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Champions in Isengard Dev Diary

August 23, 2011

There is a new Dev Diary today on Champions! There are many, many, many changes coming. As the Champion was my second 65, and my main for a long time, these changes are very interesting to me! I will break the Dev Diary down and give my thoughts as I go.

The Developer in charge is Orion, and he is also one of the key developers for PvMP. He begins his explanation of the Champion changes by saying that the Champion for a long time has had two roles, DPS and Tanking. When Champions were forced to tank, they would suit up with a shield, making them a slightly less fun version of a Guardian. My all-time favorite quote by Orion was from his original blog post on Champion changes in Isengard, “Champions are based on Gimli. Gimli did not use a shield. Champions will not use shields.”

The problem of course is that Guardians are fantastic Guardians, Champs not so much. So why would you want a Champ to do a Guardian’s job, when the Champ doesn’t really like the Guardian’s job anyway because of the drastically different gameplay style behind the shield?

Orion decided to take a different approach. While Guards would be a shield tank with mitigations, and Wardens would be the parry and evade tanks with HoTs and morale leaches, the tanking Champ would play like a DPS Champ: shield-less, focusing on using skills to maintain aggro and survivability instead of doing as much damage to enemies, but still fun and fast like Champs like it!

Another change is that using skills while wielding 2-handed weapons will now have the same Fervour costs as dual-wielding two weapons. This is more of a standardization of feel and rotations, to help the transition between dual-wield and 2-handed if needed.

Orion also regrouped the skills. The skills now fall under the following skill categories in the skill panel: Fervour Builders, Champion Skills, Defence, Blade and Strikes.

“Fervour builders build fervour and include: Wild Attack, Swift Strike, Battle-frenzy and Merciful Strike

Champion Skills are utility or not easily categorized skills that include: Second Wind, Sprint, Heroics (True Heroics), Seeking Blade (formely Blocking Blades) and Blood Rage. We toss Boast in here too beause…well where else does it go, really?

Defence accounts for all skills that we look at as being part of the defensive line: Glory, Bracing Attack, Hedge, Dire Need, Exchange of Blows, Sudden Defence, Fear Nothing, Rising Ire, Adamant (Invincible), Fight On, and Champion’s Challenge.

Blade are AoE Skills: Ardour, Blade-wall, Blade-storm, Horn of Gondor (formerly Sound the Attack) and Improved Horn of Gondor, Cleave, Rend, Battle Acuity (formerly Fighting Dirty), Flurry (Ardent Flurry), Raging Blade, Great Cleave and Deathstorm.

Strike skills and single-target skills: Fervour, Savage Strikes and Feral Strikes, Brutal Strikes and Ferocious Strikes, Relentless Strike, Clobber, Hamstring, Remorseless Strike, Red Haze, Ebbing Ire and Controlled Burn.”

NOTE: Some of these may change before the expansion goes live.


Stances will be getting an update to help facilitate the changes that will be coming.


Glory is the primary tanking stance for Champions. It has always been that way, but the bonuses will be changing. One that I am really happy about is the removal of the damage reduction. Currently, there is -15% outgoing damage in Glory for the Champion, and this will be completely removed.

Glory – Skills

Skills will be significantly altered while in Glory as well.

  • Rising Ire will no longer be a trainable skill, it will be Ebbing Ire in Ardour and Fervour and will change to Rising Ire when in Glory.
  • Adamant/Invincible, Hedge, and Bracing Attack will all have reduced cooldowns when in Glory.
  • Sudden Defence will now consume all Fervour and give a Morale bubble that increases in strength depending on how much Fervour is consumed. This is a great improvement over the current version which gives Parry and Evade (useless to the Fervour Champion).
  • Hedge will now buff armour, and will do so significantly in Glory. I imagine it will be roughly equivalent to having a shield. It will still cure disarms and prevent them, but the cooldown will be reduced in Glory. It will simply become part of the rotation while in Glory.

Glory – Traits

  • Call of the Wild: Using Wild Attack will reduce active cooldown on Sudden Defence by 5 seconds.
  • At the Ready: Skill executions that deal damage will reduce the active cooldown on Rising/Ebbing Ire by 2 seconds. This will be useful to both DPS and tanking Champs. Rising and Ebbing Ire will advance this deed now (which is good, since I have about 6 blocks that advanced this deed haha).
  • Reprisal: Formerly known as Patience (not to be confused with Sapience), this trait will have a 3-fold use:
    1. Exchange of Blows will reflect damage more often
    2. In Glory, Exchange of Blows will generate more threat
    3. In Glory, Exchange of Blows will occasionally generate a Fervour pip
    4. Exchange of Blows will activate upon entering Glory, making it easier to maintain this skill
  • Braced Against Defeat: Bracing Attack will give more Morale and a 15% bonus to incoming healing for 10 seconds.
  • Time of Need: Dire Need and Improved Dire Need will generate 5 Fervour pips and the cooldowns are reduced by 5 minutes.
  • Vigour of Champions: Second Wind now restores more power every 2 seconds for 10 seconds. (Second Wind has had some changes as well, to follow further down)
  • Tight Grip: Decreases cooldown of Hedge by 50% in all stances and increases duration of Hedge buff by 5 seconds.
  • Aggressive Exchange: Formerly known as Heavy Shield Use, this trait now modifies Blade-wall to generate extra threat.

Glory – Trait Set (The Martial Champion)

The Capstone is unchanged, but the individual set bonuses have changed.

  • 2-set bonus increases Critical Defence while in Glory and the amount of threat from Champion’s Challenge,
  • 3-set bonus reduces amount of Fervour pips needed for Bracing Attack by 3 pips and further increases Critical Defence.
  • 4-set bonus increases maximum morale and Critical Defence.


This is the red-haired stepchild stance. I really don’t drop into this one from Fervour unless I accidentally get aggro from too much Shing-Shing and I need to make the healer’s job a little easier.

Orion’s planned changes with this stance are to make it an AoE stance with a little less single-target damage output than Fervour (as it should be) but with more survivability, and more damage on multiple targets because of more consistent hits on attacks.

Entering Ardour now provides a reduced cooldown on Great Cleave/Improved Great Cleave, Blade-wall will now generate Fervour on successful hits, AoE skills will cost less power to use, but the power-regeneration and Fervour generation of Ardour will be unchanged.

Ardour – Skills

  • Flurry will no longer require a defeat response to use. The skill’s duration has been increased and the cooldown has been reduced.
  • Battle Acuity (formerly known as Fighting Dirty) has had its duration lowered to 10 seconds and will cost 2 Fervour to activate. The cooldown on this skill is now 30 seconds. NOTE: The Diary says that the requirement for a defeat response has been removed. This is likely a typo, as Fighting Dirty does not require a defeat response, it requires that the target be under 20% health. This is likely what was removed.
  • Rend/Improved Rend has replaced the naming convention Cleave/Rend to avoid confusion with Great Cleave and to remain more consistent.
  • Great Cleave/Improved Great Cleave has replaced the name Great Cleave/Deathstorm. Cooldowns of these skills have been greatly reduced. In addition to resetting AoE skills, adding 10% damage to AoE skills and reducing the fervour cost of AoE skills by 5 fervour, Improved Great Cleave will also apply the Battle Acuity buff. The buffs do not stack from Improved Great Cleave and Battle Acuity, but the cooldown on Battle Acuity is not activated. The duration of Improved Great Cleave will be 18 seconds.

Ardour – Traits

  • Eye of the Storm: Reduces Fervour cost of Blade-storm and Rend/Improved Rend by 1.
  • Battle Acumen: Formerly called Dirt Cheap, this trait modifies Battle Acuity to only cost 1 Fervour pip.
  • Ardent Rage: Renamed from Fervent Rage to maintain consistency with Ardour stance.
  • Swift to Anger: Moved from Berserker traitline, changes Swift Strike to Swift Blade, which grants additional Fervour on critical hits. Also, Red Haze will activate upon entering Fervour, and will grant the Champion with a Fervour pip each time an enemy falls. Note that any bonuses that affect Blade skills will now affect Swift Blade.

Ardour – Trait Set (The Deadly Storm)

The Capstone remains the same with a name-change, Improved Great Cleave.

  • 2-set bonus: increased chance to hit with AoE skills (Blade skills)
  • 3-set bonus: reduces chance that Blade skills will be blocked or parried.
  • 4-set bonus: decreases power cost and increases damage of Blade skills and lowers the amount of threat generated by Blade skills while the Champ is in Ardour.

Orion finishes by saying Ardour’s best uses will be “landscape grinding and high trash count instance spaces or skirmishes.”


The first thing Orion says is the healing penalty in Fervour has been removed for testing, but that may change for when Isengard goes Live.

Threat generation on skills like Shing-Shing (I mean, Raging Blade) have been made Glory-only, to prevent Fervour-tanking. Champions will not be able to produce enough threat outside of Glory to keep aggro off of DPS-traited classes.

Orion’s synopsis of Fervour: “You cannot parry or evade, your power regeneration is increased, your fervour generation is increased, melee damage is increased and, lastly, Merciful Strike undergoes a massive transformation.”

Fervour – Skills

  • Merciful Strike will be changed in Fervour stance to consume all of the Champ’s Fervour and deal increased damage for each pip consumed. After 1 second, 3 pips of Fervour will come back to the Champion. It will be a true finisher skill.
  • Blood-rage will only cost 10% morale to activate.
  • Red Haze will no longer be combat-permanent. The skill will add 1 Fervour pip per 15 seconds for the duration of the buff, 45 seconds. It will also grant the initial 1 pip. The cooldown will be 5 seconds.

Fervour – Traits

  • Controlled Fury: Moved from the Martial Champion line and now increases the duration of Controlled Burn by 30 seconds.
  • Flurry of Blows: Increases duration of Flurry when not in Fervour, and it also activates Flurry when activating Fervour stance, making it permanent until you leave Fervour Stance.
  • Athletic: Cooldown on Sprint is reduced by 120 seconds and for 10 seconds, the Champion is able to stun on a successful hit from Wild Attack. A successful attack removes the stun buff, leaving the movement speed buff.

Fervour – Trait Set (The Berserker)

The major change here is to the Capstone, Continuous Blood Rage.

  • It will cost 10% of the Champion’s morale to use this skill.
  • The 90% incoming healing penalty is removed.
  • A DoT is placed on the Champion that becomes more potent over time.
  • Outgoing damage will increase by 2% periodically, and the DoT will increase by 20% at the same time.
  • Being low on morale will not disable the skill, and could potentially lead to the Champion’s death.

The set bonuses have received minor changes:

  • 2-set bonus: adds 40% critical multiplier to 2nd and 3rd strokes of Brutal Strikes and to the 2nd stroke of Savage Strikes
  • 3-set bonus: increases critical rating and multiplier for Wild Attack
  • 4-set bonus: increases Fervour generation in Fervour stance, increases the damage of Merciful Strike, and reduces the cooldown on Merciful Strike by 10 seconds

Apparently, Champions in Fervour are number-one on the sustained single-target DPS ladder once more in testing.

Other skill changes

  • Second wind no longer requires a defeat response, but is only usable in combat. It now restores power every 2 seconds for 10 seconds, and the cooldown is 10 seconds.
  • Heroics has had its cooldown reduced to 5 minutes.
  • True Heroics has had its cooldown reduced to 5 minutes and will changed depending on the stance the Champion is using.
    • In Glory, it will taunt surrounding enemies and provide a damage reducing bubble (I’m assuming like Sudden Defence, except to your Fellowship members).
    • In Ardour, it will attack and movement speed debuff to surrounding targets and give a bubble (again, assuming to allies.)
    • In Fervour, it will buff allies’ critical hit chance and apply the bubble.
  • Seeking Blade (renamed from Blocking Blades) no longer requires a defeat response and will increase the critical chance for Relentless/Remorseless Strike for 10 seconds, and it has a 120 second cooldown.
  • Raging Blade no longer produces Shing-tastic threat regardless of stance. It now changes, depending on the stance.
    • In Glory, Raging Blade generates high threat like right now.
    • In Ardour, it has an increased chance to critically hit.
    • In Fervour, it kills the tank and makes the Champion’s weapons light on fire, killing all enemies in his path with no regards to personal safety. Or, back in reality, it increases the critical multiplier. But hey, I can dream, right?
  • Ferocious Strike, in an effort to not make this Legendary skill full of suck, now deals stepped damage. In other words, the first attack gives a buff which makes the second attack hit for more, which gives a buff for the third attack. Neat idea. I’ll try it. Probably still won’t use the skill.
  • Fight On! has had its cooldown reduced to 5 minutes and the power-restoration buff applies regardless of targets in proximity.
  • Controlled Burn will no longer overwrite stances, but will apply buffs that increase damage dealt, reduce attack speed, grant 1 Fervour pip for each enemy defeated, and provide a bonus Fervour pip every 5 seconds. The duration of Controlled Burn will be 45 seconds, with a 5 minute cooldown. (Orion admits that this could be unpopular.)
  • New skill called Exalted Combatant will be a passive: falling below 20% health will kick Exalted Combatant and heal the champion for 25% of their max morale. The effect has a 90 second cooldown.

Post-66 skills

  • Level 66: Improved Seeking Blade
    Places a 10-second buff on the Champion that is dispelled on the next Relentless/Remorseless Attack which is a guaranteed crit. After buff is dispelled, another replaces it that gives an increased chance to crit (not guaranteed) for 10 seconds on Relentless/Remorseless Attack.
  • Level 68: Improved Feral Strikes
    It sounds like from this post that this will guarantee a Corruption removal on the second attack (on-hit) from Feral Strikes. My question is whether the third attack for dual-wielders will also have this upgrade.
  • Level 70: Improved Dire Need
    Half of the Champion’s power is expended, and three times that amount of power is restored as morale. Orion mentions that the cooldown for Dire Need is 10 minutes. I’m not sure if that is for both Dire Need and Improved Dire Need, or if it is just for Improved. Either way, awesome!
  • Level 72: Improved Hedge
    Adds bonus crit defence to an already great skill.
  • Level 74: Enhanced Battle Acuity
    Increases damage bonus granted by Battle Acuity. (Awesome, but AHHHH!! why’d they break the pattern on the naming scheme?!? OCD attack!)

Legacy Changes

  • Sudden Defence Cooldown: Now reduces the cooldown of Sudden Defence by a max of 30 seconds.
  • Hedge Armour Points: Previously Sudden Defence parry and evade
  • Battle Acuity Duration: Formerly Rising Ire cooldown, now increases Battel Acuity duration.

Orion finished up by saying, “There have been some pretty major changes to the Champion class, but the class play style remains intact.”

Last Updated: August 25th, 2011


Post-Dev Diary Thread Responses by Orion

First (cleared up Merciful Strike health gate/defeat response typo)

Second (confirmed Red Haze as an on-defeat skill when not in Ardour, no P/E penalty in Ardour

Third (outlines new skills post-66; notes that in testing hunters and champs are close in sustained DPS, but champs are leading)

Fourth (goes over the “why?” of the changes)

Fifth (explains that there are no subtractions, only additions, to Heroics and Fight On!; also clarifies Ferocious Strikes)

Sixth (addresses the deed At The Ready which required blocks, as Champs don’t use shields now. Rising and Ebbing Ire advance the deed)

Seventh (explains that Champs will generate threat with threat skills, but in a different way than Guards; explains Ardour’s role; notes CBR’s need for a dedicated healer)

Eighth (references changes in itemization as a possible source of mitigations in the future)

Ninth (addresses a Minstrel question, with regards to Call to Greatness and Song of Aid, which grant defeat responses. He said is has been changed)

Tenth (notes that Fervour tanks will get pounded, as “avoidance = 0%,” no crit defence, no threat bonuses anymore, Rising Ire not available)

Eleventh (addresses Exalted Combatant effect promised in previous blog posts)

Champion Dev Diary

Orion’s Blog Page – 1st post on champions (read through the posts following to get more, there were a lot of them)

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