With the new 11/16/04 patch I feel that, besides a great disturbance in the force, many players may begin to group for real, and group unbuffed at that. Hopefully this guide will be a great service to them.
I like to play unbuffed. I also enjoy playing in groups. With the monopoly "Solo-Groups" have on gameplay at the moment, I find my only respite to be in the Squill Hunting groups that form in Mos Eisley. It is this that I will base my experiences and observations on as an unbuffed Wookiee.
Disclaimer - Althought the following may not sound like the conventional SWG wisdom, keep in mind that unbuffed group gameplay is fairly unconventional in our game to begin with.
There are three things an unbuffed group requires to be successful - Tanks, Damage Dealers, and Healers.
Tanks are the players that take the attention and damage of a mob. This should be a melee profession. A tank will want to wear a full set of armor. However, an unbuffed tank should note how abilities, HAM, and armor encumberance relate to each other in SWG.
Your abilities use your own HAM, so to deal damage you must take damage. With armors HAM encumberance, your ability to regenerate HAM is greatly diminished, and your special abilities cost rise. Therefore it is imperative that as a Tank you do not deal damage through special ability usage, as you will only do yourself more harm than good. There is one ability, however, that you should make liberal use of - /taunt
/taunt is the key to proper tanking. It will allow you to control and direct the attention of a mob onto yourself. As a Master Brawler, this ability is greatly enhanced so any full-fledged tank should make the Master Brawler box a priority.
The one weakness to tanking is the Mind pool, as Mind is still a hard target to heal. To counter this, tanks may want to use Willpower/Focus items like Vasarian Brandy. A very good tip to keep in mind also is that removing your armor in between fights will also remove the armor encumberance they impose, which will return your HAM regeneration to normal.
As for HAM allocation, tanks will want to focus on HAM as well as Constitution, Stamina, and Willpower. Strength, Quickeness, and Focus are not as important for a Tank.
Exception to the Melee-Only rule, Pistoleer - Pistoleers also make very good tanks. While most Ranged professions would need to use /pointblank to hit in melee range, a Pistoleer does not have to. This lack of reliance on abilities to hit short range targets consistently makes Pistoleer stand out as a good tanking profession.
A Damage Dealer is just what the name implies - the person who doles out the big numbers. This can be any combat class, though I find that the Ranged Professions are much more suited to it.
As DD you'll want to do lots of damage, and to do so you will need to make use of your Special Abilities. Doing so will use your HAM as an "Ability Pool," much like a "Mana Pool" in a Fantasy based game. Because the amount of HAM you have at a time is important, not wearing armor will be your best way to go. This will allow you to keep your natural regeneration high and skill-use costs low. As long your tank is doing a good job of keeping the mobs attention, you shouldn't really need armor anyway.
Also, make very good use of abilities that also add status effects. Blinding or intimidating a mob will help your tank greatly. If you see the mob is dizzy, use a position changing shot to knock them down. Or you can use a shot to make the mob dizzy and your tank can use their basic lunge move to knock them down. At the cost of varied Status Effect abilities, you may want to gather Damage Dealers that all target the same pool. Battles become much easier if you can concentrate your fire on the same targetted pool.
There's no one uber way to go with your HAM stats as a Damage Dealer. You may want to customize your HAM to your special costs, or you may want something more general. How you play as a damage dealer will ultimately guide your HAM allocation.
This is where SWG truely shines. Long gone are the ways of the "necessity" of Cleric/White Mage classes. While a true blue Medic is a great asset, as long as at least two of your party members have Healing Skills you should be fine.
The best people in a party (besides out and out Medics) to have healing skills are your damage dealers. In doing so they now become DD/Support. Tanks can use healing skills to, however, since using Stims wastes your Mind Pool, and that is the one current weakness of unbuffed tanking, it's highly advised against.
The best Ranged Professions to also be Healers are Carbineers and especially Pistoleers. Riflemen need their Mind Pool for their own abilities, and are typically to far away to be a good Medic in a time of peril. Pistoleers really shine in this role because they are right near the front line where healing is needed most of all. Front line DD/Healers may want to invest in a suit of light armor, preferably with the lowest encumberance possible as to not hinder their DD roles.
Ultimately, the minimum ideal group is Two Tanks, Two Damage Dealers, and Two DD/Healers, which are all very easy to come by. Pets/Droids can be an asset as well, as they can tank any adds you may come across. Remember though that Pets/Droid will take away from the overall XP a player will get (as XP is determined by effort put forth).
Other Good Skills to Have
Scout/Ranger - The Hunting Tree will allow you to hit creatures with normal attacks more consistently, which is great for tanks. The Trapping Tree will let you reliably apply status effects on creatures (costs Action unless you use a Trapping Droid). The Survival Tree lets you utilize camps. While in a camp your base regen rate raises slightly, you can have your wounds healed, and you can be entertained to heal your Mind Pool and wounds.
Entertainer/Dancer/Musician - Basically the entertainer brings traveling Mind wound care with you. This is very good to have if you have a Combat Medic with you, or if your tank takes grievous Mind wounds.
Combat Medic - A great asset to have out on the field. Has all of the skills of a Master Medic, as well as the ability to heal a targets Mind Pool. Healing a players Mind however causes Mind wounds for the CM, so it's an ability to be use with care. Thankfully, listening to an entertainer in a camp will help regen those wounds. Also has the ability to apply DoTs at range. Very good in a party if paired with Pistoleer.
Doctor - The king of Health, Action, and substat wound care. Can heal all of those hard-hitting status effects, and also has the ability to raise those who have fallen in battle to often or have been death-blown. Requires a Medical Droid or a camp to be fully utilized outside of a Medical Center.
Squad Leader - Has the ability to augment the overall combat ability of an entire party. Can coordinate the battle through the use of system messages. Goes really well with Rifleman, especially if perched from a good vantage point to observe the battle below.
One thing to note is how normal damage shots roll onto a target's HAM. I've never been much of a number cruncher, so I'm not going to go into all of that here. But it should be known that any normal shot has the highest chance of rolling onto the Health bar and the lowest chance of hitting the Mind bar, despite your combat profession. Non-specific special abilities also follow this rule. Only the HAM specific abilities target their respective HAM pools.
This rule applies to both damage you inflict as well as normal damage done to you.
Playing in a Mission
When you've finally gathered your group, it's time for missions.
As of 11/16/04 Mission Payout will be determined by the number of people in your party, and by how close you are to the mission upon it's completion. You will only ever receive an amount equal to the original payout divided by the number of your party members, and you will only receive your pay if you are near the mission when it is finished. Also, if you add a player after your missions have been selected, the mission payout is recalculated to include the new member. If you "solo" the mission, you will still only receive the Payout/Party amount, not the full amount like in the recent past. This encourages players to stick together when playing. By having people "stick together" it is most likely hoped that player reliance on "buffs" will diminish as well.
To get the higher level, higher pay missions you'll want a larger group. It's best advised that players all equip their "best" weapon when choosing missions. That is to say by "best" I mean the weapon their character has the most skill boxes in. Mission difficulty is determined by the number of players in a party as well as their skill in combat. Their skill in combat is calculated by the weapon they are currently holding. With the 11/16/04 patch pets/droids will no longer be able to be used to receive higher pay missions, so their is no need to call them out for that purpose.
All group members should look for high pay missions in a single general direction - N, E, S, or W. This helps to minimize travel time between missions.
When all of the party members have their missions, it's time to follow that yellow arrow to your first target. If you are fighting Creature mobs, then Mask Scent is a very good skill to have active when you arrive.
Once there, it is imperative that you clear all current lair guards before attacking the lair itself. Try to "pull,"
or lure, one mob away at a time to fight it. If you attack the lair prematurely, you will "aggro," or gain the malevolent attention of, all of the guard mobs, so do your best to take them out one by one.
After the guards are taken out you can take a brief rest to heal up. If you are attacking an NPC lair, then you may simply destroy the lair, as these tend not to spawn any new defenders (not 100% sure about higher level NPC lairs on that). If you are fighting a Creature lair, then you must use a slightly different tactic.
When fighting a Creature lair, everyone may attack the lair when the party leader gives the OK, and all of the mobs are cleared out. However, as soon as a mob is spawned, the party must cease fire on the lair and turn the attention to the new mob. When a Creature lair spawns it typically spawns two to three new defenders at a time. The tanks must successfully /taunt and tank the new adds, and the DD and DD/Healers will go into action. If any one player continues to attack the lair, then that player will gain aggro from the mobs, despite the tanks best efforts AND it will force the mobs to run to and heal the lair, undoing the work that the party just previously had done.
After finally destroying the lair you may all rush to the next one, or create a camp to rest up and heal any grievous wounds you may have earned in battle. Either way you choose, your next missions are simply an instance of Lather, Rinse, and Repeat.
Well, that is my guide. "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts," as the saying goes. If any of this seems old hat then, well, good. That just means you are a knowledgable player. But there are many people out their don't know alot of this stuff; not that it is their fault. They have just grown used to a game of uber buffs and solo-groups. I hope this has helped them.
Message Edited by WolfwoodCross on 11-19-2004 09:51 AM