The shapeshifting necromancer
One of the more intriguing archetypes in City of Heroes is one of the Kheldian archetypes – the Warshade. I have played a Warshade now to mid-30s and I must say I really like this archetype, although it has not been an easy road. But when it works out it is a really great and fun one to play!
The Warshade, along with its companion archetype the Peacebringer, are both Kheldians. Kheldians are beings of energy with no physical form, but they can be bound together with a host and form a symbiosis relationship – extending their own lifespan (which is short in unbound form) and providing the host with additional powers. Once a Kheldian have been bound with a host, they can change to the form of that host, even though they may have moved on to a different host. While Kheldians are bound to a host they do not really age and can reportedly live for 1000s of years.
There are three groups of Kheldians; the Peacebringers, the Warshades and the Nictus. The Nictus are the bad guys, having turned to science to develop methods to drain the life force out of other beings, including other Kheldians, to extend their own. The Peacebringers are the good guys of the Kheldians, trying to defeat the Nictus to stop their life sucking. The Warshades are the sort of good guys, being former Nictus that had a change of heart and now work with the Peacebringers against the Nictus. Peacebringers and Warshades are playable archetypes.
Playable Kheldians can have three forms – human, Nova and Dwarf. Human forms are obviously the form of the current hosts they have been bound with there on Earth. The Nova form (a.k.a. the Squid) is a tentacle-shaped flying form, which is a former race the Kheldians merged with that lived in a gas giant planet. Their third form, the Dwarf form (a.k.a. the Lobster) is a heavier form from a race that lived near a Dwarf star. Hence their name Dwarf – they are actually quite big, so it does not refer to their size.
Each form has its own advantages and disadvantages and different powers available depending on which form is used. Kheldians also gets various bonuses when teamed up, depending on what archetypes the team members play. This includes increased damage, increased damage resistance, some mez protection and slow resistance.
The Warshades feed on defeated enemies – there are multiple powers that can heal, recover endurance, increase damage, increase resistance and to hit rate using the essence of the defeated enemies. More defeated enemies – more bonuses. Hence why I referred to it as a necromancer in the headline. Along with the bonuses from other team members this is an archetype that thrives in teams and/or with lots of enemies to beat up. It is even possible to extract the essence of an enemy to fight for you for a short time – even multiple ones.
Warshades have an inherent travel power right from the start, which is a teleport. Both human and Dwarf forms can teleport, while the Nova form flies (makes sense for a creature living in a gas giant).
The Nictus are not sitting quietly waiting for the Peacebringers and Warshades to get them – instead they have formed a special mercenary group called the Void Hunters. These hunters have been infused with Nictus fragments and are also carrying special Quantum Array guns. These guns are tuned to be particularly lethal to Kheldians, plus that the Void Hunters themselves are resistant to the energy damage of the Kheldians. So these guys can be quite painful and they can pop up at any time. Quantum guns are also sold to regular villain groups, so sometimes one will also encounter a regular villain with such a gun. While not as deadly as the Void Hunters, they can still be lethal for a Kheldian.
It is perhaps one of the more challenging archetypes in the game to play though – you can gimp yourself and it is not easy starting out understanding the archetype and how to choose and use powers. Gimping yourself is also not only about slotting the powers, but also about mindset.
When I originally started my warshade I was more than a bit frustrated with it and was almost about to give up on him. Then I read The MFing Warshade. This if one of the best player guides to an archetype/class I have read for any game. Granted, I do not read that many player guides so I do not have not a huge amount to compare with. But this guide is great in that it focuses more on giving the mindset and and basic advice and ways to think when it comes to creating your character build, without giving the exact details – those you figure out for yourself.
The guide gives some solid advice and is well written. It is not the only way to play a Warshade, but the way it is written it gives a good insight on how to approach the archetype. A great read!
In particular the the mindset that you are always the three forms available at any time and constantly switch between them helps a lot, both with how to play the character as well as thinking about power choices and slotting. In a tri-form set-up the human form will be “the battery” and primary energy/health provider for the warshade, the Nova form the high damage dealer and the Dwarf form the damage soaker/protector/tank. As the situation changes, you switch between the forms to do what they do best.
The Kheldians used to be the “epic” archetypes on hero side that were unlocked if you leveled another hero to level 50. This later changed so that you only needed to get another hero to level 20 to unlock the Kheldians. Now after City of Heroes: Freedom was launched they have become a purchaseable archetype which is included in the VIP subscription. So if you are VIP you can start one right away, no need to get to level 20 with another character. If you are not VIP you have to pay to unlock it.