A question about strategy: Hardest opponent first or not?

Inspired by many of the battles in the Mass Effect series but really applicable to any game with combat.

Often in these style of games you’ll find yourself up against a single hardcore opponent with many weaker minions. What in your opinion is the best strategy, concentrate on the toughest opponent first and mop up the minions after or take out the minions first enabling you to take on the most difficult opponent without worrying about the less powerful but still dangerous minions?

Personally I always kill the minions first but I was wondering if others have a different idea of optimum strategy… :wink:

It depends on three key factors:

– Do the minions and/or boss regenerate and/or spawn more minions? If so then I’d probably go for the critical path, the one that didn’t respawn, first, usually the boss.

– If there are limited total hit points of both boss and minions, then it’s usually best to go for the minions because every time you kill one you are eliminating one source of damage to you, whereas the boss’s attack value usually doesn’t go down until its dead (and sometimes even goes up!)

– If you kill the boss, do you immediately beat the minions as well? Then the equation gets harder, possibly involving actual math.

Well in the Mass Effect battles the ‘boss’ usually just has more hit-points and firepower than the minions and they don’t regenerate. The latter is a pet peeve of mine, I hate games where more opponents appear when you’ve apparently finished them all off.

This can be done right - either by some sort of “summoning spell” or, you know, enemies coming in through doors (How’s that for crazy logic?). But yeah, it’s a little bit rude when they just spawn.

That said, it’s pretty much what Ludovic said - it depends. Another factor that plays in is how much damage the minions do relative to how long it takes to kill them. If they don’t really do that much damage or just have a ton of HP, you may just want to “burn the boss” but if they’re glass cannon that actually do noticable damage while being very flimsy, usually you’ll want to clear the minions first. Similarly, if the minions have an annoying ability - interrupting spells/attacks is a big one - then mopping them up can be a huge help. Another thing that might factor in is whether you have any area-damage effects - these can be used somewhat to dodge the whole question.

A few more factors that may play a role:

  • How is the damage output of different enemies? Some minions may do considerable damage, but be easy to kill, and vice versa.

  • How easy is it to avoid attacks(melee, ranged, area of effect, etc.) from different enemies.

Always go for the wizard.

Actually, the typical strategy in MMORG type games is to kill the healer first. Doesn’t matter if they call it a priest, engineer, shaman, medic, repair bot, etc…if it repairs damage to your enemies, kill it first.

Well, in Mass Effect 2 in particular, the best strat is quite clearly to gun for the minions first, at least when you’re up against the Collectors since in that case the boss might just respawn as long as there’s at least one minion alive. So there’s that.

That being said, that tends to be my general strategy in most CRPGs anyway (provided minions don’t just respawn as soon as the last one bites it). Minions might only do chip damage but first that adds up, and second the minions restrict manoeuvres around the field, might actually be dangerous to your team’s weaker members and/or prevent their casting and so forth, might have annoying abilities that only work 1% of the time but will eventually tag you if you give them a whole boss fight’s worth of using them… Might even make the Big Bad directly stronger in some systems (e.g. by giving him a flanking bonus in D&D, or by giving the boss more turns in SMT games through crits/weaknesses, or by healing/buffing them mid-fight etc…).

Of course this all assumes that the mooks are also relatively easily dealt with. If they’re rock hard sacks o’ hitpoints that also only happen to do chip damage, might be best to just ignore them entirely and/or only disable them temporarily if you’ve got that kind of powers.

Sure, the Big Bad’s hammering all the way while you’re mopping up his krazy krew, but then again if your tank+healer duo (or whatever damage mitigation system works in that game, be it movement, cover, stuns etc…) can’t stand up to the kind of damage the boss dishes out solo for any length of time, you ain’t beating him in a hurry anyway. Grind up and come back :slight_smile:

True, I guess. I was actually paraphrasing spoony talking about DnD, and how you should not wear a robe with “wizard” embroidered on the chest, if you’re a wizard. That’s basically an invite for people to kill you.

Funny, I remember hearing about some pk’ers in UO who wore a cheap robe when travelling around in britannia, to attract other, more stupid pk’ers. When they got attacked, they instantly switched gear and whipped out a big weapon, killed the guy and took all his loot.

Back on topic, what about “take down the one with the highest easy-to-kill/annoyance ratio”? Or something.

yeah, this bears repeating. if you see a group of enemies in heavy armor plus one pip-squeak in cloth standing at the back, kill him first.

Eh. Kindof irrelevant, honestly. I guess if you don’t wear the Wizzard hat then you get to act once before people figure out you’re a wizard, but really, if you’re not prepared to stand up to people trying to kill you, changing clothes won’t help.

This is fine in theory, but in practice the reason they’re in the back is that it actually makes it hard to kill them. :stuck_out_tongue: Unless of course you’re playing with a system where it doesn’t, in which case the problem is less with the tactics and more with the system. :wink:

I think that’s pretty much what we’ve been saying.

The same tactic was used to great effect by the friars of Dark Age of Camelot - a class of agile ass-kickers who wore robes and staves, but they weren’t magical staves. Just regular hurt-people-a-lot-by-hitting-them-in-the-nuts-with staves.

Also by Midgard warriors : pretty much all of Midgard classes besides pure mages and scouts wore some kind of chainmail, and only close observation of the mailwork would tell you whether it was “crappy healer chainmail”, “middling Thane or Skald chainmail” or “heavy-duty plate-equivalent chainmail”. Said observation was made even more difficult by the fact that everybody wore all black, all the time, which made looking at the details harder.
Oh, and healers carried big fuck-off axes around because, y’know, vikings. So when all is said and done, the only element that allowed one to tell a Healer from a Thane from a Warrior was the shield they wore: Healers only had access to round ones, Thanes could switch up to kite ones, and pure warriors were the ones who could carry tower shields. But you know, it was really easy to just switch shields at the press of a button :p. Oh, the laughs we had, tricking assassins into trying to backstab sacks of hitpoints who could decapitate them in three swings…

This is why Midgard was the best realm. Well, that and the blurb in the manual.

Albion: “Arthur is dead, Merlin is missing, blah blah gloom but hope.”
Hibernia: “Our seers have foretold a dire future, blah blah gloom hope.”
Midgard: “The enemy’s green lands have made them weak! Ours is the power of the old gods! battle victory rawr!”

/choose Midgard.

The best answer to this is; it depends.
I agree with the minions first, especially in the first phases of the game if possible. Having more area/resources gives more choices the longer the game goes on.

Another factor: In some games, the minions will disappear in a puff of logic if the boss dies… But if you kill them the normal way first, they’ll give loot/XP/hearts/energy/whatever. And sometimes they’ll even respawn to continue giving you goodies. So it can occasionally be worthwhile to just stand there and farm the minions for a while, before you kill the boss and ruin the gravy train.