build page, but figured I’d talk about it here as a general overview as well. This may be edited over time to add more new things that pop up or revise the wording of certain things, but for the most part this is the final deal.

To preface, this isn’t exactly to say that the build should be played only in this or that way, but is more centered around how I personally play, as well as my rationale for its choices and quirks.

As a side note, one of these days if I ever get to post a video, I will. But forgive me for a pure wall of text beyond that. 😛


Overview

First off, the build breaks down its stats, but what are the finer points to playing the build? Often, people will only ask for the Favored Soul build, but the build is more than just “copy and paste” stats, feats, bam. As with a lot of end game builds, there are not only strategic aspects in actual gameplay that applies to all characters as a general whole, but also caster tactics that affect whether or not you choose this spell, or use that ED ability, all within the matter of seconds and/or even milliseconds. Celestial Radiance (abbreviated as CR for short), played effectively, requires a heavy focus on fast reflexes and conscientiousness by end game caster nature. Let’s break down what that exactly means, through the use of examples, as I primarily learn and can explain this best by using very specific examples to share greater insight as to how the “min-max-ception,” in a nutshell, is so.

The rationale below assumes LE – R1 content; specific high reaper content addressed in its own topic.

Quest – Heavy Mob Density

Quests where there are heavy mob spawns, particularly regular trash mobs that litter hallways and areas every 5 meters, are typically the fairly large and recent quests such as ToEE and Slavers. Having ran Slavers so much, it is important to know that as a caster, I typically follow a pattern or routine in my spell “cycle.” This means thinking ahead and utilizing spells in such a way that allows enough cool-down time to wear off and reuse (or not use) in time for the next mob cluster. For instance, there are many areas in Slavers Part 1 where there are Undead, which are very easy targets for Implosion. They tend to be in clusters enough for 6 Implosion ticks to wipe them out, or at least 90% of them, allowing the rest for nuke clean up or party members to take a swing at them. While it is inevitable that the next mob cluster may be environmentally disadvantaging to the spell rotation, keeping mental tabs on cool-downs allows for a much smoother run and maximizes a Favored Soul’s play-ability significantly. Thus, enabling cool-down timers in UI Settings for spells is critical to not just a Favored Soul caster, but to any caster.

Quests with a heavy mob concentrate tend to be where AoE nukers such as Favored Souls, Sorcerers, and Warlocks shine the brightest. Using the same Slavers example, I quite often start off with a Greater Command and/or Burst of Glacial Wrath for the CC and/or 50% helpless damage increase, Energy Burst (Fire), and then a Divine Wrath to top it off. If leftover mobs are still alive, I’ll throw a Hell Ball, Cometfall, possibly Blade Barrier if there is space, and return Hell Ball after its 6 second cool-down. I generally keep the high DPS spells first in the chain, then use other spells and abilities to follow them up if necessary so that the cool-downs return faster, in a sense. In this fashion, you are also saving your lesser spells from going on cool-down at all, conserving potential SP. Divine Wrath is a close follow up after Energy Burst due to prolonged “to-hit” range exposure. The issue with this is that sometimes, I will be too late to cast Divine Wrath to heal myself in time if surrounded by, say, champion mobs. But in complement, the rest generally do not require a closer range, so after I jump in mob clusters for close range AoE spells, I will wing away or tumble backwards for safety and “fight on the flight,” constantly in motion. After using the two closest range spells that puts me at a vulnerable window for melee attacks, the healing from Divine Wrath covers the damage taken if survived. While it can be a deadly risk if jumping into a mob of more than 2-3 champions or just hard hitting mobs (particularly ogres with their consecutive attack sequence), the Glacial first in the rotation, if holding an Affirmation weapon, allows at least a 1K temporary HP “shield” to help mitigate the incoming damage, along with tossing a Cocoon beforehand. Hence, one of my habits to constantly spam Cocoon no matter if I don’t need the healing on the run (especially in randomized trap heavy quests as Part 1). Aside from those precaution measures, you will have to eye the cluster of mobs that your character is jumping into and make an educated and expeditious judgement as to whether or not how far into the heart of the cluster you’ll jump into, or if not at all, to hard target a single monster and hit your spells just close enough (or select casting from a distance).

Update: due to build changes in exchanging Hell Ball with Mass Frog, similar concepts may be applied for gathering mobs. With Mass Frog, it is important to try and isolate mobs who may be immune (whether by high spell resistance or fortitude saves, or champions such as Hero’s Soul or Light Bearer with Deathblock) and target vulnerable mobs for instakills.

Distance and Positions

Maintaining the proper distance is important for such higher level content, not only due to the previously stated example of the vulnerable melee “to-hit” range window, but in regards to ray spell positioning as well. Sometimes, the environment may feel claustrophobic in narrow hallways and such, which is generally an indicator that you may need to drag mobs away or forward to another location where there is ample room. This safeguards your character from being trapped in a situation where it is at its most vulnerable to maximum damage intake with little room for escape/forgiveness. For a ranged character, hallways are perfect due to IPS — for casters, radial areas are ideal due to AoEs that tend to follow similar form (fogs, stationary spells, etc.). For a Favored Soul, this is especially true; a Blade Barrier works best in a room with plenty of room to strategically set up multiple cored circles and kite between the outer edges. Other spells will benefit in general (Energy Burst and Divine Wrath) simply because of their radial form, and still affect mobs so long as they are clustered in the same general focal point. Otherwise, ray spells and Hell Ball will be more forgiving in terms of mob organizational structure management.

Sun Bolt, the only penetrating ray spell that blasts through targets (similar function as IPS) is probably one of few, if not the only spell pertaining to this build that requires a little more set up. Simply positioning to line up as you would a ranged character can treat it as a linear AoE.

As a final note, playing in mouse look on mode by right click only helps immensely in swerving the camera/character around, as well as, more importantly, strafing directionally. This means being able to pan the camera at all angles, which allows for a smoother, more contained, kiting form, despite the amount of strenuous work it creates physically if you have small hands like me. 😛

Kiting = Jumping

Kiting is generally frowned upon and mostly executed by ranged characters, but casters will also make use of it too. The distance between the seasoned caster and the mobs often indicate how high level the content is scaled to; in high level end game content, you want a close to 0-5% range of the mobs being able to hit you (not AC wise, but rather physically in space). In most content as assumed here, shorter distance is ideal to allow for more containment in the pathing so that not only can melee party members can at least have a shot at attacking them, but also due to closing the distance almost immediately as soon as front-range AoE cool-downs wear off.

As a contained kiting tip, I often jump and weave over between monsters. Jumping from, literally, one side of the monster to the other creates a stalling effect, where the mobs have a greater range (50-60%) chance of being able to hit you due to closer physical distance. However, the mobs having to face one direction and then turning around gives you a second of kiting space and a breather, hence stalling the mob from its regular combat routine. The difficulty in mind allows for you to be able to take some hits to heal between jumping. Jumping physically disentangles you from the slowness of casting while running. For instance, I will fail to jump and cast a spell if I jump too late; that is, not less than 1 second in terms of casting animation of the spell (including visual and auditory aspects) and actual character motion speed (gestures in character casting motions). The collateral damage from mobs attacking me while in mid-cast sometimes will kill me before the healing and/or killing effect occurs, as opposed to Energy Burst or Burst of Glacial Wrath, which are near immediate within milliseconds of the actual (casting) click. By jumping away properly and appropriately, particularly in close range with mobs, taking one or a couple less hit(s) may be something between life and death.

Gear/Weapon Swapping Sets

If I had to say one thing about the build’s gear set up that annoys me greatly, it is the amount of swapping and “sets” I have in total. There is a max SP set up to take advantage of buffing and light casting, and then there is the actual casting set up, with a plethora of items all for situational uses. While this current set up is so much better in terms of output than when previously updated (during Thunder-forged times), it is still a lot of effort and mental muscle work to constantly keep check of which items I have on, and which to use in quests all while thinking ahead of the game.

For weapons, it is very important to know which sets are where and how to get to them fast. As mentioned, playing in higher level content with this build requires fast physical and mental reflexes. Some sets I’ve created for potential use never get used because I only have room for the top 4 in the main weapon hot-bar. This means I must minimize the amount of commonly used and/or necessary weapon sets, and place those in the main weapon hotbar. The rest are set aside for potential usage, provided that mental reflexes do not fail me.

As a prime example, what I need situationally needs to be translated mentally-effectively. If I am taking too much agro from mobs and need a way to CC them, I will use Greater Command, Burst of Glacial Wrath, and/or Soundburst in combination with an LGS weapon CC effect (Salt, Radiance). This all depends on the mob profile: Is it red named, or orange/non-named? Does the mob typically have a high save against Fortitude/Reflex/Will saves? What immunities does it have both naturally (Undead being immune to holds) and conditionally (champion status)? Do I need to kill the mob relatively fast, meaning adding the 50% helpless condition, in terms of CC? These factors determine what spells I will specifically choose in order to counter all of its strengths in accordance to its weakness — knowing your mobs is truly “half the battle.”

For the record, if it is an orange named, high Fortitude mob, I will almost always Energy Drain it for fool-proof guaranteed subsequent DC cast, then use an immediate follow up Hold Person, provided there aren’t any immunities against holds + mob type. For general non-charm/enchantment immune mobs, I’ll use Greater Command, and for miscellaneous immune types, Cometfall + LGS effects as last resorts. Again, it all completely depends on the mob profile, current resources, and all in all, the scope of the situation.

Gear juggling also follows a very detailed approach. When I planned out my Slavers 5 piece set + Dominion LGS 3 piece set, I had to pick the best slots as of currently available in accordance with swaps. For instance, I made my Wisdom necklace a necklace because I swap to Draconic Necklace for a GH clicky, or Epic Noxious Embers for the Lesser Maximize x5 clickies. Boots are never changed so they are made Slavers shackles (the Charisma item) in their secondary slot, meaning they are absolutely never taken off via hot-bar. The obvious question is then asked: Why not Wisdom on the boots so that I don’t lose any casting DCs from the swapping time window, or if I forget to swap back? The sake of SP maintenance in case the swap is done before the first 15-20% section of the SP is depleted would mean a slightly greater loss than the usual “swap backs.” Either way, both are very narrow considerations towards efficiency, but efficient nonetheless.

Hotbars Setup

Hotbars are a very personal aspect of playing any build — so long as they suit the player’s mental habits, they are a valuable part of playing to the full extent.

As a caster, that often means unloading 90% of your hotbars on the screen. While I maintain about ~3 nested inside the main hot-bar, using “-” and “=” keys to swap back and forth quickly, just about every slot of each and every hotbar is filled. Carrying ample scrolls, potions, and other consumables improve the gaming experience in cases of emergencies or flexibility, more so the latter than anything else. Being self sufficient in just about every scenario is always ideal and valuable to a party.

Placement of the spells particularly is of great importance in playing a caster. Dragging debuffs (Energy Drain) by the instakills (Destruction, Slay Living, Implosion) allows minimal mouse traveling time and distance, and is easily organized and grouped mentally. This method might seem like common sense, but nearly everything should be within 1-3 slots of each other that break into specific sections or have relation with one another (save for a miscellaneous bar). Keep in mind very minor details such as having a swap item that affects your SP – for instance, my LGS INT Skills/SP gloves are right by the Vile Blasphemies and a stack of Scrolls of Protection of Energies, Mass (which is in the masses buff section). Rather than placing the Scroll right by the Viles which potentially means a significant loss of -20% SP due to Dominion 18% set and 3 tiers of LGS SP, placing the Viles towards the last slot of the hot-bar with the Gloves next to the scroll prevents any misclick and ultimately, the loss of SP (since clicking on the gloves that I already wear has no effect due to redundancy).

Healing

The art of healing others was mostly lost during the MOTU era when self sufficiency became the new and expected norm, and quite so in demand. With the introduction of Reaper content, healers are once again accepted outside of extremely skilled players who know effectively how to heal each other. The role of a pure healbot greatly lifts the burden of self healing penalties off the average party/PUG group, and is often expected to be quite reflexive at it, which calls for maximum survivability rather than a jack of all (casting) trades or perhaps even a secondary trade at all. Celestial Radiance still and has always striven to be a build that will perform the act of healing (notice the difference of healing at all versus maximum healing itself) while still being able to land respectable DCs.

Healing has always been a second nature to me, regardless of the class I play. If the party goes down, more likely than not you as well. There is a significant difference between Sera running R1 Slavers solo versus a group, even if the party members are lacking in gear or build. This may sound bad, but they can serve as agro distractors at the very least — which allow me to dispatch mobs as quickly as possible and restore the party to full health again. Part of why I love being a divine so much is that even in an imbalanced party, if you can play your toon effectively, you potentially have the power to further the group forward towards a successful completion/run. At least in DDO, instead of the more hardcore and traditional MMOs that leave no room for flexibility or such thing.

Some tips about healing: there are some hard set rules that I personally follow. If a character falls below 80%, I’ll top them off with a Rejuvenating Cocoon; if below 50%, I hit them with a Cure Critical Wounds (single target), and if below 30%, I use a full Heal spell. The trick is to keep an eye on the entire party as a whole, and individual special needs. For instance, a Pale Master or Warforged should be noted as such. Because the build does not carry Harm, a Pale Master can only benefit from Cocoon’s temporary HP or Circle of Hatred/Malevolence clickies, so Cocoon would be the main expeditious option to help pad their HP count if low, or stabilize them if they are incapacitated. With any normal healbot, I would advise targeting a Pale Master and always facing their direction (since a Heal can be tossed backwards), prepared with a Harm. But as such, that is not necessary with CR.

As the whole party begins falling below the listed HP thresholds, it is important to track these patterns and in a sense, learn about your party and party members as a whole and as an individual. Are there any melees? Are there any squishy characters that require a lot more attention? Is one person worth healing over three other people gathered in a cluster? Is the content Reaper, and if so, how high of a skull difficulty? Is it worth healing the guy who constantly dies over and over again? All of these factors, and surely more, are things considered as a healer. When it comes to dealing with fluctuating HP in depletion, it is imperative to watch the health bars as a whole, and isolate one or two health bars to focus on. Sometimes, construct (particularly melee) players will be on this list as their reduction to healing amplification causes their HP total to be under-healed by normal flesh standards. Thus, watching for this pattern may prompt you to use stronger mass cures, for instance, when healing in groups, despite the nearby party members who may be flesh characters who do not necessarily need the amplified healing. This applies in high level Reaper content as well when healing amplification is severely reduced. Most often, will the lowest depleted HP bar be the weakest, squishiest (melee) characters, in terms of group healing. While it is important to always do your best as a healer to keep everyone alive and well, there are some situations that call for you to make the decision towards ultimately, a successful run. That isn’t to say there aren’t any expectations, obligations, or “healers’ ettiquette” that we should follow. A respectable divine puts forth the effort to take care of one another to the best of her ability. Keeping tabs on your surroundings is a highly appreciated bonus: the sound of mummy rot or diseases warrants you to start checking each and every party member on who has the disease or visually see that someone does (save for Xachosian Eardweller, be wary of this); an energy drain sound effect means you should check party members’ health bars to see if one is abnormally low; and a curse sign above someone’s character signals that they should have it removed, provided that they haven’t already done so within ~10-20 seconds of the initial debuff cast. All of these things constitute the “conscientious” portion of the build game-play — the ultimate goal is to have no one tell you what to do, but to look for it yourself and be one, two, five steps ahead of the game. This saves the extra effort of people asking you for anything at all. On that note, I always try and keep a mental note on which people ask for which buffs, and it goes a long way when you remember. Quests that are obviously calling for certain buffs such as Shroud phases 3 and 5 for Freedom of Movement usually are good measures to take to check each player’s bio if they have the FoM permanent effect, or not. Bio checking is a very frequent albeit odd habit of mine that actually pertains to game play.

Boss/Red Named DPS

When fighting a red named boss, you are limited to strictly raw DPS, as instakills, energy drains, and CC effects are all considered immune (unless by bug). My spell rotation list consists of: Arcane Initiate Magic Missiles + Arcane Pulse + Divine Punishment + {Light Ray Rotation}: Avenging Light, Searing Light SLA, Sun Bolt, [optional] Searing Light, Nimbus of Light + AoE Nukes (Divine Wrath, eBurst), end cycle then rinse and repeat or combo select. Wielding Vacuum weapon primarily for 20% more damage via Vulnerability multiplies the DPS, and the Colors of the Queen procs may or may not stack additional damage. Because most of the DPS will be directional and ray types, it is ideal to find a perch or safe spot – one tip is that Divine Wrath being targetable allows you to range cast, and eBurst, provided that you are generally close enough range whether laterally or above, will still affect the boss even from a nice chunk of a distance.

Hard & Soft Target

Targeting is more of a discussion with the longer cool-down spells such as Divine Wrath and Energy Burst, but it affects all spells, regardless of whether it is an AoE or a ray spell. If you fail to complete an animation + cast of the spell before the target dies, your spell, as a general rule of thumb, fails to process, meaning that AoE spells such as Energy Burst will completely be useless even if other mobs are alive that are within clear and viable target. It is very common to miss your target because the focus orb’s target, whether hard or soft target, is lost due to the premature death of said monster’s target. Thus, it is important that your focus orb is targeted on the mob with the most health, or a more durable one at least, such as an orange or red named if available. Strategic placement of the camera so that your focus orb (assuming auto-target is enabled) will immediately target the next mob if it is within proper distance and angle, will save your spell and proc as it should normally. The way this targeting issue works is that because of the lost target, if the focus orb’s target remains absent within the span of a second, the game is led to think that there is no available target, hence failure to complete the action (despite the animation completing in some cases). Very rarely, does Divine Wrath make it in time even after a mob dies if it is within an extremely small time window, perhaps within milliseconds, but aside from that, the spell either goes off or it does not. This applies to even rays such as Searing Light (bends sideways or flickers from two focal points back and forth); Sun Bolt (save for when there is a mob behind the targeted mob); and Magic Missile (erratic twisting or flying); or other abilities like Hell Ball as it slowly voids into dissipation in the distance; and AoEs like Flame Strike and Fire Storm that fail to even fully animate.

Reaper Content (R5-10)

As a mostly varied Reaper player, I almost never run into the issue of altering my entire play-style for mid-high Reaper skulls (5+). From R5-6, DCs are 85-90% reliable; 7-8 are fairly still reliable of about 70-80%; and 9-10 the range may fall anywhere from 60-70%, with exceptions to very easily targeted mobs that have a low save regardless of the skull, and not accounting for Spell Resistance, which can easily drop percentages close to a 10% range in very specific heavy-SR content. In R10, saves are increased by 1.5 * skull #, for a maximum total of a difference in 15 saves between R10 and LE (excluding Reaper enhancement factors). However, in the highest Reaper skull difficulty (9 and 10) the build falls purely into a healer role, simply due to the nature of what R9-10 requires in party makeup. Because of such an intensive role, it becomes strongly unforgiving to multi-task both casting and healing, and so defensive-healing measures are then accounted for.

While the build doesn’t list a healer specced gear set yet, it is important to increase defenses as high as possible, possibly even changing to the US ED in order to maximize survival.


Ultimately, all of these things makes what playing a Favored Soul caster so enjoyable for me. The rush of being able to heal someone right before they die, fighting a healing battle between a hard hitting mob and the tank, or blowing up several clusters of mobs at once — the beautiful blend of self sufficiency, party health control, AoE DPS, zerging synergy, and so many other finer points as mentioned above — all make what Favored Soul become a class that is powerful in its own way; a way that most overlook. And deep down, I’ve always known the strength of the Favored Soul class! ❤

By no means do I mean to brag saying Favored Soul are the best (I mean, they are) or that I can play it the best, or that this build is even top tier material. In fact, there are several shortcomings — very minute details (flaws) that bug me to no end, that with my OCD self can see in both the build and play-style, as I’ve outlined several throughout this post already. But what matters is that we continue to improve and strive to be better players at the game, towards stronger and more challenging content. Well, then again, I’m happy in just R1 too really. 😛

All in all, I hope this analysis guide/breakdown of the intended (or at least my personal) play-style of the CR build provides further insight. A peek of the inner workings of my mind and passion.

🙂

Review: Hirelings

Before hirelings (particularly divine healers) became back on the plat market for Reaper healing, I can recall using them as far as I can remember.

The number one misconception I always hear from players is that hirelings are a waste. They have buggy AI, which pretty much wraps up their mischief: from running blindly into traps, to healing themselves over the player, to countless more. But there is more to hirelings than just the first impression and generalization that all hirelings are “a waste.”

One of the biggest things that people don’t take the time to do is to buff their hirelings. Hirelings already start off with zero buff/effects (save for Druid past lives, feats/enhancements, and ship buffs), extremely minimal gear and spell list, and carry the programming limitations of AI. Buff, buff, buff, if you are looking for a hireling to carry more than 10% of the work. Greater Heroism, Blur, Protection from Evil, Resist Energies, any sort of speed buff (Longstrider’s, Haste), are all easily accessible in some form, typically by scrolls and wands. If you expect a hireling to do more than just flop around like a Magikarp, then expect to treat it like a player member — well, I take that back, the average player nowadays do not even buff other players. Basically, you need to put in at least some effort towards the hireling if you want any decent effort out of it. Strictly speaking, if you want it to survive and heal or CC something, those buffs will grant it the necessary means of basic protections against typical hireling deaths.

One of the other things I notice is that people tend to choose the “wrong” hirelings, and either have not played enough with hirelings to understand their behaviors or do not really think much of it. As an observant player, these behaviors are crucial in determining the types of hirelings to contract with. For example, Larafay, a highly well known and popular hireling for divine offensive caster “DPS/instakill,” is also highly aggressive and is not an appropriate hireling that is focused on healing first. Similarly, we see this between the healer hirelings – Heystack generally has poor performance overall compared to the level 16 Favored Soul, Althea, who performs much better and even carries a Greater Restoration spell which is very handy for that level range in particular.

The number one thing I look for when selecting a hireling is highly dependent on its available actions primarily, and then their behaviors. For instance, I will almost always prefer Althea over Natasha, despite that both are level 16 divines – Althea is typically good about casting Heal on her own when necessary, and I find that having a cure mass spell is much more useful than to Heal everyone individually at points of stagnation in a quest. Another reason for this is that Favored Souls are going to be the superior class when it comes to their other divine counterpart – because hirelings lack the other unique abilities the two classes are comprised of, it is much favorable to select the class that has the more SP, and ultimately, more firepower and heals per shrine. Both may have Death Ward, Mass, which I will touch on later, but there are distinct differences between choosing one over the other which can make a difference when it comes to questing for maximum performance potential. However, because they are in the same level range and it is often bothersome to go to hireling vendors after every hour, I often buy both anyway in the event that I will need Natasha (primarily for her Heal spell usage in circumstances where that is favorable over cure mass) over Althea.

Most of the times, when we purchase hireling contracts, we often select healer types because those are the ones we need the most. Granted, most of the hires that I purchase are indeed mostly divine types for heals, rogues for traps in epics, and Mikayl for DD. Here is an extensive list of the types of hirelings I will purchase over, with more solid commentary from levels 15-30:

  • Erythryn, level 3 Cleric
  • Kendra Estleton, level 5 Cleric
  • Arias Oreth, level 6 Cleric
  • Laerathor, level 7 Cleric
  • Marissa Lorle, level 9 Cleric
  • Fayden Maeleth, level 10 Cleric
  • Lani Vesta, level 9 Favored Soul
  • Miranda Kelvin, level 11 Cleric
  • Duerim Guardwell, level 13 Favored Soul
  • Mikayl the Pious, level 11 Fighter
  • Tempys Lorben, level 14 Cleric
  • Natasha Thorston, level 16 Cleric
  • Althea, level 16 Favored Soul
  • Larafay Do’rret, level 15 Favored Soul
  • Micardya Elsryn, level 14 Bard
  • Albus Gladwin, level 20 Favored Soul
  • Lilo Blackstitch, level 21 Rogue
  • Tarlov Snowtrack, level 23 Ranger
  • Grobbin Halfhitch, level 21 Wizard
  • Garret the Sainted, level 25 Favored Soul
  • Kieran Ostermann, level 26 Fighter

♦ Two of the hirelings are listed solely due to unique spells: Lani and Grobbin for Freedom of Movement and Trap the Soul spells respectively. These two are the only sources found in hirelings and in none other, and may serve to be highly useful in niche situations (often, FOM is best if another player summons Lani in addition to the main hireling, and Trap the Soul is used primarily for soul gem farming).
♦ Some of the hirelings are listed due to usefulness in combat: Tarlov, Kieran, and Larafay for instance. Tarlov is one of the best TWF DPS hirelings with some healing capabilities, Kieran has high HP and can take a hit, and Larafay, as mentioned before, is a divine casting killing machine.
♦ There are very similar behaviors in some of these hirelings, within the same class. Althea, Albus, and Garret are all within the “family” that exhibit decent healing behaviors – they also all carry the same main actions (Mass Deathward, Greater Restoration). Natasha is very similar to her elven brethren within the same level range (i.e. Isadora, Jatrina), which I did not post due to the fact that they don’t carry Deathward. And so on.
♦ Mikayl is highly important due to his Sentinel Dragonmark ability: Dimension Door, which can be casted x3 per rest, and last infinitely.
♦ Lilo is listed as the only Rogue hireling because strangely, she is the best trap equipped hireling out of the four in epics – she is able to trap low level EE quests with a much greater chance than the others who cannot even find the box, which is partly due to the fact that they do not have a Rogue Skill Boost action. With the proper buffs and external hireling effects, she is a competent trapper well past level 25 quests in EE.

If you have not already noticed, Mass Deathward is a huge must in divine hirelings. Because I am one of those people who don’t like to fit in Deathblock as a constant in her gear setup (rather, prefer to swap in when necessary), I recognize the vast important Deathward has, beyond the fact that it can also be a preventative measure for many other things that Deathblock cannot protect against. Thus, it is something I always make sure to carry with me, and something that I encourage others to do as well because I always notice the same mistakes that I’ve observed in both my and others’ game-play. The fact that it is a mass spell makes it so much easier to help protect party members too, who may not realize its importance either.

Knowing how to play a hireling is honestly, more than half the battle as well. If you want it to be stupid aggressive and give it free reign to go crazy, select the active stance. If you want it to stay back, and especially for healers, to perform healing duties, use the defensive stance. Always be conscientious of what the hireling is doing and if it is sabotaging a part of the quest, immediately hit the passive action, recall its location to your character, and force the hireling to go into stationary mode until it is safe to proceed. Perhaps this is just my impression but a lot of people seem to dislike micromanagement, so when it comes to hirelings they don’t really see what is happening beyond the scope of their own character. There is no paid attention to hirelings because of their perceived insignificance, and thus there is a lack of knowledge about them. Hirelings have a highly predictable behavior, generally speaking (because well, AI and programming) – it is our ignorance as players that chooses to blind ourselves of learning the inner compartments of such products of half AI, half bugs. Or at least part of it.

When we pay attention and take notice of hirelings, we learn that there are many predictable moves, primarily due to bugs and the patterns that occur from them, and ultimately, they can truly bend to our will. For instance, and hireling AI will always vary as updates may make changes but for now, there are sets of behaviors that any player can realize a specific pattern. When a divine healer type hireling is recalled to you and your HP falls below ~75%, the typical response is for the hireling to cast Heal upon the player. However, this is not the case all the time – the hireling’s response may be negated by an internal bug that negates Heal spell action to be executed, perhaps the recall action cleared that response, etc. But the active stance, using our basic knowledge of what the hireling actions do, is a sort of this “counter” against that – when you hit active from defensive, or defensive or passive back to active, this allows the hireling to properly respond. This is more of a bug and a fault on the programming system, as when cooldowns were introduced to hirelings, from the coding side, it could have offset the actual performance of some responses. On the bright side, while hot in mid-combat, it has become almost a tactical response to immediately use this loophole in order to get command the hireling, internally, despite it not having the Heal spell on the action bar, to do so. So in that regard, it becomes almost an advantageous bug because we have an internal “Heal” command in addition to everything else on the action bar.

Another bugged response is the use of spells, buffs, or any other class unique action. The cooldowns as mentioned before really screwed up the timing and effective response of most if not all of the class/hireling specific abilities. A prime example would be the use of Resurrection type spells – most of the time, when I have to use it in a dire situation where the party has wiped and the hire acts as “insurance policy,” I drag the hire to my location, preferably in a safe spot, immediately throw it into passive and stationary modes, and attempt to hit the Resurrection spell on my character. However, this will not work where it used to in the past (or as far as I recall) – instead, I am forced to select it at least out of stationary mode, and often into defensive because even passive mode will bug it out. This requires some speed and timing, and even luck if your wipe is bad enough depending on mob size, environment/location, and the above two factors. For abilities such as DD, there is often an internal cooldown in addition that will not allow the usage of that spell despite the cooldown timer reset.

Despite the usual rage and frustration by the general consensus of hirelings, I have almost faithfully used them at any chance I get. There is nothing to lose when you have a divine hireling to save you when things get a little pear-shaped, more XP from trap bonuses in a group where no one ever seems to be the trapper when I am not one that life, and speedy completions through both the actual assistance of hirelings, or a swift DD out. There is the factor of them raising dungeon scaling, which matters in wildernesses. They are indispensable and can be used as fodder, distractions, lever pullers, and so on. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks hirelings, overall, are wonderful products of half bugs, half AI, but they sure have saved my tush more than a thousand times in so many ways.

🙂

Personal Questing Agenda: Levels 15-30 (ITR Spec)

Figured I’d make a post about a leveling agenda to help me keep better track of my TRs and even share to friends or guildies if they need. 🙂

Note: This is personalized for Sera who has both Greater Tome of Heroic and Epic Learning, and is at least a third+ lifer meaning the XP curve will be different if you are a first or second lifer. Farming amount and quest brackets may differ for others. This agenda includes Bravery Bonus and maximum feasible favor. The goal is to never take a level until hardcap (or at least close to it) is reached around level 20. Assume all quests are on maximum difficulty unless stated otherwise. This agenda is technically flexible and subject to change because of updates. Specific sub-notes in sub-bullet points.

Keywords:
DD – Dimension Door spell/ability
E/H/N – Elite/Hard/Normal difficulties

Heroics
These “levels” refer to the BB applied level of the quest, not base quest level.

Level 13

  • Tomb of the Tormented
  • Offering of Blood

Level 14

  • Lordsmarch chain (Diplomatic Impunity, Framework, & Eyes of Stone)
    • Diplomatic Impunity – invis run to the end and complete guard optional along with traps if possible.
    • Framework – Farm E x5, H/N x1 if trapping bonus is available || If not, E x3, H x1-2, N x1-2.
  • Sands of Menechtarun (Chamber of Raiyum, Chains of Flame, Against the Demon Queen, & Zawabi’s Revenge)

Level 15

  • Gianthold sides (Clockwise: Feast or Famine, Trial by Fire, Maze of Madness, Foundation of Discord, & Cry for Help).
  • Attack on Stormreach chain (Assault on Summerfield, Blockade Buster, Undermine, Siegebreaker)
    • Assault on Summerfield – either quick speed run for completion OR (preferable) gain all or most optionals/bonuses (Ransack/Tamper/Vigilant).
    • Blockade Buster – Farm E x5, H/N x1 || use DD
  • Mired in Kobolds (E x1)
  • Memoirs of an Illusory Larcener (E x1)

Level 16

  • Gianthold (Cabal for One, Crucible, Madstone Crater, & Prison of the Planes).
  • Necropolis IV (Counter Clockwise: Desecrated Temple of Vol, Inferno of the Damned, Fleshmaker’s Laboratory, & Ghosts of Perdition).
    • Desecrated Temple of Vol – Farm E x5, H/N x1
    • Inferno of the Damned – Farm E x5, H/N x1; will not likely need all of these farming runs, in fact, Temple of Vol should cover it. However, in the event something occurs and you do not get hardcap, Inferno is a good farm since you know it.
  • Reaver’s Fate [Raid]
  • Optional: If more XP is needed, Devil’s Gambit chain (farming Subversion E x5, H/N x1).

Level 17

  • Litany of the Dead – Farm E x5, H/N x1 || Alternative: E x1, H x5, N x1
  • Shadow over Wheloon Chain (Disciples of Shar, Escape Plan, Shadow of a Doubt)
    • Shadow of a Doubt – Farm (E/H/N x1 if necessary)
  • Optional Quests: Acid Wit, Delirium, & Search and Rescue

Level 18-20
Do not take level 19 – from 18+, bank all the way to 20.

  • [16] Vale of Twilight (Rainbow in the Dark, Let Sleeping Dust Lie, Running with the Devils, Coalescence Chamber, & Ritual Sacrifice)
    • Running with the Devils – Farm E x5, H/N x1 (if necessary)
  • [16] Optional Quest: Mask of Deception (E x1)
  • [17] Reaver’s Reach (Monastery of the Scorpion & Enter the Kobold)
    • Monastery of the Scorpion – Farm E x5, H/N x1 || Alternative: E x1, H x5, N x1
  • [17] Sane Asylum – Farm E x5, H/N x1 || Alternative: E x1, H x5, N x1

Epics
For purposes of speed levelling, skip all of the heroic 19-21 quests in that bracket and start immediately with Lords of Dust chain for access to Eveningstar (disregarding Hall of Heroes teleport function).

Epic Level Bracket:

  • [20-25] Web of Chaos chain (Lords of Dust, Servants of the Overlord, Spinner of Shadows, & Beyond the Rift)
  • [20-25] King’s Forest chain (Impossible Demands, Unquiet Graves, The Lost Thread, & A Battle for Eveningstar)
  • [20-25, 20-26] Vault of Night chain (Tharashk Arena, The Prisoner of the Mind, Jungle of Khyber, Haywire Foundry, & Vault of Night/Plane of Night [raids]
    • VON 3/4 – EE/EH/EN x1 at least, marked as dailies
    • VON 5 – EE/EH/EN x1 if possible
  • [20-25] Spies of the House
    • EE/EH/EN x1 at least, marked as a daily
  • [20-25] Chronoscope
  • [20-26] Sschindylryn chain (House of Death Undone, House of Rusted Blades, House of Broken Chains, & The Portal Opens)
    • Don’t Drink the Water & In the Belly of the Beast
  • [20-27] Demonweb chain (Trial by Fury, Deal and the Demon, & Reclaiming the Rift)
    • Trial by Fury – EE/EH/EN if necessary
  • [20-27] Druid’s Deep (Outbreak, Overgrowth, Thorn and Paw, & The Druid’s Curse)
  • [20-28] The High Road (Detour, Lost in the Swamp, A Stay at the Inn, Rest Stop, & End of the Road)
  • [20-30] Eveningstar Challenges (x2 Dryad’s Grove, Sunset Ritual, & Underdark Arena) – CR 30, 6 Stars
  • [20-30] Devil’s Gambit quests (Grim and Barett & Subversion)
    • EE/EH/EN if necessary for latter two difficulties, marked as dailies
  • [20-30] Wheloon chain (Friends in Low Places, A Lesson in Deception, Army of Shadow, Thrill of the Hunt, & Through a Mirror Darkly)
  • [20-30] Stormhorns chain (Tracker’s Trap, Lines of Supply, Breaking Ranks, A Break in the Ice, & What Goes Up)
  • [25-30] Legendary raids (Legendary Shroud, Legendary Tempest Spine, & Legendary Hound of Xoriat)
  • [20-30] Stand alone miscellaneous quests (Mask of Deception, A Study in Sable, & Brothers of the Forge

Miscellaneous:
These are fill in quests/slayers across levels where more XP is needed and to cover any XP “holes” in reaching the next bracket on the list.

  • Slayers: Thunderholme and Necropolis
    • All messages in Thunderholme
    • Both flags from Thunderholme (in case any chance for the raids if an opportunity arises)
    • Roughly ~3K in each slayer count
  • Dailies
    • Check above for quests marked as daily/dailies (CTRL + F, “marked”)

And that’s my current ITR plan! Maybe once I get back to final life as a Human Favored Soul, I will detail a HTR plan, and when I get back to epics, an ETR plan maybe as I still have yet to achieve triple Epic Completionist! 🙂

Cleric Past Life Feat: Initiate of the Faith

I don’t know about you, but over the past few lives, I have found a liking to this feat.

icon_feat_past_life_cleric

Click on the icon to view more information about this feat.

The Cleric purchasable past life feat, Initiate of the Faith, honestly seems to be severely underrated. I’m not sure if its because people just don’t find its x5 usage worthy of a feat slot, but it’s saved me many times. I wish I had thought of this when I was doing Rogue lives!

However, it’s definitely important to know that this is most effective when you are able to take meta-magic feats and pump as much heal amplification as possible. This feat acts as a “oh-shoot” last minute quickened heal, and x5 is just enough until the next shrine at least. In heroics, this was the main (and primarily/necessary source of self-heal) and in epics, it complements Rejuvenation Cocoon or other forms of healing.

While I played heal amplification “happy” classes such as Monk when I first started taking this feat, it really opened my eyes to seeing how effective it could be. Since it’s based on character level as opposed to caster level, the healing scales just fine. With any decent measure of heal amplification, it can easily heal from over half of whatever your HP is to 75% or more depending on your heal amp. On my previous Monk traditional fist fighting life, at level 30, I was able to heal each usage for over 1K, with Empower Healing/Quicken/over 120 or so heal amp. It was great.

I definitely plan to take this feat for classes that lack a self healing ability, such as my upcoming Fighter lives. I remember my guildie Avia once took this feat and that was kind of intrigued me into trying it out (well, this was months ago but I still remembered!). I’m glad I did – there are so many things to learn about this game that even after 5 years, I still have yet to try! I suppose it’s all about learning to try something new, since I’m always so used to doing things the way things have always been done or in my particular fashion. With that said, I will probably make some changes to Sera’s appearance next life: a brunette! xD

Overall, this feat has so many nice perks. When addressed properly, can be a formidable form of self healing, but also does not require any sort of caster level or caster class splash (such as certain meta-magic feats). I like to think of it as the cheaper form of the Halfling Dragonmark Heal/cure SLA line.

Definitely worth trying out if you are planning to run a class like Monk, Fighter, or Sorcerer that may not have a reliable form of heal!

🙂

PS: I’ve tested and it is possible for even non caster type classes (pure Fighters for example) to take this feat and Intensify at level 24 as a spellpower booster and still reach good enough heals – in my Fighter lives, they have healed for over 700 and crits in the 1200! 🙂