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Astuce Bard Guide
This is the pride and bane of the bards. It separates the men from the boys. All the songs on p99 have a 3 second casting time. The great majority of the songs last for three 6-seconds ticks, so depending on the server tick, a normal song will last anywhere between 12-18 seconds. These parameters dictate that a bard can create a twist of 3 songs (9 seconds to cast, none will ever drop), or 4 songs (12 second cast, 1 song will rarely drop), or 5 songs (15 second cast, 1-2 songs will drop frequently).
Why would a bard want to sing sometimes 3, sometimes 4, and sometimes 5 songs?
A 3 song twist is a staple of raids, when lots of stuff is happening and sometimes the screen or server seems to slow down because of lag or anything else. It’s also used when it’s very important that a song never drops because of a situation that warrants it. For example, if in a fight you are fighting a caster that uses a lot of magic based spells, twisting Elemental(or purifying) Rhythms, Guardian Rhythms, and Hymn of Restoration with a drums equipped is a very good idea, because even if one of the resist songs drops for even a fraction of a second you may get stunned/nuked and then all hell breaks loose (for extra credit you may twist in the lute when Hymn of Restoration comes due).
A 4 Song twist is when the group is in cruise control, facing mobs that are manageable and wanting to keep a good rate of xp. It is also used when kiting single mobs since a song dropping (even selo’s or chains) will not mean the death of the bard. An example for a group twist of 4 songs will be Verses of Victory, Niv’s Melody of Preservation, Chant of Battle, and Psalm of Cooling. This twist is used a lot with a melee-heavy group, offensive based.
A 5 Song twist is for those masochists that really feel like shining. There are two ways to go about the 5 song twist. The first is to play the 5 songs the standard way through. The songs will drop 1 or two at a time for less than 3 seconds each, all in order as you work your way through the cycle. The second way, is to keep focus on one song, and have the other 4 drop once in a while, so you play 1 2 3 1 4 5 1 2 3 1 4 5, and so forth and so on.
Why would you want to play a 5 song twist if songs are going to drop? The short answer is “because of the server tick”. Take Hymn of Restoration for example, it heals X amount of HP every server tick for 3 ticks. If the song drops at the end of the 3rd tick, because it hasn’t been refreshed yet, the players will not be affected until the next server tick, where the next X amount of HP would be healed, which is 6 seconds later. If before those 6 seconds are up, the song is active again (a song is 3 seconds to cast, therefore giving a window of 3 seconds to start casting it after it has dropped), the same X amount of HP will be healed as if the song had never dropped. So you can have songs dropping left and right during your twist (or wearing off in case of dots) but never effectively notice any downside to it.
Here is an example of a 5 song twist (as of 08/20/2010) that you can do at level 50 without any downside; Fufil’s Curtailing Chant, Chant of Flame, Chant of Frost, Cassandra’s Chorus of Clarity, Hymn of Restoration.
A bard will be often called upon to do the pulling. If this is the first time you’ve ever been told to do so, you may wonder how it’s done. This guide is to help shed light on the wonderful world of pulling.
The first song a bard gets that is used for pulling is Kelin’s lugubrious Lament. This song is a lull; it reduces the aggro radius, as well as the assist radius of the mob it is played on. Being a regular song, the effect will only last up to 3 ticks (12-18 secs). It is string based, but on p99 I haven’t noticed any additional reduction in aggro/assist radius by equipping a lute. Charisma is very important for this song, and the level difference between the mob and yourself is also very important.
Unlike a lot of songs, 3 things can happen when you play this song on a mob. It can either land, it can be resisted (no aggro), and it can be critically resisted (aggro). The level difference between the bard and the mob plays a very big role in whether the song is resisted or not. The charisma is the ultimate factor on whether the mob aggros after the song is resisted. Since I have not noticed any difference in equipping a lute to sing this song, I would go as far as to recommend equipping a crude stein (+15 charisma) instead of a lute when about to play this song.
Using the “cycle nearest npc” hotkey also works well in conjunction with this song. I would also recommend to cycle through all the npcs in the area with the hotkey before lulling any of them, so as to know what to expect. The distance between the bard and the target is also a factor as to whether lull would be critically resisted or not, so whenever possible, lull from as far as possible from the mobs.
Lull does not require Line of Sight to be able to be cast. So as long as you are able to target the mob you want to lull, and that you are within song range, you can do it. To gain the ability to target the mob, you can turn the corner and barely see it, then click on it, you can also use the change view hotkey to be able to peek around a corner, you can use bind sight song; target a mob near it and change views to see the one you really want. You can use the Eye of Zomm. You can also /assist someone else’s target, if they have a way to get near a mob without aggro’ing them (rogue sneaking is one example).
Once all mobs are lulled, you still need to pull them. The best song to use to pull is dispel, because it is a non-damage, irresistible song. Mobs assist less when pulled with non-damage effects. You could always use proximity aggro, but it is a bit strange on how that works on p99, it generates more aggro that a regular song.
Beware and be aware of pathing. Once a mob is aggro'ed, if it paths on top of other mobs it will aggro them even if they are lulled. Remember that lull only reduces the aggro radius, it doesn't eliminate it.
One last tip, if you can get a /target on a mob, but are unable to see it or get some form of correct line of sight for it, lull can also come to the rescue, since it only requires a target and no line of sight. Unequip charisma gear, equip a staff of writhing if you must to reduce charisma further, and play lull until you get a critical resist, the mob will come. Once again be careful of pathing!
Mez push pulling
Whenever they fix the push component of the mez song, as in add it in since it’s missing right now, a bard will have yet another way to aggro mobs, using assist aggro. In most zones (I think all but the Planes), mobs can either aggro a pc, or assist a mob who has aggro’ed a pc. They cannot assist a mob who is assisting a mob who’s aggro’ed a pc. This means that using the push component of the mez song, a bard can slowly-but-surely move a mob within the assist range of the mob he’s really trying to pull, so that that mob eventually assists and comes single to camp (as well as your mez'ed target, when it wakes up).
The Snare that bards get is the most powerful in the game; it offers the most movement reduction. Depending on the base run speed of the mob, it sometimes feel as if the mob is completely rooted just with our snare. The use of this song for pulling is done for many reasons, mainly when in a group that is killing mobs very fast and want "chain pulling". You snare the mob next to the one you want to kill first, it will aggro both, but only one will make it to camp with you right away, the other can take an extra 20 seconds to get there so that by the time the first mob dies, the second is just making its way to camp.
Mez can be used in a similar fashion, pull 3 mobs by mez'ing one and having 2 follow you, then otw back to camp mez another. This will mean the mobs will come to camp one by one with an interval in between. It can help keep a dynamic pace to xp'ing when done correctly. One tip is that since the first mob that will come is the first one that was mez'ed, once it is mez'ed, bring the other mobs "away" from the camp before mez'ing them, so that the closest one to camp will come first, then the 2nd one who's farther away from camp will come second (and will have longer to path to make it there, giving you a bigger buffer).
Feedback and comments are very much appreciated, so that this article may be edited and future articles follow a different pattern.