Age of Conan beta guide: The priests


Continuing our examination of the spellcasting classes in Age of Conan, today we're going to investigate the situation with the priest archetype. As with all of the archetypes in AoC, there are three choices when it comes to the priests: Bear Shaman, Tempest of Set, and Priest of Mitra. We'll give a rundown of the three of these during the early stages of the game, go over some of their class-defining spells, and stack them up in head-to-head comparisons after the break. Before talking about any healer in particular, one thing that is important to mention is that all healing spells are only half as potent for the caster themselves. If you start playing a healer, and then worry that the sort of numbers you're seeing on yourself won't keep a group up, remember that it's doubled if you're healing others.

Another thing worth bringing up is that healing spells in general aren't too outstanding until you get to at least the higher teens, when things start to get a little better. Finally, we haven not included values for our spell lists, as most of them scale depending on level. The comparison section at the bottom of the page will examine similar spells across classes.

Bear Shaman

The Bear Shaman is the priest that is the furthest removed from being an actual caster. Its offensive abilities are in the form of melee combos, not spells like its other priestly counterparts. The only melee weapon type that the Bear Shaman can use is the two-handed blunt variety, which gives you some idea of the intended play-style -- to get right in the thick of the battle and pummel heads off. The ability to wear Medium Armor helps them to sustain more of a beating when they're on the front line as well.

Just because the Bear Shaman is proficient in melee does not mean that its healing suffers, however. The Bear Shaman uses two heal-over-time spells, and has another direct heal that can be used every so often. After getting past the lower levels where heals aren't too good, the two HoT's combined are usually enough to keep the Shaman healthy, even during multiple-mob pulls.

Early Spells:
Healing/Buffing

  • Renewal: Next melee attack triggers a healing effect on the group, instant cast
  • Blood Flow: Powerful heal-over-time spell, 0.5 second cast time
  • Fierce Recovery: Powerful direct heal for the group, cannot be healed by this spell more than once a minute
  • Claws of Stone: Increased slashing/crushing/piercing/poison resistance, enemies attacking you have a chance of becoming more resistant to attacks
  • Spirit of the Bear: Maximum hp buff
  • Spirit Totem: Feral: Increases natural (in-combat) hp, stamina and mana regeneration
  • Grizzled Hide: Increases defense rating
Utility/Offense
  • Note that the majority of a Bear Shaman's offense is in the form of melee combos, not spells.
  • Awakening: Used to revive players
  • Ursine Crush: Stuns mobs around the player
  • Ferocious Smack: Instant knockback

Tempest of Set

The Tempest is defined early on by the crack of lightning that you'll see coming out of them over and over again, as groups of mobs are relentlessly AoE'd down. It has a focus on quick and deadly kills, and it's just as well because survivability isn't a really strong point for them while their heals are still not very useful at lower levels. Unlike the Bear Shaman, the strongest armor they can use is Light Armor, and they don't have a lot of hitpoints, so there's not too much room for error when planning multiple-mob pulls during the first 20 levels.

This changes somewhat when healing really kicks in later. The ToS has two HoT's, and a direct heal as well, like the bear shaman. When the values for healing scale better, after the Tortage area, the survivability of the ToS goes up. They're still not intended to be the recipient of too much beating. They have some buffs to make things better, and even at the lowers levels you can see that they have some useful utility spells to even up the playing field.

Early Spells:
Healing/Buffing
  • Healing Lotus: A heal-over-time spell of moderate strength, 1.8 second cast time
  • Life of Set: A strong heal-over-time spell, 0.5 second cast time
  • Vitalizing Jolt: A direct heal, 1.5 second cast time, cannot be healed by it more than once a minute
  • Mark of Set: Maximum hp buff
  • Set's Armor: Increases defense rating
  • Degradation of Set: Lightning Strike, Call Lightning and Storm Field make the target more susceptible to electrical damage. Costs mana every tick to have this buff on.
Utility/Offense
  • Lightning Strike: AoE electrical damage, 20m range, 3m radius
  • Charged Blast: Quick-casting electrical damage spell, 7 second recast
  • Quicksand: AoE root, 20m range, 6m radius, 1.5 second cast time
  • Cobra Stare: 5-second stun, 20m range, 45 second recast
  • Spark of Life: Used to revive players

Priest of Mitra

The last of the three priests. Similar to the ToS, the PoM spends a lot of early levels spamming one spell, in this case Smite. It is surprisingly strong, and when backed up later on with a few other spells, it is fairly easy to get through some tougher pulls. Their survivability early on does seem better than the ToS, but we'll discuss that more in a bit.

As for healing, the PoM has 2 HoT's and a direct heal -- noticing a trend? The PoM also has buffs, and can become immune to all forms of damage for a short time. For the early levels that we're comparing, a lot of the crowd control that the PoM will have is not available yet, but the extremely handy Repulse spell does have a good knockback on it.

Early Spells:
Healing/Buffing
  • Emanation of Light: Moderate strength heal-over-time spell, 2.5 second cast time
  • Wave of Life: Strong heal-over-time spell, 0.5 second cast time
  • Radiance: Direct heal, with the same 1 minute debuff stopping it from healing you again
  • Divine Vigor: Maximum hp buff
  • Shielding Litany: Increases defense rating
Utility/Offense
  • Smite: Holy damage on target, 20m range, 2.5 second cast time
  • Rebuke: Quick-casting holy damage, 18m range, 0.5 second cast time, small recast timer
  • Repulse: A cone knockback that deals heavy damage, 2.5 second cast, 15 second recast.
  • Hand of Mitra: Grants immunity from all forms of damage to the caster, 4 second duration, 5 minute recast
  • Reincarnation: Used to revive players

Comparison
It's plainly obvious when comparing these three that one class is vastly different. The Bear Shaman does not play very much like a caster at all -- you put on your 1 hour buffs, and then the only casting you'll really do is to use your HoT's before a fight. From there it's mostly melee combos with the occasional heal, and thus, the BS is far removed in play-style from the other two priests.

The Priest of Mitra and Tempest of Set feel like pure casters. People wanting that play experience and to play a priest will be tossing up between these two. So what makes the PoM seem to have better survivability early on, even with the ToS' powerful Lightning Strike? For one thing, while they each have an hp buff, the PoM's gives about twice as much hp at the same level -- but they don't end up too far apart in terms of total hp. Part of the PoM's advantage could be the Repulse spell, which is extremely damaging, and the knockback gives a chance to get off a few spells without taking hits.

Having said this, the Tempest is perfectly capable of surviving these lower levels, it may just take a bit more ingenuity. The Quicksand root can be used while groups are running back to you, or point blank while fighting so that you can step back and avoid being hit by extra mobs. Also, the Tempest's AoE killing capabilities will become more pronounced as levels increase. This is an area in which the PoM cannot compete with the ToS.

In closing, we'll say that although you may be picking a healer with these three classes, don't expect heals to get you out of too much in the whole Tortage area. Potions are usually adequate at this stage of the game to keep most classes alive, but they don't scale as well later on, whereas heals do. If you're starting out and think healing in AoC sucks, try to get to at least level 20 and see if your opinion changes.
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This article was originally published on Massively.