Coded blue.

Thursday 17 August 2006

Screenshot CoH

Pic of the day: When porcupines attack! And humanoid cuties watched with detached interest. They always give us compliments afterwards, though.

CoH: Spine/regen scrappers

I told you yesterday that I was playing my were-porcupine in the online game City of Heroes as a spine/regeneration scrapper. And let me tell you something: The awesome awesomeness of spine/regeneration scrappers can only be exaggerated by hard work and a vivid imagination. Or at least that's how I feel about it. As far as I am concerned, spine/regeneration scrappers are better than sex. I mean, look at it objectively: Our bony appendages stay as long as we need them; we explode over and over and over, and we don't run out of endurance, like, ever! It is good to be a porcupine in the city of heroes.

Scrappers are close-range damage dealers. In this game, as existing players will know, there are several archetypes. Of these, two are "melee" or close-range fighters. The tankers are able to withstand more damage than any other archetype, while scrappers are able to dish it. They are also the second-most sturdy type of hero. On average they do a bit less damage than blasters (long range damage dealers) but they have a chance to do critical damage occasionally, which brings them over the limit of any other class. Their position is more risky, though, so they need the extra toughness, and they lack the more diverse powers of defenders and controllers: Healing, force fields, mental powers or crowd control. Even blasters have (or can have) some degree of crowd control. There isn't much of that for scrappers. It's all about the damage, baby!

In the case of spines, we slash with our quills or shoot them out at short distances. Unlike other scrappers, we also have a ranged attack, although not as far as those of blasters or defenders. Still, we can hit a fleeing enemy with a poisonous quill and stop them from running, although they can still attack. Our other attacks are less poisonous, but still slow down the enemy slightly and deals a little damage over time, just the first seconds after impact.

Our third attack is a spine burst, which does damage to all nearby enemies. It is tempting to use this to run into a large pack of villains and fire it off, but we shouldn't do this unless we can deal with the anger it causes. This may not be easy at low levels, but we get tougher over time, just not as much as tankers. Regeneration is generally consider the most tanker-like of the scrapper defenses, which is why it goes well with the exploding porcupine tactic. (There is also a later power, at level 18, which continously prickles all nearby enemies - in manual attack range - with small poisonous quills. This also causes some anger, as can be expected.)

It is true that a regenerating scrapper can take as much damage as a tanker in a fight and come out of it with full health and endurance. But it requires a different tactic than I am used to from years of tanking (first as a paladin in Dark Age of Camelot and now as a tanker here). Scrappers don't have as many health points as tankers, so a hugely powerful strike can flatten us at the spot. (The game has been changed so no player character can be 1-shotted, but we can lose all except 1 health point, making any trivial follow-up attack defeat us.) We also take damage more easily, and regen scrappers more so than any others close-range fighter. Our strength is our rapid healing, and a few emergency healing powers that instantly restores some health. So if we take massive damage, we have to run away. Our nemesis is, ironically, the Nemesis robots, who do massive damage at range. Running away from them is not very effective unless one runs very far very fast. The Council (formerly 5th Column) also do pretty good damage at a distance, as do zombies, but zombies are less intelligent.

Against most enemies, however, regeneration is quite effective. We are not easily put out of commission by psychic attacks that stun or put asleep other characters, and cannot even be immobilized easily once we have Integration, another teen power. So if the kitchen gets too hot, we bail for the seconds it takes us to regain our health, then return to do more damage to the enemies, who don't heal as fast as we do.

The regeneration power set has been "nerfed" at least twice since it was introduced, and that is not counting the reductions that applied to all power sets or even most power sets, such as the "enhancement diversification" that makes it pointless to put to more than three enhancements of the same sort in the same power. On the other hand, regeneration does not suffer directly from the defense nerf, since it doesn't have any powers that avoid or reduce damage taken. Of course, some of us take other powers outside our main power sets, in my case stealth and combat jumping, both of which help avoid damage. But none of them are specialized damage avoidance powers in combat, and it is still our ability to regenerate health and endurance that saves the day. (You may also know this ability as "mutant healing power", although in the case of Itland the were-porcupine it is actually nanotechnology rather than mutation.)

All this healing takes a lot of energy, but again there is a power in the regen power set that makes us regenerate endurance much faster than normal. This means we don't have the mad rush to get the Stamina power at level 20 that other archetypes have, although we may still want it later in our career when we have so many powers to use, each of them draining a bit of endurance. We are in no hurry, though. For much of our career, we can give our blue pills (in the game often called cab, for "catch a breath" inspirations) to controllers and others who are chronically out of breath, winning us many a good friend...

The spine/regen scrapper is probably the best combo in the game for soloing, that is to say, playing alone. Even as a single-player game, City of Heroes is excellent. But we are also a welcome addition to any team that needs a damage dealer who can operate independently and requires little maintenance. Healers can for the most part forget us and concentrate on the rest of the team. Tankers don't need to save us - we save them, by clinging to them and firing off a spine burst that slows and hurts every enemy surrounding them. Only with a blaster-based team are we fairly useless, and will generally end up doing our own thing in a corner of the battlefield.

Now that I have begun playing one again, I was surprised by the numbers of spine scrappers I met on teams. I sometimes joke in team chat about attack of the porcupine hordes... but the truth is, three porcupine scrappers running into a mob is an image of mass destruction. And not least, we do our damage in a fun and original way. Highly recommended for the experienced player, but perhaps not for the newbie, because the playing style is so different. You may never be satisfied with playing another scrapper or tanker again.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Man, I'm good!
Two years ago: More excuses
Three years ago: Sense and innocence
Four years ago: Not so cheerful news
Five years ago: From now on, Dilbert
Six years ago: Signaturally
Seven years ago: Moron Business Travel

Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

Post a comment on the Chaos Node forum
I welcome e-mail. My handle is "itlandm" and I now use
Back to my home page.