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A Rogue's Guide to Aggro
The Basics of Aggro
Mobs in Everquest are very simple creatures, deciding their targets based on a simple mechanic. Some call it hate, others aggro, but attacking a creature, casting certain spells or even walking too close will raise this number and make you a more attractive target. Whoever has attracted the most hate from a mob will often become their target and so gaining and losing aggro has become an important part of combat in groups.
Hate and the Rogue
As most of you will have heard, rogues do it from behind. This one of the core strategies you should learn, since we do much more damage when the enemy is not facing us. Attacking from behind (a 270-degree arc apparently, so you can even attack from the side) denies your enemy many of their defensive abilities; they can't parry, riposte, perhaps not even dodge. Once you hit level 10, being behind your enemy lets you backstab for huge damage.
Standing in front of the foe, you will hit less often and you will hit for less damage. More to the point, you are probably being hit because you are their chosen target. Why would you do this? We don't get a lot of hit-points compared to paladins and warriors, so we tend to avoid losing them if we can...
How NOT to be the Most Attractive Target
You might have decided that you don't want to be the one being hit, that you would much rather be standing behind the target stabbing them in the kidneys; if not, why are you even playing a rogue? So now you know what you want, let's talk about how to do it.
The first thing to do is to give them something else to fight. Join a group with a tank (warrior, paladin or shadowknight) and let them take the brunt of the attack while you perform some surgical strikes from behind. Tanks have lots of hit-points and it is their job to get hit. They also have the Taunt skill to help them grab the target's attention and keep it. At higher levels, they will have special abilities on their weapons to create even more hate.
A special note should be made of caster pets. While casters love to set their pet on a mob and sit back to cast, you do not have this luxury. Mobs will turn to attack any players who are within melee range, no matter how much pets taunt them. Some of these pets will be rogues (enchanters especially love to charm rogue mobs) and will do higher damage from behind, but that is no help to you as you take damage meant for someone else and have to watch an NPC doing more damage than you do.
Staying Low Key
If you don't want the mob's attention, make sure the tank has built up a head-start. Quite often, you will want to hold off on starting the fight until the tank has hit it a few times. If the tank is having trouble holding a mob's attention, you might even want to stop attacking until they get it back.
While it is annoying to be sitting out combat briefly, you are not going to be a viable tank and the risk of dying or a long down-time as you heal up just isn't worth the trouble.
Unique among the classes, rogues have an undocumented skill called evade. This skill allows a rogue to 'duck clear of combat' when they stop fighting and use the hide ability. When it works, this reduces aggro by a fixed amount and can get your foe to attack someone else. Obviously, this doesn't work if you are the only person fighting it, but it is a good way of setting a mob back onto the tank in a group setting.
Most rogues will have a macro set up for evasion, switching off their attack, hiding and then starting to attack their target again. The most basic macro is as follows:
- /attack off
- /doability 1 (where '1' is the slot in your Actions panel (Ctrl + A) used for the Hide skill)
- /attack on
Use Ctrl + O to open the socials panel and then scroll to page 2. Right-click a blank button to open the macro editor and give it a name (Evade is good) and then type those three lines into the first three boxes. Some rogues will put the "/attack on" line in the last box so they can add in other skills like picking pockets or sensing traps.
You might be arguing that a rogue is not a caster, but there are times when you will have a weapon which 'procs' a magical effect. Some of these will have no effect on your aggro, some will do some damage to the foe and add an appropriate amount of aggro, but certain spells have a stronger effect on aggro than you might have realised. And since the mob can't get angry at a sword or dagger, they get angry at the person holding it...
Anything that heals you will attract the mob's attention; if you are playing a rogue right, you won't take much damage in a party and you can often leave it to the party healer(s) to heal you if you take too much damage. You should be doing enough damage and the warrior should be holding the mob's attention well enough that the mob will ignore healers, so let them do their job.One spell which catches players out is snare, as it produces a lot of aggro; newbie rangers will often use snare without realising that it is almost guaranteed to pull the mob off the tank. The
Slot: PRIMARY SECONDARY
Skill: Piercing Atk Delay: 27
Effect: Engulfing Darkness (Combat, Casting Time: Instant) at Level 27
WT: 2.0 Size: SMALL
A special mention should be made regarding root effects; a rooted target cannot move, which makes it ideal for casters and rangers using a bow, but causes them to attack the closest enemy regardless of hate. When the enemy is rooted, you should make sure that you are not that person, so learn how far away you can stand and still hit the enemy...
When to Gain Aggro
While I have been talking about how you avoid aggro, there are times when you will need to gain it. As a high-DPS class, you can steal a mob from a party member faster than most, even faster than the tank in some cases.
If you are grouped with an enchanter, you will soon learn that they generate huge amounts of hate; their mesmerising spells are ideal for crowd-control, but make mobs very angry. A wizard who is not controlling their damage output can dump a lot of damage into a group of mobs (and break mez) very quickly and then they will sit down; both of these actions will attract the attention of mobs. Rangers are basically a rogue who can cast spells which generate lots of hate and only have one (oft-neglected) spell for avoiding it.
When the mob turns on a caster and they call for help, you will be the best hope they have for survival. Forget every trick for shedding hate; backstab and wait for the mob to turn on you, then drag them to the tank. The same goes for rangers if they are ever left tanking by accident.
You may also find that the tank is about to die. While you are not a tank, you will likely have more than enough hit-points to get the mob's attention long enough for someone to heal them and then you can dump the mob back on the tank afterwards. This is something to use sparingly, but it's better to take a few hits and save the tank than to find yourself one party-member down while they run back from their bind point.
A useful tactic when you have no tank (or when they have not put enough points into taunt) is the rogue tag-team. Place yourselves on opposite sides of the mob and stab away; one of you will get attacked, one of you will be in position to backstab. Whoever is behind the mob will have a higher DPS and the mob will eventually turn to face them, giving the other player the chance to do increased damage.
The advantage of this technique is that the damage gets shared out between both rogues. Given your lower hit-point totals compared to a warrior or paladin, this will help you both survive the fight. You may need to tweak your DPS and use evasion to keep the aggro balanced, especially where one of you is twinked or higher-level, but it's possible.