Updated Mon, Dec 13, 2010 by gunky
send a squishy to do a bear's job.
Soloing with a Lore-master can be difficult if it is approached in the same manner as with other classes. While other classes deal more or less directly with the enemy, standing toe-to-toe and all up in their grills, the Lore-master takes a more indirect approach, letting a summoned animal companion to the bulk (or the "bear's share") of the fighting and acting more in a supporting role himself. Once the player gets into this kind of "solo support" mindset, soloing is actually fairly easy.
Lore-masters are the definitive "squishy" class - they are restricted to light armor, and do not have the broad array of self-heals of the Minstrel or Runekeeper. In terms of DPS, they fall somewhere between these two classes, generally hitting harder than a Minstrel but not as hard as a Runekeeper. When mismanaged, Lore-masters can have an abyssmally-low survival rate, but when standing behind a sturdy animal tank and keeping the mobs at a distance, they are on par with any other class.
Of course, there are also times when the poor, battered animal tank can take a break and the Lore-master can go it alone. Despite their relative squishiness, the Lore-master is not a total wimp, and judiciously-applied crowd-control measures can be just as effective at keeping certain enemies at bay as a good animal tank. Blinding Flash has a nice, short cooldown - 15 seconds - and can be used to keep enemies locked down as long as required, with plenty of room for error. Unlike the Burglar, who has to carefully watch the cooldown timer of his Riddle to keep enemy mobs locked down, the Loremaster has a 15-second grace period between the time the skill is ready for use again and the time when the last Blinding Flash expires. And if the Blinding Flash misses its mark, the mob can usually be rooted with Herb-Lore.
To get into the "solo support" mindset, it may help to think of your animal companion as a lower-level, ethusiastic noob player whi is a friend of yours. The quests you are on are his quests, and you, the experienced veteran, are just there to lend a hand. Like a noob player, the animal companion will follow very simple instructions but is incapable of anything really complex; it will attack whatever you direct it to attack or whatever you are attacking; it will get confused when you start using crowd-control, and if the gameplan changes it will need to be given new instructions; it will never know when it is in over its head and, without careful management, may accidentally aggro nearby mobs; and it can't contribute to fellowship manouevres. Your job is to help him with his quests and keep him from getting his fool self killed... but let him do the bulk of the work.
A good general solo strategy is to travel with a bear companion. The bear is meant for tanking - it is sturdier than birds, generates threat easier than the cats and doesn't require traiting 5 deep in the Keeper of Animals line (although doing so makes the bear even more sturdy and menacing). Start fights with a round of buffs and debuffs - Sign of the Wild: Rage for the bear, Sign of Power: Command for the enemy mob. Have the bear charge in with Shatter Arms and Bear Hug while throwing down some more debuffs - Fire-Lore, Wind-Lore - and then unleash the attack spells. Start soft, though - as with any other tank, you want to let the bear build up a large amount of threat before using the big, powerful attacks so it doesn't lose aggro. If it does lose aggro, Roaring Challenge provides the Lore-master with a 10-second window to take remedial steps: dump DPS-generated aggro to the pet with Inner Flame, throw out some debuffs, unleash a devastating rotation of high-damage spells to finish the fight, etc. If the bear starts getting seriously beat-on, toss it a heal with Beacon of Hope. Slotting Proof Against All Ills is a good idea whether the Lore-master is soloing or running with a group, as it allows Leechcraft to be used to remove wounds in the midst of combat.
There are lots of other ways to pull mobs rather than to just charge the bear in headlong. Some techniques require a bit more finesse. For example, if the Lore-master encounters a group of mobs and wants to kill just one at a time but cannot separate it from the group:
This is just one possible method. There are other combinations of crowd-control, applied debuffs and a touch of metagaming that will be equally effective.
Whether soloing or in groups, the Sword and Staff legendary trait is good to have. While the sword doesn't really add all that much DPS into the mix (since you're usually trying to stay out of melee combat), many swords have some awesome stat bonuses and other boosts. Consider it like an extra piece of jewelry that you can kill things with.
Also effective for both solo and group play is the element of flanking. Lore-masters get some nifty additive powers when attacking from the flank. Staff Strike - which is already quite powerful even at low levels - does double damage when attcking from the flanks, and the Sign of Battle skills apply a pot-sized self-heal when the Lore-master's pet is flanking. Alternating between Sign of Battle: Wizardry and Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire allows for a good-sized self heal every few seconds - the Lore-master can use a very high-DPS skill rotation, mixing the Sign of Battle skills with big staff hits and massive tactical attacks, ending fights quickly without having to worry over-much about being super-squishy. Some pets are better-suited for this than others: bears tend to be lousy flankers, but can allow the Lore-master to hit with Staff Strike from the flanks. Birds, being very low-threat pets, tend to open up far more flanking opportunities for Sign of Battle skills - of course, running with a bird pet means the Lore-master will need more heals, as he will be getting attacked far more often with such a low-threat pet.
friend up the hill there tells me you said something about my mama. I'd
like to discuss that."
Animal companions are an important part of the Lore-master's repertoire. They are not simple pets like a dog or a cat - there is a deeper connection there, and these companions are unwaveringly loyal to their human and elf friends.
The first thing to remember is that animal companion AI is not particularly I. In fact, at times it can be a little bit S, and can royally screw up the Lore-master's day, particularly if the Lore-master doesn't fully understand the different modes and commands an animal companion uses.
The three basic commands are Stay, Follow and Attack. A companioon ordered to Stay will stay in one spot and behave according to its AI mode. If ordered to Stay while in Aggressive mode, for example, the creature will remain in one spot until something attackable enters its aggro range, which it will then attack
Follow will cause the companion to follow the Lore-master, following its AI mode as applicable. This is the default command - companions will usually follow their masters until ordered to Stay or Attack.
Attack will cause the companion to charge after whatever mob is being targeted and begin using auto-attacks on it.
Aggressive mode will cause the companion to initiate fights. With everything. It will instantly aggro on any mob that can be killed, including non-aggressive critters like rabbits and squirrels and low-level deer. This mode has few applications, and the Lore-master should probably avoid it.
Guard mode will cause the companion to attack anything that attacks the Lore-master. It will not go out of its way to initiate fights, but when a fight does start, it will defend its master to the death. If there is no active fighting, the companion will remain passive unless directed to attack. This is a good default mode.
Passive mode turns off combat AI. You have direct control over your companion's behaviour in this mode - it will not attack unless directed to do so, even if it is being attacked itself.
Toggle Assist causes the companion to join in on fights without requiring a command first. When the Lore-master picks a fight, the companion automatically joins in. When this is turned off, the companion will not attack unless ordered to do so, or unless its AI mode indicates that it should - for example, if set to Passive, it will do nothing, but if set to Guard, it will join the fight when it or the Lore-master is attacked. If the Lore-master switches targets while Toggle Assist is active, the pet will automatically switch to the Lore-master's current target, breaking off from its previous one.
A new button, Return to Master, has been added to the companion shortcut bar with the November update. This is only usable out of combat, and was instituted to work around poor path-finding AI. Occasionally, a pet will get caught on a boulder or get stranded at the top of a cliff. Clicking this button will teleport the companion to the Lore-master's side.
fool fell for the old "never mind the kitty, there's a bear" routine.
NEVER turn your back on a kitty.
At level cap, with all legendaries earned, the Lore-master has a selection of 6 pets: raven, bear, lynx, sabretooth, eagle and bog-lurker. Each of these pets has strengths and weaknesses, and what pet you use will be determined by its utility in a given situation and your own personal preference. Additionally, each of these companions has a variety of cosmetic appearances, which can be obtained by crafting single-use Lore-master talismans. The cosmetic variations have no impact on the companion other than to change their appearance, but each variation is a separate skill.
The raven is the first pet the Lore-master gets, during the introduction in Archet. The raven is a weak attacker and its tanking abilities leave much to be desired. It does, however, provide the fellowship with a shadow defense buff, and has a number of useful debuffs that work well against ranged attackers. It's generally not terribly useful for soloing once the Lore-master gets a bear companion, but it is less obtrusive than the bear and can be useful in groups. The raven is a champion flanker, and will open the opportunity to use the self-heals from the Signs of Battle more often than the bear or the cats.
The bear is the tried-and-true mainstay. It is not the strongest attacker, but what it lacks in damage, it makes up in durability. Its forced-aggro special attack and high threat rating make it a great tank, even at high levels when companions with stronger attacks are avaialble. The bear will open up the fewest opportunities to use flank-based skills, since it will usually be fighting the enemies face-to-face rather than from the rear.
The lynx is a strong attacker and a so-so tank, ideal for soloing higher-level mobs. It is about as rugged as the bear but hits much, much harder, and it has a great stealth attack that can take over-level mobs down to half health in one shot. The lynx's special attacks are frontal area-effect attacks, and can have detrimental effects on carefully-planned mezzes and roots if not used carefully. The lynx is a slightly better flanker than the bear.
The sabretooth is a big, powerful cat that does frost damage and frontal area-effect with its special AND regular attacks - this one is hostile towards crowd-control. Most useful for soloing where crowd-control is less of an issue; if used in a group, it can potentially screw up tanking. On the other hand, the Throat Slash special attack can potentially trigger a fellowship manouevre. Like the lynx, the sabrecat is a mediocre flanker.
The eagle is a prime group-spec companion. It provides the entire fellowship with a boost to in-combat power regeneration, which means less wear and tear on the Lore-master battery charging system. Additionally, it can potentially raise a fallen Lore-master by sacrificing itself. It is tougher than the raven, but not necessarily a better tank. Like the raven, it is a champion flanker.
The bog-lurker is arguably the toughest companion of the bunch. It hits hard and can take a serious beating, making it a solid tank. However, the Lore-master must trait 5 deep in Keeper of Animals to get one, and this compromises his other abilities - his companions and healing/restoration abilities will be beastly, but his crowd-control, debuffs and DPS will suffer. The bog-lurker's flanking abilities are roughly on-par with those of birds.