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The benevolent leader

August 19, 2008

Recently I had one Newbie Enlightment moment. In Guild Wars you can team up with NPC henchmen. The henchmen can be of various professions and will try to fulfill their type of role in the team.

There is not much options to control your henchmen though, they pretty much tag along doing their own thing. Not as wreckless as in some other games though, so they are not too bad.

Early in some of the campaigns you learn the ability to control your henchmen (and heroes in Nightfall) through setting their “home point” at different locations, which by default is your own character. Thus you can make the henchmen go to other places than you and/or stay in other places than you.

It was only receently I realized that this can be quite useful and I have started to use it more and more.

  • A mission in Zen Daijun involved getting a disease regularly, which then is cured by a benevolent local creature. Diseases are infectuous, so all nearby characters will catch the disease also from a diseased character. The home point feature came in handy to keep the henchmen out of the way, so they did not get infected.
  • Henchmen are not that aggressive and will only start fighting if the team gets attacked, which can be a bit troublesome if you do not want to deal with the alpha strike yourself. However, using the home point to send in your henchmen well ahead of you helps to deal with that to some extent. Perhaps not that heroic behaviour, but works.
  • Enemy groups in Guild Wara seems to be good at spotting the Main Squishy in the team, e.g. the healer, the character with lowest level or worst armor. This was in particular experienced by my then level 14 elementalist teaming up with a bunch of level 20 henchmen and going for 20+ enemies. Enemies loved sending some of them to beat me up directly. Again, sending in the henchmen a bit ahead of me did help some dealing with that issue.
  • And of course one of the traditional elements in MMO team – pulling. While the henchmen are not the closest to a Leeroy Jenkins-wannabe, the do tend to have difficulty to stop fighting once they started if there are any enemies nearby. Using the home point to keep them away a bit and then go and pull some of the enemies back to the team seems to work reasonably well.
    A good side effect also is that they are less inclined to run away to fall when you have set a home point.

So overall I have been pleased to see that the home point feature has a few uses. This is probably quite obvious to experienced players. But I did enjoy that it was something I did realize by myself instead of reading it somewhere – that sense of aha! that you get is something that is quite enjoyable in games with a non-trivial amount of features and mechanisms – even if it is something quite obvious after you get it, like this control mechanism.

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Categories: Guild Wars
  1. August 20, 2008 at 15:32

    Since I had played GW in the past, I was always use to the Henchmen running off and getting killed all the time.
    Now, with the Flag feature, they actually respond to this. I was so excited to find out they fixed this mechanic.
    The game may be too solo friendly now though…but, it sure is fun!

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