The Zen Art of Scrapping

created by SpiderJ
compiled by Alyssa
added to by many, many others

(Note: I began my scrapping career as an MA/SR scrapper. After 9 levels, I was thoroughly disheartened as there seemed no way to get into the fun of trying to attack mobs with melee and began to play my blaster again. This thread was posted in the Scrapper Forums, and I read it, and felt renewed interest in scrapping, now having the proper standpoint from which to play a scrapper, and BE a scrapper.

My main switched from an energy/dev blaster to a claws/regen then a DM/Regen. I have been playing the DM Regen ever since, and my level 20 blaster main gathers dust on Infinity. I have also included and made minor typographical changes to the post and following posts which were in the thread, so that new players can use this as a guide and not endure the same confusion that I did when starting a scrapper toon.

If you are interested in the title, I presume you have made or will make a scrapper toon. Good luck, and good hunting. Follow the tenets within and you will not go astray. End of note.)

Original text from The Zen Art of Scrapping (compiled by Alyssa, created by SpiderJ and added to by many, many others).

Introduction

There was a trend on the scrapper forums for a while to refute anyone who said “scrappers are teh gimp!” by screaming back at them that obviously they don’t know how to play their scrapper, they have the eye-hand coordination of a semi-retarded gibbon monkey, and that they have heaped dishonor upon their ancestors by their anti-l33tness.

Thankfully, this seems to have passed. But I realized something — no one has ever written down anything about the “right” way to play a scrapper. I don’t pretend to be any kind of authority on scrapping, but I seem to be fairly successful ,as evidenced by many unsupported anecdotes that it would be a waste of time to enumerate here (personal favorite is when folks regale us all with stories of how their level 21 scrapper single-handedly cleaned out all of Brickstown solo). So, caveat lector, but I still think tihs is worth writing/reading.

This essay will be roughly organized into two parts: 1) Basic mechanics, i.e. stuff that has drastically helped my scrappin’ in game, and 2) Scrapper Philosophy, i.e. the way that I think about scrapping — how I’ve learned to stop worrying and love the melee. I’ll put a nice big divider between the two, so, if one doesn’t interest you, just skip it and read the other.

Mechanics

I am NOT going to discuss builds, required vs. useless powers, or anything along those lines in this post. There are roughly nine billion other posts on the topic in this forum. Here, I’m just talking about basic game mechanics, and what every scrapper, of every stripe, can do to possibly make their game a little better.

Far as I can tell, one of the biggest complaints melee kiddies have is targeting. Since you’re in it up to your eyeballs, your field of view is significantly decreased from your ranged counterparts. I can’t count the number of times the flow of the action has popped me out one side of the fight, with all the major action going on behind me, and I can’t find anyone to target without taking the time to spin around and frantically tab through whoever may be alive.

My solution? Learn to love the bird’s eye view. Zoom the camera way out, and position it right above your head. Not only do you get a cool cinematic view of your scrapper mixing it up in the middle of a huge group of baddies, but it also lets you see everything in a 360-degree targetable field around you. With proper zooming, you can pretty easily find anyone targetable in melee range. But be careful, and practice — it can be a bit disorienting moving about when the direction you’re facing is slightly less intuitive. Lastly, don’t forget about CTRL+tab, which auto-selects the baddie nearest you.

Second suggestion: mobility. Combat jumping, swift, hurdle, superspeed — all of these are your BEST FRIENDS while scrapping. If you can’t close, you can’t hit. And there’s little more satisfying, exciting, or effective than just vaulting over that first line of baddies to get to the boss.

Third suggestion (and likely the most obvious): the follow key. If you target a baddie, keep your hands off the movement keys, and just focus on queuing up attacks, you’ll automatically chase down the baddie, no matter how much he gets knocked around by your energy blaster. this is especially great for scrapper with short-range attacks like spines or claws, since you’ll move into range, say, for a Focus attack, knock the baddie down, then run over and start pounding on his corpse. Jubilation is had by all.

Target selection. It has proven INVALUABLE to me to hang back for a second before the fight starts and see who’s attacking what, so I can jump all over whoever’s not being insta-slain by the blasters. Are they targeting the minions, taking them out en masse? Then dive in teeth first toward the boss, and start pouring on the damage. Are they all sniping the boss? Then start chewing through the minions so none of them can get close to your controllers or defenders, both of whom draw unholy amounts of aggro if there’s not a provoking tank in the room.

There’s a pretty consistent holy war going on about blaster vs. scrapper damage. In my experience, scrappers are best at keeping a constant flow of damage flowing towards a relatively few number of targets that doesn’t stop as long as the scrapper has endurance left. This is where we get our rep as “boss-killers” — bosses (especially Tanks, Crey, etc.) take unwholesome amounts of damage to bring down, and we can keep that going, especially since our defensive powers (at least theoretically) keep us alive while focusing on individual baddies. Know thyself, scrappers. Blasters are great at alpha-strike initial attacks, but scrappers can keep up the damage output more consistently, and, at least in theory, they can worry less about the chaos going on around them. Your mileage may vary, but I’m trying to avoid passing judgments on the relative goodness/badness of the Scrapper Nation, and this is what I’ve found that works for me.


Philosophy

A blaster buddy of mine recently rolled up a scrapper, because I appeared to be having so much fun with mine, and well, because scrappers so often appear to be unmitigated badasses. And she is having a hell of a time wrapping her head around the appropriate mindset required to scrap successfully.

Or, as I put it, she lacks the required madness. I seriously believe that, to play a scrapper really well, to be a real factor in melee combat, and to do all the wonderful things that scrappers do well, you have to be a little bit crazy.. You have to be wholly convinced that your defensive powers won’t just keep you alive, but that they’ll make you nigh immortal. You have to be willing to dive into a pack of 9 baddies, all conning red, and that you will emerge victorious.

Learn to love your debt, and draw strength from it — it’s like an old blanket for scrappers, and it’s part of the price (fair or otherwise, I’m not judging) of the wild madness required to be a the kind of scrapper that makes other players go “Damn…” Playing a scrapper conservatively just doesn’t seem to fit in with game design. You’ll get beat to the baddie by the blasters’ blasts. You’ll get beat by the tank, you’ll get beat by the controllers, and you’ll be stuck mopping up the dregs around the edges of the fight. And that’s not scrapping to me.

Scrappers are, in my opinion, the most comic-booky cinematic of all the AT’s. While blasters hang back, pick off targets one by one or in large groups, while Tanks are immortal, aggro-soaking brick walls, while tanks and defenders lock down and buff/debuff, scrappers are the ones who are most capable of turning around a fight and pulling a victory out of nowhere. It’s a scrapper who will turn around while facing down four tank smashers and realize that the whole team has retreated back a bit, shrug, and start clawing away at the nearest one. It’s the invulnerability/regen scrappers who get god mode as their final powers, when the *bleep* hasn’t just hit the fan, it’s all over the walls, they can flip this on and go nuts, taking down everything around them. It’s the scrappers who can go crazy every single fight, who are in danger every single fight, and who have a chance to do something miraculous every time.

Do we need help? Maybe, maybe not. but I’ll be damned if there’s another AT with which I can have this much fun. I saw a signature somewhere here on the forums, “I play City of Heroes to live vicariously through my scrapper.” Preach on, brother. Wish I knew who you were so I could attribute this one to you.

One Zen of playing a scrapper is the search for the perfect attack cycle. Every melee character wants to develop the perfect attack cycle – one where you neither wait for your attacks to recharge, nor do you have a situation where all your attacks have recharged and you are waiting for your animations to finish. It is a maddening search, one where you are tweaking your attack cycle constantly with slots devoted to recharge, Hasten, and off pool attacks.

The hardest is weapons and somewhat for claws. This is because you cannot tweak using Boxing. The redraw weapon time is maddening. That means that weapon users have to rely on slotted recharge or overall recharge such as Hasten or Quick. Claws also have a short but slightly noticed “pop” time.

When developing your attack cycling you need to pay attention and avoid excess attacks with long animation times. While Flurry of Blows might look cool, every scrapper already has at least one long attack sequence already and adding Flurry means you will just blow away your activation to recharge ratio.

The problem with relying on recharge enhancers is that every time you level your enhancements drop in effectiveness so if you do not tweak at every level your fine tuning falls off. If you use enhancers then pick only one attack to fine tune to fit your scheme.

Hasten smoothes out many bumpy attack schemes. It can even be slotted to be almost always on. It also provides a defense bonus. There is a reason why so many people use it. This is definitely the way to go for anyone with a draw speed.

For other types Boxing might work. It’s low recharge low recycle means it comes back quick so the damage versus time ratio is pretty good. It doesn’t do the high damage of some Scrapper attacks but it doesn’t take long either.

For my martial artist I use Crane/Storm/Thunder/Boxing, with the occasional use of Cobra. I have no recharge slots. It is pretty smooth and requires no extras like hasten.

My claw scrapper uses Swipe/Strike/Slash with recharges to get a smooth basic attack cycle, always opening with Follow Up and occasionally adding Spin when needing. It is a pretty good cycle although Swipe does terrible damage for the animation and Slash has a long baseball wind up animation that bugs me. I would love to replace by using Focus and Eviscerate if the END and recycle times allow it.

My dark scrapper is great. Hasten just smoothes out the attack cycle bringing that nasty Shadow Maul to bear as often as possible. It has a long animation sequence, but SP, Smite, Shadow Maul can work on their own with Hasten or some recharge buffs.

What is the best attack cycle for you?

Oh, and one last thing (I feel a bit of a hack, posting this much in a thread I started — shouldn’t I have thought to say all this in the first place?)

Listen to Polonius, scrappers. To thine own selves be true. Not every scrapper WANTS to blast as well as a blaster, or tank as well as a tanker — if you do, more power to you, and we’ve got one of the few AT’s that give us that kind of versatility (perhaps at the expense of flat-out effectiveness in our chosen role). The big reason I’m playing regen is because it’s NOT invulnerability. I don’t want to be asked/feel the urge to be a “mini-tank.” How’d Alpengeist put it? Whirling dervish of death and destruction? That’s more my speed.

If you don’t like what you’ve got, either reroll and reslot, or just pick another AT. Lots of times it appears to me that these scrappers who complain about damage, durability, etc. only picked a scrapper because they liked the power sets, and not because they liked the scrapper role. Newsflash, the power sets are a means to an end, the way in which you fill out the scrapper role, whatever that may be.

Do we need help in large groups? Do we get overshadowed by tanks and blasters a bit, when there are too many of either? Is melee damage totally off the wall compared to ranged? Maybe. No, really, maybe — I’m only bringing up those points because they’re the big ones I see repeated again and again in these forums.

But all AT’s have their balance issues, and ours isn’t really THAT insurmountable, as long as you approach the scrapper role with the appropriate attitude.

Is specing out a scrapper harder than other AT’s? Hell yes, because of our reliance on both our primary AND secondaries to do our job. But that’s the price of admission, folks, it’s what we pay for the wall-to-wall excitement of melee combat.

I’ll happily accept any buffs the devs decide to throw my way, but this is a GAME, you play it for FUN. It’s not like the developers are trying to personally insult you when your chosen AT doesn’t operate as you’d hoped it would. I’m writing all this craziness because I want to help scrappers have more FUN here, because it seems like a lot of us sorely need the positive community support. I’m tired of crusading for this or that cause, I just want to get as much out of the game as I can with the game that I’m playing, not the game as I’d like it to be.


Scrapping definitely requires a philosophical bent, a certain detached viewpoint on life’s issues.

  • You have to be willing to throw yourself at the enemy and mash keys.
  • You don’t worry about debt.
  • You don’t have a big precision attack combo or “ideal” sequences of attacks.
  • You think the cardinal sin is inaction; if I’m not attacking, I’d better be moving to attack the next target.
  • You just want to get in there and do unto others before they do unto you.
  • You believe in concepts like “Recon in force”, where while “scouting” ahead you kill as many enemies as you can without the rest of the group noticing.
  • You believe that the best defense is both a good offense AND a decent defense.
  • You believe that “aggro” is a tool to keep more targets in range, instead of having to chase them down.
  • You’ve planned out your power picks and enhancement slots twenty levels in advance, but then you have no real expectation that you’ll stick to that plan.
  • But it’s not just about being masochistic or suicidal. It’s about STYLE. Any Blaster can kill a group of enemies, sure; a Scrapper can kill a group of enemies and come out of it with more health and endurance than when he went in. A Tanker can sit there and take a beating from a dozen enemies while he whittles them down; a Scrapper can beat a dozen enemies, but only if he times his heals, toggle use, etc. correctly.

    We even die with style. I like the old quote from ancient Greece: “With your shield, or on it”; fleeing soldiers would dump the heavy shields, so either you came home still holding it (which meant you had stood your ground) or it was being used as a stretcher to carry you. No running for the door for Scrappers; if I know it’s a hopeless fight, I’ll still pick out the most interesting enemy and try to kill him before I drop. After all, if I run away I’ll just have to do this all over again anyway.

    But most importantly, Scrappers need chutzpah. (I’ll use the definition from the Paranoia game: “The ability to kill both your parents, then plead for mercy before the court on the grounds that you’re an orphan”; or was that moxie?) Scrappers need a self-confidence that borders on delusion. You need to look at a situation and say, “Meh, a friend of a friend said it’s POSSIBLE I’ll survive, so I’m sure I can do it.” Level 20 Education officer in a level 16 mission? Sure, he’s been soloed before, so I know it’s possible, and “possible” clearly means “required”. Dr. Vahzilok just appeared in your solo mission? Clearly, you must try to kill him by yourself at least once before asking for help; once you’ve made a good attempt (followed by a few good deaths), THEN you ask a few friends along, but not because you NEED them; you just want to show them the sights. Level 30 Rikti Chief in your level 26 mission? No biggy. Sooner or later he’ll miss you with that sword, and THEN he’ll be in trouble… Paragon Protector who takes 1 point of damage from your attacks? Okay, he might take a while to kill, but I have time.

    As a result we, as a group, have panache. It’s just our natures. Scrappers were the guys who, when playing deathmatch Doom, would grab the chainsaw and go after the guys with rocket launchers… AND would keep the chainsaw revved so that they knew you were coming. When playing any other shooter, we’d find whatever weapon bounced, ricocheted, was steer-able, or had a timer, and use that exclusively. When playing Star Control 2, we’d always make a fleet of Druuge or Pkunk ships; the best of us would use only Shofixtis and then refuse to self-destruct.

    The irony is, when I first started CoH, I was a Defender. My Scrapper was just an alt, for messing around while I waited for friends to log on. But I left him at level 16, and I’ve pretty much only played my Scrapper since. Part of it was, I had the Scrapper view towards life, and my groups hated seeing their healer running headlong into a hopeless fight.


    And the next topic up for the happy scrapper love-fest this post has turned into: Regeneration vs. Invulnerability. The floor is now open for discussion (as if y’all needed me to say that), and, again, keep it in the spirit of how best to use what you’ve got, and not let this devolve into a holy war like one of those other posts.

    My $0.02 for the newbie scrappers: Scrapper nation pretty much seems to believe that these two are the best defensive powersets available to scrappers. This isn’t to say that super reflexes and dark armor suck — post-patch, super reflexes rocks in some very real ways, and at level 35 dark armor gets the sickening, the mighty Oppressive Gloom, i.e. keep every baddie in a 10-foot radius stunned. Damn.

    However — as far as full-game experience goes, most folks seem to pick one of these two, and, really, it comes down to playstyle.

    Regen is great because it’s all about mitigating your own downtime, be it downtime to heal or downtime to regenerate stamina (at least until its big bad final power Moment of Glory, which is another animal all together). Upsides: insane endurance regeneration, especially if coupled with Stamina from the fitness pool, mobility while resisting status effects, instant healing (a power that must be seen to be believed). Also, all regen powers stack with each other, so it’s never a choice of “either power A or power B.” Downsides: lots of toggles, especially two incredibly endurance heavy ones — integration and instant healing, and you have to survive that big first burst of damage to heal it back — if a fight is sufficiently hairy, you might not. Also, your best power sub-28 is Reconstruction, a self-heal that has a not inconsiderable base recharge time (hasten is friendly for regenerators). It takes until 28 for you to really be a force to be reckoned with. But remember: since it heals damage BACK after it’s done, the source doesn’t really matter, be it elemental, psionic, or physical..

    Regarding invulnerability — this is for those scrappers who are gunning more for the “light, high-damage tank” role. you may not have the insane HP of a tanker, but, with the new 90% damage resistance cap, and a few well-picked pool powers, you can get the same kind of resistance. So, upsides: massive damage resistance possible. Scales incredibly well with level, and, because the mitigation is just a percentage of the damage dealt, it makes you a bit more immune to luck, wherein a bunch of enemies get lucky all at once and slam you for tons of damage. Your HP decreases more slowly, so your healers have more time to take care of you. Oh, and invincibility. probably the best power in the game. When you first click it on, you get a base defense (not mitigation, defense) bonus of 3%. For every enemy in melee range, tack another 10% onto that — in big groups, your defense becomes a bit obscene. It also gives you an accuracy buff. This is the power that makes invulnerability go from “cool” to “hmmm…might this ruin balance among scrapper secondaries?” The downsides: Your only resistance to status effects is Unyielding stance, which roots you. Lots of toggles, and, since you won’t be running US all the time, those bad boys can get shut down right quick. Also, it’s pretty endurance heavy, so be prepared to fit the fitness line somewhere into your build.

    In prior posts on the official boards, we’ve seen the “mobility is life” argument, one which I happen to subscribe to. Big reason i went regen over invulnerability? I didn’t feel like rooting myself to resist stuns, and I liked the idea of TONS of endurance. Now, it is possible to circumvent US by using the teleport power — you see the scrapper popping all over the battlefield and not moving from a given spot. But for a scrapper, where endurance is LIFE (if your toggles drop, you DIE), teleport can get kind of costly, and it pretty severely cuts into your damage output, which is one of those big ways scrappers stay alive. On the bright side, post-level 28 you’re basically unkillable. Oh, one last thing — invulnerability doesn’t defend against psionics. In fact, your biggest mitigation comes against smash/lethal, which, while by far the most prevalent damage type, isn’t the only one by a LONG shot. This isn’t too big a deal for a quite a while, until you’re fighting Rikti at level 30+ — but again, something to keep in mind

    So, pick wisely, but realize that both are very, very good.


    I would have to agree we don’t have to die all the time, but every now and then you get scrapper lock, yes I said scrapper lock: the condition where ones mind is over taken by ones aggression towards one particular monster or group that killed one when one was not paying attention.


    Well, because people appear to still be posting in the thread I posted on the official boards, I figured I’d add in my latest True Tale of Scrapperdom:

    Last night, roundabout 2 AM EST (GMT-5 for you euro kids), a few of us are banging through the Manticore Task Force. I’m level 32, enemies are level 34, it’s not overly challenging, but it’s a good time.

    The scene: Generic Crey Lab #3. I’d fallen a bit behind the rest of the crew, shuffling around my enhancements or some similar silliness, and everyone else is one floor above me. I go up the elevator, and, thinking I hear fighting around a corner to the right, I charge in, claws gleaming. It turns out that the team was around the corner to the left.

    I always check the map to see where the group is. Always. Except this time. Maybe because it was 2 AM and I was tired, maybe because the scrapper lock had taken hold of me like the very teeth of Cerberus himself, maybe because I’m just absentminded sometimes.

    And so I run face-first into a full TF-sized group of Crey, roughly 15 baddies strong, including no fewer than 4 LT’s and a boss, all two levels above me.

    “CRAP@!” I say over the team channel (yes, I typo’d the @ sign) and then I’m jumping around for my life, praying instant healing can keep up with the incoming damage.

    At this point I realize I have two options. 1) Flee back to the group, dragging this whole army with me, and get us caught in the middle of a brutal pincer attack, or 2) scream like a wild man, hold back the enemy army solo, and try and stay alive until the squad could come rescue me. I figured, worst that happens, I die and the enemies reset themselves, and the rest of the group is saved. Best that happens, I hold my own for a bit and I escape without accumulating more debt.

    A couple minutes pass. Apparently they were having some trouble with their group (stacked Force Fields from Crey Protectors, or maybe it was a stubborn Paragon Protector, I’m not sure). I’ve taken down about half of the army I was fighting single-handedly, saved a couple times by the team empathy defender running around the corner, quickie healing me to supplement my poor, abused Instant Healing, then running back to help the rest of the team.

    By the time the squad gets to me, I’ve taken down the boss, all but one of the lieutenants (leftenants, for you Brits out there), and about 5 of the minions. I have combat jumping, so I conserved endurance by leaping about over the heads of the baddies, staying out of melee range and counting on the fact that lower ranged attack damage couldn’t keep up with IH’s beautiful green healing glow, but it was a welcome sight, seeing the fireballs and energy blasts start raining in over my shoulders and taking some of that pressure off.

    Afterwards, I got chewed out by the team leader for going off on my own and distracting the empathy defender from the rest of the team. I provided my rationale, which I think was perfectly reasonable — “Better I die and y’all only have to fight one group than forcing you folks to deal with two large groups coming at us from both sides, right?” I don’t think she agreed with me, but hey, she was a blaster, what can you do? They don’t understand that scrappers thrive when the water’s up around our eyeballs.

    Moral of the story: Yes, we can survive crazy situations and are capable of true madness at times, but remember, we’re team players too. Of course, what’s best for the team does vary in certain circumstances…but be aware that grouping isn’t (well, at least not always) an excuse to solo with more difficult, larger groups of baddies hanging around. But enjoy the moments like this — it’s part of being a superhero. Remember, we’re scrappers, we have the most license to pull stupid crazy stuff in this game of any class out there. If we succeed, we’re heroes’ heroes, standing down an entire army of +2’s, saving blasters from annihilation, whatever. If we fail, we can always blame it on the “fact” that we’re “gimped” and the cards are stacked against us.


    Scrapper Intro Appendix 1

    Binds

    Here’s a bind that clears your current target and targets the nearest enemy. Nice when you’re in the mix and don’t have time to toggle through the whole mob to smack the guy in front of ya.

    /bind [key] “unselect$$toggle_enemy”

    ****

    I use a bind for the closest target, and I’ll be moving it to ‘g’. For reference, it’s:

    /bind g “target_enemy_near”

    then you smack ‘gf’ to start wailing on the next guy before the first one hits the ground. In fact, if I know that my shadow maul is dropping the killing blow, I smack that before I even finish the punching animation and I’m immediately on the next fellow when the animation completes.

    ****

    I have superspeed, so rarely use autofollow to follow a person. So remapped ‘f’ for combat follow thusly:

    /bind f “follow$$powexec_name Strike$$powexec_abort$$powexec_auto Strike”

    This sets me to follow a baddie and start attacking with a single key.

    And for selecting the next victim… err.. I mean criminal and attacking, I use the tilde “~” key, as it’s next to the ‘1’.

    /bind tilde “unselect$$target_enemy_near$$follow$$powexec_name Strike$$powexec_abort$$powexec_auto Strike”

    This selects the nearest target, starts autofollow, and starts attacking with a single key. Sometimes it targets a mob several hundred yards away, so be ready to hit the ‘S’ key when that happens.

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