Teamwork wins games.
I've been thinking about this since I read this article, and I've been meaning to address it since. I considered just writing up a couple of guys to showcase how teamwork can be applied to monsters to create a more cohesive threat to your players, but then decided the idea has enough merit that it could stand alone as it's own article.
Tonight, my players faced off against a team of bad guys calling themselves the Orphans. The Orphans are a crack team of bounty hunters who have fought by one another's side for years, facing down some tough bounties, helping one another through the toughest of times and celebrating with one another when things are going well. In a lot of ways, they're like an adventuring party. My cohort Matt suggested that I should use the Mossling Vinecrawler to represent them, but that wasn't really the flavor I was going for; I didn't want my party to fight themselves as much as I wanted them to fight a different party, one that had studied them and knew their tricks.
So I put a team together, led by a Phase Huntress, and gave each of the creatures in the encounter a Teamwork Aura and a Teamwork Ability. The abilities I used are listed below.
Teamwork Aura (Aura 1 - 5)
Whenever an ally is within this creature's Teamwork Aura, this creature may use powers with the Teamwork keyword. In addition, while this creature is within the Teamwork Aura of an ally, he or she gains a +1 bonus to defenses.
Planning Ahead (minor, at-will) * Teamwork (On the Striker)
Choose a damage type and an ally within your teamwork aura. Your next attack deals damage of that type. The chosen ally's next attack deals damage of that type.
Set-up (free action, at-will) * Teamwork (On the Defender)
Trigger: You hit with a melee or ranged attack.
Effect: The target of that attack grants combat advantage to everyone within your Teamwork Aura.
Clear a Path (standard, encounter) * Teamwork (On the Controller)
Burst 2 within 10
Attack: +[Level Appropriate; in this case 18] vs. Fortitude
Hit: You push the target two squares. For each square that you would move a creature that the creature cannot move, deal 1d6 damage to that creature.
Shut Down (standard, recharge 5) * Teamwork (On the Leader)
Attack: +[Level Appropriate; in this case 18] vs. Will
Hit: Choose a keyword that is not "melee," "ranged," or "basic." The target cannot use powers with that keyword (save ends).
Planning Ahead and Shut Down are specifically geared towards my group (Mass Resistance and two characters built on element keywords - lightning and cold - have made the group cocky). This is a team of well-trained, badass bounty hunters; they have studied the player characters extensively and have a pretty good idea of what they can do. Some other ideas I've tossed around:
Linebacker (minor, at-will) * Teamwork
You and every ally in your Teamwork Aura gain a +1 power bonus to defenses.
Go for the Knees (free action 1/round, at-will) * Teamwork
Attack: +[Level Appropriate] vs. Will
Hit: The target grants combat advantage until the end of your next turn.
Phalanx (move, encounter) * Teamwork
You shift to a square adjacent to an ally within your Teamwork Aura. You and that ally gain a +1 power bonus to your AC until the end of your next turn.
Inspiring Presence * Teamwork
Allies within your Teamwork Aura get regenerate equal to the number of enemies within your Teamwork Aura.
Pass Along (encounter) * Teamwork
Trigger: You hit an enemy with an attack.
Effect: You shift the target one square to a square adjacent to an ally. That ally makes a melee basic attack against the target.
Patty-cake (encounter) * Teamwork
Trigger: You and an ally both hit a single creature this turn.
Effect: That creature is dazed until the end of your next turn.
Really, I could go on like this all night. The basic gist of it is this: sometimes it's better when the bad guys are organized, fight together, have clear goals that they have put extra effort into off-camera. Sometimes, the bad guys have trained to fight you, and that will come through in the powers you choose to give them. If you give your bad guys teamwork powers, give them powers that will specifically hinder your players' characters.
Alternatively, if you want to give some of the local gangs in your setting some flavor, give all of the gang members the same teamwork powers. If every one of the West 57th Street Boys has "Go for the Knees," it gives them a unifying identity, even if nothing else about the characters is the same. This is a mechanic I'll be returning to as the Astral Assault heats up.