On a level 28 rr11 SW:
I've tried respecializing between the 3 masteries several times for PvE and PvP. Each time I tend to play in a similar way but make small adjustments for the abilities I have. I have not found that changing my specialisation greatly changes my playstyle, more that it just affects how successful I am in that playstyle.
In solo PvE I tend to use Broadhead Arrow and Takedown for each mob as well as Spiral-fletch shot or Festering shot depending where my points are. I use flame shot if I'm in a group and pulling lots of mobs, between the flame shot cool down I tend to just plug a few spiral shots in. The other abilities are used for emergencies or special circumstances. Due to the way the content of the game is spread at the moment I often find that any quests/pq I am doing are slightly higher level than myself and so are the mobs. This isn't a problem with the SW but explains that I am usually attacking mobs roughly 0-4 levels higher than myself. Issues I have had are as follows:
The build time for scout stance shots is so long I only get the first shot and 1 other before I am in melee with most mobs. If I have taken scout mastery high this will usually mean I am entering melee with the mob on approximately half health, if the mob dodged one of the arrows, it will have 3/4 health. The ensuing melee will be drawn out and tedious, usually ending with a win for myself but also some downtime.
I would get a third shot off but after another 2-3 seconds build the mob is within 5 feet (this will hopefully be remedied by the idea RHinkle_EAMythic put forth)
I haven't found the assault stance worth using. With all 18 points into assault I still could not make up the difference that an archery shot or 2 would have made with points spent elsewhere. I possibly didn't give it a chance, I gave up on it less than an hour into testing it.
I tend to spend 90% of my time in PvE in skirmish stance. Unless I want to get a festering shot off before switching back to skirmish I will often just remain in skirmish stance whilst solo. Whilst grouping I will flit between Skirmish and Scout, with only flame shot being the reason to go scout.
Overall the damage of the SW in PvE, compared to other ranged DPS, is either poor (solo) or very poor (grouped).
AoE performance is very poor compared to BW, Sorc (and magus if it hasn't changed too much), AoE is actually worse than some other classes such as WP, as flame shot is on a very long reuse timer and does low damage. AoE performance does not worry me too much except that AoE DPS is the preferred method of levelling at the moment with XP rewards so low.
Single target DPS is nearer the mark and nearly comparable to other ranged DPS providing a) your weapon is high DPS for your level b) you can stand 5 feet away from your target (not always possible in dangerous areas. If these two criteria are met then the SW DPS may approach similar levels to the BW/Sorc although in my experience the SW has to work harder and maneuver much more just to manage similar results as a BW hitting 2/3 buttons.
I have had a reasonable amount of success in PvP, which I put down to other players prioritising healers and BW before the SW in large fights. I am often able to plug arrows into various classes for some time before I am attacked. In small scale fights I tend to do reasonably, the damage output of the SW is enough to drop any non-tank class in a reasonable time. I put this down to the huge amount of crits I tend to get. Looking over my log, crit chance is somewhere around 40% normally and 90% after I use Eyeshot. I assume this is due to low initiatives on most players.
I tend to use skirmish stance in small scale RvR, switching to scout stance for throat shot regularly, but otherwise only to throw out a festering arrow or flame shot to reap some RPs from other people's work. Spiral-fletched arrow is pretty much the meat of the damage I do, either using it as I chase a caster or as I back away from an oncoming melee.
If I get caught in PvP I will tend to die very quickly regardless of healing. This is fair enough if the class is destined for Glass Cannon style play, but does not bode well for Assault Mastery
My biggest issues and worries with the SW:
The SW is overshadowed in PvE by nearly every class, not damage wise but usefulness to a group. The only class I would want less in a PvE group I was making would be a second tank.
In solo PvE, the SW often has to go toe-to-toe in melee with mobs, due to being jumped on by a respawn or add. Whilst the SW has Flee and whirling pin, flee essentially means you lost that encounter and Whirling Pin is on a medium recast and activating a large AoE in many areas is not a good idea. I have found that kiting tends to be one of the more successful methods of PvE for the SW and this does not mesh well with groups or many mob types.
I do not like the way switching Stances works at the moment. With no cooldown (either global or per stance) it is incredibly easy to just hit the stance an ability needs then then the ability immediately after. If WAR has a similar macro system to DAoC then there will be little point to the stances at all, with each player replacing abilities on the hotbar for a 2 line macro to switch to that stance and fire the ability. As it is at the moment, anyone who "stance dances" is just doing it the hard way.
If I stand around and let a melee class beat on my SW, he tends to last between 10 seconds for Marauder/WE and 20 seconds from Chosen. The other way around, the marauder will take around 35-45 seconds to die in melee to my Assault mastery SW. The chosen takes much longer. Assault is not even close to viable as a playstyle at the moment.
Ranges seem too short on some abilities. 65 feet range on core abilities such as Broadhead arrow and Takedown mean that these mesh well only with skirmish stance abilities. The choices for a SW in scout stance at 90 feet are very limited. If the target decides to run from the fight there is nothing the SW can do but watch the other player skip out of sight.
In group RvR, the utility abilities last longer that any target stays alive, but the cooldown is too long to apply these effects to more than every other or every third target. Especially takedown.
5 foot minimum range. I see the logic of not being able to fire a bow at someone in melee, but not being able to fire at someone 3 feet away who is not even looking/targetting you is frustrating. In PvE encounters this often means moving around and being the one person away from the melee who catches extra unwanted aggro.
The Detaunt for SW is a bow ability with a 5 foot minimum range. I have never used it due to not wanting to lower my DPS by having to throw this at mobs before they aggro and go to melee range. Worst ability the SW has.
Things I love about the SW.
Subtlety. I like the understated (for the most part) bow attacks, this helps to make the SW a bit of an ambusher, as the Warhammer Lore would have them.
The look of the SW is very good, I especially like the shoulder armor parts that act as cowls. Hooded cloaks will be great on the SW.
The ability to move and fight. I love the maneuverability of the SW again this helps the hit-and-run, ambush feel of the class.
The utility of the SW in RvR groups. Although I feel there is some way to go with these abilities, the SW brings some useful abilities to groups. The only problem is the cooldowns tend to be too long.
General: Vengeance doesn't seem to do a whole lot. I think almost every ability should have a secondary effect while in Vengeance mode. Right now I rarely use this ability unless I want to pop a Flank Shot. My overall consistent DPS is pretty good, but its not often I get to do that. Burst damage seems pretty low for an RDPS class considering BWs and Sorcs and that Zealot dot that can crit for 500 which is way more than I can in anything but one attack in Scout Stance while Scout Spec'd and it has a cooldown. BWs and Sorcs get as much utility as we do. We should get the ability to do somewhat comparable DPS. I suggest improving DoTs and long buildtime abilities damage.
Skirmish: Still very fun to play run in and out for hit and run tactics while circle kiting and going behind trees then popping back out and hitting someone again. The problem arises when there are lots of other RDPS on the other side who have greater range than you (i.e. Sorcs). They just unload so much damage on me that its very difficult to play this style when if I close the range I still cannot out damage them. My only chance is to silence > dot > heal debuff > barrage > spiral fletched arrow all while hiding behind a tree and popping out and shooting. If I fight them in an open field I'm toast. The tactic that extends the duration of the debuffs is AMAZING. Any chance it can be improved to also increase the duration of Black arrow (the healing debuff one?) it may possibly be OP to do that though so I'm not sure if I recommend it.
Flank Shot: Its awesome in idea but with the 10 second cooldown and requirement to be behind the target it makes it hard to use much. I'll be shooting at their back and they will turn right at the end of my build time and cancel the shot. Its very fustrating. Perhaps give it a hefty damage or crit chance boost (not counting vengence).
My dmg rotation in RvR: Eye Shot > Broadhead > Black Arrow > Spiral Fletched > Spiral Fletched.
I feel that Skirmish is really missing some burst damage. Perhaps give an attack that requires ailment that hits very hard or has a high chance to crit without vengence.
Scout: This spec finds its strides in the ranged stand offs currently going on in 24+ RvR. Stand in the back or sneak to the sides while dropping some AoE attacks into their lines and maybe some single target dps if you think you can do it and get away without dying. The loss of the healing debuff makes this line less effective by far for the amount of damage it does. This line needs a deeper specialization. Better AoEs or better single target DPS. It is currently missing both of those.
Make Scout good at something except standing still at range. Good AoE or Good single target DPS. It is currently not matching a BW or Sorc even remotely close.
Assault: Due to the ineffectiveness of melee in open field RvR this spec is nigh impossible to really play effectively. However by specing into the 3 second stun ability I am able to solo anyone as long as I have AP if I am able to get into melee range. They are perma-stunned. I use the stun attack and step back and shoot an arrow special attack step back in and stun them again repeat. This attack is seriously OP in 1v1 situations and really in any situation when you do not have to be afraid of getting focus fired.
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