Initially that was by design, as I didn't want it to be yet another gaming blog that talked about more of the same stuff you'd find at 100 other destinations. The problem is, Age of Conan doesn't feature a large internet presence, and every time I look for a guide, I'm reminded of the fact that I should write one.
Beginning today, I'm going to embark on a series of class guides designed to give newbs and vets alike the information they need to determine whether a particular archetype is right for them. My initial thought is to offer three guides per class: a 1 - 40 examination, a 40 - 80 synopsis, and a look at the class at endgame. Obviously this will be an ongoing experiment, since Age of Conan boasts a hefty complement of classes (12 as of this writing), each of them fairly unique from the others and their conventional MMORPG counterparts.
Join me after the break for a look at the life and times of a young Demonologist, as well as a brief gameplay video of the class in action.
Beavis would say, "fire, fire, FIRE!" Age of Conan's Demonologist is the penultimate firestarter, and I've spent the last couple of weeks burninating the Hyborian countryside to gather some impressions for this initial class guide. In the interests of accuracy, it's worth noting that the Demo also makes use of electricity-based magic (particularly at certain endgame specs), but for most of your leveling grind you'll be setting things aflame far more often than not.
So you want to be a Demonologist?
Demos are good for one thing and one thing only: blowing sh*t up. Feat specs vary (more on this below), but the long and short of it is that this class is for you if you like casters, extreme DPS (of both the AoE and single-target variety), and don't mind dying in a few quick hits in both PvP and challenging PvE situations. Demos are Age of Conan's proverbial glass cannon. Don't let the fact that they have demon pets fool you; if you're looking for a true pet-handling class, you should go with the Necromancer. Demo pets are primarily buff bots (though there is a pretty spectacular high-level self heal that can be feated, which we'll cover later in the Demo endgame guide).
Feats and builds (1 - 40)
The Demonologist is rightly considered one of the easier classes to play in Age of Conan, at least prior to endgame. Now, before all the Demo fans burn me at the stake, I mean that as a compliment. While there's something to be said for AoC's novel approach to combat button-mashing, circle-strafing, and situational awareness, there's also something to be said for a class that doesn't require you to have a Ph.D. in astrophysics (or a lot of time on your hands) to figure out a viable leveling build. If you're new to Hyboria, you'll notice that the game grants you skills automatically as you level. What you may not know is that at level 10 you can start earning (and distributing) feat points. The feat system works similarly to the talent system in World of Warcraft in that it gives players a range of specialization options under a particular class heading.
Each class has two feat trees, plus access to a third general tree that is shared among all classes of that particular archetype. In the case of our Demo, we can choose from the Havoc feat tree, the Conflagration feat tree, and the General tree shared with the game's other mage types.
It's generally accepted in the AoC community that putting all of your feat points into the Conflagration tree is the most efficient way to level a Demo. You certainly can dabble in the Havoc and General trees, and doing so will give you a better idea of what the class is likely to play like once you hit level 80, but for pure unadulterated speed, Conflag is the way to go.
I said before that the Demo is an easy class to play. This is due not only to its impressive DPS capabilities but to the fact that it relies much less on feat builds for its power when compared to other Age of Conan classes. Most of the Demo's utility is a result of powerful base spells, which makes your feat build something of an afterthought (particularly while leveling). It's a great class for those who are new to AoC or new to MMORPGs, simply because it's really hard to do it wrong. Check out my level 40 Conflag build in the margin for an idea of what I did on my latest character.
Skills and buffs
As I mentioned already, many of your skills come automatically as you ding. A few, such as Living Firestorm or Detonation, must be acquired using feat points as we discussed above. For the majority of your 1 - 40 grind, you'll be making use of Fires of Gehenna, Hellfire Stream, and occasionally Inferno of Amher (a large AoE effect). FoG in particular is the Demo's bread and butter, since it does an obscene amount of damage, has a quick recast time, and inflicts both a lingering incinerate effect and splashes nearby targets (and both of these aspects can be further enhanced via feats). You'll also want to find a place on your hotbar for Storm Chains, as its 10-second root effect will save your squishy hide when you pull a few more mobs more than you can handle. In terms of a spell rotation, again it's hard to go wrong as long as you're using some variation on FoG, FoG, and a bit of FoG. Throw in the occasional root and Wave of Flame and you'll routinely solo three to four even-con mobs.
Skill points, not to be confused with usable skills, are a matter of opinion. At the risk of repetition, this is also hard to mess up -- and you can respec -- so press "P" and click on the "Skills" tab at the far right to distribute your points (which you earn as you gain levels). You'll want to keep Casting Concentration and Run Speed maxed. I also dropped 200 points into Climb on account of certain ladders on certain Gateway to Khitai quests. Other than that, Renew Mana and Mana Attractor will probably speed you along.
In addition to your offensive and defensive skills, your demon pets offer worthwhile buffs, and you should never be out and about among all those crazy mobs or PKers without a pet by your side. Pet damage is negligible, but the buffs -- as well as the distraction they can cause in PvP -- make pets a must.
You can summon either a demon familiar, guardian, or slave, and each of the three gives you a specific four-hour buff (mana, health, and various regeneratives, respectively). Your pet's sex is purely a matter of personal preference with regard to eyecandy; there are no statistical differences. It's also worth noting that the Rise of the Godslayer Collector's Edition Loyal Kappa pet can be called simultaneously with your demon and offers several beneficial buffs including armor penetration, spell penetration, critical damage, magic damage, and more. Keep casting it until you get the buff you want (visible in the buff bar at the top center of your screen).
Finally, food and drink buffs are invaluable, and you can gather these via quest rewards or from the auction house. Various types of drinks (like sagewine) generally increase your total mana pool as well as your regen time, and certain types of food (crow-foot pie, for example) give you health pool and regen buffs. Roll over any of the items on the auction house for a full description. Be sure to check the level requirements as well. Items with an orange background are usually too high for your character or class-restricted.
Where to level
Leveling 1 - 40 is one of my favorite aspects of Age of Conan. There's a lot of variety after you're through with Tortage (generally at level 20, but earlier if you really know what you're doing). For newer players, I'd recommend rolling a Khitan character, which will take you to the Gateway of Khitai zone after you've defeated Strom. The quest lines here are well-written, and there are virtually no gaps in the leveling curve. You can easily go from 20 - 38 on nothing but quests, and you'll just as easily make 40 in the zone if you do a few repeatables and/or grind mobs for an hour. Cimmeria's Conall's Valley and Aquilonia's Wild Lands of Zelata are viable destinations as well, but the quest progression isn't as tightly focused as the newer Khitai zone. Stygia's Knopshef Province is your last option, but I'm saving comment on that for a future column, as it's the last newb zone that I haven't played (or written about).
Also new this week is my first attempt at using Fraps and some editing software, and the result is a brief look at the Demonologist in action. Check out the video below to see some solo PvE combat in the shadow of Khitai's Great Wall, and look for further video escapades detailing the high-level Demonologist, PvP, and other Age of Conan classes in future columns.
That's about all the info I've got for you budding pyromancers. Let me know about your firestarting (and demon-conjuring) exploits in the comments, and feel free to drop a message in ye olde inbox if you think I've missed something, messed something up, or if you've got any freshly baked white chocolate chip macadamia cookies. Until next week, I leave you with a room full of folks who wish they were Demonologists.
Age of Conan beta and launch day veteran, as well as the creator of Massively's weekly Anvil of Crom. Feel free to suggest a column topic, propose a guide, or perform a verbal fatality via firstname.lastname@example.org.