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Fishing for Mooks

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"Just 'cause you see an enemy over yonder doesn't mean you should go runnin' up to him like a fool! Lure one out, then take 'im down! Then go on and lure out the next. That's how we did it when I was a lad!"

Divide and conquer is one of the greatest military maxims of all time, the uses and subversions of which have rung out through history. And as a player, you too can put this fine strategy into practice!

This is the practice of whittling down a large group of mooks by only activating (“aggroing”) a small portion of their number at a time. Say you have a large mob of enemies obviously intended to attack you all at once if you charge straight into them. But due to the limitations of in-game AI, enemies only notice you if you come into their line of sight, or if you get within a certain distance of them. So the best way to deal with this group is to only advance close enough to attract the attention of one or two at a time, then back off from the group (with those Mooks in hot pursuit) and pick them off in detail. Commonly paired with a Road Runner PC.

This technique is also known as pulling. A long-distance pull is called "kiting", since you look like a kite with a tail of mooks following you when you apply it (although the same term can also refer to using Hit-and-Run Tactics to wear down a single powerful opponent).

Beware the Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu, if they turn out to be more than just Mooks. This is an easy way to Level Grind against Mooks who are still too strong for you to take down in groups, but who can be defeated piecemeal.

Truth in Television if just luring an individual unit or at least only part of the enemy army out and then annihilating it before its allies could aid it (a common tactic in warfare of any era), but blatant Artificial Stupidity if done repeatedly to the same group nonstop, especially if the others are completely unaware of their comrade's fate.

When it's possible to do this in stealth-based games, it's a sure sign that The Guards Must Be Crazy.

Compare/contrast Draw Aggro.


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  • This is an important tactic in Streets of Rage. You do not want to activate more foes than you have to at one time.

    Eastern RPG 
  • In Demon's Souls, this becomes a required tactic if you don't want to get jumped by a gang of Demonic Spiders all at once, and usually involves getting a single enemy's attention by hitting them with a ranged attack.
  • God Hand lets you do this with taunts instead.
  • Though difficult to pull, this can be done in Xenoblade Chronicles 1. The game even gives you a different battle-starting command to help you on doing this: throwing a rock that does Scratch Damage to the enemy to have them chase you. Although some groups of enemies are programmed to attack in mobs once one of them is attacked, thus making this technique useless against those.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In most Halo games on the Legendary difficulty, this is a common option if you're low on health (in the games that have non-recharging health) and have an empty or weak weapon. Fans call this the 'Trap Door Spider Method'.

    Hack and Slash 
  • In Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, in the Gerald mission where you are trying to get a group of Paladins along with your lieutenant away to bring reinforcements to your besieged city, you are blocked by a massive army made up of level 50 and 100 foes. By using this tactic it is actually possible to fight your way through one unit at a time. Its not easy and involves abusing the SP system, but with enough graft, the result is more experience and gold than you could ever have hoped for at those levels. Not to mention feel like a total badass for cutting through an entire army. Its a good thing too: the next mission is That One Level and some may find it harder than breaking through the mass of overlevelled orcs: at least time isn't a factor there!

  • MMO players have two terms for this: Pulling is drawing specific enemies away from a group, be they mooks or bosses. Herding is gathering all the mooks together for an AoE attack.
    • Pulling can be used to grief other players in MMOs by deliberately pulling additional enemies toward other players. In some cases this is done so a weaker lone player can make stronger players kill the enemy for him, while in other cases it is done simply to hinder or kill the players.
  • Same idea but different term: in EVE Online its called baiting against human opponents. Works especially well in 0.0 space. The pulling tactic is used against rats in missions or belts. Shoot the rat at range, then run to keep them at range, all while continuing to shoot of course.
  • Variants of this exist in City of Heroes, as certain power sets and archetypes effectively turn the proximity of an enemy into a secondary resource. Combined with the existence of some degree of in-combat regeneration for almost everybody, which means there's some level of constant attack that any character can survive, mook management in the game expands to include pulling extra mooks into an ongoing fight because the battle actually becomes easier.
    • Most notable are “Invulnerability,” which increases a Tanker's or Brute's defense with every nearby enemy regardless of their power level, and the infamous mass-resurrect “Howling Twilight,” available to Defenders, Corrupters, and Masterminds, which casts as a debuff to a group of enemies.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Online, the intended purpose of the "Bluff" skill is to cause a single sentient in combat to briefly ignore and turn its back to you (if successful); it's meant for backstabbers. Due to AI peculiarities, it can instead draw a distant target to where you're standing without attracting anyone else (and here you can keep trying until the skill succeeds); the "ignore me" effect will wear off before it arrives, but you can reposition yourself in the meantime. Pretty much any soloer for whom Bluff isn't cross-class trains in it.
  • In Evil Islands, this is the purpose of the Fireworks spells. It creates small purple fireworks that attract the closest enemy, and only it. You can spam it to lure it far from the other enemies. Considering that most of the time you encounter mooks that are too strong to be killed in groups, and there's no good way for Level Grinding, it's one of the most useful spells in the game.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • This and Kiting will be your two mainstays in Myth, especially since the most powerful weapons in the game are inaccurate, extremely dangerous in close engagements, and enormously amplified by traps that can only be set in advance. To balance things out, small groups of enemies are alerted all at once, but really big groups can be broken apart in numerous chunks like this.
  • This is one of the most common traps in League of Legends and other Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games. However, because your enemies are humans, luring them takes a certain degree of deception.
  • Can be done in Warcraft III with Night Elf units, many of which become invisible at night. Attack enemies, run away, hide, attack retreating enemy, repeat.
  • Inverted in Empire Earth thanks to Artificial Stupidity. When a unit attacks another, the target and any nearby enemies will respond by trying to kill the attacker... and only the attacker, meaning the rest of your army can butcher the stampeding enemies without fear of retaliation as your lone archer runs like mad (this becomes less effective in later epochs, as ranged units become the norm). It's possible to win all of Alexander the Great's battles without taking a single loss thanks to this.

  • In Angband, this tactic often works on monsters that appear in groups, since they will only notice the player at a certain distance.

  • You can do this in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City with Sonic Batarangs, which lure enemies to investigate them, allowing Batman to take them out without breaking stealth. When the other mooks come across the bodies of their fallen comrades, they'll call everyone in the area together to investigate, possibly allowing Batman to then target any stragglers who take longer to get to it. Other gadgets, such as the explosive gel, can also work for this - make a distraction that causes some enemies to check it out, then Batman can pick off the ones left behind more easily.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In many Fire Emblem (And other Strategy RPG) games, there are enemies that only move when you're on their line of sight. Thus the best way to defeat them is putting a strong unit just on the edge of their movement range to kill them one for one, or lure them out with an unarmed Crutch Character and then rush them with your other characters.
  • Can be done literally in Makai Kingdom. The fishing rod can be used to pull an enemy to the other side of the attacker, separating them from their allies.
  • An important tactic in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Enemy groups lurk in the Fog of War until encountered, at which point they attack, so a common strategy is to creep forward attempting to reveal and destroy enemy groups one at a time. The Expansion Pack adds a new resource called Meld that self-destructs if not collected quickly in order to reward players who eschew this strategy and explore more aggressively.

    Western RPG 
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, this is frequently the only way a party that isn't insanely well-balanced (or unbalanced) can survive on Nightmare.
  • It works great in Neverwinter Nights: Hide or Move Silently works against every enemy separately, and mooks who notice the PC pursue on their own, leaving their pals idle. Thus sneaking closer until detected and then luring the pursuers so far away that others will not hear attack and death sounds makes slaughtering them much easier, up to allowing a No-Damage Run.
  • This is also a reliable tactic in Baldur's Gate. Set up a firing line, send your weakest ranged in to draw off one guy, run back to the party as they pelt the poor slob at a distance, then switch to mêlee and gank the (probably quite damaged) slob once he closes the distance, repeat until victorious. The first game had one annoyance that made this futile though, which is that if you allowed the Fog of War to cover an area, Respawning Enemies would sometimes appear out of thin air.
    • The sequel had a variant relying on spell-reflecting magical items for defeating Beholders, in which ganking the last survivor only happened after you had gotten the rest of them killed with their own Eye Beams.
  • In Diablo II, the barbarian's taunt ability can be used to lure fallen shamans away from other fallen, allowing him to Shoot the Medic First.
  • Useful in several parts of Summoner, particularly in Wolong. Take Flece, use sneak and solo mode, get where just one enemy can see you then run back to the others. Nobody wonders where their friends are running off to… If you can remain outside aggro range (usually out of sight) and drop an AoE spell close enough where their position overlaps with part of ground zero, enemies will simply continue to stand there doing absolutely nothing while their health slowly vanishes.
  • To get through the Temple of Trials at the beginning of Fallout 2, players who don't have a good melee or unarmed skill will likely resort to this tactic though a good speech skill will at least let them talk their way past the guard at the end. If not...
  • The Elder Scrolls: A perfectly viable strategy for ranged attacker builds throughout the series, but a few games take it to another level. To note:
    • In Morrowind, ranged attacks while sneaking have a bonus chance of landing a Critical Hit. For a sneaky ranged attacker, it's not only viable but rather easy to sneak through a dungeon dishing out such hits. If the target isn't killed on the spot, you can back up to draw them away from other enemies, perhaps get a few more ranged attacks in, and then finish them up close. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the dungeon.
    • This strategy is part of what makes the memetic "Stealth Archer" build in Skyrim so devasating. Bow strikes from stealth deal extra damage, which when combined with the right perks and enchanted equipment, can lead to them dealing many times their base damage. And because the NPC AI is so eager to dismiss arrows sticking out of their bodies or their dead buddies next to them as "the wind", it's laughably easy to temporarily withdraw after a shot, wait for any other enemies to lose aggro, then return for another stealth shot over and over until all enemies have been wiped out.

Non-Video Game Examples

  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): When Anthony and his pets encounter a marsh expanse filled with an overpowering aura that is controlling the weaker-minded monsters nearby, they don't want to just charge in and encounter the source of it. But they can sit in a side tunnel and have Tiny throw rocks at passing groups of monsters, which invariably charge into the tunnel and get slaughtered in the confined space.