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"I Need Healing" - A Beginner's Guide to Defenders

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It seems like we're getting not just people who played CoH years ago but some new folks putting on the cape. Welcome!

 

One of the first, and most important things, to know about City of Heroes is that a lot of the balance numbers in the game...aren't. Meaning in another game you might find a BIG damage buff being +15%. In CoH that's less than the buff one of the minor starter attacks gives.

 

Q: Why's that so important?

Simple, with buffs and debuffs being so incredibly powerful in the game, it means that "healing" does not have the same spot that it does in a lot of other MMOs.

 

If someone is "Looking for Healer" they are asking for the wrong thing. To put it even more clearly: YOU DO NOT NEED HEALING.

 

What you need, or rather what all teams benefit from, is support, and Defenders have some of the best support options in the game. (As a side note: no teams actually need support - back when the game was live all sorts of crazy teams did all sorts of crazy things, from 8x blasters taking on the Statesman TF to 8x defender teams absolutely trivializing Giant Monster encounters - in CoH, you can make almost anything work if you know what you're doing).

 

Q: Ok, so what's the BEST Defender then?

The ones that you have on your team.

 

Q: That's not helpful. What should I play?

Whatever you want!

 

Q: Still not helpful! Why should I play any of these!

Ok, now there's a question we can answer.

 

One reason to pick a powerset is "because I haven't played it before". Another is "because it fits this concept that I have". What's good to know in either case is what the set excels at and what it's going to be leaning on in the long run and at max level.

 

Defender Primary Sets and Where They Excel

 

Cold Domination

Cold's versatile. If provided some solid defense buffs which prevent damage by making attacks miss more often. For targets without native defense, this will noticeably decrease the damage they take and for targets with a fair bit of defense to start with it will put them in demi-god mode.

 

Defense has a few weaknesses though, notably that attacks can still get lucky, and some mobs have attacks which also reduce defense, and when I say reduce, I don't mean by a little.

 

Fortunately, Cold brings more to the table than that. Their +Max HP power helps take the edge off the hits that do get through, their slows mean mobs have less chances to sneak a lucky attack in and their later powers absolutely wreck mobs in terms of reducing the damage they do, reducing their resistance to damage (which massively amplifies the damage they take, and reducing their regeneration (which is critical in fighting high level arch-villains)

 

Dark Miasma

Dark's got a nice grab bag of tricks too, with a heavy theme of reducing a mobs accuracy on the side. -Acc powers are great against most mobs, since they're effectively defense for everyone, but some mobs, like AVs are very resistant to the effect and will still hit you just fine.

 

Dark has one of the better heals in the game in terms of raw strength, but it's tied to a to hit check, so can be problematic on some highly defensive mobs (or when the Dark def themselves are debuffed).

 

Another noteworthy trick they have is that Dark is the one powerset in the game which gets a multi-target Ressurect power. Meaning you target one mob and ressurect everyone who's dead nearby. This can absolutely turn around a team fight that's going south and is invaluable for some content.

 

Apart from that they have a variety of control powers, which are nice but not best-in-class. They also get a pet which is unusual for defenders.

 

Empathy

I'm an Empathy main. My first 50 on live was an Empath and my first 50 here will be one too. I love Empathy.

 

But Empathy Defenders are not the best.

 

They are what the clueless will ask for, they are what people from other games think all Defenders are, but they are not the best defenders. Honestly I wouldn't even put them in the top half of the list.

 

Why? Well they have some of the strongest and most reliable heals, but in CoH avoiding and preventing damage is exponentially more powerful than trying to heal it.

 

That said, Empathy is still a fun and powerful set. It's heals are close to top tier and are absolutely the most reliable ones around. No to hit checks, no mobs needed. Fire it off and the target will be healed. End of story.

 

Empathy's most important powers aren't it's heals though. With Fortitude, you can increase the Defense, Damage, and To Hit of other heroes, boosting them well beyond their normal limits. With Clear Mind you can ward off even the strongest mezzes from people who are otherwise helpless against crowd control. With Recovery Aura you can offer the team bursts of near inexhaustible Endurance, and Adrenalin Boost is just absurd in terms of the buffs it provides.

 

Force Field

A classic of the super hero genre, Force Field brings a whole lot of defense to the table.

 

Of all the Defender sets, FF is probably one of the weaker ones, but to give a sense of what that means, with just it's bubble powers, FF can reduce a mobs chance to hit to less than half it's normal rate. And that's for heroes without any defense. Stack bubbles on someone with defense already and the chance to hit them plummets even further.

 

Force Field is held back by a lot of their powers causing Knockback, which is generally inconvenient, but something that can be fun and can be worked around to some extent.  It's also held back because it doesn't provide much in terms of critical debuffs for hard targets, which is where a lot of other defenders shine.

 

Kinetics

Okay, I lied. There is a best Defender set. It's Kinetics. Fight me.

 

I might possibly be biased here, I'll admit, but Kinetics is my drug of choice. It's powers are just fantastic for letting you go Go GO!!! From Transfusion which is one of the strongest heals in the game, to Siphon Power which gives a nice damage buff, to Siphon Speed so you go faster and they go slower, to Increased Density which grants mezz protection and Knockback protection (one of the few methods of getting that in the game if your powerset doesn't supply it), to the glory that is Speed Boost*, the endless Endurance which Transference brings and the absolutely absurd "Say Hello to the Damage Cap" that is Fulcrum Shift.

 

Basically, if you need a buff, Kinetics has it, and will give you more of it than you can imagine.

 

*Technically this can be a problem with Speed Boost, where the constantly-on Super Speed it gives you can be more than some players can handle driving around with. Fortunately the devs added a method of declining the movement speed buff portion of the power, and keeping the Endurance Recovery buff which means it is firmly in the god tier of buffs where it belongs.

 

Nature Affinity

One of the later additions to the game, Nature is a balanced set that offers a wide array of options. Nature's claim to fame is having a well balanced helping of almost everything that you'd want. It's not best-in-class for any one buff or debuff, but it makes a solid showing in a lot of important ones like -Resistance, -Damage, -Regen.

 

In a sense, Nature is Empathy's more well rounded sibling and tends to play better with other defenders since it can augment a lot of different niches like a generalist should.

 

Radiation Emission

If someone did something stupidly difficult in City of Heroes when the servers were live, chances are they were using Radiation Emission.

 

Rad has a few drawbacks to it. It's vulnerable to idiots teammates who don't understand how to keep mobs grouped up. The Rad defender needs to pay attention or their target may run off with a debuff and drag in a lot more aggro than is desired. And the Rad isn't mezz proof and a mezzed Rad is one whose powers all shutoff.

 

Why in Statesman's name would you want to play such a character?

 

Because their powers are so damn strong that it's worth it.

 

Rad defenders have a heal. If they ever need to use it, they are doing something wrong.

 

Between Rad Infection and Enervating Field, a Rad Defender can turn spawns into helpless kittens. Themobs can't hit you, they can't hurt you, they have no defense so you don't miss them, and they have no resistance so you do a stupid amount of damage to them.

 

The devs made Rad before they understood how math worked I would guess, and then regretted it ever after.

 

Oh, but wait, there's more! Lingering Radiation is so strong that it shuts off even the most powerful AVs regeneration, Fallout turns a dead body into a deadly weapon (granted this is mostly a toy), and Mutation is a better rez than what Empathy gets since you come back stronger than when you died, and then there's Accelerate Metabolism, which buffs Recharge, Recovery, Damage and Resistance to Mezzing.

 

I said Kinetics got the best buffs? Accelerate Metabolism is climbing into the ring with a real mean look in its eyes and I'm kind of afraid.

 

Sonic Resonance

Force Field bubbles give defense and make you harder to hit. Sonic Resonance bubbles give Damage Resistance and let you take less damage when you are hit. Put them both together and watch mobs regret every life choice they ever made.

 

But Sonic is a lot more than the Resistance bubbles. Sonic also offers -Resistance on Foes, which is critical for defeating tough opponents since it's effectively a damage buff for everyone, even people at the damage buff cap.

 

Sonic gets some other tricks as well, but the shields and the -Res are the big ticket items they bring to a party.

 

Storm Summoning

Because Rad defenders need someone to hate.

 

Storm is a really potent powerset, but it can play really poorly with others in the wrong hands. This is because Storm has a lot of Knockback, which tends to scatter mobs, which in turn means AoEs do a lot less damage and people like Rad defenders who have area based debuffs get really grumpy.

 

Smart Storm users can use their Knockback to push people *into* the debuffs and AoEs, but its pretty fun to just go full on Chaos mode and wreck stuff without worrying about that.

 

Big powers for Storm include Snow Storm (which slows mobs in a wide area and helps keep them together), Steamy Mist (which grants Stealth to everyone party member nearby), Freezing Rain (more slows + a very useful -Def and -Res for mobs in a wide area), Hurricane (for a -ToHit deubff as strong as Rad's), and Lightning Storm (for just random zappy fun).

 

Thermal Radiation

Or, as it was originally setup, "the Villain's version of Empathy".

 

Thermal's got a similar healing focus to Empathy, but it's weaker at that in exchange for some highly useful buffs and debuffs in. Buffs include Thermal and Plasma Shield for +Dmg Resistance (like Sonic) and Thaw (which is similar to Clear Mind), and Forge (which is similar to Fortitude but with more damage and no defense).

 

With Heat Exhaustion and Melt Armor they've got access to debuffs for Resistance, Regeneration and Damage...except that the cooldown is so long that those can't be made permanent like a Rad defenders are out of the box. Still good mind you, just not best in class.

 

Time Manipulation

Time Manipulation has a variety of good powers, though some of the best suffer the same issue of having significantly longer cool downs than their duration.

 

Still there's some good stuff here. Chrono Shift gives everyone Recharge and Recovery, Slowed Response inflicts -Def and -Res, Temporal Selection is Time's version of Fortitude but arguably better since it gives +Damage, +Recharge and +Regen and Time's Juncture is like a weaker version of the Radiation clouds except it's centered on the Time defender so it can't run away and aggro other groups (unless the defender wants to do that).

 

Traps

With no direct healing, a quick view of traps would suggest that it offers little defensively to the team. In practice though a well played (and worked with) Traps defender can keep a team very safe and rolling along quite well. Web Grenade and Caltrops provide some indirect damage reduction since they keep the mobs out of melee. Triage Beacon is a strong +Regen, Acid Mortar offers -Def and -Res, Forcefield Generator offers +Defense in a wide area, Posion Trap offers as much-Regen as Rad's strongest power, Seeker drones give -ToHit and -Dmg and Trip Mine and Time bomb both deal quite a lot of damage.

 

In terms of tool kits, Traps has it all, but it does take a while to mature and it does require thoughtful play in terms of where things are places and when they're used.

 

Trick Arrow

The original answer to "Defenders are not healers". Trick Arrow is all about debuffs and offers essentially nothing in terms of defensive abilities or heals. That's not a problem at all, though Trick Arrow does lag a bit overall since it's best debuffs come later on and it doesn't include -Regen which many of the other debuffing sets supply.

 

That said, Poison Gas Arrow, Acid Arrow and Disruption Arrow will certainly help with wrecking a mobs day and Oil Slick Arrow is both good fun and one of the few abilities that can combo with another player (anyone with a fire attack can light it on fire to do damage in a wide area).

 

---------

 

Q: Wow that's a lot to pick from...and a lot to read...what powerset should I pick again?

All of them. This is City of Heroes, we've got 1,000 slots per server, use 'em!

 

Q: What About the Secondary powers?

Seriously? This wasn't long enough?

 

Ok, short notes on the secondaries.

 

First: Take them. Use Them. Even if you're an Empathy heal bot. Your damage is a lot less than a serious damage dealer but its still something and with all the buffs and debuffs flying around its still super useful to have.

 

Archery: Lethal damage mostly, overall good, Rain of Arrows is excellent, downside is no secondary effect to speak of.

 

Assault Rifle: Honestly a bit disappointing, Flame Thrower is good, Full Auto is also good, downside is it hits a bit weak and doesn't have a good attack chain. Was unhappy with it on live, but some people loved it. Decide for yourself if it fits your concept.

 

Beam Rifle: New set, -Res and -Def sound interesting and defenders are all about the side effects. Would suggest this over Assault Rifle, but don't have the experience to back it up.

 

Dark Blast: -To hit as a secondary is nice and the Tentacles are a great immob for keeping mobs in place.

 

Dual Pistols: So you want to be a Gun-fu fighter? Here ya go. AoEs are good, secondary effects include -Def and -Res which is nice.

 

Electrical Blast: A bit disappointing. Damage is somewhat low and the secondary effect of End drain is a trap of uselessness without a build designed around it.

 

Energy Blast: Pretty and fun, but the secondary is Knockback which can be a great evil in the wrong hands and does little to help with hard content.

 

Fire Blast: Would you like some damage to go with your damage? Then fire is for you. Of course, defenders don't get the damage Blasters do so it'll be a bit less impressive and there's no secondary to benefit from the defender's higher values.

 

Ice Blast: Like Fire but substitute "slows" for extra damage. Upside, defender slows are as good as they get.

 

Psychic Blast: Psychic damage isn't widely resisted but it's also on the low end, so that's nice, also has a good AoE and mezz options.

 

Radiation Blast: Rad gets all the good toys, including solid attacks which do -Def and make hitting easier for everyone.

 

Sonic Attack: The attacks don't have the best damage, but they inflict -Res which means everyone (including you) hit for more. Also a good sleep in Siren's Song.

 

Water Blast: Some neat mechanics and some decent debuffs.

 

------

 

Hope this all helps!

 

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Lingering Radiation is so strong that it shuts off even the most powerful AVs regeneration

 

Meanwhile, as Accelerate Metabolism was climbing into the ring to go up against Kinetics, Dark Miasma had opened up Mids and was standing there, unseen, waiting to shank Radiation Emission.

 

It's worth keeping in mind that Lingering Radiation and Howling Twilight share the exact same -regeneration value (-500%), though Lingering Radiation recharges in half the time. Lingering Radiation also has a to-hit roll, and also slows both power recharge (-75%) and movement and jumping.

 

In comparison Howling Twilight merely autohits up to 16 foes in an AoE, only applies a -62.5% recharge and movement speed penalty and those debuffs match Lingering Radiation's duration of 30 seconds. However, it also applies a 15 second mag 2 stun and a 15 second mag 3 fear (the flee kind not the cower kind I think), and deals approximately 12 points of darkness damage JUST for the insult. Oh and simultaneously resurrects everyone friendly in the area around the caster to full health and stamina.

 

It's a little over powered.

 

The % of your health at resurrection used to scale on the number of foes hit and it kept group rezzing people like they used a small inspiration and then getting killed so the devs gave up and just let it do a full rez on the entire party with even 1 minion targeted. In fact, famously, when people were testing the new version of the Hamidon raid someone cast Howling Twilight on a Trick Arrow defender's unlit OIL SLICK and used it as an anchor to rez the entire wiped raid. It made a dev pop out of invisible mode to yell holy shit at the player base.

 

But the point remains it's one of those problem powers that got buffed to the point of being overly effective and people still just think "oh it's an AoE rez." Also the Dark's control powers are ... I think you're underrating them let's put it at that. :)

 

It's also worth keeping mind that the Corrupter and Mastermind versions of Dark Miasma and the Controller version from Dark Affinity have the exact same regen debuff, movement speed debuff, stun, and fear. If Mids for i23 is still accurate the controller and corrupter versions actually have a bigger area of effect as well.

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Dark is definitely one of the heavy weights of the Defender powersets, and Howling Twilight was frankly pretty ridiculous in terms of how good it is. I don't recall it getting used for -Regen  like some other powers were though.

 

If Mids is correct, the duration on Howling Twilight's -Regen is only 15 seconds with a base recharge of 180 seconds, aka best case scenario there's still a LOT of downtime there.

 

Rad's Lingering Radiation on the other hand has a duration of 30 seconds and a base recharge of 90. So with just recharge IOs you're looking at 66% uptime (30 up, 15 down, recast every 45 secs). Then throw in Hasten and Accelerate Metabolism and IO set bonuses and you can get it to perma status pretty easily.

 

In terms of Dark's Controls, Fearsome Stare and Petrifying Gaze are definitely great, add in Fluffy's (the Dark Servant) contribution and Dark easily outshine's any other defender for control.  I only note them as "not best in class" simply because there's two whole other ATs that handle control and can do a better job with it overall.

 

If you want a control oriented Defender though, then yeah, Dark sets the bar that I don't think anyone else beats.

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I agree that the Dark set is very potent, enough so that IMHO it works well on a Corruptor, paired with Fire, for example.  The Dark placeable slow, Tar Patch, works nicely to pull mobs into, then drop Rain of Fire to melt them as they slowly try to run out of it.  Try that with a Fire/Kin corruptor and prepare to die a lot, as Overclock can testify. :)  Tar Patch's only downside in some AV fights is that the AV may not stay in the patch, whereas the Radiation toggle follows them.  Potentially into other groups, aggroing them, which could be bad, always tradeoffs.  Also if the defender is mezzed, Tar Patch doesn't drop, Enervating Field does. 

 

I would add two other points to the original post by Overclock.  First is where do the really useful powers come as you gain levels.  Radiation, Storm and Dark, for example, get their signature, AV-debuffing powers quite early.  Radiation, in particular, has its main tools by about level 10.  The upside is that you have them even exemplared down to low levels, and you have a long time to enjoy them.  The downside is that the play style doesn't change a huge amount getting to 50.  Later designed powers like Cold, Time, Traps and Trick Arrow tend to get their big debuffs significantly later in leveling.

 

Second, later designed powers like the above mentioned Cold, Time, Traps and Trick Arrow tend to have their big debuffs on long timers, so you may need Invention Origin set bonuses on top of things like Hasten to make them operate full time in a tough AV fight.  In particular pay attention to which powers in which sets get -Resistance debuffs, since that is the only debuff AVs don't resist.  Archvillain class foes have, as mentioned above in another post, something like 85% resistance to debuffs like -regen, -accuracy, -defense, slow, and so on.  A -Resistance debuff just reduces their resistance and increases the damage the whole team does to them. 

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Mids display is not clear, the 15 seconds only applies to the mezzes. The regeneration and movement debuffd are a full 30 seconds. I used to lead a dark dark defender themed supergroup and we were very used to turning arch villains into squishy piles of goo by chaining howling twilight onto them.


See me on Excelsior as Eridanus - Whisperkill - Kid Physics - Ranger Wilde - The Hometown Scrapper - Firewatch - and more!

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If someone is "Looking for Healer" they are asking for the wrong thing. To put it even more clearly: YOU DO NOT [need] HEALING.

 

I think this is a little misleading.  You do need healing.  Especially early in the game when no one has all of their powers, and the powers they do have aren't fully slotted up with IOs or other powerful Enhancements.  You also need healing to minimize downtime and keep the XP flowing in.

 

What you don't need is a "dedicated healer" or a "pure healer".  In other games these are desirable and useful.  In CoH as long as there's a couple of heals in the group you're probably good to go.  Powersets with broader range of effects -- like Dark Miasma, Nature Affinity, Kinetics, Radiation, etc. -- are perfectly viable, and even far preferred in the end-game.

 

In the early game a focused healer will be useful.  Try to pay attention to your other powers though.  Understand when it's better to prevent damage by using your secondary (or primary if Controller, Dom or Corr) so that your team has an easier time all the way around.  Throwing green numbers around is basically hitting the panic button and admitting that the team messed up, so look for opportunities to prevent the damage from happening in the first place. 

 

This also means that as you level up, you should look at becoming less focused because as players level up they will need less and less healing.  Concentrate more on your other powers, and understand how you can branch out as a player.

 

What we don't need is someone who puts their healing aura on "auto" and assumes they're contributing.  They're probably not.

 

And don't be afraid to talk to your teammates, ask them questions and understand how they like to play the game.  Some folks prefer to corner-pull, some like to wade into mobs and just fight them in place.  There's advantages to both.  Some folks are a lot more powerful when they have a certain power up, but that power might have a long recharge, so the team might need to be a little more careful once that power is used.  Stuff like that helps you play the game, learn the game, and also play better with the particular group you're in.

 

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Archery: Lethal damage mostly, overall good, Rain of Arrows is excellent, downside is no secondary effect to speak of.

 

One big downside with Rain of Arrows is that it is a DoT and has an activation time like a snipe, and once you start, the location of the AoE is fixed -- if whoever is holding aggro on the mobs drags them around, or some fool Blaster pulls aggro of them and they run over to him, you can be left watching your arrows rain down on open ground, unhindered by the presence of any mobs to absorb the arrows. It can be incredibly situational if the rest of your team is more mobile.

 

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One big downside with Rain of Arrows is that it is a DoT and has an activation time like a snipe, and once you start, the location of the AoE is fixed -- if whoever is holding aggro on the mobs drags them around, or some fool Blaster pulls aggro of them and they run over to him, you can be left watching your arrows rain down on open ground, unhindered by the presence of any mobs to absorb the arrows. It can be incredibly situational if the rest of your team is more mobile.

 

That is a downside to the Traps powerset as well, it is great if your team allows you to prepare a battlefield and fight in it, or the fight is hard enough that your powers will recharge anyway between spawns, but much less useful in highly mobile situations.  The FF generator follows you around, but some other things are ground placed and sit there.  Playing a Mastermind with a defender secondary can be a nice change of pace after being a defender trying to support a team that keeps having TPKs because they Won't Do What You Tell Them, dang it!  :)

 

Regarding Gameboy1234's post about healing, he is correct that some healing is certainly useful in many situations.  I typically take Aid Other with a Traps powerset for spot healing, and it is enough, same thing with a FF defender.  I do recall running into a Rad defender once, though, who took Radiation because with Hasten and Accelerate Metabolism he could have the fastest possible cycle time on his Healing Aura, he didn't have either of the toggle debuffs.  I did try to explain to him that he was missing the point of Rad. . .

 

Also, prepare yourself for getting "nice heals" on your defender after supporting a team through a tough mission even if you didn't throw any heals.  They may not know exactly what you did, but at least they know you did something. :) 

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For anyone who wants more detail about the different support sets defenders get, which powers are "signature powers" of the set, which ones to skip, I found this guide by Silas again.

 

https://guidescroll.com/2011/07/city-of-heroes-support-guide/

 

It is written in a tongue in cheek enough way that it will make entertaining reading even if you never plan to play support. :)

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That is a downside to the Traps powerset as well, it is great if your team allows you to prepare a battlefield and fight in it, or the fight is hard enough that your powers will recharge anyway between spawns, but much less useful in highly mobile situations.  The FF generator follows you around, but some other things are ground placed and sit there.  Playing a Mastermind with a defender secondary can be a nice change of pace after being a defender trying to support a team that keeps having TPKs because they Won't Do What You Tell Them, dang it!  :)

 

Traps can be pretty mobile on a team if you just toe-bomb it! Eventually, Traps becomes a very safe set to just run in and start dropping stuff right in melee. I would alternate between sending out seekers to absorb alpha and just running in and dropping Poison Trap. With FFG out, I'd be pretty safe after that to deploy the other Traps right in melee, especially on a team where aggro could be spread out.


Buff Trick Arrows! | Buff Poison! | Powerset Suggestions: Circus Performers | Old Powerset Suggestions:  Probability Distortion | Magnetism | Hyper-Intellect

Some day, the prophecy will be fulfilled; Trick Arrows will be buffed and I will finally be allowed to die.

 

Why doesn't Power Boost work on Cold Shields!?

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I don't know if future servers will include them, but currently Defenders also have Pain Domination and Poison, so I wrote up some stuff about them from my experience with them:

 

Pain Domination

 

Think of Pain as Empathy's selfish, goth sibling. Like Empathy, it's main specialty is Heals and Buffs, but while most people might play Empathy for the benefit of the team, you play Pain for your own benefit.

 

Pain trades the single-target, ally-only Fortitude for a half strength, but team-wide (so the Pain user gets the buff too) +Resistance version in World of Pain, and loses Empathy's auras to gain access to a -Resistance/-Defense debuff, a healing toggle, and potent self-buffs in its own versions of Empathy's Absorb Pain and Resurrect, Share Pain and Conduit of Pain.

 

tl;dr Empathy's teammates are allies; Pain's teammates are tools.

 

 

Poison

 

Poison is a mixed bag of fun and varied powers. It features:

 

• Quick-recharging, small AoE, BUT potent click debuffs

• An ally-heal, an ally-mez protection, and an ally-rez

• Slows and Holds

• A debuff toggle... on yourself! Your own stinky aura!

 

Because of the nature of Poison's bread-and-butter debuffs being strong, fast charging, but small AoEs, it shines more on smaller teams than other sets. It really finds its niche in Archvillain and Giant Monster fights where it's potent debuffs are easy to keep on one big target.

 

Also something to keep in mind: while Envenom and Weaken's debuffs don't self stack if you continue to target the same enemy, the main-target debuff CAN stack with the splash debuff if it's splashed off a different enemy.

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Buff Trick Arrows! | Buff Poison! | Powerset Suggestions: Circus Performers | Old Powerset Suggestions:  Probability Distortion | Magnetism | Hyper-Intellect

Some day, the prophecy will be fulfilled; Trick Arrows will be buffed and I will finally be allowed to die.

 

Why doesn't Power Boost work on Cold Shields!?

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Thanks Trickshooter! I was working off the list from Mids as a reminder of which ones were available, and didn't see those there.

 

Looking at Pain Domination, you can see how it more easily fits with the Corruptor paradigm of putting damage first. Still interesting to have it on Defenders were you can get the better values for the buffs and debuffs.

 

Poison seems fun too - I love quick recharging sets since it feels like me-the-player is having more impact rather than me-the-character-build-designer.

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Nice write up. There are two sets that I would slightly disagree with you on though.

 

First Trick Arrow. You mention that Trick Arrow is a bit weak and that is true but it does have one thing going for it that I think people overlook: it plays incredibly well with every other set. If you only have one Defender on a team then Trick Arrow is a bit underwhelming but if you've got two Defenders then Trick Arrow is one of the best choices for the second Defender. It's great at shoring up the weaknesses of the other Defender sets while synergizing with their strengths.

 

Secondly Electrical Blast. Honestly I think Electrical Blast gets a bit of a bad rap because it's not great as a Blaster set, in my experience it's actually pretty good as a Defender secondary. Defenders have much stronger End drains than Blasters so for Defenders Short Circuit alone can drain enemies in about two cycles with just a single End drain enhancement so you don't need to worry that much about building for drain. Building for drain is less of an issue than it sounds, putting a single End Mod enhancement in Short Circuit will drain most enemies in two cycles, the trick is staying alive to do it which Defenders are better at than Blasters. Similarly the fact that Defenders are generally tougher than Blasters means that the other weaknesses of Electrical Blast (the need to be in close for Short Circuit and having to wait on DoTs to deal damage) don't matter as much. If you pair Electrical Blast with a primary that likes to be in close anyway (such as Traps or Time) you get a very effective Tankfender.

 

Edit: Correction regarding end drain.


Defender Smash!

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Secondly Electrical Blast. Honestly I think Electrical Blast gets a bit of a bad rap because it's not great as a Blaster set, in my experience it's actually pretty good as a Defender secondary. Defenders have much stronger End drains than Blasters so for Defenders Short Circuit alone can drain enemies in about two cycles with just a single End drain enhancement so you don't need to worry that much abotu building for drain.

 

Defenders DO have the highest EndDrain modifier, 1.25 compared to Corruptors 1.1 and Blasters 1.0, but Elec Blast doesn't use the EndDrain tables. It uses the Ones tables, so Elec Blast drains the same on all ATs.

 

 


Buff Trick Arrows! | Buff Poison! | Powerset Suggestions: Circus Performers | Old Powerset Suggestions:  Probability Distortion | Magnetism | Hyper-Intellect

Some day, the prophecy will be fulfilled; Trick Arrows will be buffed and I will finally be allowed to die.

 

Why doesn't Power Boost work on Cold Shields!?

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Secondly Electrical Blast. Honestly I think Electrical Blast gets a bit of a bad rap because it's not great as a Blaster set, in my experience it's actually pretty good as a Defender secondary. Defenders have much stronger End drains than Blasters so for Defenders Short Circuit alone can drain enemies in about two cycles with just a single End drain enhancement so you don't need to worry that much about building for drain.

 

Defenders DO have the highest EndDrain mods, 1.25 compared to Corruptors 1.1 and Blasters 1.0, but Elec Blast doesn't use them. Elec Blast drains the same on all ATs.

Ah, I was not aware of that, well the rest of my point still holds.


Defender Smash!

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If you pair Electrical Blast with a primary that likes to be in close anyway (such as Traps or Time) you get a very effective Tankfender.

I'm wondering how well a Kin/Elec would work since Transference is amazing at reducing a Target's End, but Kin lacks a method of keeping the target's End suppressed. Also Kin loves being in close, and Kin helps alleviate the generally weak damage that Defender attacks are saddled with.

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If you pair Electrical Blast with a primary that likes to be in close anyway (such as Traps or Time) you get a very effective Tankfender.

I'm wondering how well a Kin/Elec would work since Transference is amazing at reducing a Target's End, but Kin lacks a method of keeping the target's End suppressed. Also Kin loves being in close, and Kin helps alleviate the generally weak damage that Defender attacks are saddled with.

 

I had an Elec/Kin Corruptor and playing it made me wish I was dead. I don't know what it was about the combo, but I hated it from level 1 to level 50. The damage, even with Kin, just never felt satisfying. And running in to Fulcrum Shift+Short Circuit was very unsafe a lot of the time.


Buff Trick Arrows! | Buff Poison! | Powerset Suggestions: Circus Performers | Old Powerset Suggestions:  Probability Distortion | Magnetism | Hyper-Intellect

Some day, the prophecy will be fulfilled; Trick Arrows will be buffed and I will finally be allowed to die.

 

Why doesn't Power Boost work on Cold Shields!?

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Transfusion which is one of the strongest heals in the game

 

*Transfusion, your -regen debuff has an interesting secondary effect of a large aoe heal.

 

fixt ;)

That might be overselling the -Regen on Transfusion just a bit.

 

From Mids it's a -50% Regen debuff. AV's will resist this by 85% prior to any reduction from being higher level. So optimistically call it a -7.5% Regen debuff.

 

Radiation Emission's Lingering Radiation on the other hand is a -500%  Regen debuff. After AV resistances that's -75% Regen. Cold Domination's Benumb is also -500%, as is Dark Miasma's Howling Twilight, Thermal's Heat Exhaustion, and then there's Trap's Poison Trap at -1,000% Regen.

 

So, yeah, Kin's can debuff Regen but not even close to the sets that are usually called upon to provide -Regen when it's really needed.

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Archery: Lethal damage mostly, overall good, Rain of Arrows is excellent, downside is no secondary effect to speak of.

 

One big downside with Rain of Arrows is that it is a DoT and has an activation time like a snipe, and once you start, the location of the AoE is fixed -- if whoever is holding aggro on the mobs drags them around, or some fool Blaster pulls aggro of them and they run over to him, you can be left watching your arrows rain down on open ground, unhindered by the presence of any mobs to absorb the arrows. It can be incredibly situational if the rest of your team is more mobile.

 

I presume most people are also using something like trick arrows which has glue and oil slick which basically 100% ensures no one is running anywhere.

 

When I played on the old live servers, my trick arrows/archery defender was the only defender I had enough fun playing that I got him up to level 46. I never took a travel power to keep him within my vision of the character (though I did take combat jumping, hurdle, and swift and effectively had a mini-super jump). I never felt underpowered, just more like a soft controller than what people expected from a defender. I refused to take aid other from medicine and when asked if I had heals in a PUG would just reply no, but I can do a hell of a lot more than that. Of course this was before cold domination was a thing and when I look at that set now I feel like it does everything I did and also shield people. so I dunno. I am thinking about rerolling that guy again and trying it out again.

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I know this is a little anecdotal, but I would like to point out a few things about defenders in General and my poison of choice, time/Elec in particular.

 

Defenders are ALWAYS wanted in groups. Yes, corrupters and controllers can play some of our tricks, but most people running TF's and Trials are well aware that our stuff is considerably stronger, and that mobs running around incredibly slowly like chickens with their heads cut off are doing a LOT less damage than they are when someone stuffs them all into fire cages. The 'reposition/flee' AI seems to prevent more attacks than those short-term 'hard' aoe holds could hope to deal with, especially since they affect those scads of bosses that tougher TF's seem to spawn with regularity.

 

This means that You are pure gold on the stuff that nets you tons of recipes and salvage. You are the ideal newbie crafter, able to build stuff and sell it for millions. You can learn each TF and trial the easy way, which makes a fender the ideal 'primary' toon to make the money and IO's, as well as learn the skills, that later characters can benefit from. My time/elec is only 23, and already has several complete sets in his build (albeit level 25 sets) and tens of millions in the bank... all from just making and selling set IO's, and buying and building some of the recipes as well as getting crafting stuff on DiB, DfB, Posi, Synapse, and Yin.

 

And for time/elec in particular, the endurance modification sets are not terribly expensive... even if it weakens other stuff for slots a little at low level, it's worth getting the blue end mod set for short circuit... Your place is right by whoever sucks up the alpha, and in a flash of short crcuit and ball lightning, the entire spawn is down to like one attack every thirty seconds, is running around crazily, and at a speed so slow that even that stone tanker can run them down.

 

Of course, to be fair, the monster at the end of DiB is STILL a nightmare to kill. Takes FOREVER.

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In terms of "how will I do at the end of the road?", I'd break it down as follows:

 

  • Tier One (sets that have a complete toolkit and often can be broadly applied to any other primary/secondary set): Dark Miasma/Affinity, Kinetics, Nature Affinity, Radiation Emission, Time Manipulation
  • Tier Two (sets that have strong components but lack some critical features): Cold Domination, Storm Summoning, Thermal Radiation
  • Tier Three (set that have crippling flaws, dysfunctional mechanics or aren’t as good at their specialty as better overall sets): Empathy, Force Field, Sonic Resonance, Traps, Trick Arrow

Note that you can break these into ‘Defender’ and ‘Corruptor’ favored sets based on whether their primary features are more helpful in a primary or secondary set. The more a set relies on non-scaling factors like +recharge, -regen or location AoE, the more it makes sense to take it as a secondary. A set that significantly augments damage (via -resist or +damage) with scaling powers will generally make more sense as a Defender, except if you’re in danger of hitting the +damage cap. Sets that take up large amounts of activation time tend to favor neither but instead work well with Controllers.

 

You can also consider the larger game. For example, I’d argue that Kinetics isn’t a particularly good set for either Corruptors or Defenders because takes too much time away from their Blast sets and requires significant risk to apply its buffs. On the other hand, it works wonderfully for certain Controller builds - which means that if you have a Kinetics on your team, you probably want it to be a Controller.

 

For Blast sets, I break them down into ‘Defender’ and ‘Corruptor’ sets:

Defenders: Beam Rifle, Sonic Blast.

Corruptors: Fire Blast, Ice Blast, Water Blast.

 

This is really a matter of applying two rules:

 

  • Defenders look for ancillary features in their blast sets since damage isn't a high priority for them.
     
  • Corruptors highly prioritize Rain effects due to the way Scourge works. That's why the Ice and Water ultimates are so much better than Inferno.
     

Everything else I would consider ‘flavor’ in the sense that while they may be enjoyable sets, you’re unlikely to pick them for an optimized character.

 

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  • Tier Three (set that have crippling flaws, dysfunctional mechanics or aren’t as good at their specialty as better overall sets): Empathy, Force Field, Sonic Resonance, Traps, Trick Arrow

 

I'm curious, what's the "crippling flaw" of trick arrows?

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