Desert Oasis: Taking a swing with Black Desert’s Tamer and her bō staff


When I first started playing Black Desert, it was because I wanted to play a Dark Knight. From her animations, armors, and that sweet giant knife of hers, the kriegsmesser. (And yes, it’s actually a giant knife.) Her swings felt heavy and every strike had weight to it. I like these edgy “crawling-in-my-skin-these-wounds-they-will-not-heal” types. Ripping into enemies because it feels good to your aching soul.

But imagine my disappointment when I hit level 56.

At level 56, every Black Desert class gets its awakening weapon. I alluded to this a bit in my last article, but I didn’t go in it very deep. Awakening weapons are not simply stat-sticks or stronger versions of the main weapon for each class. Players can freely switch between these weapons with a the press of the C button. They’re completely different weapons that change a class’ playstyle and provide a huge damage boost. The awakening weapon adds a level of complexity to the class as well; players are tasked with finding the optimal combos, using certain skills to animation cancel into different moves, and knowing the keystrokes to swiftly do combos with both weapons.

The Dark Knight gets something called a vediant. It’s some kind of magic glove. With a snap of a finger, she’ll summon either a massive levitating great sword or two smaller swords that float on her back. The vediant allows the dark knight to fling the smaller swords at enemies, swing that greatsword around, and cast medium-range spells. She also gets a slew of movement tools that can help players rush to the next mob or make split-second evasions against player attacks. She’s cool, but she no longer fit my playstyle. She became a mid-range character.

My Dark Knight wasn’t too happy to go from a main to an alt.

Her spells do lots of damage, they’re still purple, and they combo well into other moves in her toolkit. And while her kriegsmesser still features a very important defensive skill through “wheel of fortune.” It provides super armor on a short cooldown – very helpful since she’s relatively squishy too. Her primary means of damage post-awakening becomes spells.

Get your pitchforks ready, because I’ve got a confession to make: I’m not a fan of squishy ranged characters. Getting in front of the action, taking the hits, dodging (or eating) the telegraphs, and dishing out the pain with a sword, axe, katana, spear, spatula and so on is what I live for in MMOs. I love the power trip of knowing that I can confidently say “It’s just a scratch!” after a raid boss totally shellacs my face with a tankbuster. So the Dark Knight’s squishiness was a dealbreaker. I went out to look for another class.

They say to never judge a book by its cover. I’ll admit that I ignored that old adage when it came to Tamer at first. She’s the pet class of the game. At level 54 20 (thank you Nathen!), Tamers unlock the ability to summon Heilang, her giant black dog. Before that, some of her skills involve her channeling his power into her attacks, so a slice of her shortsword also produces three massive claw streaks. She also features a grab, a very useful ability in PvP.

I’ve never been one to play pet classes, either, so she wasn’t exactly my first choice. She always seemed like she was the butt of jokes for many players too. There was the perception that she wasn’t great in PvP and had a pretty slow grind speed, so it wasn’t all that interesting to me at first. And since she looks quite a bit younger than the other classes, Tamer players were also tagged with the stigma that comes along with playing those character types.

I originally had her set as my AFK fisher. I wasn’t going to level her past 49; that would allow me to fish in danger zones without fear of getting PK’d. I didn’t have many plans for her… but that was before I found out her awakening weapon was a bō staff. That pretty much changed everything for me.

If there was one thing the MMO genre could use more of, it would be the bō staff.  A staff can summon demons, call down divine healing from the heavens, and channel the primal energies of nature to level even mighty civilizations. But the true magic of the staff is its simplicity: You just swing it and it’ll hurt.

The Tamer’s gameplay is classified as magic melee. Her attack skills deal magic damage, and she depends on mana to fuel her abilities. Before a Tamer unlocks her bō staff, she uses a shortsword. It’s got an extremely short range, and her toolkit does not have many options for dashing to the next mob. She’s considered pretty slow when it comes to grinding at this point.

But at awakening, she becomes considerably more mobile and we get more defensive options. She’ll get a few dashes, and she gets a side dodge that automatically changes her weapon to the bō if the shortsword is out, plus Heilang also dishes out random crowd control skills and damage. She also gets a block that protects against both magic and melee attacks. That side dodge might not sound much, but considering how you can switch between her weapons without being forced to see an animation, I’d say it has huge implications for how this class plays.

Riding Heilang is half the fun too. No other class can ride their pet!

Ready for a hot take? Black Desert Online has the best bō staff gameplay in the genre. And yes, that’s even taking the Guild Wars 2’s Daredevil and Revenant in consideration. While those classes can fight with a melee staff, they have access to so many other weapons that balancing them is not just limited to the staff itself.

This is one of the few MMOs I can think of at all that have a dedicated class for a bō. And it’s got depth. More advanced Tamers know which skills automatically switch to the shortsword and vice versa to build combos. They also need to know the best way to transition from one mob to the next with their skills. Some of their skills even have a powered-up versions that can be executed under certain conditions. And we cannot ignore just how good it feels to hit stuff with this weapon.

And boy do these moves get flashy. Take her Legendary Beast Dance skill, for example. Depending on the direction button you press when you initiate the skill, a different skill will come out. Holding back and right-click will activate the skill and buff her with a temporary defensive buff. Holding forward and right-click spews out an attack that’ll push enemies back and so on and so forth. And it doesn’t just recycle old animations; each attack has a unique one. My favorite is one where she twirls her flame-engulfed staff over her head before a mighty swing. It’s fun to watch – and even better when it connects.

So now I’ll turn it over to you: What other MMOs can you think of that feature staff fighting? Let me know in the comments – I’m super interested in these archetypes and I’m eager to play them!

The Great Valencian Black Desert is a dangerous place, but thankfully there’s always a chance for respite. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina every other week for just that in Desert Oasis, our Black Desert column! And don’t worry; he promises he won’t PK you. Got questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to send a message!
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