Team Combos

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Sets of actions performed by several different players that trigger additional effects than those that occur due to the individual actions.

By synchronizing their activities in games players can often manage to affect game states in ways they would not be able to do individually. These activities are called Team Combos since they either were coordinated by actual teams or can be perceived by others as if they were working as a team.


Playing survivors in the Left 4 Dead series typically require some coordination that can be perceived as Team Combos, e.g. one player covering another which is healing a third or one player making a Tank infected follow him or her while the others attack it. However, playing infected against teams of humans requires more coordination to make full use of the special abilities available, e.g. the damaging spit that spitters can place is easily avoided by a survivor unless he is held in place by an attack from a charger or hunter.

The various classes in Team Fortress 2 are built to support each other, e.g. medics can make another player invulnerable with an ÜberCharge after some preparation and the duo can then perform tasks otherwise impossible. Besides the gameplay advantages this provides, the game promotes people to try and make these Team Combos by providing achievements. Examples of such achievement range from one that require rather little coordination, e.g. Blast Assist awarded if ÜberCharging a Soldier that kills 5 enemies), to those requiring mass coordination, e.g. Group Health (deploying ÜberCharges simultaneously with two other Medics).

In GURPS, characters that all have the perk "Teamwork" can form up in combat to gain additional advantages as long as they stay close together.

Using the pattern

Designing Team Combos have similarities to designing Combos but for temporary or permanent Parties or Teams in Multiplayer Games. A difference between the Team Combos and ordinary Combos is that they are more likely to depend upon Timing, simply because the different players involved must coordinate when to act or that the Combo simply is the effect of simultaneously performing actions. Another way of making Team Combos different from ordinary Combos is making them impossible for one player to perform due to different players having Characters with different Privileged Abilities or Skills through the use of Orthogonal Differentiation and having the Combos depend on their joint actions.

Arenas can make it easier for player to attempt Team Combos since they can observe and attack the same opponents or otherwise support each other. When Flanking Routes exist as well, keeping opponents occupied while other team members make use of these alternative routes is a archetypical example of a Team Combo.

Players can be encouraged a bit extra in striving for Team Combos by assigning specific Goal Achievements to them.

An ersatz for Team Combos can be achieved in Single-Player Games through making it possible to make Combos using Units - this since the individual Units can be seen as being a Team cooperating. Another solution for Single-Player Games is to provide Non-Player Characters with Supporting Goals that can result in them coordinating themselves with the player to achieve what in effect is a Team Combo. (Of course, this solutions can be used in Multiplayer Games also but one may in that case first consider Team Combos between players).

Interface Aspects

Team Combos requires players to be able to engage in Coordination, and the necessary information players need to have for this can be achieved through the use of support such as Communication Channels and Mini-maps. Of course, in games with Unmediated Social Interaction this is easy to achieve.


Rather obviously, Team Combos are a way of having Combos in games. They are also Collaborative Actions but ones that acted out with immediate effect as part of Cooperation rather than ones negotiated or ones that take a long time to have their final effect, and which may not be conducted voluntarily. Since they often depend on Timing, games with Team Combos are likely to make players try to engage in Coordination and to do this they typically need to take on different Social Roles. Succeeding with a Team Combo is typically Team Accomplishments while failing to perform Team Combos at critical point during gameplay can lead to big problems and possibly Spectacular Failure Enjoyment.

When Team Combos are neither presented explicitly to players nor obvious, realizing them can be part of Team Strategy Identification. The same goes for cases where players have a multitude of possible combinations of working together.


Can Instantiate

Collaborative Actions, Combos, Cooperation, Coordination, Goal Achievements, Social Roles, Spectacular Failure Enjoyment, Team Accomplishments, Team Strategy Identification

Can Modulate

Multiplayer Games, Teams

Can Be Instantiated By


Combos together with Units

Flanking Routes together with Teams

Multiplayer Games together with Privileged Abilities or Skills

Teams together with Coordination, or together with Characters and Orthogonal Differentiation

Non-Player Characters together with Supporting Goals

Can Be Modulated By

Arenas, Communication Channels, Mini-maps, Timing, Unmediated Social Interaction

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern from the paper Exploring Aesthetic Gameplay Design Patterns – Camaraderie in Four Games[1].


  1. Bergström, K., Björk, S. & Lundgren, S. (2010). Exploring Aesthetic Gameplay Design Patterns – Camaraderie in Four Games. Paper presentation at Mindtrek 2010. Tampere, Finland.