Amberyl's Guide to Playing with Kinetics on Your Team
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Kinetics is a primary power set for defenders, and a secondary power set for controllers and corruptors. It has experienced a significant rise in popularity as a result of its perceived usefulness for large-team missions, particularly AE missions.
This purpose of this guide is to explain to non-kinetics players what kinetics does, and what you can do to make sure that you get maximum benefit and survivability from having a kinetics toon on your team.
If you play a kinetics yourself, check out my "Guide to Playing Kinetics on Large Teams". That guide is for you; the guide you're reading right now is for your teammates.
This guide is structured by the powers most commonly taken by Kinetics players ("kins"), in the order that they're most likely to be relevant to you. It is not a comprehensive guide to Kinetics, just the things that non-Kinetics players are likely to care about. All numbers in this guide are defender values; in many cases, controller and corruptor numbers are slightly less.
The TL;DR Version
The summary for the really, really impatient: You will usually need to stand close to the kin if you consistently want the buffs, heals, and endurance that the kin provides. Can't find them? Target them in your team window and hit "f" to follow, which will automatically move you towards them.
The summary for the merely moderately impatient:
Transfusion and Transference are a heal and endurance-bar refiller, respectively. They have a decent-sized radius, visible as a swirly green or blue circle when the power goes off, that is PBAoE around an enemy. Most kins target an enemy that's near them. If you need healing or an end refill, stand near the kin. These powers have a minimum of a 5% chance to miss, have no effect if they go off on an enemy as it dies, and have relatively long recharges, so in a real emergency, pop an inspiration, don't wait and hope.
Siphon Power and Fulcrum Shift debuff enemy damage, and increase the damage of teammates who are in the area of effect. Stay near the kin to make sure that you get the buff effect, which you can see as a red-orange whirly visual FX on the affected. To get the best benefit from Fulcrum Shift, you'll also want to be near the enemies that are hit by it.
Speed Boost (SB) is a buff that significantly increases your recharge rate and endurance recovery. It also increases your speed.
Increase Density (ID) is a buff that prevents and breaks mezzes. It also provides significant resistance against Smashing and Energy damage. Also, it reduces your speed, so if you've got trouble controlling your movement after a Speed Boost, an ID might help you.
Transfusion and Transference
Transfusion is a heal; Transference refills your blue bar of endurance. Transfusion is available to all kins at level 1. Transference is available to defenders at 26, and to controllers and corruptors at level 35.
Both powers are PBAoE around a mob, and require a hit check. You can tell the radius of the effect by the big green swirling circle (Transfusion) or big blue swirling circle (Transference) that surrounds the mob that's affected by it. If you're not within that radius of effect, you're out of luck. You can increase your chances of being close enough for the effect by sticking close to the kinetics player, who is probably going to be standing in melee range, likely near the tank. If you see group heals going off, from whatever the source, you know that the the green effect you see is the place you want to be if you need a health bar refill. (Come I16 and power set color customization, this may be more difficult to see, though, since people might change the colors from the default green and blue.)
A good general rule of thumb is, "If something is attacking you, run towards the tank, where it will hopefully be drawn in by the tank." This is especially true when you've got a kin on your team, because the heal has to be centered on a mob, and chances are that the kin is going to target something near him and/or near the tank (or lead brute, redside). If you run away from the enemy, the kin cannot heal you. Remember this. Run towards the kin if you are hurt. If you're not near an enemy, they can't heal you, and if they're spending time finding you in the fight and trying to find an enemy to target that's near you, those are seconds ticking by where you're not getting healed.
Similar rules apply for an emptying endurance bar. If you've just nuked, used a wakie, or otherwise mostly or totally emptied out your blue bar, run to the kin. Do not run away from the group to recuperate. Assuming the kin is high enough level to have the power, he can readily refill your endurance completely.
Of course, the powers do require a hit check. Even though most kins stack up tons of accuracy, City of Heroes caps the hit chance at 95%, and also uses a "streakbreaker" that forces a miss after a certain number of hits in a row. That means that these powers will sometimes miss, even with a really tricked-out kins. And kins who don't have lots of accuracy will have problems landing these powers on anything with lots of defense, to-hit debuffing, or that's significantly higher level than them. (Keep that in mind when fighting +4 bosses!) Moreover, even if the power hits, if the enemy dies as the power is going off, there's no effect. You'll still see the big swirly green or blue circle, but there will be no effect. On a miss or a waste like this, the kin has to wait for a recharge; the heal has a base 8-second recharge and the end-refill a base 30-second recharge, so it could be a while before there's another attempt.
Transfusion also applies a significant regeneration debuff to the enemy it's used on. For that reason, you'll sometimes see kins healing frequently in AV fights, even if everyone is healthy, in order to debuff the AV's regen.
Siphon Power and Fulcrum Shift
Siphon Power is available at level 1 to defenders, and level 2 to controllers and corruptors. It is targeted at an enemy and requires a hit check; if it hits, it debuffs the enemy's damage, and it buffs the damage of the kin and his allies in the immediate vicinity.
Fulcrum Shift ("FS") is available at level 32 to defenders, and level 38 to controllers and corruptors. It's sort of like an AoE version of Siphon Power. It is an AoE targeted at an enemy; for each enemy it hits, it debuffs that enemy's damage, and buffs the damage of characters who are near that enemy. It also buffs the damage of the kin and his nearby allies. Thus, the more tightly clustered the mob group, and the more of them there are, the more targets FS is likely to hit, and thus the greater the total damage bonus is likely to be. FS can often take characters all the way to their archetype's damage cap.
Both powers have similar visual FX; those affected are briefly marked by a swirly-glowing red-orange effect. Because both powers require a hit check, kins who don't have sufficient accuracy to hit higher-level foes will use these powers less effectively when in missions that are sufficiently high to them that they're having trouble hitting things.
A kin of sufficiently high level will often open a fight with FS, as soon as the tank (or lead brute) has grabbed aggro. (FS counts as an attack, and thus generates aggro; kins that aren't built to take alpha strikes can easily faceplant if they open with FS before someone sturdier has grabbed aggro.) If you want to reap the benefit of FS, it behooves you to be within reasonable range of the kin, and in melee range with the densest portion of the enemy group, when FS goes off. If you're lagging behind the rest of the team, you'll miss the FS effect, and thus the huge buff to damage that it usually offers.
Speed Boost ("SB") is available at level 12 to defenders, and level 20 to controllers and corruptors. It's a buff that lasts for two minutes; the sound effect sounds a bit like a whip-crack, and the buff icon is a less-than sign on a light-blue background. The buff stacks if you receive it from different kins, but if the same kin re-applies it, it simply refreshes the buff.
People love this power for two reasons -- it gives you a 50% boost to your recharge, and it significantly increases your endurance recovery. It also greatly increases your speed, though, and some people dislike it for that reason, because they find it difficult to move accurately when speed-boosted.
If you don't want speed boost used on you, you should make that known immediately, and your teammates will usually respect the request, but recognize that you are gimping your effectiveness by turning down the buff.
Kinetics players vary in how conscientious they are about keeping speed boost on the whole team, the degree to which they only buff during downtime between fights, and their level of annoyance at being told "sb plz". Don't beg for speed boost, but if you see it in the powers list of the kin on your team, and he's never using it, it's not offensive to ask if you could please have speed boost, especially right before a fight. In the middle of a fight, the buff might very well drop, and the kin may be too busy dealing with other things to re-buff the whole team immediately. Note that some kins hate speed-boosting other people, since the buff has such a short duration, and may grumble about not wanting to be a buff-bot; indeed, some kins will avoid taking the power in order to avoid the requests.
Increase Density ("ID") is available at level 8 to defenders, and level 16 to controllers and corruptors. However, many players don't take it until later in their build. It's a buff that protects the recipient from mez effects, and will break a current mez. It also provides resistance to smashing and energy damage. The mez protection stacks (although usually one application) is sufficient; the resistance does not.
Because ID has a very short duration, most kins don't buff it proactively. If you get mezzed, say "zzz" and someone may throw a mez breaker at you; on a team with a kin, that might be ID.
ID slows your movement. For people who have problems controlling their character when under the effect of Speed Boost, ID may help.
If you're someone that the kin might normally expect to have mez and knockback protection -- a tank, scrapper, or brute, especially at level 20+ (either normally, via sidekick, or AE auto-sidekick) -- but for whatever reason you don't have it, make sure that the kin knows this. They might try to keep ID on you, especially if you're tanking.
Almost all of the kinetics powers bolster teammates who are either near the kin, or near the targeted enemy. However, most kins won't chase you around the battlefield. Thus, if you need something from them, stick close to them.
If you're having trouble finding where the kin is in the fight, click on their name on your team window, and hit "f" to follow them. You'll automatically move towards them, although you should still pay attention to where you're going since you don't want to accidentally aggro anything in your path.
There may be times when you do not want to stand in melee range, which is where many kins are likely to be. For instance, if aggro is poorly controlled, or there's a lot of AoE attacks targeting the tank, standing close can be deadly. You'll have to make a judgement call as to whether closer, within the range of kin buffs and heals, or farther, outside of the zone of death, is safer. Just remember that if you do get hit hard in melee range, zipping out of melee may be the worst thing you can do, especially if it brings you outside the radius of available healing.