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The Holy Trinity isn't. Advice for veterans of other MMOs


Zolgar
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Many players are returning after long stretches of playing other MMOs where the “Holy Trinity” is king.

 

In case you’re not familiar with the term “Holy Trinity” in regards to an MMO:

Damage Per Second (DPS), Heals, Tank.

DPS kills things, Tank holds the agro, Heals keeps them both alive. There is very little room for anything else in most MMOs, and in most MMOs there are only a few options that are considered “ideal” for the role at hand.

 

City of Heroes is different.

 

At the core, you could argue that the same concept of the Holy Trinity applies:

Agro management, support, and damage.

But let’s talk about those roles in CoH:

 

Damage, DPS.

This is the most obvious role. What archetype fills this role? All of them. The entire team fills this role. Everyone on the team should have time to attack, yes, even the defenders. Certain archetypes are primarily focused on damage, and including a few of them in your team is always good, but by no means mandatory.

 

Agro management.

In other MMOs this is the role of the tank, and while a tank can certainly manage agro in CoH, they’re not the only ones who can.

 

Tanks, Brutes, and Scrappers can all manage agro by pissing things off and keeping their attention (though Scrappers are not as good at it as the other two)

 

Controllers and Dominators primarily manage agro with control powers. Sleeps, holds, stuns, knockbacks, etc. Yes, I said knockbacks. Yes, it can be frustrating to be a tank in the middle of a swarm and suddenly they all go flying away, but while a foe is standing and running back to the fight, they’re not attacking. All other archetypes have the capacity to manage agro this way as well, in a lesser capacity, depending on their powersets.

 

Masterminds manage agro by using their pets they can summon as either disposable minions (if it’s shooting a minion it’s not shooting a team mate), or they can tank by using Bodyguard mode. What’s bodyguard mode? If you have your pets set to “defensive” and “follow” while they are close to you, your pets basically act as armor absorbing part of the damage you would take, makes a well built MM incredibly tanky.

 

Lastly, agro can also be managed by pure raw damage output. They can’t attack you if they’re dead. This is a viable strategy in CoH.

 

Support.

Ah support. The most diverse category in the game, and ultimately the reason I am writing this. Veterans of other MMOs tend to see this category and instantly go to “heals”. Well, healing is a thing in CoH, but there is no “healer”. “But Zolgar, what about Empathy and Pain?” Those are buff sets with a strong healing element, and when you’re playing a brute and suddenly you have Enforced Morale, World of Pain, and Painbringer on you? You’ll understand why Pain is so much more than healz.

 

I’m going to be honest. “Healing” is not a very strong form of support in City of Heroes. Yes, I said it. Empathy and Pain are amazing sets, because they support their healing with buffs and debuffs, and if you skip those powers? You’re severely underpowering yourself and missing the best powers in the sets.

 

So, if healing is not the ideal support, what is? Aside from healing, there are three types of support in CoH:

 

Buffs make your team better. Whether making them get hit less, take less damage from the hits they take, hit harder, recharge their powers faster, recover endurance faster, increase their hitpoints, etc.

 

Debuffs make the enemies weaker, most of these tend to focus on making them do less damage, hit less often, take more damage, or be easier to hit.

 

Control, there are a number of support sets with control elements. Slows (mechanically they fall under a debuff, but as far as support they are more about battlefield control), knockback/down, fear, stun, etc. Storm is a major example of this, it has some buff/debuff in it but it’s primary about controlling the battlefield, which is why many players have a hard time understanding it as a support set.

 

One thing you’ll note is that most sets have a mix of at least two kinds of support, some even have all four. There is no single support set that is the “best” or “worst”, all have their strengths and weaknesses, and are a major boone to a team when played well (some are easier to play than others though).

 

It’s worth noting that many attack sets, and some armor sets feature a debuff as a secondary effect to their powers. Dark powers reduce accuracy, Radiation powers reduce defense, etc. This is rarely enough to qualify as ‘support’ on its own, but for defenders and corruptors it’s a good reason to make sure you attack too… and for others, you can actually build another archetype to capitalize on these secondary effects.

 

Other archetypes can also move in the direction of support with power pools. Leadership, Medicine, Sorcery, Stealth? All have powers that aid your party.

 

All of that said though… there is still one thing about City of Heroes I haven’t covered in terms of teaming:

 

Outside of certain end-game content, you don’t even need to have a slightly optimized team, as long as most everyone on the team is competent at what they do. Back on live, mono-archetype TFs were commonplace. Why? Because it was fun. Who needs dedicated damage dealers when you have a squad of defenders buffing each other to the gills? Who needs support when you have 8 blasters melting everything that crosses their path? Who needs anything else when you have the mayhem of 8 masterminds? (Defeated not by foes, but by caves.)

 

Know your character and what they’re capable of, understand what the rest of the team is capable of, and you should have a successful team if you work together. We’re superheroes (or villains), while individually we’re powerful, our true power shows when we work together.

 

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Always happy to answer questions in game, typically hanging around Help.
Global is @Zolgar, and tends to be tagged in Help.

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Good post! 

 

I mostly agree.  Played a Storm/Electric Defender on Pinnacle and people would always assume I was a healer.  Meanwhile my Illusion/Empath Controller was one and everyone would just ignore me when I tried to keep them close for heals.  Tsk.

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Also mainly agree.

 

However, here my two cents.

 

DPS.

Not every Archetype fills that role, at all, imo. Yes every hero can deal some DMG. But not every hero is build to maximize DMG.

 

Agro management.

Tanks and Brutes do this. Scrappers can, but will fail most likely due to not enough defense/resistance.

Other Archetypes DO NOT manage aggro. Sleeps, holds, stuns, knockbacks, etc are NO aggro control. That's Crowd Control (CC) and should fall under the "Support" category imo.

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Also mainly agree.

 

However, here my two cents.

 

DPS.

Not every Archetype fills that role, at all, imo. Yes every hero can deal some DMG. But not every hero is build to maximize DMG.

 

Agro management.

Tanks and Brutes do this. Scrappers can, but will fail most likely due to not enough defense/resistance.

Other Archetypes DO NOT manage aggro. Sleeps, holds, stuns, knockbacks, etc are NO aggro control. That's Crowd Control (CC) and should fall under the "Support" category imo.

 

Everyone is damage. Some damage better than others, but with a good team you'll never notice the lack of a "dps" character.

 

And crowd control as absolutely support. And agro management.

 

Welcome to City of Heroes, where the roles are made up and the archtypes don't matter.

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Always happy to answer questions in game, typically hanging around Help.
Global is @Zolgar, and tends to be tagged in Help.

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There's one form of aggro management you forget which is simply buffing defense or debuffing enemies to the point that they can't actually hurt the team rendering aggro management superfluous. I used to do that with my Time/Electric Defender. Drain their Endurance so they can't attack and if they do attack it misses anyway. Plus they're all moving to slow to get away.

Defender Smash!

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  • 2 weeks later

Man, always makes me wish i had the old squad or a driven enough group to revive the "Soopa Troopa Squad"

 

8x Thug MM's with varied secondaries, holy crap was that fun. Doing something like the ITF or Katie hannon was always a riot.

 

Some notes too:

 

"Hard" supports do exist, but generally still have an ST, AOE, & Nuke power to contribute damage

Exception: Masterminds, the scaling on primary powers is very low due to the damage output of pets, but it's worth having an attack, usually a cone or AOE that has a debuff if the set has one

 

"Tanking" can be done by almost any role, i've seen and played tank stalkers using presence and the like

 

"Ranged" classes have melee builds, X/NRG Blasters come to mind (Blappers!) who use the inherent boost to their damage to do devastating close-range damage

 

"Manaburn" is a viable tactic, Enemies also make use of endurance, draining their bar to nothing basically stuns them, as it reduces them to brawl until they get enough end to use other powers. This is where electric and the like really shine

 

"Death" doesn't really matter, in a midlevel competent team of almost any composition, someone has a rez skill, or a selfrez. Various tactics even use "Suicide dives" to allow the use of powers like Vengeance, mutate, rise of the phoenix, etc. to help power through certain encounters or even buff the damage of the person who died.

 

Combat is three-dimensional, against some types of enemies, simply hovering above them with a flight ability almost completely neuters their damage output, if you're playing a heavily ranged class this can make fly a very valuable power in some content

 

"Melee range" doesn't actually matter, you can superspeed past an enemy and jump with a melee attack readied up on them, even though you land a ways away out of melee range the attack will still execute and can hit, this can buy you some time solo to use a heal skill, or can be used against bosses with stunning/damaging auras when you're on a squishier class to mitigate the damage you take from melee skills with a huge windup (Total focus, shatter, etc.)

 

There's more, but writing a full-on tipbook of everything i know would be like 200 pages.

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Exception: Masterminds, the scaling on primary powers is very low due to the damage output of pets, but it's worth having an attack, usually a cone or AOE that has a debuff if the set has one

It's also useful if you want to tank with your mastermind. While both provoke and debuffs can help get aggro, adding in some damage will help more. Aggro formulas are complicated but damage acts as a multiplier so it's worth doing a little bit.

Defender Smash!

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Some notes too:

 

There's more, but writing a full-on tipbook of everything i know would be like 200 pages.

 

Aye, completely.

 

My point on writing this was not to be an exhaustive, but basically as something that people coming in from Holy Trinity focused MMOs could understand the different "trinity" that exists within CoH and (some) of the ways you can fill those roles. :)

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In most MMO's, you have to have certain elements on your team to be good enough to do content. It's a negative system -- each missing tank/dps/healing element severely reduces your team's ability to play the game.

 

In Cities, it's a positive system -- you start good enough almost no matter what or how many on your team. As you add various elements; buff/debuff/tanking/etc, your team's potential power grows greatly.

 

Given the ways power sets complement each other, there's many ways to build a team that turns out to be awesome - there's no one trinity formula you have to follow. You don't have to follow any formula at all.

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Exception: Masterminds, the scaling on primary powers is very low due to the damage output of pets, but it's worth having an attack, usually a cone or AOE that has a debuff if the set has one

It's also useful if you want to tank with your mastermind. While both provoke and debuffs can help get aggro, adding in some damage will help more. Aggro formulas are complicated but damage acts as a multiplier so it's worth doing a little bit.

better to get a pool power AOE attack instead unless you're a demon MM
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I completely agree with the spirit of the OP. The one thing I would add is that I'm not sure "Add any AT you want" will work for certain types of content. 

 

Such as: +4 Task/Strike Forces and maybe even +4 radio missions.  At least not without willing to accept there will be chaos and perhaps it will take longer.  And even then, that doesn't necessarily mean Holy Trinity. All-controllers are my most memorable zerg teams for those. 

 

The challenge I see with building teams in CoH is that people expect to roll missions a certain way; yet by design there are different ways to play through the content.  Sometimes tanks want to herd, sometimes they don't. Sometimes people would rather stealth but others want XP.  Some play as if on +4 difficulty even if it's just +0.  I wouldn't trade the flexibility, but I do wish there was some way to manage everyone's expectations more easily.

 

I really miss having zerg teams to run with, but most people are happy to just roll through +0, +2 content.  And that's fine. I'll keep an eye out for friendly-but-zergy SG's or channel groups, but I won't force pugs to play how I play. 

 

PS Also not just veterans of other MMO's but CoH went through a huge change between issues so that COH'ers who left early may not realise how teams can roll differently in i25.

 

PPS On a separate note, I think Channels are the way to go instead of Coalitions/SG's unless people want the experience of SG raids (are they even enabled in Homecoming?). 

 

 

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I completely agree with the spirit of the OP. The one thing I would add is that I'm not sure "Add any AT you want" will work for certain types of content. 

 

My experience the only time you really need to be sure you've got a well rounded and versatile team is in certain Incarnate Trials, and MO*TF runs.

 

However, I will also agree I've seen teams that should not have been running +4 wanting it at +4 and wiping constantly because the team they had was not capable of handling it. I'm not sure how much that is about AT choices though, or just the characters in the party not being strong enough yet.

 

Always happy to answer questions in game, typically hanging around Help.
Global is @Zolgar, and tends to be tagged in Help.

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I completely agree with the spirit of the OP. The one thing I would add is that I'm not sure "Add any AT you want" will work for certain types of content. 

 

My experience the only time you really need to be sure you've got a well rounded and versatile team is in certain Incarnate Trials, and MO*TF runs.

 

However, I will also agree I've seen teams that should not have been running +4 wanting it at +4 and wiping constantly because the team they had was not capable of handling it. I'm not sure how much that is about AT choices though, or just the characters in the party not being strong enough yet.

 

Yeeaaah. While I mostly agree with the spirit of the original post, some of the assertions are not really on point.

 

DPS doesn't just refer to damage, it refers to characters that excel at putting out large amounts of damage in short amounts of time, such that you can overcome the regeneration or phases of especially tough enemies. DPS is not really required for a lot of content, but when it is, it is. What makes City of Heroes unique from most other MMOs isn't that 'everyone is DPS' because everyone is most certainly not even close to being that, but that if content is too hard you can turn down the difficulty. This works for a lot of content (radio and regular missions, not always task forces or trials).

 

Some of this stuff also just only applies to characters with full IO sets. Try taking a full team of 8 scrappers into the ITF +2 at level 35-50 with only basic IOs or SOs and they're almost certainly going to get floored by -def and spike damage from hard hitting enemies where even 75% resist isn't going to be enough. Likewise, take a team of 8 tanks  or 8 controllers in and you'll get through 99% of the Task Force but it will take _so_ much longer, and both are going to have (different) issues with the AVs (not insurmountable ones, but a huge pain in the ass nonetheless).

 

The holy trinity is not so very holy in CoH, and for plenty of content you can turn the diff down and get by with suboptimal groupings, but anybody who says they haven't seen teams struggle with content where it wasn't pretty obvious that you needed a scrapper/blaster/etc for more damage or some support with +end for all the people struggling with endurance issues vs Freakshow, instead of whatever you have instead, is either lying to themselves or not paying very close attention.

 

You don't need to min-max your teams, but for the love of god consider the content you're facing when you're throwing out invites. If you're going to be fighting two AVs at once, at +2 or higher, and there are zero support sets on your team, shrugging it off because 'any team is viable' is almost certainly a disservice to your teammates and frustrating to boot.

 

There's really no need to lean so heavily against the trinity idea, just like there's no need to lean so heavily into it.

 

Also, please stop pushing this idea that Empathy isn't Healer. It has 9 powers, and more than half of them are directly involved in increasing your health from wherever it is towards full, whether it's by direct heal, resurrection, or super regeneration. Adrenaline Boost has more +end than +regen, but even if you don't count it as 6 of 9 there's 5 that are straight up heal/regen powers, 1 that's a mix, and all of 3 that aren't HP related. It's a healer set, full stop. People shouldn't skip those three powers, but it's absolutely a healer set. :p

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I completely agree with the spirit of the OP. The one thing I would add is that I'm not sure "Add any AT you want" will work for certain types of content. 

 

My experience the only time you really need to be sure you've got a well rounded and versatile team is in certain Incarnate Trials, and MO*TF runs.

 

However, I will also agree I've seen teams that should not have been running +4 wanting it at +4 and wiping constantly because the team they had was not capable of handling it. I'm not sure how much that is about AT choices though, or just the characters in the party not being strong enough yet.

 

Yeeaaah. While I mostly agree with the spirit of the original post, some of the assertions are not really on point.

 

DPS doesn't just refer to damage, it refers to characters that excel at putting out large amounts of damage in short amounts of time, such that you can overcome the regeneration or phases of especially tough enemies. DPS is not really required for a lot of content, but when it is, it is. What makes City of Heroes unique from most other MMOs isn't that 'everyone is DPS' because everyone is most certainly not even close to being that, but that if content is too hard you can turn down the difficulty. This works for a lot of content (radio and regular missions, not always task forces or trials).

 

Some of this stuff also just only applies to characters with full IO sets. Try taking a full team of 8 scrappers into the ITF +2 at level 35-50 with only basic IOs or SOs and they're almost certainly going to get floored by -def and spike damage from hard hitting enemies where even 75% resist isn't going to be enough. Likewise, take a team of 8 tanks  or 8 controllers in and you'll get through 99% of the Task Force but it will take _so_ much longer, and both are going to have (different) issues with the AVs (not insurmountable ones, but a huge pain in the ass nonetheless).

 

The holy trinity is not so very holy in CoH, and for plenty of content you can turn the diff down and get by with suboptimal groupings, but anybody who says they haven't seen teams struggle with content where it wasn't pretty obvious that you needed a scrapper/blaster/etc for more damage or some support with +end for all the people struggling with endurance issues vs Freakshow, instead of whatever you have instead, is either lying to themselves or not paying very close attention.

 

You don't need to min-max your teams, but for the love of god consider the content you're facing when you're throwing out invites. If you're going to be fighting two AVs at once, at +2 or higher, and there are zero support sets on your team, shrugging it off because 'any team is viable' is almost certainly a disservice to your teammates and frustrating to boot.

 

There's really no need to lean so heavily against the trinity idea, just like there's no need to lean so heavily into it.

 

Also, please stop pushing this idea that Empathy isn't Healer. It has 9 powers, and more than half of them are directly involved in increasing your health from wherever it is towards full, whether it's by direct heal, resurrection, or super regeneration. Adrenaline Boost has more +end than +regen, but even if you don't count it as 6 of 9 there's 5 that are straight up heal/regen powers, 1 that's a mix, and all of 3 that aren't HP related. It's a healer set, full stop. People shouldn't skip those three powers, but it's absolutely a healer set. :p

 

The point of calling everyone DPS was to say that "you absolutely do not need a dedicated DPS character in the team" - yes, some ATs are better damage dealers than others. You have 7 people on a team, none of them excel at damage... you don't need to bring a damage dealer in, sure it would help, but so would another defender or more crowd control.

 

Also, if you're setting your missions to +2 or higher when you have a rando mishmash team that isn't synergized and individual characters aren't decked out in IOs... you're an idiot. That's not about the team makeup, that's about the leader.

 

The game is balanced around even level mission teams with SOs. Some teams on just SOs can handle more, yes. Give me a Rad and an Empath on the team and we can take higher difficulties fine. Give me a stone tanker (and no psi enemies) and we can take higher difficulties fine. Give me a random disjointed mishmash of SO'd characters? I'm leaving it at +0 until I see what we can do.

 

Regarding empaths, they're not healers, they're empaths. :p

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Always happy to answer questions in game, typically hanging around Help.
Global is @Zolgar, and tends to be tagged in Help.

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One of, if not my absolute favorite, things about COH is that any team can be viable with the right strategy.  Sure, there might be times where you wish you had someone to hold aggro, or maybe deal a little bit more damage, but if you play smart, you can succeed with any combination of 8. 

 

If you had a group of nothing but healers in WOW, or any other MMO, you're not getting very far.  Ditto tanks, or even DPS to a lesser extent. 

 

However, and COH, a group of practically any 8 defenders is practically invincible.  8 half-competent defenders of any combination is almost game-breakingly easy to run.  You could have a team of nothing but tanks, and be just fine.  A group of 8 blasters can wipe out an entire herd, if you're careful with your targeting. 

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  • 4 months later
On 5/13/2019 at 8:28 AM, Veelectric Boogaloo said:

This post should be part of the tutorial. Or the LFG channel motd.

I was actually going to say the same thing.  Depending on how many  actual new people we are getting, it might be worthwhile to, for example, add some dialog to the Shinning Stars intro arc about AT, buffs, grouping, and composition.  Some folks might be helped by that advice.

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  • 3 weeks later

A big part of why I love CoH/CoV is the sheer versatility that can be achieved with the combinations of archetypes, powersets, epics/temps and player skill.  The challenge and fun's in figuring out how to make any particular team composition work to achieve to goals of a TF/SF.

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On 5/13/2019 at 10:28 AM, Veelectric Boogaloo said:

This post should be part of the tutorial. Or the LFG channel motd.


Along with “Avoid AE  and DFB invites/requests until you run through the game at least once.” 

Playing CoX is it’s own reward

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  • 1 month later

And I think there are Roles and there are Archetypes.  Pretty much all the archetypes can, to greater or lesser degrees, fill all roles as needed or required for a team to succeed.   That's why we get 8 scrappers as well as lone Empath's (yeah Healer right) completing ITF's at +4/×8.  And a large part of multi-role fulfillment in the game is often said to be because of the strength of the buffs and debuffs within CoX.  Add a dose of invention system builds plus/minus Incarnate abilities and the lines between Roles get blurred and then some by the HUGE variety of character possibilities (even within a given Archetype and Power Sets).

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