Dispatches from Nosgoth #2: The Joy of Deception

Last Updated August 20th, 2014

In the first installment of Dispatches from Nosgoth I took a look at basic human strategy in the 3rd person, human vs. vampire online combat game. This week we’re switching over to the vampire side of things, with an introduction to my favorite class: the Deceiver.

The Deceiver isn’t a class for Nosgoth beginners. It isn’t unlocked at the start of the game — you’ll be able to access it after leveling up five times (which won’t take very long) or by spending in-game currency if you’re impatient. That said, one of the best things about Nosgoth is that none of the classes are especially complicated. Each class features a small pool of abilities to choose from, with an essential core unlocked at the very beginning. That means that when you want to learn a new class all you need to do is to learn how to use a couple of new abilities and you’ll be ready to go. It’s one of the many things that makes Nosgoth accessible and noob-friendly, even in this early closed beta state.

nosgoth deceiver keyart

As I discussed last time, the core survival strategy for human players involves sticking together and guarding one another against vampire assaults. On the flip side of things, each of the four vampire classes has a variety of special abilities designed to assault or disrupt a group of humans. With the mighty Tyrant, that’s accomplished by a physical charge into the human ranks, sending foes flying. The agile Reaver can pounce from a distance, pinning and damaging a human. The flying Sentinel swoops down and picks up an enemy, separating the group and dealing falling damage to the victim when they are released.

To me, the Deceiver has the most interesting — and the most entertaining — ways to break up a group of humans.

deceiver target

Which one is real?! 

The default core special ability for the Deceiver is called “Disguise,” and when activated it causes the vampire to turn invisible for a few seconds…and then they reappear disguised as a random member of the human team, complete with that player’s handle floating above the impostor’s head.

To maximize its effect, it’s important to use Disguise at the right moment — ideally right after a battle in which several humans were killed or scattered across the map, to take advantage of the confusion. When it’s done properly, the Deceiver will be able to hide right in the middle of the supposedly secure pack of humans, waiting for the right moment to attack and reveal themselves. Even if the humans catch on and realize there is an impostor among them, the panic and confusion that results almost always causes the humans to direct their attention inward, rather than outward, which can make them easy prey for the rest of the vampire team.

deceiver-skins-color-lineup

Though Disguise is hilarious, my personal preference when playing as the Deceiver is to go with the alternate (purchasable) primary ability known as Dominate Mind. Just as the name implies, Dominate Mind allows the Deceiver player to take control of one of the humans for a few moments. During that time the human player will see their screen tinted grey, and will be unable to do anything to break the control. The Deceiver player can’t cause the human character to attack, but jumping off tall ledges, standing in fire, or just staring at the wall while a Tyrant lines up a killing blow is all fair game.

deceiver-orthofinal

Using Dominate Mind properly can be tricky. Though the ability does a small amount of damage each second it’s active, if you don’t time it properly you’ll often find yourself taking control of a human just to take him for a little stroll before the ability ends, and you haven’t accomplished much of anything. Even worse, since your vampire body is helpless and vulnerable while controlling a human, you can also find yourself being abruptly kicked back to your vampire form as you begin taking damage from a hail of arrows.

It’s worth investing a bit of time into learning to get the most from Dominate Mind, because it’s just so much fun. Finding a safe place to stand — usually up high, behind cover if possible — targeting your foe, and grabbing control of a human right when she was about to open fire on one of your fellow vampires is a thrilling feeling. Taking a human out of a fight when other vampires are moving in can be huge — often enough to lead to a total wipe of the human side. You’ll also be making that human a sitting duck for vamps. Even though the human player will regain control once they’re hit for the first time, the few seconds of panic and confusion that will afflict the player when they’re back in the driver’s seat will often mean that they’ll be dead before they can do anything to stop their demise.

nosgoth deceiver control Look at the ground and burn, human.

When I use Dominate Mind, I personally love to cause the human to stare down at his feet. This confuses the player’s sense of their surroundings and makes it more difficult for them to get back to their team when they regain control — and a human on their own in Nosgoth is a human that probably won’t be alive much longer.

Backstabs, Illusions, and Infections 

The Deceiver’s utility doesn’t end with its two core abilities. The class also comes with a pair of close range attacks to choose from and a couple of interesting evasion abilities.

My preferred offensive ability for the Deceiver is an unlockable one called Infect. Infect lets the vampire strike out with a wide slash that spreads damage and disease throughout a group of closely-packed humans, infecting one human after another as long as they are in close proximity. Even better, the damage persists for several seconds after the strike. Since so much of the human side’s success comes from sticking together, Infect is often able to do a huge amount of damage to the whole team — provided you can get close enough to use it, that is.

The default offensive ability for the Deceiver is called Backstab. This ability allows the Deceiver to lunge out with a blade of energy. Attacking from the front, the damage is only slightly better than a regular attack — actually a little worse in terms of damage per second, due to the lengthy wind-up animation. When used to strike a human from behind, however, the Backstab does nearly twice the usual damage, enough to kill or at least seriously wound an unsuspecting human.

Because Backstab is so much better when used as part of a surprise attack, it’s a natural complement to Disguise or one of the Deceiver’s two stealth-focused abilities: Illusions and Shroud.

nosogth deceiver shadows

Illusions creates two identical copies of the Deceiver which immediately split off and begin operating under AI control. They’ll climb, run, and attack realistically, and since they have a small pool of their own health they make magnificent distractions which can absorb human attention and attacks for a few valuable seconds.

The illusions are extremely versatile, although occasionally dependent on the whim of the AI to send them running in the most useful direction. Most of the time they’ll take separate paths towards the nearest human targets, which can work well for flushing out a hiding group of humans from behind a defensive barrier. It’s also smart to spawn illusions when you’re under fire, in order to give you some cover in which to make your escape. Finally, a pair of illusions joining the rest of the real vampires in a frontal assault on the humans can be a recipe for wonderful human confusion, as they suddenly find themselves trying to fight back against six vampires. Since many Nosgoth battles are decided in a matter of a handful of  seconds once the combat actually starts, the extra time illusions can buy your team can be a huge advantage.

The final Deceiver ability, called Shroud, combines invisibility with a radius of damage around the invisible vampire. The ability can be used defensively to escape from an attack (though the invisibility isn’t 100%), but it’s a lot more fun to go invisible and then sneak into the midst of a group of humans, lowering their health and softening them up for a full vampire assault. Veteran human players sometimes learn to recognize what is probably going on when they start taking damage from an unknown source, and might even open up with an area-damage ability of their own or a sticky grenade to catch the shrouded Deceiver, but if you keep moving you’re likely to be able to do a significant amount of damage without putting yourself in any real danger.

deceiver feast

Why play the Deceiver? 

If you obsess over your Kill totals in online combat games, the Deceiver might not be the best class for you. Though with the proper ability choices the class can function as an excellent stealth assassin, I’ve found the most success focusing on creating confusion with Illusions and setting up kills for my teammates from a distance with Dominate Mind. As such, I’m not always  the leader on my team in terms of Kills, but I almost always lead by a mile in Assists (and often total damage dealt as well, thanks to some well-placed Infect attacks).

If you’re a fan of Support classes in FPS or MOBA games, the Deceiver is your best choice as a vampire in Nosgoth. Though none of the class abilities actually heal or buff your team members, Illusions and Disguise can distract human offense and have a useful damage mitigating effect. The Deceiver is also the class to try if you gravitate towards “disabler” characters in MOBAs, as Dominate Mind can provide one of Nosgoth’s most effective stun-type abilities when used correctly.

deceiver skin 2

Finally, it’s impossible to deny that the Deciever has the most “trolling” potential of any of the classes in Nosgoth. The core class abilities are designed to spread confusion and frustration throughout the opposing team, and if you’re doing your job well with Disguise you may even be rewarded by frantic shouting of “FAKE!” in the game chat as a player struggles to let his teammates know about an impostor in their midst. If you’re the kind of person who gets a kick out of watching the opposing team fall apart during a match thanks to your actions, then you’ll want to take the Deceiver class for a spin.

Here’s a video we put together showing the Deceiver in action, focusing on my personal favorite abilities: Dominate Mind, Infect, and Illusions.

[embedvideo id=”nDNyxFoCDBA” website=”youtube”]

Nosgoth is in closed beta, so if you want to give the game a try you need to register and wait for your invite or buy a Founder’s Pack, which includes immediate game access as well as hefty amounts of in-game items and currency. A free open beta is planned for later this year, and the game will be free to play in its full release.