I have been using pets as a Minstrel in both RvR and PvE for a very long time now, and I have gathered quite a bit of knowledge on the subject. Many other minstrels have come to me asking how I do the things I do, and what they can do to make it easier for them to use pets. Here, I will try to provide as much of the information I have learned as I can.
This document is currently under revision, so it might not be complete. I will be making changes as I can.
The Minstrel Beastmaster is a very powerful class. We have the ability to charm a pet of more than yellow con (with the right skills and gear), and the class (as a whole) was balanced by Mythic while NOT including the possible damage from a pet. This is probably because too many people are afraid to use Minstrel charm in it's current form, and thus Mythic tried to make sure we can actually kill something without a pet. That means, if we can do all that and use a pet too, we can be truely super powerful.
Getting a pet
Now, let me explain our charm song. Our charm is an instant pulsing shout with remarkably long range. To charm something, you can target it with the mouse or by tapping F8(nearest enemy) enough times to target what you want. I usually use the mouse for this, since F8 doesn't have anywhere near the range that our charm has. Charm needs to be mapped to a quickbar button. when you click charm, or press the corresponding key, the critter will instantly be charmed(as long as you are not currently in combat mode). Either that, or it will instantly aggro on you, if the charm fails. The creature will immediately be charmed, and it's settings will be set to Defensive, and follow. that means that upon charming, the pet will run directly toward you. Be aware that once you charm your pet, it becomes a friend of the realm. If there are other mobs around your pet at the time you charm it that would normally be aggressive to you, they will now also be aggresive to your pet, and will immediatly attack it if they are within agro range of it. Your pet will stop to fight it because it is in defensive mode. You can join your new pet to fight it's new enemy, or set your pet to passive to get it to continue to run to you, dragging it's aggroed enemy with it. either way, you're gonna have to fight the add before your pet is home free - UNLESS you keep your pet on passive, turn the other way, and sprint away. As long as your pet is above half health, he will speed up to catch you, even if he is taking damage. Personally, I've taken many pets out of heavy aggro areas without having to fight anything.
Another possibility is that you are not allowed to attempt to charm that type of creature. If this happens, you'll see your notes above the targets head, but it will ignore you, and not aggro. This is useful because it allows you to pretty safely test what you can charm. As long as you stick to creatures cons that you know you can beat, then you can try to charm everything you see, and if you can't charm it, you just won't.
Pet Experience reduction
Like other pet classes, if your pet does damage to the mob you are fighting, it will absorb some of the experience you will gain for killing that mob. Luckily, however, it does not absorb 100% of the experience in proportion to the damage it does, so even if you let the pet do ALL the damage to a mob, you will get plenty of experience for the kill. The more damage you contribute to the fight, the less percent of experience your pet will take, so if you both do 1/2 the damage to a mob, your pet will take half of the experience away that he would take if he killed the mob alone. This effect may sound bad at first, remember that as your pet contributes damage, it helps you kill the mob faster, which reduces the damage you are exposed to, which reduces your downtime, which lets you kill more of the same mobs faster. The increase in potential killing speed makes up for the drain on experience.
The pulsing charm shout
The Minstrel can "Charm" pets. It's as if every few seconds, your Minstrel says nice things to your pet to convince it to continue it's service. The actual "charm song" is a pulsing shout. That means that it's not only instant, but it contstantly pulses to renew the effect on the pet. It pulses once every five seconds to keep the pet under control. Theoretically, it's a song so it doesn't require any instrument to be equiped, and that means that you can equip your sword and shield, and fight along side your pet as you continue to control it. The charm effect will last about 9 1/2 seconds on the pet after each pulse. This means there is an overlap so that your pet will be re-charmed 4 1/2 seconds before the charm wears off. If the pet happens to resist one charm pulse, however, the monster will loose his charm effect and attack you after 4 1/2 more seconds. Usually, the next charm pulse will re-charm the pet 1/2 second later, but often this 1/2 second is enough time for your pet to maybe take a swing at you. Additionally, anytime the pet looses his charm effect, he will forget his attack disposition settings (aggressive, passive, stay, follow, etc), and any Self BUFFs he might have cast on himself(Concentration buffs or casted buffs from a player cleric or wiz/thug will stick on the pet). If you were in the middle of a fight, this means that your pet will now stop attacking the monster you were both working on, and that monster will stop attacking your pet and turn to attack you. When the pet becomes re-charmed, it will turn back to attack the monster target, but the monster usually will continue to attack you anyway. If you had used your Confuse shout, the monster will be randomly attacking either of you anyway, so it won't matter.
If your pet resists the second charm pulse in a row, then it will attack you for more than just the 1/2 second, it will attack for the full 5 1/2 seconds it takes before the next pulse. Some pets, depending on their CON color, resist quite a lot more than 2 pulses in a row. This can be a problem, and it CAN be avoided.
Fighting with your pet
Let's first take a look at how combat with a pet works. When you have your pet charmed, the pulsing shout will keep charming the same pet, no matter what you target. That means that you can target a monster, and attack it, and your pet will continue to be charmed by the pulse as you fight. When you attack a mob, your pet will join your fight. Note that if your pet is in defensive mode, it will not attack your target when you attack it, but it will respond as soon as your target hits you back. If you're joining a fight with group mates, and don't get any aggro, and therefore don't get hit back, your pet will just stand there and watch. To fix this, you can click the attack key to explicitly tell your pet to attack. If your pet is in passive mode, he will not attack anything. It used to be that a pet in passive mode would not do anything if you commanded it to attack. That has been changed - now, if your pet is on passive, and you press the attack key, it will automatically change it's disposition to Defend, and begin attacking the target you told it to attack. A pet with healing abilities will heal you in defend mode.
As you fight, your pet might resist a charm pulse. If this happens, and you don't do anything about it, the pet WILL turn on you at least long enough to have the monster loose all memory of aggression on your pet, AND your pet will forget it's attack disposition(will be set back to defensive/follow). To stop this, you need to re-assert the charm before the effect wears off. To do that, you quickly target your pet(by double-tapping F9, for example). Next, you press the charm key to CANCEL the charm effect. You will see a message in your system chat box that says "You cancel your effect." This does not actually release your pet, but rather just stops the pulse effect. The pet will still be charmed until that 9 1/2 seconds expires from the last successfull charm pulse. Remember, though, that since your pet has resisted one already, you have less than 4 1/2 left before the charm effect stops. Next, press your charm key again to re-assert charm. Since charm is a pulsing SHOUT, it will instantly apply a new pulse on your pet, restarting the 9 1/2 second timer, and the 5 second pulses. Now, it's important to watch for another resist message. If your pet resists again, you'll need to cancel the charm effect, and start it again. You might have to repeat this "doubletapping" until your pet doesn't resist any more. (Keep doing this even if your pet totally looses the charm effect and turns on you, as long as you are out of combat.) Next, you retarget your original monster, and get back to attacking it. You can do this by either clicking on it, or pressing F8 again, since odds are that it is the nearest enemy. Be careful though, in a thick fight, this might target the wrong enemy, which might break a mez or root.
IF you do this correctly, and QUICKLY, you will find you can maintain persistant control of even the most difficult to control pets. The best part is that since Charm is a SHOUT, with no recast timer, you can activate it and deactivate it again and again with no delay. It boils down to this- When you see a Charm Resist message, Target your pet, doubletap charm, check for another resist, and then retarget your enemy, and restart combat(just press a style button). If you see another resist, just doubletap charm again until you Don't see a resist. Difficult pets will resist several times in a row.
Some not-so-charming Problems with Charm
This technique is not without it's pitfalls. I'll review some of the problems now.
First, it's important to know that you don't have to keep your pet targeted to keep it charmed, as long as you don't mess with the charm pulse button. If you neglect to re-assert charm when your pet resists, it will attack you, but it will come back, as long as you trust the charm pulse. even if it resists twice in a row, it will only attack for 5 seconds before the next pulse (usually about two attacks). If you don't like this, you need to manually maintain your charm as I explained above.
If you do mess around with your Charm pulse, it's important to know that you can CANCEL the charm effect without targeting your pet. That means that if you accidently press the charm effect key, you will cancel the effect, and your pet will attack you after the effect wears off, and you won't be able to re-charm it until you retarget it. This problem also occurs if you activate any other songs, or your ablative chant. Other songs have the effect of canceling charm in addition to playing those songs. (in one press) To be safe, always have your pet targeted when you mess with the charm system.
Another problem with maintaining charm is that you will need to have access to the charm button. That means that if you have a quickbar designed for fighting, you will want to use one of the 10 keys for a charm button. This means a little less space for styles and shouts. This also means that you increase the risk of cancelling the charm by accident if you press the key by mistake. Luckily, since you can charm without holding an instrument first, you don't need to have instruments on your combat quickbar. Also, if you already have your weapons equiped, you don't need them on your combat quickbar if you plan to maintain charm too. You also have the option of binding your equipment slots to keyboard keys, so you might not need instruments or weapons ANYWHERE on your quickbar.
The Minstrel is all about control. We play a class that was intentionally designed by Mythic to be control intensive. With good Quickbar layout, understanding of control systems, and good style, you can master most situations.
First, I'll mention that although Mythic has given us two ways to play our characters, I personally use both, and switch back and forth continuously. The normal mode that most people seem to play in is where they use the arrow keys to make their character move around. (this is pretty obvious from all the complains that people accidently scroll up their chat text while trying to run and pressing the shift key.) In this mode, your mouse pointer is always available to click on targets and objects (and quickbar buttons). The other mode is the Mouselook mode. In this mode, your character turns and looks in response to mouse movements, and walks forward or backward in response to mouseclicks. Targeting is done using F7, F8, or F9 (depending on your settings). This mode allows a more natural feeling of full immersion when playing, but makes it trickier to target things. I have become acustomed to switching back and forth. I probably press my M key more than any other key while playing DAoC to switch back and forth. I mention this, because of it's heavy involvment in how I personally control my pets.
Second, I'll mention that mastering charm means having good control over you quickbars and your targetting systems, because you're going to need to be able to use both smoothly to be a great beastmaster. Since you're playing a Minstrel, I've already given you credit for being talented at controling a DAoC class. If you want to be able to play your Minstrel well, while at the same time controlling a powerful pet, you're going to need to be ready to double your workload.
When it comes to targeting, you're going to need to be able to do more than just target an enemy and /stick to it. You're going to need to be able to rapidly change your current target from your enemy to your pet and back, possibly several times during an engagement. There are several ways to handle this. If you like to use the arrow keys to run around, then you will likely use your mouse to click on your targets. This usually works the best, but sometimes the screen can get filled up with enemies, making it difficult to click on the right mob, or your pet. In hi-lag situations, you might even have turned off the names feature, even making it dangerous to try to target with the mouse. Another way to handle targeting is to use F8 (Nearest Enemy) and F9 (Nearest Friendly). These keys work best for people who use mouselook to drive and play. Both keys will cycle through all nearby enemies or friendlies as you repeatedly tap the buttons. To target a mob, you can press F8 to target the nearest one. If you didn't get the one you want, you tap it again and it will cycle through all the near mobs within it's range. I like to watch the mobs health bars as I cycle through to make sure I'm selecting the right one (don't break mez!) If you want to target your pet, you could doubletap F9. This works because when you press it once, it targets yourself. When you press it again, it will target the next nearest friendly target, which is USUALLY your own pet, since it usually follows you everywhere. This doesn't always work, because sometimes, other friendly players will get closer to you than your pet will. In these cases, I either press F9 a few more times, or I go back to pointer mode, and just click on my pet. It's also very important to note that while your pet is charmed, he counts as a friendly target, selectable with F9, but if he resists and looses his charm, he will count as an enemy target, and you'll have to use F8 to target him instead. Sometimes, however, when the screen is full of action, and my pet is not near me, I resort to the last method of targeting my pet, which is to click it's NAME in the Pet window. This will always successfully target my pet, even if he's out of view attacking something, or chasing someone down without me. This can be useful to know, especially if your pet is far enough away that it can be hard to click, and you need to call him back before he gets blasted at a portal keep.
Setting up your quickbars to play a Minstrel is truely an art form of its own, and I have written many articles already on that topic. When it comes to Minstrel Charm, however, organizing your quickbars to include charm in an already complicated system of instruments, songs, shouts, styles, abilities, and RA's is like trying to add the popcorn strings to an already decorated christmas tree.
You're going to need the charm ability available on the quickbar almost all the time. When in combat, you need the ability to doubletap charm quickly when trying to battle resists. When doing support, you need to have access to charm to twist it with Mana song and Motivational Anthems or even the heal song. Additionally, you will want direct access to the pet's commands like Attack, passive, defensive, stay, and follow. When playing in PvE, you will also find it handy to have access to the Confuse shout, since it's a very good way to get a mob to distribute damage between you and your pet, reducing down time.
Since quickbar setup is such a subjective topic with each Minstrel wanting his own design, I will simply mention in this guide how I personally have set up mine to handle the various situations that I have come across. I'll also add that my quickbars are constantly being changed based on my situation. When I feel like charming, I add in the charm components, and when I don't I remove them in favor of some macros like /stick and /face.
Traveling with a pet, twisting speed and charm
You can twist your speedsong with your pulsing charm shout. The important thing to remember is that you must keep your pet targeted at ALL times while you twist, otherwise you'll be getting attacked by your pet when the pulse effect wears off.
Here is how I do it. First, I typically start off without my pet. I'll play speedsong as I speed through the zone looking for my ideal pet. I've set the first three buttons on my first quick bar as follows:
I did this because whenever I zone, DAoC always sets me back to my first quickbar, and I almost always want speed up ASAP after I zone. Once I find my ideal pet, I'll target that pet, and tap charm once. The pet will immediately be charmed, and run toward me. If the charm gets resisted, I'll just doubletap charm until it's not resisted. Then, I'll turn and run off to my intended playground for the night. The speedsong will be de-activated as soon as I activate charm, but only if charm is successful. The speedsong pulse will usually last long enough to make sure my charm didn't get resisted, and then I'll begin twisting. To twist, I'll KEEP MY NEW PET TARGETED, then press speedsong again. I should already have my drum equiped, since I was already playing speedsong. After beginning speedsong, I'll wait for the speedsong effect to "take". When you play speedsong, your Minstrel avatar does a little dance as he plays his drum. The effect will usually "take" about the time he's bending over forward, but if you really want to be sure, then watch your endurance meter, because you will loose a tiny bit of enduance each time you start your song. Once the speedsong "takes" then press Charm again once. Since your pet is already targeted, and since beginning speedsong de-activates the charm pulse, pressing charm once will re-assert your charm. techincally, after pressing charm, you can immediately re-start your speedsong. This information is useful when twisting TWO songs with charm, but when twisting just speedsong with charm, I usually will wait a few seconds after re-asserting charm before playing speedsong again, since the speedsong pulse lasts long enough, and I don't want to wear out my drum so fast(not to mention wearing out my hands). What this amounts to is basically just tapping 2, waiting for it to take, then 3, waiting a few seconds, then repeat. Since 2 and 3 are so close together, it's really easy on the hands.
When you get to the point where you want to target something else, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure the last key you pressed was charm before you target something else. If the last key you pressed was speedsong, then you MUST tap charm before targeting anything new besides your pet. I recommend waiting until the speedsong "Takes" before you press that last charm if you can stand to wait. sometimes, If I press charm too soon after starting a song, it doesn't activate the pulses.
I will continue to work on this guide this weekend. It still needs a HELL of alot of fine-tuning, spellchecking, and re-writing. But I'm at work and want to go home. So, here it is.
Here are some of the topics I expect to cover as I continue to write this:
grouping with a pet, twisting speed and power and charm
mezzing with a pet, twisting mez and charm
Using confuse with a pet
aoe mezzing and demezzing with a pet
mapping pet commands to the quickbar
adjusting the color of spell resist messages so they are more noticable
getting mezzed while you have a pet
escaping mez with your pet
getting your own pet un-mezzed
releasing a pet
recharmed pets remember their aggro target
super pet healing speed
Topics remaining for me to learn about
high level pets
pets with spells
how instrument level affects charm
RED CON PETS
difference between defensive and aggressive
If, after reading through this guide you feel that you have more to contribute to the common good of the Minstrel Class, please feel free to E-mail me directly at TrimbleEpic@HotMail.Com
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