Hero Guide As Requested

Dark Age of Camelet Guides

Hero Guide As Requested

Unread postby PostBot » Tue Nov 07, 2006 1:31 am

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Credits

Guide written and kindly shared with Camelot Stratics by Jarkas Trolltosser, guild leader of the player association Rite of Ascension. Edited/htmlized by Itekei, last update done on Thursday, November 22, 2001.

1.2 Related content

Camelot Stratics also hosts these interesting documents for you which are somehow related to the Hero class:

1.3 What this guide will do for you

First, the facts: The Hero is Hibernia's best tank. It receives the most Hit Points, and when spec'ing in the Shield, the Shield Hero becomes an insurmountable force of pure defense. In this extensive guide to the Hero class, I will talk about the advantages of decisions such as race, starting stat allocation, skills and their uses and strategies, weapon choices, equipment choices, and much more. It is quite long and extensive, but I believe it to be the most extensive guide to the Hero class available, anywhere. There are basically two kinds of Heroes available; the 2h Hero (Celtic Spear or Large Weapons with parry) and the Shield Hero (1h weapon with Shield). In this guide, I will only talk about the Shield Hero, but there is other info that is beneficial to all Heroes. Finally, this guide is based upon my opinions, and my opinions have been formulated by playing a Hero, scouring message boards (both public and private) and talking to other players. Please take the guide for what it is... guidance. It is not the absolute answer to anything. Thanks.

2.0 The Gameplay
2.1 Starting Out

Race, Stats, Location, and how to hit level 5. Only two of Hibernia's four races can become Heroes. They are the Celt and the Firbolg. There are pros and cons to each, and I will explain those, as well as give my opinion about the best place to put your starting stat points, and explain why. I'll also mention a couple of hints about how to get to level 5 the quickest way possible.

Race: Celts and Firbolgs may become Heroes. Elves and Lurikeen can never become a Hero. Please remember this when choosing your beginning way (The Way of Arms).

Stats: The most important stat for a Shield Hero is Constitution. The other two most important stats are Strength and Dexterity, with Quickness being a thought, but not anywhere near important when compared to Con, Dex, and Str. As you level, your Str, Con, and Dex will go up, automatically.

Making the character: There are advantages to being either a Celt or a Firbolg, and this is directly related to the stats they start out with. I will discuss these advantages and also go into detail about their starting stats, and how this will shape the character in their career. I've added 10 pts to STR, CON, and DEX for both the following examples, and this is what I would suggest to do starting out.

STR=60+10=70 DEX=60+10=70 CON=60+10=70 QUI=60

STR=90+10=100 DEX=40+10=50 CON=60+10=70 QUI=40

The first instinct of players when making their Hero is to choose the Firbolg. They have the most STR and traditionally, this makes great Tank/Melee classes. However, due to DAoC's very deep combat system, there are factors beyond just STR that make a great Tank. Like I mentioned earlier, CON is the most important stat. The good news is that both races will start out with 70. Both races are equal in terms of the number of hit points they will receive over their careers. Basically, the Celt Hero will hit more often and more consistently than the Firbolg, but the Firbolg will hit a bit harder. In my opinion, it all balances out. When you add in the factor of weight capacity and RvR (strength debuffs used in RvR), and a good argument could be made that the Firbolg is the clear choice. However, for PvE, the Celt will have the slight advantage since he will hit more often, and hitting is key for keeping the monster's attention during battle.

Honestly, you cant really go wrong with either. DEX affects how often you hit, and STR affects how hard you hit for... when you hit. Also, QUI is supposed to give a bonus to the speed in which players swing their weapons. While it may be slightly noticeable with a 2h Hero, I wouldn't give it serious consideration for our 1h/Shield Hero. I think STR is the way to go if you are hardcore into RvR and want the most out of your character in Player vs. Player combat (RvR). DEX will probably help you do your job better in PvE, but it will be marginal.

Finally, when starting your character out, the "best" choice for Size is SMALL. The dungeons in Hibernia are small and cramped, and it is easier to navigate for smaller people. However, it IS a role playing game, and we are here to have fun, so don't feel scared to select any other size. I'm a large Firbolg, but some people just want every advantage they can get, despite being diverse.

2.2 Levels 1-5

You are a Guardian when you start out, and cannot become a Hero until you are level 5 and speak with a Hero Trainer. If you are a Celt, you will start out in one of the most Southern Towns, Connla. If you are a Firbolg, you will start out in Ardee. Ardee is near Mag Mell and Tir na Nog, which is good because there will be more players around, and the newby hunting areas are always abundant. Connla is good for the first 1-4 levels, but I would invest in 5sp as soon as possible to head north towards Mag Mell.
At level 1, you simply want to kill anything blue to you. After 10 kills or so, you will become level 2. Level 2 is pretty much the same thing; kill anything blue/green to you, and before you know it, you will be level 3. As you kill, remember to loot EVERYTHING you can. Don't worry about dying so much. If you die, you start out with full health, in town, and you lose nothing. It can be faster than sitting and healing. Upon reaching level 3, you should have enough loot to buy your first real weapon. I recommend a bashing weapon like a hammer. Why? The starting hunting areas always seem to have monsters that are weak towards bashing weapons: Crabs, Mudmen, Beetles, Skeletons.

Upon reaching level 3 and buying your hammer, start killing skeletons and mudmen. There are 3 advantages for doing so: Skeletons drop armor. Mudmen drop magic items (like swords, clubs, daggers, shields, etc). Mudmen and skeletons are weak vs. bash attacks. The good news is, both Connla and Ardee have great Mudman hunting areas nearby. Also, if the loot allows, buy yourself a real shield as soon as possible.

Hunting mudmen should take you from 3 to 5 quite easily. Upon reaching level 5, it is time to see your Trainer and become a true Hero. I know Connla has a Hero trainer in town, but I believe the nearest Hero trainer to Ardee is in Tir na Nog. Finally, I would not recommend spending any training points until level 5 when you speak to your trainer and become a Hero.

3.0 The Skill Specializations
3.1 Which weapon to choose?

Heroes can use Pierce, Blades, and Blunt as 1h weapons. You cant really go wrong with any of them, but there are subtle differences between them. I'll discuss those here.

3.2 Blades

Blades are the most balanced overall weapon available to our Hero. They are pretty well balanced with regards to the other weapons: Slower and harder hitting than pierce, but faster and weaker hitting than blunt. Their combat styles reflect this as well with a nice mediocre blend of atk speed debuffs, small amounts of bleeding, small stuns, small bonuses to defense, etc. The best thing about blades it that there seem to be more available magic blades, than pierce or blunt. This is great in the low to mid levels, but becomes less of a factor later on, and I'll discuss that in the equipment section of this guide. The damage bonus for blades is based completely on your strength. The higher your strength, the more damage each hit with a blade weapon will do (same with blunt, but not with pierce... I'll explain later). Because of this, blades is one of the 2 choices that most Firbolgs go with. Finally, it appears that most monsters in Hibernia are not weak vs. the blade's slashing attack, as much as they are vs. the piercing or bludgeoning attack of Pierce and Blunt weapons. Also, slash doesn't give a bonus to the Melee fighters of Albion (Plate Mail) or Midgard (Chain Mail). Honestly, most 1h heroes go with blades for some reason.

3.3 Blunt

Blunt weapons tend to be a bit slower than blades, but do a bit more damage... on average. Honestly, it isn't really a factor. The attack styles for Blunt lend themselves to being a bit more useful than blades due to many of them having stunning properties. I'll be very blunt (no pun intended), there aren't many magical blunt weapons available in Hibernia currently. However, this isn't a big deal, especially later on in your career, and I'll explain why later on. Finally, blunt weapons are probably the most useful in terms of affecting Hibernia's monsters (many of whom are weak vs. blunt) and also are the best weapons to use vs. the plate-wearing tanks of Albion (plate is weak vs. blunt). Ahhhh, but there is a catch. What many people do not realize, is that our Shield Attacks actually count as blunt damage, and because of this, many Shield Spec'd Heroes find that blunt is a waste since they can choose either Pierce or Blades and essentially have 2 attack styles (Blunt and pierce or slash). As a shield-spec'd hero, I would not recommend going with blunt weapons.

3.4 Pierce

Frankly, I've never seen a Shield Hero spec in Pierce. Therefore, the following info is all based upon my own theories. In hindsight, I think the best 1h Combo to go with a shield is Pierce. The Attack Styles for pierce give the most bonuses to defense. Piercing weapons tend to be faster weapons than blunt or blades, and this means more Styles in a shorter amount of time (good for soloing, or going into a frenzy to finish off a monster or person in RvR). Faster attacks mean more chances at taunting a creature, as well, since you'll get more chances to use the Pierce Taunt attack style. Chain Mail Midgards are also weak vs. pierce attacks, and when you combine this with the fact that Albion plate mail is weak vs. the blunt attacks of our shields, and you have RvR covered by having the best of both worlds (not to mention most of Hibernia's monster population). The main thing to consider when choosing pierce, is to keep in mind that unlike blades and blunt, the damage bonus for pierce is based upon STR and DEX... not just STR. So, for a Celt, this is probably a no-brainer to go with Pierce, but for a Firbolg, the blades will probably seem more appealing.

3.5 Where to put training points

You want to keep shield maxed. Every level, make sure to invest a point into shield. Other than that, you want to put almost every other point into whatever weapon you choose. However, as you get a few levels under your belt (every 10 levels or so), put parry up a notch or two, and sacrifice a level in your weapon. The reason for this is simple: Your job is to take punishment, not deal it out, and by having some parry, this enhances your ability to do so. Also, you get items that add to melee weapons, but so far, its been difficult to find items that add to shield (other than a magic shield). Again, put 1 pt into shield every level, and every 10 levels or so, put a couple of levels into parry, and the rest onto your weapon. By the time you reach level 40, you'll have 40 shield, around 36 in your weapon, and around 18 in parry. From 40-50, Mythic has added bonus skill points, and because of this, you'll be able to catch your weapon up to shield, and max it out each level, as well. Any left over points should go into parry. At level 50, it will be Shield 50, Weapon 50, and parry 28, I believe.

4.0 The Meaning and Use of Skills
4.1 Parry

Heroes get parry upon reaching level 2. The unofficial official word (you figure that out) is that parry is 25 percent base, plus +.5 percent per skill point. So, with a Parry of 10, your chance to parry would be 30 percent. I don't know if this is accurate, but I'm pretty sure I don't parry 30 percent of the time. I do know, however, that the level of the creature you are fighting compared to your level is a huge factor in determining how all things work, and parry is no exception. Perhaps this chance is when fighting greens, but even then, it seems a bit high. Perhaps it is 5 percent plus .5 percent per point. At any rate, the .5 percent per point is accurate, I'm sure. Parry is a passive skill, which means it is always on, and you don't have to do anything to parry an attack. One important thing to remember about Parry is that it is only effective against 1 attacker at a time. If you have 3 monsters/people attacking you, you can only parry whichever one you are attacking (not all 3).

4.2 Shield

Heroes start out able to use small shields. At level 5, they gain the ability to use medium shields, and at level 10, they can use large shields. You can start training in shield at 5th level upon becoming a hero. For all intents and purposes, the Shield is a weapon in DAoC. Shields are made by weapon crafters, and the type of shield you use has several factors associated with it, like other weapons such as speed and damage. However, the type of shield you use also involves certain defensive considerations. All of this info is listed here (thanks to the Prima Strategy Guide for DAoC).
Round Shield Small Defends 1 attacker 2.8 Atk Speed Damage Rank 4th (last)

Kite Shield Med Defends 2 attackers 4.3 Atk Speed Damage Rank 2nd

Tower Shield Large Defends 3 attackers 4.5 Atk Speed Damage Rank 1st (best)

Heater Shield Large Defends 3 attackers 3.8 Atk Speed Damage Rank 3rd

Looking at the list, you can tell there are several factors involved in choosing the best shield. Mythic has done a great job in balancing the different shields and how they are used. There are some things to consider, however, that aren't portrayed in that chart. Damage is a bit deceiving. First off, the damage of your shield is based upon several factors: Quality of the shield, the metal/material of the shield, is the shield magical, and of course, how the shield cons to you (like all weapons). Furthermore, it is important to remember that the minimum damage for a shield is the same for EVERY shield of the same material/metal. This means that a Cobalt Round Shield has the same minimum damage as a Cobalt Tower Shield, but the max damage is quite different. At the highest level, a Round Shield will do about the same amount of damage every hit since its min and max damage is almost even. However, the Tower Shield is nearly double in terms of potential max damage. Also, for all intents and purposes, the Kite Shield hits just as hard as the Tower Shield (1 pt less at all levels), but is barely slower, and defends vs. 1 less attacker. The Heater shield falls right in the middle in terms of potential max damage (more than round, but less than kite/tower... right in between them).

Basically, you want to eventually invest in 2 shields. A very good round shield (much later on in your career... from 30th and on), and a very good Heater Shield. I use a Heater Shield most of the time. In groups, it defends me from 3 attackers at once, and the speed is balanced well for its damage. Remember, we aren't in groups to do damage, we are there to take it. Also, the stun attack styles of the shield are a bit wasted if your shield is slow attacking. A very good round shield helps when solo'ing, and is very good (at the higher levels) when in groups who have crowd control and you don't need the defense from extra attackers. For RvR, I would always recommend using a Heater Shield since you need the defense from as many attackers as possible. When it says "defends 3 attackers", it means just that. If you are being attacked by 3 monsters, you actually can block all 3 of them by using a large shield.

Another little known fact about shields is that they can also block against arrows and bolt spells. A blocked arrow does no damage, and, a blocked bolt spell does half damage. This is a tremendous advantage in RvR, and is one of the main reasons that high level Shield Heroes are so sought after in the later stages of the game. Finally, Shield, like parry, is a passive skill. Just by having the shield equipped, it automatically checks each attack to see if the attack is blocked or not. However, unlike parry, you do not have to actually be in combat mode and fighting a target to block it.

4.3 Guard

Guard is one of the most underrated skills, and misused skills in the game. Off the top of my head, I'm not sure if the Guard Skill is gained by reaching a certain level in Shields, or if it is given by just being a tank class. At any rate, it is one of the most powerful skills available. What does it do, and how do you use it? Guard is a skill that you actually use on a member of your group. You simply select the person in your group you want to guard, and then you activate the guard skill button. A little green icon will show up where your buff icons show up, and a message will be displayed to you AND the person you are guarding. After that, as long as you stay grouped, that person will be guarded by you.

What does it do? This is the cool part. First off, you have to remain relatively close to the person to be able to effectively guard them. The rule of thumb I use is: if they are close enough to trade items with, then guard should work. During combat, any attacks made towards the person you are guarding, all have a chance of being completely blocked and nullified by you, as long as you are close enough. How do you put this to best use? Well, in a group with 2 shield spec'd heroes, each hero can place guard on the other (you can only guard 1 person at a time, and, you can only be guarded by 1 person at a time). Imagine this possibilities of this powerful setup. You have 2 heroes who are spec'd in shields. Each one already has a high chance to block on their own, and, against multiple attackers. In addition to this, by guarding each other, they increase their chances of blocking tremendously by having ANOTHER person able to block attacks for them. If both tanks have this on each other, and if both tanks can do their jobs (by keeping the monster attacking at least 1 of them), then your healers will love you forever on end. Personally, after people begin to use this more often, I can actually see Mythic nerfing this since it is tremendously powerful, and until you've been a part of it in a good group, you just can't comprehend the raw beauty this strategy brings. This skill is even more useful when you consider the following skill.

4.4 Protect

Protect is another one of those invaluable skills. It functions the same way as Guard: You select a member of your group, and then hit the Protect button. The difference is, multiple people can protect the same person, but I have no idea if this actually helps. I believe Protect is given to all tanks, and is not actually a shield-specific skill. So what exactly does Protect do ?
To understand Protect, you need to understand how "aggro" works in the game. Aggro is a term used to describe and measure how much a monster hates someone, and thus, comes after them. There are many things that can aggro a monster: Hurting it with spells or weapons, healing people whom the monster doesn't like (aggro'd on), and debuffing the monster. You can think of it as a list of people the monster doesn't like. The more you make the monster angry, the higher you go on its list. If you are at the top of the monster's list, then it will come after you.

The entire job of a Tank is to keep the monsters angry at them. They have the best defense and the most hit points, and as such, good groups are much much much more efficient when all the monsters are attacking the 1 or 2 tanks in your group. There are 3 things you can do to make sure a monster keeps attacking you instead of a group member: 1) Damage it with your weapon 2) Use your Taunt Attack Style to artificially boost the mob's aggro and finally, 3) Use protect on people who could potentially make the mob angry.

Healers and Nukers (people who cast offensive spells that deal damage or debuff) can really make a monster angry at them in a hurry. Protect is a skill used to offset this. By protecting your group's primary healer and your group's primary damage dealer (eldritch, for example), you can keep monsters attacking you, instead of them. How does it work? First off, there are rules. The person you are "protecting" cannot be engaging the monster in combat. Therefore, it does not work on other melee people such as blademasters and nightshades, and also, does not work on rangers since they are technically engaging the monster in combat. Each time the person you are protecting casts a spell that would normally make the monster angry (such as healing you when you are hurt from the monster pounding on you), you will see a message about you distracting the monster's attention while your group member cast the heal spell on you. The same thing happens when you are protecting a group member who throws some big damage spells on the monster you are fighting. There is one other thing to consider when using protect. To my knowledge (I'll have to double check), I think protect only works against a monster you are fighting. So, if you have 3 monsters your group is fighting, and 2 of them are pounding you, and then the healer (the person you are protecting) heals you, you will distract the 1 monster (the one you are fighting) and keeps it's attention, but the other monster attacking you very well may go after the healer. Please keep this in mind when formulating group strategies.

4.5 Engage

Like many of the other Tank Skills, this one is widely misunderstood, and many have believed it to be "broken" for quite some time. The reason many people thought it was broken was due to a small flaw in the way it was used, but since then, Mythic has fixed this, and now the skill is much easier to use. So, what is engage and how do we use it?
First off, Engage is a shield skill (unlike Protect). Second off, you use it against monsters (unlike protect and guard). Engage is when you take a defensive posture verse a creature and concentrate only on defending every attack it throws at you, and sacrifice any ability to attack it. In essence, when you are engaging an enemy, it will be unable to harm you with any physical attacks, but at the same token, you will be unable to attack it. You are probably thinking... what good is that?!?!

It is a limited form of crowd control. You are in a group, and you have no bards, and the group has pulled 1 monster more than it can normally handle. You inform your group that you will engage one of them. Basically, it takes that monster out of the equation, but takes you out of the equation as well. It buys your group some time to finish 1 or 2 of the other monsters off, while you basically stand toe to toe with a monster, but don't require heals. There are some rules to this, of course.

1) If the monster is being attacked or cast upon by anyone in the group, engage will not work. In fact, once the monster is attacked or cast upon, it will take an attack or two from the monster before engage starts working. Because of this, it is best to engage a monster BEFORE anyone messes with it. If not, the monster will get a free whack or two in on you before the engage kicks in.

2) You lose stamina each time you successfully engage an enemy attack. The drain is very small, and I assure you, you can engage an enemy on full stamina for a very long time (in combat time, anyway). Also, another thing to remember is that if you evade or parry an attack, it will NOT drain stamina since it didn't count as you engaging and negating that attack.

3) You must have a shield equipped to engage an enemy.

4) The monster can still aggro on to other people, and to be honest, this is the skill's only major drawback, and something that Mythic will address soon, hopefully. If you are engaging and enemy, and your healers are chain healing someone, there is a good chance the monster will leave you and go off to pursue that creature. At that time, engage is worthless since the monster isn't trying to attack you. At that point in time, there is no other choice but to try and taunt/attack the monster, and if this happens, engage is not useable.

Mythic has recently patched the game to make Engage a bit easier to use. As I mentioned before, allot of people though it was broken, but that was because of a small flaw. Before the patch, you had to be in combat mode to engage a monster. If you can imagine, how can you target a monster, then enter combat mode, and THEN hit the Engage skill before you swing at or attack the monster? You would always smack the monster once before you engaged it, and because of this, the monster would get a round or two of free attacks on you, and then people would think it was broken and then just start attacking it. If you had just waited a bit longer, and if no one was messing with the creature, you would eventually start blocking attacks. This has since been fixed. Now, you don't have to be in combat mode to engage an enemy. You can simply target it, and then hit engage. Furthermore, you can either attack, or chose a combat style, and it will take you out of engage mode, and put you back into normal combat mode. This is also the same patch that made shields con correctly, and also extended the range of the guard skill.

4.6 Intercept

Intercept is another non-shield related skill that tanks get. This skill allows the tank to make a desperate attempt to dive in front of a party member and intercept an attack made by a creature or enemy invader. To use it, you must select a party member by targeting them (or their name in the group window like I do) and then hit the intercept key. You get one shot at it, and that is it. The refresh timer on the skill is 1 minute. And, intercept is only good for 1 attack. So, how is it useful?
Intercept is the life-saver. This single skill is what separates the good tanks from the great tanks and you will learn to love tanks who can do this successfully and intelligently. As you all know, when grouped with 7 or 8 people, and when fighting reds or low purples, many casters cannot withstand more than 2 hits from a creature before they die. Or, how many times have you seen a healer cast a heal on someone just as they died, and the heal is wasted? Intercept is the ability to alleviate all of that. Some suggestions on how to use Intercept.

Position you windows/interface in DAoC so that it is very easy to select a group member and then select this skill. The way I have mine set up, I have my chat window in the bottom left. Along the bottom, right next to the chat window is my window with my own health and such. Right next to my window is my group mini window. Right above these 2 windows (and centered on my screen), I have my Hotkey Bar going horizontal across my screen (not up and down). My intercept key is positioned perfectly above my group mini window. This allows me to quickly select a group member, and then hit the intercept key just above. I also have hotkeys made that allows me to target anyone in my group with a single push of a keyboard or mouse button. This is important because like I said, casters will die in 2 hits. 2 hits is NOT enough time for a healer to get a spell off to save them. Imagine: The entire group is grouped up, and packed in close together in a dungeon atmosphere. You are attacking a couple of monsters. The eldritch throws a nuke that draws the monster's attention. The monster makes a couple of steps and then clobbers the eldritch. Instantly, the healers will select the eldritch and begin casting their healing spells. Spells have casting times on them, and most of the time, they are too slow to prevent a 2nd hit from the monster. However, the Intercept ability is instant. As soon as the eldritch is hit, you must target them (while moving close to them) and then hit the intercept ability. The very next attack made against the eldritch should be absorbed by you, and just after this, the heal spells will get to the eldritch, and they will survive. As soon as you intercept, remember to start attacking again (since you cant intercept another blow) and try to taunt it off.

The rules to intercept are as follows:

1) It refreshes every minute, but only if it is used. You can target someone and then hit intercept. The very next attack that would have hit that person will be intercepted by you. If this happens, you cannot intercept another attack for that person or anyone else for another minute, and even then, you have to target them and hit intercept again. If the monster dies for some reason, or doesn't attack that person, then intercept does not get used.

2) You need to be relatively close to the person, much like guard.

3) You cannot attack while intercepting, obviously, since you will have a group member targeted.

5.0 The Equipment
5.1 The Basics

Unlike casters, a tank is only as good as his equipment. Because of this, the life of a tank can be a very expensive one. Due to the con system used in determining equipment's level, it is a constant task keeping updated equipment that is appropriate for your level. This is especially true until you reach level 40, and then, the levels start slowing down. Player made equipment, in general, is all you should be using. I know that may sound odd, and goes against all the principles of adventuring and finding nice items with great magical stats and such from other games, but DAoC is not like other games. The factors that are most important for tanks are: Quality, Condition and Bonus. Monster-dropped items just do not make the cut in those departments. The best quality item you can normally find from a monster is 89-90 percent. In terms of weapons, this can be a 20-30 percent decrease in damage output compared to a player-made weapon of 98-100 percent. The same thing is true about armor. Always keep your weapons repaired and in tip-top shape. Finally, enchant player made items when you can... the more the bonus, the better the item is, and the longer it lasts.

5.2 Armor

Heroes can wear Scale starting at 15th level. Scale is the best armor available in Hibernia. When selecting the armor you want to wear, please consider the following guidelines:
The armor should con yellow or blue to you, orange at the very most, and only under dire circumstances. You should start keeping an eye out for replacement armor when it is green to you, and you should replace the armor when it is gray/white to you.

AF, Quality, and Absorb all factor into the "real AF" of any given armor piece. A Tunic with AF 60 but only a quality of 89 will not give you as much "real AF" as a tunic with an AF of 55 but a quality of 97. The more absorb, the better, as this affects AF and how much damage you take when hit.
The bonus of the armor is taken into consideration depending upon the weapon of your attacker. If someone uses a 5 bonus weapon, and hits an armor piece you are wearing that has a bonus of 10 or 15, the chance to hit is reduced. Because of this, always keep your armor enchanted, especially at the higher levels and when in RvR.

Magical armor is generally not very effective. Monster-dropped armor tends to be low quality, and the magical properties they bestow usually aren't justified for the sacrifice in AF and Quality. Of course, there are other things to consider like armor that magically give Resistance Buffs (like crush, slash, magic, etc) and also armor pieces that add Constitution (our most important stat) and Hit Points. However, player-made armor is expensive, and as such, most players will tend to have a combination of found armor, and crafted armor. There are some exceptions to this rule, and that is armor that is given as part of a quest reward. These armor pieces tend to be the best you can obtain. They are usually 100 quality, and have the highest bonus available to you at your level. One of the Hero Epic rewards is a prime example of this (The Charred Tunic which is AF 50, 100 quality, and 15 bonus, along with adding STR and something like 21 Hit Points).

I try to buy player made armor that is yellow for my level, and then use it until it is green or gray for my level, and then attempt to buy whatever the next level of yellow armor is. I use found pieces to fill in the blanks until I either have enough money, or until I find something better. Generally speaking, do not buy crafted armor that is blue or lower. Trust me, it is hard enough, and expensive enough just to keep updating your armor via craftsman, and as such, you need to get the most value you can out of each piece. The good news is, players tend to buy monster-dropped armor by the hoards because they like looking at their high strength or like to match or whatever, and this means more money for us tanks who know better

5.3 Weapons

The same rule applies to weapons. Try to only use weapons that are blue or yellow to you. The Earthen Defender is a great weapon for a tank in the low-mid stages of your career since it adds to parry, evade, and blades skill, and is also VERY fast (2.6 I think ). However, I still recommend buying a weapon (the new player crafted only weapons are great) and then enchanting it best you can. Don't dwell on damage so much since your true strength lies in taking hits, not dishing them out. You want to find a nice balance of decent damage with speed. Always keep your weapon repaired, and never pass up a good deal for a weapon that you know you'll use later.
Shields are weapons, and they should be treated as such. The same rules apply. Once you hit level 33+, I would start to look for a good small shield, in addition to your large one. The bonus on a weapon is important. This is directly compared to the armor bonus of the person/monster you are attacking and factors into your ability to hit.

The Quality of the weapon is the largest factor in determining how often you hit for max damage, as is your skill level with the weapon compared to the skill level of your character and the level of the thing/person you are fighting. A magic weapon with a quality of 80 with a high DPS (damage per second) is not nearly as effective as a player-crafted weapon of 97 quality with a lower DPS. Finally, again, keep your weapons/shields repaired. The condition of them plays a role, as well, into their effectiveness.

5.4 Magical Items: Jewelry, cloaks, etc.

This is pretty easy. You want as many resistances, Hit Points, and Constitution bonuses that you can get. Items that add to evade, shield, or parry are gravy. For RvR, you especially want resistance bonuses to magic damage (dark, light, etc) and you should eventually find yourself collecting trinkets that make sets used for ideal situations: I.E. Depending on how you are attacking (Midgard, for example), you may want to equip all the items you can that will raise your Lightning resist as high as possible to make those pesky thanes and casters less of a pain.

6.0 Group and Solo Strategies
6.1 Going Group

I could write an entire other book on this subject since there are so many different possible group combinations. There are ways to do one thing if you have 2 tanks in a group, and a different way to do them if you only have 1. Is it better to protect the healer or the nuker in the group? Etc, etc, etc. It is up to you to weigh each group on its own merit, and make a decision as to where your skills are best used to make the group as efficient as possible. Don't be afraid to experiment for a while trying different things, and see which one seems to keep the group pulling the fastest, and furthest from death. If your healers are keeping good mana, and if the group is pulling at a good and steady pace, then all is well. If people are getting close to death, or if healers are running out of mana, then odds are that a new strat is in order, maybe.

If you have 2 tanks, it is always best to guard each other. And then, have 1 tank protect the main healer, while the other tank protects the main nuker (eldritch).

With only 1 tank, the decision is harder to make. I would put guard on the healer, and then protect on the nuker. The idea is to kill the monster as quickly as possible, and protecting the eldritch will help in doing so. Healers can take a couple of hits more than a caster, and having guard on the healer should suffice until you are able to taunt it off the healer.

If you have more than 1 tank, have 1 tank be the main tank who is also the puller. The other tank should serve as the taunter. This taunter basically keeps an eye out for added monsters to the fight, or go after monsters who start attacking the nuker, crowd control person, or healer. They should run over and get the monsters off of those people as soon as possible, while the main tank continues to keep the other monster occupied and while the group focuses on getting rid of that main monster.

If you have someone in the group who does crowd control, the group goes much more smoothly. In fact, the only person you really need to look out for, as a taunter, is the crowd control person, himself (a bard, for instance). If the group pulls 3 monsters, the main tank is the person who decides which monster should die first. The rest of the group should focus and help kill that one monster. The bard, if they are doing their job, should be able to temporarily stop (mez) the other 2. On occasion, however, a mez is resisted, and a monster or 2 will come after the bard. The 2nd tank (taunter) then needs to go over to the bard and be very careful. If the bard can get another mez off before the monster gets to him, then let him. If the monster actually engages the bard, then you must smack the monster once with a taunt, and then, STOP ATTACKING. This will get the monster's attention so that the bard can attempt to mez again. Once the add-ons are under control, you can then help the main tank continue to slay whatever beast he is on.

6.2 Going Solo

I don't recommend solo'ing, but sometimes, you don't have a choice. As a shield hero, you don't have healing, and you don't deal as much damage as Celtic Spear heroes or 2h heroes, but your defense is infinitely better, and as such, you should be able to solo just as effectively as heroes who specialize differently. Some tips to solo'ing:
Like other classes, try to fight monsters who will come alone, and who you get a dmg bonus against (trees if you use a blade, for example, or bugs if you use a mace). Also, the "ideal" monster is one who has a melee penalty (casters or monsters whose attack style is weak vs. scale armor) and a monster whom you do more damage against (as mentioned above).

Kill blues, and the occasional yellow if it pops up amongst the group of blues you are fighting. Yes, I solo'd yellows for quite some time.

Try to hunt in areas where the monsters are not aggressive against you. This will mean that you need to fight animals or non-social monsters who don't kill you upon seeing you. This allows you to position yourself next to them, and get off some of those very effectively 2-3 Hit Combos based upon positioning (side or back of monster).

Early in fights, save your endurance and attack styles in case you get a block or parry early on. Many of the attack styles require you to block or parry, and once you do, you can actually chain together 2-3 good moves that can really give you a fast kill. Once you get to 3 quarters health, you want to evaluate the situation and determine where you stand. If you are questionable about it, you have 2 choices: Either run for it (the safe bet) or go into an offensive mode where you start throwing out your most damaging non-pre-requirement style (they usually cost a ton of endurance) and hope to outdamage the monster before you get much lower.

Late in fights, you want to re-evaluate the situation, again. If you are not beyond the point where running will save you, then make a quick decision based upon your stamina and life compared to the monster's life. If you don't expending your stamina to do a particular style will kill the monster in time, then save your endurance and hope you get a block or parry in that will allow you to use your remaining endurance to get off one of those devastating 2-3 hit combos that usually change the course of the entire fight.

Mix the styles up. A nice combination of stun styles (shield) with bleed styles (blade or pierce) and increase defense styles will increase your chances of beating a particular foe. Always take advantage of reaction styles (ones that require block, parry, or evade) whenever possible since they tend to be the most effective and efficient styles we have, and most of our higher level styles actually require one of the earlier styles.

Small shields tend to be the best for solo'ing. Their incredibly quick attack speed, along with their consistent and dependable damage is all you need. Stun shield attacks done by a small shield actually allow you to get in an extra attack, unlike stun shield attacks done by the larger and slower shields, since those shields are too slow to allow another attack before the stun wears off, usually.

7.0 Hotkeys and Macros
7.1 Macros: Which ones do I need?

/stick is the most obvious one. Create a macro for the /stick or /follow function. Melee people need to stick to monsters quite frequently so they are able to follow them around in combat as they move from 1 person to the next. It is too tedious and inefficient to rely on your own senses and field of view... especially when you consider the poor pathing that some monsters have. This macro is created by typing, /macro Stick /stick
Incoming is another widely-used macro by tanks. This macro is used to quickly inform your group that you are pulling a monster to the group, or that a wandering monster is near. Often times, someone will be out pulling, and the group will see a monster that just spawned on them, and they type "/g There is one here, already", but by that time, the puller has already pulled something, and now you have a multi-monster fight. Having a quick hotkey for this is a must for real tanks. This macro is created by typing, /macro INC! /g I got a badguy on my tail! (or whatever you want to say).

/assist is another macro. I don't use it often, but it does come in handy. The assist function in DAoC could be better, but it gets the job done when there is allot going on, and space is cramped, and it is hard to target someone or something. Just remember, there is a slight delay when using /assist, and also, you cannot assist onto someone's target unless they are actually in combat mode with that target. To create this macro, type /macro ASSIST /assist.

7.2 Hotkeys: How to arrange your hotkeys and hotkey pages.

I use 3 pages for my hotkeys. I use the default of 1, and in addition to that, I use pages 8 and 2. Basically, this allows me to put my most often used hotkeys on 1 page, and then have 2 more pages of hotkeys available, but only 1 page away from my main page (rather than 2 pages away). Every split second counts.
The last 2 slots of every one of my hotkeys has SPRINT (skill) and STICK (macro) on them. This leaves me 6 hotkey positions on each page. The main page has the following additions to it, that NEVER change: Engage, Intercept, and Taunt (whatever your taunting attack style is). T
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