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get this party started

February 11, 2009

I’d like to continue something I started with this post about balance. This time I’m going to steer away from solo play and dip into small group play. This is of particular interest for me because Omelettez and I play almost exclusively together. As such we need to properly pair characters. It’s lead me to really pay attention to the way two classes work together. If you’re not familiar with the concept of synergy I’ll give you the simplest definition I’ve ever been presented with: synergy is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Now, that is not always the case when using an example that is social. In that case there is both negative and positive synergy. Negative synergy is the exact opposite of the normal concept of synergy, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Positive synergy is the normal context of synergy.

Some examples of positive synergy in WAR would be skills like Skull Thumper and Blurring Shock. These abilities place a debuff on the target which causes all incoming critical hits to deal extra damage. When a Black Orc, or Swordmaster is alone these abilities add some good damage. If you add a Witch Hunter, or Witch Elf attacking the same opponent, that ability is now much stronger. Both classes, but Witch Elf in particular are known for stringing a lot of attacks together very quickly while wanting to maximize crit. You can look at simpler things and see it there as well. Good examples would be Chosen and Knight of BS auras which are considered ‘built in’ to those classes, but also buff their entire group, or debuff any enemies near them and often both.

An example of negative synergy is improperly aimed knockbacks, particularly in conjunction with melee DPS. Luckily negative synergy is usually caused by poor play, so it rarely breaks a group. It is more common to find groupings that simply do not provide good synergy. So I’ve compiled a list of my top-5’s for Order and Destro as groupings of 2, 3 and 6.

Duos:

Order-

Warrior Priest + Ironbreaker: Control coupled with durability. Great group for both PVE and RVR.
Warrior Priest + Swordmaster: Gives up some control in favor of better synergy with DPS. Again great in both PVE and RVR.
Warrior Priest + White Lion: Gives up some of the protection tanks provide in favor of White Lions ability to get on a target and stay on a target with Fetch and Pounce. Good in PVE and RVR, but can’t handle solo heroes as tank+healer can.
Runepriest + Shadow Warrior: This is a hit and run group which uses the two classes CC options to keep people off them while delivering damage from range. Purely for RVR.
Archmage + Ironbreaker: This group uses the Ironbreaker to protect the squishy Archmage, allowing them to put out their best-on-Order heals.

Destro-

Disciple of Khaine + Blackguard: This serves a similar route of control, but more focus is on damage and locking down healers. Great in PVE and RVR.
Disciple of Khaine + Witch Elf: Relies on the DoK’s buffs and damage-swaps to give openings for the Witch Elf’s amazing burst and lock-downs. Great in PVE and RVR, but not nearly as good at soloing heroes as tank+healer groups are.
Disciple of Khaine + Marauder: This pair uses Marauders ability to AOE stun and pull players to control and burst people down. Great in PVE and RVR, again not good with heroes, but amazing with AOE grinding.
Zealot + Black Orc: Zealot is used for its survivability to make up for Black Orc’s lack of CC, while Black Orcs enhanced survivability allows Zealot to make better use of their abilities. Great in both RVR and PVE, especially excels at duo AOE farming due to a secondary synergy with corporeal AOEs.
Shaman + Chosen: Like Ironbreaker and Archmage this group uses the Chosen’s ability to cripple, stun and otherwise annoy people trying to kill his squishy but amazingly powerful healer. Great in RVR and PVE.

Now we’re going to move to groups of three. These favor DoK and WP far less as the other healers are less needed as DPS in these groups. You will however find that there is a tank on every single group. I’ll leave out comments on RVR/PVE because -all- of these groups do very well at both.

Trios:

Order-

Ironbreaker + Archmage + White Lion: Uses the Ironbreakers ability to shutdown and the White Lions ability to stay on a target as well as Archmages amazing healing and instant rez.
Ironbreaker + Archmage + Shadow Warrior: Forgoes the bulldog style of the White Lion and instead relies on Shadow Warrior’s ability to quickly adapt to slow, snare, knockback (towards the IB, of course) and otherwise disrupt.
Ironbreaker + Archmage + Warrior Priest: Shifts from bulldogging and disrupting to pure survivability in a third. This team plays more offensively with the AM debuffing more and relying on the WP to take pressure off healing.
Ironbreaker + Runepriest + Bright Wizard: Completely different group style, uses the Ironbreaker to set up safe nuking for the BW. All three classes have reliable CC.
Swordmaster + Warrior Priest + Witch Hunter: No Ironbreaker! I mean… this is all about melee synergy. The Swordmaster buffs and bulldogs while the WH capitalizes on the buffs from both the SM and the WP to burst targets.

Destro-

Black Orc + Zealot + Sorceress: Very similar to IB/RP/BW, but lacks some of the CC. In compensation you get a tank who needs very support and better cross buffs. Has amazing AOE potential as well.
Black Orc + Zealot + Marauder: Uses the Marauder to make up for the Black Orcs slight lack of CC by pulling and using their AOE knockdown. Also provides a lot in the way of AOE.
Chosen + Disciple of Khaine + Witch Elf: This group uses setups and burst with overlapping ‘on hit’ damage abilities with Kisses, Tooth of Tzeentch and Covenant of Vitality. Also retains quite a lot of control via two AOE knockdowns and two on-movement debuffs.
Chosen + Shaman + Marauder: Shifts away from damage in favor of control. Moves in a Shaman for instant rez and AP drain. Marauder focuses more on pulling off the Shaman and pressuring rather than pulling opponents into burst.
Blackguard + Shaman + Disciple of Khaine: Very similar to IB/AM/WP, but gives up some control in favor of damage. Made possible mostly due to AP drains and WH being less a threat to Shaman than WE are to AM.

All right, now we skip ahead to full groups. Mostly because four and five man groups become very convoluted and honestly follow this same pattern. Now, I’m not going to put a top five for these. I’m opting for two on each side because truth be told the number three groups for either side are so far behind that it’s not really fair to compare them. Other groups are very competitive in scenarios, but the core support given by these setups is too much to make others worth mentioning in a discussion purely on six-man groups. These are looked at purely in terms of RVR. Without further ado:

Order 6 mans:

Ironbreaker + Knight of BS + Archmage + Runepriest + White Lion + Engineer: Knight provides group buffs and helps the White Lion offensively to control opponents. The Engineer pressures healers with AOE and disrupts with Magnet. Ironbreaker protects the ranged, while assisting the Engineer with bursting down nearby targets. The Archmage provides their instant rez, while the Runepriest provides their AP rune. The Archmage is the key to the group and must be kept up.

Ironbreaker + Knight of BS + Archmage + Rune Priest + Witch Hunter + Warrior Priest: This group is actually more offensive oriented despite dealing less damage. The WP in this case should be Grace assisting the Knight and WH in focusing targets down. The Ironbreaker is again a babysitter, with more focus on knocking players towards the DPS rather than actually killing them. Again the Archmage is the key and must be kept up.

Destro-

Black Orc + Chosen + Shaman + Zealot + Witch Elf + Disciple of Khaine: You’ll notice this group is almost a mirror of the second Order group. The difference here is it also contains the Chosen/WE/DoK group which offers very intense burst damage and control. Again there is less risk to the Shaman, which allows a Black Orc to protect them quite well despite the lack of CC. Due to WH/WE imbalances this is the strongest six-man available in game.

Black Orc + Chosen + Shaman + Disciple of Khaine + Sorceress + Witch Elf: This group forgoes a lot of safety and in return offers a massive amount of burst damage. The amount of high-rate procs is intense as Potent Covenants, Frozen Fury and Kiss of Doom are all used. Combined with Skull Thumper and Tooth of Tzeentch the time-to-kill for this group is impossibly low, especially when paired with two on-demand AOE knockdowns. This is the second strongest six-man group in game due only to its proc-reliance.

Feel free to suggest other group makeups, but please provide some explanation if you do. When looking at these groups it’s very hard to see a better way to arrange a six-man group. The control presented by the first three and especially the first Destro group puts other combinations to shame. The burst that the final group can put out can not be beat in game without completely compromising your group composition. That’s a lot of ‘com’ words. Pure DPS groups can do more damage, the problem is pure DPS groups also get squashed by that group setup while providing almost no benefit. The group already provides a level of burst damage which can not be healed through as the damage spikes exceed the maximum health of most characters, dealing more would be overkill (well, more overkill).

You’ll also notice some other trends. There is a Shaman or AM in every 6 man group and a half of the 3 man groups. The instant rez is invaluable and there’s no way around it. Your group will not be out of commission until the Shaman or AM is dead and the groups are designed around not letting that happen. You’ll also notice Ironbreaker pops up a lot. They offer so much control, while still offering a lot of burst for a tank. Ranged also have a small role, as they did in 1v1. I would like to note that ranged have a larger role when group size is increase to 12 and beyond. At that point you are no longer required to sacrifice group composition to protect ranged DPS which almost universally lose in 1v1 against tanks, DPS and even healers. In 2, 3 and 6 man groups this becomes an issue if your group is built around ranged as it will allow your opponent to split damage and lock your ranged down to pressure your healers while freeing up their healers to debuff and DPS themselves. The other trend is in the 6 man groups; they all have a Knight or Chosen. The reason is simply that auras multiply in use based on how many people they hit. These classes are group support and do that job very, very well.

As I stated with my 1v1 article this is a question of where balance is meant to be. Mythic’s focus is on large-scale play for the most part. Even scenarios are actually somewhat outside the scale of this article at 12 players per side. While it is hard to argue that doubling any of the 6 man groups would produce a bad scenario team, it’s also possible that it would leave something to be desired. Combining the two teams would actually produce a better array of abilities, but there would also be some room for a team centered on ranged DPS such as one built around Engineer and Bright Wizard. This would likely be Eng + Bw + Knight + SM + WP + RP to offer as many sources of elemental damage and as many debuffs as possible. While this group by itself is inferior to the others I’ve presented, it offers many positives if used as a supplement to those groups. The Destro equivalent would likely be Magus + Sorc + Chosen + BO + Zealot + DoK.

Oh and don’t expect something covering full warbands from me. At that point balance concerns are actually pretty nill if you keep a proper balance of archetypes and you’ll do fine. There are some things like a WP/DoK should be in every group to spam AOE heals, properly mixing each group, etc, but it would be hard to argue that there is an absolute optimal full warband. Even if there were because we’d be talking about RVR, there would be too many factors. If you ever followed how quickly arena team compositions fluctuated you can try to apply that to a large group and see how fast that all goes up in smoke. You need every class, you really do. What I’m more interested is in those close-knit groups who want to always do things together. Huge warbands may be a driving force, but it’s certainly not the soul of RVR. Years from now your best memories will not be of how awesome your zerg was, they’ll be of that one time you and your two buddies held off six people at Fortress.

pancakez

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Roofless_Toofless permalink
    February 11, 2009 12:47 pm

    Damn! Squig Herders don’t seem to have a place in any of your groups? Why is that, gitface?!

    :p

  2. pancakez permalink*
    February 11, 2009 2:31 pm

    Well, the problem with Squig Herder is that the ‘stances’ are built into your Squig, which is easily killed and can take away your options quickly. It creates an imbalance with the other pet class and your mirror. White Lion really only need their pet for Fetch and annoying people as their passive pet buff can be used while a pet is dead. Shadow Warrior on the other hand can’t have their stances removed. So while Shadow Warrior shows up in two of these groups, a Squig Herder does not. You’ll also note that Shadow Warrior does not show up in the six man groups at all either. The reason is simply that while Shadow Warrior can offer some flexibility and CC, it is heavily outweighed when larger groups are benefiting from the buffs other classes provide.

    I may write up a more comprehensive list of what pairs work best for each class, but the problem with doing that is how limited the list would feel. All melee, tanks and ranged DPS would have their top three as healers in some order. All healers top three would be a tank in some order. For Squig Herder that would be, in order: Disciple of Khaine, Zealot, Shaman. The reason Squig Herder + Disciple of Khaine does not appear on this list is that while DoK is a Squig Herder’s first choice for a partner, Squig Herder is low on the list for good partners for a DoK.

  3. February 11, 2009 3:51 pm

    This is an exceptional write up! You do have a good eye for class pairings and balance.

    I think you might find additional combination options with the chosen. They have a lot of variety in the class. It seems to be one of those that can appear “awful” and “amazing” just based on the tactics and abilities used.

  4. CKaz permalink
    February 11, 2009 4:02 pm

    Good start and a fair sized read as it is, I would have been more interested had it stayed duo/trio though, and as a range player of late I think it’s missing a fair bit – e.g. had some great synergies as an engineer, even though it may not be as obvious as buff X + Y.

  5. Excel permalink
    February 11, 2009 5:38 pm

    Good stuff, I got 6 man group skirmishes, and duels going on Azazel early on in it’s life. We would get on IRC and plan out where to go and meet for 6v6, 12v12, or some smaller scale battles that you otherwise would most likely have a hard time finding in oRvR. Nobody really runs in 6mans, I’ve seen some 12mans but most just get zerged by 2-3+ warbands. People mostly want to zerg in this game, and if given the opportunity to do 6v6 or 12v12 I bet most people still probably wouldn’t… I know I would though. (Maybe some others too)

    I’d really like to see more 2v2s, 3v3s, 6v6s, 12v12s in this game, it was alot of fun in DAoC and it could be in War too. (Duels too!)

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