|xMEGA MANx offers us his Sun Tzu-esque advice on battle strategy.|
This has always been my #1 gripe with online games, that a majority of players are idiots at risk assessment and are impervious to teaching. No matter how many times they end up face-down, they refuse to consider an alternate strategy.
In City of Heroes (and most other MMOs) foes in the game are color-coded. The coloring varies slightly from game to game, but in general it works something like this: Foes with White names are about the same level you are. Yellow foes are a little above you and so slightly tougher. Orange means it will be a challenge, Red means it will be very dangerous, and Purple is nearly insurmountable.
There is a bonus to XP when you fight something above your level. Some players assume more bonus=more better, and thus the thing turns into a sort of monkey trap for clueless players. Sadly, you have to team with these people, and the monkeys outnumber the smart people.
According to the CoX wiki, fighting Oranges is worth 1.4 times the normal amount of XP. If you’re level 10 and you knock over a same-level foe (which is quick and easy and completely safe) you will get 17 XP. If you fight an Orange you will get 25 XP x 1.4 multiplier for a grand total of 35 XP. The reward is about doubled, but what about the effort? I think that once you take into account their higher hitpoints, higher resistances, and (worst of all) greater evasion, it takes more than twice as long to defeat an Orange than to defeat a White. But let’s be generous here and assume it’s a wash.
But even if it was equal, fighting higher level guys is still a loser. You never ever have to rest when fighting Whites, but some classes will need a breather when facing Oranges. So every once in a while you have to spend thirty seconds earning zero XP. That’s like bowling a pair of gutterballs – how many subsequent strikes to you need to roll to counter those and bring your average back up for this game? (Remember, we’re talking about XP over time here.)
Fighting Whites is easy and idiot-proof. Even if your strategy is off, or your blasters use too much AoE (Area of Effect powers – which usually makes them the punching bag of every bad guy in the room) or other characters aren’t experts of positioning and timing, or your healer is lagging, it’s okay. You’ll still prevail. When fighting Oranges, you have to muck about “pulling” (baiting them to come to you a few at a time, which is slower) and chatting about positioning and strategy. Again, that time spent forming a strategy (which turns into arguments often as not) is just more gutterballs against your average of XP over time.
A group fighting Whites will be slowed by an unexpected Boss or a random disconnect. The same event happening to a group fighting oranges can result in players dying. And as soon as someone goes down, you have demolished any possible benefit you could claim to be getting. Everyone – not just the victim – must stop fighting and wait for the team to recover. The victim is now earning half XP for the next couple of minutes, which really hurts them in the long run. More importantly: The team as a whole is just rolling more gutterballs. That time spent running, regrouping, recovering, and talking about What Went Wrong is a massive time sink. (And don’t forget that when you’re pushing the limits of the team, failures are often cascading. A key player falls, and the rest of the team just collapses behind them like dominoes.)
Too many party leaders aim for foes a couple of levels above them, forgetting that half the team is a level or two below them. Sure, they’re Oranges to you, but to the other team members they are Red or Purple, and those players are going to be little better than useless. They will miss more often than they hit, and when they do connect they will do tiny little bits of damage. Your team is fighting at fractional efficiency because many are out of their league, thus making battles take longer still, and leading to more player deaths, more slowdowns, more gutterballs. (Or if the party leader is a Smart Person, they will have a couple of Monkeys on the team who whine about it being “too easy” and “crap XP” simply because they aren’t facing a wall of invincible Purple foes. None of them ever thinks to look at the clock and ask themselves how they are doing compared to being in a group where they’re always working off XP debt.)
A lot of these people had a great session once where they tore through high-level foes and earned a bounty of XP. But that was probably in a group that happened to be tuned just right, or had lots of expert players with maxed-out characters, or a group of people who knew each other and how to work together. They think they can just round up a group of strangers and recreate that magic. It’s like the person who hits a winner on a slot machine and then goes broke waiting for the lightning to strike twice. You can prove it’s a bad idea over time, but some people need risk, and they enjoy nothing more than sharing that risk with the rest of us.
But above all this carping about XP, the real reason to fight level-appropriate foes is because the game is much more fun that way. I’m here to play a damn superhero, and I don’t want to lose one out of every ten fights to a bunch of thugs. I don’t want to whiff like a loser when I unleash my powers. When I lay the smackdown on someone, I want to knock them over. Blast them over a railing or toss them over a cliff. Send a group flying like Obi-Wan tossing battle droids around. I want to score a critical and knock a guy right out of the fight. That never happens when fighting higher-level foes. You guys fighting Purples should know that as awesome as the ragdoll physics are, it’s even cooler when used on the bad guys and not on you.
As always, playing with others is both the point and the major drawback to online gaming.
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