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Ice/Kin for me

It's been a busy week in gaming for me, but admittedly this time was spent in the same old boring pasttime of mine, City of Heroes.

From an outsider's perspective, there's probably very little to appreciate about a fellow debating the ins and outs of various superhero builds. After all, the human mind has an incredible propensity to make something more difficult than it is. However, don't mock the grubby looking man who spends hours scribbling on the ground with wooden stick muttering to himself, as the results of his protracted tinkering with imagined concepts can produce surprisingly useful knowledge. Like mathematics.

In City of Heroes' case, like any other human invented virtual environment, I'm already operating on arbitrarily defined rules and physics and so likely won't produce anything of practical use outside of the game. But then, what's practical isn't necessarily fun.

In any case, I've been involved in an endeavor I call "Alt-A-Holicism" which is basically tinkering with new and interesting hero types trying to find one that innately satisfies. Many, many hours were wasted during this past week as several "alt" heroes were created, played for hours, and subsequently deleted when I found they left a bad taste in the mental palate. I eventually settled on two overriding principles for a character that satisfies me (your tastes may vary):
  1. My hero must be able to make a significant impact on a team's chance of success.
  2. My hero must be able to inflict enough damage that, when soloing, it does not take a very long amount of time.
The first principle is easily foiled if you consider that every player should be able to have a significant impact on the team's success. However, in City of Heroes case the truth is that some characters are noticeably more influential than others. Most notably, those possessing powerful "debuffs" (weakening opponents) or "buffs" (strengthening allies) can skew the odds of a battle much more effectively than a hero who simply does a lot of damage (a Blaster) is a meatshield (a Tanker) or both (a Scrapper or Kheldian). The presence of these odds-setting heroes simply mattered more, and I wanted to play one of them.

The second principle is complicated by the knowledge that Defenders and Controllers archetypes, the two best odds-setters in the game, happen to be the two lowest damage archetypes in the game. It's likely that this is a deliberate balance. Fortunately, City of Heroes is a game of such flexible character generation that there are certain ways around this. Usually, this is by using their very odds-setting ways to focus on boosting their own damage. Many of my ill-fated heroes to be deleted were because they could not sufficiently overcome their naturally weak archetype-based damage with their buffs/debuffs - at least, not enough for my liking. Defenders, whose entire secondary power set is dedicated to doing damage, turned out to only have one secondary set ("Sonic Blast") which did enough damage to satisfy my appetite.

As fate would have it, I rashly deleted a level 16 Dark Miasma/Sonic Blast Defender - very likely the only Defender for me - and did not feel like leveling up another. So, instead, I eventually settled on these two heroes: The first was a Dual Blades primary, Dark Miasma secondary Scrapper. The first principle, that of team influential-ness, would be met by his eventually acquisition of a power, "Oppressive Gloom," that would stun several opponents. The second principle, that of solo damage, would be met by Scrappers being naturally good at inflicting damage. The second was a Ice Control primary, Kinetics secondary Controller.

I had deliberately avoided Kinetics, a power set that can bolster the user's damage to the magnifying cap (400% in this case) simply out of concern for the originality of it. However, Ice Control is a very unusual pick, and so I decided the combination of the two was original enough. (True originality in a MMORPG with tens of thousands of players is a silly concern anyway.)

Of the two, I think it's the Ice Control/Kinetics Controller which has the most attention. This hero actually has a balanced mix of extremely effective defensive and offensive power that allow optimal progression of any group I'm a part of. This is unique because if I were to play a Kinetics Defender it would be entirely offensive and many Controller builds are either too offensive or defensive.

I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing what I can do with this Ice/Kinetics hero, more so than the recent alts that were sent to the digital guillotine, and that's a good feeling to have (for however long it will last). Although, having written this Blog entry now, the remaining traces of my alt-lust wonder if perhaps I let that Dark/Sonic Defender hero get away too easily. (Probably not - Kinetics will easily out damage Sonic and Ice Control should have more than enough Defensive capability.)

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