Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Cat Class

EverQuest II
has a lot of classes. Twenty-six to be precise. They break down into four archetypes (Fighter, Priest, Mage, Scout) which reflects the early days of the game, when you didn't get to play as your final class choice until level twenty. And there were only fifty levels.

You had to jump a bunch of in-game hurdles, too, before you finally ended up with the character you wanted. It was never a very popular system, although I guarantee you'll still find veterans who claim it was the bixie's kneecaps. There's always someone who'll claim to like anything. Maybe some of them even mean it.

Along with most of the original systems and mechanics, the class system was changed long ago to allow players to begin as they meant to go on. About the only holdover from the archetype system is the allocation of a single, primary statistic from which each draws all their power, something which was only ratified relatively recently. 

It won't surprise anyone to learn that Fighters rely on strength, Priests on wisdom. Mages on Intelligence and Scouts on agility. And all classes draw on stamina for their health pool. For legacy reasons everyone gets everyone else's stats (officially known as Attributes in the game, a term I have never heard anyone use in sixteen years of playing) but only two of the five actually do anything.

When it comes to armor, things loosen up just a little. The cleanest archetypes are Mages, who all wear cloth, and Scouts, who all wear chain. Most fighters wear plate although monks and bruisers wear leather. That used to be tied in with their reliance on agility to avoid getting hit but of course these days they rely on strength so it no longer makes much sense from a lore perspective. 

Priests are a hotch-potch. Some of them wear plate, some leather and some chain. Their heals also don't always stack well with others of the same class or even wearing the same armor (obviously not because of the armor), which is why you regularly hear lfg calls not just for healers but asking for specific classes or armor-types.

When picking a class at character creation there's also alignment and race to consider. For most practical purposes the original Good/Evil split between Freeport and Qeynos doesn't make much impact on gameplay any more. Anyone can group with anyone else and talk and trade with them freely, almost all quests are neutral and so is just about every city introduced since the first expansion. 

Over the years some of the restrictions that once existed have been relaxed. Ratongas, once pure evil, can now be good or neutral and goodies can become cool Inquisitors instead of boring Templars. If you want to be a Shadowknight or a Necromancer, though, you still won't be able to start in Qeynos or

It's all very complicated and frankly not all that interesting or important - until you come to make a character. Which is why I'm talking about it now. 

The servers are down for the bi-weekly patch so I thought I'd finally get on with making my Vah Shir, the new race added with Reign of Shadows. I'd already bought another character slot to make space so it seemed about time.

Only I ran into the same problem I always run into when making a new character in EQII (and in pretty much any other game for that matter). I know what I like. 

Doesn't sound like much of a problem, does it? Well, it is.

I like pet classes, I like fighters with massive AEs and I like highly mobile, ranged classes. I also like classes that have fast movement speed and ones who can feign death because I like to be able to get free of combat when things aren't going my way. Back when I used to group more, what I really liked best of all was healers, preferably those with direct heals, but there's not much point playing a healer when you solo all the time, especially in a game with healer mercenaries.

On my subbed account I already have at least one of all the classes in EQII that I really like - Berserker, Necromancer, Bruiser, Shadowknight. I also have most of the ones I quite like - Wizard, Inquisitor, Warlock, Fury. I even have some I really don't get on with very well that were added late to the game and which I felt duty-bound to try - Channeler, Beastlord.

Of those that remain, there are a lot of chain-wearing scouts, about whom I know really not very much. And I could use a chain-wearer if only because it would give me something to do with all the chain armor I get from quests and Overseer missions and as drops. I used to stuff it all in the bank but eventually I transmuted most of it because it obviously wasn't going to get used. 

Unfortunately, chain-wearers in EQII don't really suit me very well. There's the Ranger, who you'd think I might enjoy, seeing as how I have no fewer than three Hunters in WoW and three Rangers in Guild Wars 2. Only I played an EQII ranger once and it didn't go at all well. Can't remember why. I just know it didn't.

Anyone who has to position themselves to attack can forget it. I can't be doing with all that fiddliness. That used to rule out all the stealth types, the Troubadors and Brigands and their like. Only I have a vague suspicion that over the years many of the positional restrictions have been watered down or removed altogether. Except, since I always skip anything about classes I don't play when it comes up in patch notes, I can't be sure.

There are several chain healers. I played one, a Defiler, for quite a while. He was my main character for maybe a year or two back in the dawn of time. I enjoyed him a lot in a duo with Mrs Bhagpuss but he was excruciating to solo. I hear that's better now but I'm not willing to take the risk.

I've been thinking about it a fair bit and I still haven't made up my mind. Perhaps the obvious pick would be a Conjuror. It's a powerful pet class and while I have one in the nineties already, he's on a different account and anyway I never really got on with him very well - not as a class but as a character.

For some reason that entirely escapes me I chose to make him a human male with a handlebar mustache, which is not someone I can imagine ever wanting to play now. Then to compound the problem I named him after a writer I like, only to realize too late that I'd remembered his name wrong.

None of that relates to the class, which I seem to recall I enjoyed playing. They do have very ugly pets but that's what petamorph wands are for. (Note to self: remember that post on petamorph wands you keep meaning to write? Well, get on and write it, why don't you?).

The other option is one of those aforementioned scouts. Maybe I should do some research and find out just how they play. I do have a Dirge in her low thirties on Kaladim, the Time Limited Expansion server and she's fun but I'm not sure how that retro-fitted gameplay reflects the way the class plays at the upper levels of the current game.

Last but definitely not least would be another Shadowknight. Again, I have one in the 90s but he's on the wrong server. I really enjoy SK gameplay but it's perhaps too similar to the Berserker, minus those fantastic AEs. Being able to feign is a huge attraction but I fear any plate fighter is going to seem like a younger, weaker sibling compared to my berserker, who is by some margin my best-geared and most fully-upgraded character.

I was hoping putting all this down in white and blue might clarify matters but I can't say it's helped all that much. I do think I should go research the scouts, though. I know Mrs Bhagpuss used to play both a Swashbuckler and a Troubador to great effect. I'd ask her for advice but the game has changed so much in the eight years since she stopped playing I'm not sure her experiences would be all that relevant today.

I could log her account on and play them for myself, though. Now there's an idea...


  1. I used to play a Brigand once, mainly because a guildie made it sound exceptionally fun.

    I bounced off quickly for just the reason you described: for this attack I had to be behind the enemy, for that one at his flank, and so on. Too much hassle even when in a group, a dealbreaker when solo.

    If they indeed have loosened that up though, which might quite possibly be the case as you say, I can definitely recommend the class over all other scouts though.

    If I remember correctly the Brigand has/had quite a nice selection of tricks up his sleeve, not the least of which were, at the time, a group-wide invis and a major raid-wide damage buff (every raid wanted to have a Brigand for that alone, but it also helps when solo of course).

    Btw, I do say "attributes". ;-)

    1. I didn't even remember the primary stats were even called "Attributes" until I was looking them up for the post! I always call them "primary" or "character" stats - not that I have much cause to call them anything since I'm soloing. My mercs and pets don't care.

      Realistically, it doesn't much make much difference which class I go for. With six 120s already and four maxed crafters I am never going to have time to do more than mess around with another. I mostly want someone to give all the chain armor too because I already have enough transmuting mats.

  2. I have been considering firing this up, but I doubt my Sarnak Shadowknight (or was it a Paladin) thingy would still hold up....

    Is it hard to get back into if you've been away since 2010 or thereabouts? Like... how do I fix the UI, and do I need to subscribe?

    1. People come back all the time. I hear them asking questions in chat, most of which even get a sensible reply. The game has changed a lot since 2010, though. It can be overwhelming but not so much at the lower levels, which are relatively unchanged. Daybreak have a "what's changed" page for returning players on the official site but it hasn't been updated for two years some of it's already both out of date and misleading but most of it is useful. Best source of info is always the excellent wiki.

      You don't need to subscribe because EQII is still free to play, even though probably 90% of people playing do pay. I find it very good value and there are some sub-only perks worth having, not least the free instant travel, which I use all the time. You definitely don't need to sub to play though and it's still a fun experience under the free restrictions, which aren't all that onerous.

      Of course, if you wanted to pick up very much from where you left off you could start over on the Time Limited Expansion server Kaladim, for which you do need a subscription. I believe Kaladim is currently up to Rise of Kunark, so you'd be right at home!

  3. My main is a ranger. Their game play has changed dramatically a few times over the years. Right now, I only solo and you do not have to worry about positioning at all. My other alts are Inq, Pali and a Necro. I have not played them much at all in the past year other than to help with some crafting. I probably have about 5 or 6 other alts that I have not touched in years.


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