This is basically a re-hash of my post in the AoC Assassin forums. I by no means attempt to claim that I have all the answers. Though I'm working towards reaching level 80, I am not a "Crash leveler", and am in no great hurry to do so.
My toon is Thadias, on the Doomsayer FFA-PvP server. At this point, I am level 36 (I got to hear the new level-ding sound effect last night...the one that was added by "Popular Demand". Pretty sweet.... [/sarcasm]).
This post is mostly Assassin theory. It is not a step-by-step how-to guide to Hyborian PvE and PvP, but more some things to keep in mind along your journey.
For me, playing an Assassin (Sin) in AoC required a complete change in how I viewed online MMO/PvP play. I don't pretend to be an MMO vet, who's beta'd every game ever made. I started with Guildwars...which I barely consider to be an MMO (I call it a single player game with other players in it). Don't get me wrong, it's a great game, but (at least when I played, pre-Nightfall expansion) all the zones were instanced, so it was only you and your party in them. Other players only came in to play in the cities, with juvenile chat messages and people trying to rip everyone off in trade chat. And of course the beloved LFG messages.
I played some trial periods for a handfull of MMO's, and finally settled for WoW. Okay, before you chime in with the "WoW kiddiez R nubs! L2P! Blah blah blah", I only mention WoW because that's where I'm coming from. AoC and WoW do not compair. But my theory and playstyle was evolved first in WoW, where I did play on a PvP server.
In the WoW PvP environment, I typically left enemy players alone unless a) they showed hostile intent towards me, b) were griefing other players, or c) were in the way of me completing quests. I
never rarely attacked "lowbies" (2+ levels below me) but be honest, sometimes you just can't help but one-shot that guy for no other reason than to do it. The only time I'd attack someone who was engaged in a mob, or already low on health was if they had done something to earn my wrath.
Then comes AoC. Right off the bat, you knew things would be different. FFA PvP? No rules? No factions? Kill anyone, almost anywhere? Bloody! (yay!).
But because of the nature of FFA-PvP (or even the RP-PvP), you have to be extreemely aware of ... well ... everything. And knowing your class becomes even more important. There is no "ez-mode"...and I don't care what you read about who's OP'd or who's Gimped...a bad player of any class can and will be beatable by someone who knows their class.
And the most important thing to know about your class is your weakness. Aside from any lingering bugs or other aspects that some people argue are weaknesses, lets consider our main two:
1) Armor. More specifically, lack thereof. We wear cloth/silk, and we have low HP. That means we do not want to be hit. And no, our evade rating is not markedly higher than anyone else. That means we want to avoid "Toe to Toe" fights as much as possible. Trading blows typically equals a loss. I'll get to the Strategies for countering this in another post. What you need to focus on is staying stealthed. Learn the stealth system--it's really not as "broken" as a lot of people say it is. Infact, it's quite predictable once you get to know it. It sucks traveling everywhere in stealth, but because of our defensive disadvantage, it is imparative that you know what's arround you, and that other's don't know that you're there.
2) Damage. Okay, I'm not saying our damage in and of itself is a disadvantage. We have awsome damage. But it's burst damage, and it only lasts for aslong as we stay alive--which often is not long, ulness you can quickly take out your target. That means that you cannot expect to sneak up on a heavy-armored guardian in defensive stance, who is at full health and stamina, and expect to two shot him before he can pound on you. Wait for an opportunity.
My *new* PvP theology:
"I'm an Assassin. I'm a cold, calculated killer, who uses every advantage I can get to take out my target."
What I consided griefing and cheap-kills in WoW had to be thrown out the window for AoC. But that doesn't mean I have completely trashed my PvP "Morals". When PK'ing (Player killing) someone who is either agressive towards other players, "griefing", taking my quest mobs, or anything else that draws my PvP attention, I'm not above waiting for them to be at a health disadvantage, or attacking when they're busy with something else. Am I just justifing why it's okay to play like a jerk? Sure. But I'm not saying it's wrong for other classes to do so aswell.
Do I kill random "lowbies" or everyone that I ever pass who's not at full health? No. There's a few reasons I don't. Personally, I feel like a jerk taking "easy kills" for no other reason than to be, well, a jerk. Also, being a FFA-PvP world, to more you "grief", the more attention you draw to yourself, and the more you'll have to deal with "payback" while you're trying to quest. And as I mentioned above, I am *not* level 80, so yes I do quest.
You're an Assassin. You attack from stealth. You're going to get a lot of ... to put it nicely ... "trash talk" from the people you kill, regardless of whether or not it was a "fair" fight (people who lose always come up with some BS excuse as to why you're a jerk and why it wasn't fair that you killed them).
Which brings me to my number one rule, and thw whole point of the rambling first entry;
Always be ready; always expect to be attacked. Watch your surroundings. Remain hidden as much as possible. If they don't know you're there, they can't plan the attack.
And if we have to take such care as to always be ready, then why should we feel bad when they died on our blades because they did not do the same?