Acquiescence for the Pugilists

oldglovesI’ve joked with friends, as I drink four Yugoloth Favor Potions with my Shintao Monk every fifteen minutes, that I fight simply to support my expensive drinking habit.

That’s not far from the truth. Getting sufficient favor to gain Yugoloth favor requires you to run most of the Shavarath-Devil quests on Elite. Time is expensive in an MMO. Each Yugoloth potion itself is about 1,100 platinum. I buy four types–STR, DEX, CON, WIS–often 50 each. That’s roughly 100,000 platinum.

I can go through them rapidly. They’re a beneficial expenditure when farming on Legendary Hard quests when CR 40 and higher enemies spawn.

Being a Monk isn’t an inexpensive venture. First, you have to buy the class. It cannot be earned by favor. When I learned of DDO, without playing one second in the game, I bought the class, becoming a Premium player.You also can gain the class as a VIP.

As a Monk, you’re always limited at the start in what items you can use. No armor except cloth. No weapons save 3 types unless your enhancements and feat allow exception. Heavier damage incurred without a lot of practice in the style of fighting. Lesser damage and hit points than any other melee. Lesser protections at the start until you build up Improved Evasion, miss-chance and saves. And you have to leverage this peculiar energy known as ki, and timing specific elemental attacks to buff or damage, all in a proper sequence, or you fail the technique, be you level 1 or 30.

By level 9 you’re more able. By level 12 most Monks come into their own and do very well at Elite ventures if they remember their strengths. That is, a good Monk doesn’t leap into the fray if they can help it or unless they do so by strategy (a tanking Monk does, if need be).

The early DDO quests are stacked against the Monk because much of it existed before the class did. So, most early quests don’t give item rewards useful at all to the Monk. A few quests were adjusted to help there, but they are far and few, or require you to purchase a module (Catacombs and Sentinels of Stormreach come immediately to mind).

The one singular benefit of being a Monk, if you persevered in your training, is its self-sufficiency. You could heal yourself or use techniques that minimized or avoided fighting altogether that few other classes could match. Your special attacks were designed to thwart the most dangerous enemies early on in an adventurer’s life–the undead.

Changes are natural in an MMO. Most are to the benefit of the player, even if it takes a while for us to appreciate them.

The latest update for the Monk class, specifically its enhancement trees, is most useful for the Ninja Spy but leave the Henshin Mystic in a questionably useful state.

One change, however, has compelled me to avoid the use of any unarmed Monk, except in some raids, for the time being. That’s the change of handwraps as extensions of the unarmed Monk into a weapon.

While the quality of the change seems to improve the general damage of the Monk, the change will also make gameplay for early Monks prohibitively expensive, and difficult for some Monks, even epic ones, to compensate. Here’s why.

  1. Early Monks will be often fighting oozes. Before Update 33, handwraps did not suffer greatly from attacking these jelly creatures while other melee fighters had to back off a little to let casters or ranged members in party to eliminate them. Killing oozes also gave the young Monk some opportunity to build up needed ki reserves that dissipate early in their play with lower WIS and Concentration scores. Handwraps now are weapons, and, per the developers, are working as intended, suffering damage from attacking oozes and rust monsters. This is very serious for two reasons. (1) Unarmed fighting is the de facto form of the Monk. Finding handwraps with the Everbright property is nearly impossible with the current loot-generation: The prefix appears completely extinct. That means a young Monk must spend a lot of platinum buying handwraps so they can get through a single quest filled with oozes. (Waterworks has quite a lot of these, for example). Finding inexpensive Everbright handwraps or quarterstaves will be unlikely, especially since now every Monk will need one and the trading economy will naturally make these more expensive. Else, the Monk must nerf their own damage by removing their wraps and fighting bare-handed. In effect, the change forces you to avoid using your one and only weapon as a Monk. (2) Gaining Everbright with the (welcome) update to Cannith Crafting requires you to have moderate skill (250) to make your own bound ones. If you are lucky to know a friend who can create unbound shards for your Everbright weapon,  at 400 skill, you can also gain the right handwraps.
  2. For new Monks, both conditions make fighting more difficult and expensive than it need be. And this issue affect high-end adventurers. Your named handwraps will also suffer damage, and that means you must craft very expensive handwraps not only to for them to survive but also deal sufficient damage. Rust monsters and oozes do appear in flagging quests for Epic and Legendary raids, and powerful, deadly rust monsters do appear in one Legendary raid. That leaves Epic players to fight with much weaker weaponry, or none at all to preserve their handwraps during a long raid, dealing less damage to the enemy and likely jeopardizing themselves and party.

So, for now, it’s hard for me to recommend anyone to choose the class unless you are going for some non-unarmed variant. Even then, bows and shuriken cannot break down some walls and doors to progress, so every Monk carries handwraps or kamas, at the least, to knock these down.

In reply to a thread I posted on this, developer Steelstar noted that the durability of handwraps were significantly boosted to help this working-as-intended design. However, in tests I’ve done, difficult oozes will destroy most of the durability even in a brief fight. And there’s always someone in party that has only slashing weapons that make more oozes as they break apart, leaving everybody with more to fight.

Steelstar also noted that they’ll be looking into the situation on when or if they can improve this matter.

I’m normally patient and don’t inherently blame the devs–they always have a difficult job in pleasing the player and encouraging them to play and, in turn, spend their money and time to do so.

But the Monk class is a different breed. If the Monk were a class that could be earned by favor, the challenge of it becoming more expensive and time-consuming to equip and fight oozes would be offset a little. But players already spend real money to get the class. To play now in certain quests will damage equipment so badly, with far fewer options than other classes with the same issues, that I can’t really recommend buying the class until Everbright handwraps for young Monks are provided at low cost and early on, and in Free-to-Play content, just so they can get through the early levels.

Intermediate Heroic and Epic level Monks also shouldn’t require Cannith Crafting levels to get at least one named pair of handwraps with Everbright properties just to get rid of the monsters. The items needn’t be particularly powerful at all–just durable. Finishing moves and technique can go a long way from there.

We Monks don’t want to spend our time right now improving our crafting levels just to play, much less avoiding spending lots of platinum in repair costs. Besides, how could a Monk improve his crafting levels if questing requires getting loot to break down, and to get to that, you might fight monsters that dramatically destroy your equipment?

For now, my unarmed Monks are retired to rest in the dojo, relieved of most work until my crafting level improves to make Everbright handwraps for them and others I encounter.


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hartanna
    Oct 21, 2016 @ 19:50:46

    I agree with you that this has become a major problem. there are weapons in the game that are not damaged by oozes or rust monsters, so why can handwraps not be the same? anything organic should be immune (I’m looking at wood and crystal weapons in particular). handwraps are not metal, they are material. they are strips of cloth that are wrapped around the hand of the monk. rust monsters eat metal, not material. and if oozes damage handwraps, shouldn’t they also damage us? if they are acidic enough to eat through the handwraps, then they are able to eat through our flesh. there needs to be some consistency here.

    • teachersyn
      Oct 22, 2016 @ 00:31:47

      Generally agree. If handwraps are cloth, they should be immune. All others need to be watched carefully.

    • geoffhanna
      Oct 24, 2016 @ 06:30:00

      From a lore/realism point of view, touching most oozes should cause damage to you. Handwraps or not.

      But then handwraps aren’t really a weapon, and this whole handwraps-to-weapon change is solely to try and make the game code easier to maintain, so realism doesn’t really apply.

      Also, most of us carry special weapons just for oozes. As much fun as I’ve had pummeling oozes, no reason why monks cannot simply adopt the same strategy everyone else has always had to use. Go get a muckbane.

      • teachersyn
        Oct 24, 2016 @ 10:16:16

        Monks can’t wield a Muckbane or they lose all their powers. Further: Everbright weapons that the class can wield have not been dropping in years. Crafting is way too expensive and high-level. I appreciate the realism, but the class is already very expensive because of existing limitations. See the problem?

        • geoffhanna
          Oct 24, 2016 @ 20:09:19

          -shrug- no one likes hitting oozes. You are just now joining the club.

          In the case of muckbane, literally joining the club.

          • teachersyn
            Oct 24, 2016 @ 20:20:04

            I know. But it’s a nerf, a serious and very expensive nerf for a class you must buy to begin with, with real money, and repair with very limited platinum. A bit discouraging but I shall treat it now as a serious vocation in my dojo to help others with the same issue.

  2. Jammond
    Oct 22, 2016 @ 09:44:51

    When levelling your cannith crafting, there are a few things you can do to dramatically speed your progress (especially if you are a VIP). You can buy 35% boosters in a stack of 25 for something like 150 TP at any time and cannith XP boosters are similarly cheap. The reason this matters, is because you can now try to craft any item that had a non-zero chance to be crafted (like, 3%) so every level that ends in a “1” (11, 21, etc) allows you to craft a new min level shard at a 3% success rate. Throw in a booster and you have slightly better than a 1 in 3 chance. And those shards, when successfully crafted, give LUDICROUS amounts of XP. I’m talking 6-8 levels worth the first time. You will only have to successfully craft 3-7 shards before the next min level shard becomes available, so very much worth the use of boosters.

    While leveling, I suggest only crafting the min level shards for XP as these only require essences. Everything else requires collectables and I do recommend waiting to make those until you have a 100% success rate, just to be sure you don’t waste them.

    I gained 70+ levels the first time I played with the new crafting system, (up from like 130) in under 15 minutes, and I only had around 20k essences. (Hadn’t really deconstructed anything for ages).

    There is hope!

    • Marik Zilberman
      Oct 22, 2016 @ 13:18:01

      This strategy eats up a lot of essence. While one of my chars managed to scrunch up about 6k from converting lesser alone, a new player won’t have the requiered essence to do so, unless they get it from the store, which is once again straying into P2W territory. It IS the best method to lvl crafting, but it’s also costly.

    • teachersyn
      Oct 22, 2016 @ 18:49:35

      Using all those ideas, but I’m glad you listed them for those who don’t know. My larger problem is essences; grinding items down is slow and it takes a lot of essences to power-level. Appreciate it!

      • Jammond
        Oct 22, 2016 @ 21:13:28

        Our guild (which is admittedly on the small side with only four players) has a few preferred runs for various mats. The Giant’s Vault offers 5 chests and can be run in under 5 minutes with the right character (thinking Kiricletica with invis and such here) and these chests are all level 19 base. Overgrowth, for those with hefty AOE DPS, can provide 4 level 23 chests (on hard) and can be run in 4-6 minutes. There are a couple others, but those are the ones that instantly spring to mind.

  3. DDOCentral
    Oct 23, 2016 @ 01:00:04

    Reblogged this on DDOCentral.

  4. ComicRelief
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 21:50:01

    *IF* (and that’s a big “if”) I read things correctly, Steelstar said they are looking into ways to better mitigate ooze damage for hand-wraps. They just didn’t have a great solution before the update, so increasing their durability and hardness is a stop-gap measure.

    Not that I know anything about anything, mind you. But maybe there’s hope for the “future”.

    • teachersyn
      Oct 25, 2016 @ 00:20:45

      Let’s hope. If nothing else, I wouldn’t mind them giving all new Monks after the Grotto a pair of Everbright oozebanes. From there, every Monk can work it out without the devs bending over backwards.

    • mernom
      Oct 25, 2016 @ 13:59:14

      Making cloth weapons immune to rust and acid damage should solve it… Hmm. Splashing into fighter or Ranger or pally or any other class that has item defense, will it help?

  5. jamesblakeney
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 13:28:08

    Did you notice the dodge cap in ocean stance? I was like omg.

    • mernom
      Oct 25, 2016 @ 14:00:01

      From my calculations, ocean stance elf Shintao should be able to reach 45.

    • teachersyn
      Oct 25, 2016 @ 16:28:56

      I did. My Zen Archer used Scion of the Astral Plane (4% cap boost) and Ninja Spy’s boost, so she sits at 41% standing Dodge, with 25% Incorporeality and 25% Concealment (Lesser Displacement item). I go to 41/25/50 with my Greater Dragonmark Displacement. Seems unnecessary since Monks have it easy on Dodge, but who am I to complain? 🙂

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