I've decided to go with the tank archetype theme once again this week; Order this time to compliment Dvius' little bit. I had the chance to chat with Alkterrandorn, guild leader of Halcyon Affinity about Ironbreakers and also some "controversial" subjects having to do with guild matters. Anyways, I expect the interview to be more interesting than my introduction to it: Alkterrandorn Halcyon Affinity Q: First off, a lot of complaints from Destruction have been made about the Ironbreaker...do you think this is because of its tanking abilities or is it due to the lack of the Black Guard? Alkterrandorn: Combination of the two, actually. The Ironbreaker is the highest DPS tank hands-down no questions asked, when specced two hander. Missing the Blackguard is a large problem because a two handed Ironbreaker often fills the role of a medium armor dpis in small number conflicts. In massive RvR, Ironbreakers are the center of the army and the front line of the battlefield. They can easily be one of the top five dps. Noun: From what I've gathered, IBs are easily the top damage soakers but you also claim that they can deal the highest DPS out of all the tanks--balance issues? Alkterrandorn: Not at all, when it comes to damage soakers no one can stand up against the Black Orc. A full 15pt "Da Toughest" specced Black Orc can heal for 1200hp every 10 seconds. On our side, the Swordmaster procs easily 400+ absorb shields every Block, Parry, or Dodge. In reality, however, the game comes down to being healbotted regardless of class. Only in small conflicts is real survivability noticed; in large scale, anyone who is heal botted is insane. Q: How do you think gameplay will change once the Black Guard is finally implemented (for both Ironbreakers and other classes)? Alkterrandorn: Population balance is my largest concern at this point. Since this is a spear tank coming into a game with Ironbreaker dps. If the mechanic from beta is still in place where Hatred (Grudge mirror) is primarily used on their offensive attacks. The Black Guard may actually end up with less damage potential and more defensive potential than the Ironbreaker. It all depends on how they shape up their Stone line (defensive mastery tree). At the moment, ours is rather pointless in some respects. The Black Guard will definitely fill the role of a damage tank on Destruction. Q: As a healer it's easy to spot a good tank from a bad one, I've seen you last a very long time solo against numbers upwards of 10. How much of this is due to ability rotation and how much of it is gear? Alkterrandorn: It's primarily tactic and skill rotation. Having abilities on your Morale bar such as Shield Wall instead of Raze are some things a tank can do to keep himself alive. Gear definitely plays a factor, but it's not as influential as people think. It isn't until people are receiving 4th and 5th set bonuses that gear on a character will be really noticeable. Unless you are a melee character getting a very nice weapon that ups your auto-attack significantly. The gear vs. skill ratio that the developers created is working as intended at this point. Noun: In my last interview with Dvius one of the main things was his build being able to annoy healers and deter them from their jobs, would you say the Ironbreaker can do something similar? With your gear and ability to stay alive you're definitely an annoying target but how are you able to disrupt the back lines? Alkterrandorn: Ability-wise, the Ironbreaker is as much a snare monster as any tank in the game at this point, when specced properly. Most of what we do sword and board is illusion and more defensive in nature. The threat any shield tank, except the Chosen, is minimum because they lack the DPS to get the job done. A well timed knockback can be very devastating in some situations, obviously the same goes for a root or snare. On the other hand, a DPS specced two-hand Ironbreaker getting into the back lines will have you down on your ass for four seconds and dead almost afterward for many of the lightly armored classes. But then you're not a tank at that point and mainly an annoying DPS. If we're talking pure RvR tanking, Chosen is the way to go. The build-up time increase can be the most devastating effect possible from a tank in a battle just because it can affect an unlimited number of targets around him. Combined with the fact that inexperienced players will often click their abilities multiple times resetting their cast times on their instants. You really can't beat that combo for what a tank by definition is supposed to do: get everyone's attention. Noun: I think a lot of Destruction underestimate their ability to delay our casts, with Mouth of Tzeentch and the Chosen's Aura my instant cast can be a full second casts... Alkterrandorn: Yeah I only notice a few who use it, luckily. To me, that ability on the Chosen is the only thing holding up the class compared to the Black Orc in RvR. It is almost like the Magus' Chaotic Rift in terms of threat and priority target to eliminate if one can't knock them back or root them. I hope our Knights get something similar because personally, every Knight in HA will be told to have it on at all times. Noun: Run us through your favorite spec and ability rotation. Alkterrandorn: You really want the secret sauce then? Noun: If you'll give it to us. ;] Alkterrandorn: Very well lol. 16 Stone/10 Brotherhood Oathstone Oathbound Shield Mastery Earthshatterer 13 Stone + 1 Ability / 9 Brotherhood + 1 Ability is my breakdown for tanking. For those who think that Oathbound is lame, try it again a few times and read the tooltip carefully. As for Earthshatterer, the base damage on that thing is out of control at 100 Grudge. Q: Rotating Guard is a tactic that I rarely see employed in-game yet is probably one of the most effective ways to play any kind of tank. Why do you think so few tanks make the effort to rotate their Guard on different party members depending on the situation? Alkterrandorn: Healing. This game isn't easy and in an RvR situation, panic often sets in. One can barely heal themselves let alone others, Guard requires close range for it to work; and when it does you take half the damage your guarded target does. Too many people die because of this and decide to never guard again. Those who do stick with it are often in organized groups. Noun: Well hypothetically if you had good healer(s), Guard is an instant with no cooldown...with that valuable damage reduction I really see no downside. But, as you said that's only in an organized group. True? False? Alkterrandorn: True. It is an excellent ability but it can also be dangerous. Let's be realistic, it has a very short range and is rarely activated unless you have a very defensive tank. Unfortunately most people get that tunnel-vision blood lust and will chase you off a cliff and into warcamps if they can get their kill, especially those still playing their tanks like WoW Warriors who are pure juggernauts of damage at times. Q: Alright...you mentioned the dps-capability of a two-handed Ironbreaker. As a healer, it sucks having to heal a non-sword 'n board. To me, if you're playing a tank you should be a tank. In your eyes, does the dps spec do enough for your group to allow you to run in without being able to soak those huge numbers? Alkterrandorn: At times they can be very effective and here's why: There is no AC on shields. All a shield is is blocking, blocking in essence is dodge, disrupt, and parry combined and is only accomplished when facing your opponent. In big melees where people are running around and everyone has someone's back, the shield tank is spinning in circles. If there's an objective to hold and a doorway to funnel or block than it becomes essential. In a skirmish, after the initial charge, one can notice a shield at times. Swordmasters are a proc tank and are better suited for fast-swinging weapons and the Black Orc is a juggernaut when using their "You Can't Hit Me" channeling block and "Da Toughest" Wounds buff that heals. Ironbreakers without a shield loses Shield Wall and Oathstone so he's definitely susceptible to more damage, but both of those abilities are on minute cooldowns anyways. Q: That sorta brings me to Swordmasters; lately a lot of people are saying they are useless and that Ironbreakers are the ideal tank for every situation, is there any truth to that? Alkterrandorn: No. In fact some of the best tanking situations I've had is where Ironbreakers were off tanks. Keep in mind that Ironbreakers buff themselves, yes, but also their Oathfriend at the same time so he is an excellent off tank when paired with a Swordmaster. The Swordmaster gains Isha's Protection, I think it is called, which gives them 20% more healing and is an excellent tactic that evens the gap. Noun: And in your opinion, the best group makeup would be? Alkterrandorn: For PvE: Ironbreaker, Swordmaster, Archmage, Runepriest, Brightwizard, and Witch Hunter is a relatively effective group. AoE currently owns pets so the White Lion is forced to go loner but he is still an excellent DPS. For RvR I'd replace the Swordmaster with an Engineer for Magnet and possibly make the Ironbreaker a DPS spec. Noun: Alright buddy, time to get sucia... Alkterrandorn: Really... Q: Halcyon Affinity's merger with Alpha, a lot of people were saying it won't work out in the long run because...well face it, mergers usually don't end up well. How's it going? I know there was some drama with a rogue member posting Ventrilo information on forums. Alkterrandorn: lol Noun: You didn't think I was going to let you off easy, did you? ;] Alkterrandorn: That was one of their members that was left out for exactly that reason. Now, when most people say merger, do they think: HA and Alpha combined and now they just use the HA tag because their guild is higher? If so, that's not the case. Alpha disbanded and their members applied to HA. Not all of them are currently in, and only time will tell how many of them last through the game's long length, especially when raid content comes along. For us here at HA who enjoy Open RvR where numbers and organization are kings it was an easy decision. Nothing has changed about us in the least bit except for guild size, most of which is becoming fluff with alts in the guild. Noun: Just for clarification, I think the word was that Beo either didn't want or couldn't manage the guild due to real life business. Alkterrandorn: He has been very busy as of late and didn't feel he would have enough time at the moment to manage things as they were. Noun: And it takes a good leader to be able to admit that. Nothing against Alpha, a lot of the guys that were in there are awesome and are hell of a lot of fun to play with. Some members of the community believed that Alpha didn't really accomplish anything--they were leaches to the HA name, what's your opinion on that? Alkterrandorn: The few times I saw the realm shooken, especially with the Fortress being attacked, I saw them there...perhaps not all their members but they were definitely there. I believe they had a couple of firsts here and there if people are counting that as having any meaning. At the moment, what is most important is a show of force when the zones are being attacked which under the new system doesn't happen unless a few very specific things happen to push them. Noun: This is true, I believe with a lot of the bigger names actually hitting 40 we're going to see a lot more activity which is something people have been talking down. I think there should be a bigger push to get to T4 if not 40 and create fights instead of ninjaing keeps and forts from each other. Milty, one of my officers, attributes this to the servers being too small--something I agree with, hopefully we'll see transfers to the server instead of off in the coming weeks. Alkterrandorn: The problem is more people in T4 are too smart to throw themselves at their opponents if they are outnumbered and losing; which is why we have the game of cat and mouse. Unless the VP mechanic changes, zones will not be pushed by legit means until you run into hoards of people who don't understand the mechanic and are willing to throw themselves upon the enemy giving up enough VP to push the zone. Q: A lot of players have said that HA is, "PvE and will always be PvE". What's your response to that? Alkterrandorn: Reality is what you make it, if that's the reality you see then so be it. Noun: I'm not gonna lie--I did say that at the beginning. In all honesty you guys weren't at the battlefields much until you hit 40--now you're probably the prominent force, not only in number but in consistency as well. Much respects for that. Q: Plenty of players have already quit, claiming that there's nothing to do at end-game. Being one of the first 40s on server and worldwide, how interested are you in the game still? Alkterrandorn: I'm still very interested in the game. RR 80, Tome of Knowledge, and plenty of loot to get out of dungeons. The goal of the vast majority at HA is the completion of the game in all its facets. This is an excellent game with a good foundation and key core concepts. Like every MMO, those who power through the game may be disappointed to see "not much" going on but it is just a matter of looking for it. We here at HA are here to stay. Noun: Well said. I'm starting a tradition with that last interview... Are there any guilds or players on either side of the server that stand out? Alkterrandorn: The Triad as I like to think of them of Paragon Carange and ST are nice opponents in RvR. Give me a moment to see if anyone in particular strikes my fancy... Noun: Cmon Alk, you gotta start **** like us at Black Mesa. FUEL THE FIRE!!11one!1 Alkterrandorn: I like a bunch of guilds on our server, I definitely want more communication with other guilds though. Even if we don't set up formal alliances I have a special channel set up for officers and leaders to better coordinate positions and strategy. Noun: OCommand, for those of you who don't know. Alkterrandorn: I respect all who come out and fight. That's it for week two of Demonstrative Noun. My thank yous go out to Alkterrandorn and Halcyon Affinity. Please, please come join us at the Volkmar IRC, #volkmar - irc.stratics.com!