Massively: First off, describe, in 140 characters or less, what is the essence of the Beastlord class? (Just kidding; you can use more than that.)
Nauralea: Wow... no real big question to start us off, right? The essence of the Beastlord class is savagery. Complete and unfettered savagery. You have to learn about your savagery, learn how to keep it up, and keep that primal rage going so you can fire off some of the most potent abilities you can. You can use this savagery for either straight up damage, mana replenishment, temporary buffs, or healing. A Beastlord cannot use savagery or really gain it without his warder, so keep it always at your side and together you can face anything. It sounds corny, like what every spirit NPC will tell you on the Beastlord epic quest, but it's true. Also, always remember to toss your vine net often; it's a really nice debuff.
I'm not really good at talking about the mechanics of a class, but the essence of the Beastlord to me is always going to be shortly after a long race to 90. Late one night on Guk when the ladder was discovered for the Beastlord epic, my husband and I stayed up all night posting on EQ2Flames helping folks find the next step. We eventually went to sleep and came back later to see everything fleshed out fantastically by another poster, but it felt like we were a part of something bigger. The Beastlord class is exciting and new and extremely challenging for its epic quest line, but all that work is extremely rewarding.
You hit level 90 surprisingly quickly -- are there any tips for EQII players who are hoping to speed up their leveling a bit?
I actually did most of that leveling with my trusty new pal, Bdorn Alehammer. With him at my side, I was able to blaze through content very quickly. I could go play by play, but you'll wanna do your starting area, hit Kaladim hard, then scrap your way to the level 60 armor quest. Take the time to do the hunter quests out in Jarsath; this is a valuable faction grind you will need to complete for your epic later on.
What are some of the Beastlord abilities that you would call "class-defining"? And at what level do you think the class really starts to shine?
Well when I was leveling, I was doing so with a friend at first, and about every few minutes we'd giggle like the little girls we are as we'd cry out LUCLIN! That blue AoE is a fantastic fun thing to hit every so often, but it doesn't come up very quickly. I wouldn't call any of the abilities extremely class-defining. The whole thing is very changeable based on your pet and the stance you decide to do. I am an immense fan of the spiritual stance as it has a fantastic ability you can activate called Kaldrahir's Leadership, which not only can be a reasonable amount of damage but adds 20-44% potency to the group for a short duration. I think the class really starts to shine around 30, but really the gameplay doesn't change drastically while you're leveling like the gameplay of every other class in EQII.
Was there ever a point when you felt it was hard to tackle content as a solo beastlord?
Most overland/normal quest mobs are a fair fight or you will likely win, especially if you use a mercenary. As long as you keep up on your gear and get some reasonable AA, this shouldn't be a problem. The only content that has been extremely scary for me is the Beastlord epic quest mobs, which are by no means solo content.
For gear, what are some relatively quick and easy upgrades for those who are soloing their way to 90? What stats would you encourage people to keep an eye out for?
Get your level 60 armor quest stuff done; this gear can carry you up into Kylong and sometimes a little after that. The lower levels are fairly piecemeal since there isn't a full set beyond level 20.
There is an infinite number of tamable creatures out there -- what are some of your favorites?
Strangely enough, my vulrich, named Saucer, became my favorite and first grandmaster pet. He was first grabbed because I thought every pet was saved as an appearance you could swap to, not that it would instantly swap our warder for the latest of that archetype. Saucer amused me for his fantastic ability to walk through the air and run at this weird up and down gait while chasing after me. Another favorite of mine is the mystical. I like the end line it has at grandmaster for a large group powerfeed. And I think my cow is my third pick; the cow has such a fantastic ability to tank/heal itself and can help see you through a tough fight where you need it to hold aggro. Also the cow looks fantastically ridiculous in combat. It's a darn shame the devs took away the Meatbeast, though, because I really wanted one of those for my cow.
What is the strangest creature you've tamed?
Not sure how to phrase an answer for this, since you end up hunting everywhere for an interesting look for your warder. I guess the Lasher from Feerrott.
What's your favorite warder of choice for soloing? For groups? For raids? What makes them your favorites?
My mystical is my favorite for group/raid situations since I tend to run in spiritual stance. But my cow or Saucer (my flying vulrich) are definitely my soloing companions.
You've played several other classes up to the level cap and in endgame content. How does the warder compare to them? Do you find it easier or harder to play than other classes? What's the most valuable piece of advice you have for playing the class?
It's definitely the most active character class I have ever played -- keeping the savagery bars up, knowing when to hit Primals, when to hit your savagery up or lock abilities. And with the versatility of the class, you can end up with a lot of juggling to do if you plan to run spiritual. Once you get it down, though, it can be quite fun! I wouldn't say it's harder to play than any class; it just it has its own way of being played. The most valuable advice I can give anyone is this: Take the time to make this class work for you. Learn to get your savagery bar as high as you can, and enjoy the adventure.
Thanks to Nauralea for taking the time to share her insight into the Beastlord class. And for a look at what the Beastlord class is like at the early levels, you can head to Massively's Twitch TV for my adventures with Jeremy Stratton!
From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to firstname.lastname@example.org.