A Soloing Primer

We all know that DDO doesn’t exactly cater to creating quests that benefit players without any other player characters in party–that is, solo play. However, there are quite a few adventures, quest chains and even a raid or two that can be done by the determined player character.

Why Solo Play?

  • Allows you to scout the quest for later play with guildies
  • Allows test of your toon’s build and your gameplay under stress
  • You set your own time schedule. Neither zergers nor completionists will challenge you
  • In most places, the dungeon scaling turns down the overall challenges of enemies
  • Good when you have had enough of Pick-Up Groups for a time
  • A great way for discoveries in a quest, or about your character’s abilities
  • A fun sense of accomplishment

When Should You Not Play Solo?

  • When your guildies need you
  • When you do so just to show off to others, especially in not sharing how you succeeded for others to try
  • When you have failed to study a quest/raid to determine if you can meet its mandatory obstacles (runes, switches, puzzles)
  • When you’re not able to continually self-heal and protect yourself reliably–WITHOUT a hireling

What Classes are Best for Solo Play?

Here’s my take on the better classes based on observation of others and a little personal experience. Your mileage may vary.

Solo Survivability Rating (SSR): A rating of 1 means you’re going to die just by entering alone. A rating of 10 means that you’re so potentially bad@$$ that the adventure might auto-complete the moment you zone in.

  • Artificer: Ridiculously dangerous at low- to mid-levels, especially with an Iron Defender and repeating crossbow. Weaker on self-healing (unless Warforged) than others. Moderately powerful spells. Will get chewed on in higher levels as DPS may not clear mobs as fast. Great trapper (if they survive in getting to the control panel). SSR (Levels 1-14): 8.5. SSR (Levels 15+): 5.
  • Barbarian: Rogue meets Fighter. Good evasive abilities, trap sense, great DPS and damage reductions. One guildie Barbarian visited the Devil Battlefield so much on solo that the devils named a pass after him. Kills faster than others can damage him. SSR: 8.
  • Bard: The best class that bolsters a party with his many buffs does lacks a bit of DPS and protection to ensure solo play. Great spells to charm enemies will not work as well in advanced quests and raids. SSR: 5.
  • Cleric: Underestimated in their attack power and often considered “healbots” by inexperienced and ignorant PUGs. Turn Undead uses grant incredible healing power. Not a strong DPS fighter, but will dominate against the undead. SSR: 7.
  • Favored Soul: The “battle cleric.” More DPS and greater spell casting make this a useful solo player, with the right gear. SSR: 7.5
  • Fighter: The quintessential melee class. Healing can be problematic but, like a Barbarian, you can kill faster than enemies can damage you with the right gear and skill. A soloing Fighter learns his weak spots quickly. SSR: 7.
  • Monk: Very good damage against living or undead, high spell resistances, incredible saves, fastest of all classes. Light Monks can self-heal powerfully while fighting and remove common curses. Dark Monks self-heal as well with the right gear. Extremely good Evasion and stealth; only a Rogue is better. Thanks to ki, may be the best class in resource management. Buffs are far shorter. SSR: 9.
  • Paladin: Strong melee class; a powerful fighter against all that is evil. Best saving throws of all classes. Can tank as well as take out the trash. Self-healing works well with good management. Great Prestige Enhancements. SSR: 8.
  • Ranger: Great overall class. Self-healing best as a human. Can handle multiple types of targets at a distance or close up. Good Evasion. Can be trained to handle traps. Few spells but they are very economical in self-buffing. Great scout. Survivablity is good. SSR: 8.5.
  • Rogue: Master trap artist, good assassin if trained. Tenacious but weak fighter. Sadly, may have lowest DPS in game because Sneak Attack works only if there are others to draw attention from you. Most challenged in solo play in high levels. UMD could allow self-healing if careful.  SSR (Levels 1-9): 7. SSR (Levels 9+): 3.
  • Sorcerer: A walking artillery battery. Self-healing works as long as there are scrolls to use and when not charged by powerful melees. Advanced players that think ahead and know the quest will not eat more resources than they have on hand. Dead-meat to highly magic-resistant foes. SSR: 6.5.
  • Wizard: Similar to Sorcerer. Watch your resources. Advanced soloing due to vulnerability against powerful melee types. SSR: 6.5.

Update: Some recent comments properly called me out on significant differences between Sorcerers and Wizards that truly show I don’t know what I’m talking about. I know for a fact that these two classes can solo fairly well where there are not mobs of highly spell-resistant or warded foes–and I have seen that majesty in action. Your mileage on how well spell casters will solo will greatly depend on your build. My opinion is based on a critical problem that melees thrive on but others do not: aggro. A spell caster will have lower HP in general, so they have to tear down resistances and stop or kill mobs before they are overwhelmed. In a pure solo situation (no hirelings but maybe a summoned creature), it won’t take long for the mobs to come charging at the spell caster that’s raining death on them…or trying to do so.

Where to Go Solo?

Many quests below level 9 are not filled with hyper-dangerous mobs, per se. As with high-level quests, managing how and when enemies find you is key: Don’t bite off more than you chew. Take advantage of chokepoints (doors, passageways) that limit how many enemies come through or allow concentration of your spells or firepower.

By level 12, quests take on that flavor that make or break many player’s attempt to level their toons. Monks that have just wailed about without using finishing moves will get frustrated here, as will some casters. While there’s no “game rule” not to have a hireling cleric (or fighter, if you are a healing class), having one about may give you a distorted view on how resilient you really are in the field. Certain quests give a special exception (such as “The Xorian Cipher”) where a party-based challenge requires actual feet or hands to stand on a switch or pull levers at the right time.

By level 16 to 18, most classes come into their own. You should be able to know the weak spots of the central enemies of the game–and have the right weapon to use against that weakness.

Based on my use of Monks. Clerics, Rogues, Rangers and Artificers, here’s a sampling of adventures (Level 3 to 14 or so) you may find refreshing to solo.

  1. The Catacombs series. This tests your skill at ridding the undead–LOTS of undead. Good end-rewards, particular Ghost Touch weaponry, for later quests.
  2. Waterworks chain. Essential training against living mobs. Stealth players may find it refreshing. Kobolds will hate you.
  3. Halls of Shan-To-Kor. Another great one that tests your resources where learning to stay undetected may be better, sometimes, than duking it out.
  4. Assault on Splinterskull. “Groundhog Day.” Great XP, some vital emergency loot for non-spell casters (like the Death Ward clicky, Visors of the Flesh Render) and fun for all classes.
  5. The Chronoscope. Soloing this raid on Normal for anyone level 10 and under should prove your early mettle. Remember, this is a raid, so you’ll be on your own with no hirelings, although summoned creatures may take the edge off.
  6. Delera’s Tomb. A personal favorite with tremendous XP and teaching opportunity in resource management. Vital end-rewards include your Voice of the Master.
  7. Gwylan’s Stand, Tear of Daakaan, and Stormcleave Outpost. Mobs, long distances, closed quarters, traps. Complete any of these solo before level 10 and consider yourself awesome (until the next quest). Stealth players can rule in “Gwylan’s” especially.
  8. Vault of Night chain (not the raid). These quests have something to pester even the most resourceful player. Introducing: the Beholder. Artificers should eat through Haywire Foundry with zeal.
  9. Sorrowdusk quest chain. Good XP, a little repetitive, but filled with good end-chain rewards.
  10. The Red Fens and Assault on Stormreach free and Pay to Play series. The game ramps up death here but with some of the newest and finest mid-level gear you will find in game–much of it upgradable.

Where Can’t I Solo?

  • Most raids. They are filled with massive mobs, require many hands on deck to operate the objectives and often require abilities that no one class will have in order to complete, much less survive. Two raids are soloable and may be of interest for fun or profit: Tempest’s Spine (have INT 18 through an item), and the Chronoscope (bring Pure Good/Cold Iron weaponry) to get your Abishi set completion.
  • Some party-required quests that have levers to pull simultaneously. These include “The Xorian Cipher” (although Cordovan notes a good how-to guide), and several adventures in the Necropolis series. In these, allow yourself a hireling or two or three to get you through these parts, but park them for an extra challenge (or dismiss them to avoid dungeon scaling).

What’s your take? Any stories to share?

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Micki
    May 04, 2012 @ 01:12:01

    🙂 My monk and cleric both solo fine in most quests I’ve tried (even manage when everyone else’s dead when running with a party), but the monk is of course superior (note: my monk’s only lvl 10 and has had heavy fort since lvl 8 and abshai set since lvl 5). The only time my monk got into more trouble than she could handle, was trying to run Tomb of the shadow knight elite, me, my rogue friend and two hires. I was surrounded by incorporals and was taking more damage than I could handle (or basically died when the hire died, didn’t have deathward, though). Oh, and when running my monk I really miss the self buffs that my cleric has.

    My sorcerer’s pretty weak, but self healing through repair (WF). Started him at lvl 4 and was unable to run Korthos elite without a hire to keep aggro (with a hire it went very smoothly, not even Redemption was a problem at all – which both my cleric and monk had problems with).

    My monk’s a helf and wand/scoll healing through cleric dilly. But I prefer to bring a healbot hire, so I don’t have to stop and heal, but can just keep fighting. I was pretty proud of her, though, when running Tomb of the burning heart elite (when she was lvl 7) and she solo took out a group of wights surrounding her (I stopped to take them out when party continued). Oh and at lvl 6 she solo’d half of Proof in the poison elite(went in with party, everyone else died in the first few minutes, so had to carry their stones), but that was a pain since the quest is long. Ran Delera’s elite a little while ago with a hire without any problems. 🙂

  2. Sneakygits
    May 04, 2012 @ 05:13:28

    This was a nice long article but as a Rogue player I’ve got to soften the rating on Rogue. Rogue is probably the most gear dependent class but with the right gear it’s not that bad soloing, the dps just needs to be gained from non-sneak damage i.e. holy greater bane/bane repeaters. Though it does get a lot easier with good umd, summoned allies and hires.

  3. Spencerian
    May 04, 2012 @ 12:09:57

    Yeah, I wanted to boost the Rogue up myself, especially in using blades and not a staff. But it’s not just the damage output that’s critical to soloing but withstanding the inevitable hits we get. Evasion and Uncanny Dodge help. But above a certain level, where demons come along (and in hordes), certain classes will outlast others by a long shot. The Rogue falls short here on DDO.

    So it’s less of a slight on the class itself than on how DDO’s quests are built. If they designed most quests with a true stealth objective (rather than kill a boss directly, sneak to devices or NPCs that do that job for them), most require some party, and most require incredibly powered weapons and wielders to succeed. A Monk, alone, could solo the upgraded “Weapons Shipment” in Shavarath. I can’t think a Rogue, completely without any summons or hirelings, would have enough DPS and life-stealing hardware to handle that area. I’d love to be proven wrong, however. 🙂

  4. Spencerian
    May 04, 2012 @ 12:16:40

    Yes, Micky, that’s my experience as well with Monks and Clerics. I’m obviously a bit biased to Monks but not without reason here. They simply scale well to much of what DDO throws at a typical player and specializes in the destruction of many of the most deadly enenies in the game. When soloing, aggro is a given. A typical Monk’s doublestriking, self-healing and DPS takes advantage of this. Spell casters can hardly touch them, and a smart Monk removes them from the picture first. For Monks, it’s definitely the case of “what does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

  5. deahamlet
    May 04, 2012 @ 13:35:17

    I leveled up a WF artificer now on mostly elites, yes in a TR group but we often split up to cover parts of maps alone.
    I also mostly solo-ed my helf artificer in hard quests and even elites, she had Construct Essence. At cap she solo-ed elites with ease even without Construct Essence.

    I don’t think level 14+ WF arti is only a 5. With good gear, a WF arti is badass. A caster WF: lightning motes + blast rod = 350 dmg or higher to each enemy in path. Rune arms are BTA (the high level, good ones) so if you lower their ML… level 17: Toven’s Hammer. Level 18: Lucid Dreams. They destroy in elites. And if you are lazy, gather enemies across half the map, then 2 BBs and just kite.

    I never felt a pain in the higher levels. Level 14 was still easy.

  6. deahamlet
    May 04, 2012 @ 13:36:23

    I meant to say level 15+.

  7. deahamlet
    May 04, 2012 @ 13:43:58

    Another remark about wizards. They are nothing like sorcerers. Require strong SP management skills, but they can get self-healing even if not WF.

    WF sorcerer = queen of solo. start to finish
    WF wizard or PM wizard = WF means survivability from beginning to end, probable AM so that means less SP worries. PM wizard is a tough one until wraith form in terms of self-healing, but even zombie will do in a pinch. Once Firewall hits and then slowly you get more and more CC options that actually hit (unlike a sorcerer) reliably, you have fewer and fewer problems with survivability.

    PM wizard does require more knowledge of the game and gear to be super, but definitely not 6.5. And huge differences for arcanes between before FW and after FW (firewall). Also between before wraith and after wraith. WF arcane are overall the best at solo-ing from level 1 to 20. Squishies are different.

    I can tell you that if I had not been in a hurry or super lazy, I could have easily made do with just heal pots on my human sorcerer. Tactics = very little damage. Normal almost requires no tactics even for a human sorcerer, while hard requires some tactics and elite requires very good knowledge of the game and great gear.

  8. Spencerian
    May 08, 2012 @ 08:12:32

    Thanks, Dea. My lack of spell caster play is showing. One of my earlier DDO gaming experiences is piking with two WF wizards that MAJESTICALLY zerged Tear of Dhakaan, laying waste with speed and precision that was nothing less than awe-inspiring. I think I might have gotten a kill somewhere. I’ll bump up my rating based on your comments and that memory…on condition that damage ramps with experience and a good build, of course.

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  10. redcastle73a
    May 10, 2012 @ 20:07:19

    That was a nice read and I tend to agree with most of the SSR values however I differ on FvS. My girl is not an offensive caster type. She’s TWF khopesh build. On Thelanis I dont see many TWF FvS toons around. I would rate her SSR up there with the monk. Very survivable and dealing out significant damage. My proudest moment was when I completed Weapons Shipment on Elite and netted the Mysterious Bauble in one run. I have now done it a number of times and throw up and lfm to give others a free elite completion and a chance at some nice loot. Someone always askes “How did you do that?”.

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