|Get Some Class!
There are three principal reasons to choose a class to play: your persona or roleplay concept demand a specific class; you are looking at the gear available to you, and wish to use all ormost of it; or that there is a specific ability or battlefield role you lust for. In the case of the first, no guidance or suggestions are really needed. The second and third cases will be addressed here.
When considering classes on the basis of gear, a common mistake (in this writer's opinion) is picking a class when one does not utilize all or even a good portion of the class's allowable gear. The most glaring is warriors without armor. That class stands out as having the single highest limit on armor, and many who play it ignore that aspect. If we consider that each class has a set amount of "cool stuff", why would we waste some of said "cool stuff" on gear we are not going to use? If one wishes to fight with sword and shield and use none of the warrior's armor or expanded weapon selection, why not consider a class which would grant more goodies to the player? Healer or bard, even with spell points expended on the weapons, will still receive many more spells than said warrior.
On the flip side, it seems to be commonly forgotten that not only archers and scouts may use bows - druids, barbarians and even assassins are all viable as bow-using combatants. The third and final point that is often neglected is that magic users may use weapons! As noted earlier in the warrior example, yes they will lose spell points, but if you are only wanting to go on the field with the weapons in the first place, any spells are just bonus.
If there is a specific ability you wish to use, then play the class that will give it to you. If one wishes to have a certain role or general capability on the field however, some grasp of the possibilities of the various classes can be helpful. It must not be overlooked that what follows are this writer's opinions and interpretations of the flow of the game, not absolute rules or inflexible boundaries.
The Fighting Classes
Archer: Of the various bow using classes, the archer stands out in the ability to rapidly penetrate armor and destroy shields. His own medium armor can protect him from light return attacks, though not from other archers! To this end, the class is well suited to taking down heavily-protected enemies while being protected by short-range and melee fighters.
Assassin: With his limited armor and shield allowance, selection of ranged attacks, decent melee weapons, and the use of poison and teleport, the assassin is a flanker and distraction fighter. Well played, this will result in the break up of enemy formations and the splitting of the opposing force while some of them must deal with the appearance of ranged attacks from the sides and back, and strafing attacks with poisoned weapons.
Barbarian: The barbarian is the 'devil may care' charging melee fighter. On the way in, he can throw all sorts of painful things to soften up the enemy, and then get into up close with anything else he wishes to carry. And what can they do about it? You're immune to those pesky subdual effects, you've got a little armor, and if they kill you, you're just that much closer to getting to berserk.
Monk: A good selection of melee weapons, access to throwing weapons at second level, eventual immunities to lots of stuff, and the ability to block arrows, but no armor. The monk is a good mobile fighter and flanker, and excellent for going after the enemy bows. They also find much use in guarding their team's own flanks from those pesky assassins and scouts.
Scout: Bows, throwing weapons, medium armor and small shields, good melee weapons - looks like front-line ranged attacks to me. The scout can nearly stand up to the defenses of low level warriors and exceeds others in this area, his offensive abilities and options will greatly benefit the barbarians and warriors in the van of his team, and he can stay in the thick of it to do so.
Warrior: Defense and staying power. More armor than any other class, any shield, and lives only matched by high level barbarians (who throw theirs away to get to berserk). The warrior can afford to put himself in danger and take the risk - he's got the protection and the lives for it. Leading the charge with barbarians or holding the line and the fort, these are the warrior's places.
The Magic Classes
By their nature, the magic classes have varied roles based on their spell choices, though each has particular strengths that can be discussed.
Bard: Crowd control, crowd control, and did I mention crowd control? The bard is often viewed as the most annoying class because they can stop you from doing what you want to do, and not by killing you so you can just go to Nirvana. The bard's spell list is excellent for removing enemies from the battle temporarily so that they can not support their teammates, and then when Mr. Warlord can once again fight, his team has been killed while he wasn't there to defend them.
Druid: A mixed bag, the druid comes in second to wizard in offensive magic, second to healer in restorative powers, and in the middle of the pack for crowd control. All about the balance.
Healer: The champion of defense and restorative spells, with some offense and crowd control as well. Most effective offensive power is keeping the fighters fighting.
Wizard: The top of the line for making stuff dead, directly or with enchantments for his teammates. A solid back up of defensive enchantments for teammates and a bit of crowd control and utility spells. His destructive power makes him a target however...
And not to neglect the other two (with due credit to Sir Pollux for his help here):
Anti-Paladin: Starts off slow but manages to even out in the higher levels. Good armor points and a large choice of weapons and gear. At sixth, the immunity to flame is great against enemy wizards. Immunity to control is useful if the enemy is fielding bards. Fear is great for breaking up an enemies front line defenses as well as getting the opposing bow users off your back. Stealing lives keeps you on the field longer for your team. All around tank class.
Paladin: Starts off a bit beefier than AP with the immunity to subduals; druids and low level healers hate that. Sixth makes this class very powerful against "point and die" skills with its immunity to death. Extended immunities work well if planned in the beginning and the resurrection just makes sure you keep the main tank on your team alive and well. Awe is just as good as fear and for the same reasons.
The ideas here are only the beginning, and only one player's perspective. Build from them to find the best class for yourself, whether it's for today, or for the long run.
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