After going over the Human racial enhancement and Shintao Monk class enhancement tree from the recent alpha exposure on Lammania, it’s time to look at the long-awaited new, third Prestige class to be introduced when this new enhancement tree format goes live: The Henshin Mystic.
There are serious problems with this new class set that take away not only from its own potential greatness but from abilities originally found in the live Shintao and Ninja Spy enhancements.
Core Abilities: Riddle of Fire, Ki Bolt, Sounding Staff, Incinerating Wave, Cauldron of Flame, Serenity
- *Riddle of Fire improves your Fire and Force spell power, improves your Fire resistance and detracts from enemies. This improves for each Henshin core ability you choose.
- PRO: *Ki Bolt lets you shoot off a bolt of ki that deals fire and Force damage. A low-level counterpart to the Grandmaster of Flowers’s Epic Destiny ability, Lily Petal.
- *Sounding Staff gives improvements to Universal Spell Power as you level the class tree. As a player that doesn’t delve much in the spell casting classes, I’m sure this is a good thing but can’t easily quantify how this improves overall damage.
- *Incinerating Wave throws a moving firewall, dealing Fire and Force damage that grows as you level. Interesting again, with a caveat for later.
- *Cauldron of Flame burns any enemies around you with massive Fire damage while you stand in your effect. If you move, the effect ends. Sounds good, but…
- Serenity is effectively the original Monk heroic Capstone.
Now, why the asterisks above?
As you”ll see in the other tiers, the Henshin primarily deals Fire damage. That’s not going to help against Fire Elementals or those immune to fire–which happen to be the most deadliest foes on Heroic levels: the devils and demons. Nor does the Henshin gain any speed or DR bypassing advantages.
Let’s continue into the tiers.
- Elemental Words are the same spell-like elemental debuffing abilities from the live Ninja Spy enhancements, which give 10% more acid, cold, fire or electric damage. Like similar abilities in other trees, you can pick one per tier but only one you haven’t chosen in a prior tier. These debuffers might be more handy here than in the Ninja Spy camp, which has its own new negative energy debuffing attacks that I’m excited to use.
- CON: Staff Training adds +1 to hit and to damage from quarterstaves over several tiers. Really? That’s all? Why should a Monk train in using a staff if the damage is (1) not different from the bludgeoning of unarmed fighting, and (2) is slower than unarmed fighting? A Henshin, in my imagination, should generate superior damage as a master of this weapon. Better than an Acrobat, or even a Fighter. This underwhelming enhancement foreshadows how unimpressive the Henshin tree ultimately becomes as we explore higher tiers.
- CON: Mystic Training adds up to +3 to your tactical DCs. That’s nice–but since the unarmed class feat Stunning Fist cannot be used with a quarterstaff (requiring one to take the non-class feat Stunning Blow), this is a nearly useless ability for a quarterstaff user.
- CON: Negotiator gives bonuses to Diplomacy, Bluff and Intimidate (or Haggle–the DDO Wiki page is contradictory). This is a thrown-in ability that wasted on most Monks.
- If you wondered where the Animal Forms such as the Way of the Patient Tortoise went, you’ll find it in this tier. Once chosen, the forms improve automatically as your Monk levels, and so do penalties from the form, if any.
- Staff Training is the same limited improvement as the first tier, and still lame.
- Quick Strike adds insult to injury in a staff-wielding Monk that is serious on generating more damage for a brief time, as does an Action Boost. It does not add speed.
- Contemplation adds ki regeneration, more Concentration and better Will saves. Neither impressive nor bad.
- Lighting the Candle has some promise by adding deadly Fire and (on critical hits only) Force damage. More damage does come from a staff but some is possible when unarmed. The attack reduces your ki generation on-hit, however.
- Embrace the Void is a poorly-named enhancement that, like a similarly ill-named Shintao ability, has nothing to do with Void attacks. It adds more Meditation turns, and your ki regenerates faster. More so, you generate a shield that protects you for up to 100 damage and it regenerates every 3 seconds. Battle Meditation, anyone? It reminds me of the gargoyle’s force shield that negates damage while they stop fighting to reheal.
- Ability Score: The devs couldn’t think of anything else better for this slot, so you can add a point to a stat.
- The three other abilities here are no different from previous tiers, merely improving on what you chose from a prior tier.
- Focus is a new enhancement that sounds like someone’s been watching a marathon run of “The Matrix” movie series (or played a few of the games). As you meditate, your Universal Spell Power gets a temporary boost, insight bonuses to weapon damage and to-hit, as do your allies nearby.
- CON CON CON: This is the only place where Void Strike resides as far as I can tell. There doesn’t appear to be any other lesser forms of Void Strike in any other class tree, which means that only the Henshin–and a high-level one at that–has access to this ability. This breaks the Curse of the Void and Moment of Clarity finishers since there’s no low-level Void Strike attack to choose to use these finishers. This is Void Strike IV, effectively, and at a lower level (12 rather than 18). But its placement screws over all other Monks.
- Staff Training is more of the same wimpy staff upgrades.
- PRO: Balance in Dawn is something I read about on the forums as the devs told us of the initial Henshin rough-in design. This gives a Henshin the ability to use a Light attack or a Dark attack. So if you chose to be a Dark Monk and train up to get this enhancement, you can add a Light attack with a damaging effect not unlike Divine Punishment. If you kill that enemy fast enough, a 100 point healing burst appears around you. Likewise, a Light Monk can add a Dark attack, which gives negative levels to a target and +2[W] damage. Kill the enemy fast enough and every nearby enemy gets negative levels, too. Further, this gives either philosophy the capacity to activate almost all finishers of a Monk. It’s a fascinating addition–were it not for the fact that you have to find AP to train the Henshin side, sacrificing something more important in the Shintao or Ninja Spy sides to get this or Void Strike back.
Frankly, I am quite disappointed at this new class but reserve a little hope. Henshin Mystics, sadly, aren’t that mystical. There’s little in this class alpha that will pull me away from unarmed fighting since you gain little advantages to doing so–except regain attacks that all Monks should have access to use. If greater speed and elemental damage other than fire is added, then a Henshin can take those Rahl’s Might and Dreamspitter staffs to a whole new level of ass-kickery. Better: Add a mass-knockback spin attack (Neo vs. Smith in The Matrix Reloaded‘s “Burly Brawl” is all the inspiration that the devs need on that idea).
Last but not least, a look at the new Ninja Spy alpha enhancements.