City of Heroes
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Doing Empathy Right

Empathy is a highly-sought-after power set, not only for Controllers and Defenders, but for the teams who benefit greatly from the characters who have it. Almost every large Task Force is looking for a "healer" or two; so are the large teams taking on AE missions or particularly difficult traditional CoH missions. Truly, it is one of the most marketable skills in the CoH world--you'll never have trouble finding a team if you're playing an Empath!

However, it's not easy to play an Empath, especially playing in a large team. While playing my angelic Empath Lyssadia, I often find myself playing guardian angel to 7 other players, watching over everyone's Health and Endurance bars; sometimes I get into "click-a-name" mode, using the team member list to target, heal, and buff as fast as possible. Having Empathy as one of your power sets means that people come to depend on you for support, which can be stressful if you're still learning how to play your Empath--you can feel like you're flying by the seat of your pants while your team members are dropping around you. However, once you get the hang of how to play your Empath, supporting teams becomes easier, and a lot of fun, especially if you like to be needed!

These two situations are the reason I have written this guide to playing Empathy. This will help you figure out which powers to take off the Empathy tree for your ideal build, and will give you tips on how to keep yourself and your team alive and pwning.

The Empathy Tree

Healing Aura (heals you and allies close by you)
Heal Other (heals a single ally by a larger amount than the Aura)
Absorb Pain (heals a single ally by an EPIC amount, damages you a bit, leaves you unable to heal yourself for 30 seconds)
Resurrect (brings back a defeated ally with full Health/Endurance; protects them from XP Debt for 30 seconds)
Clear Mind (clears negative status effects from an ally, like being held, stunned, immobilized, blinded, or being put to sleep; protects that ally from such status effects for 30 seconds)
Fortitude (improves all damage resistances on one ally for a full minute)
Recovery Aura (improves the Recovery rate of you and allies around you for a few minutes)
Regeneration Aura (improves the Regen rate of you and allies around you for a few minutes)
Adrenalin Boost (improves the Recovery and Regeneration of a single ally for a few minutes)

Empathy Builds

There are basically two builds of Empathy: "Backup Healer" and "Mother Hen."

The "Backup Healer" build generally ignores the buffs and single-target heals, focusing instead on Healing Aura, Recovery Aura, Regeneration Aura, and Resurrect. This build is great for Empaths who generally play more solo missions or in small teams, and who don't necessarily need the buffs or single-target heals. It's also ideal for Empaths who play very close to their teams--the Auras only affect you and heroes in close proximity to you. Lastly, this build works well for players who have chosen Empathy as more of a backup power set, like Defenders who are focusing more on their offensive power set, or for Controllers who want to take more powers from their enemy-neutralizing power set.

The "Mother Hen" build, by contrast, generally takes almost every power off the Empathy tree, perhaps excepting Absorb Pain. (Lyssadia is a "Mother Hen" build that includes Absorb Pain, because I find it is too effective a heal to pass up.) This build is ideal for Empaths who play in larger teams, and who enjoy passing out buffs to teammates and other heroes as often as possible. Mother Hen builds also work well for Empaths who play a little farther behind (or in Lyssadia's case, hovering above) the team, because the single-target heals, buffs, and Adrenalin Boost work from a farther range than the Auras do. A final reason to choose the Mother Hen build is if you are building a dedicated healer, which won't have as many attacks.

When to Use Certain Powers

More Empathy Do's and Don'ts