The Players' Guide to the Cities/Fighting and Other Actions

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< The Players' Guide to the Cities

Combat and many other actions are controlled by using your powers. Your powers, in turn, are controlled from your Tray Window.

Before you can learn how to attack your enemies, you need to know how to keep track of your own condition in combat. This is done through the three (or four) status bars in the Status Window.

Taking Damage and Restoring Hit Points

Lost hit points are replenished naturally at a relatively slow, but steady pace. This rate of natural healing is referred to as your regeneration rate. (Of course, you can also rapidly recover hit points using healing powers or healing inspirations.) When your hit points are completely depleted, you are considered defeated and are unable to fight or take most other actions. You are, however, still able to converse with other players, combine inspirations in your inventory, and even trade – which is useful if an ally wishes to give you a restoration inspiration. While in this defeated state you cannot heal any of your lost hit points, either naturally or through healing powers or inspirations. You must first restore yourself to consciousness before you can regain any lost hit points. This can be done through consciousness-restoring powers (yours or an ally's) or inspirations, or by teleporting yourself to the nearest hospital for restoration.


You will automatically be offered the chance to teleport to the hospital whenever you are reduced to zero hit points. If you accept this choice, you will be transported to the hospital in the zone you are in or, if the zone has no hospital, the last zone you were in that did. In addition, if you are a member of a super group with a base, and have a medical room with an installed medical device, you will also have the option of teleporting to your base instead of the hospital.

There are several types of damage in the game. The most common are:

Damaged produced by a blunt, concussive impact.
Damage produced by piercing or cutting with a sharp edge.
Damage produced by extreme heat.
Damage produced by extreme cold.
Damage produced by a transfer of pure energy.
Damage produced by a poisonous substance.
Damage produced by a metaphysical attack on the mind.
Negative Energy
Damage produced by the spiritually draining powers of the netherworld.

Heroes and villains may have different resistances to different types of damage. If a single attack produces multiple numbers above the target's head when it hits, it is probably because that attack does more than one type of damage and the game is tracking the different types separately.

Damage Displays in Combat

During combat, the game displays how much damage you are taking and how much you are dealing out to enemies. It also displays the amount of hit points regained if you are healed. The damage/healing (rounded to the nearest whole number) appears over the head of the character taking it. These numbers are color coded.

ORANGE UI Damage Inflicted Number.jpg Damage inflicted by you.
RED UI Damage Received Number.jpg Damage inflicted on you.
GREEN UI Healing Number.jpg Healing applied.
GRAY UI Damage Number.jpg Damage inflicted by others on others.

In addition to the color coding, damage is indicated by a minus sign and healing is indicated by a plus sign before the number.

More detailed information on the damage and healing numbers, their sources, and the powers that are producing them are viewable in the Chat Window through displaying the following channels:

Combat Warnings
Combat-related warnings. For instance, if you attempt to use a power that has not yet finished recharging, you will see a message informing you that the power is still recharging.
Damage Inflicted
Damage you inflict on others. These numbers are displayed to the nearest one-hundredth of a hit point.
General Combat
General combat information. Messages such as those stating that you activate a power or summon a creature appear in this channel.
Damage Received
Damage inflicted upon you. These numbers are displayed to the nearest one-hundredth of a hit point.
Healing Delivered
Hit points restored by you.
Healing Received
Hit points restored to you.

By default, all of these channels are already present in your "Combat" tab.

Using Your Powers

Most of the action in City of Heroes and City of Villains revolves around the ongoing battles between you, your allies, and the many super-powered villains and heroes that inhabit the world.

You conduct your battles by using your powers. Almost all of your powers are fueled by your personal endurance reserves, displayed on your endurance bar. Your endurance is constantly renewing itself, but if you are using your powers aggressively, it can be depleted even more rapidly. The rate at which you recover endurance is called your recovery rate. You cannot use a power if you do not possess sufficient endurance reserves to fuel its use. Most powers - including most attack powers, buffs, and debuffs - deplete your endurance by a certain amount each time they are used. Other powers, particularly defensive and movement powers, are toggled on and off. While turned on, they will drain endurance at a steady rate until either they are turned off, you run out of endurance, or you are stunned, held, or put to sleep. Most of these powers, by themselves, drain endurance at a slower rate than you naturally regain it. However, if you are running several toggled powers and aggressively using your attack powers, you can deplete your endurance reserves very rapidly.

A few powers drain no endurance at all. Most of these powers are considered to be "always on." These include powers that increase your regeneration rate or that improve your rate of endurance recovery. Although they are not the most glamorous powers in the game, some of them are usually well worth obtaining as early as possible.

Powers may be activated from your power trays in the Tray Window simply by clicking on their icons.

By default, the number keys across the top of your keyboard may be used to activate powers in lieu of the mouse. Each slot in each power tray is numbered, 1 through 0, corresponding to the numeric keys at the top of your keyboard. Powers in slot 6, for instance, can be activated using the '6' key. Each time you use a keystroke corresponding to a power icon in your power tray, the keystroke will behave the same as a single click from the mouse.

You may access the powers in each of the visible power trays with the keyboard as follows:

Bottom or First Tray
Powers in this tray can be activated by pressing only the corresponding numeric keys.
Middle or Second Tray
Powers in this tray can be activated by holding down the left Alt key and pressing the corresponding numeric keys.
Top or Third Tray
Powers in this tray can be activated by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing the corresponding numeric keys.

Below is a general list of the broad effects of most of the powers in the game, and how they are used in combat. Note that some unique powers may fall outside of the categories below. Also note that powers may combine effects from more than one of these categories. For example, you might gain access to a vampiric attack that damages the enemy and heals you at the same time or an attack that stuns the enemy if it hits.

Attack Powers
Attack powers deal damage to an enemy. They may be single-target or area of effect (damaging all targets within a given area.) They can also be single-shot or damage-over-time (dealing damage to the enemy continuously for a certain amount of time.)
Buff Powers
Buff powers make you or your allies more effective in combat. Examples include:
  • Defense Buff Powers - Defense powers prevent an enemy from damaging you or your allies by making it more difficult for them to hit you.
  • Resistance Buff Powers - Resistance powers reduce the amount of damage you or your allies take when hit by your enemies or reduce the amount of time it takes to break free from mesmerization effects.
  • ToHit Buff Powers - ToHit buff powers increase the ability to successfully connect when using an attack power.
  • Damage Buff Powers - Damage buff powers increase the amount of damage an attack power does when it hits an opponent.
  • Recovery Buff Powers - Recovery buff powers increase the speed at which you are able to recover endurance.
  • Regeneration Buff Powers - Regeneration buff powers increase the speed at which you are able to regenerate hit points.
  • Speed Buff Powers - Speed buff powers increase the speed at which you are able to move or perform actions.
  • Perception Buff Powers - Perception buff powers increase the ability to detect stealty or hidden opponents.
  • Stealth Buff Powers - Stealth buff powers increase the ability to hide from a foe.
Debuff Powers
Debuff powers make your enemies less effective in combat. Examples include:
  • Defense Debuff Powers - Defense debuffs make it harder for an enemy to dodge an attack.
  • Resistance Debuff Powers - Resistance debuff powers increase the amount of damage an enemy takes when hit by you or your allies.
  • ToHit Debuff Powers - ToHit debuff powers decrease your opponent's ability to successfully connect when using an attack power.
  • Damage Debuff Powers - Damage debuff powers decrease the amount of damage a foe's attack powers do when it hits.
  • Recovery Debuff Powers - Recovery debuff powers decrease the speed at which an enemy is able to recover endurance.
  • Regeneration Debuff Powers - Regeneration debuff powers decrease the speed at which your foes are able to regenerate hit points.
  • Slow Powers - Slow powers decrease the speed at which your opponents are capable of moving or performing actions.
  • Perception Debuff Powers - Perception debuff powers decrease your opponent's the ability to detect stealty or hidden targets.
  • Stealth Debuff Powers - Stealth debuff powers decrease the ability of a foe to hide from you.

Mesmerization Powers
Mesmerization powers restrict your enemy's actions, from preventing them from maneuvering on the battlefield to denying them all action altogether. Some powers turn foes against their comrades for a time, force them to ignore your teammates and concentrate on you, or force them to ignore you entirely. Examples include:
  • Sleep Powers - Sleep powers will temporarily put an enemy to sleep. A sleeping enemy will awaken if attacked or healed. Sleep disables all toggle powers.
  • Disorient Powers - Disorient powers cause an opponent to stumble aimlessly about, incapable of performing any other actions. Disorienting a target will disable all toggle powers.
  • Immobilize Powers - Immobilize powers prevent targets from moving, but not from attacking. Immobilize does not disable toggle powers.
  • Hold Powers - Hold powers will immobilize your foe and prevent them from performing any actions. Holds will disable all toggle powers.
  • Confuse Powers - Confuse powers will cause an enemy to temporarily switch sides and begin attacking his own allies and ignoring the player. Confused targets may still be attacked as normal and doing so will not break the confusion. If a player becomes confused, his ability to affect allies and enemies will be reversed. Buffs and heals (including AoE powers) will affect foes instead of teammates, while debuffs and damage will affect teammates instead of foes. Confuse will not disable toggle powers.
  • Fear Powers - Fear powers will cause a foe to cower in fear, unable to perform any actions. A terrorized opponent will, however, be able to react long enough to perform one action or run a short distance every time they are attacked. Fear does not disable toggle powers.
  • Intangibility Powers - Intangibility powers will temporarly prevent an opponent from either affecting or being affected by anyone else. Foes will still be able to affect themselves while intangible.
  • Knockback/down/up Powers - Knockback powers will send an opponent flying away from you. Knockdown powers will knock an opponent to the ground. Knockup powers will send an opponent flying into the air before they come crashing back down to the ground. Any opponent that is knocked off his feet will have to take the time to pick themselves back up off the ground before performing any further actions.
  • Taunt Powers - Taunt powers compel your enemies to stop attacking someone else and turn their attention toward you instead.
  • Placate Powers - Placate powers compel your enemies to stop attacking you and turn their attention toward someone else.

Heal Powers - Heal powers restore hit points that have been lost in combat.

Movement Powers - Movement (or travel) powers increase your mobility and speed of movement.

Power Icon Outer Ring Key

Every power icon has a coded outer ring that will help you identify the effect the power has.

Power ring player only.png Player only (no ring) Power ring teammate.png Teammates only
Power ring single target.png Single target Power ring cone.png Conical attack
Power ring targeted AoE.png Target plus surrounding area Power ring summon.png Summon or drop
Power ring PBAoE.png Area around you Power ring summon AoE.png Summon or drop that affects an area

For more information, see Icons Outer Ring Key.

Con System

The con system allows you to quickly size up an opponent before or during combat. For more information on the con system, see the following:

Combat Terminology

The following terminology is sometimes used when discussing powers and combat strategies in the game.

Activation Period
Activation period is the time that elapses between periodic applications of a toggle power. (This is often confused with activation time, but is not the same thing.)
Activation, Animation, Cast, or Execution Time
When you execute a click power, a white streak will circle the power's icon as it executes. The period of time during which this streak appears is referred to as the click power's activation time. When you activate a toggle power, a white streak will circle very quickly around the power's icon. Once the power is active, the streak will slow down. The period of time during which the streak moves quickly is referred to as the toggle power's activation time. This is sometimes referred to as the animation time of a power because any character animations that take place at the activation of a power are performed during this window.
Any friendly player-controlled character, pet, or friendly combatant non-player character.
The direction in which an enemy's attention is focused.
Area of Effect
Area of effect (AoE) refers to a power that can affect multiple targets per application. These powers have a centered source location and a radius of effect. Any valid targets within the radius of effect of the power have the power's effects applied (after a tohit check if applicable.)
If you are fighting as part of a team, and you want to focus your attacks for maximum efficiency, you can assist one of your teammates, so that your character always attacks the same target as that teammate. To assist a teammate, target that character as you enter combat, rather than one of your enemies. Your attacks will automatically be directed against whichever foe the character you are assisting has targeted (provided they have selected a valid target.) Likewise, if you have an enemy targeted and activate a power that is intended for use on an ally or teammate, the power will be directed toward whomever your enemy is attacking. (If your enemy is targeting you, however, the power will not activate.)
Attack Chain
Two or more attack powers activated back to back in rapid succession.
You may set one click power to auto-execute. This power will execute any time it is recharged and all special conditions (if there are any) are met. Auto-executing powers receive a green border in the power tray. Setting Brawl to auto-execute, for instance, will cause Brawl to execute whenever you are in melee with a target and the power is recharged. Setting a power that does not require special conditions to execute (i.e. Hasten or Healing Aura) will cause the power to execute every time it recharges. Some powers, such as powers that may be interrupted (i.e. Blaster sniper attacks) or powers that require targeting a defeated team member (i.e. most resurrection Powers, Vengeance, and Fallout) cannot be set to auto-execute. In order to set a power to auto-execute, hold down the Ctrl key and click the icon for the power you wish to set to auto-execute. Holding Ctrl and clicking again will deactivate the auto-executing power. Pressing the 'Z' key (by default) will clear all queued powers and disable the auto-executing of a power.
Auto or Passive Power
Any power that is always on, requires no activation, and has no endurance cost.
Burst Damage
The amount of damage a character can generate in a very short amount of time. Characters with high burst damage are typically able to take out several enemies in a short period of time, but because of the resulting endurance drain would have a more difficult time if reinforcements arrive or the battle is drawn out.
Click Power
Any power that applies an effect exactly once per activation (once per "click".) Endurance cost for these powers is deducted once per activation.
Cone powers have an area of effect that radiates outward from the power's source and is centered on a valid target. The power applies its effect to any valid targets inside its arc and extends out to its maximum radius.
Damage Over Time
Damage over time (DoT) usually refers to damage resulting from a single application of a power that is applied as a set of periodic increments rather than all in one application. For example, an attack that applies four hit points worth of damage every half second over a period of two seconds is a damage over time attack. Alternately, damage over time may be used to describe the average total damage a character is able to generate over long periods of time. Having a high damage over time capability typically requires exceptional endurance management and comes at the price of lower burst damage.
Herding is a variation of pulling used to gather large numbers of enemies into small spaces to better control aggro and increase the effectiveness of area of effect attacks.
Interrupt Time
When an interruptible power begins activation, there is a window of time during which the attack may be cancelled either by moving or aborting the attack or by taking damage. If an interruptible power is interrupted by either of these methods, the endurance cost of the power will be deducted, but the power will not need to recharge before activating again. If an interruptible power requires a target and the target is no longer in line-of-sight at the end of the interrupt period, no endurance will be deducted for the power, but the power will require recharging before activating it again.
An imaginary straight line between a power's source and its intended target. If any obstacles (such as a wall or a large crate) intersect the line-of-sight, the line-of-sight is said to be "broken" or "obstructed". Most ranged powers require an unbroken line-of-sight to activate.
Location or Targeted Location AoE
Location area of effects are centered on a specified location in the geometry of your environment. Example: Volcanic Gasses
Melee powers are only able to affect targets at close range.
Point Blank AoE
Point blank area of effect (PBAoE) refers to an AoE centered on the character activating the power. Example: Nova
The act of coaxing an enemy (or a small group of enemies) into moving from its present location to a location that is more favorable to you and your team. Pulling may be used to draw a foe away from a larger group, draw enemies into a trap, or concentrate a group of hostiles into a small space to increase the effectiveness of area of effect attacks.
Most click or toggle powers can be queued. Trying to reactivate a power before it has finished recharging will queue the power. Trying to activate a power that can only be executed under the right conditions will frequently queue a power. Queued powers will activate as soon as the power is recharged and all special conditions are met. For example, targeting an enemy and attempting to activate a charged melee attack from halfway across a room will queue the melee attack. The attack will then automatically execute if you close into melee range with the target. Queued toggle powers will automatically activate when they finish recharging. Queued power icons will be marked by a red border in your power tray. Only one power may be queued at a time.
Ranged powers are able to affect targets from a distance greater than that of melee attacks.
Recharge Time
After a click power executes or a toggle power is deactivated, you will usually see the power's icon shrink and become shadowed. The icon will then begin to grow until it reaches its normal size again and resumes its original coloration. The amount of time the icon takes to reach its normal size again is referred to as the power's recharge time.
Splash Damage
Damage taken from standing within the radius of effect of a Targeted AoE, without being that power's target.
Summoning powers call forth an ally or allies (pets) that will aid you.
Targeted AoE
Targeted area of effects require a valid target as its center. Example: Darkest Night
Targeted Reticle Powers
Some click powers require not only the activation of the power, but the selection of the destination. Unlike normal click powers, on the first click of the icon, the cursor turns in to a reticle of shrinking, concentric rings. Clicking this reticle at the destination on your screen will place the target of the power and the power will then activate. The reticle's rings will be white when pointing at a valid location for your power, and red if the destination is invalid or out of range. Normal interactions with the environment using the mouse are impossible while this reticle is in use; however, you will still be able to click inside GUI windows as normal. Activating any other powers or cancelling execution of the power while the rings are visible will return the cursor to its default state and allow you to interact with your environment again. Examples of targeted reticle powers include Teleport, Recall Friend, summoning powers, or location area of effect powers like Quicksand. These icons for these powers get a solid white border in your power tray, indicating that the reticle requires placement to return default use of the mouse.
An ally that is in a group with you. (Some powers are able only to affect teammates rather than any allies.)
Toggle Power
Any power that can be turned on or off that periodically applies an effect as long as it remains active. Endurance cost for these powers is deducted once per periodic application.

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