Skills - strategies and balance

 
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TeeGee
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:56 pm    Post subject: Skills - strategies and balance Reply with quote
I think it'd be a great idea to start a thread discussing skills, their use, strategies and balance issues.
While playing TSE2 I've tried to check everything single ability out and see if it's possible to build a viable strategy on it. Here are my observations:


Knight
Knight was my main damage source. He has lots of Health and can wall a bit, but he really isn't as effective at that as you would think. Being able to recover quickly was a great advantage though.

Hack - Quite a viable main attack solution. Though it obviously losses a bit of punch on enemies with high armor. Comboes well with Charge and other attack boosting abilities. I alternated between this and Slay through the whole game.

Slay - Simple alternative to Hack that packs all the damage in one big package and has a nice bonus on large monsters. I feel it's slightly better than Hack.

Thunderstrike - I used it on bunches of weak, light armored monsters with a nasty tendency to raise quickly. Also useful for sniping weakened creatures that escape to the back row.

Recover - Nothing to say really. It's effective for stone-walling and (nomen-omen) recovery. Packing points in here was actually visible compared to most other skills.

Brace - It was quite effective for tanking melee monsters. Though, it's a complete waste to put any points into it. It's very effective at level 0 and that additional 1-2 points of absorbed damage can hardly make any difference. A balance issue?

Swordfaith - I think it's effective skill for normal attacks and sniping, but I used it mostly to kill undead and Piercing-immune creatures. Hack/Slay just seemed more effective. Anybody else had any better experiences with using it?

Fortify - I found this one useless. The gain is not very big and Smokescreen is just way better. I prefer my knight dishing out damage, not spamming a weak buff.

Charge - Too inconvinient for regular encounters, but I've placed it in a party chain focused on dishing out as much damage as possible in one hit. Was very useful on hard bosses and those wall creatures. Putting few points in it actually made a visible difference.

Might - I found this passive to be very good. It percentage-based bonus often gave me more that raising the respectable skill. Extra armor is a nice addition too.



Musketeer
Musketeer for me was a sort of utility character that could do some damage to a single target as well as groups, poison creatures, protect the team and even tank with her high dodge percentage.

Aimed Shot - Was my primary and basic attack through the whole game. It's just effective.

Explosive Shell - Tried to use it several times and it always left me dissapointed. Damage is weaker than that of Aimed Shot and the splash damage basically does nothing to anything with reasonable armor. It's not effective as a single target skill nor a good tool of mass destruction. Lucky shot was just better.

Lucky Shot - Similar use to Knight's Thunderstrike - good for weak and quickly raising creatures and to snipe the back row. Also a source of magic damage that came in handy for pierce-immunes and Chi users. A good skill overall.

Flashbang - I thought it's going to be neat, but the stun was just to short and damage too weak. Bad choice imho. However, I would love to try a stun-lock team of three Musketeers using this skill Wink.

Enpowder - I used it to empower my Knight (who also used Charge) on my Most-Damage-In-One-Hit pary chain. It served its purpose well though it was late in the game I started really using it. I left it at very low levels and it was still effective.

Black Bullet - Poison is awesome. 'Nuff said. However, the damage haven't raised by a pinch on few level ups and it frustrated me to no end.

Smokescreen - Even with 0 points it's *the* defensive skill! With points invested, it's even better. It reduces the damage by tons and it turns your Musketeer into a perfect dodge machine that can be used as what I believe is the best tank in the game. In the late game I used it very often and it made the final boss a walk in the park.

Powder Imps - Seems like a viable defensive ability, but Smokescreen is just way better and more universal. It's good when you get a chance to cumulate it though.

High Fire - A good alternative for the Aimed Shot. Without extra bonus on largies, but with the ability to snipe. I plan to test it more extensively on my second playthrough.

Lucky Lady - Dodge is very good and actually worth investing points into it. On high levels, paired with Smokescreen it makes the Musketeer pretty much invincible.



Priest
Priest surprised me a bit. In the end he was a good tank and a damage dealer that only rarely used support abilities.

Strike - Was a steady and effective attack ability. Extra damage on undeads is a nice extra.

Heal - I always had lots of points in it and it was very good for team recovery. With Smokescreen and Party Heals on items, it made my party return to power in no time. Worth having all the time imho - you never know when you're going to need it and it's silly to lose just because you couldn't heal that Smokescreen spamming Musketeer who had few unlucky dodge rolls.

Bless - Honestly, couldn't find any use for it. Duration was short and effect was neglible.

Sprite Summon - Great skill. It makes the Priest an even better tank with rapid Chi regeneration and it adds some good damage to hits. Once I discovered it, I used it all the time.

Damn - At first when you get it, it's pretty effective. Later it's static effects and short duration make it pretty useless. Had few points in it ust for my damage party chain, but I could drop it entirely and I wouldn't feel the difference.

Aurora - Haven't used it at all. Seems nice but too situational.

Wrath - I prefer Strike. Though, its different damage type comes in handy.

Trick - This seems like a very good skill that would make the Priest an even better wall that can also dish out some heavy retaliation damage. I need to test it more though - it might be too situational, as it only works on melee critters.

Staggering Blow - Tried to use it. Damage reduction was hardly visible and I'd rather not sacrifice attack power in a game where creatures are so quick to raise again.

Chosen - Good passive for tanking though it's effect is inconsistent throughout the game.


I'm curious to see if you have other opinions people, so post your observations Smile.
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GiB
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Nice guide, well done, you just missed to say that the damage which priest's sprite summon adds is ethereal.
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Jimbob
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I should add about Hack that it is very useful against creatures with high dodge rates (because of the two chances is gives to hit) or with a breakable shield (such as the orbs for the second form of the Crone). It also is very handy for building up the damage modifier for your other characters to take advantage of...

I agree about not upgrading a lot of skills (like Brace) because it just didn't seem to make much difference at all.
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TeeGee
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
GiB wrote:
Nice guide, well done, you just missed to say that the damage which priest's sprite summon adds is ethereal.


Oh yeah, that's true. Though I just used it all the time anyway. It's just another bonus to the spell.

Jimbob wrote:
I agree about not upgrading a lot of skills (like Brace) because it just didn't seem to make much difference at all.


Yeah, I think it's actually an issue and sort of unrewarding to the player. I couldn't care less about level ups, as all they could give me is about +1% damage. It's also pretty unbalanced between the skills, as some give a pretty nice bonus (Fortitude, Chosen, Lucku Lady) and some are a complete waste of points (Brace!).

I did an experiment and sold out all the skills before the final boss fight. The only skills I missed were Fortitude and Lucky Lady - for the others I hardly noticed any difference at all. I think it means that something is wrong here Wink.
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Jamiri
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 12:55 am    Post subject: Re: Skills - strategies and balance Reply with quote
TeeGee wrote:

Black Bullet - Poison is awesome. 'Nuff said. However, the damge haven't raised by a pinch on few level ups and it frustrated me to no end.


I don't think Black Bullet gets the merit here it deserves. It's not the initial damage that makes it powerful, but the life draining ethereal damage, that slowly kills off even the monsters with high ethereal resistance and can be used to kill monsters with high chi as well.

A highly upgraded Black Bullet drains far more than a thousand health points from a target even if the initial damage is nill.

I usually put my musketeer into wait mode until a melee enemy rushes in to attack from the back row. And only then I quickly release the bullet onto the target. Repeat that once or twice and after that you don't have to care about the enemy anymore.

It's also nice to use it on shielded enemies. You only have to get one hit when the shield is down. Afterwards, the poison continues to damage the enemy even if the shield is up again.
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Novalon
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:06 am    Post subject: Re: Skills - strategies and balance Reply with quote
Jamiri wrote:
It's also nice to use it on shielded enemies. You only have to get one hit when the shield is down. Afterwards, the poison continues to damage the enemy even if the shield is up again.


Really? I had my musketeer pump a plethora of black bullets into some enemies but the results seemed evanescent. In other words, it didn't take long for the poison to just evaporate. Of course, it could simply be attributed to the fact that my black bullet has not been upgraded that much.

Also, I have to give kudos to TeeGee; this is a very effectual guide. It always seemed like I was stuck between Scylla and Charybdis when choosing which stat to level up but this explanation makes the choice more lucid.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yeah, you need to upgrade the black bullet to become more effective. On skill level 21 mine has exceeded 1400 points of ethereal damage, which is huge!

If you have a party that is good at shielding or healing, the black bullet is your friend tearing down most enemies slowly but relentlessly while you keep up your health.

It's not good against some enemy healers, obviously, but still even on them it's somehow effective as it makes them using their healing skills continuously while keeping them from attacking you.
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Mark Pay
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The small bonus for skill points was a deliberate choice. I wanted to try and keep skills useful even if they had no points invested in them.

The occasional zero return on point investment is the result of fraction rounding. MMF, 1.5 especially, is not fond of decimals. Confused

Brace was a hard skill to balance. Below 75% reduction I didn't feel it was an attractive option. There are points in the game where having the maximum 95% reduction is noticeably better than the minimim ~78%

Some other thoughts:

Fortify - Really quite useful, especially against multi-hit attacks and if you build a character to tank with high defense. The duration is long enough for your character to use 2 or 3 other skills inbetween activating it.
I had to tone it back a bit in the last few months, because it was a little too good.

Quick example - lvl 70 Knight, lvl 17 Fortify, lvl 17 Recover.

Recover= +659 health
Fortify= +78 armour for 125 cycles
Assuming 3 enemies, attacking 3 times each in the 125 cycle duration of Fortify.
Fortify = -702 damage.

Fortify gets better if any of the enemies use multi-hit attacks and Recover gets better if the enemies attack less frequently.
It spreads across characters too, allowing you to rotate and keep your damage modifiers down.

Explosive Shell - I agree it may currently be a little weak. It does combine nicely with enpowder.

Flashbang - Often useful as a softener. The delay is guarenteed and the +22% damage modifier is quite useful for the next skill you hit with. The damage can be alright sometimes.

Smokescreen - Hard to balance, I may have swung too far in it's favour. A little too effective?

Bless - Especially useful on offensive skills for overcoming armour, and rarely wasted on other skills.

Aurora - Useful fairly frequently I think, against any creature that does magical damage. It's difficult to fight some bosses without either this or Fortify IMO.

Damn - Even in the late game I find that it often tips the balance when you need to deal more damage.


This was a great post, thanks for sharing such a detailed analysis!
It'd be great to hear more people's thoughts on skill balance. I can make adjustments if there is a consensus on any of them.
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Jamiri
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I guess that in the end it's all a matter of what strategy you employ in combat and what tactics you start early on with in the first ten battles or so. If you see that it's working you stick to that tactic and will continue to use the same two to three skills per character throughout the game.

Example: In my first game I used the Powder Imps a lot with Ionae. Now, in my second game, I don't have that option with Grace any longer. I still don't use smokescreen in place of it, though. Instead, I have entirely changed my tactics into a more offensive approach, using only heal and recover at times while health is at very critical levels. My aim is to immediately kill one of the monsters with the first one (or two) rounds of combined attacks of my characters. Then, outnumbering the enemy I take down the second one shortly after, just before health becomes critical and I need to put my musketeer in front to dodge while the rest of the party is attending the wounds. Most of the time one of the monsters will rejoin combat while I rest, but my musketeer makes usually short work of this "comeback" by having a nice bullet in overdrive ready for that. After having gained enough health again, I kill the third enemy easily.

So, the only skills I currently use are High Fire, Black Bullet, Heal, Wrath, sometimes Damn, Hack, Slay, sometimes Charge and, of course, Recover. I play in hard mode and are in chapter six now.

In my previous game, which I played with two priests and one musketeer in normal mode, I used a lot more the Strike skill, Powder Imps (as mentioned), Heal and Wrath. All the other skills were rather uninteresting.

What I am saying is, that it also depends on the characters you chose.

The only thing I am still struggling with is the fact, that the target assistant skills are basically nice but seem to be inferior to using an unmodified standard attack twice in most of the situations (except heavily armored targets). The problem is that cooldown times for the TAS are the same as for attacks. If the cooldown was only 50% of that of an attack skill, they might become more interesting.
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TeeGee
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Jamiri wrote:
I don't think Black Bullet gets the merit here it deserves.

Well, I wrote that poison is awesome Smile. It's a great skill for applying pressure.
If we're to analyze it further, I would add that it has one more advantage. Often a almost-dead monster hit by Black Bullet will retreat to the back row and die there after few seconds. It's like if it would be dead already, only better because it haven't started raising yet.

Quote:
The problem is that cooldown times for the TAS are the same as for attacks. If the cooldown was only 50% of that of an attack skill, they might become more interesting.

I agree.

Novalon wrote:
Also, I have to give kudos to TeeGee; this is a very effectual guide. It always seemed like I was stuck between Scylla and Charybdis when choosing which stat to level up but this explanation makes the choice more lucid.

Thanks Wink. Though, I haven't thought of it as a guide, more like a way to encourage you to post your opinions. I'm very curious to see if different people use some strats that I haven't even thought of.
Also, I think you shouldn't worry too much about skill point allocation - there's enough of refund points to completely revamp you characters for few times. I actually found this to be a great feature - it allowed me to test many strategies and to not get stuck/bored with one setup.

Mark wrote:
Fortify - Really quite useful, especially against multi-hit attacks and if you build a character to tank with high defense.

I need to try it some more then. I think the problem is that Smokescreen just overshadows other defensive abilities and I'd rather not lose Knight's DPS for some armor bonus. Especially in a game where enemies raise so fast that it's important to keep constant pressure.

Quote:
Flashbang - Often useful as a softener. The delay is guarenteed and the +22% damage modifier is quite useful for the next skill you hit with. The damage can be alright sometimes.

I think it's a bit too weak. Supportive skills are nice, but it's just better to kill the opponent instead Wink.

Quote:
Smokescreen - Hard to balance, I may have swung too far in it's favour. A little too effective?

Yeah, I guess so. It's a world of difference when it's activated.

Quote:
Aurora - Useful fairly frequently I think, against any creature that does magical damage. It's difficult to fight some bosses without either this or Fortify IMO.

I haven't used Fortify nor Aurora at all and had no problems. Then again, it might be just that Smokescreen is overpowered.

Quote:
The small bonus for skill points was a deliberate choice. I wanted to try and keep skills useful even if they had no points invested in them.

Yeah, I know and I like the general idea a lot. But I think that you've got a bit too far. I felt kinda cheated with each level up and later I just stopped caring about them completely (often had few accumulated points because I forgot to spend them).

Skill upgrades are an important part of rewarding the player in RPGs and it would be good to see that your character actually can make a better use of the skills you've spent so long on building up. Especially for lower levels. If the values would raise faster at start and then diminish more quickly, it would reward more balanced play and still prevent players from overspecializing their characters and breaking the game's balance (which I believe was a problem in the original TSE). I think it could make the game even better, but I might be wrong of course Wink. Would be great to hear the other guys' opinions.
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Rogue
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I've beaten it on Absurd mode with a normal party, a team of 3 priests, a team of 3 knights, and a team of 3 musketeers. And I've messed around a little, experimenting with different strategies. Heres my analysis of the classes, skills, as well as a few of my more effective strategies and my thoughts on the balance.


Knight
Probably the most powerful class in terms of offense. All of their attacks are excellent. They have high health, though I think they have the least effective passive defense. They can't support their other teammates as well as the other classes, but they have good self defense skills and their damage can really make the battle go faster.

Hack - This is *the* attack to use against enemies with chi, as well as low armored enemies. Even if you train slay to the moon and leave Hack in the dumps, it's still usually the better option against them. Goes well with empowder as well.

Slay - I'd agree that this is slightly better than hack. Great for punching through high defense, as well as against large creatures. With Charge, this is probably the best single target attack skill in the game for damage.

Thunderstrike - My favorite Knight attack. Concussive is probably the best damage type in the game, and combining this and charge can really dish out a lot of damage. It also goes well with empowder and bless. Dealing damage to all of your enemies evenly is helpful, because if they're all KO'd at once, you don't have to worry about them waking back up.

Recover - Excellent self recovery move. Its great even if you don't put any points into it, even better if you do. Between this, Smokescreen, and Heal, it's very easy to keep your knight healthy.

Brace - Very good against single hitting attacks. Not bad against double hitting attacks as long as you have a priest healing you. If enemies attack more than that then it's probably better to just use fortify and recover. Putting points into this can make a pretty good difference against a few very high damaging attacks, such as suicide attacks and Batiste's mega sword, but I'd agree that (despite it atrophying as you level up.) it's mostly adequate at level zero.

Swordfaith - Almost as powerful as Slay, %25 bonus to undead, and you can aim it? Very good attack. I didn't use it that much, but when I did it did its job well. Invaluable against ghosts, good for sniping enemies. Goes well with Charge/Bless/Damn to take out pesky chi users hiding behind enemies. Its only big problem is that it can't be used in inclosed areas, so you'll if you put a lot of points into it, your other skills will be gimped underground.

Fortify - This is a neat skill, but the problem is that it doesn't protect chi or aurora, and it's wasted on a dodge, so it doesn't go well with musketeers. Brace reduces its effectiveness by around 80 percent if the knight is taking the hits. Smokescreen reduces its effectiveness by around %70 to %80 for the whole party for as long as its up. Powdered imps reduces it's effectiveness against frontal attacks as well. And as mentioned, it doesn't protect aurora, so aurora reduces its effectiveness against magic attacks. So it doesn't work well with any other defensive skills. Normally it's pretty much only useful against magic attacks or if your team is mostly knights. I have however developed a pretty crazy strategy with it which I've detailed below.

Charge - Really awesome skill. If you train this up and have items that boost it equipped, it can actually boost damage by more than %100. But if you do this it will sting a lot if you get hit, so try to keep you're knight protected when you're using it. Also I would recommend you use when your knight has excess energy. This way you only are more vulnerable for 25 cycles rather than 40. I'll note that although it isn't mentioned in the manual, overdrive does not improve the power of this skill. But going into overdrive after using it will increase you're damage.

Might - The damage boost from this is pretty useless at the beginning of the game, but becomes much more useful as the game progresses. Later in the game might can give a bigger damage boost than training the actual attack. The defensive boost from this is excellent throughout the game, especially against multi hitting attacks. Very good passive ability.


Musketeer
Very versatile class. Has some of the best defensive moves. Their offensive moves are less powerful than the Knights, but more tactically useful. Their only weakness is that they can't heal, and without a priest they can be worn down.

Aimed Shot - Pretty much exactly like Slay, but you can't charge it, making it a whole lot worse (but still very good, especially against large creatures).

Explosive Shell - It's a good attack. Its main problem is that the extra %50 splash damage gets absorbed by most enemies' armor. Empowder fixes this problem though. Empowder boosts the attack fully, and the extra %50 is boosted as well, enabling the splash damage to pierce through most enemies' armor (and the main damage to pierce just about everything else). I don't like it as much as Flashbang though, so I don't use it much.

Lucky Shot - A lot like thunderstrike. Can't be charged, so its not as good against enemies with good defense. It does work well with empowder against some enemies, but I don't think the %25 damage bonus for each hit is applied to the concussive damage. It's a little weak, but it does do substantially more damage to enemies in the further back rows, and there's a lot of items that boost its power. Bless and Damn help this go through chi users magic defense.

Flashbang - My favorite Musketeer attack. It's just very tactically useful. In a group of three enemies, wait until you have excess energy. Right after an enemy makes their move use this on them. You only have to wait 25 cycles to make your next move, so you can hit them with another Flashbang slowing them down so you can hit them a third time. You can use it to keep enemies charging longer and get in more hits (attacking charging monsters does quite a bit more damage). It boosts the damage modifier higher than any other attack in the game, so using this before your blessed charging max overdrive knight attacks is a good way to get in a ton of damage even if you can't damage them directly. You can use it to keep the Burning Blossoms in chapter 7 open longer, or keep Chill splitters from going underground for awhile. If you use it against a Blue Bitten in chapter 6 while their ice shield is up it guarantees that they won't be able to put it back up before you get your attacks in(and you'll inflict more damage with their damage modifier up). You can also use it to keep enemies from healing when they're weak. Although it's not that powerful compared to Aimed shot , concussive damage is generally more useful than piercing damage. You also get some good items near the end of the game that make it nearly as powerful as Aimed Shot (At least until you get the S4-A Silverlock). It also combines with empowder to break through tough armor, all the while reducing the enemies speed by about %45 for the turn (assuming you're fighting 3 enemies). With 3 musketeers, you can completely stun lock an enemy in a group. It was my most used skill in my 3 Musketeer Absurd Mode run.

Enpowder - On concussive attacks, it's like charge, but you can give it to other characters, which is pretty sweet. I usually wouldn't recommend using Explosive shell without using this first. Also good on any attack for attacking chi (especially Hack). Sometimes good for other attacks as well if you're up against enemies with low concussive defense(some resistance is fine though). You can get %50 more damage from this if you use this on Explosive shell(only if there are at least two enemies) or Thunderstrike(only if there are three enemies). Also if your musketeer is nervous, the damage on this doesn't get reduced.

Black Bullet - Awesome attack. The bulk of the damage never misses. I only wish that items that boost ethereal damage would boost the poison. As it is the only way to make the poison more powerful is if you level up your party or put points into it.

Smokescreen - Best all around defensive move in the game. Using this alongside heal and recover is an excellent way to get your health back. Attacking while it's up isn't a good idea, as your attacks are much more likely to miss, but you can charge while it's up and attack in between smokescreens.

Powder Imps - More reliable than Smokescreen against frontal attacks. It can also completely shut down some enemies and bosses. Also protects against some poison and absolute damage attacks. A lot of attacks go around it though. Also if it gets hit by a powerful attack, it can go pretty far into the negatives, meaning you'll have to use it more than once to get it back up. I think it has a damage modifier on it too, meaning most enemies will break it down eventually if you keep spamming it.

High Fire - Useful for picking of spell casters in the back rows and weakened enemies. Goes pretty well with empowder against chi users. It would probably be better than Aimed Shot if it was usable underground. If an enemy uses melee attacks you can just wait and use Aimed Shot instead. I don't use it much, but it's a great move and it does it's job well when I do use it.

Lucky Lady - Dodge protects from everything except for poison and absolute damage, making this awesome. Gives you %34 dodge for free, and you can get it to over %60 late in the game if you train it.


Priest
Has fantastic support and healing moves and powerful attacks. The only downside is that they don't have any targeted or area of effect attacks. Their chi is excellent at the beginning of the fight, but once it's worn down they have the weakest defense (and in a normal party you can't actively heal them).

Strike - Pretty powerful and a good damage type. Best single target concussive attack in the game damage wise. Like all concussive attacks it goes well with empowder.

Heal - Yeah, it's heal, it's awesome. Invaluable for keeping your musketeer healthy, and great support for your knight too.

Bless - Good support skill. Useful for dealing magickal damage to Chi users. It lasts for 3 attacks, and its duration isn't reduced by using moves aren't affected by it. I think the best way to use it is to use it on a charging knight. Charge isn't affected so you can stretch out the duration to twice as much. It almost doesn't make sense to not use it on a knight that's using Charge.

Sprite Summon - Good for getting your chi back, and the damage makes a big difference against some enemies. There doesn't seem to be any way to increase it's chi recovery rate though. Bless and overdrive increase the damage, but not the regeneration speed it would seem. You really need to put up a smoke screen and keep your priest protected to really get your chi back.

Damn - Effective when you want everyone attacking one enemy. Without this or Bless, I think it would be impractical to bypass an enemy's Chi with magickal damage.

Aurora - Very good defensive move. Goes really well with smokescreen and sometimes powdered imps. In some battles it's easy to layer on tons of it to protect against tens of thousands of magickal damage. I almost think there should be some kind of cap on how much aurora you can build up. Very useful for keeping your priest from taking magic damage.

Wrath - With all the items that boost this, this seems to potentially be the strongest priest attack. Very good, nearly instantaneous attack. The damage type isn't as good as strike in a lot of situations, but this is still probably my favorite priest attack.

Trick - Pretty good move. Protects chi, and does very good damage (though strike and wrath are certainly more damaging against undead). Obviously useless against enemies who don't use any direct contact attacks.

Staggering Blow - Works pretty well against enemies with high dodge, as the effect works even if you don't hit. Especially against the Jesters in chapter 8, the damage reduction applies to all the different kinds of damages they do, making its effect quite visible. Also useful as a softener against some bosses, though the damage modifier increase isn't really that much more than most attacks. Kind of feels like a lesser version of flashbang really. I kind of wish there was a weapon that boosts the damage of this like there is for flashbang. There aren't many enemies that have significantly higher piercing defense than concussive defense and the other piercing attacks make up for this by being very powerful. So, not a very good attack for direct damage.

Chosen - Extremely useful. Gives great protection from the two things that go through chi. Without this, a lot of poison attacks can easily wear down your priest, and the magickal damage reduction is a fantastic bonus.


Effective Strategies
Ultra Thunderstrike - Bless Musketeer with priest. Put up smokescreen with musketeer. Charge with knight. Bless knight. Empowder knight. Wait for the smokescreen to go down. Unleash Thunderstrike. Mega damage. Have your musketeer and knight repeat their actions 2 more times until the bless runs out. Makes a great party chain. You can have your priest doing whatever in the meantime, I like to have him heal, but you could also have him use aurora, damn a high armor target or even attack. You can skip blessing your musketeer as it doesn't increase the damage that much, but it can often mean the difference between taking an enemy out and them surviving with a few points of health. Blessing the knight is important though. If you set the speed to cat, sometimes you don't have to wait for the smokescreen to go down, the thunderstrike isn't affected by the high speed setting but the smokescreen is, so if your knight is in the back, the smokescreen will wear off before the thunderstrike actually hits. There are a lot of variations possible with this strategy. You can in some situations use powdered imps instead of smokescreen, or have the musketeer attack. There's lots of things you can do with this. This strategy works extremely well for chapters 5, 7 (though probably not with Ferwin as your knight), 8 and 9. Especially chapters 5 and 9. With a team statistically optimized for this, and the right gear, it can make those chapters fairly easy, even on absurd mode. It doesn't work too well in most of chapter 6 because of all the blue bittens with their shields and Iceenies freezing you. Not to mention the concussive damage immune enemies in the later parts and the Chill Splitters diving underground. You also really have to time it right to hit the Void Blinkers in chapter 8 (set the speed to slow when you unleash the it so the thunderstrike travels relatively faster).

Invincible Fortress - Spam smokescreens until your knight and priest have max overdrive. Bless the knight. Use Fortify with the knight. With a team optimized for this, you can be completely immune to a lot of attacks (especially multi hitting attacks), and highly resistant to everything else. After you get it off once you can get your knight into overdrive again and use fortify again before it wears off. Every three fortifies you need to go into overdrive with the priest again to bless him again (the max overdrive bless is invaluable for this strategy). The only problem is that this can make the battle take a long time, what with having your knight all tied up using fortify and your priest having to go into overdrive and bless every 3 fortifies. It is a viable strategy however.

Smokey Aurora - Simple really. Just spam smokescreens and aurora, and heal when necessary. You can build up huge levels of aurora and don't have to worry about magic damage for the rest of the battle (or at least a very long time). Sometimes works really well with powdered imps as well. I'd imagine this would work really well in a team of 2 priests and a musketeer.


As for the balance in general. I feel as though the vast majority of the moves are well balanced. I feel as though the formulas for the damage based moves are pretty good. They are set up so that they're useful to upgrade early on and late in the game. The percentage based moves are a little different. They tend to become less powerful as you level up if you don't train them, but more powerful if you do. Training them early on isn't nearly as effective as training the damage based moves. This is fine though because the game isn't really that long, and training them is very effective later on in the game. I do think that brace maybe should have atrophied more as you level up. I think that it shouldn't have been quite as attractive an option if you don't train it (but it should still a good option early in the game).

I do think that this game really favors leveling up defensive skills for the bosses. It's just the way that they're designed. As long as you can maintain your health, you can eventually wear them down. With the regular enemies there are a good number instances where attacking is a more effective way of deterring damage, such as against the muegens in chapter 8, and Those iceenies in chapter 6 (getting one of your characters frozen really reduces your healing capabilities). And of course those timed sequences in chapters 6 and 9. And without well trained offensive abilities you can get into some long drawn out battles with enemies that have good healing abilities. Poison and absolute damage can wear down your priest over time as well.

However, bosses rarely have these qualities. You can easily beat most bosses if you have enough health by spamming smokescreens,healing, putting up auroras, attacking with your knight, and using recover whenever your knight gets weak. It's just too easy to maintain your health against them. It's not terribly imbalanced, I just think it makes a rather boring drawn out strategy a little too effective (I found the second and third form of the final battle pretty boring doing this). I actually think that TSE-1 might have handled this better, at least in the later parts of the game. The way that the Granael becomes very powerful if you let the battle drag on too long. The way that you had to attack the gunship in chapter 5 to destroy its very powerful machine gun. And of course those kamikaze enemies that would cause tons of damage if you don't destroy them before they reach you (I suspect these might have not been in this one because of the melee attacks). I think that bosses should have had more attacks and phases that promote attacking more. Not to the point of making the defensive skills useless of course.
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Mark Pay
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Joined: 09 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
This is fantastic Rogue! Beating the game with those four parties on Absurd is impressive, and I really enjoyed reading your detailed and intelligent analysis. I was especially happy to read that you were able to make good use of Flashbang in a 3-Musketeer party, and overdriven Bless, which I'd played with a little before but never seriously analysed.

I toyed with an increased decay on Brace, but felt that this made the skill too unattractive in the late-game at skill-level zero.
Having skills decay with character level is fundamentally a little unsatisfying and unrealistic, but the alternative of deriving them from attacking monster stats seemed overly complex.

I agree with your assessment of defensive skills against bosses. Some can be beaten by attrition, since they do not recover health either by skills or by recovering from KO as their fellow monsters continue the fight.
Since these fights constitute a small minority of the overall playtime, I am not overly concerned about them, nor would I like to risk changing them at this stage.

At the end of Chapter 9 the inevitability is largely intentional, so as not to present an insurmountable obstacle to those looking to complete the game. Batiste was repeatedly nerfed in the last few months before release, mostly in damage output.
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