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I am intending to write a series of “Noob” guides for Secret World instances, largely because many of the Secret World guides I have read follow the lines of “Do these two things and you are guaranteed to succeed” and/or “This is awesomely easy, and only complete noobs who don’t know their ASD from their W could possibly wipe”, the latter of which is highly flattering when your group has already wiped many times before finally choosing to consult a guide. Perhaps these things are true if you are running an instance with a bunch of over-geared people who know exactly what they are doing, but if you are playing with a group of raw noobs who are all there for the first time (perhaps because you are not interested in having the solution completely handed to you by someone else), it is a different matter entirely.

PolarisAs I play almost exclusively with a small cabal which attempts to solve instances without looking anything up, (at least not before wiping a good score of times and exhausting all the strategies we can think of), I may be missing easier solutions that are more widely known.

To fire off this series of guides, I will start with what, in my opinion, you should know before embarking on your early Noob instance adventures.  This guide will not tell you specifically what you are going to face (or it wouldn’t be an adventure anymore, would it?), but some general Noob tips aimed specifically  towards adventuring in Secret World.

Additionally this guide does not address MMO group etiquette or basic MMO roles or how you should use voice chat.  If you don’t know what a tank is, what dps stands for, what Ventrilo, Mumble or Teamspeak are, or the (often unspoken) rules regarding things like looting and aggro management you will need to look elsewhere.

1) Stay out of circles.

Circles, circles, everywhere.Secret World has many Area of Effect attacks which I ubiquitously call “circles” regardless of their shape. (It is much quicker to yell “Circle!” over voice chat to warn your friends then to try to use the names of the specific attacks, so I use “Circle!” unless knowing which specific attack is vital.)  There are noted exceptions to this, but generally, standing within the white spreading circles, rectangles, bubbles, polygons or whatever, will get you killed very quickly.  Sometimes instantly. There are also circles that look like glowing fire, blood, or darkness (filth). These are also typically deadly.

Practice double-tapping the movement keys (to perform a rolling dodge in the tapped direction), and running to get out of circles quickly.  You will need to be able to do both.  Note that running backwards is slower and only works with small circles. Playing with the Akabs in the Savage Coast (the second zone in Maine) is a good way to practice this.


2) Be aware of your environment.

Finding a safe place to stand can be challengingPosition yourself wisely. Where you stand and move can be incredibly vital in Secret World, and is often the difference between success and failure.

Always fight on level open ground if you have a choice and there is no reason not to. Sometimes circles are hard to see on slopes, stairs, or in water.

Some monsters have frontal cone or blast attacks that you will not be affected by if you are careful to keep behind them.
Use the less frenetic parts of the fight to position your character appropriately and be aware of what directions are best to dodge in if something happens where you are standing.  It is easier to get out of enemy attacks quickly if you have planned which way you will run. Dodging into walls or objects seldom ends well.  You will be either unable to dodge in that direction, or your dodge is cut short.

Be aware of where your friends are. Some monsters target you with targetted AoE attacks (circles) that follow you wherever you go.  Running to get out of these circles straight over the top of other players will probably drop circles on top or them and is counter-productive.

More generally, the environment can include things like fiery jets coming up from the floor, inanimate traps that fire off circle attacks when you stand near them, filthy water pools that damage you while you stand in them, electrical fields, or circles that leave a permanent puddle behind them that continue to exude damage if you walk in them.


3) Watch the boss.

Boss hijinksThis can be surprisingly tricky, because you are already trying to watch your colleagues, watch for circles, and if you are the healer or tank, watching everyone’s health bars as well.

Watch for emotes that herald special attacks (eg. boss pauses and raises arms in the air,  boss turns aside and casts dramatic purple swirly special effects).

Listen for audible catch-phrases that indicate incoming attacks or phase changes in the fight.

Watch the boss’s cast-bar and note the names of attacks as the boss casts them, as these can tell you what is about to happen a little earlier and helps you associate attacks with specific emotes.

Check for icons indicating buffs above the boss’s bar.  Buffs can improve a boss’s damage or defence abilities.  You might want to run away from the former, or hold off using your best attacks during the latter.


4) Know your character.

Abilities WheelYes, this is really Number One on the list, although early in the game you can be excused for not knowing all the facts yet, or for having an incomplete deck of skills.  That doesn’t mean you should stay ignorant.  From an early stage in the game you should form some idea of which deck or role you are working towards.  Look at the existing decks for your faction – these will give you a good idea of how a decent deck is built.  Look at future skills that might augment the ones you already have, and work towards obtaining them.

Make sure you read through all your abilites (and easily obtainable potential abilities) carefully.  Lots of skills complement each other, so look for passive abilities that give bonuses to the type of attack your active abilities use (eg. Blast, Focus, Chain, Burst, Leech etc.), or even to specific abilities.

Don’t be afraid to try out different weapons and combinations of abilities. In the end, Secret World instances are like puzzles in which working out the correct party-wide combination of abilities can be vital. You can get all the abilities and skills in the wheel if you are willing to put in enough time.  There are numerous guides and decks that specify decks for different roles.
On the other hand, changing your build constantly can be counter-productive.  There is a great temptation to “slot this particular uber skill which will be the solution to all the group’s problems” but if everyone in the group is changing abilities all the time without consulting each other, the combined overall effect can be random.  It is better to confer with your group mates and slot skills according to an overall strategy (eg. “We need a lot of area damage to kill all the adds in this fight, so the DPS should slot AoE attacks, while the tank slots area hate abilities.”)

Make sure you are wearing class-appropriate gear which has statistics most appropriate for your role.  I am not going to go into detail here, but the following basics will see you through your early Noob instances:

  •      DPS (damage dealers) should wear gear with high Attack Rating.
  •     Healers require Heal Rating.
  •     Tanks will typically need high +Health gear.

If your health is very low with all your DPS or Healing gear slotted, consider putting in one or two high +Health pieces even if your Attack or Heal rating is reduced.  All that uber DPS and Healing power will not do you or your party much good when you’re dead.


5) Know your friends from your enemies.

Friend or Foe?This seems like it should be ultimately obvious, but it is less so when you are confronted by a fiery pulsing circle on the ground, or a sudden green swirling that might be poison or might be healing…  Player attacks come in many different forms, and as a Noob it is difficult to be familiar with all of them. Some of them look surprisingly like some monster attacks, and may be bright enough to make it difficult to see hostile attacks.

Ask questions if you are uncertain if an effect is friendly or not (“Is that thing with the spears coming up out of the ground yours?”) and pay attention to abilities you see other players using while you run around playing solo – you don’t want to be constantly running out of a healing AoE or out of the tank’s aggro-circle.