Amberyl's Guide to Playing Kinetics on Large Teams
|Player Guide Notice|
| This article is a Player Guide. Paragon Wiki takes no responsibility for the content within.|
Questions and concerns should be posed to the authors of the article using the article's talk page.
Kinetics has become a very popular power set, and the surge of players leveling up kinetics defenders, controllers and corruptors has resulted in many new kinetics players. These players often find themselves on large teams. Unfortunately, large teams tend to present the greatest challenge to kinetics players, especially if those teams are chaotic; the PBAoE-centric nature of kinetics is best suited to melee range and tight clustering of both teammates and the enemy. Moreover, kinetics tend to find themselves invited to situations that promote very fast leveling, leading to high-level kins who haven't necessarily spent a lot of time with the power set.
This guide is intended to teach new kinetics players ("kins") some useful tactics for handling PvE team play, especially large-team play. (If you're a non-kinetics player looking to understand how to best team with a kin, you should read my guide "Playing With Kinetics: What to Do if You've Got Kinetics on Your Team" instead.)
This guide assumes that you want to pay attention to the support components of kinetics, to the best advantage of your team. It's possible that you might have no interest in doing this; some kins don't like to buff, feel that other people are responsible for taking care of their own health and endurance, are particularly oriented towards the non-kinetics portion of their power set choices, or prefer a "play as if solo, even while teamed" style. If this is the case for you, you probably aren't interested in the guidance presented here, and that's fine.
The curse of kinetics is short-duration buffs. Many kins find it frustrating and annoying to "buff bot". However, the two-minute duration Speed Boost ("SB") is one of the primary reasons that people want a kin on their team. The sad truth is that you can be an awesome kin player in all other regards, but if you fail to keep up SB on your team for a reasonable percentage of the time, you will probably not be properly appreciated by your teammates. While you can choose to play without SB, or choose not to regularly buff SB, expect that many players will judge you on this.
Speed Boost's buff icon shows up as a less-than sign on a blue background. You can see what statuses your teammates have, by clicking the arrow on the right side of the team window, which expands it to show running toggles, buffs and debuffs, and inspirations used. Right-clicking on the buff icons will give you an option to hide auto-powers, thus hugely shortening the icon rows to just the useful information. It's also useful to choose numeric icon stacking. You can also choose whether or not to have a buff icon blink shortly before it wears off. By default, this is on; if you're the sole kin on the team, when the icons start blinking, it's time to rebuff if you can spare the attention.
Note that even if you're not the only kin on the team, you'll still be expected to Speed Boost (and other kins will certainly appreciate getting the buff themselves). Speed Boosts from multiple kins will stack, so if you're all diligent about your buffing, your team can charge around like crazed, angry weasels on crack. It can be somewhat difficult to keep track of when you need to refresh buffs in this situation, since you're not the sole owner of the buff icon; in this case, it's useful to run some form of two-minute timer, or to simply get into the habit of re-buffing between fights regardless of the time lapsed.
So, how do you buff without either going postal, or forcing the team to slow down while waiting for buffs?
First, buff between fights. Unless the team is really steamrollering, you can simply rebuff as you're running to the next fight. If someone is out-of-range as you go down the team list, simply move on, and get them when you've all arrived at your next fight. You don't need to stand still to buff; if you're running to the next fight, you can click on a player's name in your team list, then queue the power, so it will fire off as soon as you're close enough to them.
Second, buff in the clean-up phase at the end of the fight. This is useful if the next mob group is immediately nearby. When the team is just beating down on the last straggler or two, you have the leisure to re-buff everyone. Again, if someone is out-of-range, simply move on and get them later.
In a long fight, or if you simply haven't been diligent about re-buffing when it's convenient, you may find that your team needs a re-buff. In this case, you'll have to make some decisions: don't rebuff, rebuff selectively, or rebuff everyone? If you're rebuffing everyone, go down the team list sequentially, or in priority order?
If you're rebuffing selectively, or rebuffing in priority order, you should probably begin with the teammates that are having trouble managing their endurance. While you may have Transference and thus be able to do a mass-refill, characters may be able to burn through their blue bar faster than Transference can recharge. Next, rebuff anyone who could benefit from faster recharge. Depending on how the fight is going, you may prioritize whether you want more offense or defense, and whether your goal is to help those with very long-recharging powers (Empathy regen and recovery auras, Invulnerability's Unstoppable, Tier 9 powers like nukes, etc.), or to prioritize short-term recharge needs. Short-term recharge is usually most important if your team is in so much trouble that you need to immediately bolster the recharge rate of heals and damage-mitigation powers (like AoE control abilities, including soft control like Super Strength's Footstomp that does PBAoE knockdown).
When rebuffing mid-fight, don't lose awareness of what's going on around you. You don't need to go into "buff-bot mode", where you're just methodically re-buffing; you can just toss out the next buff when you get a chance, between applying your other powers. If needed or useful, blast, control, etc. between each buff. You need to decide whether the most useful thing you can do at that particular moment in the fight is to throw a rebuff on someone, or do something else; it's just like making a decision about any other power use.
If you encounter players who object to having Speed Boost, remind them that it provides a big boost to recharge rate and endurance recovery. New players who don't know the power set may think it just makes them run faster. You may want to consider offering to put Increase Density on those who refuse to take the buff because they find it impossible to control their character under the effect of Speed Boost; Increase Density slows their speed, partially counteracting the run speed increase from Speed Boost.
Increase Density ("ID") has a very short duration (one minute, half of Speed Boost's duration), and a longer animation time and recharge time than Speed Boost. It's your primary means of breaking and preventing mez (holds, sleeps, stuns, etc.) and knockback.
You should use ID on a character who you've noticed is mezzed, or who says "zzz", which is the usual shorthand chat indicator for status effects, and an implicit plea for a mez-breaker. Also, when someone uses a wakie to self-rez, they're usually stunned for a few seconds. Immediately ID them to break the stun (and to help them survive any incoming smashing and energy damage, if relevant). Remind them to run into range if need be, hit a quick Transference to bring them back to full endurance, and hit Transfusion to heal them up. Don't forget to Speed Boost them again, too.
Many kins don't routinely buff ID proactively. If you are buffing proactively, it's more efficient to buff both SB and ID on a character at the same time, rather than buffing everyone with SB and then buffing ID; if you buff them both at the same time, ID will recharge by the time you get to buffing the next character.
If you're fighting a lot of enemies that mez, you may want to proactively apply and maintain ID on characters who have no mez protections. Controllers, defenders, corruptors, and dominators are likely your priority targets for these; beyond no new powers being fired off, mez can drop critical toggle powers (such as Radiation Infection) that are keeping the team safe. Melee characters usually have their own protection, and mez on the other archetypes tends not to have deadly effects on the team.
Beware melee characters who haven't taken their mez protection / knockback protection. (In Fiery Aura, this is split; the set has no knockback protection, so toons of this type often take Acrobatics or slot -KB IOs.) New players who have power-leveled often build very badly, which means that even if their tank, scrapper, or brute defense set offers protection, they haven't taken it, even at high level. If you're not reading people's power choices, the first visual indicator of this is usually seeing a melee toon getting tossed in a knockback. If this is your team's lead tank or brute, you'll have to decide whether you want to keep ID on them constantly, suffer with the danger, or find a better team.
Be aware that ID offers more than just mez and KB protection. It also offers a significant buff to resistance against smashing and energy damage. Any standard mob with "Slugger" or "Slammer" in their name does smashing damage. (Blood Brother Slugger, Scrounger Slugger, Outcast Initiate Slammer, Freak Slammer, Maniac Slammer, etc.). Hammers and maces all do smashing. Energy damage normally goes with some form of electricity FX. If you're fighting mobs of this type, you can buff up those who seem to be taking a lot of damage with ID.
For instance, if you're in a fight with enemies that do smashing and/or energy, and a squishy teammate draws a bunch of aggro and their health is dropping quickly, hitting them with a fast ID can help them survive until they can get a heal or pop an inspiration. (This is extra-useful if you're the sole source of heals on a team, and you've got a teammate likes to fight from range, too far away to be in range of an immediate heal.) This can also help you deal with an overly squishy tank or brute, and it can really help people to survive health crashes, such as the severe drop in health when Invulnerability's Unstoppable wears off.
Transfusion and Transference
Transfusion is a superb heal, especially when slotted out, and Transference is a fantastic endurance restoration that's capable of fully refilling your team's blue bars when it's slotted out.
For better or for worse, however, both powers are PBAoE on a mob, and require a hit check. It may feel like Murphy's Law demands that the time when you most need a critical heal or end refill is the time that it will miss, no matter how much accuracy and to-hit you stack on your character. Realistically, though, you're always capped at a 95% chance to hit, and also subject to the streakbreaker. So, inevitably, sometimes you'll miss. All you can do is to try and make sure that your hit chance is always that 95% or more, through some combination of slotting for accuracy, getting a to-hit buff from a toggle like Tactics, increasing your hit chances via IO set bonuses, popping yellow inspirations, and using powers like Aim before trying to land something critical. Also, you should try to minimize emergencies where you have to land that power, by ensuring you have enough recharge, and by healing and restoring endurance before the situation turns into an emergency. (It also helps if your teammates pop inspirations when needed.)
You should be keeping an eye on your team's green and blue bars, and healing and end-refilling as necessary. Keep a particularly close eye out for endurance crashes following a nuke, and for people self-resurrecting; both of these usually require immediate endurance refills, particularly since a nuke usually prevents natural endurance recovery for a brief period of time.
When your team stays tightly clustered, you can fire off Transfusion and Transference and easily hit your whole team with the effects. When your team scatters, even a little, some people will inevitably be out of range. Even having your ranged teammates hang back a bit can put them outside the radius of the effects centered on the main melee brawl, and vice versa.
So, how do you deal with your HP and endurance support roles, when you're not sure where someone is in a chaotic and sprawling fight?
The first tactic you can try is to fire off Transfusion as a warning shot of sorts. You may get lucky and simply catch your hapless victim within the radius, which you'll be able to see because their health bar will go up. (Alternatively, they weren't in the radius but popped a green inspiration or got healed by someone else, in which case you no longer have a problem, so c'est la via.) If your victim is not in the radius and still needs healing, hopefully the presence of the big green whirlpool circle of healing will inspire him to run towards it. If you're feeling hopeful in this way, you can simply fire off Transfusion again when it recharges, and pray that your victim has had the presence of mind to come into the circle. This tactic works less well with Transference, due to the longer recharge; a lot of positioning can change between attempts. For this, you can hope that smart players will respond to seeing a Transfusion go off by running towards it, thus ending up within range of a follow-up Transference.
The second tactic you can try is to click on your teammate in your Team window (or otherwise target him). That will set him as your target -- and automatically set an assist target, which means that you are also targeting whatever he's targeting, which is presumably whatever enemy he's fighting. That means that if you then fire Transfusion or Transference, it will go off on whatever enemy he's targeting. If your teammate is a melee toon, you can be almost certain that whatever he's fighting is next to him, and therefore that he'll be within the effect radius of your power. However, if your teammate is a ranged toon, that's not necessarily the case. Fortunately, the assist target shows up as a fainter rectangular target box around that target, which lets you see where that enemy is in the fight and visually verify whether or not your teammate is probably close enough to be in the effect radius.
The third tactic is trying to run over to your teammate and target a mob that's now by you. Select your teammate's name in the Team window, which will cause the bright target box to surround him. Move to him, or just hit "f" to follow him, which will bring you automatically towards where he is. Target the nearest enemy and use your power.
The fourth tactic is to try to manually target a mob by your teammate. Select your teammate's name in the Team window and look for the bright target box to find where he is in the fight. Click on an enemy close to him and fire off your power.
The fifth tactic is the simplest: If your teammate isn't near anything targetable, or the only close enemy looks like it's in imminent danger of death (i.e., it is likely to die before you can fire off the power), or you are too tied up where you're already standing to deal with anything more, yell for your teammate to come to you.
Sometimes, you will have to make a decision about who (likely) lives or dies, because you simply can't keep everyone in within the radius of swirly happiness. Broadly, priority order should probably go to whoever is in the main tank role, the owners of toggles that are likely keeping the team alive (Radiation Infection, Dispersion Bubble, and so on), whoever has an available rez (as long as they stay alive, they can resurrect others), whoever has the control powers that are keeping the mobs helpless, and others whose deaths might lead to a wipe.
Don't feel obliged to follow reckless teammates into death. For instance, If a scrapper decides to go solo the next spawn, gets in over his head, and seems likely to die, you may want to simply let him die, particularly if the group he's fighting hasn't aggro'd to anyone else on the team. You can safely land Speed Boost or Increase Density on him without drawing aggro yourself, but Transfusion and Transference both draw aggro, which can be a problem if the rest of your team is still working on the current spawn group, or you're not personally equipped to survive a retaliation strike from the enemy that's now noticed you.
Transfusion and Transference also have some useful side effects. While Transference does some endurance drain to the enemy that it hits, this usually isn't significant enough to really impact the fight. Transfusion, on the other hand, significantly reduces the regeneration rate of the enemy it hits. Thus, it's a very handy tool against Arch-Villains and Heroes. Hit them with it periodically, even if no one needs healing, to keep debuffing their regeneration; it will help your team kill them faster.
Siphon Power and Fulcrum Shift
Siphon Power is a single-target attack that does no damage, but debuffs an enemy's damage, and buffs your damage as well as the damage of teammates who are near you when the power goes off.
Fulcrum Shift ("FS") has similar, but more complex, mechanics. First, FS buffs your damage as well as the damage of teammates who are near you when the power goes off. Second, FS is an AoE centered on the enemy target, and requires a hit check for every enemy within the radius of the AoE. Every enemy that it hits has its damage debuffed, and each of your teammates that is near that enemy has a buff applied to their damage. Thus, for maximum damage bonus, your teammates should be both close to you, and as close to as many enemies in the FS radius as possible. Similarly, you should also be close to your FS target to reap the maximum benefit, and of course, your FS target should be central and in the densest portion of the enemy group.
If you're on a large team, and you properly time Fulcrum Shift to go off on as many targets as possible, you will usually hit the damage cap. This means that once you get Fulcrum Shift, you'll probably find Siphon Power to be less useful, but it can be handy against particularly tough opponents like AVs, for boosting damage for teammates who weren't within range of Fulcrum Shift's buff, and for further damage buffing in instances where the mobs were scattered and you didn't get a maxed-out FS. Multiple Fulcrum Shifts and Siphon Powers do stack with one another. If you're a defender or controller, your damage cap is only 400% (a max of a 300% damage bonus); other archetypes have higher caps, so even if you're personally capped from the first FS, the rest of your teammates may benefit from additional damage buffs.
Fulcrum Shift, with three recharge slots, will recharge sufficiently quickly that you will usually have it available at the beginning of each fight. If your team does not kill extremely quickly, it may recharge while you're still in the middle of a fight. Don't feel obliged to save FS for just situations where you can hit the maximum targets. It recharges fast enough that you can use it mid-fight on a couple of targets without "wasting" it.
Don't Neglect Your Other Power Set
If you're a defender, your secondary blast set shouldn't be neglected. Defender blasts generally have a useful secondary effect; even if you're going for a "pure support" concept and have some kind of philosophical objection to doing damage, you should be blasting in order to help your team via secondary effects. (Sonic attacks debuff enemy resistance and thus makes your team do more damage even if they're at the damage cap; Radiation attacks debuff enemy defense and thus makes your team hit more often; Dark attacks cause enemies to miss more often; and so forth.) Although kinetics is very "clicky", and you may be kept very busy just with that, you should at least find the time to fire off your AoE attacks, contributing some damage and the benefits of the side-effects.
If you're a controller or corruptor, kinetics is your secondary and should be treated as such. Controlling or blasting, respectively, is your primary role and should generally get priority. This is likely to most frequently manifest in deciding the degree to which you'll rebuff mid-fight or spend time trying to heal up people who are in trouble but not in the range of a heal targeted off your current enemy target. Controllers with pets also need to keep mob scatter in mind; maximizing the benefits of the initial Fulcrum Shift often depends on ensuring that the enemy group is initially clustered as tightly as possible.
Ideally for you, a fight should begin with someone sturdy, likely a tank or a brute, grabbing aggro, and, to the extent reasonably possible, trying to cluster the mobs a little bit. If team is pulling rather than someone charging in, wait for the mobs to run up and cluster. Once the toon in the tanking role grabs aggro, you can open with Fulcrum Shift. It is important to wait until aggro is grabbed, because otherwise, everything hit with Fulcrum Shift will aggro on you, and you may die. Alternatively, if you have an AoE control or immobilize power, you can consider opening with that before you Fulcrum Shift; this may also be useful for ensuring that any laggards on your team get a chance to catch up and be within range of the buff when it goes off.
The best place to stand for the fight opening is as close to as many of your teammates as possible, but also reasonably close to the enemy group. The Fulcrum Shift basic buff effect range is a PBAoE centered on you; additional stacking FS buffs are PBAoEs centered on each enemy that's hit. You'll need to experiment a bit to get the sense of how close your teammates need to be to get the effect, and thus where you should stand if your teammates have split into a melee contingent and a ranged contingent.
Once the fight is underway, you'll have to decide where you want to stand. This is probably a function of what your other power set is. If you've got a blast set (defender or corruptor), you are likely to be moving around, so you can position your AoE and cone attacks optimally. If you're a fire/kin controller, and you're running Hot Feet, you're likely to be standing in melee, near the tank. If you're some other type of controller, you might hang back farther, with the other ranged archetypes. If you're the sole source of heals on the team, you're probably going to need to position yourself near the people getting hurt the most. Broadly, staying near whoever is in the main tank role is useful for helping to ensure that your powers don't draw unnecessary aggro, particularly since anything that chases you is likely to get drawn off towards the tank.
You may find it useful to zoom out the camera during fights. That will give you a better idea of where your teammates and enemies are, and therefore where you can best position yourself and your targeted-PBAoE powers for best effect. If you just stick with a fairly close-up view of your own character, or you play in first-person view, rather than a more zoomed-out third-person view, you'll miss some of the broader context of the fight.
The Combat Attributes Window
If you click the Powers menu, you'll see that it has a sub-menu, Combat Attributes. You can expand the sections shown when you view your combat attributes, to get a detailed quantitative view of your powers. You can right-click something to begin monitoring it. All the attributes you're monitoring show up in a little window that you can drag someplace convenient.
For kinetics, it's particularly useful to monitor two things: your Last Hit Chance, and your Damage Bonus.
Last Hit Chance tells you what your percentage chance to hit was on the last thing you tried to use a power on. It's never any higher than 95% -- you always have at least a 5% chance to miss, no matter what. If you're keeping the same target, this is hugely useful to see whether you're likely to hit it the next time. If you've got to hit -- for instance, you've got a critical Transfusion or Transference attempt -- you can look at that number and decide whether you're going to shift targets to something that's easier to hit (for instance, something that doesn't have lots of defense), or if you'll need to pop a yellow inspiration or fire off a power like Aim beforehand.
Damage Bonus tells you how much of a damage bonus you have, based on any IO set bonuses, buffs from teammates, and the buffs from Siphon Power and Fulcrum Shift. This is a sideways way of knowing how effective Fulcrum Shift was (the higher the number, the more targets you hit with it), and of knowing whether stacking another will be useful. Note that your damage cap -- represented by the bonus number being colored blue -- may be lower than the damage cap of other archetypes on the team, so even if you don't benefit from another boost, the rest of your teammates might.
You may find it useful to make a macro or bind indicating that someone has gone out of range. It's useful for everything -- people out of buff range, people who aren't within the radius of Transfusion or Transference, people too far away to benefit from Fulcrum Shift, etc.
"/macro Rng tell $target, You're out of range. Come to me!" will create a macro that you can put on your power tray; when you use it, you will send a tell to the targeted player.
"/bind F12 tell $target, You're out of range. Come to me!" will bind the F12 key, so that when you press F12, you will send a tell to the targeted player. You can substitute any other unused key for F12.
Kinetics is an excellent power set which has great utility of teams of all sizes. However, its target-centric nature means that it is more difficult to use optimally on larger teams. In particular, kinetics is often best played at melee range, and if a team is split between melee and ranged toons, ranged toons can receive lesser benefits unless the kinetics player is particularly careful about positioning, or the ranged toons are willing to fight at closer range.
Kinetics benefits strongly from not being the sole type of support (in terms of defender primary, controller or corruptor secondary) on a team. However, since effects from multiple kinetics toons stack, it's not a waste to have more than one kin on a team. Conversely, don't buy into the myth that kinetics is necessary for anything.
The information in this guide is a set of generalizations that are broadly applicable to all kins, but your specific build, team make-up and dynamics, and playstyle may lead you towards making different play decisions. There are many guides that cover building and playing kins, specific to particular archetypes and power set combos. You're strongly encouraged to read the guides that are specific to your choices.