Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On agro

I've heard players complain about the tanks in their group that "they can't hold agro and I'm always dying." For this purpose do I write this blog.

As a disclaimer, I've been playing EQ2 since it came out, though I've taken a few extended breaks time and again. Before that, I played EQ1 when it first came out. While I don't consider myself to be an expert, I will say that I have a decent about of experience with the game.

I've maxed out a healer, a crowd control (enchanter), a necro, a ranger and a Paladin. The main character I play now is my Paladin. While he doesn't have the best agro in the game, he's got some pretty decent skills. There are items to increase hate gain. There are AA skills to increase hate gain. There are adornments to increase hate gain. There are upgraded spells to increase the hate gain. There is even a skill to transfer hate from one player to the tank. Yet, none of that makes a difference if people don't play their part in a group.

I'm going to state something that may seem obvious, yet I'm amazed how many people don't get it. In EQ2, there are three basic elements to any group: The tank, the healer and the damager dealers. Yes, there are all sorts of grey areas in there, but those are the main ones.

The tank's job is to get whatever the group is fighting to hit on him or her, since they are designed to be the toughest in defense. They are *not* designed to dish out the most damage. They keep the mob hitting them by not only doing damage, but using agro (or hate) increasing skills on the monster.

The healer should really be focused on two things: First, keeping the tank alive. Second, the rest of the group alive. Now healers can also add some damage time and again if the tank is holding up well.

The damage dealers, scouts and magic damager dealers, by far have better offensive skills (in general) than tanks or healers. But with power comes responsibility. Yes, they can do the most damage, but at the same time, they need to do so in a way that doesn't take agro from the tank.

Here's a crazy notion: the goal of any group fight isn't to see who can do the most damage. It's to kill the mob in the most efficient way possible. I, for one, hate the third party programs that will show how much damage each person does after a fight. It promotes the wrote idea.

When playing with my ranger in a group, I would often wait until the monster was down a full bubble of health before I would attack. Even then, I would start with my lower damage skills, including damage over time. Once we were at the halfway point on the mob, I'd be more aggressive. By the time we got to a quarter of a bubble, I'd go full out. And you know what? I never took agro and when someone would use the report of how much damage people did, I was always at the top.

So, what do I suggest? For tanks, swallow your pride and use as many agro skills as you can as soon as they become available. For healers, keep your tank alive at all costs—even if that means letting a dps die because they stole agro or ran ahead into a room before the tank got there. For damager dealers, pace yourself. If you are stealing agro from the tank, you have one person to blame—and it isn't the tank.

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