Monday 11 July 2011

A return to WAR - The Magus

My experiment to discover which of my horde of lvl 40 low RR alt characters is the most viable, took a slightly unexpected turn last week. A conversation with a mate of mine that’s somewhat obsessed with his DPS Shaman, unwittingly aroused my curiosity and I decided to see if it was possible to go DPS with my own RR50 Shaman. Previously it really wasn’t possible to get the stats required, but now thanks to the lowered armour restrictions and the new accessory set, it worked out very well. I’ve been playing the Shaman most of this week, have taken him from 50 to 60 and had a bloody marvellous time. However, more on that another time, as today I’m actually going to talk about my Magus.

The Magus is RR50 and turned out to not be quite as bad as I expected, yet at the same time was utterly frustrating.

At high RRs the Magus is quite potent; I’ve grouped with some great Magus players and have seen the impact they can have. They can hit pretty hard, though they’re no Sorcerer by any means and it takes a good player to do well with, where as a bad Sorcerer player can be carried by the career to a point. A Magus does not have that luxury. At low RRs however it’s quite a frustrating career due to the commonly recognised overarching problem with the Magus since launch; it doesn’t know what it is trying to be.

I’ve seen ranged support class bandied around, or a CC based ranged class, a DoT based nuker and so on, None of them are quite correct. The idea of it as a more support based class has some sense, but it doesn’t play out like that as the Magus doesn’t bring anything unique to the table other than Rift , but that is something you have to choose to spec for high up in the Daemonology mastery, is only 1 ability anyway and taking it greatly limits your ability as a ranged DPS class. It does have quite a lot of CC in total, but there are issues with most of it that limit the career reaching a genuine and valuable support role.

AoE stagger – A little demon you place down that enemy players have to go near to detonate the stagger. It’s very easily avoided.
Snare – A melee range snare. MELEE RANGE? It is utterly useless because of how melee abilities have longer range than should due to latency (type thing) and the burst damage output MDPS have. This would only work if it was an unbreakable root.
AoE stun – This requires you to detonate your pet. Your pet is stationary, so this stun is not always in the right place and if you do detonate your pet, you have reduced your damage output by 20% and that’s not including the pets damage itself. This wouldn’t be so bad if pets were an instant cast instead of 2 seconds.
Knockback – Single target, short punt and a 2 second cast.
Disarm – You have to choose to spec it and because of its long cast time, it’s of little use in the moments it would be required.
AoE Root – Instant cast and as such it’s fine.
There are also morale abilities, but they’re reliant on morale obviously and are nothing that other classes don’t have.

So as you can see the Magus does have quite a lot of CC options, but they’ve almost all got problems, particularly when you consider the class is very squishy and spends most of its time stuck on terrain. What I found with my low RR Magus is that with a Havoc/Changing spec I could do reasonable damage if I throw absolutely everything into DPS related stats and completely forget about survivability, but because of the limitations and unreliability of the career’s CC, you find yourself really struggling to stay alive. That spec also means no Rift, which is the Magus’ only unique selling point.

To be able to utilise all of that CC the Magus needs to be able to deliver it and that requires it to either be tough enough to shrug off attacks, or mobile enough that it can avoid them. Unfortunately the Magus is neither of those things. You can spec Daemonology, turn yourself into a melee range character and build your stats around survivability, but this is at a dramatic cost to damage output and is a very restrictive playstyle. It’s probably not what people envisaged when they choose to create a Magus.

So I think with the Magus Mythic need to:

Make them more mobile by changing how their pets work and reducing/removing CC cast times.
Make them a LOT tougher and literally make them pillboxes of doom.

In both cases I think Rift should become a core ability, the snare should be made ranged and their pets needs to be made a LOT more powerful. The pets should have abilities that go beyond just damage buffs, perhaps like Chosen auras. These changes could help better define them in a pet based ranged support role and give groups a reason to want a Magus instead of a Sorcerer. I believe most of this would apply to the Engineer too.

Also their DoTs are too easily removed and too slow to provide any meaningful burst and their cast time nukes do not hit hard enough. Which is not made up for by the career’s CC in any way and means it’s not able to compare if you consider damage it’s primary purpose..

Well there you go; I still can not recommend the Magus for a returning player. They’re not terrible, you can have some fun with them, but as it stands every other class is just that bit better. Mythic have changes coming in 1.4.4 for the Magus, but I have no idea if it will be enough to stop them being the worst career in the Destruction arsenal.


  1. 100% agree on the magus, we are neither fish nor fowl, wish I hand't taken mine to almost RR90, very frustrating to have your primary toon but subpar.

    Put is in Med Armor, make rift core skill, reduce DoT duration by 50% (not the damage portion) then we are talking.

  2. Has the new turret AP group buff tactic had any impact? Useful for PvE I'm sure. Oh wait...

  3. Spot on m8. Its the same for Engineers too. I like the chosen aura style effects for demons and turrets. You could use it set up kind of defensive areas if it had heal debuffs or slow casting effects.

  4. I believe that the Magus should be a defensive caster, I think that is what it was described as initially. Pillbox of Doom would fit this brilliantly! I personally love setting up a defensive position, like near a choke point, or at a BO, and waiting for the enemy to wander into my lair. I would like it more, if I had a better chance of killing them.

    I agree with the CC issue, whole-heartedly. The problem with all of our CC is that other classes have better versions of the same things. BW/Sorcs have both better CC and better DPS, imo. If our cc didn't suck, then I can see us being more utility-friendly, but as it is, we are sub-par, as you said.

    My main preference would be for more survivability, possibly medium robes, and an armour buff that wasn't out performed by pots and lasted more than one fight, but at the cost of mobility. I am fine with the static pet, so long as we got much more benefit from staying next to it. The recent damage buff is nice, but our turrets should be feared, and not just laughed at and trampled by stray aoe. They should throw out huge great gouts of flames, not hold a candle and blow hot air at you!

    Still, we are the best looking class in the game, so it's not all bad :D

  5. Thanks for the comments folks.

    It's such a shame that the Engineer and Shaman are such great looking and interesting careers on paper, yet they've just never caught up with the other careers and have never found their place in the game.

    The pets are such a missed opportunity. I like the idea of the demons being static, trapped in their summoning circles and I like the idea of engineers setting up their defensive machines, but if they're going to be static then they need to have a serious payback for that limitation.

  6. Booate... dont use the disarm as a CC-skill. just use it for it's very high dmg ;) good addition to your rotation

  7. Your review of the Magus seems quite correct to me. While i don't have a Magus, i have my Engineer and about everything you write is also true for the Engineer, with one small addition:

    A good portion of an Engineers damage is physical and his armour debuff is on the turret, weaker than most armour debuffs around and, as traditional with all Engineer and Magus abilities, less reliable than the abilities of other careers.

    Another important "feature" you forgot to mention is on the Demon to deliver the AoE stagger. Indeed it's easy to be avoided, just like the land mine. The Engineers land mine doesn't always deploy when in combat, you sometimes have to activate the ability two or three times to deliver the land mine. I guess the same is true for the Magus' demon? Anyways, the most "fun" feature of the landmine is, that it has "automatic self dispelling" included when there's lag. It has a damage component and delivers the stagger. When there's lag, sometimes the stagger is applied before the damage, thus the land mine removes the stagger itself a few milliseconds later. Free immunities to the enemy, great fun.

    Doesn't the stagger demon of the Magus have the same issues?

    So, on my Engineer, battle functions are:
    - bring in some damage in assisting. Acid grenade boosts the damage of bright wizards a lot.
    - provide AP with the new tactic. That one actually is good.
    - and most importantly: provide the necessary sound. With an Engineer around, the battle also sounds like one. :D

  8. [shakrah]
    @ sylow, yep, same issues with the nurgling as with the mines, i.e. random trigger et alii

    Magi is somewhat of an iconic class, both for its looks, how much it represents very well WHO, as well as for its lack of defining features. You could add probably (rr65 here), the aphazard itemisation (willpower ftw).

    If they want to keep the "location based" downside of the magus/engi, they could add one fixed-zone spell (pentagram/bunker), generating defenses within the hexed area that would not be either armor nor pet dependent, and further provide group utility.

  9. Long time reader, first time poster. Excellent post, Bootae. Having played an engi since the beginning, I think you've summarised very well what have been my feelings over the years, things I'm sure are reflected in the experiences of long-time Magus players - no one quite knows what an engineer/magus should be and everyone can do what they do, probably better, therefore you're a last resort for warbands and premades.

    Mythic's original description of the engineer was why I started one as it seemed to offer a jack-of-all-trades playstyle, which, given WAR was my first MMO, was what I wanted. Plus I got to have a big ginger beard. Beards are cool.

    The last two years have been a steep learning curve that jack-of-all-trades equates to master of none. Years of WEs and Choppas tearing me a new one in 3-4 GCDs whilst I ineffectively fart out some bugged CC has left me as bitter and twisted as the race I play, so I am glad to see someone with even the vaguest hint of an iota of influence over the devs play this - what are we? area deniers? CC-ers? dmg? - class.

    More power to your elbow I say.

    PS - should you ever need a Dwarf for a KF vid, then I would happily audition. The animation for Focussed Fire I'm sure has sexy possibilities, plus I look good naked (my toon, not me, that would make your eyes bleed).

  10. Demon/turret auras sound very nice.
    Like Neanot i also like the defensive style, too bad Mythic has so far no clear idea what that really means.
    Looking forward to read on what they got planned for them soon.

    ...It's a freaking demon/turret'o'doom, players should want to avoid them.

    Best engineer defensive play i've seen so far is the engie on Norn who has specialized in positioning himself just at the right slow spots for destro manticores (and im talking about spots out in the rvr lakes, not at the keeps). Ok, so any other ranged class could have done the same, but not with the same cool looks as the turrent turn towards you and you see that crossshaped buff pop above the engie's head. It ought to be like that where ever they can set up shop: you walk in to their domain then it is going to hurt.

  11. [Erizoras]
    Well i do agree with most of what bootae exposed but i must add another issue.

    Actually melees have many advantages against rangeds. Engineers and maguses have a lot harder playstyle due to their ranges. 65-45 feet ranges make no sense.

    Our actual dps its fine. The problem is that in dps terms socerers do a lot better than us. Same happens with the debuffer and SHs.

  12. Magus rules. ST burst with everything critting is awesome, although rr100s with 160 wound tactic have put a damper on instakilling folks :(

  13. Also close quarters means cc fires off super fast. I punt disarm all the time. In fact my favourite tactic is to close for melee while dotting then fire off 1.5s mbf/boc.Pet is a hassle though. WAR needs like a straight magical caster without stupid self-damage or pet mechanic ... hmm that sounds like a dps healer.

  14. Only critting all the time at high RR though. And others still hit harder. Agree regarding close quarters, but we shouldn't be forced to us a tactic to make that abilities acceptable.

  15. Indeed Bootae. However, I think you underestimate just how useless Magi/Engi are in the fast paced premade environments.

    Long DoTs + being a squishy stationary, meant that not only where you a sitting duck, but targets usually died in assist trains, before even 1/2 of the DoT dmg was dealt.

    Having a main as a magus/engi is really a test of patience/nerves.

    I Salute All Who Have Stuck With Them Today.



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