Understanding Enmity – Knowing Your Role
(editors note: This article was originally part of our Group Content Landing page. Since that page has gotten fairly long, I am breaking it into its own post)
Playing in a party is very different than soloing. It’s not just the effect of additional players, it’s the synergistic effect of having those players playing complementary, specialized roles that matters. In MMO-parlance this is the “trinity” of tanking, healing and controlling along with the contributions of damage (DPS) play.
Note – I know some people consider the trinity to be tank, heal, and DPS. That’s a fairly recent evolution of the terminology. In its initial inception it was tank, heal and control (mezzing, sleeping, rooting, etc.) since technically everyone can DPS. Some classes, though, generally bring little more than DPS to the team and generally bring more DPS than anyone else. For those players new to MMO’s, if you want to quickly find groups, play classes that provide something to the party other than “just” DPS. While tanking, healing and controlling take more work and are sometimes harder to solo-level, they are nearly always high priority for parties. Just think about the beta-3 weekends, how often did you see people looking for tanks and healers? How often for DPS? That’s not to say that DPS are unimportant, it’s just that there’s a lot more people bringing the pew-pew in a typical MMO. There’s a lot more to this issue, though, but that’s probably the subject for an editorial.
A core component of this is enmity management. Enmity (or threat in other MMO’s) is a combat variable that helps the NPC AI determine who to attack. Generally the player with the highest enmity gets all the attention of a monster. For some classes this is a good thing, for others not so much.
The Threat Meter
FFXIV:ARR provides three distinct UI elements to help parties track enmity. The first of these, and probably the least useful, is a red arrow which travels from the NPC creature to the player the moment Enmity is acquired (or changes). While this is a nice visual it is easily lost in the shuffle of large fights.
The second enmity tool at your disposal is on the party meter itself. Immediately to the left of each players name is a UI rectangle. This rectangle tracks the amount of enmity each player has on your current target. A full bar indicates this player holds enmity and should be the focus of a creature’s attacks. For DPS, this is the indicator that matters as they should all be focused on the primary battle target. As a DPS if this meter for your character is filling up – back off fast!
The third enmity tool at your disposal might have slipped your attention. By default this is located near the bottom left of your screen. That’s not where you will want it in parties. Personally, I keep it on the right-middle side of my screen (use options, edit HUD to place this where you want to see it). The Encounter Enmity UI tool shows the threat level of every creature in the encounter. This has a list of every creature along with a color indicator for its current threat level to your character.
In the image above, you see our party enmity meter for an encounter in the Sastasha dungeon. At the time of the screenshot, we had four creatures engaged: three Shade Seeker’s and a Giant Clam. Underneath each creature’s name is its health indicator, this can be useful for DPS if they are uncertain which creature to attack. To the left of the health meter is an enmity indicator.
In the image it is red, meaning I’m holding all the threat. That’s good, I’m the tank! If the color was yellow, green or grey it would mean that I didn’t have agro and someone else did. In this case, the color tells you how close you are to picking up threat. Yellow is very close, Green is far off, and Grey means you’re not really registering threat. For healers this is a very important meter, if you are reaching yellow you really need to back off healing (if possible) or get ready to take a beating.
Managing Your Enmity
Enmity accrues from nearly every ability you use and, presumably, auto-attacks. In general, attacks accumulate enmity only on the creatures they hit. Healing, by comparison, accumulates enmity on every NPC in the encounter.
Tank characters, gladiators/paladins and marauders/warriors need to know how to acquire and hold enmity. Tank classes have combo abilities with bonus enmity and specific abilities that can force NPC’s to target them for a few seconds. In general, most tank enmity abilities are only useful on creatures close to the tank. For this reason, groups should let the tank “setup” the fight before engaging.
Other classes, in general, need to avoid enmity. This means finding the most efficient operating level without pulling enmity from the tank. It is worth remembering the old dungeon adage: “dead DPS do no DPS.”
Keep in mind, this isn’t just a skill issue and it’s not just “the tanks job.” While a good tank in good gear can make enmity management seem trivial, that’s not true for new tanks and undergeared ones. Gear and levels play a major role in enmity. If a DPS has been running with a tank who is slightly higher level and very well geared, that DPS has likely never pulled threat off the tank. Reverse the situation and run with a slightly lower level tank with inferior gear and it will take a good bit of effort to keep the enmity on the tank.
Target selection is a major part of enmity management. If the DPS are all focused on a single target, it’s a lot easier for the tank to manage enmity. If the DPS are spread all around shooting willy-nilly, it’s going to be a long, painful day for the tank and healer. I prefer using the signs (located in the menu buttons) to sequentially mark the targets I want DPS to engage, but there are lots of way to manage prioritization. The key is, have a plan and execute it!
Note: This guide is great for a tank. To further information about tanking, please check out our Three Part Tanking Guide!