Whether or not I like to admit it MMORPGs are largely based as around grouping. I love the ability to solo and quest on my own. There is just something about a lone hero fighting hordes of evil doers that appeals to me. Yet I know what as I level my characters that I’ll need to start grouping at some point. I accept this because it’s the way of MMOs. The thing about being a HBN (Hero By Night) is it’s difficult to group and there are things people need to know about grouping properly. City of Heroes also attracted a lot of new players. This is good as it expands the player base but it’s difficult because people don’t have a lot experience in group situations. Let me fill in gaps for some of the new people and all the HBNs out there.

That first thing I would suggest is to read the Teaming Guide on this site by Trai. It gave me some tips and helped me understand a few things that I might have been doing wrong. Now she covers combat in groups as well. Here are some things I think that are important that she didn’t cover, and things I think are important, just in general.

First and foremost, know your team. I usually make it point to let everyone know my level, archetype, primary and secondary. This is to let people know what I’m going to be doing. With my power sets being Electricity/Electricity I’m a single target blaster. I do have one AoE attack but most of the time I’m focusing on picking of enemies one by one. By knowing that, most people will know that they don’t need to assist me. It also lets the healer (if we have one) know that I probably won’t require a lot of looking after. The AoE heals usually work just fine on me. The Controllers and Tankers typically don’t have to worry about peeling mobs off me either. So just by a simple introduction my role in the group has been defined and we’re much better off. Conversely, once you know your other group members’ power sets you know where you might be needed. This typically becomes less of a problem if you play with a regular group and/or in a supergroup.

The second thing to remember is to speak up. Combat in CoH is very fast paced. As, I’m sure you’re aware it’s hard to type messages when you’re knee deep in minions. It doesn’t help that movement is controlled by the keyboard. Yet there are lulls after a battle. These are the times that things need to be discussed. Now as HBN I use this time to ask questions. How I’m doing? Are there mobs I should focus on? Does anyone need me to assist on them? Things like that. This usually smoothes out the rough edges around combat. After a few encounters and a little banter, we are running like a well oiled machine. On the flip side of that don’t be afraid to let people know if they are doing something wrong. Is Tank pulling too many mobs? Is that Blaster using too many AoEs and pulling aggro? Is the controller needing to stop focusing on the minions and hold the lieutenant or boss? Not to mention the group is designed for interaction with other people. Crack a joke, do an emote, role play. I’ve found that CoH tends to be a silent game. I have been in far too many groups where there was little interaction between the group members. The more you interact with a group the more group members will remember you. You’re more likely to be put on friend’s list also. This may result in future invites to groups as well.

Next thing you need should know about group is pacing. Depending on how diverse the group is you may move at a slow pace or you may move lightning quick. You need to recognize early on what the pace is going to be like. If encounters are slow that means several things. Your group may be lacking damage dealers or the mobs may be of significantly higher level so the group may be hitting less. Whatever the reason, these situations typically require more thought and tactical planning. Recon may need to be done. Assists need to be identified. Enhancements or inspirations may need to be traded. The thing to remember is not to rush. I know speeding up the pace may seem like a good idea but more often the not it puts people on the ground or in the hospital. Does waiting a minute for your group to compose itself seem bad when compared to having to wait for a group member to run back from the hospital?

The other side of pacing is moving too quickly. I’ve seen this a lot. This is a result of being a higher level then the mobs and/or being able to deal tons of damage. Either way combat goes by in a blur. Not a lot of tactics required for these fights just wade in. Assisting usually isn’t required in these encounters because the mobs are dropping like flies. The thing to remember in these fights is don’t rush. It may seem like you all are invincible and can take on everything but your not. I’ve seen lots of people go down for the count when they rush off to fight a new group of mobs when the group isn’t done with the current one. Don’t do that. Deal with the mobs at hand. Those other mobs will still be there when you are done fighting. By running off to the next group of mobs you’re making everyone’s job a little harder. The people that do this usually get KO’d a few times before they get the message if at all.

The final thing to know about grouping is when to leave. Now sometimes that happens naturally as the group falls apart because people want to go to sleep or have other stuff to attend to. The other times are a little trickier. Maybe you’re the only one who wants to leave. In this type of situation try to let your group know as soon as possible. Just a simple ‘Hey guys I need to go soon’ is all that is usually required. The group may be able to deal with your loss. They might not. Letting them know early gives them a chance to plan according. Try to finish as much of the current mission you are on. The missions are scaled to your group. Your leaving may mean the group will fail that mission. It’s only courteous to try and make it through the whole mission. There are times that you can’t continue playing and need to leave immediately. Let the group know that. It will ease a lot of tempers because people understand it happens some times. Looking at the other side of this if the group is not doing well and you feel the risk isn’t worth the reward don’t be afraid to quit. Give some notice of course and any reasons you feel you need to leave. Others may feel the same way and you could try to start a new group that works better. The final point I want to make on leaving is don’t quit immediately if you’re defeated once. Sometimes it happens, so deal with it. To quote what a famous Aunt said at one time ‘You’re not Superman you know’.

All in all grouping is a complex thing that everyone views differently. These guide lines are not set in stone and you should adapt to them so they suit you. Most of all just have fun and respect others and they’ll respect you.

So after long a hiatus I finally plunged back into Paragon to fight crime. Just as I suspected the group I teamed with on a regular basis was 8-9 levels above me now. Darn. Yet there was a ray of hope one of them logged on. She just happened to wander by when I was looking for group and invited me into the super group they had created in my absence. Now I’m reunited with all of them and digging my new team colors. The original look of my character is dark and the team colors are bright and vibrant. I look completely different when I’m in either mode.

I’d also like to mention that I’ve been a couple movies lately as well. I’ve seen Spiderman and Harry Potter. Both of which didn’t meet my expectations. They were both great movies but something was still missing. Spiderman I felt wasn’t focused enough on the villain in the story. He was in there almost as an after thought, a side note if you will. Harry Potter lost something in translation from the book to movie. First and foremost the kids looked entirely too old. Harry and company were supposed to be about thirteen. They other thing lost from the book is the antagonistic roles that Draco and Snape play in the books. Both of them were pushed to the background without much screen time. I know sacrifices had to be made the book takes place over the course over ¾ of a year. Not much time to put that into two hours. Still it could be done. Look at Lord of the Rings. Many said those book couldn’t be made into movie and look at them now. Still they were good movies. You should go see them really.

– Zameda zameda@warcry.com 29 July 2004


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