INTRODUCTION | ENMITY DISTRIBUTION | FORMATION | INITIATIVE | CONCLUSION
COMPILED BY SIN | EDITED BY CLONEDSTARS
Part 2: Re-arranging Your Formation
In this guide, I will only be covering the 9-man Tower of Chaos formation as it is one of the most versatile, frequently-played content. Other formation types (6-man Quest Line, Hero Wars, Chaos Abyss [ToC subset]) all follow similar principles in terms of formation layout.
The 3-3-3 Layout
The 3-3-3 formation is often preferred by early-mid game players because of its higher focus on damage dealers instead of a heavy reliance on tanks. This layout is better for players with more 'specialized' heroes as many tanks in the early game have low damage, but decent tankability. It is especially important to have good tanks in your front lines when using a 3-3-3 formation because your tanks will likely have to survive more hits.
Benefits of 3-3-3 vs. 4-4-1
- A 3-3-3 layout is more offense-oriented, thus it can be easier to defeat enemies before they can attack you.
- Having only 3 heroes in one row means that less heroes are affected by an enemy's row-based attack.
Drawbacks of 3-3-3 vs. 4-4-1
- 3-3-3 formations create an evenness between all rows and columns, so if an ally is attacked by an enemy column-hitter, 3 heroes will be affected regardless of which hero is targeted.
- When attacked by an enemy's 3x3 skill, it is more likely that up to 4 heroes are affected if any of the four heroes in the bottom-left group (see below) are targeted. In a 4-4-1 layout, the enemy must target a specific hero in order to hit 4 heroes.
- One way to potentially solve this is by placing heroes that attract higher enmity on their own side to prevent the majority of your heroes from being affected.
- While a 3-3-3 formation attempts to protect against enemy row-hitters, it will also render any ally row-supports less efficient (eg. Dinari, Lindsay, Sorceress-Tome main).
In the above sample, there are 3 tanks (front line), 4 damage dealers (middle line + 1 back line) and 2 supports (back line). Notice how there is a blank column and row to minimize the number of heroes affected by AoE skills. For a more defensive playstyle, one can replace Khalid (top-right) with a provoker such as Gaston to divert aggro away from the rest of the team. However, keep in mind that this can be very risky if your provoker is poorly equipped and manages to provoke more than 3 monsters at once. In manual battles, pairing him with Owen or Serisa and casting a shield on him before he uses his skill will greatly help his tankability.
The 4-4-1 Layout
Towards the mid-endgame, many players prefer the 4-4-1 layout because of its shifted focus on tanks. Late-game players are also more likely to draw more versatile heroes from hire tickets (namely damage-tanks), which allow for decent damage even when a damage-dealer's spot has been forgone.
Benefits of 4-4-1 vs. 3-3-3
- A 4-4-1 is more defense-oriented because of the number of tanks available in your front line. This means that the total damage applied to front line heroes is divided by 4 instead of 3, resulting in lower damage incurred per front line hero.
- Because of this, many damage-tank hybrids have a better chance of survival (some compromise tankability for damage, so it's important to minimize the average damage incurred on them), which makes for a good offensive playstyle as well even if it follows a more defensive layout.
- Ally row-supports are much more efficiently used (eg. Dinari, Lindsay, Sorceress-Tome main) because they support 4 heroes at once instead of 3.
- Enemy column-hitters are more likely to only hit two of your allies instead of three.
Drawbacks of 4-4-1 vs. 3-3-3
- Having 4 heroes in one row means that the entire row will be compromised if targeted by a row-hitter.
- Because there are an increased number of tanks, a player using a 4-4-1 layout will require more armor equipment (namely armors and helmets) to properly support their front line.
- Damage dealers focus mostly on their weapon; while it is good for them to have armor as well, it's easier to get away with not being attacked since they're in the mid- and back-lines. As such equipping 4 tanks (4-4-1) will require at least 8 reinforced equipment (4 armors + 4 helmets) while 4 damage dealers (3-3-3) will only require 4 weapons.
This is widely accepted as a standard formation because of Dinari's & Lindsay's skills affecting rows, with a blank line between your tank and damage lines to prevent AoE & splash damage from reaching all your heroes. On Tower floors that have enemies with knockback skills (eg. 26), move your damage line up to where the blank line would normally be.
Hero Types Towards Efficiency
Consistent front-line deaths are often the cause of poor positioning choices (or possibly lack of adequate defense from your equipment). The general rule of minimizing damage spread is to place heroes that attract the most aggro on the edges of your rows. For tanks, these are usually provokers and fury thieves, while for damage dealers, these are fury thieves and (3x3 AoE) debuffers.
Notes: In the following images, I'm simply using my own formation. Obviously, each formation will vary based on the heroes available to you and your preferences. In no way am I saying that the formation & heroes used below are the best and only formation one should adapt because I too have room for improvement- but I do believe that this concept is helpful to maximize your chances of survival.
Let's refer to the above formation again, which also appears below.
Notice how all fury thieves (as indicated by the white arrows) are placed on the edges; Harold especially needs to follow this rule because of his multi-target fury steal ability. Erin (indicated by the gray arrow), is a powerful 3x3 AoE with an attack debuff which will also attract a lot of aggro if she doesn't kill her targets (though she does, more often than not). Thus, she is also on the edge of her row.
Damage dealers (denoted by orange arrows) are in the middle since they usually do not attract as much aggro as other heroes. While their damage can be respectable, they do not launch their skills as often as one would like unless almost forced to by their initiative - thus, they stay in the middle since they are not as big of a 'threat' to the rest of their party.
Although Vera is a 3x3 AoE, I set her initiative so that she is the second last person to take her turn. As such, her skill does not often go off, which is why I preferred to keep her in the middle instead of an edge. Note that if you set a 3x3 AoE skill to go off frequently, it will end up attracting a lot of aggro as more targets are hit, but not killed. If you feel that your 3x3 is attracting more aggro than your fury thief, you can either move it to the side, or try using a hero that hits a smaller range.
Finally, the supports can go wherever there is space. The Sorceress was placed in the second row to better take advantage of Dinari's skill range (row), while Dinari was placed at the back since he doesn't really need a critical buff. I personally prefer to keep him at the edges so that if a middle-hero is hit by a 3x3 AoE, one side can potentially avoid it.