((This guide was created by Turb0T of the EQ2 Forums. All credit for this guide goes to him. To see the original post click here.))

I'm currently a L43 bruiser on Splitpaw, and have noticed that there isn't a guide to the bruiser subclass on these boards. While I've not seen the raiding or high level side of the game, I hope young bruisers will find this useful. If you have corrections/additions for the guide please post them below and I'll maintain an edited version.

Acknowledgements to the bruisers of Norrath who have contributed material in the EQ2 forums!

1. What defines the brawler class?

A brawler is a fighter that wears leather or lighter armour, relying on avoidance to reduce damage taken rather than the mitigation offered by heavier armour. The idea is to get hit as little as possible, because you won't take the hits as well as a chain or plate wearing class. Brawlers can only use a limited set of melee and ranged weapons, generally favouring crushing type weapons like knuckles, fist wraps or batons, though staves and hammers can be wielded also. Combat style is 'up close and personal'. A brawler has the ability to feign death... a special move that can (but not always) fool enemies into believing you are dead, saving your butt. Brawlers have a small heal they can use, the ability to dispel stun/mental effects, and the ability to deflect/avoid attacks from all sides.

This all-round set of skills can make the bruiser a fun solo or group class to play, whether tanking or off-tanking in groups.

2. Bruisers are Freeport-based

If you want to be a bruiser, you need to be based in Freeport rather than Qeynos. So you need to pick a neutral or evil race, or if you pick a good aligned race you'll need to do the Qeynos to Freeport Betrayal Quest. You must begin betrayal before you reach Level 18, otherwise you'll be stuck in Qeynos. Starting it at L16 or 17 is ideal. Of the named betrayal quest mobs, only Dinas is non-soloable. For the easiest orcs to kill, visit the Ruins zone. To find other betrayers in the Commonlands who might help you, try using '/w neutral'.

3. How do bruisers differ from monks?

Bruisers are meaner! In practice the classes are very similar, but there are some differences. Bruisers tend to have higher mitigation and lower avoidance, for example, so will be hit a little more often but for slightly less damage. This fits our 'roughing it, up close and personal' theme. Bruisers get a group DPS buff, while monks can raise group haste. Bruisers can self-buff STR and AGI, while monks buff STR and WIS.

Bruisers have short fear (8 second at L30, 12 second at L50) and mesmerise (14 second) skills, on 60 and 30 second timers respectively. Their heal can be used more frequently (every 90 seconds) than a monk's heal, but the monk can heal other players. Monks of course get their own special abilities, including invisibility.

4. What's the best bruiser race?

There is no 'best' race as such, since stats can always be enhanced by items, and the starting stat differences are relatively small by the higher levels, but it's prudent to take a race with at least decent strength, agility and stamina as a fighter. There are some useful racial traditions, e.g. +defence helps avoidance (though the effect is not as important as it used to be), while ultravision is useful for fighting at night.

The best advice is to pick a race you like the look of, since you'll be playing it for months if you want to make L50+. I chose barbarian for the all round stats and the beefy look.

5. Which stats are important?

Strength affects damage and your total power pool, agility improves avoidance, stamina gives more health, wisdom enhances spell resistance and intelligence boosts spell damage.

Thus if you want to tank, agility and stamina are probably most important, but if you are mainly soloing or off tanking, strength will be useful. It can be useful to carry two sets of (some) armours around with +sta/agi (tanking) and +str (off-tanking) bonuses so you can tweak your setup as the need arises.

6. How good is my DPS?

You will do more DPS (damage per second) if you play a scout or mage class, in particular a predator or sorcerer. However, a brawler has the highest DPS of any tank class, and can use most skills from the front toe-to-toe, while scouts have a number of attacks that require rear positioning to use. Our burst DPS in short fights can be very good, but re-use timers make it impossible to sustain. I happen to have an assassin alt, and while he does far more damage when grouped (using his side/rear attacks freely while someone else takes the aggro) I find the bruiser solos more easily because, Sucker Punch line aside, we unload all our damage from the front.

7. What does a bruiser bring to a group?

A bruiser can be main tank (MT) or off-tank (OT). As the OT, a bruiser can do respectable DPS, and offer the MT a very useful avoidance bonus (an additional chance to avoid each incoming melee attack). The bruiser has a debuff that can keep the melee skills of an enemy significantly lower for the bulk of an encounter, and a small but useful group melee DPS buff. The bruiser's fear and intimidate lines can get an add off a healer or similar squishy teammate for a few seconds in an emergency.

8. How good are bruisers at tanking high con Epic mobs?

Since Live Update 13, a bruiser's ability to tank has improved, helped by the new stances as well as other factors. However, whether bruisers can tank the big mobs as well as plate classes is a subject of hot debate. Most still seem to think a plate tank is the way to go for the big encounters; the bruiser avoidance goes down against higher con enemies, meaning they get hit more and then have less mitigation to handle the hits. Healers tend to be happier with more gradual HP loss of plate tanks, rather than the 'bursty' brawler HP loss. But for general grouping, a bruiser is more than fine.

Bruisers do have less taunting ability, but in theory make up for that by generating hate through higher DPS. There's an interesting pre-LU13 story by Moorgard posted here.

9. Where can I find a complete skill list for L1-60?

With Desert of Flames and the big combat system revamp, many old lists are outdated. There is a good list in this thread by Jezekiell, and SoE has also now updated its official list available here.

10. What attack skills do bruisers use?

It is the crushing skill (not the fist skill) that is used to determine the success or failure of bruiser attacks. Most bruiser weapons will do crushing damage, but you can find some that will do slashing or piercing damage, and it can be useful to carry a variety of weapons in case (when!) the mobs you encounter have different damage type resistences. A Cestii weapon will do slashing damage while a Cestus weapon does piercing.

11. What stance should I use?

Bruisers have an offensive, a defensive, and a 'combined' stance. These can be switched between freely and cost no concentration points to use. Because you can switch stances mid-fight, don't be afraid to go more offensive if you're not taking damage, or vice-versa.

In most tanking situations the defensive stance is best - you lower your attack skills but raise your defence (avoidance) and mitigation (you take less damage). Bruisers gain a particularly large poison protection while in their defensive stance. If you are the OT, then use your offensive stance to raise your attack skills. If you pull aggro, switch quickly to the defensive stance. Neither uses any concentration slots. When soloing, the best stance depends on the mobs... experiment!

There 'combined' Fire Stance at L44 offers you an all-round minor boost, and you also get extra damage procs, bigger procs if you go unarmed.

12. What tactics should I use when soloing?

There are a few hints that can help when soloing.

- If the fight will last more than 90 seconds, use your heal as soon as you've taken as much damage as the heal gives back; this allows you to use it again if needed at the tail end of a fight. If you get low on power you can melee it out and use your heal for a little 'boost'.

- Use the Eye Gouge line early, and keep it up, as this is a big debuff.

- The Sucker Punch line has nice damage, but can only be used from the side/rear, so use a stun or mes attack first to allow you to move to the rear. If you also use the Rapid Swings line from the rear, you'll be more likely to land all attacks/hits for max damage. Be sure not to use the Break Through line before the mes, because the DoT (damage over time) component can break the mes.

- The Crash skill line does more damage if you knock the enemy down first, so use the Fierce Punch line first, and immediately Crash afterwards.

- Use the fear (and/or mes) line if fighting multiple mobs to reduce damage taken or to buy more time for your heal or your damage arts to come back up. Bruiser burst damage is good, so being able to mes a mob while they recycle is useful.

- Your damage bonus skill on the 60-second timer gives 5 procs, remains up until you make 5 melee hits, and the timer counts from when you cast. So always keep this skill up and you may find you can get 5 hits in at the start of a fight and recast immediately for 5 more.

- If you are grouped and off-tanking, remember to cast Overtaking Blows on the main tank (or as an insurance policy cast it on your healer), and consider turning off Roughhouse/Brawl as it will increase your hate level.

- Consider investing in debuff hex dolls; the +STA doll has mitigation debuff. These take 8 seconds to cast, so are most useful against non-aggro mobs or to use while the mob is messed. You might also consider using it on a pull back to a group.

- If things are going pear-shaped, remember feign death is there as a last resort... don't die without trying it!

13. Which training skills should I upgrade to Master II at L14 and each ten levels after?

The new training system means that upgrade choices are not as important as they used to be. At L14, 24, 34, etc you are offered the chance to upgrade one skill from the previous four levels to Master II. Because most skills are replaced each 14 levels, your choice will only matter for that time, so there's no 'bad' choices. I picked the following upgrades: Indomitable Will (L14), Crush (L24), Sucker Punch (L34), though I would have picked One Hundred Hand Slap at L34 had I not already got it at Master I. The list of choices is (please help remind me of the gaps!):

L14: Indomitable Will, Martial Focus, ?, ?

L24: Crash, Jeer, ?, ?

L34: Sucker Punch, Hundred Hand Slap, Overtaking Blows, ?

L44: Battle Fury, Cerebral Will, Crusher, Hammer Fist

L54: Abuse, Battle Lust, Quarrel, Flaming Lunge

14. What skills should I get made to Adept III quality?

It seems the rare harvests needed to make the adept III skills are getting a little more common, at least going by broker prices (e.g. palladium now seen at 25g where not so long ago it was over 80g). So there is more scope to upgrade your key skills to higher quality. The skills you choose will depend on style - if you tank or off-tank in groups, or if you prefer soloing. Also you can take Master II training upgrades that can complement your Adept III choices (see above). Also consider that upgrading a higher level skill will last longer, e.g. upgrading Burning Lunge to Adept III at L39 will 'only' cost a ruthenium but will last you until L53 or so.

Some commonly recommended upgrades are:

L10-19: Rapid Swings (damage)

L20-29: Ignore Pain (heal), Jeer (taunt), Crash (damage), Burning Will (dispel mental/stun), Eye Gouge (debuff), Play Dead (feign death).

L30-39: Slurred Insult (taunt), Sucker Punch (damage), Hundred Hand Slap (damage), Ignore Hurt (heal), Lava Fists (damage), Boast (group taunt).

L40-49: Cerebral Will (dispel mental/stun), Eye Rake (debuff), Fire Stance (combined stance), Dirty Punch (damage), Crushing Fury (damage), Magmatic Fists (stance), Savage Blows (AE attack), Abuse (AE taunt), Ignore Agony (heal). Remember that skills L47+ will last you all the way to L60.

15. Which stat bonuses should I take?

You will be offered health or power point bonuses (2.5% to max) or in-combat regen bonuses periodically. The most common pick is health boost (+2.5% health) if you mainly want to tank (giving healers more HPs to work with) or power regen (+5 power every 6 seconds in combat) for off-tanking or soloing. The power regen bonus is more useful than raw power if the fight lasts than a minute or so (or more precisely, if 5/6*duration > 0.025*max power).

16. Where can I get my L20 'fluff' skill?

This skill is Dreadnaught Kata, costs 14s 40c and is available from Trainer T'Lor in North Freeport near the Stonestair Byway exit. It's purely a fun skill, but is handy to pass the time while on a long camp.

17. Is there a worldwide bruiser chat channel?

Yes, you can /join grobb.topbruisers. Thanks to Ajeco for the info on this one.

18. Is there any penalty to fighting from horseback?

There is not believed to be any penalty for doing so; it's purely cosmetic.

19. What gi's are there?

There is only a limited number of gi's in the game. When you wear these chest slot armours, your whole appearance changes and the rest of your armour is hidden.

Level 24: Steel Stitched Gi. The reward for Freeport AQ6. The Freeport armour quests start here. The gi is the sixth reward in a series of quests. The Freeport AQs are difficult to solo, and harder than the Qeynos versions, so find friends to help if you can. Stats: ac 238, +5 str, +4 agi, +16 health, +16 power, +80 vs disease, +60 vs magic.

Level 27: Woven Gi of Conquest. Stats: ac 137, +8 str, +6 agi, +20 power, +27 health, +245 vs disease. Source unknown.

Level 29: Garatch Mot Gi. Stats: ac 126, +10 str, +12 power, +18 health, +210 vs magic. Source believed to be Splitpaw Drowned Caverns (Brutal Acts of War)?

Level 30: Blood Drenched Gi. Drops from one of the three nameds in the Mysterious Artifacts instance of the Tombs of Night (as do many other things, not a guaranteed drop by any means); confirmed from Rhayne T'Dax and Nilth T'Feyd. Stats: ac 117, +12 str, +1 crushing, +11 health, -70 vs divine, +30 vs slashing, +30 vs crushing, -70 vs mental, +70 vs heat, +70 vs poison, +70 vs cold, +30 vs piercing, +70 vs disease, +70 vs magic.

Level 42: Gi of the Disciple. Drops from Vault Sentinel in Drowned Caverns: Brutal Acts of War in Splitpaw. Stats: ac 216, +18 str, +15 agi, +58 health, +45 power, +750 vs cold, +500 vs magic (though reports suggest stats/resists now lower).

Level 43: Gi Of Madness. Reported stats seem very high - no known source.

Level 51: Rujarkian Woven Gi. Stats: ac 194, +9 str, +9 agi, +45 power, +29 health, +270 vs divine. A rare drop from the named brawler (Annihilator) in the war room in the Clefts of Rujark (2nd level). There are also other nameds and challenging heroics in that room.

Level 54: Gi of the Ashen Disciple. Stats: ac 151, +8 sta, +8 str, +25 power, +35 health, +224 vs disease, +224 vs magic. Source unknown.

20. How do I get the Devastation Fists skill?

You have to complete three quests from the factions outside the Nek Forest waterfall (NW area of map) as part of the Bloodline Chronicles adventure pack. After completing the three quests, a merchant in the faction will sell you the skill (for a few gold). The skill gives massive damage to an enemy, but cannot be used on mobs over L50, on Heroic mobs, or in PvP mode.

- A Small Sampling
- A Bloody Coup
- Mysterious Artefacts

21. What are the 'Ancient Teachings'?

In L51-60 you no longer receive skills automatically. There are three special skills in Desert of Flames (at L52/55/5 that you can currently only get at Adept III with Tier 6 rares (pearls or vanadiums), if you can find an alchemist with the skills scribed in their books. The alchemist will need the scroll for the skill if they don't have it already.

Stone Deaf (L52). Allows the bruiser to absorb all non-physical damage they would otherwise have received if the damage was greater than 10% of their total health for up to 3 hits. Upgrades to this ability will increase the chance that this effect with absorb higher level sources of damage. Recast time 2 mins.

Sonic Fists (L55). Teleporting Attack that interrupts the target. You must be at range to use this attack. Recast time 1 min. Inflicts crushing damage.

Close Mind (L5. ?? Some kind of Stun/stifle/mes immunity skill.. details??

22. What fabled bruiser (brawler) gear has been found in DoF so far?

Voracious Fistwraps: +18 str, +8 agi, +8 sta, +56 health +56 power, 39.5 damage rating, L58 brawler.

Skullcap of Precision: +14 str, +10 sta, +40 health, +40 power, +236 vs divine, +531 vs mental, ac 264, L56 brawler.