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This weekend was the Double XP event in City of Heroes. Basically, from Friday night to Sunday midnight (US time) everything you did in the game gave out double the XP and Influence (the game’s currency). One of the best ways of getting XP in CoH is Task Forces – WoW players: think “Raids”, -ish – a series of interconnected missions with the following parameters:

  1. Once a task force team is joined, you cannot invite new people in.
  2. You cannot do anything else in the game until you have completed the Task Force.
  1. Task Forces can take anywhere between three and twelve hours, depending on the Task Force in question.

    Unlike any other team in the game, if you disconnect from the game while in Task Force mode, you will re-enter the game in the same team, same Task Force. To end a Task Force you must either quit it or finish it. If you quit the team, even by accident, see rule one.

    The difficulty level of the Task Force is set by the highest levelled member of the team, factoring in the number of people on the team and the difficulty levels they’ve got the game set to. It does not recalculate. This means if people quit because it is taking too long, or their computers die, or they get bored, or they have an argument and storm off, the Task Force doesn’t get any easier, you just have less people to do it with. And see Rule One.

    It is possible in the game to have Sidekicks (Where a lower level player is assigned to a higher level one. The lower level player fights at one level below the higher level one, but with the same abilities) and Exemplars (Where a higher level player is assigned to a lower level one, the higher level one fights at the lower level, with all the abilities they had when they were at that level. They gain no XP for this, but do clear out XP Debt (caused by dying) and gain Influence (money)). If you attempt to cheat the system by going in sidekicked/exemplared and then switching around, you will gain no XP at all until you reconfigure yourselves back how you were when you started.

    Double-XP makes this easier, to some extent, as where I started as one of the lower levelled players (I was a Healer, so my fighting skills didn’t matter so much) with all the enemies “conning” (“Considering”, enemies are highlighted in different colours depending on how difficult they will be to beat) as Purple (“More than three levels above you. Do not attempt without a safety harness”) by the time we reached the 14th and last mission (seven hours later) they were all white (“Equal level, a normal character can take on three of these at once”) to Red (“Significantly higher than you, bring a friend”). Apart from the final boss who was, obviously, still purple.

    Task Forces work about 40% of the time. They are designed to be played by a group of players who play often, team together and know each other’s skills, over the course of a few days playing (Because you can log out and log back in again and continue the TF). As I don’t have such a group, I tend to play in “Pick Up Teams” formed over the built-in teaming system. Most of the time the team is unbalanced (No supporting heroes, all supporting heroes, Nobody who can do anything but Melee, etc.), or the team can’t work together, or too many people drop out and it’s now too hard for the rest of the team or, and this happens with the Terror Volta TF especially – it’s all fine until the last mission but then everyone dies and it all falls apart.

    Tonight, though, it Just Worked. We had a good mix of classes, nobody was mind-numbingly stupid, and whilst the tactics of the team didn’t always work perfectly (My Empathy/Mental healer’s primary role is usually to put all the mobs to sleep so we can wake them up one at a time (by firing at them) and killing them without being overrun. We had a few people with primary powers that would attack their target and those around it, making my attacks mostly useless, so I fell back to “Confuse” (Make an enemy work for you) and generic healer), and the level spread meant that the first few levels went quite a bit slower than they should have (Because half the team were fighting enemies at +3. Because lower levels get more XP for fighting higher mobs, we evened out over the Task Force). But there were very few deaths – and no Total Party Deaths, though in some cases only by one surviving hero – and the team was friendly and bantering and we succeeded in defeating the bad guy – or girl, as it was this time – despite losing two out of eight of the party along the way.

    Pixelin now has the badge Sister Psyche’s Comrade, and he will wear it with pride.

    Until he gets a better badge.

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