How Important is Going First?
The last Feedback Friday of January touched on an issue many players have strong opinions about - how important is casting your spells before your opponents? For those who are unaware, Kingsisle releases a Feedback Friday every week to gather player opinions and suggestions on different topics.
After mulling the question over in my head, I came to the conclusion that the answer isn't as clear cut as some players think. The importance of casting first depends greatly on the situation and battle at hand. To help illustrate the significance of going first in different scenarios, I'll be breaking down each type of battle with an "importance scale." The higher I score a fight on the importance scale, the more essential it is that your team goes first in that particular situation.
Mob Fights Importance Scale: 1/5
Mob fights are the simplest battles in the game. Whether or not your team casts first makes little to no difference. The worst that can happen from going second is being hit with a stun or blade-stealing spell the round you attack. Although annoying, that wouldn't impact the battle significantly enough to argue that going first is more important. Stuns, loss of blades, and shields can easily be overcome and almost never directly results in a defeat.
Non-Cheating Bosses Importance Scale: 2/5
Regular boss battles are a miniscule step above mob battles. With just a bit more health and powerful spells in their arsenal, it rarely makes a difference if your team is first. The reason I ranked non-cheating bosses one point higher on the importance scale than mob battles is because bosses are capable of delivering heavy blows and frequent critical hits. Going first can surely help avoid an unsuspecting attack, but just like mob battles, going second here will almost never mean defeat.
Most Cheating Bosses Importance Scale: 2/5
Most cheating bosses are just like regular bosses in that it usually won't matter if your team casts first. Why is that? Well, majority of cheating bosses cheat at the beginning of the round before either team can cast. For example, The Rat's titan will interrupt at the start of every fifth round (after the initial hit on round two) to attack your team. Since the cheat occurs before either team can do anything, going first or second often doesn't make a difference. As for the cheats that don't operate on a set cycle, they will trigger regardless if you cast first or second. As long as your team is mindful of any cheats, going second is seldom a deal breaker.
Darkmoor: All 3 Instances Importance Scale: 4/5
Darkmoor is arguably the most challenging area in the game so far. The bosses not only hit hard, but their cheats can be absolutely brutal. Unlike the previous categories on this list, going second here can be a matter of life and death. Bosses in all three instances of Darkmoor have access to shadow spells, critical like crazy, and have no mercy. Casting second has led to defeat for me in all three instances more than once. Shane Von Shane in particular can be a mess if your team doesn't have the first round advantage. Between his dangerous storm spells, his beguile cheat, and his equally formidable minions, the battles (you fight him twice) are a force to be reckoned with. In addition to the crazed vampire, Sir Blackwater, Aphrodite II, and Malistaire the Undying are infamous for dealing some death without a first round cast.
PvP Importance Scale: 5/5
PvP seems to be determined by who goes first nowadays. Whether you're participating in a 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4, winning from second is a difficult and nearly impossible task. Kingsisle tried to compensate second-casters with an extra starting pip, but it really doesn't amount to much. In 1v1, skilled PvP veterans are able to control an entire match by going first. In 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4, the brunt and repetitive force of AOEs are typically too strong for the second team to bear. Having participated in multiple in-game tournaments, I've lost count how many times my team has won or lost simply because of our casting position.
Although casting first doesn't usually alter the outcome in mob or boss battles, going second can be a potential nightmare in Darkmoor and PvP. Since Kingsisle conducted both a Feedback Friday and a twitter poll concerning this issue, there is a good chance that they might change the system in the future. In the meantime, what do you think of my scale ratings? Let me know in the comments!