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Solo play is an unescapable part of Lineage II, at least at lower levels; no matter how many online friends you have in the game, there will always be some periods when your regular party is not available online. Knowing how to exploit the system to be most efficient in solo play can be rather rewarding.
Most of my time spent has been in solo play, as I didn't have a local group to play with, and I actually have a working life. Not to mention I have a strong independent streak, and dislike relying on others for help. So, a lot of the times I solo, even when I shouldn't solo. I've partied maybe all of 3 times in the entire period I've been active in game.
Solo play in Lineage II is really not that hard.. it's just that you really have not much room for errors. A party gives you a lifeline, especially if you have a healer in the group; there's more room for errors there. Solo play means you depend only on yourself to extract from a bad situation. It's challenging, especially since the mobs in the game is set up for group play, but it is possible, and for some people extremely satisfying to succeed in being good at solo play.
The majority of this guide is biased towards a Human Knight, as that is my PC. In many ways, a Human Knight is ideal for solo play -- it can deal with melee combat (slowly), has better than average magical defense, and can self-heal. Please be careful when using the following guide, as it may not work for your PC.
Be the Aggressor
The first thing to know about solo play is that you, the PC has to be the aggressive party here. You cannot allow mobs to aggro on you -- if you do, eventually you will allow too many mobs to aggro on you, and you will die. However, I also don't mean you go and beat up any random mob that you see; social mobs will quickly swamp you if you do that.
Instead, what I mean is that you need to be the one who initiates combat, not the one who gets ambushed by the mobs. Initiating combat allows you to control where and when you fight -- where, as in whether it is near or far from other mobs, when, as in when your HP and MP status is good to take on the mob.
It doesn't matter whether the mob is aggressive or social. If you initiate the combat, you are picking the fight, and you better pick it on grounds and times of your choosing. Barring incredible bad luck or incredible stupidity in choosing a target (i.e. chose a mob that is too high level for you), you will always win if you pick the fight right.
Pick Your Fights
As an aggressor, you get to pick the fights. Pick only fights you know you can win -- there's no point saying your level 24 character fought a Hangman Tree (around level 35, deep red to the level 24) when, at the end, the Tree has your face planted into the ground.
Pick fights with white mobs, or even greens. In Chronicle 2, greens weren't very good mobs to fight due to the XP penalty, but in Chronicle 3 this is reputed to be removed. Thus far into Chronicle 3, it seems that many mobs have been adjusted to be better for solo play, and that is a boon to us.
Also, pick fights with solo mob, not groups -- unless you have some equalizer (like a fireball or two). As an example, consider the following situation:
The image isn't too good because I was definitely not trying to get too close to that action. The hill is full of Crockians (Basic), Crockian Warriors, Dailaons and Rakuls. The first two are aggro, the first three are social to each other, and the last is social within themselves.
It is not SANE for a solo to even approach the hill. First, the aggro mobs would come swarming out. Even if you pick on the passive Rakuls, there are multiple Rakuls in close promixity there, so a particular social Rakul or two might like to join your party.. along with irate Crockians. To add to the joy, the ranged Dailaons would express-deliver daggers to you too. Even a nuker would have some issues here.
In this situation, it is best to go elsewhere to pick a fight, or to wait patiently for one of the mobs to wander off that hill to draw it out. Frankly, Aden is big enough for me to find action elsewhere.
Pick Your Ground
Fighter pilots have a term called "situational awareness". In Lineage II, it pays to be aware of your surroundings too. By this, I mean that you should have a rough understanding of where the other mobs are -- you typically know where your target is anyway, it's the ones you aren't fighting that should concern you. Social mobs are of critical concern here, as are Aggro mobs, and knowing where they are in relation to you is critical to continued well-being.
As a practical example, if you fight a social mob, say, Sorrow Maidens in EG, you need to be aware of the locations of other Sorrow Maidens, because you do not want to fight two Maidens at the same time. You also need to be aware where the aggressive Specters and Mandragora Blossoms are, as you don't really need them to aggro into your fight at the moment. And most assuredly, you don't want the Demon Tempest or Sir Calibus to wander into your general vicinity -- at all!
So having a grasp of the general situation is good for prolonged well-being of your PC. This can be done simply by taking a quick look around right after you killed off some mob, a quick assessment of the situation, and taking note of where the mobs are. If the dangerous mobs have wandered too close, relocate; if they have been killed off by other PCs, be careful to note where they next spawn. And related to this is the fact that....
Other Players are NOT your friends!
If you are soloing, odds are good that you're going to be more aggravated by other PCs than anything else. Firstly, PCs, especially groups, tend to barrel into a hunting area killing everything in sight. This is bad, because you end up with a more complex and constantly changing situation that you need to track.
Spawn-aggro, where the newly spawned aggressive/ social mob immediately aggros on you, is extremely vexing and tends to happen only after a largish group (or large numbers of small groups/ solos) barrelled through an area. This kills off the mobs and forces them to respawn, often right on top of you.
After this, you still have the wonderful thoughts of PK, Kill Stealing and mob trains, all things only PCs can do. Look, if you wanted company, you would be in a party. If you are solo, other players are not your friends. So treat other PCs as potential bombs waiting to get you into trouble.
Flying Kites and Dragging Coats
Pulling involves deliberately provoking a mob in order to draw it out and leading it away for summary execution. The idea here is to get the mob to aggro you. The main thing to remember is this: the Social trait is triggered only by attacks by a PC; if a mob decide to attack you, other mobs will not trigger their social trait to assist the lone mob, and will leave you two alone.
Obviously, aggressive mobs are easy meat. Just trail your tailcoats within aggro range of the mob you want -- making darn sure you aren't in the aggro range of the other mobs! -- and watch as the mob pounds out after you. Simply drag it out of aggro/ social range of the rest, and kill it good.
Another tactic to draw out a passive but social mob from a group is to take a mob you have fought down to a few HP to within social range and make the kill there, this will draw the social mob out towards you.
Patience is a Virtue...
Of course, passive mobs don't do react to kiting very well, so another tactic needs to be used. In fact, you have to attack them.. only, with a ranged weapon or spell. Most spells/ ranged weapons have ranges greater than the aggro range of mobs, so that's a bonus. The key thing to remember is that if your target mob is in social range of the support mobs when you hit your target mob, the support mobs will join the party. So, you have to be patient and wait until the docile mobs drift apart, then get in and fire off the ranged spells/ fire, and then kite normally until you are out of social range of the other mobs.
Learn to Take it like a Man/ Woman!
One common situation is that you're on the run -- your HP is low and you accidentally aggroed something, or you just kited a mob out. The mob is on your tail and dishing out the damage every now and then.
You're hurt, and the situation doesn't look good. Well... take it like a man/ woman! Most of the time, you can afford to take a hit or two while running. At these times, it is even more important to pick your ground for the fight. Do NOT stand and fight if other social mobs are around -- once you strike the chaser mob, every one of the social mobs in social range will jump on top of you. You must clear all social mobs before you even consider fighting your chaser.
Not only that, while you are running, always look ahead; you know who is on your tail, so not much need to look there all the time. The reason is simple -- you have a problem on your tail, you do NOT need to blunder into an aggro mob to add to your problems, so take the pains to avoid aggro mobs. Your situational awareness is critical here -- you can easily blunder into aggro mobs if you did not keep an eye on your area.
Have a Back Door
Pick Your Time
As an aggressor, you control the tempo of the engagements. You fight only when your HP and MP are sufficient for you to win -- never fight when your HP is so low that you cannot survive a random encounter with the prevalent mob in the area, or if you rely on magic, when your MP is too low to cast spells.
Typically, this means that when you get down to about 40% ~ 45% of your health, you should consider finding a rest spot. Recovery times would be shorter under these circumstances, and you are better off if you get ambushed during your rest periods (i.e. you can survive the encounter). Always pick the right time to engage, and always know when to break off.