December 30, 2000
Leading an XP Formation: The Basics - By Amaziah
Have you ever been wanting to get xp but keep dying if you try it solo? Have
you ever waited around asking on your clan or town channel if someone could
take you xping? Have you ever had people all wanting to xp but nobody knowing
any good zones or wanting to lead? Then look no further: be active, seek out
people to form with and lead them yourself. Don't worry if you haven't done it
much before, once you get the hang of it it's usually more interesting than
just sitting there and having someone lead you around the whole time. It's also
the only way of getting leading points so you'll have to master the basics at
Leading is not just about killing things. It's about managing a form, learning
a zone, teaching your formies (those in your formation) about the zone and most
importantly, not dying. It's not much use in having a formation that gets the
fastest xp you've ever got if every ten minutes your entire form dies because
you decided to fight too many mobs that were too big.
Your first concern as a leader of a prospective formation is where the
form is going to go and who will be in it. For most forms, you will need at
least one cleric. Forms without a cleric usually progress very slowly and often
it is faster for everyone if you all went solo and killed mobs on you own. If
the form is made up of a few low-level players (less than level 21 or
there-abouts) you can usually get away without a cleric if you have really good armor
class (-100 ac) and lots of green potions (for healing), but above that you
will usually need some sort of cleric (whether that is a single class cleric
or a multiclass player who has been a cleric depends on how that player has
progressed). Similarly it is a good idea to have a warrior or thief in
the form to absorb incoming damage as well, but it's not as paramount.
Once you know who is in your form (or as you are working that out) you
should be thinking of/finding a zone that you'll go to. "listzone" gives a
general indication of what size form you will need for a particular zone and is
a good starting point if you don't know many zones. Also consider looking on
www.medievia.com for the "Areas in the Game" section. Ideally, the zone
that you choose is not too difficult or too easy for the form, otherwise
you'll spend too long dying or the xp won't be enough to make it worthwhile.
Once this has been decided and the form members are at the zone in question, your
job as a form leader starts become more obvious.
There are some things that need to be done before the form does
anything at all. Hopefully you will have a relatively balanced form, as this make
things easier for you.
You need to position all the members in the form in a location within the
formation that most suits their role. As you will probably have noticed,
formations are in a 3 x 3 grid with 3 positions in the front row, three in the
middle row, and three in the back. Warriors and thieves are best suited to the
front row, whilst mages and clerics are usually positioned in the back.
Multiclass players require a little more thought than single classers but
generally you position them where you would put someone of their current class.
The fundamental idea behind a formation is that it allows each person
in the form to concentrate on their particular role. Warriors and thieves hit
things with melee better than any other class which is why they go in the
front. Mages cast offensive spells and clerics heal (and also cast some
aggressive spells). They don't need to be in the front row of a form to do
this - indeed, they are better off somewhere where they won't get hit at all.
For this reason, mages and clerics are positioned behind tanks (tanks are
front-row formation member that take most of the melee damage thus protecting
those behind them from almost all attacks). For example:
- W - - T - W T - - T -
- - - - C - - - - - C -
- C - - M - C M - - C M
are all quite good layouts for a formation. Notice that in the 4th example all
three of the spellcasters can't all fit behind the tank (in this case a Thief)
so one of them must be open to attack but is put in the back row so as to
minimise the number of attack made against that player (in this case a Mage).
The choice of mage in that example was partially arbitrary but the main reasons
were that generally mages have a better armor class (ac) than clerics due to
shield/stone skin (mage spells), and that it's generally better for a mage to
die than a cleric (single class mages cannot resurrect or heal). Since my
example form had two clerics placing a cleric on the outside would also be a
good option, so if that outside cleric died the from would still be able to use
both mage and cleric spells (such as shield room and resurrect to get the dead
member alive again). If one of the tanks is much more powerful than another one
(and has a lot more hp) then placing that second tank in the middle row give
the healers more time to heal that player but still allows the smaller tanks
some chance to attack. Eg:
T W -
- - T - this Thief is much smaller that the other two tanks
C M C
If a cleric can resurrect ("res" in med slang) then try and place that player
in a position such that that player is the least likely to die. Some mobs will
cast hands of wind on a player to initiate combat with someone. Hands of wind
is a cleric spell that unforms the person it is cast on. Also, some mobs will
backstab a member of the form to initiate combat. In my experience I have found
that both of these tend to happen to the player that is in the back-centre of
the form. For this reason, I don't usually place a resurrecting cleric (to res,
a cleric must be lev27 or above: see "help res" for more details) in that
position. The second and third examples I have illustrate this. One last note
on handings (casting hands of wind): if someone in your form get handsed it's a
very good idea to have a warrior in the form rescue that player so the damage
is directed at the rest of the form instead of all at one person.
If you as the form leader gets handsed then tell the whole form to engage and
make sure the clerics keep you healed. If you really must, flee then return so
the mob engages someone other than you. There's not much use having a form
without anyone to lead it.
To check who in the form is likely to get hit type "formtest" a few times.
Formtest is a very useful command when testing out a formation layout.
Assigning Roles (job distribution):
There are a few roles that should be assigned to a member of the form as part
of setting up. It's possible for the leader to do them all by themself but
assigning them to form member just takes a few more things off their mind.
Also, there are some things that should be stated before the form sets out so
as to make it more efficient.
Once all the setup has been done, the form can start going. At this point it
helps if you know the zone but it you don't, don't let that discourage you from
leading - you'll learn the zone much more quickly if you are leading.
- The form leader should assign corpse checking to someone. This usually
entails checking each corpse after the form kills it for orbs, eq or other such
goodies (like dragon crystals). This person should always have detect
invisibility cast on them so they don't miss anything.
- The role of the cleric(s) should be spelled out if you're not sure if the
cleric know what they're doing. In small forms, clerics both attack and heal.
As the form get larger, clerics should concentrate more on healing and less on
attacking as that is what the other classes do. It's quite annoying having a
cleric using up all their mana, having to tick every fight when everyone
else has hardly been scratched while the mages still have (close to)
- If you have more than one cleric in the form, there should be some
structure as to who heals who. I've been in may forms in which all the clerics
heal the same person at the same time. This is fine if they're very damaged
but usually they won't need 5 heals all at once. This double healing just
wastes mana. To stop this you should assign healing. A pseudostandard way of
healing is healing in columns. This means that each cleric is responsible
for everyone in their column. This way each person is assigned a cleric with
no overlap. If someone is in a column without a cleric then you should assign
a cleric to them. Also, make sure that the clerics cross-heal. If a
cleric heals themselves, they gain less hp than if they are healed by someone
else. Therefore the all clerics should heal other clerics and let themselves
be healed by someone else. This also save on cleric mana.
- Tell your formies to set their wimpy to 0. It's quite annoying to have
someone wimpyflee just as they're about to get healed. Similarly, make sure
that nobody wanders off on their own as this is excessively frustrating.
- If you are going to encounter spellcasters, make sure that the warrior and
thieves know what to do. Warrior should alternate bash and thieves should trip
(multi-class thieves should also trip). By alternate bash I mean if there are
two warriors, one should bash every second round and the second should bash on
the other rounds that the first warrior didn't. ie. warrior1 bash, warrior2
bash, warrior1 bash, warrior2 bash... If a player has a choice between tripping
and bashing they should choose to trip. This is for three reasons: A) failing a
trip results in only one round of lag. B) if something has already been tripped
then it can't get tripped again which is better than bash where you can have
lots of people all bashing in the same round and then have no one bash in the
next round. C) bashing only drops them to their knees whereas tripping puts
them on the floor (this means that they're less likely to recover from a trip
- If you have a mage in the form get them to cast mass invisibility after
each fight. Unless a mob is high level, it usually can't detect invisible
- Get a mage to cast Shield Room when the form ticks. This way you won't
have mobs walking in on you and attacking you when you're not ready.
- Have someone check the weather regularly just to make sure that a firestorm
or a tornado or the likes isn't coming your way. If it is then you'll have to
head indoors or failing that, head into medlink (help link) and wait until it
Before a fight you should make sure of a few things. Firstly, make sure that
the spellcasters have enough mana to finish the next fight successfully. If not
you'll have to tick up. When ticking (waiting for hp and mana to regenerate),
tell the formation that they're allow to tick now. "ft rest", "ft tick" or
something similar will usually do. Even if you don't need to tick, it's a good
idea to rest so that the form know that they're allowed to as well.
Secondly, after the form has ticked, make sure that all the tanks are sanced
(clerical spell sanctuary, "help sanc") and ready to fight (not blinded,
poisoned, etc) and that their sanc isn't about to run out mid-fight. Orbs are
useful here. Orbs, when used, cast sanc on everything in the room (make sure
there is nothing you are planning to fight in the room when you orb) so you
should use them just before a fight. Before actually moving into the room when
the fight is to take place, "rouse all". This makes sure that nobody is left
behind still resting.
Thirdly, if you've going to enter a room which contains some mobs that you do
not wish to fight you should tell your formation that and make sure they don't
room attack (charge or use spells that attack the whole room).
When fighting there are a few spells that should be cast towards the beginning
of the fight. Faerie Fire, Blind and Plague are the main ones that you should
be aware of and if possible, they should be cast as early towards the start of
the fight as possible. Faerie Fire is safe to cast before combat starts as it
does not initiate combat, but Plague and Blind etc should only be cast before
starting the fight if you are fairly certain they will work.
When fighting spellcasters, make sure that the tanks keep them from casting
spells (with bash or trip) and that any fireshield or sanc that the mob(s) have
is dispelled, if possible, as close to the beginning of the fight as possible.
If there is more than one mob that you are engaged in combat with then target
the spellcaster(s) first. Spellcasters generally do more damage than melee
mobs, so if you kill them first your chances of survival are greatly improved.
Lastly, it would be advisable that every member of the form has read my article
on following in formation
as that will make your job as the lead much easier.
Leading formations in which everyone knows what they are doing is much easier
than an ad-hoc group of players all fighting the same thing.
I hope this help with the basics. The best way to learn is by doing it yourself
so good luck.
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