A Guide to Using Henchmen Effectively
This article is about the effective use of henchmen. The ideas expressed here are obviously opinions I have formed based on my own style of game play and may not work out for you. Many of the ideas expressed here are not unique to me and have been used successfully by many people within these forums.
The reason I decided to write this henchmen guide was two-fold. First off, having gained quite a lot from reading these forums, I felt that I too wanted to give something back. Second, while there has been a lot of discussion about henchmen within these forums, usually the discussions are focused more on a specific mission or quest. The objective is more the finishing of the quest than effective henchmen technique.
So what is this?
While I titled this post as a guide, it really is not. A guide is something that leads you step-by-step to a destination, be it a physical destination or other (for example a guide on how to build a melee, sword bearing elementalist). This post is more of a kind of compendium of effective techniques that will make the use of henchmen easier and hopefully more successful. As a compendium, I hope that other people will add to this and share their thoughts and strategies.
Some perhaps non-obvious reasons for henchmen.
Let's talk about some of the reasons to use henchmen. While there really are many reasons to use henchmen, for example you don't like to play with other people, you want to run a quick mission... There are some other reasons/advantages to use henchmen that are, perhaps not as obvious. First off, and most important, questing only with henchmen means you are the leader. This is important and should not be dismissed. The success of the mission lies solely on your ability to lead a group. If you tend to be the type that is rash, run in the middle and argo every group within a 400-meter radius, then soloing with henchmen might not fit your temperament. The effective henchmen leader understands that your group will not win on sheer brute power. The fact is, compared to a normal PUG group, you are woefully underpowered. While you, as a group are underpowered, you as an individual have enormous power. The fact is that your main weapon is not a bow, a sword, or a staff, but instead it is your henchmen. They are your weapon and it is up to you to wield them accordingly.
Wield them accordingly? What does that mean? Some obvious things: you attack the smallest groups that you can, picking them off in a kind of guerilla warfare style. After a battle you rest, let everyone recharge. You pick henchmen that will be effective in the area that you're trying to go through - not every henchmen is appropriate for every area (I'll go into selecting henchmen a little later on.)
Remember too, that your henchmen are your weapon, which means that you, unlike playing with a PUG group, are the most important player on the field. Your health and safety are what guarantees success. If it appears that things are going badly for your group, then run even if it means sacrificing some or even all of your henchmen. The fact is that there have been very few situations where I have not been able to revive every fallen henchman, but my henchmen have won very few battles without me (during the time that it takes for you to be revived often times your group will be over run). If you loose a henchman during battle you should quickly reassess how the battle is going. Often times, the loss of even one henchmen can turn the battle quickly against you and so it is better to retreat on your own terms than to be forced to retreat with a severely injured and dying party.
One of the most important things to think about, as you play with henchmen, is that you are not part of a team with a common goal. Without your direction the henchmen will hang around and do nothing. This means that your mentality has to be a bit different than it would be with a group of human-led characters. When playing, think of yourself as a director. Use your weapon not so much for brute damage killing, but more as a large pointer that directs the flow of the battle. As a ranger, when I play, my damage when I lead these groups is minor, my job is really to point to my target and yell charge!! (OK, I get some strange looks from the neighbors when I do this but you get the point).
Some skills that are useful as a leader of henchmen.
With the philosophy of leader, not brute killer in mind, you should choose your skills accordingly. I particularly like interrupt skills because, as a human player, I know which attacks to interrupt (when target is healing itself, or about to unleash a very devastating maneuver), and which attacks can be safely ignored.
Other skills that are useful.
Obviously being able to revive fallen allies is huge, thus some sort of revival skill is a must for your skill bar. It is for this reason alone that I usually choose, as my second profession, monk. Finally, you need some skills that will keep you safe. As a ranger I usually take two to three skills that allow me to avoid being hit. While this may seem excessive, if you keep in mind that your job it to direct the flow of the battle and stay alive, avoiding getting hit is of paramount necessity. Finally, having some sort of healing ability is important. If you're doing the math, you have probably realized that this leaves very little room for actual attack skills. For example, using the ranger again, I use two interrupt skills, two to three avoidance type skills, some sort of healing skill, and a resurrect, which leaves me with one or perhaps two attack skills. As a ranger, I use poison arrow, or barrage, not so much for the damage they do, which can be very nice, but instead for the short recharge time and low energy cost. After a foe falls, it is faster to redirect the battle using a skill than it is to redirect without one.
Choice of henchmen
The mission you are on really dictates your choice of henchmen. For example, if you know that you're going to be in an area where your enemies are doing lots of damage quickly to your group, then getting the two healing henchies will probably be key to your survival. If you're in an area where enemies are in packs that are in close proximity to each other, and argoing only one group at a time is of key importance, then you probably want to select non-melee type henchmen. On the other hand, there are many times where using melee type henchmen as meat shields to protect yourself and your casters is a very appropriate strategy. Again, they are your main weapon so choose your weapon wisely. After all, would you go through the game with only one bow, or would you equip yourself with a variety of bows each tailored for a particular situation? Of course not, so why would you always use the same henchmen?
Limitations of Henchmen
There are some limitations when using henchmen. You cannot split up your group. So if the mission requires you to be in two places at one time well, that's a very tough mission. For example, the Thirsty River Mission. In order to get the bonus you have to go hunt the bosses but if you are with henchmen that means that you will leave the ghost hero alone and unprotected. In other words, you cannot multitask when using henchmen.
Second, even with the best control of your henchmen, non-planned argoing occurs, especially when using fighters. While you can for the most part avoid unintentional argoing, accidents do happen.
Third, your henchmen can act in ways that you wish they would not. For example, there are times when a healer henchman will decide to ignore a dying fellow henchman and instead fight. For this reason alone I sometimes (not often mind you) play the role of monk within my group as well as leader. For myself, playing both roles is too difficult and usually ends up poorly because my attention is split between leading and healing and that, again for myself, is just too much to handle. But for those people who have more monk experience than I do, I could see how playing the role of healing monk for your henchmen could be very effective.
Fourth, the more henchmen you have, the less drops you get, and the less experience you get. Because of this I try, as often as possible, to limit the number of henchmen in my group. While wandering in the desert often times I will take just one henchman with me (usually a healer) to make my wanderings easier than they would be by myself, but still guarantee more drops and more experience gains.
This idea of taking only a few henchmen at a time has other merits. It allows you to observe their attacking behavior and more importantly see their strengths and weaknesses. For example, Little Thom tends to be very aggressive, even more than Stefan, so I never use him when absolute control over my henchmen is of utmost importance. On the other hand, his aggressive nature is a great asset in the desert when taking on melee type foes that do most of their damage close in. I just sit back, at a safe distance, firing interrupts while he gathers the enemies about him.
In conclusion, if you take one thought away with you as you finish reading this post, let it be this: Your henchmen are not your teammates, and they are certainly not your equal, they are your weapon – wield them wisely.
*** This article was found on the net and because it is great guide for all of you that want to better lead your Henchmans I posted it here. :)