Teams in CoH can have up to eight members. While teaming with friends is always a blast, teaming with PUGs (pick-up groups, or groups of strangers) can often be a hit-or-miss experience, due to new players, bad players or just inconsiderate ones. There are some tips to avoiding bad team members, rehabilitating ones you find, and not being one yourself.
Who do you invite and how? Putting together a team can be a very challenging and frustrating task. Your search tool tells you people's archetype, but not their power sets. Even if you knew their power sets, some people make unexpected choices when it comes to powers. Others have a fine selection of powers, but made some unfortunate decisions in slotting. Even if someone is playing a perfect cookie-cutter build, they might just be a lousy player who uses the wrong powers at the wrong time in the wrong way. Even the most skillful player might be a jerk who isn't fun to team with. Even if you manage to find some really great players, they might quit after one mission and you are back to searching. It's tempting to spend a long time trying to build the perfect team, but it just isn't worth the effort. When you are recruiting for a supergroup, that's another matter, but for a pick-up group it's better to just follow a few rules of thumb, put together a group, and start tromping villainy.
Who to invite
The more heroes you have, the more villains you will face. If you are struggling with a mission, adding more heroes can make things worse instead of better. Remember what you learned about how archetypes and power sets go together. Almost any team can succeed with good tactics, but a well built team can succeed with lousy tactics. In general, a good mix of archetypes and power sets is wise. This is especially true of defenders. Two identical defenders are not nearly as good as two different defenders, however, all defenders are useful. There are far too many people who think that only an empathy defender, a "healer", can contribute. All defenders can either buff your team or debuff the enemy, resulting in more damage dished out and less damage taken. Healing should be a last resort, not a first.
In the end, the goal is to dish out damage. Blasters and Scrappers do that very well. Some tanks and defenders can dish out more damage than others. You need some way to survive the incoming damage. Controllers can stop bad guys from attacking, tanks can absorb damage, defenders can prevent or heal damage. Mixing different types of defense is more effective than doubling up on one type of defense.
How to invite
If someone is looking for a team, go ahead and send an invitation. If someone's search comment specifically asks for a tell, or asks you not to send a blind invite, then you should send a tell first. If you are inviting someone who is not looking for a team, definitely send them a tell first. When you send a tell before inviting someone, include the level and location of the villains, at least. "Want to help with some lvl 28 Tsoo in Talos?" for example.
You may also want to send a tell first to ask some questions, to make sure that the person is a good match for your team. Be polite, and remember that they will have just as many questions as you do. Do not ask a defender if he or she is a healer. Most defenders find this very annoying, even if they do have empathy as a primary. As mentioned above, all defenders are useful.
Dos and Don'ts
- Remember that you can put together teams yourself, you do not need to wait for someone else. The LFG (looking for group) screen is very detailed and lets you know a lot about who is available. One of the most frustrating parts of bad teams is bad leaders. By being the leader yourself this will hopefully avoid that situation.
- Use sidekicking and exemplaring effectively. For the uninitiated, sidekicking brings a lower player up to one level under that of their mentor, while exemplaring brings a player down to the student's level. In either case there must be at least a three level difference originally. Sidekicking does not give the sidekick any new powers, exemplaring does remove the exemplars higher powers. Also, an exemplar does not earn xp, although they can pay off xp debt and earn influence and/or prestiege. If a player is more than three levels under or over the average level of the team, they will not earn xp. Also, a low member who refuses to sidekick will likely be a drain on the rest of the team, possibly resulting in deaths or team wipes. A high member who does not exemplar can keep the rest of the team from earning any significant xp. Don't be these people.
- Be willing to kick bad members from the team. You may be a charitable person, and be willing to believe that if a person makes a mistake, or was away from their keyboard for two hours, or is being disruptive, they might have a good reason for it. But when a member of the team has been warned about their behavior and it is affecting the team, have a spine and follow through – the team will be better for it.
- Be smart about which missions you do. Don't choose only your missions to do, unless there are no others, and don't always do the highest level mission simply because the xp is higher – if everyone is dying all the time it will actually slow you down. Also, think about where the missions are, to minimize the amount of running around the team needs to do. And if the mission has a difficult challenge, such as a timer or an arch-villain, be sure that the team is willing and ready to go for it.
- If you really, really need someone and no one is on LFG (for example, you need six people to start a task force), an occasional message in the broadcast or request channels is acceptable, but do not spam. Also, it is okay to ask people not on LFG as long as you do so politely, in actual English, and be specific about what it is you're offering and what you need.
- Do not…
- Get obsessive about "team balance". Perhaps in another MMO you played, you needed a healer to get things done, but it is different in CoH. There are no healers, except for Empaths. Also, Defenders aren't called healers. There may be a few situations (Respec trials) where things get hairy enough to need some AT tweaking, but generally, go wild. As long as the players are decent, any AT mixture will do fine.
- Recruit players without telling them what you are doing. They may not be looking for what you're offering, and you do not want to find that out after twenty minutes of recruiting and getting set up in a mission.
- Do not send blind invites! A "blind" invite is when you invite someone to a team without asking them if they want to team, or if they're not on the LFG list. Also, if they're on LFG, but their message says they want a tell first, send them a tell. (Sending a tell at the same time or after you send the invite still counts as a blind invite.)
In Paragon City, anyone can shoot lightning from their fingertips, but it takes somebody special to build and lead a successful team.
Learn your own powers
Before you can lead others, you must, as the sages say, "know thyself." You can read about your powers here on the wiki or on the official forums. All printed materials are sadly out of date. The best way to learn your own powers is to use them. Try them out solo at first, until you get the hang of them. Then use them in a team. You will probably develop a few questions, which can best be answered either on the forums or with carefully controlled experiments while you are solo or with a friend. You should also understand other peoples' expectations of your powers and your power sets.
Learn everyone else's powers
From reading and teaming and asking questions in game, you should learn all you can about other peoples' powers. Pay attention to how those powers interact with each other and with your own powers. Some archetypes and power sets complement each other particularly well. Learn to recognize other powers by name when reading bios, and by the sight of their animations, or even by sound. You don't need to master every aspect of every power in the game before you send out your first invitation, but the more you know the more effectively you can lead.
The search tool
When you're ready to start building your team, you'll use the search tool. Up on the top of the chat box, open the Team window. Click the button to find members. You will get a list, probably a rather short one. This list should show the people in your zone who are looking for a team. Depending on when and where you play, there may not be many options here. Luckily, at the top of the screen, you will see a number of options. Play around. You want to run a mission? Try finding all of the people near your level in your zone, or one connected to your zone by tunnel or train, who are looking for missions or who are up for anything. Hopefully you will have a much larger list now.
Note the column at the end: search comments. Here is where people can tell you exactly what they are looking for, or exactly what they have to offer. Read them and respect them. If someone says they don't want to do the Frostfire mission again, don't invite them to do the Frostfire mission again. If you can't find enough people, go ahead and search through all the zones. Remember, though, the farther away someone is, the greater an imposition you are making when you ask them to travel all the way to you. If you still can't find enough people to fill your team, then you can look for people who are not seeking a team. Some of these people are already on a team; their names are shaded out. If the name is bright blue, then they are available, but remember – they aren't looking for a team. Sending them an invitation out of the blue is impolite. Send a
/tell first, and be very polite.
When you have your team, say hello to everyone as they join. Set the team task from your list of missions. Once your mission is done, take turns doing other people's missions. Arrange sidekicks and exemplars as necessary to get everyone close to the same level. Get everyone safely to the mission. Recall Friend is helpful here. You may need to escort some people, or clear out a villain spawn near the mission door. If this mission has clickies/glowies, you should tell people up front if you want to click on them yourself or if anyone can click them.
Once you are in the mission, either lead the team or clearly designate a leader. There are two vital rules of combat which you must enforce:
- Nobody attacks until everybody is ready.
- Everybody fights the same group of bad guys.
Breaking these rules usually results in disaster. As long as everyone follows these two rules, a good group can steamroll over everything in their path. Sometimes, though, you will come across a truly challenging battle. There are three strategies to keep in mind.
Thin the herd
The technique you use is called "pulling" and there is a lot more to it than many people realize. First, start with the minions and work your way up. Second, choose the villain who is farthest away from the rest of the pack. Third, once you shoot them, make sure everyone on the team moves to break the line of sight so the bad guy has to chase after you. Once the bad guy is safely removed from his friends, pounce. Repeat as often as necessary/possible.
Concentrate your attacks
Have one person, often a tank, draw the aggro of the entire pack, and then lead them into an ambush. If you can keep all the bad guys clumped up together, then all of your AoE attacks and holds and debuffs can be put to maximum use. Corners, crates, fences, and dumpsters are good tools to break the line of sight and bring the bad guys into a tight little pack when they come after you.
Plan for an orderly retreat
Let your team know ahead of time that you will call for a retreat, and they should try not to panic when things go wrong. It's okay if an individual falls back when injured, but the whole team shouldn't break and run just because one person was hurt or defeated. When you do call for a retreat, have a plan in place, based on the powers of your team. In general, the healthiest and sturdiest players should be the last to retreat. Support characters should be the first. They should retreat around a corner, to escape from ranged attacks, and then wait. When the melee fighters fall back to the corner, the support characters can take a moment to heal, buff, debuff, attack, hold, slow, etc., and then fall back some more.
Hopefully it won't come to that, and your team will plow through the mission, having fun and racking up xp.
In between missions, give people a chance to sell, visit contacts, and train up. Maybe not after every mission, but try to have everyone do chores like that at the same time. Some people may need to leave, so you will probably have to do more recruiting. Together you can decide what mission to run next. If someone is causing trouble, and a few polite private tells aren't helping, then it is time to kick them from the team. Booting someone while you are in a mission will leave them free to run around causing trouble for you and your team. If you are lucky, then you won't need to worry about that. You will be too busy adding new people to your friends list!