The screenshot has little to do with the topic at hand. I was just pressed for a screenshot to head the entry.
Most people who've seen me in the IRC channel, or who know me outside of the Animeblogger community, are aware that I'm a diehard player of the MMORPG City of Heroes/Villains by Cryptic Studios. I've been playing since December 2004, and I'm still learning new things about the game even now. Still, I'm fairly comfortable that I have the broad strokes down, or at least enough of it to fake it.
While thinking about the characters of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS and their given roles in a team, I found myself wondering how well they would actually work together. However, since my knowledge of team dynamics with Special Abilities comes entirely from CoH/V, I figured that it would be a fun exercise to associate the various archetypes to the characters.
If you don't know anything about CoH/V, and don't want or care to know, then feel free to skip this entry. This post falls almost completely under the category of "I just had an interesting thought, and I must inflict it on as many people as I can".
First, let's start off with the Forward Stars squad. Nanoha Takamachi is a fairly obvious archetype: the Blaster. Blasters in CoH have but one purpose to their existence: to deal damage. Lots of damage. Damage like unto nothing else. (Hush to the peanut gallery; getting debt is the purpose in ending their existence.) Blasters generally are the primary ranged damage dealers, with immensely powerful melee attacks to make any enemy sorry they ever closed in. With all of Nanoha's beam spam powers, her Blaster-ness is pretty clear-cut: only Blasters can deal that much ranged damage, although I'd say that Nanoha outstrips even them.
Another way of playing the Blaster is to rely on the melee attacks, treating the ranged blasts as an extra. This is incredibly risky, being that enemies invariably hit harder from melee than from ranged, but the rewards are obvious: a Blaster at melee can take down a Generic Minion in one hit, and a slightly more upgraded Generic Lieutenant in two. (No, really; Total Focus and Bonesmasher hit hard. Use Build Up and it's even better.) This style of Blaster is (unofficially) called the Blapper, a mix of the Blaster and the Scrapper. And from what we've seen of Vita's combat tactics, she fits Blapping very well, with her Swallow Flier and assorted exploding balls to soften up the target at range, before closing in with Graf Eisen in rocket form.
Of course, Vita has an advantage over actual Blappers, in that she has actual defenses. This raises her survivability by a fair amount.
I was not too sure which archetype to assign to Subaru Nakajima, but finally settled on the Brute. Yes, I know the Brute is a villainous archetype, but I'm working under the premise that the archetypes here are divested of their original game interpretations. If it makes you feel better, imagine that hero/villain crossovers have been implemented.
Anyway, the Brute is a sort of heavy shock trooper, with the ability to jump into the thick of the fray, survive most things thrown at it, and crush all opposition as quickly and efficiently as possible. There's a mechanic in the game called Fury, which means that the more the Brute has been hitting or been hit, the greater their damage, up to four times as much. I would translate this into the Nanoha-verse with the idea that Subaru, once she gets going, simply does not stop, at least not for long. She will mow down all enemies in a HOT-BLOODED haze, and stop only when there is nothing left to hit.
Another villainous archetype here, the Dominator, entirely because in my view, Teana Lanster does not have the support abilities to qualify as a Controller. With her illusions and invisibility, I'd say that Teana has a good grasp of aggro management and redirection, which would mean a Control primary. However, with her guns, she's more than capable of doing direct damage, which means that she would fit with the Control/Assault powerset pairing of the Dominator.
Technically Dominators don't have Illusion Control, but that's mostly a game mechanics problem. (Domination doesn't work well with the Illusion powers; despite people going "wouldn't it be cool", it would actually be pretty weak.) Also, thus far only Masterminds have pistols (and dual pistols), but Teana rather obviously doesn't have any henchmen. (Subaru doesn't count.)
As a team of four, I'd say that the main purpose of Stars appears to be to charge in first and engage the main enemy forces. Nanoha can probably take care of the miscellaneous targets, while Vita and Subaru can hammer down the tougher opponents. Teana, however, is either going to be very busy taking care of battlefield aggro and tactics management, or she is going to be very bored due to not having anyone left on the field once the others are done fighting. There is a lot of damage in this squad, and I'd say that their biggest weakness is the potential for a (un)lucky shot to seriously mess up their plans.
On to the Forward Lightning squad: once again, Blaster seems to be a good match for Fate Testarossa. This time, she seems to be a rather balanced example of the archetype, with a good mix of ranged and melee. Originally I'd call her a melee archetype in the first season, but that was only by comparison with Nanoha; after the appearance of the Wolkenritter, Fate almost seems like a ranged specialist.
Signum is a Scrapper. In fact, Signum is almost a textbook example of one: she has insane single-target melee damage, she has respectable defenses, and she can easily go toe-to-toe with just about anyone solo. The primary role of Scrappers in CoH is to find the boss (or any other such troublesome foe) and take it down. Sans a boss, the Scrapper will invariably hunt around for any unfortunate minions to chew through. It is no surprise that players who like Scrappers, when going villainside, tend to choose Brutes.
Scrappers can also hold aggro fairly well, less by taking a power that specifically provokes enemies, but more simply by stabbing them in the face.
Stalkers are the quintessential Rogue archetype: their job is to run in (hopefully without being seen), stab their target with MASSIVE DAMAGE, and then run out. If one does not see a Stalker, the Stalker can either do twice as much damage as normal, or eight times as much with a special power. With a single hit, a boss will suddenly cease to complicate matters. Their chief drawback is a tragic lack of HP, which means that they cannot quite take as much as they dish out.
This fits Elio Mondial very well, I think. His training concentrates mostly on dashing into enemy lines, doing whatever he has to do, and then making a speedy getaway. And if he gets hit hard, he goes down depressingly quickly.
Caro Ru Lushe presents an interesting case of being both the weakest and the strongest member of the team. This would fit being a Defender quite well.
One aspect of CoH/V that tends to confuse people not used to its gameplay mechanics is that the traditional Healer is not, in fact, the best choice to have in a party. The natural HP regen rate is respectable (compared to other games), and so direct heals take a back seat to buffs and debuffs; if one does not get damaged quickly enough to overcome one's regen rate, there is no need for a healer.
We have not, thus far, seen Caro actually heal anyone (the way Shamal or Yuuno has), but she is definitely buff-oriented. Her Boosts carried the battle against the boss Gadget in episode 5, and she has her own share of mezzing with her chains-summoning in episode 3. For direct damage, she has Friedrich and his firey artillery blasts.
Now, alone, Defenders are not particularly impressive. Yes, they can hold their own, as do most archetypes, but they don't often lend themselves to amazing feats that Scrappers or Blasters or Controllers do. And so, alone, Caro is kind of at a loss, since I don't know whether she can Boost herself, and she doesn't seem to have any offensive capabilities (not counting Friedrich).
On teams, however, is where Defenders shine. Defenders are force multipliers, causing the whole to become more than the sum of their parts. A Defender on a team can turn the tide of battle. More than one can set the team's sights higher. A full team of nothing but Defenders can challenge just about anything and come out unscathed. (In fact, I know of two groups of Defenders who regularly accomplish what the rest of us can only dream about: Repeat Offenders and Buffer Overrun.)
Caro would be the heart of the team: without her, they would have a much more difficult time against the Gadgets. Her Boost ability alone more than makes up for her taking up a team slot: imagine a Boosted Starlight Breaker, which can probably one-shot God.
The Lightning squad seems to be suited for rapid strikes on selected targets (while the Stars squad ties up most of the enemy's attention), accomplished with hit-and-fade tactics. Speed is of the utmost essence here, with Signum seeming to be the only one who can take several hits and still keep going. Fate is the powerhouse of the team, with what seems to be the only reliable ranged ability, since Friedrich may not have the punch in his tiny form, and may be unreliably available in full-grown form, and Signum is stuck with Sturmfalcon as her ranged attack. Elio seems to have taken on the role of Caro's protector, although I wonder whether Signum would be better-suited for the role based solely on ability.
Given a choice, I'd swap Caro and Teana, although this would inconveniently split up the two quite canonical pairings (whether romantic or otherwise) of Teana and Subaru, and Caro and Elio. Caro's Boost ability would be far more suited for the directly hard-hitting Stars squad, while Teana's more tactical abilities can help set up the field for the Lightning squad. This would emphasize the two teams' strengths, but I admit that it probably won't help much with their weaknesses. Interestingly, the strength of Stars is Lightning's weakness (being outnumbered by enemies), and vice versa (facing an unexpectedly tough single target).
Overall, though, the teams are very respectable, and if I were to encounter them in CoH/V, I'd be fairly confident that they can handle themselves perfectly well. Of course, recruiting a Controller for crowd control and mezzing, or a Tanker for aggro management, would not go amiss.