The Combat Handbook
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- 1 The Combat Handbook - v2.0
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Purpose and Intent - The Five Archetypes
- 1.3 Primary, Secondary, and Pool Powers - The Great Confusion
- 1.4 Movement and position - How a Little Space Goes a LONG Way
- 1.5 VI. Targeting and Combat Strategies - Oh Those Lovely Reticules!
- 1.6 Communication
- 1.7 Other Game Hints and Tips
- 1.8 Conclusion - And Final Notes
The Combat Handbook - v2.0
The Rebirth of True Heroes
Warning - This is a work in progress as I take a 15-year-old guide and update it for the Wiki format, which I'm unfamiliar with. Please pardon my dust.
Hero - A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life. -Source: Dictionary.com
This manual has one simple purpose: to crystallize and publicize my two year's worth of City of Heroes combat experience and the experiences of other brave heroes into a good solid guide for gameplay tactics. This guide's first version was written after the "Issue 6" crisis; in fact, it was written in response to it, and to the coming of the true villains in our midst - the player villains. That being said, the handbook was originally NOT a work in progress, it was NOT going to be updated, and the points in it were NOT be discussed by me after its publication. Upon realization of my own stupidity, and being humbled by a few well informed posts, I have decided to revamp and update this guide in time for its one year anniversary. Much of the knowledge contained in this guide has been seen in many other places before; the purpose of this handbook is not to claim ownership of these ideas, but to place them all together in one place for ease of use. If any hero has contributed to this guide, I will place his name next to his ideas in parentheses like so (HeroName). This way, everyone gets the credit that they are due.
A hero, a true HERO as described in the above definition does NOT complain about being powerless, for the true hero's power lies in the strength of his heart, does NOT whine, because he knows that there are people worse off than he is, and does NOT have the word 'nerf' in his vocabulary, because he accepts challenge with a grin, not a frown. This manual is dedicated to all the true heroes that are still out there.
Special Notes: The entire manual will use the pronouns "him and he" to save time and space, not to slight the fairer sex. This guide will not cover the Epic Archetypes or PvP.
Purpose and Intent - The Five Archetypes
City of Heroes was designed to be a combat-oriented game. While with each new Issue more and more non-combat content is being added, the game at its core is a combat game. The five archetypes represent different methods of playstyle. Much of the reason why players become upset over changes to the game is that they are used to one playstyle or another and the changes affected the playstyle they were used to. Tough cookie. In the world of combat there IS no playstyle, there is only war, and in war anything goes. The good solider knows how to strategize and work with what he has, to be resourceful and cunning.
However in this game, the designers have explicitly stated that each archetype was DESIGNED with one ideal playstyle in mind, one playstyle that compliments that archetype better than any other. While players are free to attempt other playstyles with their unique builds, these playstyles have been proven time and time again to be the most effective:
- Tankers: Melee combat, valuing defense more than offense. Wins by being tougher than the enemy.
- Scrappers: Melee combat, valuing offense more than defense. Wins by destroying the enemy one by one quickly.
- Blasters: Ranged combat, valuing offense more than defense. Wins by destroying the enemy from a distance quickly.
- Defenders: Ranged combat, valuing defense over offense. Wins by helping his team survive the fight.
- Controllers: Ranged combat, valuing control over enemy's actions. Wins by stopping the enemy from doing anything.
While there are 'blappers' and 'scrankers' and 'blaptrollers' and 'blaptankrollers' and every other possible combination out there, these are the PURPOSE, the driving force, the Tao of these archetypes. This is what these archetypes were made for, these are the IDEAL. You can try to swim upstream, and if you are strong in mind and will, can succeed, but if you are a new player, going with the flow will get you the greatest deal of success.
Here are your roles:
- Tankers - Your job is simple, take as much of the aggro as you can and slowly wear down your enemy to nothingness, by using your greatest strength - your godlike ability to survive almost any battle. Tankers are at there best when they are in ONE mob of enemies, about 7 or 8, taunting them and making them crazy while he is whittling their life down slowly. A tanker is NOT invincible however, no hero is meant to be. The tanker is simply the toughest hero there is. Your natural gift of Gauntlet helps you to keep the attention of the mobs off of your allies.
- Scrappers - Your job is more complex than that of a tanker. While you are tougher than any other type of hero (except the tankers of course), you can and will still fall fairly easily. You were not MEANT to tank, if you were, then you would be a TANKER. No, your job and your gift is in your massive melee damage. In general melee damage is substantially greater than ranged damage. While there are of course exceptions to this rule, your natural gift of Critical Hits make you the Great Gladiator. You more than anyone else should pay CLOSE attention to the movement and position of your character. I will go into more detail on movement later in the manual. It is far better for you to hit and run, than stand and die. Your teammates would probably agree. And just remember that your gift of making Critical Hits works far more effectively on Lieutenants and Bosses than minions.
- Blasters - Your job is to deal damage, it is that simple. A lot of damage. Your gift is your ability to wield that damage from a DISTANCE, saving you the pain of the melee attacks, since you are physically weaker than almost any other archetype. By keeping your foes far from you, you enhance your own survivability, as well as that of your teammates. With your superior firepower you ensure that the enemies do not survive long enough to reach you. However IF THEY DO, you have a couple more surprises up your sleeve. I will go more into Blasters' melee and control powers later on. Your natural gift of Defiance gives you that last extra bit of punch to try to help you take out an enemy before that enemy takes you out!
- Defenders - Your job is to outlast your enemy, by either making him weaker, making you stronger, or simply healing yourself from all damage. You are much more comfortable in a team, if you weren't, then you'd be a BLASTER. You do have some long range punch like the blaster to damage your foes from a distance, but your greatest strength lies in your assistance to others, and your hindrance to your foes. Since you are the most team-focused archetype, your natural gift of Vigilance gives you the energy when you need it the most to save your teammates from certain doom.
- Controllers - Your job is to utterly dominate the battlefield. Like a great commander, you stand back and control the flow of the battle, using tactics and the right hold in the right place to seal the deal. You should make use of this control wisely, since if you don't, you will fall quickly in battle. You have both mass control powers for the main mob of the enemies, as well as single target abilities to control enemies that get too close or bosses. Sometimes you also have pets that can add to your numbers in a battle. Your natural gift of containment gives you a bit of extra punch when you already have and enemy under your control.
Primary, Secondary, and Pool Powers - The Great Confusion
Remember how I was talking about 'scrankers' and 'blappers' before? Well, they are violating the first basic rule built into the game. Listen to this, and repeat it as a mantra:
My primary powers are my PRIMARY powers, and my secondary powers are SECONDARY.
Scrappers were never meant to be tankers, Blasters were sure as HECK never meant to be scrappers, and anyone that tells you otherwise is just plain confused. A Scrapper was designed to dish out damage, not to take it, and blasters were meant to attack from a distance, not up close. Scrappers defense was put in there to be a compliment to their offensive attacks, not to replace them. Blasters melee and control powers were meant to keep enemies away from you or kill them quickly when they get too close. I only pick on these two archetypes because they seem to be the only ones that are confused about their place in the world. If you really feel the need to play a 'scranker', then play a TANKER. If you really feel the need to play a 'blapper', then play a SCRAPPER. If you are an experienced player, you can probably make one of these unique builds work, but only if you are brave and cunning and have a quick wit. Most players would do well by sticking with what their archetype is good at, and trying to be the best tanker/scrapper/blaster/defender/controller that they can be.
Along with that, remember that Power Pool powers were meant to be a compliment to your character, they were never meant to be relied upon for major support. These are nice bonuses that can enhance your current abilities or fill some small gaps in them, but they were never meant to make you into something you are not, they are far too weak compared to similar primaries and secondaries for that.
Movement and position - How a Little Space Goes a LONG Way
Issue 6 has brought a problem to my attention. This is a problem that I have seen for a long time now, but a problem which has been exacerbated due to the global defense reduction and Enhancement Diversification. Most heroes in a combat situation, DON'T MOVE. They find a spot where they feel comfortable and they stay there. This is a big mistake. In combat, strategy is one part planning, one part resources, and one part cunning. While you may have the most 'uber' build out there, and you may have the best enhancements and teammates, if you don't have a good personal strategy and knowledge of your position in the battle, you are lost. Your enemies are AI (artificial intelligence) and cannot move except in certain pre-defined patterns, why hinder yourself and lobotomize your advantage by acting in the same manner??? The following are a few movement strategies:
- The Stance - Staying in one spot and continually firing off your powers. This will work in a clutch, but should be only used when solo-ing a Heroic mission or hunting easy mobs for badges. Real success comes from moving beyond this position.
- The Dance - This is a strategy that is perfect for the smart scrapper, or the blaster or defender with a point blank area of effect attack/buff. A smart scrapper will make use of positioning and run into the battle, attack a few times, then run out. Rinse and repeat. This works because enemies must stop, then prepare to attack you when you get into melee range. You have no such hindrance, you can prepare a power before you are in range, then when you are in range it will fire off and you can clear out of the area quickly. Also by this constant movement, the enemy is confused as to whether to stand and use ranged attacks or come after you for melee attacks. The AI is 'programmed' to use attacks almost only when they are standing still. You don't have to play that same game. AoE attacks and buffs/heals can use this same method to place their attack or buff/heal, then run back out of the battle to out-of-melee range. Blasters, Defenders and Controllers can make use of the 'melee or ranged?' confusion by slowly walking backwards from an enemy. If you get at just the right distance between you and the enemy, the enemy won't attack because he won't know which method to attack with.
- The Squeeze - See those walls and those doors? Make use of them! Use them as a shield against enemies, by standing up by them. Only about 6 or 8 enemies can be within melee range of you at one time, if you stand up to a wall that cuts down that number by at least a third. If you see a doorway, use it to force the enemies to come through it one by one, and have a tough hero at the door to meet them and to ensure that either one or none get through at a time.
- Knockback - Contrary to popular belief, knockback is NOT simply an annoyance to the melee player. An intelligent melee player will use knockback to his advantage as another form of DEFENSE. By continually knocking enemies back away from you, you lower the number of enemies that are in melee range of you, which means that you will take less damage and survive longer. While they are off flying, you can get in many more attacks on the enemy's buddies that are still breathing down your throat. On top of that, since Issue 7, ragdoll physics have been introduced to the game that make the enemies get up slower from being knocked down, which means knockback is even MORE effective now than it ever was before. Other hero types can also make good use of this if they see an ally or themselves in trouble. Philotic Knight's most innovative strategy (as a Force Field Defender) was to make the team's tank virtually invincible. The tank would taunt the mob around him, the mob would come into melee range and then a repulsion bomb would knock them all back. Rinse and repeat for mobs that are continually moving and not attacking, while the other teammates blast them into nothingness. Using knockback for a scrapper is an awesome method to defending YOURSELF by keeping enemies away from you that you are not actively engaged with. Knockback can be a great power, IF USED CORRECTLY. It can be a good component in a strategy, and can also save lives. If not used correctly, it can really annoy tankers and scrappers by knocking away all of their targets. So beware the power of 'soft control', and make it your friend, not your enemy.
(Fulmens) If you are the Scrapper being targeted through [and have yourself set to autofollow your target], hit "S" to stop following the person that just went flying [because of knockback], and DO NOT SWITCH TARGETS until the person you're "forward observing" for finishes the person off. Otherwise, you will get annoyed and may find yourself in the next spawn over.
(PhiloticKnight) You could also just switch targets to the next nearest target and start hitting them. The knockbacked target will eventually come back to you.
(Reptlbrain) Don't just use knockback to knockback, use it to position mobs in bunches. Every AT has access to knockback, and it can be so much more useful if it puts all the mobs into one place, for existing or future AoEs. This may entail squishies running into combat, to get the appropriate angle to slam monsters into walls, corners, onto an Earthquake, or into a debuff field.
- Immobilization/Slow - Blasters and Controllers have a good number of immobilization powers that they WASTE by using the power as only another damage dealing power. DON'T. Take advantage of the fact that your opponent cannot move to back up and make sure that you are not in melee range of him. I've seen way too many blasters die while they were using a Ring of Fire on an enemy while standing RIGHT NEXT TO HIM. Be smart and use immobilize to your advantage. The same goes for Slow powers. It can also be used as a defensive power for your allies, to keep an enemy away from the tanker that has bitten off more than he can chew, or save that defender with a sliver or life left and an enemy coming right for him. Slowing down your enemy or making it so they can't move at all is a powerful tool in battle strategy.
- Aerial Assault - This is a strategy that seems simple enough, but that many flying heroes seem to forget in the middle of a battle. If you are out of melee range, you will take FAR less damage than if you are in melee range. Make use of your flight powers and most enemies look at you helpless, because the AI for the most part is not programmed to jump-attack. For a quick defense, just take one quick leap into the air, then turn on Hover at the top of your jump to get out of melee range quickly. Any 'squishy' hero with the Flight power pool should make use of this tactic OFTEN to substantially increase his survivability.
- Line of Sight - A lot of heroes have no idea what this is. Line of sight means whether or not your enemy can see you. I'm not talking about looking at the game camera, I'm talking about placing yourself in your character or your enemies eyes and knowing if they can physically see you. An enemy that cannot physically see you cannot attack you. The best way to know if an enemy has Line of Sight on you is to press the B button, this key by default (unless you changed your keymapping) gives you a first person view like in all those first person games (DOOM, Wolf3D, etc.). This way, you know if your enemy can see you. If they can't, they can't fire off an attack. Making correct use of line of sight can separate a mediocre player from an expert. If you are trying to pull a group into melee range, the BEST way to do that is to make use of a wall, or a corner. You fire off a power at an enemy, then get out of their line of sight. Since they know where they were attacked from but can't see you to attack you, they will HAVE to come around that wall or corner. Then they are in melee range. Conversely to that, you can possibly save your life a few times if you remember to get OUT of an enemy's line of sight to stop from being attacked by their ranged attacks. This is a short term solution if you have low life, but it has saved my life many times. A caveat to this is that the game's mechanics works faster than the graphics, so if you already see the enemy's attack icon in the top right corner of your screen, then you've already been hit and it's too late to try to 'avoid' the attack. However, a smart player won't let themselves be attacked in the first place and will get out of Line of Sight before the enemy can even fire off an attack.
(Reptlbrain) When a spawn is close to any kind of obstruction, defenders' (e.g., Freezing Rain) or controllers' (Ice Slick, Quicksand) ranged, targeted drops are often a nice opener, since they can be placed by pivoting the "camera" without drawing any immediate aggro. The mobs are already debuffed (or flopping) before the attack begins. With the animation change on Radiation Infection (and Darkest Night?), a similar tactic can be used: apply toggle debuff and cut line of sight before it "hits". This of course also pulls most or all of the spawn into the debuff field when "the squeeze" happens.
- Cutting the Pie (Fulmens) - This is a variant on "Line of Sight." The classic setup is a Controller, three Blasters, and a corner. Controller immobilizes [no hold required] the spawn and runs around the corner. Blasters peek out until first badguy is visible, annihilate it, and move on to next badguy.*Fighting Withdrawal - There is nothing wrong or un-heroic about a strategic retreat. In other games, this tactic is known as 'kiting' because it is a
little like flying a kite. Start retreating by running either backwards and firing off your powers while you retreat. This thins out the mob so you have to face less at a time, and helps you survive by keeping you out of melee range. This tactic is not only for ranged heroes, melee heroes can also stay between the retreating heroes and the enemy and still get in a few good swipes as they are running. Just remember, hit, then run, hit, then run. Rinse and repeat.
- Combat Formations - This SHOULD come instinctively to players, but to some it doesn't. The archetypes are designed in such a way that one formation is almost universally successful: toughies in the front, squishies in the back! This should be simple enough to understand, but many don't seem to comprehend this very simple strategy. Characters with high HP (Tankers, Scrappers) should be where the most damage is (melee range). Characters with the lowest HP (Blasters, Defenders, Controllers) SHOULD REMAIN AS FAR BACK AS THEIR POWERS' RANGE ALLOWS. No my caps lock was not stuck, I just thought you needed to hear that loud and clear. Very simple, very effective. This also includes flying squishies, as long as you are out of melee range by any method, you are fine.*Combat Formations Revisited (Arcas) - My only edit would be "Characters with high defense should be where the most damage is (melee range)." This could be any AT depending on the situation. Both my force fielder and my stormer host pick-up blaster/defender teams for invincible missions. These groups have the advantage of being able to position themselves where ever they prefer. Because of the massive stacked aura defenses and the usual large amount of to-hit debuff powers. In fact, with the stormer's teams, hurricane tends to make melee the preferred location for the team. In City of Heroes, all defense really is is raising your team's personal defense (or lowering the accuracy of the enemy) to such an extent that they cannot hit you with a high frequency. To me, it's never really a question of "are you tough enough to take it" it's a question of "are you getting hit or not."*Jumping the Fire (Fulmens) - This is a small trick with great results. If you are doing a simple blitz, the Tank [or Scrapper] can keep the team safer by jumping OVER the spawn and then starting the attack. All those cone attacks [Flamethrowers, shotguns, firebreath,etc.] will be pointed away from the rest of the team. . .
(Reptlbrain) Addendum to "Jumping the Fire" (which I have done with a scrapper, but only to get a better view of the battle/teammates, not purposely to protect them from AoEs, having never thought of that): On knockback heavy teams, positioning players on opposite sides of a spawn (if feasible) allows the ping-pong effect, keeping mobs mostly corralled for AoEs, and probably adding to the mobs' melee-or-range confusion described by the OP.
- Remember T.G.I.F., Tanks Go In First (Local_Man) - As a Tank, I wait until everyone is ready (use the F7 key!), and then I usually go for the biggest bad guy on the front line. I hope to clog things up for the baddies behind. If there is another Tank on the team, I try to coordinate with him so that I take one side, he takes the other. I also try to coordinate with the other tank on who will really lead into the first attack, so that the other will follow the first one's lead. (As stated above, communications is key. Keybinds can be set up for this. I sometimes use /bind [key] "team I have the $target in my sights" or something like it.) As a tank, it generally is NOT my role to save a squishy, unless there are very few bad guys left. My role is to try to keep the bad guys AWAY from the squishies. As a scrapper, I often try to hang out with the Tank. I let him go into the front line, then start attacking the bad guys orbiting around him. I only go after his target if it looks like he is in trouble, otherwise I focus on the others around him. If you have two tanks and two scrappers, each pair should be a sub-team. I DO keep an eye on the health of the squishies, and run off to help if someone is in trouble. If there are more scrappers than tanks, have one scrapper hang back closer to the blasters/defenders/controllers specifically to take care of any bad guys who go after them.
- Aura Efficiency (Arcas) - Having a near invulnerable team with tons of stacked auras and outside defense (dispersion bubble + triple maneuvers + steamy mist, etc.) doesn't do much good if the team formation isn't taking advantage of it. Stacked auras are only a bonus when everyone on the team is in range of all the auras. You don't always need everyone in a tight cluster, like my storm defender who piles the team inside of hurricane. This is definitely the case with the previously mentioned tank/scrap front line and ranged rear line. But it's a major help on any team when everyone is in range of the leadership and aura defense powers or when a acc. metabolism or recovery aura fires and hits everyone on the team. The same for healing powers. It's much more endurance and battle efficient when a team can take care of all the healing with a few auras, than with a lot of time consuming single target heals because no one is close enough for the auras.
VI. Targeting and Combat Strategies - Oh Those Lovely Reticules!
This is another aspect of combat that is almost universally looked over. Most heroes just use Tab and attack the first target that they acquire, then attack it until it is dead. This is another big mistake. That is what the computer does, and don't you want to be smarter than the computer??? There are several strategies that you can take with different methods of targeting. There are two main methods, and several smaller ones:
- Focused Attack - All players on the team click the Tanker or Scrapper (if no tanker is available) on the team window. Now whenever you fire your powers, the powers will hit the toughie's target. This works really well with high level mobs that you need to take down one by one, and excellent against bosses. If there is a boss that heals or mezzes in any way, you should use this strategy to take them out first. Other melee combatants can attack as they please, wherever they please. This will draw attention away from the main toughie that is focusing the rest of the group's attack. The toughie needs to make sure that he keeps a fresh live target at ALL times, otherwise the team will sit there doing nothing while the enemies whale on them.
- Unfocused attack - All players each target a different minion, to take the minions out more quickly. Use this when the number of minions is large and when there is fear that you could be 'plinked' to death by 1,000 tiny attacks. As long as every hero takes on at least one minion alone, they should each be able to handle the small aggro they draw. This works best as an aggro management strategy when everyone attacks the enemy mobs at ONCE.
- Aggro Splitting, Unfocused Attack part B (Arcas) - Outside of a tank, you rarely want any single hero taking all the aggro completely alone. Try to coordinate it so multiple teammates can open a battle, if possible. Aggro
splitting is key for my scrapper who runs all-tanker/scrapper teams. Everyone on those teams is pretty tough individually, but every single one of them would die if they tried to take ALL the aggro by themselves. But when they rush in as a group, quickly eliminates the bosses, and split the remaining aggro, the total damage taken is greatly reduced.
- Buddy System - This works really well either with sidekicks or without. Each team member picks a 'buddy', and they attack enemies as a mini-team. This allows your team to follow more subtle or complex strategies, and gives you some backup assistance from a close ally.
- Save Me! - When you see an ally's health meter turn orange or red, and if you are not a defender, there is still something you can do about it! Click on them in the team menu and fire off your powers. If you are a tanker or scrapper, you can click your ally's name, then press F (by default( and more easily get to the source of the problem. Hopefully you will have enough power to either destroy your teammates would-be assassin, or at least draw him away. Buffs and healing also works out well this way. The team window is not just for seeing who is on your team, it is also a valuable targeting tool.
- Targeting Techniques (Arcas) - Many heroes have binds set up to target specific teammates. Others simply click on the hero or the name of that hero on the team list. I continue to use the old school method of SHIFT-selecting. Holding SHIFT and pressing the number keys 1-8 will select the team member in that position on the list. Given practice as a chronic assisting blaster, a force fielder, a kinetic, or a single target healer, and you can become incredibly fast with shift-selecting.
- Aggroball (Fulmens) - The idea is that one character starts with the aggro and then then someone else steals, thus distributing the pain among multiple characters. Often a Scrapper/Tank pair can do this nicely- Scrapper takes alpha, Tank taunts the villains off them. I've also done it with multiple Blasters, one with Phase Shift, and in other situations as appropriate.
- Shock and Awe (Fulmens) - This is another "PUG" (Pick Up Group)-friendly technique, because it's basically what a Blaster does all the time soloing. You hit the enemy spawn with all the AoE damage the team can muster and then clean up the lieutenants and bosses. There are subtleties to doing this. For one thing, most minions take about three AoE attacks to drop - even with buffs- and Blasters generally only have one or two. So the multiple Blasters have to hit pretty much together. For another thing, the non-knockback attacks have to hit first. Think "Burn, then scatter. "
A crucial area of combat that I almost completely forgot about in my original Handbook was communication. Luckily, alot of heroes have stepped forward to provide much of this information.
- Talk to one another. Take the time to assess your enemy, develop a strategy, organize your attack, and devise a "go command" to start it all. Team leaders and experienced players usually know how best to survive. Listen to them. Here are some simple rules when on a team:*If you don't know, don't do it. Nothing will gain you the ire of your teammates faster than jumping into a fight before everyone's ready. You will quickly find yourself abandoned to a buttkicking for your lack of restraint.
- If the team leader says not to do it, don't do it. Team leaders are supposed to be looking out for everyone. They tend to be cautious, wishing to slow down the pace of the mission often to make sure everybody's on the same page. Don't compromise team strategy by disobeying orders.
- Tell your team what you are doing. If you're a tanker and you need to rest, tell the team. If you're a healer and you need to rest, tell the team. If you want to level up before the next mission, tell the team. Snap decisions, running blindly into battle or engaging hordes of Trolls on your own and bringing them running toward your exhausted team is not good RP everybody.
- If you need help, ask for help by typing it out or pressing the default function key. As a tanker teammate, I can run over there or taunt your target. As a blaster or scrapper teammate, I can target you (which in turn targets your foe) and blast away. Use the team window or SHIFT+# to choose your teammates.
- If you're mezzed, type "zzzz". Healers can unmez you or someone can run over and hand you a break free.
- If something's broke, fix it. The standard strategy I see in PUG is the simple "run-in and blow everything up" strategy. Teams likes that bc it's simple and it works many times. But if you rush in, and get face planted, or worse, team-wiped, then it's time to talk some strategy.
- Speak up and take a few moments when the team forms to explain any key powers or tactics. For example, explain what an anchor is and how you should keep it alive until all the other mobs are defeated.
- Change things around to keep things interesting. I play a tank so I'm the one who rushes in first. Now, I'm trying to lead spawns through choke points for better positioning. With scrappers, we all go in at the same time. When a
blaster is with me, who has snipe or likes to pull, we try the "double strike" where I run toward the mob when he starts his snipe. Ideally, we hit em at the same time, sparing the blaster the aggro.
- Make up cool names for maneuvers and let your teammates know. For example, I team with a D3 (called Night's End) who had recall friend. If we needed to make a strategic retreat, he would zip out to a safe place, while I hold the line. Then I'm tp'd away (hopefully alive). We called this the "Night Express". It makes things more interesting and mirrors the comics. Anyone for a "fastball special"?
(Local_Man) - I use keybinds or macros for advising my team that team buffs are available. I have keybinds or macros to tell my team when I need to rest. Keybinds and macros have really improved my enjoyment of the game. They allow me to have quick access to the powers I need most in an emergency. For example, I usually bind any healing power to the "plus" key on the numeric keypad. This allows me to flick out my thumb to pop a quick heal anytime it is needed. Keybinds and macros let me do quick communications without having to type.
(Reptlbrain) - The top bar of my power tray is devoted to team combat macros that I need instant access to: "Incoming!" "Fall back!*" "Holding $target" "Sapper!" etc. This sounds so much better than Run!, and indicates a fighting withdrawal.
(Su_Lin) - The first thing I think anyone should do upon entering a group, is run an Info on each and every member, and take note of level and powersets, including pools. Do the same for every new person that joins the group. As a secondary to this, it's very important to understand those sets. Take time to skim the boards, read guides for other ATs, dig through the Hero Planners, and so on. This is stuff you NEED to know; it may make all the difference if tactics, communication, et al fail you. If you don't know your defender is Force Field instead of Storm Summoning or Kinetics instead of Dark Miasma, or you don't know that Force Fields are a defense-buffing set as opposed to a heal/buff or debuff set... you're operating on a set of misconceptions. It's important to know what your groupmates CAN do, enough about what they can do to have an idea what they're GOING to do, and what you can't reasonably expect them to do in a fight. If you expect a heal that isn't coming, slows and holds that don't exist, ranged knockback from a set that doesn't have it, tanking from a scrapper that can't do it, then it's no one's fault but your own when that wipe comes. This is a tenet many people overlook, so it may be in best interest if you happen to be one of these little-understood sets(my Storm Defender comes to mind) to educate others how your powerset works. "I'm going to trap them in the corner with Hurricane and you can pound away", etc.
Other Game Hints and Tips
This section is for other strategies and tips to make you a more effective player and hero. Anything that doesn't fit in Movement, Targeting, or Playstyle Strategies will go here.
Inspiration Management (Arcas) - There is no larger crime in a team setting than walking around with a full inspiration tray. Use those inspirations and use them often. If a teammate can use it more than you can, give them the inspiration by dragging it over to him. If no one can use it, throw it out. If you can't use it right now, but it's taking up space, use it anyway and make room for better stuff to come. Always keep at least one open slot, you won't receive anything from villains, as well as that life-saving inspiration from a teammate, if you have a full tray. There's no time for full-on trading during an extreme battle.
- Know your enemy - Tactics can make all the difference in the world, but not unless your team knows which ones to use...and when. For example, I have a couple Scrappers and a Peacebringer, and when I'm on a team with a Tank I like
to play Aggroball and Jumping the Fire to help keep things under control. It usually works well, especially since I'm not trying to usurp the toughie's job, but to complement it. However, against enemies like Nemesis soldiers that are heavy on AoE attacks, being close to the primary fire target can be a quick trip to the hospital. If you're fighting Crey or Nemesis, be on the lookout for Snipers that can start a fight before you're ready. If you're fighting Malta, mez or quickly kill Sappers first. If the enemy is heavy on mezzes, protect your toggle-Defenders to prevent a slippery slide into trouble. Remember kids, knowing is half the battle!
- Be aware of your surroundings - When you enter a room, pause for a second and remember what your mother used to tell you about crossing the street when you were a kid: look both ways first! Check your flanks and make sure there aren't any additional spawns close by that might aggro. If there's a Kheldian in the team, scan each group for Quantums and Voids. If you see something dangerous, say something.*Stay flexible - Just as you shouldn't try to fight Carnies like you fight Clockwork, don't stick with a losing strategy. A single wipe can be the result of bad luck or a momentary lapse in judgment. Multiple chain deaths are another matter. That's a clue that you need to change strategies. If the usual charge-in-and-blast-away MO isn't working, try a more cautious approach. Often it doesn't take anything exotic to make a seemingly impossible situation into a win. Start with line-of-sight pulls. Most of the time, your teammates will already know how to best leverage their own abilities to help, once a strategy has been decided on.*Don't Panic - If things take a turn for the worse - if, for example, a second group of enemies adds midway through the fight - don't lose your cool. Remember: there is something you can do about it! Not just "you" in the general sense, but YOU individually. Think about what tools you have to change the battlefield. If you're a Scrapper, for example, you can make a conscious decision to focus on occupying a dangerous enemy rather than doing damage, to take the pressure off your teammates and let them thin the crowd down to something more manageable. If you're a Defender and you're struggling to keep the tank up, don't panic, do something by going after the sources of the damage, even if all you do is knock them down; if the incoming damage is too much to keep up with, then cut it down at the source. If you're a Blaster, don't neglect your secondary controls or, if things have already gone too far, the Nova. Sometimes it's worth the crash if the alternative is being overwhelmed.
- Don't be afraid to fight defensively - Remember, as long as your teammates stay alive, they're doing damage to the enemy. Stay alive long enough and eventually, you'll win. Shift to a defensive footing. Fall back to a choke
point or change your own personal tactics. If there are simply too many foes to take all at once, try to Divide and Conquer: split the enemy force in two and focus fire on one half. Often it only takes one or two heroes on a defensive footing to occupy a large group of enemies they could never hope to defeat on their own, but can buy enough time for the team to deal with the rest. It doesn't take a tanker to do this - in a pinch, anyone with a handful of Lucks and Respites can buy some time. Just be aware of your limits - know how many you can take, and for how long, and know when to cut and run.
Control Strategies (Local_Man) -
- My main is an Illusion/Rad controller, and he uses his pets as the first line of "control." Phantom Army is even better than the tanks at taking the Alpha strike, so PA goes first, before the tanks. After the tanks go in, it is time for AoE holds and debuffs, after the alpha strike is gone and the bad guys' attention is focused on the tank or PA.
- For other kinds of controllers, I usually wait for the tanks to go in, then lock down anyone getting past the tanks. I try to line them up for the damage-dealers to take out, so if there is a blaster with AoEs, I use AoE immobilize. If there are bosses, I may try to hold them, or hold the Lts and debuff the bosses.
- If there is an Illusion or a mind controller on your team, keep an eye out for Deceive/Confuse. Try not to take out the bad guys who are Deceived/Confused until there is no one else to target. Be Patient and let the Controller use Deceive/Confuse before the battle starts, and it can make a big difference in the battle. If you have a Defender or Controller on the team with Anchor-based debuffs, try to avoid taking out the Anchor, if you can.
Alpha Attack Decisions -
(Reptlbrain) - If the map permits it, the group should also see which approach to an enemy spawn will be most effective. Just because you came upon the mobs from the southwest doesn't mean you have to attack them from there.
(Fulmens) - Only one person should be starting any given fight [normally, unless you are using an Unfocused attack strategy - PK] and everyone should know who that is. Ideally, this would be " a tanker" or "a sniper" if you're pulling. If you have someone who goes off by themselves and starts fights, make them the official fight starter. It may not be the most optimal person, but it will make them happier and it will make you happier too.
Conclusion - And Final Notes
I began the first version of this manual about two hours after hearing my brother rant about how Issue 6 'ruined' his level 50 Broadsword/Invulnerability Scrapper. He had said that he had some small problems with previous Issues but that this was too much. As a direct result of this conversation, I felt compelled to write this handbook to assist my fellow heroes in not only surviving, but prospering in this new, more difficult environment. I see all new Issues as challenges and a call to action, and a way to weed out the weaker heroes among us from the ones that are willing to work hard for Our Beloved Paragon City. In war, as in all the rest of chaotic life, you either adapt and learn with the changes, or you stagnate and die. I hope that this guide can help you all to grow and become the heroes I know you can be. I leave you now, with a word from one of our greatest heroes.
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. -Christopher Reeve: former Superman, current Hero
If you have any new strategies that I may not know about, please feel free to post them here. If I like what I see, I will add it to the next version of the Handbook and ensure that you get the credit that you deserve. Any contributions may be edited for content and/or grammatical errors. Please report any such errors that you see to me.
Good luck to all the True Heroes out there! -The Philotic Knight Original Version: 10/30/2005