Fire Control

Last updated: 2007-Nov-20.

I apologize in advance for wall-of-text writing. I’m really trying to tidy and prettify this.

The fire controller. As with other ATs, fire means damage. Well played, your fire/* controller should not disappoint on that point. However, you should know that a fire controller does not start out the monstrous power-leveling machine you may have seen on Peregrine Island. It takes the right build and a player with some skills with that build to do that.

Since I don’t know what the right build is, and I lack the skills of those you’ve seen running PL farms, this isn’t the guide to read for how to do that. If, however, you are just looking for a guide to the various powers as well as some suggestions for how to build and level, I might be able to help a little bit. I have several higher level fire/rad and fire/kin controllers. I’ll talk about the powers and how I use and slot them as well as when I tend to pick them up.

That out of the way, let’s look at the powers. I don’t do player versus player (PvP) play in City of Heroes, so I have little to say about that facet of the game. Therefore, unless specifically mentioned otherwise, all discussion below is in terms of player versus environment (PvE).

Whenever specific numbers are used below, they are taken from City of Data, which is accurate as of Issue 7. As with City of Data’s listings, the effects are given for level 50 controllers. To get the specific effects for lower levels, you need to do a bit of simple math on the numbers. (??? To be filled out later) Furthermore, these values will be adjusted for level differences between the controller and the enemy. That adjustment will be covered later (i.e. – it’s not written up yet). While there have been a number of updates to the game, I don’t believe there have been many changes, if any, to these numbers since they were published on City of Data aside from the imps losing one level.

I refer to effect magnitudes, or mag, in many of the powers below. Enemies in PvE have control protections. For a control effect to work, the effect’s magnitude must exceed the target’s protection. Most powers stack magnitude effects, so using, for example, Char twice on one enemy will give a stacked magnitude of 6 outside of any critical holds taking effect. Typically, minions have mag 1 protection, lieutenants have mag 2 protection, and bosses have mag 3 protection. Elite bosses have mag 6 protection. Arch-Villains (AVs) have a protection system called (by many in the player base) the “Purple Triangles of Doom” (PToD). When the triangles are up, AVs are believed to have around mag 50(?) protection. When the triangles are down, AVs have boss level mag protection. Many AVs do not have immobilize protection, so even when the triangles are up, most AVs can be immobilized. This all means, for example, that a mag 2 disorient power can stun a minion but not a lieutenant or higher.

Controllers have a chance to score a critical hit on control powers. You’ll see this reflected below in control powers with effects such as “…plus a 20% chance of an additional 18.625 second mag 1 immobilize…” Most holds are mag 3 mez effects, meaning you cannot typically hold a boss with a single application. However, when you get a critical hold, the +1 mag means your hold is mag 4 instead of mag 3, which exceeds the boss level mag 3 protection. This is why sometimes controllers can hold boss-level enemies with a single attack. Furthermore, some enemies have resistance to some types of mez. For example, Vahzilok zombies are resistant to immobilize effects, and most (maybe all) Nemesis enemies are resistant to fear (not relevant for fire/ controllers, but noted for discussion of mez magnitude).

For quite some time now, controllers have gotten containment for boosting damage against controlled enemies. Containment takes effect whenever the opponent is under the effect of the following controls: Immobilize, Hold, Sleep, Disorient (also referred to as stun). If an opponent is contained when a controller attack hits, almost all damage is doubled. Because this damage doubling occurs by actually inflicting two damage effects on the opponent, controllers can surpass the normal damage cap. With the damage a fire controller can put out and the relative safety fire controllers can enjoy when played well, this can make for some very easy leveling and some surprisingly quick experience gains. As for which powers don’t get full containment bonus, there are only a few. Illusion controllers don’t get full containment bonus damage with Spectral Wounds – only the “real” portion of the damage is added for containment. The Jump Kick attack from the fighting power pool isn’t doubled because the power has an inherent damage bonus that the devs put in for reasons I can’t remember. Hot Feet, as you will see below, gets full containment damage, but only has a 75% chance per tick of getting the bonus. There may be others, but these are all that come to mind right away.

Once you get done with the Fire Control information here, you might want to check out what I have to say about the Radiation Emission secondary or the beginnings of an information tome I’ve put up on the kinetics secondary.

Fire Control

The powers:

Ring of Fire: Ring of fire (RoF) is the fire controller’s single target (ST) immobilize (immob) power, and a potential source of damage. Char does the same damage in a shorter period of time (4.2 seconds vs. 9.2) and is a hold instead of an immobilize, but is slower to recharge than RoF. While I can see uses for ST immobs, I don’t think a fire controller needs one starting out. ST immobs are mostly useful against arch-villains, as mentioned above in the magnitude discussion. I’ll again talk about that later on.

Effect: 27.938 second mag 4 immobilize plus a 20% chance of an additional 18.625 second mag 1 immobilize, 5 ticks of 6.73 fire damage over 9.2 seconds (double damage if target is contained when RoF hits), 15 seconds knockback resistance (10,000% unenhanceable knockback/knockup resistance and -100 to knockback/knockup) and -1.6 fly (on other words – flying enemies drop to the ground).

Available at: 1

Accuracy: 1.2

Recharge: 4 seconds

Endurance Cost: 7.8

Range: 80 feet

Accepts: Accuracy, Damage, Recharge, Endurance Reduction, Range, Immobilize duration

Animation time: 1.17 seconds

Tick period: N/A

My slotting: Skipped – I would probably do 1-2 Acc/1-2 recharge/3 damage and possibly 1 range

Char: Char is your starting true control power. I have seen people pass this up for Ring of Fire, but aside from a faster recharge, RoF has no real advantage over Char in my opinon. Your opinion may be different, but I would recommend testing RoF and Char before chosing RoF. Upon a successful hit, Char will inflict a mag 3 hold on the enemy, with a 20% change of an additional mag 1 stacked hold. While under the effects of this hold, enemies cannot move, attack, or anything else except use inherent powers. This means that when you hold that level 50 Carnie master illusionist, she can still phase shift periodically, as this is an automatic inherent power. This is also why most flying enemies will remain in the air – char is a hold, but does not have a -fly effect and most flying enemies have inherent flight rather than the fly power we heroes get.

Effect: 22.35 second mag 3 hold plus a 20% chance of an additional 16.763 second mag 1 hold, 5 ticks of 6.73 fire damage over 4.2 seconds (double damage if opponent is contained when Char hits)

Available at: 1

Accuracy: 1.2

Recharge: 8 seconds

Endurance Cost: 8.53

Range: 80 feet

Accepts: Accuracy, Recharge, Endurance Reduction, Range, Hold duration, Damage

Animation time: 1.07 seconds

Tick period: N/A

My Slotting: 2 Accuracy, 2 Hold, 2 Recharge (sometimes 1 Recharge, 1 Endurance Reduction)

Fire Cages: Your area immobilization power. This power is almost identical to Ring of Fire, only it affects up to 16 targets in a 30 foot radius and does fewer ticks of damage for less per tick. Don’t think of this as a damage power – while it does do decent damage considering it’s an area effect power, really it is your primary containment setup power and the partner to Flashfire which will keep enemies grouped and stationary so your other powers can hit more of them. Keep in mind that this power keeps multiple enemies from moving, but they will still be able to use ranged attacks on you. Opening combat with this power is an extremely effective method for self-destruction.

The immobilize effect of FC lasts far longer than it takes the power to recharge. Even against +4 level enemies, the power recharges before the immob wears off. Because of this, immob duration enhancements are not necessary. I still use one in my build, but it is entirely feasible to skip slotting them and either use those power slots elsewhere or to slot damage (in particular, the Trap of the Hunter chance for lethal damage invention enhancement is yummy in this power). While FC does little damage, it is an area effect, and those small ticks, when contained, can add up to a nice bonus.

Effect: 27.938 second mag 3 immobilize plus a 20% chance of an additional 18.625 second mag 1 immobilize, 3 ticks of 3.36 fire damage over 5.2 seconds (double damage if target is contained when Fire Cages hits), 15 seconds knockback resistance (10,000% unenhanceable knockback/knockup resistance and -100 to knockback/knockup) and -1.6 fly (again – a power that will drop flying enemies from the sky).

Available at: 2

Accuracy: 0.9

Recharge: 8 seconds

Endurance Cost: 15.6

Range: 80 feet

Accepts: Accuracy, Damage, Recharge Reduction, Endurance Reduction, Range, ImmobolizeDuration

Animation time: 1.03 seconds

Tick period: N/A

My slotting: 2 Acc/1 Recharge/1 immobilize (consider 6-slotting, finishing out with damage enhancements or the above mentioned lethal damage invention enhancement and possibly dropping the immobilize)

Smoke: I love this power. Smoke covers your target and up to 15 more enemies in a 35 foot radius sphere with smoke. This reduces their perception range, making it much easier to get close to or even bypass spawns that you don’t want to fight. If I could ever figure out how to fit it into my build before level 49, I would. Usually, I end up skipping to power altogether, just because I have other powers that are more necessary for the way I like to play (mostly solo).

That said, smoke stacked with the stealth effect from superspeed or stealth gives you complete invisibility against all enemy creatures that don’t have +perception (Nemesis snipers are the most well-know enemy with +perception) in PvE. This power is auto-hit in PvE, but does require an accuracy check in PvP. If you don’t do PvP, you don’t need accuracy slotting. If you do PvP, slot at least 2 Accuracy in here to overcome most defenses (this is one of the few mentions of PvP you’ll get from me – others can discuss the value of this power in PvP far better than I).

While the -tohit effect is only 5%, slotted with 3 tohit debuffs single origin or invention enhancements and bump this to roughly 8% -tohit. That may still not sound like much, but considering how accuracy and tohit now works, this is approximately the same protection as 16% resistance against even level minions. Yes, that effective mitigation value goes down against higher level enemies and non-minions, but thinking of it in different terms shows that it can be useful. Especially stacked with other fire controllers or if you are a fire/trick arrow using flash arrow as well. Since flash arrow is effectively the same power delivered via arrow, you can get the equivalent of 32+% damage mitigation with slots in these two powers.

Effect: -90% perception radius to target and enemies within a 35 foot radius for 60 seconds, -5% tohit to target and enemies within a 35 foot radius for 60 seconds, does not stack from the same user

Available at: 4

Accuracy: Auto-hit in PvE. 1.0 in PvP.

Recharge: 15 seconds

Endurance Cost: 7.8

Range: 80 feet

Accepts: Accuracy (only needed for PvP), Recharge reduction, Endurance reduction, Tohit debuff

Animation time: 1.17 seconds

Tick period: N/A

My slotting: Skipped, but I would suggest 3 tohit debuffs if you are going to get it, giving it a total tohit debuff of around 8%.

Hot Feet: Now we start feeling the power of fire control along with the pain of no endurance. Hot Feet is an expensive toggle that can slow down some systems with graphical goodness (although it’s been greatly improved, I think occasionally folks still have problems with it) and draws aggro to you like a spines/dark armor scrapper running quills, death shroud, and spine burst (well, not really that much, but it sometimes feels like that). The bad guys will hate you. A lot. They will want to gang up on you. When I use hot feet, it sometimes feels like no one else on the team is drawing aggro, I get so much attention on me. Thankfully, I have controls to help with this.

There are a lot of folks who will tell you to wait until single origin enhancements to get Hot Feet. I say hogwash – get it at 8, slot it up, and use it all the rest of the game. You’ll probably die more than a more conservatively played fire controller, but the greater risk also pays off in greater XP. Go to Perez and fight hazard size spawns of green and blue enemies with nothing more than fire cages and hot feet, using whatever you have to heal yourself as you fight. Things drop quickly, and lots of inspirations will come your way to support this play style.

This power ticks off damage every 2 seconds, has a good chance to critical for double damage on contained foes, causes fear in enemies in its area of effect, and slaps those trying to run away with a speed penalty. That means every effect below activates every 2 seconds. The effects do not stack, but basically once an enemy is affected, it will have a hard time doing much except trying (unsuccesfully) to escape. Note that some enemies (Nemesis springs to mind) are fear resistant, and will gladly stand in the area of effect of hot feet and slowly fry while fighting you. Others (curse you warwolves) are immobilize and slow resistant and will quite happily run far, far away. Do not use Hot Feet when fighting this latter group unless teamed with another HF user, as they ruin all your other powers by spreading out to escape the burninating of HF.

Hot Feet will affect up to 16 targets in a 20 foot radius sphere. Because it is a sphere, you can use Hot Feet to drop flying enemies who are above you. As long as you are standing on the ground when you try to activate HF, you can jump, teleport, and fly with it active. I’ve had airborne enemies attacking my fire/ controllers on many occasions. I often just jump up to them with HF running, and if they get hit with a tick of damage, they fall down to my lair of deathiness on the ground.

Effect: 7.65 fire damage, 75% chance for additional 7.65 fire damage to contained foes, 4 second unenhanceable mag 3 afraid (run away fear effect), -10 fly for 15 seconds (non-resistable), -87.5% jump height/jump speed/run speed for 2.25 seconds

Available at: 8

Accuracy: 1.0

Recharge: 20 seconds

Endurance Cost: 2.08 per tick (effectively 1.04 per second)

Range: 20 foot radius

Accepts: Accuracy, Damage, Recharge Reduction, Endurance Reduction, Slow

Animation time: 1.47 seconds

Tick period: 2 seconds

My slotting: 3 End Redux/3 Dmg (with Hamidon enhancements, I’m currently running 2 Acc/Dmg, 3 End Redux, 1 Dmg)

Looks like:

Flashfire: Your first real multi-target control. Flashfire disorients a group of enemies, making them walk like drunken frat boys (apologies to any offended drunken frat boys). Match this power up with Fire Cages and you’ve got a control combo that is effectively an area of effect hold. The recharge in Flashfire and Fire Cages is significantly better than the recharge in your real AoE hold, too, which means you can use these far more often. Up to 16 enemies in a 25 foot radius sphere around the first target can be stunned. Note that Fire Cages has a slightly larger radius, which comes in handy when the enemies start stumbling around after Flashfire hits but before Fire Cages goes off.

It is also worth noting that while Flashfire can affect enemies not on the ground, the target who is the center of the AoE must be on the ground. Way back around release and the early issues, this was a real problem, as enemies on sloped ground would often show as not on the ground for this power. That problem hasn’t been evident in a long time that I’ve seen. Now, if you do have a full spawn in the air, you can bring them down with Fire Cages or using Hot Feet and jumping/flying high enough to get HF to damage and -fly the enemies.

Effect: 14.9 second mag 3 stun plus a 20% chance of an additional 11.175 second mag 1 stun and 4 ticks of 1.84 fire damage over 4.00 seconds (doubled if target is contained)

Available at: 12

Accuracy: 0.8

Recharge: 90 seconds

Endurance Cost: 15.6

Range: 70 feet

Accepts: Accuracy, Damage, Recharge Reduction, Endurance Reduction, Range, Disorient Duration

Animation time: 2.37 seconds

Tick period: N/A

My slotting: 2 Accuracy, 3 Recharge, 1 Disorient (although most people I hear slot 2 Acc, 2 Rchg, 2 Disorient)

Looks like:

Cinders: Finally! Our real area hold. Cinders activates quickly. It has a decent area of effect. The hold duration, while significantly less than it used to be, is still long enough to turn many fights around. Unfortunately, it has an accuracy penalty (and no, I still haven’t figured why blasters’ fight ending tier 9 has an accuracy bonus while our fight pausing power which almost certainly doesn’t last long enough to end a fight has a penalty), recharges approximately (warning: slight hyperbole ahead) once every third login, and requires you to be in the center of the spawn you are trying to mez. It is a larger area of effect than Flashfire, and since you can control fairly precisely where the power activates you can affect more enemies than with Flashfire, and does animate rather quickly, so getting into the proper location usually isn’t very risky (but keep this in mind if you try to stand near your tank who is pulling aggro from a dozen council bosses shooting their grenades). That said, I still prefer Flashfire and Fire Cages as my primary multi-target mez power.

Given that Cinders recharges every 4 minutes, consider this as only an emergency power unless you have multiple teammates with recharge buffing powers. Slotted with 3 recharges, you can get this down to just over two minutes. With 3 recharges, hasten, and 2 stacked siphon speeds, a fire/kin can get this well under 90 seconds. For the fire/rad, you can get Cinders recharge slightly better than even that when hasten and accelerate metabolism are running. But without permanent hasten and permanent accelerate metabolism, I personally would consider this a 2 minute recharge if you slot it that way and take the extra 30-40 seconds knocked off with hasten, Accelerate Metabolism, and Siphon Speed as bonus time.

I often skip Cinders on my fire/rads, although it is handy to have in an emergency. I’d love to have another area control, but Flashfire/Fire Cages, Choking Cloud, and EM Pulse are enough that I can pass on this to get other powers I prefer for my playstyle. If you are the type of player who doesn’t mind being in the thick of melee, Cinders can be extremely effective in helping slow down and possibly improving bad situations. Get yourself centered among as many enemies as possible, activate Cinders, and hope your team takes out a large chunk of the spawn before the hold wears off and the enemies all turn on you.

Effect: 14.9 second mag 3 hold plus 20% chance of an additional 11.175 second mag 1 hold

Available at: 18

Accuracy: 0.8

Recharge: 240 seconds

Endurance Cost: 15.6

Range: Point Blank – 30 foot radius spehere centered around controller.

Accepts: Accuracy, RechargeReduction, Endurance Reduction, Range, Hold Duration

Animation time: 1.07 seconds

Tick period: N/A

My slotting: 2 Accuracy, 2 recharge, 2 holds – this is often discussed and many posts are made about it in the forum, but in the end most folks end up 2/2/2 like I say I use or 2 Acc/3 Rchg/1 Hold except for special build ideas

Bonfire: What a cool power. Throw a big glob of fiery ickiness at a ground location, watch a fiery patch expand on the ground (about the same size as tar patch or oil slick), and giggle like a maniac as enemies go flying in all directions. And it does damage – for enemies who aren’t knocked out by the rather strong knockback effect (and the secret to keeping them there is frequent use of Fire Cages, by the way). This is a power often referred to as “situational” in the forums. I always want Bonfire, but never have room for it, so my experience is limited to test server build ideas and a little live server playtime when I picked it back in issue 5. I do like bonfire, but it is a hard power to fit into an aggresive fire/* build.

One of the really cool tricks with bonfire is that enemies +5 to you will be knocked down instead of back. If you are low hero on a team, you might end up with a damage targetted area effect ice slick power unless enemies are knockback vulnerable. Beyond this, bonfire is handy to block a doorway from advancing enemies. It also works as a little safe haven to protect squishies from most enemies who prefer to attack at melee range. Unlike Raid roach motels, when the bad guys enter, they almost always leave rather soon after. Finally, if you use fire cages to immobilize enemies and then drop bonfire under their feet, you can keep them in the damage effect area for the entire power duration as long as you keep applying fire cages every 8-9 seconds.

Effect: Summon “Bonfire” pet at targetted location for 45 seconds – 5.56 fire damage (does not benefit from containment) and 6.231 knockback every 2 seconds
Available at: 26

Accuracy: 1

Recharge: 60 seconds

Endurance Cost: 13

Range: 70 feet

Accepts: Recharge Reduction, Endurance Reduction, Range, Damage, Knockback Distance

Animation time: 3.07 seconds

Tick period: N/A

My slotting: Skipped – would probably use a recharge in the default slot, although I’ve been told the damage can be quite nice when enemies are immobilized with a -knockback power active on them
Looks like: Soon…

Fire Imps: You are now (well, in one more level) a monster capable of soloing or high difficulty teaming. Fire imps are little monkeys, hyped up on crack, frenzied by excessive caffeine, blinded to reality by heavy doses of PCP, and then turned insane with loads of ‘shrooms. On top of all this, the suckers are set on fire and given a large aggression radius, making them far more likely than other pets to attack nearby enemies. Oh, and they have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Because your monkeys are on fire, they have some fire resistance. They also like punching things. And punching. And punching. But rarely do they punch the same target more than once or twice. While no other hero pet compares to a set of three imps for damage output, they also have little to protect them, so your controls and buffs or debuffs are critical to keep them alive and healthy. Yes, they heal over time, but that is little help against heavy hitting foes. Plus, they lack knockback resistance, so against many enemies, they will spend as much time on their back as you do (or more). Might I point out that /kinetics controllers really need to consider increase density just to protect the imps with additional smashing and knockback resistance.

In large teams running high difficulty missions, you and your imps can be a liability. There is nothing wrong with not summoning them or releasing one or two (right-click one and choose dismiss to release one, or type the command ‘/release_pets’ to let all of them go) before starting into the mission. I recommend practicing with imps on solo missions before taking them out on teams. If your imps over-aggro, you can pull them back to you by backing away from the fight. However, once engaged, imps have a greater aggression range than they do just following you. In other words, you can get imps who are not fighting to come back to you by backing up 20 or 30 feet, but to get imps engaged in battle back, you may well have to back up 100 feet or more. Typically, it’s not that extreme, but I have had fights where I had to get far, far, far away from the fight. And keep in mind that your imps will be bringing friends. All backing up did was gain a few seconds of rest and recovery time as well as a little time to try working the environment for better enemy positioning.

Effect: Summon pet “FireImp” that last until hero zones or dies or pets are defeated – 27.81 fire damage brawl per attack plus 3 ticks of 11.12 fire damage over 1.10 seconds (after 0.2 second delay), pets have 40% resistance to fire, +300% jump height, +5% jump speed, 10000% movement control (air control as is using superjump in other words), +60% run speed

Available at: 32

Accuracy: 1.2

Recharge: 240 seconds

Endurance Cost: 26

Range: 60 feet

Accepts: Recharge Reduction, Endurance Reduction, Range, Damage, Accuracy

Animation time: 2.03 seconds (although the imps are not fully formed and functioning for a short time after you are able to act again)

Tick period: N/A

My slotting: 2 Accuracy, 3 Damage

Looks like:

Next up – finishing the above text and power effects information, writing the same information for the secondaries I play, and a brief (relatively speaking) look at power pool options. Also, specifics on how to calculate above durations and damage effects from the level 50 standpoint listed to whatever level your controller is, as well as some suggestions for invention enhancement slotting.

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