Avoiding and Surviving PVP Combat

Post AOS PVP Survival; by Eliyx of Europa

Does PvP seem impossible since the arrival of the Age of Shadows?

You're not alone. Here are some basic tips and strategies for coming out on top. Note that any "professional" PvP-er will already know most of these, so this section is more of an intro for players who would like to expand their skills to include PvP.

What factors keep me alive?

That depends heavily on if you're a warrior, or a mage, but there are three key factors:

Know when it is time to run and heal.

Try to make a suit of armor with at least 60 in each resist (or at least each important resist).

Get to know the "style" you are using, whether it be dexxer, axer, or a certain type of mage. Different types require different jewelry, weapons, and armors to perform with maximum efficiency.

If warrior, then it's simple--Chivalry keeps you alive. It is very difficult to survive against a Paladin fighter when using a non-Paladin fighter. Close Wounds, Cleanse By Fire, Divine Fury, and Consecrate Weapon are essential to have set on easy-to-press keyboard macros. Parry, Resisting Spells, Focus, Healing, and Hiding are all beneficial "defensive" secondary skills.

As for mages, there are several key factors: Learn the most effective spell combo's, keep your distance from warriors at all costs, and have easy to hit macros. Mages with low dexterity will need stamina and cure potions, lest they be beaten by a warrior that leeches them down to zero stamina, or have miss an important heal. It will also be beneficial to have these secondary skills, in any combination: Wrestling, Parry, Resisting Spells, Hiding, Focus, Spirit Speak, Meditation, or Inscription.

What factors kill my opponent?

Again, very dependent upon your style of combat:

The ability to deal large amounts of damage in short amounts of time, prevent the opponent from healing, and choose the optimum skill setup. If you choose a highly offensive character template, you will get more kills, but in turn probably die more, yourself.

If you're a warrior, picking a weapon with good special moves can be a huge benefit. No matter what your character type, stats are essential--consider investing in at least a +15 stat scroll.

The Bottom Line:

For the solo player, it is difficult to stay alive against three or more attackers (better known as "gank squads"). Even "just" two players focusing a good enough attack on you can spell death in seconds. If you plan on putting yourself in a PvP situation that is potentially going to involve more than just one opponent, consider joining a guild, making more friends, or investing in the equipment you'll need to survive in those odds. Whatever the situation, if you're singled out, you're going to die.

Final Note:

Many players take PvP too seriously. If you die, learn to laugh about it. Don't get bent out of shape about your attacker's dirty tactics, better connection, or item advantage. Just learn from your mistakes, and come back better prepared next time. If you want to be the best at PvP, it's a long, hard road. You must constantly re-evaluate your approach, and fine tune it until it can compete at a level that satisfies you.

- Eliyx of Europa

Avoiding and Surviving PVP Combat; by Daedalus Rising
Some people enjoy a good player-versus-player fight. Indeed, some love it so much that they feel driven to share their joy of combat with others. I am not one these players. I find little joy in pvp combat; I find it to be a necessary evil, at best.

This, then, is not a guide on how to be a better murderer. It is a guide on how to avoid and survive the attacks of other players.

Cutting Your Losses
There is one "cardinal" rule in UO:
Never walk outside the guarded zone with more than you can afford to lose.

If you have only one set of plate, and don't have enough gold to re-arm yourself ... then don't leave town with that armor. Find a cheap set of bone, or kill some deer to make yourself a suit of studded leather. You should always leave yourself with enough in the bank to fully re-equip yourself at least once.

This is a cardinal rule, not to be broken under any circumstances. The reason for this is simple: if you break the cardinal rule, Murphy's Law will come along and set you straight. The *one* time you push your luck and walk out in your last suit of shiny armor, you'll lose connection just outside the guarded zone in front of "The Murderer PhReD da KiLLa".

There are other ways to cut your losses, including:

  • Keep your extra reagents in the bank.
    Unless you're traveling with a large group of friends, never carry more than 20-30 of each reagent with you. Replacing them is too expensive, and the gritty taste in your mouth you get when "PhReD da KiLLa" discovers 50 mandrake on your corpse doesn't wash away too easily. If you need more reagents then this, then you should be capable of casting "Mark" and "Recall". So use them :)
  • Keep your platemail armor and super-keen magic weapons in the bank.
    When should you bring them out, then? When you're teamed up with some reliable friends, when the risk of dying and losing your equipment is a lot smaller.
    If these guidelines seem too restrictive ... and if your heart should start pulling your head, remember that even the best players get bad connections from time to time. And they usually get dropped off the server just as an orc mage pops up on the screen.
  • When your monster loot begins to pile up, head back to town and “bank it”.
    The urge to kill "just one more" troll is often a costly mistake. Banked gold is safe gold … the gold and gems that sit in your pack are vulnerable.
Keeping Safe In Town
Towns are usually safe, but there are still ways to get yourself killed:
  • Be wary of having "Magic Reflect" active when you enter town.
    Sure, they say it's fixed ... but it's been a danger on and off since day one. Casting "Magic Arrow" or a beneficial spell like "Bless" on yourself will remove the spell.
  • If you're grey, stay away.
    Did someone step into your Firewall a few moments ago? Did you accidentally snoop someone's pack horse?
    There are too many ways to be flagged a criminal to go into here, but suffice it to say - if you have reason to believe you might be flagged, then check (by single-clicking on yourself) and wait for it to wear off before entering the busy parts of town.
  • If they're grey, stay away.
    Attacking flagged criminals in town is bound to get you killed sooner or later. So don't walk into someone's trap - keep your sword in your pack and go on about your own business.
  • Stay out of other people's business.
    If there's a guildwar going on, let them have at it.
    If "The Dishonest Pimp" is being slaughtered by three burly archers, keep your distance.
    There are many players who do not kill innocents on sight, but will kill those that interfere in their business. So unless you know the people involved, stay out of the fight.
Once you leave the city, you are vulnerable to attack. The risk of being attacked is much greater during "prime time" (3-10 weekdays, and weekends), so ...
  • Don't leave the guarded zones alone during "prime time".
    If you can hunt ettin in the off-hours, then do so. And if you can find a friend or two to hunt them with you, then do so. The reason for this is simple: as more players log on, the lag increases. And so do the number of opportunistic murderers.
    (Note: "Guarded zones" does not mean only the areas that are guarded, but also the relatively safe areas surrounding the guard zones. These borderline areas are much, much safer than they used to be).
Other ways to avoid conflict include the following:
  • Keep your eyes open, your index finger on the "allnames" macro
    Simply put, "allnames" has saved more lives than penicillin. Use it ... and if you see a strange name, put up your guard.
  • Learn how to hide, and how to track.
    Tracking is very useful, and often under-rated (even at a 30% skill level). Use it before you enter a tight passage, before you enter a suspicious-looking area, and before you unlock the door to your home. The major advantage to tracking is that it detects both hidden and visible players, allowing you to smell out a trap before springing it.
    As for hiding -- well, to be honest, I don't know anyone who *doesn't* use this skill. It can be used as your "pause" button when the phone rings ... as an anti-theft tool while rifling through your bankbox ... and it can save your life when you're out hunting.
    Detecting hidden players requires one of three things: A general idea of where a player hid, Tracking, or walking on top of a hidden player. Once you have a general idea of where a player hid, you can reveal them in one of four ways: Using the Reveal spell (soon to be removed), the Detect Hidden skill, a purple potion or an area-effect spell (like Chain Lightning).
    Hiding, then, is not a totally safe way to dodge combat. But it can give you a few critical seconds of cover to regroup and plan your next move.
  • Don't look rich.
    Wearing platemail is a dead giveaway. So is casting high-level spells, or riding a horse in the middle of a dungeon or spawn zone. If you look like you have high-buck armor or a big bag of reagents, then you are more likely to be targeted by an opportunistic killer.
  • Avoid tight passages, high-volume public places and murder-prone "hot-spots".
    If you enter an area that can be easily boxed in (like a tunnel or passage), you might be entering a trap. If you can, take the long away around.
    When you're out in the middle of the wilderness, keep off the roads -- and stay well away from the crossroads. These areas are often trapped as well, with hidden murderers waiting for the next armored reagent bag to walk by.
    The same holds true for public "rune libraries" or "taverns" ... as fun as they can be, their popularity also attracts opportunistic killers. Put your guard up, and leave it up. And be prepared to escape at a moment's notice.
    No matter how limiting this might seem, remember that it used to be much, much worse ... the path from Britain to the Britain moongate used to be lined with corpses every night. (Paralyze, Lightning, Lightning, Lightning, You Are Dead). Getting from Moonglow to Britain on foot during "prime time" used to be very, very dangerous :)
Keeping Your Guard Up
How do you tell friend from foe?

Short of prolonged contact with another player, you really can't. The murderers today pay penance for their crimes by macroing them off, appearing "blue" to the world. So when you're outside the guarded zone, you have to keep your guard up at all times.

There are, generally speaking, four types of killers in the world. There are dedicated murderers, who attack innocents on sight and know every cheat and exploit in the book. There are also opportunistic murderers about, who kill only when they think the risk of adding to their murder count is worth the gold. Some players attack only those players who are in a warring guild or faction, preferring to battle players of equal skill and caliber. And lastly, there are the hunters - the good guys, who seek out the murderers in order to kill them and bring them some measure of justice.

Your goal is to avoid the first two groups, and avoid annoying the warring guilds and hunters.

More specifically, you should:

  • Always keep your pack open and ready.
    Keep it open off to the side of the screen, where you can reach your escape runes, 3-5 Greater Heal potions, and a Cure potion on a moment's notice. If you are not carrying any potions with you as you leave the guarded zones, then be prepared to die much more often :) It is also wise to carry around a recall scroll or two, in case you run short on the necessary reagents -- as well as an extra rune to an isolated (but safe) location, in case your recall spot is blocked or you become flagged a criminal for killing someone's pet mongbat.
    When you're not engaged with a monster, never carry your shield or weapon in-hand. Keep them empty, so you can cast recall on a moment's notice to escape. The reason for this apparent cowardice is simple: it boils down to money. When you die, you lose both time and gold. And if you're like most UO players, you're in it for the fun of adventure - not the fun of spinning thread on the loom to replace the reagents, armor and monster loot you lost to “PhReD da KiLLa” and his friends. So save the pvp combat to the people who enjoy it, and save your gold for reagents and arrows.
  • Keep your defenses up.
    If you are able to cast it, keep your "Magic Reflect" up at all times. And never let yourself fall far below 50% health.
  • When someone approaches, be friendly.
    When you see another player pop up on the screen, if at all possible -- greet them. If they are engaged in battle and seem to be in some small amount of trouble, then try to heal them.
    And most importantly -- never jump in on a player-verus-monster fight without asking first. Impolite players die much, much more often! :)
    These small kindnesses will often pay off later, for when you need help in turn you just may find it waiting there for you.
  • Be wary of groups.
    A group of murderers can kill you in an instant. If you see a strange group of players approaching, then keep your distance.
  • When engaging a creature, keep your guard up.
    After you begin fighting a creature, it is wise to track for other monsters and players. If there are none in the area, then you can let your guard down somewhat and concentrate on killing the creature.
    If you are alone and another player approaches, then don't let your health fall below 75%. This makes you appear vulnerable.
    If another player approaches and begins acting suspiciously (circling around you, asking stupid questions, casting offensive spells, etc) then be prepared to run a few steps away from the creature you're engaging and then recall away to safety at a moment's notice. When the fight is on someone else's terms (and it always is, when you're in the middle of battling a monster) escape is often the best option.
  • Beware of thieves.
    If your reagents and runes are vulnerable, then so are you. It is not uncommon for a group of murderers to trail a thief, who sees to it that their victims cannot easily escape. (see the theft prevention guide for details on how to protect your valuables)
  • Trust your worst instincts.
    If someone seems too nice, or too wired … then maybe they are.
    If approached by a suspicious character, there are other things you can do to protect yourself. One of the easiest is to stand under an awning or tree, making yourself a bit harder to target (this won't stop the dedicated murderers, but may slow down the casual opportunistic killer). Track the area to see if he has friends hiding in the background. And make sure that you're disarmed, with your recall rune set and ready to go.
  • If attacked by a credible assailant, run away and recall.
    If you're armed, disarm yourself. Then run.
    If you are being attacked by an archer or a mage with last-target capability, then running diagonally and zig-zagging around the landscape won't help much … but sometimes it does. For an honest mage, targeting a moving target is a major pain. Use this to your advantage.
    As you run, quaff potions along the way to keep up your strength. When you're far enough away (1/4 of a screen or so), then do your best to recall away to safety.
  • Running is a skill onto itself.
    Avril sent along this suggestion: "If you are able to run faster than your pursuer, you won't be able to for long, most likely, because damage reduces your stamina. Therefore, what you have do to is run with greater strategy and less brute force (smarter, not harder, I suppose). Run straight away from your pursuer until he/she/it is no longer on your screen, and then keep going just a bit longer. Then run directly 90 degrees to the left or right. The idea here is that, without being able to see you, your pursuer will think you have kept going straight. Once you are able to fool them that way (and it may take a couple of tries), run 180 degrees from your original path, in order to widen the gap."
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you get killed by another player. If the fates are smiling that day, then you didn't lose much besides a bit of pride.

As you run to find a healer, you will probably be angry. And vengeful. This is a very dangerous time for you, because ...

  • Anger is not your friend. Anger makes you stupid.
    As the old saying goes, "revenge is a dish best served cold". If you encounter a murderer, plan your revenge: gather allies, plot strategy, and give your allies as much information about the murderers as you can.
    Or, short of this, do nothing at all. Rushing back out to confront the murderer will accomplish nothing -- if they killed you once, they will be able to kill you even easier when you have rage written across your forehead.
  • The best revenge?
    Is living well. If you continue to treat others with respect, then respect will follow. Even in Ultima Online.
    If you allow "PhReD da KiLLa" to bring you down, then -- and only then -- will he truly be said to have beaten you.
PVP Combat Essentials
Sometimes, you simply cannot avoid combat. When you need to fight (to defend a friend, your guild's honor, or right a wrong), you need to be prepared. Here are the basics:
  • It's not 3 against 3. It's 3 against 1, 3 against 1, 3 against 1.
    When you're fighting in a group, target a single enemy and don't let up (except to heal) until they're dead. Then concentrate your fire on the next enemy.
  • There are "good murderers" out there. They are your greatest allies.
    Some players have tired of killing monsters, but are not so vile as to attack innocents. Instead, they kill players like "PhReD da KiLLa". If you are seeking revenge, these are the players who can help you make it happen.
  • Potions are your friend.
    Greater Heal and Greater Cure save your life, and Greater Explosion allow you to land a "free hit" in between spells and halberd swings. And Greater Agility and Greater Strength may just allow you to squeak by in a close battle.
  • Healing is your friend.
    Simply put, healing wins battles. Killing the enemy is great, but you have to stay alive to do it!
    And don't overlook the value of the 1st-circle Healing spell. It cannot be interrupted, uses very little mana, and can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
  • Know the "spell of the month".
    The current top flavors are Energy Bolt and Explosion. If you cannot cast these spells, then save your mana for healing.
  • Know when you're outmatched.
    Some players are so well-versed in pvp combat that they cannot be beaten in a 1-on-1 battle by anyone other than another pvp-expert. In order to kill them, you need to outnumber them or place a bounty on their heads. My suggestion is to seek out a warlike guild (www.owo.com's new guild listing page is an excellent place to start), and offer them a trade: your enemy's head in exchange for some gold or equipment. The added advantage to this is that once a murderer is on one of these guild's hitlists, life can become much more difficult for them -- multiple deaths are to be expected :)
The Alternatives
Killing monsters has lost its luster. What else is out there, besides pvp combat?
  • Attend some player-run events and gatherings.
    Socializing at player-run events and public buildings can be a great deal of fun. Keep an eye on the news pages, and try to attend one or two of them.
  • Hunt in packs.
    Hunting in a group not only lets you challenge more powerful creatures, it also allows you to show off that Halberd of Ruin you've been packing away (with a lot less risk of losing it).
    You will probably not make as much money this way. But you'll have a heckuva lot more fun ...
  • Build a character.
    I'm not talking about stats here. I'm talking about a character.
    What motivates your character? What do they want? How do they act, that's different than they way you (the player) act? Find this out, and run with it!
  • Forge a new path.
    Conformity is dull. And so is following in someone else's footsteps. Exercise the creative side of your brain, and find something that no one else has done before.
    It's been a long time since anyone organized an in-game protest. Maybe you're the next Abby Hoffman :)

- Daedalus Rising (Atlantic).

Constructive criticism and comments provided by: Avril, Brule, Doug Aderly, EbonPlume, Kynaerth'an, Lord and Pryito.