Rotation and pip building
They key to solid champion dps is finding a good rotation. We don't really hit for huge "spike damage" numbers like a hunter or runekeeper, but for a long fight where controlled dps is required to take down large morale bosses, there is no better option.
The basic rotation is to build pips to 4 or 5 and then hit using one of skills that hits for more damage.
Your main pip builders will be
1. Wild attack (traited for extra pips on crit)
2. Swift strike (with legacy)
3. Bladewall (traited for extra pips)
It's a good idea to keep these mapped to 1,2,3 on the keyboard, since you'll be using these a lot.
Your "big hitters" will be
Remorseless strike (with legacy)
Brutal strikes (with legacy)
Research has shown that marginally, Remorseless Strike favours a dual wield set up and brutal strikes favours a 2 hander set up. However, find a skill that you're happy with using. Keep in mind that Remorseless Strike has a higher crit magnitude than Brutal Strikes. This means that over time, whilst they do about the same amount of damage, Brutal Strikes will equate to steady dps, whereas Remorseless Strike may underperform on non-critical hits, and then hit for a huge number when you get a crit. This is also of importance when managing aggro - try to avoid using Relentless Strikes too early on in the fight.
So a perfectly acceptable rotation would be (in fervour)
Remorseless Strike (or Brutal Strikes if early in the fight)
By the time you've got to Remorseless Strike, you'll have built the 4 pips required, and you can begin the rotation again. Swift strike can be reserved only if you need an urgent pip, i.e. for Clobber.
If you favour Brutal Strikes, a good tip is to wait until you have 4 pips and then hit Brutal Strikes and then immediately hit Clobber. Because Clobber is used to interrupt inductions, it is known as an "immediate" skill, which means the interruption effect and damage skip ahead of the combat animation. This means you hit 4 times (3 for Brutal strike, 1 for Clobber) in a very short space of time, which can be a huge boost to dps. Bear in mind that you won't be able to use Clobber for this purpose if you need to keep it free for actual inductions (see utility below)
A dps champion should always try to stand directly behind the single target being attacked. There are several reasons for this.
- Firstly, an enemy cannot block/parry/evade any attack when facing the other way, which increases your dps.
- Secondly, most bosses do some sort of full frontal Area of Effect (AoE) damage, which will damage not only the tank but anyone standing directly next to the tank, in front of the boss.
- Lastly, if you do happen to pull aggro for whatever reason, it's easier for the group and the tank to see this if the enemy has to turn 180 degrees to start attacking you. If you're stood next to the tank, it's not as easy to spot.
You should have the Ebbing Ire cooldown legacy on your dps rune, which reduces the cooldown of the skill to 60 seconds. If you've built your champion up to decent levels of might and physical mastery, then this skill is absolutely necessary. Depending on how well you know your tank, this should be used every 60 seconds. It can be saved as an emergency skill, should things go wrong and the boss comes after you, though it's better to use it ahead of time and avoid the situation altogether. Using this ahead of time also helps lock aggro onto the tank, as it's a true threat transfer skill (not just drop threat). If you're with a group you know well, this means that the hunters and runekeepers can push harder with their big skills, as the tank is getting 25% of your and any other champ's aggro every 60 seconds. Thus, the whole fellowship dps output is increased.
Since Isengard launched, there have been some subtle changes to the power consumed by champion skills. This now means that traited Second Wind is now essential to the role of the dps champion. Fervour already gives good levels of In Combat Power Regen (ICPR), but it still won't be enough. The skill gives back roughly 4% (when traited) of your power pool every 2 seconds and has a cooldown that's exactly as long as the skill lasts, so it can effectively be used all the time. Timing it to fit into your rotation is essential.
Utility and champion responsibilities
The most obvious champion utility is involving the skill Clobber. Depending on the mob/boss, you will see floor-level orange or green induction circles around the enemy.
- Orange usually means AoE damage or knockback, big single target damage or summoning another mob (usually wight or spirit)
- Green usually means a heal of some sort, whether self heal or AoE, or some other self buff (damage absorption)
Since we are a melee dps class, you'll often be close to the action. Positioning (see above) and threat control is vital to ensuring you're not taking any unnecessary damage. Healers main concern is themselves and then the tank. You will be down in their list of priorities, so a good approach is to take it upon yourself to manage your own morale as far as you can. If you take some AoE damage, or accidentally pull aggro for a few seconds, using a pot or Braced Against Defeat. Don't just stand there still hitting the boss expecting the healer to sort you out. Deselect the target so it's easier to for the tank to get aggro back, and if necessary move out of the way of whatever is causing the damage. There will be instances where there is group-wide damage that is unavoidable, and healers will accept that you will need healing there. But for the most part, the sign of a good champion is a full morale bar, completely self-managed!
Sometimes the tank will have several things going on at once. Perhaps the target is a big hitter, or maybe there are too many adds spawning to pick them all up. Either way, because we're a heavy class, one of our responsibilities is to look out for the rest of the fellowship, starting with the healer. Try to position yourself so you can easily see him or her. Most of the time, spawning adds will go straight for the healer. You can agree this with the tank ahead of time, but the moment they do, you need to peel off the main target and help the healer out. Most heals get interrupted by damage, so if something is pounding on your minstrel, no-one is getting healed. Sometimes there will be multiple mobs and the healer might already be on the move, trying to escape. Be prepared for a chase, and keep Raging Blades (see below) free to ensure your rescue attempt is successful. If it's a single mob, Champions Challenge is useful, but keep in mind this is a temporary forced attack. The mob will attack you for 10 seconds only, and then go back to the healer, so you'll need to do damage too. There is a degree of overlap with the champion role of off-tank in these situations.
Corruptions can feature in many raids and instances, and whilst there are better corruption removal classes, you may be called upon for fulfil this role. Feral strikes is the skill to use. It deals a reasonable amount of damage over 3 strikes, and has two 50% chances to remove a corruption with the first two strikes and then a 25% chance with the last strike. This gives approximately, 70% chance of removing at least 1 corruption, 25% chance of removing at least 2 corruptions and 3% to remove all three.
2. Multiple target (AoE) dps and utility
The primary pip building skills will remain the same as for single target dps. The main difference will be in the skills you then use at 4/5 pips:
- Swift strike - traiting swift strike enables the skill to hit 3 mobs instead of 1
- Blade storm - deals good levels of damage to 5 targets, 10 if traited
- Rend - small damage over time (DoT) to 5 targets
- Raging blade - deals high levels of damage to 8 targets, 13 if traited. Important to note 8m radius instead of usual 5m for AoE attacks. Good for rescuing healers in trouble.
- Enhanced Battle Acuity - gives 25% damage to all AoE attacks
- Horn of Gondor - AoE stun, good level of damage, 5 targets for 5 seconds
- Inductions on adds
- Ensuring that whilst you AoE, you're still following the raid assist target for your single target pip building skills
- Ensure that you position yourself in the optimum place for AoE damage, noting the 5m radius (8m on Raging Blades)
- Keep an eye out for ranged mobs, who might be difficult to round up. They will target the healer, so if the tank is busy, you'll need to go to them and dps.
3. Main tank
I would encourage any champion who has only ever performed dps to give main tanking a try. It gives an extra dimension to the class, that is also a challenge. It won't be as easy as tanking with a warden or guardian, but you'll be able to do the 3 mans fine, and some of the 6 man stuff with a good group who knows what they're doing. Building for the role is essential though (see Builds thread).
The following assumes that your champion is traited full blue, as per the Builds thread.
Glory is your tanking stance. Check the tooltip for some of the great buffs it gives to your damage reduction and cooldown of tanking skills.
Some of your skills will change when you enter the Glory stance and also when you trait them in the blue line. The key skills are any that have an increased threat associated with them. We can hold aggro by just doing damage, and some of the threat we generate when tanking is from dps, but your pips generation will take a hit, so you have to rely on the lower pip costs skills for threat gen. As discussed in the Build thread, the red symbol above a mobs head indicates that a skill has landed and created additional threat on top of the damage threat. Research shows that, at level 75, a champion initiating a red symbol above a mobs head is roughly equivalent to 1,500 morale with of damage.
- Call of the Wild - increased single target threat from Wild Attack
- Agressive Exchange - increast AoE threat from Bladewall
- Reprisal - Exchange of Blows is now permanent in Glory, and generates threat on a mob whenever that mob lands a hit on you. Great for having things stick to you like glue!
- At the Ready - all skills now reduce the cooldown of Rising Ire (see below)
Some of the trait set bonuses are also great, providing crit defence and extra morale when in Glory.
Again, a good rotation is key to good tanking. Your main skills for aggro and pip gen are Wild Attack and Bladewall. Although not described on the tooltip, Ferocious Strikes and Raging Blades both have an added threat component when in Glory, so should be used on rotation for single target and AoE situations respectively.
Rising Ire is a great skill for keeping aggro too. It has a 15m maximum distance, so be sure your main dps fellow is within that range. You'll need to select your companion as your target to use this skill, and it will transfer 15% of their aggro to you. With the trait to reduce cooldown, you can use this very frequently and keep control of what's going on. If the mob peels off you and goes for the healer/dps, then having 'target forwarding' active in the options menu means you won't have to change targets in an emergency. The skill will operate through the mob to his new target, and hopefully head straight back to you.
Champions Challenge is now a force taunt and has an added aggro component, so can also be used for single target emergencies, when the target is not behaving itself.
Here are some useful tips when main tanking content:
- When pulling multiple trash mobs, ensure you stand ahead of everyone else. Pull with your bow, and then time bladewall so that it lands when the mobs are all in range, i.e. just in front of you. This should give you a headstart and hopefully get everything to lock on to you. Reprisal should now kick in and ensure you hold aggro
- Also position the targets (whether single or multiple) turned around from the rest of the group. This avoids the group taking frontal AoE damage and is easier for you to spot when a mob's attention has strayed.
- It's also your job to educate people about running with a champion tank. They might need to know to give you 10s or so before dpsing, so you can ensure the mobs are locked on to you. The main dps will need to know to stand 15m or less away from you, so you can ire off them
- Find a friendly scholar and get them to craft some fervour potions. Whilst not essential in dps role (pips are not an issue), they are in tanking. Having the ability to generate 5 pips immediately, can help with initial pulls where space is perhaps confined. Run in, pop a potion, and hit Raging Blades. This should give you a huge head start. They can also help if things go wrong, and multiple mobs go after someone else.
- Your power regen in glory is much lower than in fervour. Traited Second Wind will be required. You don't need to use any of your big hitting skills if you don't want to. A perfectly acceptable rotation is Wild Attack, Bladewall, Wild Attack, Ferocious/Raging Blades, as the added threat component of each, along with Rising Ire is enough to hold aggro. This will help you manage your power.
- Blood rage should be used if you get stunned and the target goes off elsewhere. This will get you out of the stun at the cost of morale, but might be the difference between success and a wipe.
You also have your emergency skills like Dire Need, Sudden Defence, Adamant, True Heroics, which operate as per the tooltip. Keep these for when the main healer might go down and the off healer is trying to revive them, or for more difficult content where you're getting hit for big numbers
4. Off-tank and utility
Several instances will require the role of the off-tank. This role can be filled by a champion, whilst the main boss is looked after by a guardian or warden. The off-tanks target will likely not hit as hard as the main boss, so the champion can find a balance between ensuring he holds aggro (i.e. traiting blue and using the appropriate skills) and ensuring he does enough dps to get the target down (i.e. traiting red and using the appropriate skills). You'll need to factor in the instance you're doing and the make up of the rest of the group. For example, if the off-tank target hits hard and you have some well geared hunters in the group, you may want to go in exactly as if a main tank.