Sometimes the grass really is greener.

“So yeah, here’s how it works. We burglars have this skill, right? The skill is on a reasonably long cool-down but it has a good chance to hit the enemy. Now *if* it hits the enemy it will stun them for six seconds, but there’s also a base twenty percent chance that it will trigger a damage over time debuff on that enemy. Now *if* my skill has hit and *if* the damage over time debuff has been triggered then I roll 1D6 and the value on the dice indicates the power of the debuff, with 1 being fairly pointless and 6 being powerful on any basic or signature level mob, but fairly unimpressive on elite level mobs and above. So as you can see, it makes for a really exciting ability, because essentially nothing happens most of the time, and then all of a sudden – BAM! – a moderate DoT debuff that wouldn’t worry an asthmatic vole! Neat huh? What about you, Runekeeper, what sort of abilities do you get?”

“Well… I have this one skill, on a three second cool-down, which calls forth a fiery apocalypse and delivers death and ruin to everything between the heavens and the land in a radius of fifty yards from the point of casting.”

“Oh. Oh nice. But what else does it do? I mean, is there a random chance that it will rain badgers? Some sort of unpredictable chance of it causing anything it hits to sing Barbra Streisand’s Woman In Love? Will it cause your nipples to spontaneously shrivel and turn green if you roll an even number on a 1D10?”

“No, no. Just the universal destruction of all living matter. It’s quite basic really, when you put it like that.”

“Sounds a little bit dull. I mean where’s the excitement? Where’s the gamble? Where’s the spark of surprise and the element of joy when something unexpected happens?!”

“Well, I suppose there’s the part where if it crits then it wipes out all life in a three hundred mile radius and I automatically win whatever dungeon I happen to be running at the time. I guess that’s kind of neat in a random sort of way.”

“Ye… bu… tha…ah Ah! But! What else do you bring to a group other than breathtaking, almost god-like, levels of damage?”

“Well not a great deal.”

“Ah then. Ah -dear sir- ha!”

“I mean, I suppose I have healing powers that would make Jesus rage-quit a group. I can’t do the fish and loaves thing though; I did try once, but I just ended up incinerating the waiting crowd when I crit my basic fire attack while trying to cook the loaves.”

“Yeah? Well I can turn invisible! Hah, there! Where am I now? Poof! Where did I go? Eh? I mean, okay, it’s utterly an pointless ability other than for skipping the odd roadblock of crap mobstacles, and it’s all but entirely useless in a group setting, but it does mean that I can flick V signs at overpowered classes without them knowing!”

“I can hear you, you know. And I, uh… I can still see you. Is that a V sign?”

“Oh, hah, right. I forgot that it only works on enemies. If they’re four levels below me. And looking the wrong way. And blind. Even then they still have a chance of spotting me, and usually do. But that’s the fun of the gamble though, right?!”

17 thoughts on “Sometimes the grass really is greener.

  1. Melmoth Post author

    “And then there’s my ability that has a chance to do one of a DoT, direct damage, a heal, or restore power at random! And it always does damage when I need a heal, and a heal when I’m at full health and need power. But at least it has a base twenty percent chance to cast a debuff on the enemy, of strength one to six based on the roll of a 1D6! That’s when it’s off its massively long cooldown, of course. And if it doesn’t miss the target altogether.

    You can’t see me right now, but I’m flicking V signs at the developer who thought this was a good ide… oh, you can see me? Right, riiiighhht, again with the pointless MMO stealth mechanics.”

  2. unwize

    You’ll never run out of this sort of material with the Burglar class:

    A Small Snag – “Oh, I know, won’t it be helpful if I root that mob there for a few seconds so it’s unable to run up and bash that Minstrel. Wait, need a crit first, better run into melee range … ok, crit time! Not yet .. soon .. there we go! Right, now need to run through the crit chain. 1 .. 2 .. (ok damn, there’s half my power gone. Nevermind, it will be worth it when I save this Minstrel) .. ok finally, A Small Snag! Oh, the Minstrel’s dead, and some Champion broke the root anyway! *sigh*

    Mischief Stance, the only stance in the game that can’t be activated in combat, for reasons that can only have been because the developers thought a surprise stealth attack followed by a chain mezz was a little powerful in PvMP, but with the advent of reduced durations and diminishing returns to CC, an argument that is made rather redundant.

    I could go on…

  3. Melmoth Post author

    The really frustrating thing is that the concept of the class really appeals to me; I really like the idea of a gambling mischievous rogue rather than the standard McStabber with a side of pommes-crits, but the execution of it just seems to have been confused too much, quite possibly by the usual MMO tedium of a developer trying to balance a PvE class against a token PvP game, as you mention.

    It’s almost as though they tried to balance the class on the power of its utility abilities alone, without any consideration of that fact that those abilities were not guaranteed to occur, let alone that they were based off other abilities that weren’t 100% certain to land in the first place.

    Having an emergency ability at the end of a chain of skills which can only be started after a crit occurs really sums-up the madness of the design.

  4. Jonathan B

    My poor little burglar hasn’t gotten high enough level to experience this yet. Right now, he’s just reveling in the ability to backstab wolves from stealth after one too many Silent Yellowfang attacks on my alts in Lone Lands. :>

    I love the Burgle skill, though it’s very hit or miss between its own randomizer and the chance that the enemy will notice you in stealth behind him just before you can fire it off. However, it scored me a really nifty hat, so I like it.

  5. spinks

    It’s a shame because I do think it’s a fun class to play, and I love soloing on mine – not because it’s uber but because it’s fun and you get to actually use stealth.

    But I think it was balanced partly with a view to PvP (why???) and partly with the view of being the main debuffer/ CC, which would have made sense if loremasters hadn’t existed maybe.

  6. unwize

    In a straight comparison with Burglars, Lore-masters have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to both debuffing and CC. However, Burglar’s do have a couple of advantages in the area of debuffing.

    One advantage is that debuffs from multiple Burglars stack pretty well, whereas LMs overwrite each other’s, but really, even a 12 man raid with 2 Burglars is an extreme novelty in my experience. This is more than adequately countered by the fact that an LM can stack several different debuffs on a single mob, whereas Burglars’ main debuffs are exclusive. I’d prefer if they removed stacking, or nerfed its effectiveness, if it freed up their hands to buff us a little.

    The other advantage is the fact that the key Burglar debuffs are on reasonably short cooldowns and can be applied to multiple mobs, but the only feasible way of keeping a group of mobs debuffed while having time to do anything else is to spam our one AoE trick (when traited), Dust in the Eyes. One would have thought that the introduction of legacies would have been a great opportunity to allow us (with heavy investment) to add a couple of extra targets to some of our debuffs, but instead they used it as an opportunity to nerf many of our skills, and then required legacies to get them back to where they used to be!

    I do love the idea of the Burglar class, and where it used to be in relation to the other classes, but the fact is that Turbine have completely neglected its core mechanic, Tricks, at the expense of pointless tinkering, major nerfs countered by laughably minor buffs, and the horrendous Gamble mechanic. And we’ll never see it fixed because it’s the red-headed step child of the LotRO family, played by fewer and fewer as the months go by. Turbine won’t be happy until they can quietly remove it from the class selection screen without anyone noticing.

    Phew, that turned into a bit of a rant there. Sorry about that!

  7. darkeye

    I like going with 5 QK and 2 gambler on my burglar, just a bit short of unlocking the QK capstone, which should let me get more chances at the provoke mez, which is really powerful for solo skirmishes. Funnily enough this will probably be a more flexible CC build than running in Mischief, because the provoke mez works on most things, even those annoying Blood Rooks as long as it procs, but if not I can try again in 15 sec and hope the soldier lasts that long.

    Seeing as Mischief didn’t get anything with the recent update and the weirdness that is ‘quite a snag’, it’s probably the least useful trait set. I think they are just too stringy with the CC/debuff traits, that are beaten when rolling a 4, 5 or 6 on a debuffing/mez gambles.

    And then gambles become more reliable when you get the capstone because you can upgrade any gamble to tier 6. But I would never trait it, because I find only 3 of the traits useful, have that same problem with say shield traits on warden. I’m hoping for some update to traits with Isengard but at this stage not holding my breath, I mean actually junking the ones that are useless. Just something that occured reading unwize’s post, what if ‘a small snag/quite a snag’ let the next trick be AoE, it fits the name and better by far than a snare that breaks on damage.

  8. Rem

    At the risk of sounding like “vanilla was best”, the thing is that in the original game encounter mechanics were much more reliant on control (deliberately not using the term “crowd control”) and gradually tipping the scales in your favour. In that environment, having the flavour of a burglar as well as the flavour of a lore-master was a potentially positive thing, because they’d let you tip those scales more than only one of them could.

    MoM moved things more towards a traditional Trinity concept, leaving the “clever” classes a bit at a loss regarding what to do with their cleverness.

  9. foolsage

    Well, to be fair, Burglars can generate automatic crits every 90 seconds using Aim (or every 60 seconds if traited). I do agree though that the Gambles are overall a weak mechanic, and one I largely ignore. When it happens, ok, that’s nice, I guess, if I even notice it that is… but I don’t plan for it.

    On the plus side, Burgs remain the most resilient of all classes in LotRO. I honestly don’t remember the last time my Burg was defeated. With the double exp weekend I took him from lvl 52 to 55 over the last few days.

    Burgs don’t have all the tools that LMs have, true, but they do a lot more dps and are a lot harder to kill. Your mileage may of course vary. ;)

  10. Pardoz

    @Rem – the thing is, sometimes vanilla really *was* best, and LotRO is a perfect example, IMO. (My personal theory is that where they really screwed up with Moria was in the combination of raising the level cap and futzing with the core class mechanics without putting anywhere near enough thought into the process).

  11. OghmaEh

    Is this where the Warden chimes in:

    I can skewer a battalion of goblins with on throw of my javelin, and heal myself by bonking mobs on the head with my shield.

  12. Rem

    Pardoz, I do think “vanilla LotRO” was better, otherwise I would not have quit midway through MoM. But I also think such a thing is a bit subjective, so am trying not to state it as too much of an objective fact.

  13. Melmoth Post author

    @Jonathan B: Alas, I find that the Burgle skill is like many of the class’s abilities, it’s a really neat idea that only seems to work a small percentage of the time, which is terribly frustrating.

    @spinks: I just find stealth slow, and even with a few items that boost stealth level I’ve found myself being uncovered by even-con mobs more often than I’d like. Add to that the fact that I just can’t seem to break my need to always be in Mischief and have Riddle on a cooldown equal to the length of the daze in order to safely deal with multiple mobs, and I don’t find myself using stealth nearly as much as maybe I should.

    I agree though, there’s something fun about the class, and that will definitely keep me playing to the level cap. But forced to choose between my characters, I’d still take the Warden every time.

    @unwize: I know the Burglar is your beloved, and as rants go that was rather splendidly put. It’s a shame to know now that the Burglar used to be better but has suffered at the hands of (PvP?) nerfs. I agree that the Gamble mechanic just doesn’t work, even when heavily invested in legacies that increase gamble chance etc. Tricks should be the main thrust of the class, and I’ve been terribly disappointed as I’ve levelled to find out that there are only a few to choose from, and that generally you only want to use a couple of those in most cases.

    It’s a shame because the fewer Burglars there are around, the more likely people are to overlook them for groups because they don’t understand what a well played Burglar is capable of.

    @darkeye: I certainly like your idea for A Small Snag, most excellent.

    I’ll have to look into boosting Provoke, it’s not something I’ve really considered, as I’ve found Mischief’s reduction on the Riddle cooldown to be too invaluable to give up in most cases, certainly while solo at least. Food for thought though.

    @Rem: I have to agree. Those were the days that a well played Burglar or Hunter could be found tanking some instances, when combined with a co-operative fellowship.

    @foolsage: If you haven’t played a Warden yet, I would recommend it. My Warden could perform feats of resilience that would make my Burglar embarrassedly enter stealth and slink away before anyone noticed.

    @Pardoz: I think the addition of the new classes also didn’t help, in the fact that they’re both clearly massively overpowered compared to the ‘vanilla’ classes, and also a great deal of fun to play. They also seemed to take a different approach to balancing dungeons, as has been mentioned elsewhere in this conversation.

    @OghmaEh: Oh, I do love my Warden.

    @Rem: I think that’s a wise approach, but I’m also with you and many others in considering early LotRO to be better in many ways. The fun part is that it’s not only subjective, but also restricted to different areas for different people. I couldn’t say that all of MoM was bad, for example, because I think the Warden is one of the best class designs I’ve come across in an MMO for a long while. Tricky!

  14. foolsage

    @Melmoth: I have to confess I have at least one character of every class in LotRO at lvl 40+. The Warden is honestly my current overall favorite for precisely the reasons you mentioned. I’m gonna take him to solo Carn Dum in a few more levels, been looking forward to that for a while.

    My Burglar is kinda being used here, as it turns out. I’m just leveling him to get him to Lorien so he can make jewelry for my other chars. I like Burgs but they’re not one of my top 5 favorite LotRO classes. They are however much harder to kill than any other class, by far. My Warden can definitely solo things my Burg can’t begin to touch, but then my Burg can get in completely over his head and still walk away. He might not always defeat his foes but he won’t ever lose. ;)

  15. Melmoth Post author

    He might not always defeat his foes but he won’t ever lose. ;)

    Ah! Yes indeed, with regard to escaping flame-grilled situations, I gladly grant you, the Burglar is king.

    Hide in Plain Sight is a most joyous ability.

    It’s most strange but the Burglar will be my fourth character to the level cap behind the Champion, Captain and Warden, yet ahead of my Runekeeper and Hunter who are in the mid thirties, and my Lore-master who is now a re-rolled level one place-holder. Something about the Burglar just clicked, and it’s possibly as simple as the fact that I prefer melee characters over ranged, and the Burglar wasn’t an entirely awful option in that regard.

  16. foolsage

    Belated reply:

    Hobbit Burglars are even more filled with joy. I used feign death once in the Moors (a few years ago, mind you) while surrounded by 6 Creeps. It gave me enough time to cycle HiPS. I can only imagine they were very, very unhappy.

    * Hobbit flops over, gasps theatrically, and rolls his eyes up *

    Warg 1: * sniff sniff * It doesn’t smell dead.

    Warg 2: * noses at the Hobbit * It’s not moving. Must be dead.

    Warg 3: Are you two freaking IDIOTS? It’s a hobbit. They do this thing. Dude, you have a hobbit minstrel, I’ve seen you do this on a bad pull. We just gotta wait it out.

    Warg 2: It’s still not moving. Although my primal instincts would normally lead me to immediately eat this hobbit, as I have eaten so many others in that little village South of here, full of tasty hobbit-snacks… I will wait. And see.

    Reaver 1: You maggots might not get the lash tonight if you bring down two more of these.

    Warg 4: We shall devour it. A tasty morsel it shall make us.

    Weaver 1: The best food is left to rot from within. Let it sit there a bit first.

    Warg 3: WTF? Dude, he’s not dead, he’s using Still as Death. Racial trait. I mean, ok, ok, you wanna be in char, cool. Um. This hobbit is only pretending. He is not truly dead.

    Warg 2: I’ve been watching. He’s not breathing.

    Warg 3: Are you clinically insane?

    * hobbit stands up, bows, and disappears *

    Warg 1: Told you it didn’t smell dead.

  17. Melmoth Post author

    I am most definitely inspired now to get a bunch of people together to form a Warg role-playing group.

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