Just some random late-night thoughts about what makes a formation good/bad. Since it's critical that you have a good formation to maximize your strategy, I figured I'd make this guide to cover the basics.
First, let's look at goals you might go for with a strategy. Some of these are pretty general, but bear with me, it'll build into more interesting stuff (I hope).
Outdamage the opponent - pretty simple. You deal more damage than your opponent, you have a pretty good chance of winning.
Focus-firing - basically, targetting a specific merc (or row/column of mercs) to take down, and concentrating your damage on that target. AoE - spreading your damage out over all your opponent's mercs in order to pressure their entire formation.
Outlast your opponent - If you're alive at the end, and your opponent isn't, then you've won.
Increasing your EHP - Effective HP, or your ability to stay alive, can be increased by equipping better gear (which increases your vitality and EHP, or increases DEF/MDEF and EHP), or by including support abilities (Holy Guard essentially makes your EHP infinite against magic-type attacks, Protect increases your main's EHP against all physical attacks) Healing - increasing your HP mid-battle also increases your survivability.
Preventing your opponent from acting - also easy. If your opponent can't do anything, then you have a great advantage in that you are effectively doing more damage and taking less than your opponent.
Stuns, Silences, Freezing Axe, AP Drain, etc. All these are effective disables.
Now why did I go through all that easy stuff? Well, it relates.
A good strategy has a balance of all three battle goals: Damage dealing, survival, and disabling.
It's important to keep your strategy balanced, so as to keep your options open and leave you able to adapt mid-battle.
Focusing purely on damage dealing (all guns, all swords, etc) might leave you unable to handle a disable threat (eg. someone freezes your front line and stuns 4 with arts, leaving 2 mercs able to act), or a durable melee line with healing support (eg. your damage gets healed back, while their damage chips away at your hp).
Focusing on outlasting or disabling (9 shamans with max heal, for example, or 9 artilleries) can lose because you have no way to focus a particular merc, or because your damage suffered when you concentrated on survival/disabling.
When you're assessing your build, always look to see if you're lacking any of the three primary goals for a battle: disabling, surviving, and damage-dealing.
When you figure out what you're missing, take some out of your strongest asset, and use it to shore up your weaknesses. For example, take out your least effective damage dealer to add a stun/disable pressurer, or take out an extra healer to add a damage dealer.
This is from the Atlantica forums
Posted 1/8/2009 10:30 PM (#104610) Subject: what do you think on my line up!
... sword / bt / sword
prophet / witch / viking
shaman/ monk / archer(MAIN)
i'm open for some comments and suggestions.. tnx
This is a pretty decent build, it's got a durable frontline with two swords/BT, and healing/support backup from the prophet/shaman/monk.
Damage I would guess would come from BT summon and Witch Meteor, with Flame Sword and bow damage providing damage spiking ability.
So far, durability/survivability check, and damage, check. But when we get to disabling ability, the build falls a little short. Two things stand out to me: 1. Lack of penetration to back row
2. Limit of stun pressure.
The person's squad's melee damage is isolated only to the front line. Should the person swap a damaged frontliner to the middle or back row, only the bows would be able to chase. Moreover, there is absolutely no realistic way to disable the back row with two bows.
Since several people keep their staffs in the back row, the build would essentially let the opponent's healers, monk, etc. run uninterrupted, which creates major problems if you need to stall a heal, or stun to prevent an HG, and also prevents you from punching through their front line as quickly.
Backrow-pressure can be applied by an exo (via seal, which would disable the back-row casters) reasonably well, but a better complement would be an artillery, which could stun pressure the back row, and help pressure the front row from DI's DEF debuff.
Who would I replace?
The shaman provides redundant healing that the prophet could provide more effectively. Any other role by the shaman (damage dealing, disabling, etc.) can plain and simple be provided by other mercs more effectively.
Oftentimes at lower levels in Atlantica, you'll see 6-swordsman builds, 6 artillery builds, 6 gunner builds and other such garbage in an attempt to overwhelm an unprepared opponent.
Why won't these work against a better opponent? Simply because a more versatile opponent can respond to the threat and counter with something that a one-minded approach won't be able to handle. Keep your options open, and your confused opponent will need to keep adjusting and adapting. If you've picked your formation well, you'll be able to out-adapt and out-strategize them!
Let's take a sample battle, where I posted a challenge and a guy from my peer chat accepted. I had heard him bragging about his amazing build; he had apparently sold cash shop to get a full +10 of all level 60 equips, while most of my characters were sporting +5-6 level 25-35 equips.
So I enter the fight, and the first thing I think is... lol? a 9 gunner formation basically only has one viable option: punch through the frontline using wildshot and target the main, possibly finishing with deadly. Stun pressure can be stopped with awakening.
So while the fight is loading, this is my brief assessment of my opponent's strengths and weaknesses
Strengths of the 9-gunner build:
-Intense column pressure. All his characters can apply lots of stun pressure with regular attacks and high damage with wild shot.
-High magic damage: Wild Shot does a fair amount of damage at my level, and x5 = ouchies, especially when focused on one character.
-Assassination: I don't know if he had specced deadly, so my (fairly flimsy) archer main could be in trouble if he punched through the front row (in this picture, my sword) since I have no shaman to heal back damage.
Weaknesses of the 9-gunner build:
-Flimsy. His whole build is ranged (low HP, medium-low def), which means that my melees should have a field day killing his mercs, provided they can survive.
-No disable counters. At this low level, I'm not expecting him to use scrolls (he didn't), so if I can get a mass stun and/or a freeze off, then I'll be out-damaging him a lot.
-Only the ability to target the front row with spells: Gunners' Wild Shot, which is where their damage comes from, can only be targeted on the front row.
-Low damage from normal attacks. Guns have okay normal attacks, but it's nothing to write home about. I figured with a monk, I'd be better handling his regular attacks with awakening than deal with wild shot.
Thus my strategy was:
-Disable: Stun pressure the back rows with my art/archer, and help out on the middle row with my spears.
-Damage: High AoE from my witch/BT, and constant damaging from my main's Chaos Wind. My melee will focus to take down his mercs one-by-one.
-Survive:HG on front row if he starts focusing with wild shot. This is very important, as it essentially cripples his method of dealing damage.
I went on and won the fight!
if the post above this is insightful/useful, rep me plz
Hey flick :3 since tai doesn't seem to be on this forum how does this build sound for PvP.
I'm not sure if I can switch my Sword with the viking since people keep saying it's not that great of a tank and if I ever get to level 100 (long way I know >.>) I can probably hope to switch the spear with a spartan. Any tips
looks pretty good firz, the one thing i'm not too sure how it fits is the gunner. Maybe swap one out for artillery to give you a better will line, or possibly a janissary for a big boost in damage. You could swap the viking for BT and will the mid line, the viking won't be as big of a deal cuz they'll be dealing with the damage from mid line. This should be good until you start seeing spartans, at which point you might need to switch.
if the post above this is insightful/useful, rep me plz