Go Back   Angband Forums > Angband > Variants

Thread Tools Display Modes
Prev Previous Post   Next Post Next
Old September 21, 2020, 16:20   #1
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Midwest
Age: 34
Posts: 399
archolewa is on a distinguished road
[Frogcomposband] Rage Mage feels weak

I've been pouring a *lot* of hours into playing the Rage Mage in Frogcomposband, because I love berserking barbarian types (don't like Berserker though because being limited to melee and potions is no fun for me). Blackguard is my favorite class in vanilla, Barbarian is my favorite class in ADOM, you get the idea.

And I have to say, I feel like Rage Mage doesn't really work. It has too many clashing incentives. And not fun "carefully balancing" clashing incentives, more like unfun "tries to go against the grain of the game and just ends up sucking" clashing incentives.

Rage Mage is a lot of fun for the first thirty or so floors, and plays how I would expect: a raging, hyper aggressive barbarian. I can consistently clear the starter dungeons, Grendels cave, and the Labryinth without much difficulty and tons of run. However, right around the time you hit the bottom of the orc/troll cave, I feel like Rage Mage loses its steam and starts to feel weak (this is also, probably not coincidentally, the point at which you've learned just about everything from the town books).

Fundamentally, I think the problem is that way too many of their spells go against their theme. Rage Mages are rewarded for being aggressive. They lose spell points very rapidly if they're not doing or taking damage, and gain them very rapidly if they are doing or taking damage. So in order for a Rage Mage to function at peak performance, they need to be doing damage at every opportunity (not taking damage, damage is so high relative to HP in Frogcomposband, that taking damage is just going to get you killed). However, across the first two spell books, there are only *four* direct damage spells:

Shout, Greater Shout, Awesome Blow, and Whirlwind Attack.

The rest of the spells are utility spells and buff spells. Having a few buff or utility spells is fine, but having most of your spells be things you want to cast outside of combat just means that Rage Mage is way less versatile and interesting doing the thing that they feel like they're supposed to be versatile and interesting doing: fighting lots of enemies.

On standard book casters utility spells make sense. Their books are taking up inventory slots, so they probably don't have room for a Rod of Detection and a Wand of Digging and a Staff of Enlightnment. A Rage Mage doesn't need (or want) their books in their inventory, so they have plenty of room for such things. Meanwhile, the spells themselves are tedious to cast because you have to first punch yourself to use them. It also just doesn't make sense from a thematic point of view. If your magic is fueled by rage and combat, shouldn't your spells be all about rage and combat?

Buff spells are also problematic for a Rage Mage because of how damned expensive they are. First, if you cast them outside of combat it takes twice as long to cast them (focus rage, cast the spell, focus rage, cast the next spell). Not only do they take twice as long to cast, but you're effectively casting them from hitpoints so then you're either going to start a fight down as much as a third of your HP, or you're wasting precious buff time drinking (precious) healing potions. However, if you cast them in combat, then they are *expensive*. They of course have the same SP cost and spell failure chance that all spells have, they have the opportunity cost that buff spells always have (you could have been attacking or healing instead), and they *also* have the opportunity cost of spell points that you didn't earn by attacking, *and* spell points lost by decay. So the veterans blessing doesn't actually cost 7 spell points. It costs 7 + however much you would have gained by using Greater Shout instead + how every much you lose from decay. Standard casters don't generally have this problem, because they go into most fights with full SP, and there are tools they can get later in the game to regain SP (tools that a Rage Mage can't use for reasonable reasons). They also don't lose SP every round.

Don't get me wrong, Rage Mage has some nice buff spells. They're just soooo incredibly expensive. And it's not like their buff spells are orders of magnitude more powerful than other buff spells out there.

This isn't a big deal at first, because Shout, Evasive Leap and Greater Shout are strong enough to carry you through the big fights in the early game. Then we hit the orcish mines, and we start to see the costs a Rage Mage has to pay, costs that don't bring enough benefits. First, here is where you start running into summoners, high HP monsters, and monsters with nasty ranged attacks. Keeping lots of enemies in LOS is now incredibly dangerous, and a Rage Mage, despite supposedly thriving when lots of enemies are in LOS, just can't keep up. Greater Shout and Whirlwind Attack don't do anywhere near enough damage to make up for the summons popping up everywhere, the arrows skewering them, and the HP sponges battering them. So a Rage Mage has to do what every other warrior does: fall back into anti-summoning corridors.

Now, Rage Mages are gaining way less SP, Whirlwind Attack and Evasive Leap are pointless, and Greater Shout is good for dazing your opponent, which helps, but isn't your bread and butter. This is where Awesome Blow seems like it's supposed to shine: after all if you smash an enemy into the wall, you could be doing up to 50 + 250 damage. For comparison, your Rage Mage is probably doing between 100 and 150 with a regular attack. However, Awesome Blow is:

1. So expensive that you're probably only able to use it every two to three turns or so (at which point, it ends up *not* doing more damage than your regular attack).

2. Has a chance of failure, just like every other spell.

3. Can miss! So even if you have enough SP, and you successfully cast the spell, the damned thing can miss! Not only are you paying the opportunity cost of casting a spell that failed instead of just attacking, but you're also losing both the cost of the spell, the SP that you would have gotten from doing damage, and SP from decay! At least with Whirlwind Attack, you're doing a full round of attack against every adjacent enemy, so you're probably going to hit *something*.

Between these three, Awesome Blow's expected damage plummets, and you end up probably doing less damage by using Awesome Blow than you do just attacking. So now we're in a situation where the Rage Mage is reduced to a weak Warrior. Their spells, the big thing that's supposed to make up for their weaker melee are rendered pretty much useless.

tl;dr Rage Mage's magic encourages the player to break one of the rules of Frogcomposband by keeping lots of enemies in LOS. However, you don't get anywhere *near* enough benefits to make up for the huge disparity in the action economy. Also, very few of their spells are actually meant to be used in situations where you have lots of SP.

There are a couple of possible buffs that I can think of:

1. Reduce the rate at which you lose SP each round. You don't need to go as far as Blackguards in Vanilla, who basically have infinite SP in the endgame. But reducing the rate will significantly reduce the opportunity cost of buffs and of miscast spells. Maybe your spell decay decreases with more monsters in LOS? So you don't gain SP from just having monsters in LOS, but you do keep what you have.

2. Strip out the utility spells and replace them with more offensive oriented spells. Some more single target spells so that they do better one on one. Some crowd control spells (a spell that inflicts confusion like the Staff of Confusion, or fear for example) would make keeping lots of enemies in LOS much more feasible. The buff spells you could probably keep if you reduce the SP decay rate, because they are very nice and they'll have less opportunity cost that way. Hell, even just not replacing the utility spells, and shifting a bunch of spells forward might be a big enough power boost, since the fact that the books are consumable means it takes a long time for Rage Mages to get spells after the town books.

3. Reduce the cost of Awesome Blow and/or give it a big bonus to to-hit. You'd probably need to create a slightly different version, rather than just reusing the one used by the Mauler. I haven't played the Mauler, but I'm assuming that for them Awesome Blow is a technique like a Polearmmaster's techniques: a low HP cost, and a zero fail rate, in which case they can use it every round if they want, and missing is the only way for the spell to fail. I've actually implemented this change locally, though I haven't had a chance to playtest it yet (I also dropped the costs of the utility spells to zero to reduce tedium, tempted to do the same thing to the buffs, though for now I just doubled their duration).

4. Implement something like what the Blackguard has, where you heal every time you cast spells (maybe heal an amount equal to the cost of the spell?). This would go a long way to improving the Rage Mage's resilience, and would make up for their lower single target damage output compared to a warrior, and their lack of healing compared to paladins. Also means that if Awesome Blow misses, your turn isn't *completely* wasted.

5. Give Rage Mages some spells that allow them to better handle the action economy disparity that their playstyle encourages. A spell that grants them one or more auras for example (I think Rage Mages having the shards or retaliation auras would be thematic), maybe a spell that gives them Reflection, something that gives them a flat damage reduction. Give them *something* that allows them to tank hordes of enemies attacking them at once.

I really love the idea of the Rage Mage, and I have a ton of fun playing them at first. I just think that they need to be significantly reworked to live up to their promise.
archolewa is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Frogcomposband - Rage Mage Questions archolewa Variants 2 May 22, 2020 19:11
frogcomposband frogcomposband: Angband needs an 80x24 'curses' scre poschengbandplayer Variants 2 August 19, 2019 15:13
please, no rage dos350 Vanilla 1 March 21, 2011 06:08
Your purse feels lighter! Svladd Cjelik Variants 2 February 20, 2011 22:55
It feels like this character can win if I do it right - help me do it right! Nemesis Vanilla 49 May 5, 2010 18:07

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 16:23.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions Inc.