[City of Villains] Good lord, my teams have been getting rocked this week. Not that everyone is hitting the hospital, but we have been a lot less successful than during that pre-release weekend. I think that Lackeys are the main reason.
“Lackey” is the CoV word for a CoH “sidekick.” If you don’t know the system, it means that a lower level character can tag along with you, with their numbers ratcheted up to about your level. They do not get new powers or enhancements, but they are otherwise treated as a higher level character. Obviously, a sidekick or lackey is not as good as someone of the appropriate level. Having more or better powers is good. If you want to play with your friends, however, it is the next best thing.
Problems arise when you combine a relatively large gap in levels with recent changes to the game. Quite simply, the game is harder these days, and at low levels you do not have the tools to make up for having a weaker teammate.
Lackeys and sidekicks are weaker in several ways. First, they have fewer powers, and if they are low enough level, that means they will just be standing there half the time while waiting for their few powers to recharge. A Brute with two attacks is not going to deal a lot of damage, nor will he have the full set of defenses to keep him alive. Second, those powers have fewer enhancement slots, so they are weaker than normal even after getting bumped up. Third, unless the sidekick/lackey is level 22 or higher, they do not have single-origin enhancements. Being down a level of enhancement means your powers are much less effective. Having +50% damage is much less than +95% damage, and ditto for defenses. As I mentioned with respect to Enhancement Diversity, well enhanced powers are what let you break the power curve.
Before Issue 5 and Enhancement Diversity, you could easily survive without a few teammates. Frankly, one or two people could safely take on most missions designed for full teams. It did not hurt to have a teammate or three who could not pull his own weight. So what if the extra Blaster is not doing much damage? We are two-shotting everything, so his attacks do not matter anyway.
Combine those two. We were running with a six-man, level fifteen team. Half the team members were lackeys, so they were something like six, eight, and ten. At level six, you have five powers with nine slots, and you are using training enhancements; at level fifteen, you have nine powers with twenty-three slots, and you are using dual-origin enhancements (so the equivalent of up to 46 training enhancements). You may notice a bit of a power gap there.
Compare to the pre-release weekend. Everyone started around the same time, give or take, so we were all within a few levels of one another, or we had one lackey.
Is there a point to this post, other than whining about a rough night? Two, actually. It is always good to start a game with a group of your friends – this is just another reason why. Also, I am looking forward to getting to higher levels, so that we can accommodate some late-starting friends. The next week or two could be rough as we gain our levels, but this will sort itself out.