You may or may not have noticed last night that there is a new ability icon in your book. It’s called “Using Weaknesses,” and the tooltip has a long description of a nuance in the group combat system that I am extremely excited about.
If you look above (click to enlarge) you’ll see the overview of the Weakness system for group combat. If you tooltip over your abilities, you will see that some have the little red arrows, some with the plus sign and some without it. Next to the arrows is an icon with a description – those are the weaknesses. If you have a weakness that has a red arrow with a plus sign, it means that you “add” the weakness. A successful attack with that ability will lead to a small icon of that particular weakness showing up under the mob target window. It will stay there for a short time – up to 8 seconds according to the description – and during that time, anyone can exploit the weakness.
To exploit the weakness, you have to have an ability that has a plain red arrow and a matching icon. If you coordinate your attack and trigger it successfully during the time a weakness is on the target, you gain a benefit, which is usually in the form of increased damage.
Let’s look at an example. There is a great chart over at Silky Venom that organizes all the weakness by icon. I have an ability called Deadly Shot, which adds the weakness “Dazed.” Based on the chart, if I am grouped with a bard, monk, or psionicist, they have abilities that can exploit that weakness. To find out the specific abilities that compliment each other, there is a terrific site here at Vanguard Vulnerabilities. By clicking on the classes that you are grouped with, you can see which abilities add specific weaknesses (labeled in green), and which ones exploit them (labeled in red).
An interesting dynamic forms when you start to look at various class pairings. Some pairs share more weaknesses than others, and several of them are pairings that are rather non-traditional. There is a very nice chart of the class combs here at Vanguard Spheres. They also have a good link explaining the weakness system listed here. It seems that even if two friends don’t play the most efficient duo combination, with a little skill and attention, you can use the weakness system to make a successful group. I would also assume that coordinated PvPrs would really benefit from making use of this system.
In short, this group combat system is similar to Everquest 2′s Heroic Opportunity system. The upside is that smart players and coordinated groups can really do well in the game. The downside is that if you are a good “weakness” exploiter and do a lot of pick up groups, you probably won’t get to do much exploiting. This system is a lot more subtle than EQ2′s, and it’s easy to miss the weakness icons if you don’t know the system or aren’t paying attention.
The main difference I notice between EQ2′s group combat system and Vanguard’s is that while Vanguard’s system is more subtle, it also is more flexible. In EQ2, a mistimed nuke or attack could throw a wrench in the HO chain, and I don’t see that happening with the weakness system. Basically, once a weakness is added, it’s there for anyone to exploit while it lasts.
I’ll be driving my guildmates crazy over the next few days to try to get more specifics on how it’s working, and how much of a benefit it provides. I’m very excited though, because it adds an extra layer of group combat, and makes it much more challenging — if you choose to use it.
I wanted to add a quick update also. Last night they patched some new missive locations, in Veskel’s Exchange and Qa Riverbank. I had the fortune of being the first on the server to complete the bark collection missive from Veskel’s! I get so amused by small achievements.