Static Grouping

For those of you who do not use the term, a “static group” is a way of approaching MMOs and similar games where you and your group of friends each have a character set aside strictly for playing together, all of you. For pen-and-paper players, this is just how you did it: you had your group, and you played together. You did not solo and you did not PUG. The Casualties of War have static groups for several games, and I joined the LotRO group once I found out it was on Landroval. Wednesday, 8pm Central, we all log on and run through a quest hub or two, maybe half an epic book.

Over time, you will lose members. It can be hard to fit someone new in except when you switch zones, because they will not be at the same quest point that everyone else is. Active recruiting can be done, and you may want alts who can be moved into the appropriate level range. I am on my third character joining our static group: our first was just who happened to be available and in the level range when Ethic needed another body, the second was my Loremaster, and then I moved to our back-up healer (Rune-Keeper) for when our Minstrel was unavailable. A few others have switched characters as well, as we caught up to old mains or as they decided to play the static group characters more than the once-per-week.

The most critical thing, I think, to keeping this going is also surprisingly easy: double up on key group roles. You want at least two healers and two tanks. If your game has hybrid classes that could fill several roles, great. This is essential because many times someone will be missing, and other times someone will drop out. If you have one healer, and s/he leaves, you no longer have a group. I switched to my Rune-Keeper when we needed that second healer, and I have been the primary healer for twenty or thirty levels now. I say this is surprisingly easy because people lean towards group-friendly classes if they know they will never PUG or solo. We have had a Hunter and a Champion in the group at times, but we have also gone without any primary DPS classes for months. Lots of support, lots of CC: all those roles you might want to play but could be painful to solo. We also lean towards group-friendly specs, and I wonder if I am the only Rune-Keeper leveling up with almost entirely healing traits slotted.

City of Heroes will eventually have its perfect version of this with multi-member leveling pacts. You will be able to bind a group together so that all experience is shared. Even if Bob misses a night, he has the exact same xp total as everyone else. City of Heroes also makes less strict static grouping easier, as all missions are shared instances that everyone gets a bonus for completing. The most flexible version, however, came in City of Heroes/Villains superteams. Someone designs a class template that works well with itself, say have everyone be a Radiation/* Defender or */Radiation Controller. Then your team is whatever 8 people are online at the time. You all have group-friendly builds because you never expect to solo, including all those Leadership toggles that are weak alone but stack nicely. I was fond of Brutal Speed, a villain group with all AE damage Brutes and Kinetics Corruptors. No one took the Fitness pool because triple-Speed Boost makes it irrelevant; everyone took the Leadership pool. Take 5 from group A and 3 from group B, and watch the wrecking ball fly. Superteams add flexibility by making everyone replaceable, so they can keep going long after half the people get bored and wander off.

Lifetime subscription games add one other bonus: if I had a monthly fee, I would not pay to play 2 hours per week. Even if I am bored with LotRO, I can still be interested enough to play 2 hours per week. The lifetime accounts keep people around for the static group that needs more than a year to reach the level cap.

: Zubon

13 thoughts on “Static Grouping”

  1. Ah, Landroval, king of the LOTRO servers. The community on Landroval is a big reason why I have stayed subbed to LOTRO for so long.

  2. LotRO is the first online game my better half got interested in. I was bored to death with WoW, and don’t often find the motivation to solo up a character. So, all but one of our characters are duoed and we play them together. (If we want some alone we have the one solo character.) It’s worked out really well, and been a lot of fun. Our Champion/Captain duo were the first to get worked up to higher level, so we joined a casual raiding guild and have been having a blast.

    I wonder if I am the only Rune-Keeper leveling up with almost entirely healing traits slotted.

    Nope, my RK has been levelled up with only blue (healing) traits in our duo. I can still pour on enough DPS to take aggro from her Warden, but I can swap to some good healing if the situation gets sticky. It’s a great setup if you group at all. I imagine most people went with the “Solitary Thunder” spec for soloing; the name kind of implies that’s what it’s good for

  3. Interesting that CoH is doing this, had not heard that.

    Vanguard has a similar mechanic where you can join characters together in a “Brotherhood”, and all experience is divided equally among the Brotherhood, even for offline members. Then when you log in, you get all the exp generated by others applied to your character.

    Many people use it to either passively bring up an alt, or like you said, keep a static group together. In fact, it would be a good system for your LOTRO group because the doubled up alt-members could always be leveling with the group. Of course, the downside is all of you would be leveling at half the “normal” rate.

  4. I wish I could do static grouping, but my schedule doesn’t quite allow it. I do agree that the LOTRO community is much more open to these kinds of things though.
    However, the City of Heroes concept sounds interesting – I wonder if they’ll have any issues with Power Leveling and such?

  5. The City of Heroes note is “planned” at this state. There is currently a two-member version of the Leveling Pact in-game, so a static duo like Brian’s is already accommodated. The plan was to expand that if there were no issues created by the smaller version. I have not watched for updates to that.

  6. City of Heroes makes it even easier nowadays. It doesn’t even matter if you in range, or how many people show up for static group night. As it is currently everybody in the group sidekicks or mentor to the same level as owner of the quest. And the owner of the quest can define the difficulty level of the mission. You can set it up that regardless of group size the mission acts as if you are a 8 person group (or 4 or 2 or etc. person group), and you can also define that all mobs in the missions will +1 up +4 levels above you. Of course a level 5 sidekick acting as a level 40 is not as useful as a real level 40, but it does work.

    Our static group of 5 all Arachnos soldiers and widows ripped through 8p +4 missions. It was amazing. But we all reached 50 and we started afresh on hero side with old dusty toons ranged between 10 and 20. We struggled at 4p +1 missions, but the system is that flexible we still had a great time.

    But more to the point, static grouping is great. Because you only play once or twice a week the game stays fun so much longer. I wish I could do it all my MMOs.

    1. Heck, I forgot about super-sidekicking. Yeah, your group is always the same level no matter what level you are. You don’t need a static group in the slightest: whoever, whatever level, just join up and go nuts.

  7. Zubon,
    What level is your group approximatly, and what days/times do ya’ll play? My wife and I have ancient LoTRO toons, maxed at the original level cap (40?) and we might consider playing at some point with a casual group.

    1. We are 45 now and played last night around 8pm central time US. I will be on more often now that the skirmishes are live. Feel free to join our Kinship for solo players if you want, we have a kin hall for your convenience.

      You are probably level 50 if I had to guess.

  8. Our static group in LOTRO on Landroval has been one of the best things I’ve experienced in an MMO, the other being playing WoW with my wife as a duo.

    Having a regular group is extremely satisfying. You start to know what everyone will do and it becomes a well-oiled machine of fun.

  9. I’ve participated in two different static groups now, both in WoW, and they’ve been a total blast. It’s so much fun to watch the group develop over time. We cast our crappy spells, walk around wearing vendor trash, and gradually grow into a force to be reckoned with.

    We have always had strict rules about leveling outside the group to be sure we all stay in range of one another. Now you can turn off xp for just 10G (well, and 10G to turn it back on again before regrouping), so that makes it a little easier if folks want to go off and level their gathering professions separately. The leveling pact sounds even better though!

    I’ve always wanted to try a static group in an MMO that’s new to me. (Ideally new to the whole group, really, so we can explore and learn together.) Maybe I’ll rally for a CoH static group when this goes live. :)

    1. The “wearing vendor trash” reminds me of a useful opposite we did: have a sugar daddy. I donated 30+ gold to the LotRO group to buy our kin hall, pay rent for the first while, buy mounts, etc.

      (For the WoW players: the scale is different in LotRO. An hour of level-capped farming nets around 1 gold, or was it an evening? I never did it, just looted my existing characters.)

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