How to Team in City of Heroes
by Trai

[Request] Level 15 Tanker LFT!

But once you’re on the team, do you actually know how to play? Surprisingly, for a lot of people, the answer to that is a resounding, “No!” In the course of playing several characters while racking up rather a lot of experience and entirely too much debt, I’ve often found myself analyzing teams for the factors that make them good or bad. Sadly, people often join teams thinking that by joining a team they are now invincible heroes. From that point onward, they proceed to do everything within their power to jeopardize themselves and their teammates. An hour later, half the team realizes they’re going to “still be in debt into the next level”. Does that phrase sound familiar to you? If so, keep reading.

Rather than breaking up the team into the five archetypes (controller, defender, etc). I’m going to break up the group into the three main functions that people take while in a group: Offense, Puller and Support (OPS). Offense is pretty self-explanatory, as is Support. If your primary job in a team is to directly damage the Thug, then you are part of the Offense. If your primary job is to buff the group’s strengths or weaken Thugs or deny Thugs mobility, then you’re part of Support. A Puller can come from either an Offensive or Supportive archetype.

Offense
The usual cast of characters for Offense primary positions are, as follows: Scrappers and Blasters.

While it is true that Defenders, Controllers and Tankers have “Offense” capabilities, the primary goal of these characters is not to injure Thugs or Criminals. Rather, these Archetypes are designed to weaken, arrest or taunt the Thugs while ensuring the Team’s victory in every encounter even as they “buff” the strengths of the team. Needless to say, there will be occasions when the team is light on Scrappers and Blasters and the other Archetypes will find this a great occasion to enjoy a more Offensive role.

Unfortunately, when that happens, you’ll find that people new to being the Offense of a team often don’t know about one essential element of coordinating a team’s Offense: the assist.

What is the assist?
The assist is the person on your team who always has appropriate Thug selected for the group to be attacking at any given time. When the team has a good balance of Offense to Support characters, the assist is almost inevitably a Blaster or Scrapper.

Note: Be careful of assisting Area of Effect (AoE) Blasters as you will often find that AoE Blasters are not careful regarding choosing their targets since a large number of their abilities hurt many thugs simultaneously. When AoE Blasters do assist, they often choose to assist Tankers with a “taunt” ability rather than assisting a teammate who will ordinarily stay on one target.

What target should the assist be selecting?
In most situations, the appropriate Thug is going to be the highest level Thug that has been pulled close to the group. Some encounters in which the group is fighting a Boss, the assist may choose to kill the smaller “nuisance” Criminals before directing the team’s efforts to the Boss. A good assist is also careful not to bother with Thugs that have been put on “hold” when there are other thugs attacking individuals in the group.

How do you assist?
Quite simple, you select the person you wish to assist in the team panel. Once you’ve done that, look around the area. If your target has something targeted, you’ll the name of that target highlighted. (This even works with monsters! Target a Mortificator and you’ll often see him selecting his Vahz buddies!). If you choose the appropriate ability while selecting a teammate, that ability will redirect to your teammates target.

Are there ever times when you should not assist?
I’m sure there are but 9 times out of 10, assisting is a good idea. It is the single best way to control your aggro and remain out of Debt.

A good assist can be very hard to find and a laggy day can ruin even the best assist’s ability to function as one, but until you have a found out which person who is good at the job try to designate someone appropriate to assume the role of the assist. Once the role has been designated, inform all teammates who they should be assisting. And, please, if someone joining the team asks, “Who is the assist?” then tell the new teammate!

Puller
What is a Puller? A Puller is the Thug Bait. The Puller goes out and lures unsuspecting Thugs and Criminals into your team’s heroic ambush.

I want you to pay special attention to two things in the above statements. I’m stressing these two things because they are where groups most commonly go wrong:

1) Heroic ambush.
Heroes do not blindly rush Thugs. The heroes contemplate the encounter and then intelligently pick the best location for the battle to be held after accounting for all team members. After the best location has been determined, the team of heroes lies in wait for the Thugs to be strategically lured into the terrain that was chosen because it maximizes the strengths of the heroes and minimizes the strengths of the Thugs. A heroes job is not to make things easy for Thugs, it’s to win the battle against the Thugs.

2) “Puller” is not pluralized.
There is a reason for that: there should never-ever under any circumstances be more than one Puller. Multiple Pullers will result in multiple deaths.

Things to remember while pulling:

1) Line of Sight
Have you ever seen the message “Target Blocked”? Annoying, isn’t it? Well, the good news is this: Thugs have the same problem. Optimal pulls are started with the group parked where the hordes of Thugs cannot see the team of heroes waiting to arrest them. If one person is pulling, then the rest of the team should all be tucked behind a corner or a crate waiting to ambush the incoming Thugs. This will not only result in smaller more controllable pulls but will also result in less people being shot by Thug blasters.

2) Sniping
By far the most common means of pulling, it can be used from great range and does a great deal of damage. Two snipers assisting one another can often kill White to Yellow cons in one tandem snipe while pulling controllable amounts of Thugs so that the rest of the group can contribute. (Suggestion: if two snipers are going to work together on pulls, there should be some extra communication going on to prevent inadvertently pulling separate groups of Thugs onto the team.)

Sadly, my biggest complaint about this ability is not that the pulls are not controllable but rather that high level blasters will often forget that the lower levels in the group like to contribute. If you use Snipe to pull, please do not become so enamored of your ability to one-shot kill Grey and Blue cons that you forget that you are supposed to be luring Thugs for the other Heroes in the team to play with. Bored teammates have this remarkable tendency to disappear. Keep your teammates busy but out of debt and they’ll stick with you for a very long while.

3) Super Speed
Super Speed is very useful in pulling. Until attacking, a person with Super Speed on is almost invisible to Thugs. If speedsters can avoid being rooted then they are typically too fast to be killed.

With Super Speed turned on, select a non-boss Thug and try to fire a non-AoE offensive ability at the Thug while you are out of range. Run towards the targeted Thug and stop when you’re in Range. The offensive ability will automatically fire as you run back to the teammates waiting out line of sight from the hordes of Thugs. If you pulled a Thug from the edge of the horde, only one Thug will come to you and the group. If you pulled one with some buddies very close, he may bring some friends. Either way the pull should be quite controllable so long as the group is waiting out of sight.

4) Tanker with Taunt
My favorite means of pulling, a Tanker runs around the area gathering as many Thugs as he can Tank and Taunt then brings the Thugs back to a good spot near the waiting group. (A good spot is a spot where the Tanker can keep all the Thugs in trapped within melee range and line of sight… preferrably with the tanker’s back to the wall.) The group (hopefully having a few AoE blasters/scrappers) destroys the Thugs that are kept enthralled by the Tanker and on hold by the Controller as needed.

Note: the controller should talk to the Tanker on when to use AoE holds before battles begin. A lot of Tankers use “Unyielding Stance”, an ability that makes Tankers better at their job but in exchange does not allow the Tanker to move. Since Thugs need to be within melee range of the Tanker for the Tanker to be effective, AoE holds could possibly prevent Tankers from doing their job if the AoE hold is used at an inappropriate time.

5) Stealth/Invisible
Part of why Super Speed works so well for Pullers is the semi-invisible effect. Stealthers are far more invisible and have a defense buff so they also work rather well as Pullers providing they have a ranged attack of some kind. Stealth also works well in that it means a group doesn’t have to all hide out of sight from the pulled Thugs. They can wait at a location more convenient to the puller.

6) Phasing/Rooting/Hold Pulls
By far, this is the most dangerous means of pulling if only because Controllers are, of all the character types, the most fragile and as a result are quickly killed. A Controller runs near to the hordes of Thugs and roots/phases/holds a large percentage of them. That will result in the remainder of the Thugs chasing the Controller back to the group. Hopefully, the Controller doing this style of pull has Stealth or SS or a Blaster using Caltrops to slow down the pulled Thugs.

Is it always necessary to pull?
No. (You thought I’d say “Yes!” Right?)

If a good percentage of the offensive characters in the group considers the target Thugs to be Blue to White then chances are that pulling is not required. Controllers seeing the targets as Blue to White can also mean that pulling may not be required. Also, if you have multiple Controllers or Tankers who conning the Thugs lower than Purple, you may be able to successfully conquer Thugs while rushing groups.

However, if your group is not pulling it needs to remain especially careful to stay together! The strength of using a Pulling hunting style is that it more readily ensures that the group will be together when fights start.

Support
This will likely be the most controversial section of this little beginners teaming guide.

Support roles are typically manned by the following archetypes: Controllers, Defenders, and Tankers. If you are a Controller, a Defender or a Tanker, you will almost never be invited into a team because of your damage dealing capacity. If you want to gain acclaim and fame by slaying all the Villains and Thugs you ever encounter, do yourself and future teammates a favor: Make a Blaster or a Scrapper.

As a Controller, you will be invited into a team because the team hopes you will be able to “hold” Thugs to prevent excess damage to the team and possibly provide some secondary benefits to the group that are ordinarily provided by Defenders. As a Defender, you will be invited into a team because the team hopes you will be able to buff the team’s offense, heal damage taken, prevent damage before it occurs, and weaken foes’ defense. As a Tanker, you will be invited into a team to help the team control aggression of Thugs such that the aggression is redirected from Blasters, Controllers, Scrappers, etc to the Tanker.

Does that mean that a Defender cannot occasionally blast or a Tanker cannot occasionally hope to do some damage? No. But it does mean that most people when they invite someone of the Controller, Defender or Tanker archetype are doing so for the non-damage dealing abilities of those archetypes.

Needless to say, the advice above may not work in every encounter and you should certainly know how to play your character better than I do (even when teamed up with strangers =) but hopefully I’ve presented some ideas that will benefit you and your teammates the next time you don your capes and step back into Paragon City to fight crime.

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