Recent posts about paladin hate – and love – got me to thinking about why anyone would have a blanket hatred of a particular class when within any class, there’s potential to go in all sorts of different directions. And that got me to wondering why so many people like to diss the builds that others have without ever seeing them in action.
I was excited when I unlocked Favored Soul on Thelanis and quickly rolled up Merenwynne, an elf Soul with a monk splash. About the same time, I made a half-orc monk named Winnabette. To this day, they’re the only characters I’ve ever rerolled. Meren was too monk-ish for me – oh, I love my monks, but I wanted to play a Favored Soul, not another monk with better healing. And Winnie just never really got off the ground. (To be fair, she was originally created with the sole intention of soloing hard Pit at level 4. I just never got around to upgrading her starter gear.)
So both of them got rerolled into pure Favored Soul builds. For Winnie, I chose the Lord of Blades used by my friend Purp, who may be the best healer I’ve ever run with. I’d watched his FvS solo heal elite ToD in a group that had a healthy share of gimps (can’t remember who I was on; I may have been one of them!). This was back when the level cap was 20 and there were no such things as epic destinies. That ToD is what sticks in my mind, but many other runs with Purp convinced me that his build was quite possibly the best FvS I was ever going to see.
Plus, Purp was the one who helped me come up with the build for Jall’s second life. I told him what I was aiming for, and he’d run with me enough to know my playstyle. So even though he gave me a little good-natured ribbing because what I wanted for Jall wasn’t what he would have chosen, he made me a build tailored to what I wanted, and it’s worked out amazingly well.
I really had no idea exactly what I wanted to do with Meren except make some kind of heal-specced Soul with casting backup who wasn’t really a melee, but who could handle herself if the situation called for jumping in and bashing away with a nice scimi. While I had what amounted to step-by-step instructions from Purp on how to build Winnie, poor Meren got stuck with a build that I made up as I went along.
Logically, you’d think Winnie would be completely uber – she’s using the EXACT same build as Purp’s FvS, and if that ain’t uber, I don’t know what is. And logically, you’re probably wondering if I even kept playing Meren once I got her out of Korthos.
What’s surprising, at least to me, is that in my hands, Winnie is… so-so. I like her. I can definitely have fun with her. But she doesn’t “fit” me as well as the toons I’ve built myself, so I always feel a little off when I play her. It’s hard to put it into words. Maybe it’s that my playstyle and Purp’s are so different. Winnie’s build is designed for someone much more hardcore and zergy (the good zergy, just getting things done quickly and efficiently, rather than the bad zergy of running off and leaving everyone else behind). I tend to prefer having more of a specific role to play rather than trying to be everything. In Purp’s hand, Winnie’s build CAN be everything… but not in mine. With me at the controls, she’s a self-sufficient melee who can definitely do some healing, but nothing like what I’ve seen Purp do.
Meren, on the other hand… well, since I didn’t plan out her build at ALL, she’s kind of a hodgepodge. Every time I spent her action points or leveled her up, I looked at what was available and picked what sounded best at the time for the way I wanted to play.
“The way I wanted to play” – THAT is what made the difference. All the uber things I can’t do with Winnie’s uber build, I CAN do with Meren’s patchwork one… because that cobbled-together mess fits the way I like to play. Playing Meren is much more intuitive for me than playing Winnie. I don’t have to stop and think about what I’m doing; it just happens. So while I know I can’t utilize Winnie to her maximum potential, I’d bet Purp would have similar issues if he tried to play Meren.
I’ve managed to get Winnie to level 15 and mostly only run her with our little Tuesday night static group. I’d certainly never join a PuG of strangers as the sole healer with her. Meren, though, is level 23 and having a blast working through Unyielding Sentinel. She’s done very well soloing eNorm quests that are above her level, and I’m starting to try her in eHards as well with good results. I’m thrilled that she’s at nearly 800 HP and well over 3,000 SP considering I never made a really serious effort to beef up either one.
Meren even tanked Horoth in a short-manned ToD not too long ago – no, NOT because I think she’s all that. I KNOW she’s not a tank. But we didn’t have a tank or even a good tank candidate. Meren had the highest HP in the group, plus respectable AC, plus she was self-healing… it was a case of, “Either the FvS tanks or we call it off because it’s taking too long to fill.” That’s all. So please don’t think I’m one of those egolitists who want people to think they do everything better than anyone else.
If just one person reads this and goes away thinking, “Hmmm, next time I’ll see how someone does before I diss their build,” I’ll be happy.