The Daily Grind: Do you prefer safe strategies or fast strategies in MMOs?

There’s an interesting discussion which pops up on the Final Fantasy XIV Reddit from time to time regarding the differences between American and Japanese players. For this topic, the most pertinent discussion is one of strategy. The American community, as a whole, prefers to have static groups of players who will often undertake risky but fast strategies; if the strategy works, it’s a quick and solid clear, but as soon as someone screws up it’s all down the tubes. By contrast, the Japanese community prefers strategies which are safer and more reliable, giving everyone more leeway… and possibly resulting in a slow clear when you get the group together.

Obviously, this applies to other games. From World of Warcraft to Black Desert, you always have the option of playing it safe or going big. Pulling one enemy at a time to farm for drops means you’re unlikely to ever get overwhelmed, which can certainly happen if you pull half a dozen… but if you succeed, that half a dozen can probable be minced faster than pulling them one by one. So what about you, dear readers? Do you prefer safe strategies or fast strategies in MMOs? Are you happier with a sure-fire win, or would you rather risk losing in exchange for a big victory?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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50 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Do you prefer safe strategies or fast strategies in MMOs?"

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Rottenrotny

Maybe slightly off topic, but the most fun dungeon runs I had in WoW were during TBC when you had to pull out as much CC as you could.
The dungeons were slower, but so satisfying when you CC 4 out of 6 mobs in a pull and the whole thing goes off perfectly.
Now it’s zerg AOE zerg AOE zerg GO GO GO!
Hell, even the game encourages you to with timed mythic+ dungeons.
Pretty crappy imo.

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Teh Beardling

I play games to be excited and have fun. Not sleep at my desk. So, the more dangerous the better.

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Nordavind

FUN strategies.

Estranged
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Estranged

Guess the 1/4 of my DNA that ventured over from Asia via the land bridge wins.

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WarlockJumpBestJump

For me it depends on the content and the players. If it’s long, requires group coordination, and has mechanical complexity, I’m going to want to do the safe strategy at least until I’m certain the other players in the group are capable of moving faster. If it’s short, has no or minimal coordination requirement, and is mechanically simple I’m just going to go for the pure speed strategy.

The problem for me is that pick up groups, in America at least, routinely overestimate their own ability or the group’s ability. So, you’ll end up with players insisting on strategies that simply won’t work with the given group and they take it personally when you attempt to guide the group towards less intensive strategies. It’s a recipe for a group completely dissolving.

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Alex Malone

Really depends on who I’m playing with.

Generally, I aim for perfection and optimisation in my playstyle, which usually means constantly pushing myself to do things faster and better. With friends / guildies, I stick to this strategy unless I need to train someone up.

But, with pugs, always play it safe to start with and then gradually build it up to faster / riskier strategies.

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Bruce Morrison

I know back with City Of Heroes I favored group runs for Drops

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Greaterdivinity

I’m usually super conservative with my playstyle/builds. Occasionally I’ll go for a high-risk-high-reward approach, but that’s usually when the “high-risk” portion isn’t actually that high.

That doesn’t mean I can get through things quickly, but I almost always take the safer approach, especially with PUGS who often times need that additional leeway.

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silverlock

Sounds like I’d have more fun on Japanese servers, if I knew Japanese.

I liked it back in the days when we’d mark targets and take them down by the numbers rather then the run and dps down every mob in site that seems to be the fashion today.

Estranged
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Estranged

I tend to associate with them greatly, this just adds to the list.

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Robert Mann

Under the current standard model, I’ll pull as many as I can, unless I only have a single target build for some reason. Given cleaves and AOE that isn’t slower, I’ll pull more.

The creatures just aren’t generally that dangerous, and the death penalties if something does go wrong in most MMOs are meaningless to non-existent.

That said, I’m more than happy to also slow down for things like helping people, letting friends read story quests if we are grouped, etc. It’s just that all too much of MMOs is easier than running through a single thread tied between some trees, and pulling more just at least makes more progress in the bland combat simulators.

… yeah, there’s a reason I don’t play modern MMOs as much as I could.

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Toy Clown

When playing solo, I prefer safe and working up through power and strategy to take mobs down that most other solo players can’t, and is a large part of my “endgame”, when it comes to PvE.

I like failures, because those tell me I need to improve, so I start looking at ways to do that. I’ll comb through all my abilities / spells / gear, and see if there’s a different combo I can approach, I’ll read up on the mob on the internet, and work from there. It’s usually how I set milestones on upgrading gear as well.

Whenever I can beat a boss or area, then I move on to the next, and keep going until I come up against failures again, and do the process over.

With group content, I prefer to roll with players that take it safe as well. I’m not fond of deaths that could have been avoided, which result in lost time and unnecessary expense of repairs.

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Pandalulz

It depends. Normally for group content, I’m an undergeared noob, so slow and safe is the way to go. But if I can tell, once we’re moving, that the group is competent and geared, I might pick up the pace. This all assumes that I’m tanking like normal and can actually control the speed.

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rafael12104

Hmm. For me, the situation dictates on how I or my group approaches speed. Trash? Skip it if possible or just run through. Trash that pays well or a mini boss with good loot? Niet. Not skipping those guys. Lol.

And let’s not forget that their are times when you are up against the arrange timer and everything goes out the window except for dps speed.

Generally, I tend to take risks, but it doesn’t always because of speed.

Estranged
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Estranged

The enrage mechanic is lazy. It doesn’t reward groups that can improvise through a partial wipe. Just tests gear and if all the buttons can be pressed perfectly over a fight. If the players can stay alive, who cares? Fight on.

I just avoid these fights today.

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A Dad Supreme

Safe.
I see no benefit in going fast, trying to blast or skip past content or gates when just one death sets the whole party back for twice as long or even causes the usual disbandment of the party or a kick of one member who was slower/unfamiliar/unaware or couldn’t make the exploit jump.
Basically what happens in speed runs is a replay of real life; you try to take shortcuts to places and end up either getting lost or getting stuck in more traffic.
Besides, the whole idea is to enjoy the game you’re playing, not to “wolf it down” like you’re late for class or work and only have time for a piece of toast on the way out.

Estranged
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Estranged

Right, just another way the locusts chew up content. I patiently wait to find guilds that encourage fun and patience, versus speed. Have been successful in every game.

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Melissa McDonald

back in EQ where death meant something, I was quite cautious. I had to learn to be good at my class. Pretty much every game since, where death has no teeth, is just a respawn, I pretty much just clickclickclick

Estranged
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Estranged

Doesn’t it make you feel dirty? I hate catching myself head butting that wall.

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NeoWolf

When I was a young lad and growing up at meal times my folks would always say “take your time, chew your food”. the message of which being slow down, enjoy it.. and in adulthood I like to approach MMO’s in the same way.

I do nothing fast, nothing rushed, I like to take my time to appreciate everything at a pace I am comfortable with and that applies to every aspect of the game from combat strategies to questing to exploration, to choosing benefits on advancement etc..

Life is not a race, there is no prize for finishing first and the same is true of games because rushing robs you of the experience and enjoyment of the activity itself.

styopa
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styopa

Safe, which is why I used to love tanking in WoW, now I can’t stand it.

I *hate* wipes. Not just the inconvenience, but I feel like I let the team down.

Now, every dungeon run is a flipping SPRINT (seriously, as a warrior without an inherent speed buff, I spend most of my time CHASING the rest of the party) and while yeah, they’re so incredibly easy they almost never fail either, that’s not what I remember was fun about dungeons.
So I no longer play.

Estranged
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Estranged

I tell groups in the beginning – if they want a real tank, I’m ready. If not, I’ll go do something else and we can still be friends.

Works fairly well, most don’t want to tank.

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Schmidt.Capela

When playing solo, fast. Safe tends to bore me to tears, I very much need a chance to fail in order to keep my interest in solo content.

When playing in groups, safe. Group interactions break the potential boredom of going slowly, and the frustration of failing due to someone else’s fault makes it simply not worthy of taking that risk for me.

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Bryan Correll

Drax is clearly an American.

comment image

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Stropp

I’m glad I wasn’t sipping coffee…

bereman99
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bereman99

Safe, unless it’s with a team/static that I run with on a consistent basis.

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kidwithknife

Safe. In my experience you actually save more time overall by sticking to safer strategies rather than wasting time on wipes just to get that one fast clear. I’m not interested in setting records, I’m into having a good time clearing content consistently and as stress-free as is reasonably possible.

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Michael18

safe, because
1) it’s more relaxing,
2) I never min/max my character while leveling, so usually I lack the character strength for a fast approach (and, more often than not, the player skill, truth be told),
3) I enjoy the planning involved with safe strategies; for example, when a quest sends me into an NPC stronghold and I’m carefully planning from which side to enter and how to traverse the place, in order to get to those shiny quest items with fighting the least number of mobs and taking the lowest risk of accidental pulls.

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Modrain

As I’m more often a tank or support than a DPS, my priority is usually to keep everyone alive. Better safe than sorry, especially in instances where you lose points for each death. That said, as a competitive player I can’t be “slow” either, since timing often have an impact on the end result.

I usually go as fast as safely possible. I’ll never pull huge packs of mobs unless being sure it can be handled by the team, and I’ll always pull mobs before the one(s) being DPS’ed is/are dead, to avoid any unnecessary downtime (such as having to run after every target). Obviously, playing that way requires the puller to perfectly know mob rotations, how a game and instance work, how well the teammates are doing, but that’s part of what I enjoy to do in MMOs. Knowledge is power.

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Paragon Lost

Might be all those years I spent in the military, but I prefer safe strategies. When you have to “go go go” as it were, I want to make sure I’ve got a good chance of success. (shrugs)

edangerous
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edangerous

If it’s a group of friends then risky (unless we’re going for a timed drop etc) otherwise safe with potential for recovering from mistakes.
Risky reminds me too much of the ‘go go go’ guys, great when it works, irritating as hell when it doesn’t.

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thalendor

It depends on the circumstances. In something like Legion’s Mythic+ dungeons where you’re pushed to go fast to get the best possible reward, I’m in favor quicker, if riskier, tactics in order to make the timer for as many end-of-dungeon chests as possible. On the other hand, if I ever find myself in a game, for example back when I played EverQuest, where punishment for failure is significant and even normal mobs are more powerful than your toon, I’ll be just as comfortable going with a slower, safer approach. In the end, either approach is valid and I, personally, find it’s best to be adaptable to the situation.

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Witches

Safe, mostly because the people who prefer that style tend to be less annoying, also it suits my less than stellar “skills”.

Estranged
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Estranged

Absolutely.

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Utakata

I prefer strategies that work. :)

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Bryan Correll

Pfffft. Anyone can succeed with a strategy that works.

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Reht

Depends on the reward for riskier strategies. I played a wizard when AEing Sebilis was just starting to take off in early Everquest 1. We wiped more than a few times figuring out the best spots, etc. but the exp rate was exponentially higher even with the time loss from the wipes making it worth it. Conversely, i always advocated the safe strategy for breaking into Plane of Fear (in era) because it could take hours to recover from wipes; i remember a group of us going to help a guild recover their corpses 11 hours after a wipe because they didn’t use the safest strat to break in, not that there was a totally safe one.

Of course games have changed and QoL changes have been implemented removing most of the real risk or headaches from games: corpse retrieveal and corpse loss so i tend to use fast strategies over safe ones for the excitement factor if i am playing with good players. If i am playing with PuGs, i always advocate safe strategies….

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Jeff

If playing with strangers I want to take it slow. We don’t know each others abilities so better to be safe. With friends I am open to either way. Also since we know each other there is less a chance of a rage quit over someone messing up. This urge to just group up with strangers, fly through the dungeon, and talk as little as possible is what has been kind of killing me on multiplayer games as of late though.

miol
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miol

I don’t know about FFXIV, but with enrage timers and bosses turned dps-checks, gatekeeping entire raid wings, that question isn’t even allowed to be asked in other games!

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Ryuen

I prefer a more relaxed pace but that has more to do with the fact that I get to rush and be stressed enough at work as it is (where I at least get payed for it) and I don’t need the feeling of being rushed in my entertainment as well.

A side effect of this is that I haven’t bothered with group content much in the last few years as everyone just seems to want to blow through dungeons/content/levels.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

this reminds me of our aoe leveling scheme in lineage 2 back in the day somewhat. normally you’d have a somewhat large group of players (or certain classes solo) doing one mob a ta time. however in some areas there were half hp mobs intended for certain aoe focused classes (mainly hte polearm tanky melee class).

we discovered that 2 mage/nukers of the right kind could kill those mobs in 1-2 hits. and if we had a tank with a mount(which mounts were hella expensive and rare in the game) and a healer, we could pull hundreds of these mobs at once and aoe them in a somewhat delicate and high risk but high reward method.

which sometimes meant our specific tank dying as she picked the glass cannon tank class (odd i know but it was what it was).

anyways you could visibly see your exp bar going up over hours of doing this unlike more typical methods of farming mobs for exp, and it took less people, but you had to have the right classes.

also related was having again very specific class to take on world raid bosses with less than a full party of 9 vs having dozens or scores of players taking on the same mob with less perfect comps. which is actually what i spent the bulk of my last couple months in the game doing.

Estranged
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Estranged

Rounding up Mobs in WoW for the Mages to Blizzard/AOE into oblivion was fun. I considered it safe play, however.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

generall tho i just take my time unless we are being silly. which just depends on our mood in a day.

in grw we can often be completely silly sometimes by accident and then it’s all run and gun. othertimes we are slow and methodical and stealthy. i think that kind of exemplifies my group’s approach to this question in more recent years.

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BalsBigBrother

I am by inclination a take my time and enjoy the ride sort of person so I tend to favour the slow and steady strategies.

Some of my worst mmo experiences have come about from the must rush everything crowd. I have been kicked from instances for the unforgivable sin of actually watching cut scenes. Even after saying at start I am new would any one object if I did, having no one speak and then getting instabooted at first cut scene while still not have any one say anything in chat. /sigh

Estranged
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Estranged

BBB, I found some great friends by searching for the patient crowd and guilds. It is aggravating at times, but worth it.

My new current GM in SWTOR said there is no point of playing the game if you don’t watch the cut scenes. I told her to sign me up.

Also, who wants to run off new players? Sorta stupid.

Leontes
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Leontes

I completely agree.

Taking my time has all kinds of advantages – more immersion, friendlier and more forgiving atmosphere, getting to know people, feeling relaxed and actually helpful… – I even found that doing content in order “to get it done with” in itself can cause my own experience to change in a way to be less enjoyable. Let’s face it – in general content mechanics of MMOs are not that interesting in themselves that it would do any good to get rid of the other elements. Just AoE-spamming feels mindless – and in my experience it does not save that much time…

Nice story: Recently someone ranted in a raid: “STOP WASTING MY TIME!!!” – I really loved the reply that came up: “Seeing that you decided to be here, your time cannot be that valuable. After all, MMOs are a waste of time per definition.” People really need to get over it.

So, yeah – I like taking my time. Nothing against taking on risks or challenges, but if it’s about “getting it over with” I should seriously check my priorities…

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Tanek

When there is an option for it (and those options seem to be thin on the ground these days), I much prefer a slower strategy. Stealth, crowd control, planned pulls…anything to minimize the chance of being overwhelmed by mobs.

Unfortunately, that kind of play is the exception now and developers seem to be creating more dungeons that people can rush through. Which I understand, I guess. If your playerbase is just going to speed and aoe their way without appreciating more complex design, why spend the time on it?

Leontes
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Leontes

As long as others in your group are like-minded, you can always apply slower strategies anyway. Even though content probably does not demand it, I personally find it more enjoyable nonetheless. After all, you choose your preferred style, not the devs… I see your point, though.

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Sorenthaz

First few times around I prefer safer strategies, but after that speed becomes more important for the sake of saving time on stuff that should be put on farm status.

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starbuck1771

I prefer fast to get it done and over with. I don’t mind redoing content as long as I am having fun.

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