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    Group Tactics Guide by sunspot01

    Version: 1.00 | Updated: 08/02/04 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Group Tactics Primer for City of Heroes
    Author - Doctor Enigma
    Copyright 2004 Jonathan Sill
    Email: jonathansill@yahoo.com
    Date - July 28th 2004
    Version - 1.00
    Heroes on Victory Server:
    Doctor Enigma - Mind/Empathy Controller
    Sunspot - Fire/Energy Tank
    Psychopomp - Kinetics/Electrical Defender
    Lord Baltimore - Broadsword/Regen Scrapper
    Spryte - Invincibility/Super Strength Tank
    1. Version History: 
    1.00 - Released 07/28/04
    2. Table of Contents
    1. Version History
    2. Table of Contents
    3. Introduction
    4. Terms
    5. Group Composition & Mission Selection
    6. Group Tactics
    7. Summary
    8. Copyright
    3. Introduction
    The City of Heroes developers did a wonderful job making a fun, easy to play
    game thatís full of balance.  All archetypes and power sets can succeed and 
    contribute.  Spontaneous teams of strangers can take on villains and do very 
    well without ever discussing tactics or responsibilities.  Other MMORPGs 
    certainly have more challenging large group encounters than City of Heroes.  
    I donít believe CoH has any multi-group challenges yet, but I believe they 
    might in the future.
    While the object of the game is to have fun, progression through the game 
    is based on achieving experience and gaming levels.  This FAQ is meant only 
    to help groups progress at a quicker rate by improving their tactics and 
    teamwork.  Proliferation of standard tactics (wherever they are adopted from) 
    across CoH will help pick-up groups, and the discussion of tactics within a 
    supergroup or set of regular players, should help a great deal in keeping 
    everyone on track.  This FAQ is meant more for regular groups of teammates, 
    but (I hope) any player may benefit from reading it or considering itís 
    By no means do I think I am the best player in CoH; I do have a history of 
    online MMORPGs and I have an interest in efficiency and group tactics.  
    Many may disagree with what Iíve written; thatís fine, this is only my 
    opinion and Iíve seen many succeed with a multitude of methods.  But 
    working out how your regular team/supergroup/task force will function will 
    benefit (I hope) all involved.
    I consider the key to regular progression in CoH is to understand that it 
    is fundamentally based on level.  The level of the hero(es) and villain(s) 
    affect both the experience received and effectiveness in every encounter.  
    Balance the level of the encounters & your team against the time needed to 
    defeat the mission/mobs and youíll do well.
    4. Terms
    Point Blank Area of Effect (PBAoE) - An AoE that affects enemies (or 
    teammates, depending upon the nature of the power) in the immediate vicinity 
    of the hero
    Area of Effect (AoE) - A power that affects a spatial area, usually targeted 
    on (and therefore centered around) a villain.
    Taps - A power that requires a successful hit on a target to benefit; taking 
    from the villain and giving to the hero or team (i.e. endurance, health, 
    speed, etc...)
    Archetype (AT) - your main character "class"; dictates what power sets you 
    may choose from
    Line of Sight (LoS) - powers can only effect what they can see.  In CoH, 
    various things (including chain link fences) block line of sight.  An 
    important concept to understand related to powers.
    Range - the distance that that powers work up to (generally also LoS)
    Villain - generic word for bad guy or opponent used for bosses, 
    lieutenants, and mobs
    Boss - the strongest and most empowered villain of the group, sometimes called
    the "named"; typically have loads of hps and killing damage (think Pyro or 
    Scorcher from the Hellion missions or Jawbreaker from the Skulls)
    Lieutenant - a stronger than normal villain with a power or two (and killing 
    potential) the rest of the villain group may not have (i.e. a Buckshot from 
    the Hellions)
    Mob - a standard villain, generally with both melee and range attack; a 
    generic from the villain type
    Runner - mobs that flee a fight for some reason; an AoE damage power, etc.. 
    They are most likely to draw teammates that chase them into other groups of 
    mobs, tankers can accidentally provoke a new group of mobs if they are focused
    on a runner
    Aggro - The state of having enemies attack.  Aggro is possessive, as in "Oh 
    no, the Blasterís got Aggro!"  It is an important concept (especially as you 
    go up in level) to understand and appreciate if you wish to stay out of debt.
    Aggro should stay on the defensively powerful (i.e. tankers, scrappers, 
    defenders, blasters, controllers in about that order) and off of the 
    defensively weak.  Unmanaged aggro leads to defeats that cost teammates debt.
    Taunt - the action of inciting a villain or group of villains to attack your 
    Assist - the concept of selecting the same target as a teammate; helps manage 
    aggro and defeat opponents more quickly.
    5. Group Composition & Mission Selection
    5.1 Forming a Group
    The way to progress in CoH is to do enough damage to defeat a villain and not 
    take enough damage to die while doing it, all while balancing the time it takes
    to perform this function.  Pay attention to the level of hero you are inviting
    to the group; forming the group of heroes of similar levels will keep 
    everyoneís xp progression consistent.  Other than that, well played/designed
    heroes can generally contribute in any group of appropriate level, but 
    balancing offense, defense, and support power is always good.
    5.2 Sidekicks
    Sidekicking is a wonderful, wonderful aspect of CoH.  But there are a few 
    things to remember when having a sidekick (or being a sidekick) on the team:
    1. Sidekicks wonít be quite as effective; remember that they will lower level.
    They wonít have as many powers.
    2. Sidekicks should virtually never pull.  Theyíre a level or more below 
    their mentor and will have problems if the group is taking on challenging 
    3. Sidekicks should avoid getting aggro like the plague.
    4. Sidekicks should be grateful to their mentors and team; they allow them to 
    play in an area or with a team they wouldnít normally be able to handle or 
    contribute to.  If their mentor is already on the low end of levels on the 
    team, the sidekick is probably getting mega experience.
    5.3 Archetype Responsibilities:
    My opinions on the responsibilities of the various archetypes:
    Blaster - range, support/melee damage
    A blasters job is to do damage.  Theyíre very, very good at it.  Whether 
    theyíre good at masses of villains or individuals depends on the individual 
    blaster and how theyíve chosen powers and slotted them, although in general, 
    theyíre pretty good at both.  Blasters are simple to play in groups; they 
    just need to work with their group on HOW their group needs them to damage 
    (i.e. to manage aggro).  Blasters can easily stress out their teammates 
    unintentionally by taking too much damage and making teammates support them 
    out of turn.  Blasters are focused on dealing damage.
    Controller - control, buff
    A controllers job is to manipulate the villains.  The best controllers 
    coordinate timing and targets with their groups, especially with tanks and 
    blasters.  They help immensely in situations where numbers could be 
    overwhelming for the team size.  Controllers should be focused on controlling 
    mobs (i.e. holds/stuns/etc...) and buffing teammates (in that order).
    Defender - buff, range
    A Defenders job is to affect the team and the villains, as well as throw in 
    some damage.  Teams need to be aware of defender powers between fights (and
    defenders need to pay attention to refreshing buffs between fights) to 
    maximize their utility.  Defenders are a very flexible class.  They also need 
    to explain how their powers work to their teammates (i.e. the PBAoE heal will 
    not heal you if you are out of range or LoS) who may be clueless as to how 
    they operate (their powers benefits are not as obvious as, say, a blasters).
    Some defender powers work off of "taps", i.e. they need to hit an opponent in 
    order to buff their group.  Defenders should be focused on keeping their 
    pullers/tanks (i.e. those that are supposed to have aggro) alive, keeping 
    other teammates alive, keeping buffs/debuffs active, and blasting opponents 
    (in that order).
    Scrapper - melee, defense
    A scrappers job is to dole out melee damage, mostly focused on lieutenants 
    and bosses.  They do great damage to anyone they face, but concentrating on 
    lieutenants (who break holds and taunts more easily and have more powers than 
    mobs) make them most useful in a team situation; they have enough defense to 
    go toe to toe with them and enough melee damage to defeat lieutenants quickly.
    Scrappers should be focused on dispatching foes.
    Tanker - defense, melee
    A tankers primary job is to control aggro by taking damage.  Keeping aggro off
    of teammates allows teammates to do THEIR jobs safely.  Bosses are a good 
    focus for taunts so the bosses arenít killing teammates.  A little 
    recommendation: Tankers should have/get provoke, no questions asked, just do 
    it if youíre going to group.  Also, be prepared mentally to pull.  Tankers 
    should be focused on keeping aggro, keeping their defenses up, and doing 
    damage (in that order).
    5.4 Mission Selection
    Select a mission with the intention of maximizing experience by selecting 
    indoor missions from the highest-level teammate (if you think your team can 
    handle the mission).  Mobs will generally be the level of the mission owner 
    (although some missions are "front" or"rear" loaded with mobs of different 
    levels "Lucky Pete" of the Lost, comes to mind as "front loaded").  Outdoor 
    missions are fine, but can be completed by defeating villains of a level that 
    donít provide any xp (i.e. a group of level 21s gets a mission to defeat 20 
    Tsoo and does it in Steel Canyon instead of Talos Island).  There are, of 
    course, many reasons to do lower level missions, Iím just recommending based 
    on a desire for maxing xp.
    6. Group Tactics
    6.1 Why pay attention to your team tactics?
    When you donít, youíre stressing out your fellow players.  If you start to get 
    aggro out of turn, your team healer is looking to heal you specifically 
    (perhaps instead of the hero whoís expecting his heal by right), your tank is 
    looking to taunt whatever is hitting you, and your RUN caller is considering 
    calling "RUN" when he/she shouldnít have to.  If youíre healing and your 
    attention wanders, itís your teammates that die.  If you are supposed to 
    buff and you forget to, your tank could be visiting the hospital needlessly 
    because he thought he had a power (or was going to get a power) he didnít.  
    Itís respect to your fellow players.
    A few tips:
    1. Pay attention.
    2. Take AFKs between fights, BEFORE the next villain group is aggroed.  
    Announce during the fight that you want to take a break after the current 
    fight and make sure the puller responds affirmatively.
    3. Communicate and remember that you are communicating online; so go the 
    extra step to explain yourself or to phrase things clearly (for instance, in 
    response to "Ready for the next fight?" does "gtg" mean "good to go" as in, 
    "Iím ready for the next fight" or does it mean "got to go", as in, "Iím 
    dumping your team before you jump into the next fight"; Iíve seen it used 
    both ways).  Be forgiving if thereís miscommunication; it happens.
    6.2 Be aware of your own powers
    Pay attention to how your own powers work.  You might never have to know, 
    because youíve been so effective in the past and while soloing, but be aware 
    of it so you can project or detect how your powers affect someone elseís 
    powers.  Some examples: anything breaks a sleep, even a taunt; knock-back 
    can frustrate scrappers, certain AoE heals heal in a radius around the 
    TARGET, not the hero.
    Adapt your teams tactics based on level of the individuals involved as much 
    as what powers someone has.
    6.3 Preparation of Teams
    To prepare a team for combat, you may want to review a handful of things prior 
    to getting started.  Things like how certain powers work, whoís playing what 
    role within the group, and what buffs are available.
    6.3.1 Powers
    Not everyone has played every AT, every power set, and certainly hasnít had 
    every power.  Let people know, in clear, POLITE terms what you do and how you 
    do it.  Be flexible with the group on what tactics you want to use.  For 
    instance, not everyone knows that Controller need to hit a Boss twice to get 
    them held properly.  Not everyone understands range and AoE heals.  Being 
    clear on what your important powers do will be good for the team and raise 
    awareness.  But donít monologue on how great you are either; no one likes a 
    6.3.2 Roles
    If you have a patient team, consider discussing and identifying the following 
    roles within it:
    Who is identifying targets?
    One hero should be selecting which group of opponents to fight next.  99% of 
    the time, itís the same as the puller, but sometimes a distinction should be 
    made due to experience with the game, different powers that let some estimate 
    forces better than the puller (think invisibility and scouting groups) or 
    comfort level.
    Who is pulling?
    See below in 6.6.
    Who is healing?
    Iíve seen groups of 4 defenders, each able to heal, let the puller die each 
    because they thought the other was going to do it.  Just be clear on whoís 
    supposed to be healing, for everyoneís sake.
    Who calls RUN?
    Imagine the following text from six different teammates in the middle of 
    combat coming across your screen:
    "Crap crap crap, I need help over here."
    "Did you see that embalmed blow up?"
    "We need more defenders."
    "Heal coming"
    Do you run?  Or do you tough it out?  Was the :RUN: a stray button click?  Did
    the "gotím" mean that player thinks the threat is over?  Is he even talking 
    about the same threat?
    Communicating during combat is difficult, confusing, and often necessarily 
    brief.  Decisions need to be made quickly.  It can be pretty frustrating to 
    die and notice half your team is gone because, in their opinion, the fight 
    was out of hand and they decided to run without saying anything.  On the 
    other hand, if one person panics unnecessarily, your team may miss out on 
    the combat needlessly, if people listen to their cry of "RUN".  A combat is 
    affected by many things; no one knows if the defender/healer is out of "Catch 
    a Breath" or the tanker is out of "Respite".  In general it may be good to 
    designate who calls "RUN" (i.e. who you should listen too).  Suggestions for 
    designated "RUN" callers include the tank, the highest-level character, the 
    leader type, or the most experienced player.  Good judgment is what is 
    necessary for this roll.
    6.4 Preparation for Combat
    In preparation for a challenging combat, everyone should buff teammates each 
    time (as endurance and recharge times allow).  Be especially careful to buff 
    those that will be taking aggro (i.e. tanks and pullers).  Consider the 
    type of opponents and make adjustments (i.e. if youíre fighting Murks of 
    the Vahzilok - the ones that can knock you senseless, make sure your main 
    tank has "Increase Density" but it may not be as needed if thereís no Murk).
    Pullers should be aware of their teammates endurance and health by using the 
    team box (over the chat box).  Be respectful of your team; pay attention to 
    your own levels of health and endurance as well.
    6.5 Opponent Selection
    CoH is based on levels.  Opponents should be within 3 levels of the group 
    average for best results.  A good rule is to start by selecting opponents of 
    equivalent level and working upward in level until a comfort level is reached 
    with the risk/reward/time ratio.  Iíve found that fighting villain groups 
    around 1-2 levels higher than your team average makes for a good xp rate.  
    Remember that the objective is to maximize xp over time; so finding a rate at 
    which you can constantly (or close to constantly) fight and defeat enemies is 
    a good thing.
    6.6	Initiation of Combat/Pulling Advice
    If there is ANY CHANCE the next opponent group might not be evident, announce 
    your selection to the group.  They should be following your lead if your 
    designated to select the opponents, but hey, stuff happens.
    6.6.1	The Role of the Puller
    The "puller" initiates combat with the enemy.  In doing so, they have these 
    1. Taking initial aggro & staying alive
    2. Centralizing the mobs
    3. Whittling down the number of mobs (in certain situations)
    If ending a break and starting up combat again, the puller should ALWAYS 
    check if teammates are ready after a break.
    6.6.2	Quantity of Pullers
    ONE PULLER.  To phrase it differently: THERE SHOULD ONLY BE ONE PULLER.  A 
    situation of multiple pullers is most dangerous in outdoor zones where the 
    group can split accidentally (i.e. by turning two separate ways), but can 
    also happen in an indoor mission if the group splits down different hallways.
    6.6.3	Centralizing the mobs
    Why centralize the mobs?  Multiple reasons:
    1. It helps prevent the aggro of new mob groups by keeping them together and 
    keeping AoEs from accidentally attracting a nearby group.
    2. Powers all have aspects that will benefit from the centralization of mobs.
    These aspects include:
    a. Range - keeping them together helps teammates manage the range of their 
    powers by keeping within proper distance
    b. LoS -  keeping them together helps keep them in LoS for everyone, and, 
    therefore, able to be affected by everyone
    c. AoE/Cone Effects - keeping them together maximizes the number of mobs 
    affected by AoE powers (like Provoke, or Rain of Fire, or a million other 
    blaster powers)
    d. AoE Taps - Tap buffs/heals that work off the target and help teammates 
    will benefit by having your team members in the same area as the mobs (think 
    tankers and scrappers and AoE tap heals like Transfusion)
    How do you centralize the mobs?
    1. Provoke/Taunt - Generally the best way to centralize mobs is to let the 
    tanker start provoking right in the middle of them, it keeps them nice and 
    tight for teammate AoEs, and theyíre attacking the right person.
    2. AoE Holds - fire your power when theyíre nice and packed, and youíve got a 
    group of villains ready for hell to unleash upon them.
    3. Move the Mobs - get them to follow the puller around a corner where 
    theyíll be nicely packed like a can of sardines, ready for AoE effects 
    galore.  This is a very standard tactic, bringing mobs back to the group, 
    in certain other MMORPGs (like EQ) but really isnít as necessary in CoH; it 
    has itís place, though.  The important point is to recognize and use "choke
    points" to your full advantage.
    6.6.4 Methods of Pulling
    My belief is that the method of pulling should be influenced heavily by the 
    level of heroes involved.  A tank thatís 3 levels below the opponent is going 
    to get killed if he pulls.  A Blaster thatís 2 levels above the average 
    opponent is a better choice than a controller whoís 2 levels below.  Switch 
    the situation (with the Blaster 2 levels below) and the Blaster will aggro 
    half the group on his attempt.  Any class can pull, but these are my 
    recommendations for pulling challenging groups with appropriately leveled 
    1. Taunt - use of Provoke/Taunt is my favorite method for pulling.   Puts 
    aggro on the teammate that can take it and keeps the mobs coming toward the 
    tanker.  Centralizes them for AoE/Cones.
    2. Snipe - one common method of pulling.  A nice method for whittling down 
    numbers against oversized mob groups when you donít have a controller.
    3. Control - higher level controller can do wonderful things and keep people 
    4. Run Through - the default method of pulling, it can create a slightly 
    messy result, but itís not a big deal IF youíre dealing with outclassed 
    6.7 Target Selection advice for Combat
    Remember, consider your level vs the level of opponents.  If youíre on 
    the low side, be sure to assist so youíre not murdered, if not, hereís my 
    6.7.1 Tankers target selection - Tanks should target:
    1. Bosses - tankers should keep a boss focused on them until teammates can 
    help kill it
    2. Most centralized mob - helps to keep provoke focused on the greatest 
    number of villains
    6.7.2 Scrapper target selection - Scrappers should target:
    1. Lieutenants - scrappers are great lieutenant killers; lieutenants are 
    most likely to break agro, run from an AoE, and annoy the hell out of your 
    team with powers (slows, holds, stuns, massive damage etc...)
    2. Bosses - Your main tanker should hold the boss until scrappers can assist; 
    Tanker will hold, Scrapper will kill.
    3. Runners - those that escape tank agro, controller holds or blaster AoEs
    6.7.3 Blaster target selection - Blasters should target:
    1. Centralized mobs - for AoEs/Cone Effects - (assist the tanker for best 
    aggro control)
    2. Lieutenants - for individual powers - if you can one-shot, choose runners 
    or lieutenants first; donít use tanker for assist; if you kill his taunted 
    mob, or cause knockback on it, the Tankers provoke (and aggro) will suffer
    3. Bosses - Your main tanker should hold the boss until blasters can assist; 
    Tanker will hold, Blaster will kill
    4. Mobs mobs mobs - you know what to do
    6.7.4 Defender target selection
    1. Know your powers and responsibilities - are you supposed to be healing in 
    this group?  Blasting?  Youíre flexible, just be clear with your teammates as 
    to what aspects you are emphasizing.
    2. Know if your heal power is a PBAoE (Healing Aura, for example) or a 
    target-based AoE tap (Transfusion, for example) and target accordingly.
    3. Keep your tanks healthy; thatís the deal; they take all the aggro they 
    can and your jobs to keep them alive
    4. Blast whatever is aggroed to the tanker/held by the controller.
    6.7.5 Controller target selection - Communicate with your tank, blaster, 
    and other controllers re: when to Hold/Stun.
    1. Getting mobs clustered together is of top priority
    2. Runners - youíre a controller, control them
    6.7.6	Sidekick target selection
    2. Assist, assist, assist someone whoís supposed to have aggro (like a 
    tank, or scrapper)
    3. Stick with your mentor - itís YOUR responsibility to stay near them, not 
    vice versa
    4. Know how/when to back off - if things get over your head, retreat a bit, 
    but keep your team informed if you do
    7. Summary
    Remember: itís just a game.  Have fun.  Be respectful of your teammates and 
    fellow players; itís a smaller community than you think.  Some players may 
    not play as often as you do, some may not care as much as you do.  Not all 
    players are level based power-gamers; please know and respect that.  If you 
    want to play only with efficient, power-gamers, be selective and respectful 
    in your choice of teammates.
    Group tactics are not necessary in CoH to succeed, only to maximize 
    efficiency.  If youíre having trouble in the group beating villains of a 
    certain level, try tactics, and if that fails, try lower level opponents.  
    Not everyone has played MMORPGs, not everyone has played as much CoH as you 
    have, not everyone agrees on the value of certain tactics.  I look forward to 
    seeing how they grow and morph over the years as the game matures and new 
    features are added.  Be responsible, respectful, and listen and you should 
    have an enjoyable experience in Paragon City.
    8. Copyright
    This FAQ was solely intended for the public use on the www. It cannot be
    reproduced, retransmitted, or re-written in any other form except by the notice
    of the author.  Any violation of this code will result in strict penalty and 
    high fines susceptible by law.  If this legal document is portrayed in any 
    commercial use, you are therefore stricten under the code of law and will be
    punished.  In full contrast, this document portrayed in the website found 
    (www.gamefaqs.com) is to be used and only used by the public itself and cannot 
    be sold.  This FAQ is in no way possible to be plagerized, doing so 
    not only damages the person you had intentionally forged,  but it also damages 
    yourself in terms of self guilt or in terms of law, whether the punishment be 
    civil or criminal law.