One of the features that distinguishes skirmishes from other types of instances is your skirmish soldier. Each player character is allowed to summon a companion who fights along with them during the skirmish.
There are two areas where you may normally summon a skirmish soldier. The first is within a skirmish, which is the location for which they are intended.
You can also summon your soldier in a housing neighborhood. This can be handy when testing out various cosmetics as each neighborhood also includes a skirmish bard where you can swap your soldier’s traits (alas, you still need to visit a skirmish camp to purchase the cosmetic attributes themselves).
In addition, you are allowed to purchase tokens that allow you to summon your soldier for one hour in the general landscape. You will only be charged for the time your soldier is present and your soldier is automatically dismissed when you enter an area where skirmish soldiers are not allowed (such as in a dungeon).
There are six soldier roles. Most players will train one or two soldiers that fit with their class, traits, and style. I only recommend training more than that if you have more marks than you know what to do with. A quick description of each of the soldiers is given below but I will delve more deeply into their traits and characteristics in the next few lessons.
The archer’s role is straightforward: single-target ranged damage. This makes then one of the easiest soldiers to manage. Ranged soldiers generally stay put in combat and single-target soldiers rarely grab the attention of more than one mob at a time. I find that a real nice combination. Their medium armor allows them to survive the small number of mobs that they typically pull.
The bannerguard’s role is probably the toughest to define. Yes, bannerguards performs single-target melee attacks but this is far from their primary duty. As they name implies, they carry a banner that provides you with additional armor protection. They also have skills that can heal, inflict heavy damage, or taunt the enemy. They can thus fill a variety of roles. The best summary is “Jack of all trades and master of none.”
The herbalist’s role is even more straightforward than the archer’s: healing. They have no attack skills but instead are there to heal your morale (or even your power). They are a favorite in larger group runs, especially raids. When a player bothers to train two soldiers, one of them is generally an herbalist.
Herbalists do have a habit of attracting the attention of mobs. Fortunately, they can heal themselves and thus can often survive this attention in solo skirmishes despite their light armor.
While the herbalist has some limited tanking ability, the protector is the master tank. Their heavy armor and taunts ensure that they can gain the attention of the enemy and take a beating.
The sage specializes in tactical damage that includes debuffs. The net result is that they can easily gain the attention of numerous mobs. This is not good news for a soldier that uses light armor. I only recommend this soldier if you or someone you generally group with is skilled at keeping the attention of your soldiers.
One other matter to consider with the sage is that this is the only soldier that does not do common damage. This rarely makes a major difference in skirmishes, though it can be a bonus when fighting a pack of wolves in Tuckborough or a detriment when fighting a candelabra of limrafn in Dannenglor.
When I discussed the archer, I noted that I liked single-target ranged soldiers. Therefore, it should be little surprise that I am less inclined to like multi-target melee soldiers. That is exactly what the warrior is. If you run a skirmish with a warrior, you will want the enemy to be bunched together to allow your soldier to inflict damage on as many of the enemy as possible.
Your soldier is the same level as you are when you summon them. So if you summon a soldier while you are level 20 and you reach level 21 during the course of the skirmish, then you should resummon your soldier at the earliest opportunity to level your soldier.
You soldier’s level affects some basic abilities but even more important are your soldiers traits.
A soldier’s traits represent their traits and equipment. There are four classes of soldier traits: Attributes, Skills, Training, and Personal.
The only important attribute is your soldier’s role. You can only equip one role at a time. If you do not have a role equipped, then you have a default soldier that you will find to be very weak (especially when running higher-level skirmishes). The remaining four attributes alter the appearance of your soldier (race/gender, hair style, hair color, and outfit).
A soldier’s skills define their special attacks (or other actions). Each soldier type has their own set of skills. I will detail each of the skills available for a soldier during the lessons for the individual soldiers.
A soldier’s training increases the potency of that soldier’s actions.
Personal traits are similar to training except that they affect your actions rather than those of your soldier. Personal traits are only available within a skirmish and do not depend on the presence or absence of your soldier.
Non-cosmetic soldier traits have a rank. When you first train the trait, it is at rank 1 (some of the traits you earn when you complete the tutorial are at rank 2 instead). The higher your rank in a trait, the better it is.
Each rank has an associated level. You can determine the associated level through the tool-tip when you hover your mouse over the trait. The optimal rank is the rank that is closest to your current level. Why not just rank your soldier above your level? You can but there is an adjustment to the cost of ranking your soldier based on the difference of your level and the associated level of the rank you are purchasing. Therefore, it will be much more expensive to purchase Rank 30 on your level-20 character than on your level-85 character. A list of which ranks are associated with which level is below.
The other matter to consider concerning ranks is that you have a cap of your skirmish traits based on what expansions you have purchased (or you can purchase skirmish cap increases separately).
In out next lesson, we will start to take a deeper look into the different soldiers.
Until then, way your shield protect you and your spear never break,