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A Mild-Mannered Reporter: Surviving a headstart

Eliot Lefebvre

Last week, I promised more villains. And I really did plan on doing just that, before it became clear that the headstart program for City of Heroes Freedom was kicking off... well, yesterday. That's one of those pieces of news that's just a bit bigger than chatting about villain groups, so it takes priority. Sure, it's not quite the opening of the gates and the acceptance of free accounts just yet, but it's enough to get players exploring the new content before the non-VIP side of the screen gets to experience the hybrid setup.

As those of you with astute memories or a good sense of pattern recognition have probably already surmised, this is a bit problematic from my point of view, as I'm writing this column before the headstart has actually happened, but we're going to be live right after it starts. As a result, I can't tell you with certainty what the launch has brought thus far. But I can certainly speculate on the world being overrun by players flush with new powersets and the new starting areas, not to mention some new costume pieces to help spice up the deal. So what are my survival tips for the first moments of the headstart program?

This man has done everything needed to survive a headstart.  He is stylish, well-respected, and now owns several leather-bound books.Spend those Paragon Points

After Tuesday's patch (and assuming you've been subscribed since the announcement), you'll have 1200 points to spend right out of the gate. Seriously, they've been accruing since July, so they'll all be sitting and waiting for you to take notice. That means your first priority should be going into the store, finding the stuff you didn't get for free, and buying things.

Why? Two reasons. First of all, Paragon Points are a lot like Inspirations, only more so. You can at least hold Inspirations until you need them, but Paragon Points are completely worthless until you spend them. There are new powersets to buy, there are costume pieces that came with boosters you probably couldn't justify before, there are dual inspirations and the like to boot. I'm pretty sure you can find something to blow a free $15 on.

Second, the more points you spend, the faster you acquire reward tokens. Seriously -- every 1200 points is another reward token, which means you can quite literally start subscribing today with a new copy of the game and buy your way up to the top tier. (Granted, that would take upwards of $500, but it's possible.) So in addition to any extant reward tokens you have coming your way, you can pick up a couple more in seconds just by spending those points. And there's a tier reward further up that lets you improve that monthly point stipend... just saying.

Slot those reward tokens

Yeah, there's more at work here than just picking up all of those bits out of the store. You've also got the new ur-rewards program to contend with, and it's going to be a fair bit more complicated than the old system. If you haven't been reading up on it, here's a brief gloss: Each tier has a choice of several possible rewards; picking up all the rewards on a given tier allows you to start picking rewards out on the next tier, but you can pick up the rewards per tier in any order you want.

There's a good chart on the Paragon Wiki outlining how many reward tokens current players can expect based on your current veteran rewards, but you can also pick up a few more right off by dropping those store points. The short version is that you're likely to wind up slightly ahead of your previous standing, but you won't get anything if you don't slot the tokens. Make that a priority. (And consider the fact that $15 does buy you another reward token. If you're right on the wrong side of a tier you want, this may be worth considering as a viable option.)

This woman did not prepare for the headstart, and now she has to work in an office building.  This might not sound so bad until you realize that 80% of Paragon City's crime is office-building-related.Don't make your group babies just yet

Most City of Heroes characters are fairly viable solo. Within that, however, there are setups that are more viable in a solo environment (Dark/Regen scrapper, hello) and there are setups that scream to be used in a group. With a new starting area, new powersets, and plenty of reasons for players to be starting new characters, your first instinct is likely to start making up some brand-new group babies that can only survive ensconced in the loving glow of other players.

Do not do this yet.

Yes, there will be a rush. But it will be a rush of veteran players who will level their new alts for two days and then play another alt, meaning you will crest high on a tide and then just sit there, hovering, looking for groups that never form. Your time to shine with a group-oriented character will be when the doors open and the free players start rolling in because they will be looking for someone with experience -- and quite possibly someone who can get them out of tight spots. Then you will feel like a king.

Or go ahead and start your new group character and then play another alt two days later along with everyone else. I'm just saying, the real crush of new arrivals is going to be coming a bit further down the line.

Play your signature arc

Weekly rewards. You had better get used to the first arc. I'm not entirely certain whether it's going live with everything else in issue 21 or if the team will wait until October, but if it's live, get started on that. If it's not live, well, brace yourself. No point in not running something once a week for once-a-week rewards, right? Right.

Do not fear MARTy

Seriously, he just wants to party.

As always, feedback is welcome via mail to or via the comments below. Next week, I will have actually taken the dive into the headstart, so I'll be able to talk a bit more about the experience in more than theoretical constructs. Have fun until then!

By day a mild-mannered reporter, Eliot Lefebvre unveils his secret identity in Paragon City and the Rogue Isles every Wednesday. Filled with all the news that's fit to analyze and all the muck that's fit to rake, this look at City of Heroes analyzes everything from the game's connection to its four-color roots to the latest changes in the game's mechanics.

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