A vital part of team play is being able to work together as a team to accomplish a goal. Well in AO that goal generally involves blasting some poor thingummy senseless, and luckily the game has a system aspect to help people do this better. This system aspect is the /assist command. The syntax for the command is 'assist <name>' and typing that into your command bar with a name in <name> will make you target the person that <name> is attacking. Keep in mind though that this will only make you target what they are attacking, not actually attack it yourself.
Now this command is fairly useful in itself but, it gets to be a pain to type it over and over again every time somebody in your team has a nice juicy target. The solution to this is to make a macro out of this command so you can drop it in your quick bar to use at will! The syntax to make assist macro is
/macro <macroname> /assist <name>.
Typing this will produce a box on your cursor that you can drop in the quick bar. The <macroname> argument is what will show up in the little box as the name, generally this name is something like '˜Assist' or the name of your caller ('˜Leetpwnerteh3rd'). The <name> argument is the same as the above and reflects the person who you want to assist. Instead of typing out that macro over and over every time you get a new team, you can make a macro to do it for you;
/macro MakeAssist /macro Assist /assist %t
Then you target your caller, hit the macro, and drop the resulting macro onto your hotbar.
Now, on occasion, I get somebody who says: "You shouldn't worry about assisting because generally the target is obvious." Well this is crazy talk. In mass battles and raids, the target is not always obvious amidst 20-50 people and possibly an equal amount of mobs. Note that the fact that the desirability of killing mobs quickly so that they no longer inflict damage is not in question here.
The next argument is related to this type of scenario and sounds like: "Well in mass battles you need people to balance and occupy all the attackers, if you don't they will kill people." To this I will pose the point: this is why we have enforcers. On a more serious note there is a very good, scientific, reason why you should concentrate on killing one mob at a time in a mass battle. The reason for this is that over all, if you kill one mob at a time, the mobs will do less damage over all to you and your team.
How? Well thing of it like this:
We have a team of 6 players, one of which is a doctor, and a group of 6 mobs. Each mob is attacking a different player, while all the players are attacking the same mob. Each damage cycle the players are acting as one mob and will deal six times the damage to one mob to give an increased chance of killing it. Once one of the mobs is dead it no longer deals its damage (duh).
Now if we say that each mobs and each player deal 100 damage on every hit, and they all have 600 health we can model with as such:
Concentration of Fire
See main article: Concentration of Fire
Players deal 600 damage to Mob1
Mob2 Deals 100 damage to Player2 (500/600)
Mob3 Deals 100 damage to Player3 (500/600)
Mob4 Deals 100 damage to Player4 (500/600)
Mob5 Deals 100 damage to Player5 (500/600)
Mob6 Deals 100 damage to Player6 (500/600)
Players deal 600 damage to Mob2
Mob3 Deals 100 damage to Player3 (400/600)
Mob4 Deals 100 damage to Player4 (400/600)
Mob5 Deals 100 damage to Player5 (400/600)
Mob6 Deals 100 damage to Player6 (400/600)
Players deal 600 damage to Mob3
Mob4 Deals 100 damage to Player4 (300/600)
Mob5 Deals 100 damage to Player5 (300/600)
Mob6 Deals 100 damage to Player6 (300/600)
Players deal 600 damage to Mob4
Mob5 Deals 100 damage to Player5 (200/600)
Mob6 Deals 100 damage to Player6 (200/600)
Players deal 600 damage to Mob5
Mob6 Deals 100 damage to Player6 (100/600)
Players deal 600 damage to Mob6
This is known as Concentration of Fire.
In this example, everybody stays alive. If you can imagine each player attacking the corresponding mob, then it would come down to luck on who takes the last strike first for the killing blow, and also each player winds up more hurt over all then if they all assisted. Which means that the team is more in danger of dying from surprise adds, traps, or other fun problems.
A couple final notes. In a situation where you have a caller in team, when your target dies you should just spam your assist macro till you get a new target instead of trying to pick one out on your own. If you attack a mob that nobody else in the team knows about you could draw unwanted aggro onto you and the team. Its always really useful to have a script to make assist macros for you and your team, so try and dig one up. Ihnnaw posted his versions here: http://www.wolf-brigade.org/forums/showthread.php?t=42
There is also a use of assisting macro that healers should know about, which is generally referred to as 'Assist Healing'. It's mainly useful in fights involving several teams when you can't always see easily who is being attacked and in fact the principle is just assisting a mob to see who he is attacking, for example
'/macro AssistHeal /assist <caller>\n /assist'
will target who ever is being attacked by what the caller is attacking. In a large raid environment a doc who has some free time should pick a random mob other than the called mob and use their normal assist macro on that mob to see what it's fighting. It might not be the tank, and some squishy player will thank you profusely for giving them a much needed heal.
Assist healing can still be useful in a single team situation depending on your hotbar setup, as it might be quicker to use your normal /assist macro to flip healing targets if there's aggro flicker than to move your hand to your F keys.
The other side of the assisting coin is that people in a team need somebody to assist in the first place! This person is called the Caller, and the job generally goes to the person in the team who is best at it, but with that said there are some things that make people better callers than others. First off, ranged professions tended to be better callers over all since they can stand at a distance to start attacking and don't have to dash off across the battle field, this means smaller time between targets. Second, people who are familiar with the situation tend to make better callers because they have more information that helps them pick better targets. Third, people who are not terribly active in combat tend to make better callers because they can spend time picking the next target instead of micromanaging their armada of pets, salvo of nukes, scores of wounded, or other things that drag away attention. While keeping this in mind, there are exceptions, and lots of people get very good at calling; so skill plays a large factor and can make the difference in many situations.
A caller's job is to pick the target for the team. There are two ways to do this: tab calling and point calling. Tab calling is when you use the tab button to cycle through your available targets, this is extremely useful except in a couple of situations. Tab calling breaks down when you are in a mixed group of people from multiple sides, and you will end up cycling through everybody's pets or other teams before you even get to a mob, which can piss off your team or get you killed as your mob killing rate plummets. You can also have a problem with tab calling when you are in a large group of mobs and you should only attack a certain type of mob, as with the mixed group, this slows down your calling when you have to tab through all the different mobs to get to the one you want. Point calling involves you actually taking your mouse and selecting your target with it. Normally, this is a good deal slower then using tab, except for the above situations where tab calling breaks down. The best callers are able to change up their strategies for calling very quickly and basically do both at the same time.
Once you get used to using your mouse and Tab button to select mobs there are a couple of tips and tricks to calling, especially in large mass combats. The first is that a caller should never use a special attack to open their attack, and instead always start attacks with a normal attack button. The reason for this is that there is a small bug in the game that occasionally pops up when you use a special, it causes you to register as though you are not attacking a mob at all when people assist you. This can be frustrating to a team and a caller alike; luckily, if this happens you just stop attacking and start again using the normal attack button. The second trick is to overlap your attacks; depending on the damage the team deals, if the next target is near by, the caller should stop attacking while the first mob is down to one or one half bubble and start the attack on the next target. What this does is when the other five players kill the current target they can immediately switch to a new one without the three or more second delay.
There is a bit of disagreement about what sorts of mobs should be called first and then called next. Some think that you should always call the most powerful mobs first because then you will get less damage and they are less of a threat while you deal with the lower mobs. Others think the opposite and that killing the weak mobs first eliminates their damage and threat. Overall this is really a problem of situation, and it helps be very informed about the places and the battles you will get into so you can make smart choices about calling.
Calling and assisting are essential parts of team play in AO, and nobody can get along very long without learning how to use them properly and effectively. By understanding them early on and educating those around you about them you can distinguish yourself as a smart and valuable player on your way to the top of the game. In the end, being smart helps you a lot more then anything else in the game, mostly because nothing can save you from a bad decision except for quick thinking and the dumb always die first.
Originally posted at Wolf Brigade
Written by Berael of RK1