A look at DDO’s Game Balance, or in other words, the over-centralization of ranged builds
There are so many things rampantly wrong with DDO’s current “balance” as of now, and I want to try to pinpoint the exact sources of most of the problems. Let’s get right to it.
Healers are going the way of the dodo bird
This may not actually be such a bad thing if you’re looking at this from a utilitarian perspective, and you want to be able to run content with whatever group you want instead of having to wait for a healer to join. But in terms of game balance, this is one of the worst things that can possibly happen: two entire classes being reduced to shells of their former selves is never a good thing if we’re talking balance.
Favored Souls and Clerics, DDO’s perennial healing classes, derive a lot of their utility from being able to heal. If you take away the healing aspect of them, then you get a watered-down version of other classes. You could be a self-healing DC caster with weak nukes and weak crowd control. Congratulations, you’ve just made a weaker version of Warforged Sorcerer or a Drow Palemaster. You could be a self-healing melee character who does less damage than traditional classes like Fighter or Paladin. Oh wait, you’ve just made a weaker version of a Paladin or a Bard.
You see, with “Healing” taken out of the equation, there’s no need to roll up a Cleric or a Favored Soul. With things like Rejuvenation Cocoon and Renew from Epic Destinies, most characters are becoming self sufficient (or are simply rolling up Bladeforged Mechanics or Paladins). They don’t need the healing anymore. And like I’ve said, without the healing component any longer being a focus in DDO, Clerics and Favored Souls are slowly but surely becoming obsolete. There’s a reason we’re seeing fewer and fewer of them. This also applies to a lesser extent to Druids, although Druids have other tricks in their arsenal such as offensive spellcasting and physical DPS in wolf form.
I used to enjoy playing on my healer, whom I made a Halfling so she could get Maximize + Empowered Dragonmarks and become what I can only describe as a “pure healer taken to its natural extreme,” but now, nobody needs her for their raids. It’s all about self-sufficient DPS characters now, and Epic Destinies are a large part of why this paradigm shift has happened.
While many of us thought that the anniversary card event of a few years ago was a nice idea, here’s one reason why it was disastrous to the game. One of the combinations allowed you to get 25 Concentrated Elixirs of Major Mnemonic Enhancement. Yeah. You can see where this is going.
It wasn’t uncommon to see people get dozens of stacks of these SP potions. Not to mention the fact that people all around learned how to dupe these and Turbine did nothing to prevent or punish this. Invariably, what this meant was that people over a year later are running around on their Warforged Sorcerers with permanent Maximize and Empower, simply nuking everything. Previously, it had been the case that casters were kept in check because, despite boasting godlike powers, their SP pool limited their use of these godlike powers. Now, most casters I see retain those godlike powers at no adverse cost.
The result, of course, is that offensive casters are OP for a large chunk of the game. This is somewhat offset in EE, however, due to the astronomical saves of monsters in EE content.
Melee Viability: Paladins, Bards, (and Barbarians to a lesser extent)
I forget exactly when it was, but there was one single point in time where Paladins went from being “lol u play a paladin, nub” to “wtf OP plz nerf.”
Previously before 2012 or somewhere around that time (before the “new” enhancement trees were introduced), this game had a very good sense of balance. Casters were kept in line with their SP pool as I mentioned earlier, and melee classes all had their various tradeoffs. Fighters and Barbarians understandably had the highest DPS, at the cost of having no healing. Meanwhile, Rangers and Paladins had overall lower DPS, but were excellent for fighting their choice of enemies—Rangers had favored enemies, while Paladins could choose to be Hunters of the Dead or Knights of the Chalice, specializing in undead-slaying or Evil Outsider-slaying, respectively. Rangers and Paladins could therefore reach the damage numbers of Fighters and Barbarians, albeit situationally, while having lower overall DPS. Rogues (and Ninja Spy Monks to a lesser extent) had the highest potential DPS, but it was situational because not everything is vulnerable to sneak attack, and also because sneak attack is contingent upon not having aggro.
In addition to all of this, certain classes, particularly Fighter, Paladin, and Monk, had the option of specializing further in defense, allowing for increased utility in a party setting while sacrificing offensive options. This would be a particular boon to Rogues and Ninja Spy Monks, and encouraged team-play. Incidentally, DDO was way more popular back in the 2009-2012 era, so you could sure as hell put these builds to good use. Hell, even ranged builds, though having decent damage, were still mostly out-DPSed by well-played melees, meaning that between ranged and melee, there was some bit of sacrifice to be had: safety vs. sheer damage.
All of this was a very cool instance of a rock-paper-scissors like balance in an MMO context, and back in the 2009-2012 era, I really got the feeling that each class has its own specific strengths and weaknesses. Nowadays?
- Paladins, through PRR, MRR, and ridiculous AC and saves, naturally have enough defense to eclipse any other melee class. KoTC also grants them energy-drain immunity, allowing for one of the only non-Warforged options for preventing negative levels in the entire game.
- Paladins also have the highest innate self-healing of all of the melee classes. They’re also the easiest to build for UMD, since unlike other melee classes (barring Bards) they’re the only ones who focus on Charisma. So we get Tenser and Heal scrolls galore. Because I’m sure that Paladins, of all classes, need even more healing, DPS, and AC.
- Paladins also have some of the best offensive options as well, seeing as KoTC provides light damage, to which almost nothing is immune. KoTC and Vanguard both offer decent options for Melee Power buffs as well, in addition to active attacks with high critical profiles.
Simply put, Paladins have no weaknesses. While Fighters are still held back by no self-healing, Paladins can now out-DPS fighters, heal themselves, and survive longer due to higher innate defenses and saves. They’re one of the few remaining options for melee builds in EE and some EH content. There’s no reason to play melee Ranger, melee Rogue, Fighter, melee Monk, and even some Barbarian builds now that Paladins are as strong as they are now. Bear in mind that this is coming from someone whose first few characters were Paladins and who saw how comparatively weak they used to be.
Swashbuckling Bards are another one of the “God-tier” melees right now, mostly for the same reasons as Paladins are. While Paladins get higher base AC, Bards have very high dodge. They can also heal themselves, buff their parties, and provide some of the highest melee DPS in the game. Points in Warchanter allow for a bit more damage in addition to a nifty freezing crowd-control which couples really nicely with Coup de Grace. It used to be that Bards had tradeoffs in build options, but I’m really not seeing the drawbacks here anymore.
In regards to Barbarians, Tier 5 abilities in Occult Slayer and Ravager allow for decent innate self-healing. This is something Barbarians had never been afforded in DDO’s past. And as you might expect, Barbarians currently deal as much (if not more) damage than they used to, while also gaining decent defensive options by way of Blood Tribute and the highest base HP values in the game. Though not as impervious as Paladins, Barbarians as a whole are still afforded many more options than Fighters, melee Rangers, melee Rogues, melee Monks, and I’d even say melee FvS and Clerics.
But with all this being said, I don’t think that Paladins or Bards are the most powerful classes in the game. You can definitely make a case for Paladin, though I personally think that there are a variety of other issues which are inherently crippling to melee and caster builds while offering unfair advantages to ranged builds.
I’ve always thought that repeaters were a top-tier weapon (if not the best in the game due to how past life feats work), even before Turbine started going out of their way to make them stronger and stronger. Back in the old set of enhancements, you could couple up Rogue Mechanic with Deepwood Sniper and get tremendous DPS by way of sneak attack damage, int-to-damage, and an attack which does huge burst and bluffs. All this at range as well, with no risk of being counterattacked. I did this trick on a few of my past lives and it even in the old days, this afforded me some of the highest DPS options I’ve experienced. I didn’t even have a Greensteel Repeater back then. In other words, this was borderline overpowered to begin with. And then Turbine decided to make repeaters stronger because reasons.
Now, mechanics can get an innate +20 Ranged Power, int to damage, more sneak attack dice than ever before, an extension to the range of ranged sneak attacks, absurd +damage to crossbows, doubleshot, increased critical multiplier and threat range, and a heal which scales off of Ranged Power. What. The. Fuck. Forget multiclassing and putting time and effort into planning an interesting, unique build—all you need to do now is roll a pure Rogue mechanic to steamroll everything. Repeater-based Rogues are stronger than ever before and it should come as no surprise as to why almost every Rogue you see lately is a Repeater, or at least Great Crossbow, build.
Currently, Deepwood Stalkers also can get up to 25 Ranged Power, and possess excellent options for Repeater Builds, such as Merciful Shot (which is everything that Kensei’s “A Good Death” is, only ten times better—lower cooldown, activates at 50% hp instead of 20%, higher base damage, scaling with ranged power), Killer, Doubleshot, Head Shot, Aimed Shot, decent amount of sneak attack, and always being in Point Blank Shot range. You can mix up these options with Harper Tree enhancements, granting even more Ranged Power and int to damage.
One more thing to note is that stacking three Ranger past life feats results in +6 to ranged damage. Stacking three Monk past life feats nets another +3 to all damage. The epic past life feat, Enchant Weapon, grants another potential +3. Finally, three Rogue past life feats is +3 to all sneak attack damage. Apply this to Repeater builds and you have up to +15 damage on each bolt, for a total of +45 damage. At level 1. And don’t forget that this all scales with Ranged Power, which is easier to get than Melee Power. Also, don’t forget that repeaters can apply sneak attack damage on all three bolts.
All of these factors come to show that Repeaters are one of the most powerful options in the entire game from a damage perspective. Just in terms of raw damage, Repeaters can now out-DPS just about every melee build out there. In terms of defense, Deception and Radiance items can be used to stall opponents and grant you near invulnerability, allowing for free sneak attacks and extra time to dispatch enemies before they can lay a finger on you. Mechanics and Rangers also boast decent healing options, and if you make a repeater build with a Bladeforged, you’re basically invincible.
To exacerbate this issue, Turbine has consistently and steadily been introducing a string of updates so as to make ranged builds the only viable ones out there for a good deal of content. The most egregious of these would be…
God, I hate these things. This is quite possibly the worst thing that Turbine has ever done to the game, aside from Update 14.
For one thing, they’re another RNG component in this game. And RNG = bad 99% of the time because it diminishes the role of player skill. Monsters randomly become monster champions and there’s nothing players can do about it. Furthermore, monster champions come with a set up buffs which are randomly chosen. Okay, fuck that.
Monster champions also deal ridiculous amounts of damage for their level; champions trash monsters on elite often deal more than twice as much damage as red-named bosses in the same quest on the same difficulty. Yeah, Turbine, I’m sure this is what you call balance. Or maybe you simply have no clue about how your game actually plays? Either theory is equally plausible.
Monster champions additionally have a chance of spawning with one or more of the following: on hit healing debuff, slow debuff, true sight, deathblock, fortification bypass, and berserk (extra damage at low hp). Note that all of these effects are severely crippling to melee or casters. Healing and slow debuffs greatly hinder melee characters trying to traverse the battlefield or recovery lost HP; true sight bypasses any blur or displacement to any melees in the front lines, while fortification bypass and berserk can allow them to make short work of anything they’re attacking (usually the melees); meanwhile, deathblock hinders assassins and Necromancy-focused casters. These are all attributes which present grave challenges to melee survivability and the efficacy of certain casters, while presenting no equivalent challenge to ranged builds.
So, in summary, what do we have here? Monsters which randomly spawn in quests and who randomly have a chance of being extremely deadly against melees or casters, and which provide no significant roadblocks to ranged builds. (Absorb pierce is the closest thing to being difficult for ranged builds, but even then, most ranged builds will be able to dispatch a champion easily anyways due to higher damage than melee.) As a result, most people on the forums who defend Turbine on champions will say “oh it’s not too bad” and are playing ranged builds. And most people who see the obvious imbalance in the game design here play, or have played melee builds. This is just one of many things which over-centralizes the game around ranged combat.
My stance used to be that, okay, even if there’s no new good content being released, I can at least stick to heroic TRing and enjoying the old game which I used to love. But nope, with the advent of Monster Champions, I can’t even do that anymore. Unless I’m on a ranged build, there’s always a decent chance I’ll die to stupid, bullshit, gimmicky difficulty which shouldn’t exist.
Yay, game balance.
This is somewhat minor compared to other aspects on this list, but nonetheless needs to be addressed. Ranged builds have exclusive access to another inventory slot by way of Quivers. And most of the named quivers that Turbine put in the game are very powerful, offering effects such as Ranged Alacrity +10%/Striding 30% at level 1 (Quiver of Alacrity), 1d4 poison damage on every hit at level 14 (Quiver of Poison), or 5% Doubleshot and 2 Ranged Power at level 14 (Dynamistic Quiver).
While for bow users, this is somewhat countered due to them being unable to use shields or anything in the offhand slot, it still offers no drawbacks to repeater/crossbow builds, who are free to use runearms in their offhand slot. You know, items which give can give free Disruption on all attacks (Hand of the Tombs), Banishing Weapons (Animus), or even Lightning Strike and Transform Kinetic Energy (Toven’s Hammer). Even in terms of something as small as itemization, repeater/crossbow-based builds have it all. They’re afforded every slot available and have no drawbacks in any area.
Beholders have always been problematic to the game. They’re not exactly news around here. For starters, they act nothing like their PnP incarnations. I can understand that it’s hard to translate a turn-based RPG into the real-time MMO setting. But when you’re doing that, it should make sense to keep each monster’s respective strengths and weaknesses in check, so as to keep the game balanced and free of BS difficulty. Such is not the case with DDO, and Beholders in particular have always been hated by pretty much anyone who doesn’t play a ranged build.
If you’re a caster, the only way to circumvent their antimagic field is through a spell absorption item, the best of which is the Pale Lavender Ioun Stone. And if you’re a melee, the only way to ensure you don’t get level-drained or fingered to death is through that Pale Lavender Ioun Stone. (Or you could be a Paladin.)
There are some alternate ways of dealing with them like sending in a pet or hireling to distract them and then go in for the kill, or send in an assassin to sneak and assassinate the beholder. If you’re lucky, you could also hit your action boosts and try to overwhelm the beholder with sheer force before it has a chance to react. One strategy I’ve found particularly useful is to bring along a hireling with Greater Restoration and Raise Dead/Resurrection and use it as a last resort in case my Pale Lavender is all out of charges or I don’t have one on my given character.
So in summary, for a melee build, you have to meticulously strategize around this one monster, either getting lucky or farming a specific item which takes dozens of runs of a single quest to obtain, or bring along a very specific hireling. For caster builds, your only hope is to bring that aforementioned item, or get lucky and defeat the beholder before it looks at you, rendering your spells useless.
Yay, game balance.
These things are more of a nuisance than anything, but they deserve a mention here. Air elementals have the annoying quality of throwing people who get too close in random directions. This effectively prevents melee characters from being able to keep up consistent damage on them, while doing nothing to punish ranged characters.
Shadar Kai Assassin
If there’s one particular monster I hate more than beholders, it has to be the Shadar Kai assassin, for their stupid chains alone.
I’ve tested in Epic Normal Thrill of the Hunt, and the boss, Karleth, deals 200 damage per chain strike against a character with 0 PRR. Meanwhile, every other monster remotely around the quest’s level (26) on epic normal deals no more than 50 damage. This 200 damage per chain also seems to trigger before the animation for the chain even begins, resulting in an unavoidable 200-400 damage before the player can even react. (This is coming from someone who can waveshine across Final Destination and perform consistent short-hop lasers on Falco in Super Smash Brothers Melee. Click here to see the hand motions involved in waveshining [not my video]. In other words, my reflexes and coordination aren’t the problem here.) And in comparison to player-operated Shadar-Kai characters, who can only use their chain every 20 seconds or so, Karleth seems to have little or no cooldown on his chain.
So let’s see.
Monsters whose difficulty is grossly out of touch with the rest of the game? Check.
Monsters who are only difficult for melee characters? Check.
Monsters whose difficulty relies on gimmicks rather than skill or human reaction? Check.
Monsters whose mechanics make no sense in relation to their player-controlled analogues? Check.
Yay, game balance.
List of quests and raids which provide specific advantages to ranged builds
I figured I’d have to include this here just to drive my point about ranged builds home. Disregarding the typical advantages such as avoiding damage, dealing higher damage, and being able to consistently deal with champions, let’s see what we have here. As an added note, a lot, but not all, of this list also applies to casters.
- Cannith Crystal. Much easier to protect the crystal with ranged than with melee.
- Swiped Signet. Easier to dispatch the sleet storm casters with ranged than with melee.
- Rest for the Restless. There’s a skeleton in an alcove who must be killed, and it’s impossible to kill with melee.
- Partycrashers. In the illusionary corridor, it’s much safer and easier to destroy the Marks of Shadow with ranged. There’s also the floating Mark of Shadow at the beginning of the quest.
- Legend of Two-Toed Tobias. Minor advantage, since the quest provides your party with a free longbow and arrows anyway. But ranged builds don’t have to switch weapons to trigger the ranged-levers.
- Storm the Beaches. Much faster completions if someone can snipe the ballistae, rather than having to go to every one as a melee character.
- The Pit. Certain monsters in the Intake Control Room can only be reached with ranged builds.
- Spies in the House. Fire Elementals towards the end sometimes spawn floating in midair and can’t be reached with melee.
- Caverns of Korromar. Beholder.
- The Prisoner. Beholders.
- Jungle of Khyber. Beholders.
- The Missing Expedition. Beholder.
- Vault of Night. Ranged levers.
- Dreams of Insanity, though this is debatable. Most of the beholders don’t spawn far away enough so as to provide a huge advantage to ranged builds. Then again, the final room definitely provides advantages to ranged builds, what with its high alcoves and monsters chucking daggers at you.
- Zawabi’s Revenge. Pillars which can’t be reached with melee.
- Invaders. Beholders.
- Cursed Crypt. Easier to avoid accidental damage to the Silver Flame NPCs you need to protect if you’re using ranged instead of melee.
- Relic of Sovereign Past if you want to do the optional with the Adamantine Ores. Ranged levers.
- Mired in Kobolds. One of the crystals you need to break can’t be reached with melee.
- Undermine. The minefield creates a larger chance of error for melee builds trying to maneuver the quest. Ranged builds have a much easier and safer time dealing with the monsters in the minefield.
- Ghosts of Perdition. Cholthulzz.
- The Crucible. Easier to snipe the gnolls on top of the maze than to kill them through melee.
- Prison of the Planes. Air Elementals in the Lammania room.
- The Reaver’s Fate. Red-named Air Elementals.
- Litany of the Dead. The skeleton’s name is a specific reference to the fact that kiting him is better than brute-forcing him through melee. It’s as if Turbine is actively encouraging us to roll ranged builds.
- Let Sleeping Dust Lie. Much easier to activate precise shot and take down Ogres with single-target damage than to use melee and risk accidentally hitting a spider. Same reason as Cursed Crypt.
- Thrill of the Hunt. Shadar-Kai Assassins.
- Running with the Devils. Air Elementals.
- The Shroud. Phase 1 is easier to take down with ranged than to run around with melee. Phase 2 and 3 requires a ranged/caster for crystals. Phase 5 has safe spots for ranged builds.
- Monastery of the Scorpion. Someone to kite Sannyasi is basically a requirement.
- Lines of Supply. Since many of the monsters are running around, it necessitates melee players to run around as well, making ranged builds a much more viable strategy to complete the quest.
- Schemes of the Enemy. End fight is a huge nuisance to melee builds; the cannon is much more easily taken down with ranged attacks.
- The Dreaming Dark. Easier to kill the monsters in most of the quest with ranged than it is with melee, since they often float over the clouds in places where you can’t reach them as melee.
- The Master Artificer. Kiting one or both of the Warforged Titans is a viable strategy, and Toven must be killed with ranged.
- The Lord of Blades. Pillars must be taken down with ranged. Even with the floating buff, melee characters can’t reach the tops of the pillars. (I’m not sure if casters can reach the tops either.) Kiting the hounds is also an effective strategy.
- Precious Cargo. On lower difficulties, it’s possible to take down the airships with ranged damage. Melee characters, on the other hand, can’t touch them. Also, Shadar-Kai Assassins.
I’m sure there’s a lot more that I missed. I absolutely hate epic content, so I don’t regularly run any of the quests which are exclusively epic (such as the Demonweb ones), nor do I own the latest two adventure packs (I refuse to give Turbine any more money in light of this game’s rapid and flagrant deterioration). There could possibly be more ranged bullshit in a lot of this content.
Also, remember, that this list is in addition to advantages that ranged builds innately have, such as being able to actually deal with monster champions, dealing much higher damage overall, not having to worry about weapon durability, and being less subject to deaths due to the nature of attacking from afar. But okay, maybe I’m being a little unfair. After all, what about quests where melee characters have an advantage? Fair enough! I’ll post that right down here.
List of quests and raids which provide specific advantages to melee builds
- Maybe, and this is a big maybe, Hound of Xoriat. Having a tank is really helpful, if not outright necessary. But seriously folks, who am I kidding? Who even runs Hound of Xoriat anymore?
Well, that’s the comprehensive list of all quests which provide a specific advantage to melee builds. As you can see, it’s very vast and wide in scope and definitely, most certainly counterbalances the odds of melee builds when compared to melee builds. The design and relative balance between melee and ranged builds is so masterful and Turbine really ought to be commended for continuing to keep the game balanced after all these years, instead of screwing it up and making one type of build vastly superior to the other.
Anyways, moving on to other stupid things about this game’s balance.
Yay, game balance.
I don’t even need to say anything substantive about Warlocks. Warlocks being overpowered is such an axiomatic truth at this point that nobody even needs to discuss why they’re overpowered anymore. I find it funny that after some five months of Turbine constantly nerfing Warlocks, Warlocks are still god-tier.
Way to go, Turbine. Instead of doing anything to fix the obvious unbalances in your game or revisiting old adventure packs to make them relevant, what do you do instead? You release Warlock, a class so utterly unbalanced to the point of forcing you to spend the next half a year of your time and effort to nerf it, and even after all’s said and done, they’re still nowhere near balanced.
Back when “Epic” was its own difficulty, I thought the balance of the game was pretty good. Not perfect, but tolerable. Each class/build archetype had its role, and generally you’d want a well-balanced party to beat an epic quest. It was an actual achievement, rather than an exercise in gimmickry and circumventing obviously half-assed game design with blatantly overpowered builds.
I like the idea of scaling difficulties (normal/hard/elite), but the way Turbine has implemented the scaling system for epic difficulty is so stupid that it blows my mind that anyone would think it’s a good idea. It’s a shining example of the simple fact that Turbine does not play-test anything they create, and that they refuse to listen to the dedicated players who know more about the game than they do themselves.
Epic Normal and Epic Hard are for the most part decently scaled (with the exception of beholders and Shadar-Kai Assassins across both difficulties, and Monster Champions on EH). But then you get to Epic Elite and holy shit. Monster DCs are through the roof, meaning you’d actually have to be some godlike caster to put a dent in them, and their HP and damage is so high as to render most melee builds useless. Single trash mobs on your average EE content will deal 200-300 damage on someone with 0 PRR, and will have several thousand points of HP. In addition, it seems that every monster Turbine’s made since update 14 has cleave or some form of AoE, so hiding behind the tank and avoiding aggro doesn’t seem to work as well as it once did. RIP melee sneak attack builds.
Now what does this mean in terms of class viability? Well, it means you need high defense, very high HP, high offense, and probably some form of steady self-healing. So instantly, melee Rangers, Rogues, Fighters, Monks, and some Barbarians are thrown out the window. They’re useless. That leaves us with Paladins, Bards, and some Barbarians. Oh, how surprising.
Oh yeah, or you could be a repeater build. Or a Warlock. Or some octuple-completionist traditionalist caster who has three of every past life in existence and has 100 DCs of every spell or something.
Yay, game balance.
In a metagame where the focus is taken off of dealing damage, but rather on avoiding damage and being able to simply survive, it comes as no surprise that the list of build options shrinks dramatically in EE. Contrast this to the heroic game, where virtually any build is viable if you’re a good enough player. Yeah, sure, your Shintao Monk is gonna be out-DPSed by your party of all Paladins, Bards, and repeater builds, but in a solo setting, you can still have fun with whatever the hell build you want.
And that’s precisely what I miss so much about DDO: freedom, and the ability to choose. These things about the game were fun, and the point of a game is to have fun. Back in the old days where you’d take on VoN 5+6 or Chronoscope on Epic, it wasn’t uncommon to see one of almost every class in your group. Hell, even on Shroud runs, which weren’t particularly challenging, you’d almost always see a well-balanced party. That was because back then, the classes were generally well balanced, with no one class being overpowered and easily dominant over another. Each had its strengths and weaknesses, its checks and balances. Playing a Fighter used to be very different from playing a Paladin—now it’s just inferior. Nowadays, the question isn’t “what am I sacrificing if I want to play a Fighter instead of a Paladin;” it’s “why am I playing a Fighter when I could be playing a Paladin?”
Each class had its own draw, and as a result of that, you’d get many different people playing them. Now, on the other hand, you don’t see people playing Fighters or melee Rangers to be strong or endgame viable—you see them playing these classes because they’re either new and don’t know better, or because they simply want to have fun with a different build. “Hardcore” players who want to be endgame viable now only go for a handful of builds, whereas previously, these types of players with the very same sort of mindset would go for any class, because all of them were viable in some way or another. That was one of the beauties of DDO, and now it’s long gone thanks to Turbine’s neglect and constant mismanagement over the past three years.