Tactics

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When you're in a group, you'll find in more challenging snells that running in all at once and trying to kill everything that comes at you, is not the best way to hunt. Tactics covers how people in various roles work together to accomplish the goals for the hunts or exploratory trip.

Tactics are generally left until the place and time of the hunt to explain. Here, I'll document some of them developed by groups I've been a part of for years. These are tried and true ways to combat the various types of monsters you'll hunt on a daily basis. An older scroll unearthed from the Black Unicorn vault is Group Combat Tactics. This scroll covers basic tactics one should follow at all times during a hunt. It's old but it has a lot of concepts not covered here, or only covered in part here.

Avoiding collisions

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In a group hunt it is essential to avoid people running into each other, for group efficiency and group safety. The best way to avoid collisions between group members is to allow at least a one exile gap between them and all times except when healing and performing a Surround and Pound. Also, if a beast is surrounded and you're not in the surrounding group, make sure to hang back at least 2 exile lengths away (3 is even better), standing just off a straight line between you the fighter you're waiting to step back and the beast that's surrounded. This allows the fighter to step back at least 2 exile widths or greater and gracefully not impede your approach. The fighter backing off should choose a retreat vector that leaves your attack vector unhindered.

Once you tag, you can back off even further to allow multiple people to pass, as long as you can still see your party and/or offer quick assistance if needed (like if a person is about to fall) you make it easier for fighters and healers to move where they are needed, and ensure that creatures will die quickly.

Bumping into or standing behind retreating fighters while you're moving in for an attack can cause a number of bad results to you and the fighter. These bad things are even more severe for fighters with sticky weapons.

Focus

The most important thing to do in groups is working together. If you are in a casual hunting group you can almost do whatever you want. However, if the situation deteriorates, and your group is in danger, or the idea is to kill things as fast as you can, focus. You should focus, with the other fighters, on one monster at a time.

You'll have a lead fighter or two to follow. It is usually the leader or the strongest fighter in the group. What s/he attacks, you attack, and keep attacking until it is dead. If you cannot hit the monsters, then make sure you aren't blocking out fighters who can, and become a backup fighter for them. You'll focus on monsters you can hit.

What if you're the strongest fighter in the group and become the lead? How do you know what monster to focus on though? Well, animals focus on the weakest when hunting because they're easier prey, however when the monsters are a threat to your survival you focus on the greatest threats first. The greatest threat is the monster that does the most damage per second to party members. If you have a black mamba and a mantis attacking, the mamba has powerful Darkus and higher accuracy — so it can take down weaker fighters fast, while the insect has fast swings and maneuverability, and because of its fast swings, it has a high dps as well. Who the greatest threat is depends on the situation. Since the black mamba moves the fastest and has high atkus, and is hard to brick, it is almost always the greatest threat. An exception to this is if you have a good number of fighters still up, and there's one healer left being harassed by a Mantis, AND you already have a the other under control. There are always a lot of “if this that that” and as you gain experience you will get better at judging the greatest threat or the best course of action.

So, let's say you're fighting an Orga Fury and an Orga Frenzy (or other BRO {big red orga}) comes along. If the Fury is still green or high yellow, drop it—gently--on a fighter that can brick it, then move onto the bigger BRO. Do not drop it without making sure it doesn't suddenly become a great threat to a healer or a weaker fighter. Also, if the Fury is already red or deep yellow finish it off.

However, sometimes for the sake of survival you do not want to focus on the creature which is doing the most damage, but instead focus on how you can help reduce the collective damage the group is taking as fast as possible. For example, if you're in a group of fighters and healers, facing a Frost Giant and some snow vermine, you probably want to get rid of the snow vermine first because they can be killed quickly which reduces the enemies damage output — unless the healer is using the nusance creatures for insulation from getting hit by something bigger. If the snow vermine are doing less damage to the healers (who are not using them for protection) than the Frost Giant is doing to everyone, the fighters can get rid of the snow vermine much faster. If it takes 10 hits to take down something which is doing twice as much damage as something you can 1-hit, focus on the latter. Again this is a judgement call. Snakes and cobras and the nastier vermine are all examples, and healers will appreciate it if they are killed first.

The reason for focusing and finishing things that are low off is this: The greatest threat does the most damage and two yellow orgas do more damage than a dead orga and a white orga. Always keep in mind what the greatest threat is to your group.

Attack Vector

Sometimes your party or you will have a couple beasts it has to kill quickly, or your party is killing things fast and you're missing tags because of this necessity. This is where choosing a good attack vector comes in. A vector is simply a fancy word meaning the direction one is moving in. The key to choosing a good vector is one which interferes with the least number of other people’s vectors, and allows the quickest movement between creatures you are fighting.

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A lot of times the monsters will be side by side facing the party, and your first instinct is to attack head on, then turn and move toward the next one. But in the time it takes you (from the time you realize the first beast is dead, to switching vectors, and finding a good angle of attack to target on the next one where another fighter is not in the way) is too long, and you miss the tag.

Instead of coming at one monster head on and switching direction, attack in a vector that puts both monsters in a straight line, so when the first one falls you continue on without having to re-target your vector for the next one. This usually involves swinging out to the left (clockwise) or right (counter-clockwise) and attacking from the side, while the majority of your party takes the head on approach. If timed and positioned correctly, you can kill one beast and simply let your momentum carry you right to the next one, allowing you to tag it within seconds.

The closest (lead) fighter to the creature can also chose to bypass the creature and attack it from the side or the back so that decreases the time it takes other fighters to reach it because they will not have to move around the lead fighter. It also allows the lead fighter to set up a Surround and Pound on a feralling creature because they trap the creature between them and other incoming fighters.

Also, the lead fighter can also tag and then run the creature at an angle where the next fighter can intercept it sooner (assuming they can either brick or take the hit safely). This is covered in greater detail under Controlling the Combat Location

Luring

Luring is a technique where the whole party gathers at the edge of a snell while another person (usually a fighter) crosses the snell into a very dangerous area with tons of monsters and tries to get a few monsters to follow him or her across the snell, into the waiting arms of the fighters. For those snells where crossing placement is random, almost no formations are effective since the monster may appear behind a wall on healers, or in a corner away from the bulk of the group.

One tactic to use is to space fighters out evenly across the entry area, and have them attack the closest thing to them that pops up. Or you can let crossing creatures find the group (especially if the creatures have farsight), or even have spaced scouts bring the creatures to the group. If you can get a surround on beasts that move in and out quickly, the job of picking off the lures goes much quicker. Look to lead fighters to pick the target you decide to help with the surround on.

Note that for some snells, crossing placement is about to the middle of the edge. And for some other snells, crossing placement will approximately match the part of the edge that was crossed. See snell movement for a more detailed explanation of this movement.

Standing too close to a Snell Border

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One thing you don't want to do when a person is luring from another snell is stand too close to the border of the other snell for 2 reasons. First, if the creature you're luring ferals then the creature will most likely drain back into the snell it was lured from*, slowing down the hunt. Second it give you less time to respond to a creature that has just crossed the snell (by luring or just coming across by chance). Often this results in an exile trapped and either being more injured than necessary or falling quickly.

Note*: You can use this draining action to your advantage to reduce the numbers of creatures your group is facing if they might overwhelm you. If your group is being overwhelmed, have one person cross a secured snell border, while a second person stands near the edge. Feralers will drain across the border and might take a bit to come back.

Running and Peeling

This tactic is used when there is a multitude of monsters where each one can be a challenge to the group on its own. In this a runner (usually a healer) corrals the beasts far away from the group on the same snell. The peeler runs in and lures one or two of them away to lead it back to the group. If the group is experienced in formations above, the Venus Fly Trap is an excellent way to position the beast for an optimal and fast take down.

The Kudzu Fortress

A kudzu fortress is best used when the group enters a densely populated area where are many monsters that could easily overpower the entire group. Before the group enters the area a runner enters the area and lures away any monsters near the entrance, making it easier for the Kudzuers to enter and plant a wall of kudzu each one exile length apart. This wall will quickly grow to form a solid wall.

At that point the Kudzuers will message the group to enter the area, and if done properly all members will appear within the fort. Then a fighter or two will cut an opening for one monster to get through at a time. A lurer might run out of the fort and lead a monster back into the fort where fighters are waiting to surround and pound the monster.

Note: Make sure not to plant kudzu so close to the entry that it grows over it and blocks entry or exit from the snell.

Chaining

See Chaining in the Dead Heroes entry.

Kill Squads

Kill Squads are usually a splinter group of 2 to 3 fighters and one healer following behind. The kills squad's job is to follow a path and clear any beast that comes into it. It is good to have one brick, one high damage output fighter (a.k.a. "DPS fighter") and a cadding healer with good faustus in a 3 person kill squad. This squad can be sent to clear areas of the snell the main group is not in, especially if a snell is too large to be deal with by the entire group, the party may split into multiple teams to handle different areas of a snell. A kill squad can also quickly rescue an exile further away than is easy to move the entire group to. This tactic is seldom used outside of the large Orga Stronghold snells.

Rodding

Lightning rods are 1 to 4 healers, and one or two fighters with a lead healer drawing the lightning bolts to them and the remaining healers healing the draw. If the draw becomes too weak the next strongest healer takes the point while the main draw is healed. If the lightning bounces from one healer to another, the draw stands at least 2-3 exile lengths in front of the other healers. Any monsters that start attacking the rod point or other healers in it are quickly dealt with by the fighters. If the monster is in front of the draw point, the point may drop back leading the monster to the fighters and swing around to take the front most point again. Or skilled fighters can time the lightning and quickly run up and kill the beast and quickly fall back behind the rod.

A rod can be mobile and have a group of fighters following their slow advance, it can be in any shape, but often takes the form of a V with the rod point up front.

See http://www.windsofdawn.org/guide/rodding.html for more information about rodding.

Chain Lightning (Bolt Bouncers)

A chain lightning is made by a bolt caster whose lightning hits one exile then moves on to another if they're within an exile length or two. If you and another fighter approach one, do so from the opposites sides of the bolter. The lightning can't bounce between the two of you that way, and you take less damage, as well as other fighter and healers around you.

Orga Hemlocks and Dredlocks are two examples of Bolt bouncers. In the case of the hemlock, only 2 fighters are needed, so you don't get bounce. But a Dredlock is much tougher, and requires more than 2 fighters usually.

If you're fighting in a lightning infested area, and you see bounce, immediately spread out and place enough distance between you and the next closest exile to avoid the lightning being able to bounce.

See Bolters for more information.

Retreating

When you retreat you can either run like a mob and watch as people in the back fall, or you can be smart about it, and put your party in a better position and under better circumstances for when you do regroup.

Covering

Covering a retreat is simply the act of the healthiest person (fighter or rodding healer) staying between the monsters and the rest of the group while retreating. If you're healthier, and just as strong as the fighter behind you in a retreat, you should slow down or run back and let the other fighter pass you, so you can cover their escape. In some cases, two fighters might take turns taking hits from monsters that run faster than they do.

Note: Do not try this tactic against monsters that can pull.

Fighting Retreat

The fighting retreat is simply multiple fighters doing hit and runs while running away from creatures. It should not be done unless you can kill whatever you're hitting before you reach the group and/or you risk little chance of falling.

For details see The Fighting Retreat in Group Hunting.

Note: Do not try this tactic against monsters that can pull.

Sacrifice Delay

Creatures can cross snells too, in many places. But they are more attracted to people in the same snell. One person staying behind can give the retreating group extra time to form up in the retreated area, perhaps to lay down a kudzu wall or simply to heal more or even to clear the retreat area. This works best if the person staying behind is a good runner or a good brick, and thus can manage to stay up for a good amount of time.

Each second a person stays behind in a snell buys more time for the rest of the group to regroup and heal momentarily. While you do not have to stay until fallen. The longer you can hold them off before you flee to the group the better. If you do manage to avoid falling, you can run the creatures and then return to the group when they are in better shape to deal with whatever caused the retreat. At this point, communication will be sparse, so if you can send a sunstone to let them know what you are doing (i.e. "/think running") the better. By the same token, the group should let you know their status via sunstone as well.

If you are unable to retreat see If Unable to Retreat

Dodging Webs

Dodging webs in combat is a lot like dodging rocks with the exception being that you can see the 'noid throwing the web. Just like rocks, the noids throw the web where they think you'll be in a few seconds, versus where you are now. If you are moving they'll throw it in the direction you're moving toward where you'll be at the time the web hits if you didn't change directions. So, a simple strategy is to move in circles when in places with webs or rocks because the throwing AI can only predict where someone will be by the time something lands along a straight line.

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Note: There is only 1 known throwing AI in the game. So, this applies to anything with “mass” in the game that is thrown by creatures.

Often when you're fighting a web throwing noid, you're stationary, and the noid just has to rear up (it looks just like an attack) and toss the web where you are.

The secret to dodging webs is then learning when the noid is going to throw, and running off in a direction where the noid will throw it over your head.

Here's how to do it.

  • The noid will swing at a constant rate, so learn the timing of its swings.
  • Before it throws a web instead of attacking, it pauses for a second.
  • At that time the noid is immobilized.
  • It won't move if it's targeting you (or anyone else) and you can safely run away without the noid following you and collapsing the surround and pound other fighters have formed.
  1. the second you see it pause, if it's targeting (facing) you, run at full speed in a direction where no one is, or will be in a few seconds.
  2. The second the noid rears up, wait a half second (or until you see the web coming) and run right back to it.
  3. The web will fly over your head and hit the ground behind you. (Hopefully where no one is standing nor where anyone will need to run, like to an exit.)

With practice you can keep your fighting area web free, and keep anyone from getting stuck in the web and killed because they couldn't retreat in time. If every fighter does this when they see a noid about to throw at them, your party will have a much easier time killing it. You'll take less damage as a whole and you'll be ready to lure sooner because there won't be any webs in the combat zone.

Specific Places

"Da Rules" to survive specific places, based on lessons learned from our hunts.

Pitch Cave 7 - aka Book 2

Once the group has crossed into PC7, do not go near the southern entrance, otherwise you will lure all sorts of nasty noids.

Pitch Caves in General

  1. Don't stand within 3 exile lengths of a fallen exile.
  2. Don't stand within 3 exile lengths of an entrance or exit unless you are told to lure.
  3. Listen for leader calls. Stay when told. Retreat when told. Move forward when told.
  4. Don't AFK except in safe port area in PC5.
  5. In PC5, don't sleep or D/C otherwise you will return in the non-safe part of PC5 and likely die very quickly.
  6. Don't get too mad or yell at others if we all fall, it happens.
  7. PC6 is one way, in other words, once the group ports from PC5, you are on your own if you are left behind.
  8. Keep the Rod/Webber on yellow. Noids only throw at the closest most injured exiles.
  9. Stay 3 exile lengths away from the Rodder. Do not moonstone them unless you too can handle the web damage.

Tepui

In the entrance snell south of Metz Island there are usually Sezuma Yorillas which cause earthquakes that stun you and give creatures the chance to surround and kill you easily. Thats why usually there is one who holds the stuff at the east border of the water and give the others the opportunity to rush in right after a quake and build a kudzu fortress to peel from the crowded entry spot then.

Death Roots - Rain Forest

The Death Roots snell is extremely dangerous to enter because it has multiple rooting flowers that attack you when you enter the snell. If they kill someone or someone falls inside there they might also grab the exile to the flower itself tearing the group apart this way. Therefore it might be a good idea to do "befriend-lures" and/or kudzu fortresses when entering via the shallow metz entry.