Issues to be tackled: #1 PFs vs PMs
While we’re working on several new end-game content scenarios, we also try to keep an eye on current issues. Gmails, posts, and conversations will inform the volunteer dev team, so definitely make sure your voice is heard! These are the issues we plan to deal with next:
Issue 1: PFs vs PMs.
Throughout much of Meridian history, pure mages have been a ‘glass cannon’ type of character due to a wide variety of anti-spellpower tactics in existence. Notably, “pure fighters,” or characters who are optimized for what I like to call the “anti-magic” playstyle, have always been the instant bane of pure mages. Anti-magic Aura goes up, pure mage shuts down.
Now, that situation is reversed, thanks to a series of upgrades to Jala that includes Mana Convergence getting some attention. With that attention, players have finally clued in that Jala is not useless, and they’ve begun using Mana Convergence to immediately nullify Anti-magic Aura. A pure fighter without his AMA is a pure fighter getting blinded, purged, and annihilated. Mana Convergence always had this function, but the painful weakness of the rest of Jala kept it from being anything but an uncommon outlier tactic.
It’s become clear that MC and AMA counteracting one another is not really making the playing field even: it’s just making pure fighters useless.
But what should we attempt to preserve here? The “anti-magic” playstyle is one of reduction. The pure fighter seeks to shut down all tactics and all strategies except for DPS, and he has chosen stats and reliable weapons to out-DPS his opponent, ensuring his victory in a very constrained metric. Is this actually fun or interesting?
There’s promise that fights like this definitely can be fun and interesting, especially as we add more tactics that fall outside of simple DPS and AMA’s shutdown. Heal rods are an example of that, and more types of rods should make non-magic fights more fun. The same applies with weapon procs, and potentially armor procs.
Hopefully, we can even add more ways to use weapons. Simply pressing the ‘attack’ key and throwing out a swing every second is incredibly basic and boring. More on that in the future. But until then, the improvements to melee weapons have hopefully shifted weapon combat more toward melee than bow (and a pure mage should have Winds and Sandstorm anyway, two spells that have also been improved). At the end of the day, melee combat in Meridian is already just plain fun, and that’s a basic victory.
So yes, we should preserve the “anti-magic” playstyle. But what do we do about this new “all-magic” playstyle? Previously, the Big Three playstyles were all that existed: anti-magic (PFs), lockdown (Qors), and area defense (Shals). You could jump your opponent and keep him in the screen to force a log or death, as Qor types are wont to do, or you could defend an area really well, as Shals can do well, but the inability to do both has always been Meridian’s primary tension. Then there were PFs as an orthogonal option, simply shutting down both of those other strategies, and trying to out-DPS you for a very different kind of experience.
But now pure mages are finally viable. And what does an “all-magic” playstyle seek to do? First, it seems they are not relying on bows and scimitars, the mainstay of most other character types. That means they are relying on attack vectors that are less common for other characters: splash spells, bolt spells, and touch spells. These were all recently upgraded to receive stat-based damage bonuses the same way weapons do. And, boy, do they bring the pain. Pure mages are also the only characters with the mana and stats to make full use of the DPS these spells can deliver.
Is that what a pure mage is seeking to do – DPS? In many ways, that sounds like an interesting mirror of a pure fighter’s strategy. The difference here is that pure mages still get to use Blind or Purge.
“Crap… isn’t DPS + Blind/Purge straight better than just DPS?”
Yes. Yes it is.
And that’s where we find a natural opportunity for AMA’s future.
A pure fighter isn’t trying to nerf Faren, or Jala, or even Riija with his Anti-magic Aura. His AMA is all about stopping Blind and Purge, the gamebreaker spells that he himself lacks. He has foregone Blind and Purge in favor of using those stat points on weapon-based DPS. The mirrored problem here is that a pure mage did not make an equivalent sacrifice. The Mysticism he needs for damage also brings the mana he requires, and the Intellect he needs for damage also brings enough school levels for Blind and Purge.
So one half this mirror has Blind and Purge, and the other does not. Mana Convergence now ensures the pure mage gets to use his gamebreaker spells, but, before, AMA made the pure mage completely and utterly useless. It looks like a binary switch: either PFs completely trump, or PMs completely trump.
The best answer seems to be breaking up that binary switch. A pure mage’s DPS isn’t Shal or Qor – it comes from Faren. What would happen if we let fighters have their AMA, but also let pure mages have their Faren?
Well, then, Blind and Purge are out of the equation like fighters want, but pure mages can still do DPS. That turns the fight into a DPS contest rather than a one-sided beatdown. Now doesn’t that sound interesting? A mage slinging splashes and bolts versus a fighter slinging arrows?
Wait, no, we have a problem: Winds and Sandstorm nerf bows. So the pure mage would simply stay at range slinging lightning bolts while the pure fighter couldn’t respond with arrows. So the AMA fine-tuning needs some fine-tuning itself.
Pure mages have workable touch spells now. Their 2 range equals a Scimitar’s range, and their damage can be similar with the right stats (which both the pure fighter and mage will have). A mystic sword has 3 range, and could provide a melee advantage in exchange for a little less damage. But pure mages have splash spells with 4 range… hmm.
Clearly, there are some intensely interesting dynamics to be had by also keeping Fireball and Lightning Bolt out of this equation. Winds and Sandstorm are options that are not necessarily part of the Mana Convergence tactic, so perhaps the anti-FB/LB tactic should be separate as well.
Proposed action items:
– Give AMA more reliability, but also somehow exempt Faren from its effects. This would perhaps best be accomplished by changing Mana Convergence to only boost Faren spellpower. Mana Convergence simply giving +99 to all spellpower of any school does seem a bit overpowered. If it was Faren only, it would still be a game-changer, but not quite the mechanic-breaker it is now.
– Give fighters a way to protect themselves from Fireball and Lightning Bolt. This would perhaps best be accomplished by improving the existing spell Deflect, which already does this. It needs much longer duration to be usable, but it should perhaps be less effective or not effective against splash spells as part of balancing the 2 range/3 range/4 range dynamics. It should also be tied in with AMA being up, so that it is not simply a spell that all players always use.
AMA vs MC
Winds/Sandstorm vs Deflect
Touch spells vs Scimitars
Mystics > Touch Spells
Splash spells vs Mystics
Sound fun and balanced? Does this fix the PF vs PM issue and create the foundation of a whole new fourth playstyle?
Whether you agree or disagree, let us know your thoughts!