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Old October 21, 2009, 00:40   #1
Marble Dice
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Mage and priest spell damage and efficiency

This pertains to tickets #564 and #533. They're probably a long way off but I might as well post these here. The complete set of images, and the ODS spreadsheet used to generate them, can be downloaded here (264 KB): http://www.bromleyoil.com/filehost/spell_analysis.zip

The graphs are split into mage store books, mage dungeon books, and priest books. All images use the same scale. Spells are assumed to be hitting their designated resistance hole, so acid bolt is versus enemies that don't resist acid, and orb of draining lines is versus evil enemies.

First, here's spell damage.
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Old October 21, 2009, 00:41   #2
Marble Dice
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Here's spell efficiency (damage per mana). The split post gets around a hard 5 image limit.
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Old October 21, 2009, 17:34   #3
Marble Dice
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Don't everyone make observations at once, now! There are higher resolution images in the zip file. Most of this is common knowledge, but here's what I see:

Orb of Draining is ridiculous. It does great damage vs evil, and acceptable damage vs everything else, and evil is one of the most common vulnerability types. It is the second most efficient spell the the game next to magic missile (which does nearly no damage), it's readily available from a low level store bought book, and it's a ball spell. The only thing it doesn't do is make you breakfast. Consider this: OoD vs an evil enemy has the damage output of the mage's Ice Storm (vs a non-cold-resistant enemy) from Raal's. If you shoot OoD at a non-evil enemy, then it has the damage output of... the mage's acid bolt (vs a non-acid-resistant enemy) and it's more efficient and a ball spell to boot. I'm not saying "nerf OoD" but if mage is a "damage spellcaster" then priest has them beat hands down in my book.

Mage spells are inefficient unless you're hitting multiple enemies at once (ball spells), or doing low damage per turn (magic missile). Most mage spells max at around 10 damage per mana, which means for any enemy with more hitpoints than MAX_MANA*10, you'll have to resort to melee, archery, restore mana, or spending forever pegging them with magic missiles to finish them off.

It would make sense to me if mages had the follow kinds of spells:
  1. Single target, inefficient, and high damage - good for taking down big breathers to safer levels (mana storm perhaps?).
  2. Single target, efficient, widely applicable, and low damage - good fall-back spell to fill the gaps with (magic missile).
  3. Single target, efficient, not as applicable, and moderate damage - good staple spell when it applies, but can't always rely on it (elemental bolts maybe?)
  4. Multiple targets, inefficient unless hitting many enemies - good for damage on the spread (lightning bolt, ball spells).

Currently mages have 2 and 4, and arguably 1. The elemental bolt spells could fill the role of 3 if they did more damage, were more efficient, or both. At the moment, they're only good for burst damage on vulnerable enemies, since magic missile is always more efficient.

A couple other ideas, you could give them a word of power/mass dispel, doing damage to every enemy in line of sight. It would have to be expensive and only efficient when hitting a lot of enemies. It would be a good clean-up spell but not really useful for anything else.

Also you could put a Restore Mana spell in one of the dungeon books - make it cost something like 10 mana, and it would have to be balanced such that even at 18/*** INT and level 50 you'd still have a high failure rate, so if you wanted to use it, you'd have to be prepaired to spend 2-5 turns trying to cast it, and spending mana for the failures all the while.

Okay, I'm done now.
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Old October 21, 2009, 18:15   #4
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Not a fully considered response, but I like your basic thesis: magi don't have anything as powerful and efficient as OOD, and they should have. It's long been argued that they instead have a wide range of useless spells which add flavour but no real tactical options. I agree that there is scope for redefining the mage spells along the lines of your four categories.

Good work.
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Old October 21, 2009, 18:27   #5
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You seem to be confusing mages and priests with spell killers. They are not.

Orb is an OK mid level spell, but you can't really kill uniques or wyrms with it. Well, you can, but if you do you are playing badly. The most important statistic is how much damage you can do before your mana runs out. Priests do a lot more total damage by using other attacks and using mana for phase and heal.

The game is designed around overpowered missiles, and mages are superior to priests in damage because they can brand missiles. It isn't close.

As to efficiency, how many foes do you count for lightning beam and rend soul? Those are two spells I remember using a lot. They sometimes require going into a room to wake a pack, and then retreating down a corridor, so they are not necessarily efficient in time, but they are great for damage/mana assuming you can get 15 to 20 foes in a row.
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Old October 21, 2009, 18:45   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerDiver View Post
You seem to be confusing mages and priests with spell killers. They are not.

Orb is an OK mid level spell, but you can't really kill uniques or wyrms with it. Well, you can, but if you do you are playing badly. The most important statistic is how much damage you can do before your mana runs out. Priests do a lot more total damage by using other attacks and using mana for phase and heal.

The game is designed around overpowered missiles, and mages are superior to priests in damage because they can brand missiles. It isn't close.
True - but *should* it be this way? Do we *like* it this way?

Quote:
As to efficiency, how many foes do you count for lightning beam and rend soul? Those are two spells I remember using a lot. They sometimes require going into a room to wake a pack, and then retreating down a corridor, so they are not necessarily efficient in time, but they are great for damage/mana assuming you can get 15 to 20 foes in a row.
Seconded - beam spells (lightning bolt, spear of light) have great utility at least at lower CL. In my experience they become pretty useless past the DL 25-50 range (once uruks, trolls and ogres become common). Certainly by endgame they are thoroughly inefficient, though.

[edit] also, MD, did you account for % likelihood to achieve a beam with a non-beam spell? Beams of Acid are pretty devastating at all CL and DL [/edit]
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Old October 21, 2009, 18:55   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerDiver View Post
The game is designed around overpowered missiles, and mages are superior to priests in damage because they can brand missiles. It isn't close.
That's just ridiculous. I'm not saying you're incorrect. Just the premise is ridiculous and should be remedied. Why a real mage would have a missile branding spell at all is beyond me (unless he's retired and needs some supplemental income). They should have powerful magic missiles/bolts/balls/storms, not branding arrows and doing their best ranger impersonation. When I think mage, I think kick butt offensive/defensive spells, not utility.
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Old October 21, 2009, 19:04   #8
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Originally Posted by Hariolor View Post
True - but *should* it be this way? Do we *like* it this way?
Of course not. Archery is for wusses. Mages should melee. I know someone who puts GoI back into whatever version he plays to make it so.

My point is that there is no use worrying about mage damage output until you nerf archery. That discussion needs to go first.

In any event, the power of mage and priest is in 0% fail with escape type spells. If you make them do damage via spells rather than melee, you remove weapon damage balancing from the priorities. Perhaps it is better for the roleplaying, but I think it would be worse for the strategic gameplay.
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Old October 21, 2009, 19:12   #9
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What's the point of all that INT if you're just going to blast your way through the dungeon with fireballs?

I always thought mages were subtle, preferring to achieve their goals through manipulation and illusion rather than through raw power and violence (unless, of course, you're a power-hungry evil mage). From that perspective, it makes perfect sense that the damage output of a mage would kindof suck.
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Old October 21, 2009, 19:25   #10
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One more thing. One of the problems I have with archery is that you hit from afar in addition to doing ridiculous damage. That hardly seems fair. I would like to see mages worry about touch attacks as much as warriors. Perhaps more spells boosting melee, or maybe the most powerful spells should be balls centered on the @. Then if you want to do max damage, you have to get close enough so that your foe can use all its tricks too.
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