Playing the Game (Part two)

hypercube Okay, you have made an avatar in a MMORPG and you are on a team. Now what?

You need to stick to things that (a) you can succeed at, and (b) everyone on the team will enjoy, or at least not be bored at.  If what you are doing does not satisfy these two criteria, you will get your avatars killed and/or lose team members when they quit the team to go do their own thing.

There are basically three kinds of team activities you can pursue.  The first is farming materials. You can move around gathering materials like herbs or ore that your members need for crafting, and protect them from wild animals or enemies who might attack and interrupt them. This is fairly simple and not too risky.

The second type of team activity is farming XP. You can rampage around killing enemies to acquire experience points to level up your character (plus snag whatever drops from the baddies when you scrag them).  The easiest way to do this is to attack loners, like single animals or baddies wandering about by themselves. Having the whole team attack them at once usually brings down a loner quickly and then you move on to the next one.

The third type of team activity is questing or farming bosses. Quests (or missions, in City of Heroes and Champions Online) usually involve fighting bosses also, so I lump these into one category. Bosses are monsters or humanoids with minions or henchmen supporting them. For example, you might be fighting a bunch of thieves who are minions for the head thief, their boss. A boss typically is stronger than his minions, may have extra powers or attacks to hit you with, and has more hit points or health, so it is often hard to take them down by yourself. Exceptionally strong enemies are called elites. Beware the elite bosses! They should be approached with caution.

Let’s say you have a complete team, with a tank, a healer, and one or two people to do DPS.  There is a group of minions around the corner or in the next room or part of the cave, and they have a boss with them. How do you proceed? Some people like to throw caution to the winds and just go for it. Doing this can get your entire team killed. There is an ugly word for gamers who behave that way. They are called noobs.

Okay, it’s a game, a recreational activity, and nobody likes being ordered, “do this, don’t do that” when they are trying to have fun. But try to remember that you are not alone. The team is supposed to work together for the good of all, not for the glory of one. Don’t be a Leroy Jenkins.

The first thing to do when confronting a group of minions and a boss is to note their disposition: are they spread out, or tightly bunched?

If they are spread out, often you can whittle the goup down to a manageable size by pulling. Pulling is basically trying to lure one of the minions away from the group. To do this, you select the one farthest from the others. That way you have the best chance of pulling only one, instead of bringing them all down on you. then you pull them away from the group and gang up on them to kill them quickly. Then if you can you repeat this procedure until the group is small enough to manage in the normal way. Correctly done, pulling takes a little longer but is safer than simply attacking a large group all at once. And safer means you don’t get killed and you can keep on going.

There are three types of pulling. the simplest is the aggro pull. In all online games similar to the ones I am discussing the bad guys and monsters will not notice and attack you until you get within a certain distance of them. This is commonly referred to as their aggro radius. Get inside it, and they go aggressive. The trick is to get inside one guy’s aggro radius but no one else’s, so that only he attacks you. Basically, you move toward the most-isolated enemy , just close enough to make them attack you, then you back off, pulling them after you and away from their fellow enemies. Done correctly, you get one of them — and only one — attacking so you can defeat them without worrying about the rest of the group.

The second kind of pull I called the ranged pull. If your group has people in it with ranged attacks (i.e., mages who can throw fireballs, or hunters that shoot arrows), then you pull the most-isolated enemy away by simply shooting them from a distance. Avoid any kind of attack that has AoE splash. (Area of Effect).  Some attacks will hit every enemy in a certain area. If you hit more than one, then you will pull more than one…or maybe the entire group. So be sure you use a ranged attack that hits only one target.

With both the aggro pull and the ranged pull, there is another consideration: the type of attack the enemy is known to use. If you try to pull an enemy who uses ranged attacks, like a guy with a bow or a sorcerer who throws bolts at you, then the pull might not work. They might see you, get angry, go aggressive….and then just stand there shooting at you. Naturally, this kind of defeats the purpose of the pull, which is to get them away from the group. So with both aggro pulling and ranged pulling, try to anger enemies who have to come after you, not enemies who can just shoot at you.

The third kind of pull I have only experienced in City of Heroes, and it is the most fun: Teleport Foe. In CoH you can learn the power to target an enemy and teleport them closer to you. This can be the best pull of all in that game, because it gives them literally no choice about coming toward you or not. And it works equally well on ranged as well as non-ranged attackers. Of course, it has the drawback that it can miss. And sometimes when it misses they notice you tried and get angry about it. Sometimes, however, even missing with it can have the effect of a successful aggro or ranged pull: they get angry and charge toward you…away from their group. Teleport Foe can also be used to do funny things, like teleporting the bad guy off the edge of a cliff, and watching him fall and get hurt. Always hilarous.

(By the way, these same pulling techniques can be used against your team. If a monster or baddie singles you out while you are teaming and attacks you from the side, do not chase them! They are trying to pull you away. Engage them where you are, or lead them into the team to get help finishing them off.)

Ok, let’s assume that either you have whittled the group down to a manageable size, or they are too tightly bunched to be able to pull some of them. Now what? First, of course, if you have a buffer ( a team member who can temporarily enhance other member abilities like strength, agility, and so on by casting helping spells or buffs ) then the buffer prepares as many of the team as possible by buffing them. Then:

1. The tank goes in and gets them all angry at him. That’s his job, to make them all attack him instead of you. Resist the urge to charge into the fray with the tank. He is doing his job; try to stick with your own if you are not the tank.

2. The healer concentrates on healing the tank, or others who get hurt. This helps the tank keep taking all the aggro without dying.

3. The DPS members (like mages and rogues and ranged attackers like hunters) do as much damage per second as they can to the baddies who are attacking the tank. This can be tricky…because if you hurt them enough you might distract them into forgetting about the tank and going after your DPS people instead.

If all goes well, the tank will hold the aggro, the healer will keep him and anyone else who gets attacked alive, and the DPS folks will help wipe out the group in short order. Some don’ts: (1) If you are the tank, try not to move out of the healing range of your healer, who will then have to follow you, possibly into danger. (2) If you are the healer, resist the urge to attack the baddies; it might pull them into attacking you and not the tank. Try also to resist the urge to chase after team members who retreat when they get hurt. If you follow them off to heal them, you are neglecting the tank, who is getting hit by multiple opponents. (3) If you are the DPS, resist the urge to chase off after baddies who try to run away. Concentrate on the ones hitting the tank.

When everyone does their job well the team is happy. the enemies are dead. People feel safe and powerful. This is a good time to let them know they are all appreciated. Let the healer know you are glad they kept you alive. Let the tank know he is brave and strong. Let the DPS people know they really hurt the bad guys. When a team is doing well, it is a good feeling. People don’t want to leave it. I have been on teams that played together for many long hours and formed lasting bonds. I have also been on teams where someone was selfish, or careless, or acted as if they were all alone and didn’t need to look out for the others. Some of those teams broke up after only one fight or mission.

If you find yourself on a bad team, there are only a couple of things you can do. (1) try to get the jerks to leave and replace them with better members by recruiting in a hurry before everyone gets discouraged, or (2) quit and find a better team. Personally I hate to quit a team, especially in the middle of a mission or quest. But sometimes it is necessary. Not only because you will find yourself suffering on a team where someone is acting like a noob. There is a second reason. If a person acts selfishly, or rashly, or neglects their duties, they are hurting or endagering their fellow team members. If they refuse to change their ways, then sometimes the best you can do is quit and let them go it alone, to send them a message. Everyone needs feedback. — MRK

Next: Part 3 —  hints and tips to make your questing more efficient.

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10 Responses to “Playing the Game (Part two)”

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