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Old 08-02-2003, 02:26 AM   #1
ScottG
Drow Warrior
 

Join Date: June 13, 2003
Location: Never Never Land
Age: 47
Posts: 267
INTRO:

This is an editorial of tips and strategies for surviving (thriving?) in Wiz 8, from perhaps a different perspective than you have seen elsewhere. (Yes, even this late in the product’s life cycle.) This isn’t designed to be a true ref. (it obviously does not have everything), but any beginner should find the material at least a little useful (and its possible a few experts might enjoy the analysis - if for nothing else than a good laugh. Hopefully they will join in below on those areas they find incorrect, with of course the reasons why.). Note: I’ve tried to keep Spoilers to a minimum (but of course what’s a minimum from my perspective isn’t necessarily what you think of as a minimum - so be forewarned). Additional Note: This editorial simply emphasizes a logical conclusion, it doesn’t mean you should play the game this way - you should play the game however you will get the most enjoyment out of it. Caveats aside...

......Well I don’t know about you, but the first party I constructed seemed excellent in theory (balanced, interesting, good roleplaying value, etc., as per the manual), but every battle out of the Monastery seemed like an “end-game” battle (without support from “green-dot” friends) where I constantly struggled for survival. Then I finally came to that point where many of you have: the proverbial straw that broke the camels back! (In my case I “peeked” into a certain temple and then heard the horrible screams of my 14th level party dying! Hmmm, guess the ceremony wasn’t open invitation....) Where did I go wrong? Well from a game design standpoint the “8" in Wiz. 8 should have been a clue - simply put this game has been built upon by multiple past games to the point where the designers have effectively said: “Its hardcore time baby, get buff or get waxed!” So, how to get buff..........

It comes down to two elements, party development and battle strategy (and battle strategy is quite dependent upon party development) - but where to begin our analysis? (And this is where this editorial is really different.)

SECTION I:

Battle Strategy 101. Learn from your opponents.

This game throws it all at you. The breakdown is this: massed opponents and single opponents (though even those single opponents usually have support); ranged attacks and melee attacks; and finally - magical attacks. Of course you won’t always get each type of attack. For instance the Arnika-Trynton road usually has a swarm of ranged and/or melee attackers with the rare magical attack. To combat this you must be able to withstand each form of attack. In other words: Form your counter offensive (a.k.a. defense). First however, lets look at offense.

OFFENSE.

From an offensive stance you have ranged, melee, and magical attacks. Of the group the most dependable (provided you can hit) is melee. You’ll do more damage with this method (provided you have a suitable character for melee) than with any other form on a consistent basis. In fact melee is more than less THE way to kill the “boss”-type characters. Ranged attack (missile type, not magical) is purely secondary because the damage potential isn’t as high. Its provided as more of a method for your first attack in preparation of melee (should you choose not to charge your opponents), or as a support attack. Magical attack CAN be far more substantial than ranged attack because it is also ranged (effective from a distance) and because it can (depending on the spell) effect multiple targets. The trick to magical attacks working are utilizing spells that your opponents have a low resistance to (i.e. Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Mental, Divinity subclasses). Your Mythology skill handles your ability to be able to ascertain the type and level of resistance of your opponents (- yeah, its real important if you want to be successful with magical attacks). Of course both Magical attacks and Ranged attacks have the nicety that they can leave you out of melee range from your opponents (which is why they have greater limitations and as such are more difficult to use effectively). While melee may be “King”, proper use of magical attacks actually rule the game, (the majority of it), because of so many “swarms” of opponents most easily “dispatched” with area-effect offensive spells. (Typically mental and fire magical attacks work well against these swarms. Note however, that to be successful here throughout the game you will need offensive spells in other disciplines beyond mental and fire for those opponents that have different resistance.)

DEFENSE.

Defense within the game is considerably more complex and involves things that on the surface appear to be offensive in nature. First and foremost: TO SURVIVE you will need protection from magic. Magic protection is hardly necessary for about the first third of the game, but when you do need it as the game progresses - you need it A LOT. Magic protection varies, but the two main spells you’ll need are element shield and soul shield (and magic screen is highly recommended as well). Practically speaking this means you will need at least one character (yours, or NPC extra) that will be able to caste these spells (though again you can fairly well put off this need for the first 30% of the game). Next consider protection from physical attacks (ranged or melee).

From a “pure” perspective in order from most desirable to least desirable from a basic counter offensive strategy (applicable in part to magical attacks as well): 1. Kill your opponent before they can attack you; 2. Don’t get hit when being attacked; 3. If you're hit, minimize the damage. 4. If you're hit, heal the damage. Each method should be employed, simply because each method is rarely fully effective if effective at all, (healing is generally the exception). Killing your opponent before they can attack you is for the most part nothing more than wishful thinking - it rarely happens because of the enormous quantity of hit points most opponents have, because of the number of opponents (often in groups), and because you usually won’t be with in range to DAMAGE them first even if you have initiated the attack (though there are methods to improve this). Not getting hit falls under the category of Armor class (AC). Armor class is explained fairly well in the manual, the better it is (the higher the number) - the less chance that party member will get hit IF they are in harms way. The problem here is that if a character is in harms way it will most likely get hit at least once even with a VERY high AC over the period of battle. Damage resistance also sounds good, but even characters with high damage resistance will usually take damage if hit, though they will certainly take less damage. In practice, very high damage resistance often works better than very high AC levels provided the character being hit has a large quantity of hit points. Finally, healing is fairly self explanatory, though obviously if the character needing healing must heal themselves then they are exposed to attack while not being able to attack, (not good).

Battle Staging.

This naturally leads to the question: “how do I minimize being attacked, or how do I get out of harms way”? You can virtually always run away from your opponents provided one character in the party has enough stamina not to pass-out (sometimes effective and useful), but for the most part your better off STAGING your battles (i.e. as best you can, choosing the time and place of the battle). Its somewhat odd then that staging your battles often involves “running away”, but only to lure your opponent to your location of choice. In this respect your defense at first appears to be an offense because it is far preferable to have the initial attack, (i.e ATTACK FIRST if possible), on your opponents so you can effectively run (or walk depending on the distance) to a defensible location without being hit by your opponents before you have that defensible position. Defensible locations are those spots where you have physical barriers between SOME of your characters and your opponents. Naturally a 4 sided barrier is useless for attacking, thus a 3 sided barrier is usually preferable (2 sides and you must protect 2 sides, 1 side and you must protect 3 sides). Typical barriers include narrow hallways, door openings, hill crevices etc.. 3 sided barriers are even preferable for pure melee fighting (not that you should rely on melee fighting alone), AND even preferable if simply fighting two difficult opponents - which also includes one difficult opponent that can summon help (as opposed to a group of 3 or more opponents trying to surround your party).

The Battle.

In some instances you won’t have the opportunity to stage your battle (for barrier purposes) because of the way your opponent attacks. Therefor your first question before any battle should be, how will I be attacked? Will it be magical, ranged, melee, or a combination, AND what is most likely to be the dominant form of attack? If the attack is magical in nature OR is physically ranged then most likely your opponent will not charge you for a melee attack (unless they have other melee’ers in the group). For this situation, (no melee’ers), it means that finding barriers to utilize is typically pointless (but not always for your offensive magic casting and their exclusive physical ranged attack). In this instance you must either have a suitable ranged attack or charge the enemy, (run to them). If it’s a magical attack then typically your first round will involve magical resistance defenses and ranged attacks. The second round will allow either charging for melee OR ranged attacks (and/or Guardian Angel spells cast on low AC/hit point characters). BE CAREFUL IF CHARGING: make sure that where you stop your charge doesn’t leave your low AC, low hit point characters in harms way. Additionally those “softer” characters might wish to utilize the spell Guardian Angel, (if your party has that spell), on the 3rd round of combat (if they haven’t done it by the 1st or 2nd rounds) if it appears that they will be exposed to a melee attack - (even primary magic casters will often make a melee attack if directly next to a character.) (If its purely a physical ranged attack then simply take out the magical resistance defense equation on the first round and CHARGE - provided other melee opponents are not present.)

Further Refinements on Battle Staging.

Party formation goes beyond the scenarios above however (particularly dependent upon how many “meat shields”/melee characters you have that can take the damage their exposed to). If your caught “with your pants down” where your opponent is hitting non-melee characters, remember you can always change your party formation during combat and it will only “take” (without allowing you your attack(s ) that round) one round to get that “meat shield” character to the new position to block attacks to a non-melee character. If the non-melee character your blocking attack to is in the middle row position then you can usually just move your meat shield into position in front of the attacker (wether its at the side or rear positions) - this allows the non-melee character to take their turn that round (without losing it to changing formation), perhaps enabling that character to heal themselves. Furthermore (as partially pointed out above), beware of extended reach melee opponents and middle/side row non-melee characters. Often all it takes for one of these bruiser type opponents to kill a non-melee character is ONE HIT because they hit with high damage and your non-melee character usually suffers from low hit points. There are two physical strategic solutions to this situation: 1. Have, or move, that non-melee character two positions away from the attacker (which is usually the rear position) - this however is problematic if you have 4 non-melee characters because there is only room for 3 characters in the rear position; 2. The more elegant catch-all solution is for your meat shield to utilize an extended range melee weapon - if they do this AND your opponent moves forward to a meat shield already in place, then they virtually always stop moving in and will ONLY reach your meat shield character. Party formation also effects what you “spot” to some degree (both opponents and items), but practically speaking its far less important to your survival.

Another method to battle staging that is magically produced is utilizing the Hypnotic Lure spell (or the gadgeteer device). With this spell you can typically place your self in a defensible position (best if its one with low visibility like the side of a doorway so you won’t be seen), fire off the spell at a location where it is still difficult to be seen (perhaps the corner of a room) AND is as far away as possible (where it still works but is a good distance away from their original location), and usually just a few opponents (typically from many opponents) will be lured to that spot with less chance of them noticing you. This not only allows you to strike first from a defensible position, but it also give you the opportunity to “not be attacked all at once en’ mass” AND you will be able to “thin the heard” by killing off those who were lured first - allowing you to deal with the others afterwards because of the extra distance they had to span while you were attacking the ones that were lured. (This spell, though far less effective, can also sometimes be used to distract opponents away from battle.)

Lasting through the Battle.

Stamina is a VERY important element to most physical attacks (and magical for Bards and Gadgeteers), while being far less important to normal magic casters. Its effect is similar on your character to health, however if stamina drops to 0, instead of death you are rendered unconscious - however practically speaking (if in harms way) that character will be “two-steps” closer to death. This of course is because the character won’t be able to perform an action and their AC typically drops to low negative numbers allowing opponents to easily hit you AND to cause multiples of damage when the do hit you. This of course necessitates a meat shield type character to have high levels of stamina AND stamina regeneration if possible. Simply put - it allows your meat shield characters to defend longer. It also means that Bards and Gadgeteers need the same stamina qualities, (though less so if they are not in harms way).

Preemptive Strikes.

Preemptive striking (attack first) is another key ingredient to your success, beyond battle staging. As with battle staging however, it doesn’t always mean damaging your opponent first (in fact it rarely means this). Attacking first often allows AT LEAST one party member (with a high initiative) to do something before your opponents can do anything (though this is dependent upon your characters initiative, and weapon initiative if utilizing a weapon - versus your opponents initiative.) I cannot stress enough HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS!!!! This FIRST STRIKE CAPABILITY allows you the opportunity for just about anything, but most importantly to either allow effective battle staging or: 1. allowing you to place up additional defenses, particularly magical resistance defenses when appropriate (otherwise party members may die real fast - even if high in hit points); 2. giving you the opportunity to paralyze (best if possible), or weaken/incapacitate (i.e. silence spell), or damage your opponent (usually with magic only because you’ll most likely be out of range for ranged weapons); 3. allowing you the opportunity to summon extra help (extremely beneficial for distraction, not additional damage). (The # 2 reason just mentioned can be better realized with spells like X-ray and Chameleon.) Additionally, you really need to look closely at #1, 2, & 3 - ALL typically involve spell casting of some sort (though possibly through the use of scrolls or potions, etc.). Because of distance limitations you may be wasting your preemptive attack with high initiative melee or ranged attackers (the opponents simply won’t be in range before your character’s turn starts/finishes). NOTE: having the “search” feature always-on could/will negatively impact your success with initiative (particularly if your “surprised”/don’t initiate battle).

Multiples.

Utilizing multiple characters in your party to perform the SAME action is EXTREMELY advantageous for two reasons: a dramatically increased probability of a successful action AND an increase in the effectiveness of that action. Typically this is in reference to attacking/defending but really includes just about anything you can think of (like picking a lock). Once again take a look at what your opponents are doing - typically performing the same attack times the amount of opponents performing that act. For instance early in the game you may come across several “weeds” capable ranged attack - just one attacking a single member in your party is rarely effective. The single weed will miss a lot and not do much damage even when it does hit that character. Multiple weeds however can fire multiple missiles with a far greater chance to hit that character AND with the increase in damage. What this means of course is that the single character in your party being attacked this way isn’t going to survive very long. This is even more typical latter in the game with magic. A single opponent firing off the spell Death Wish (which is a chance for instant death for all of your characters) will rarely kill all of your characters with that one attack even if all of your characters have little or no resistance divinity. If however there are multiple opponents firing off this spell all at once at your party then chances are that they will either kill one of the characters in your party (if all your characters have high divinity resistance) OR will kill all or almost all your characters (if they all have lower divinity resistance). Your party can utilize this advantage - particularly for magic casting. (Note: However if you plan on utilizing this method then you will need to either have the same magic casters or be far more selective in choosing which casters are in your party AND what spells they will cast - many casters have access to the same spell, in this instance make sure that there is an overlap on spells you want cast in multiples. Alternatively select a Bishop caster, as they can cast all spells.)

Spell Penetration.

In addition to the method above on multiples and the prior advice on magical resistance versus subclass types of magic, you have the power level setting of your spell AND the expert skill Power Cast. Obviously if you perform a spell at a higher power setting (and it works) you will have an increased chance of penetrating your opponents defenses. Power Cast however, (a skill available once your character attains 100 in Intelligence), also increases the chance of penetration (and a nominal increase in damage). This can be particularly beneficial when needing to cast a spell against opponents with high resistance to that spells subclass. (Of course your level versus the level of your opponent greatly effects spell penetration as well, and to a lesser extent so does your skill level in that class and subclass for the particular spell being cast.)

USE YOUR RADAR SCREEN!

Your ability to not be “surprised” by your opponents for the most part can be handled with this feature alone, this is particularly important if your unfamiliar with the territory your in. (X-ray and Chameleon also help here.) It also allows you to effectively overcome the “search” function problem just mentioned above by allowing you to turn off “search” when spotting a red dot. Generally speaking, if you see a red dot - head in another direction.

In addition to using your radar screen for red dots - also be on the look out for green dots, (friends that can help fight). Those green dots can help you gain experience simply by attacking a red dot while in the vicinity of a green dot. Typically, if properly positioning those green dots between you and the red dots, you will have little or no fighting to do and you’ll still gain all the experience while the green dots do all the work. (Note however that some green dots may not respawn if they are killed, if you wish of course you can always remove this outcome by healing them during battle or fighting in the battle to finish it before they get killed.)

Weight Watchers and AC.

Watch your Weight! Your weight limit should be white in color like the rest of your stats, if its blue your carrying to much and it adversely impacts your AC and attack rating (yellow is worse, red the worst). It will also drop your stamina when walking/running around. Note: you can always drop stuff and it won’t disappear (just remember where you dropped though).

Replenishing Hit Points, Stamina, and Mana.

Sleeping, is another important defensive aspect. Its useful to replenish health, stamina, and mana. For combat purposes its particularly useful to replenish stamina. For example you may have just finished off one group of opponents and your no longer in battle, BUT you expect another group to come along shortly and your meat shields are very low in stamina. A very short “cat nap” will bring them up to full stamina (where as replenishing health and mana require considerably longer periods of rest). Additionally, you should always sleep in a defensive formation utilizing a 3 sided barrier if possible (or preferably a place where you won’t be attacked). Your opponents line of site will determine if they have spotted you while your sleeping - so sleeping behind buildings is often an excellent place to nap (they can’t see you so you won’t be attacked). (NOTE!!!!!: Be forewarned that resting for a substantial period, particularly 8 hours, will spawn new opponents.)

Run! Run! Run as fast as you can!

Finally, running away is sometimes the only logical solution. To aid this you have Flash powder and Flash spells, Paralyzation/Freeze All spells, and of course the Sleep spell. Of these I find the “flash” choice to usually be the most effective (primarily because fire resistance is often a lower resistance on opponents, because its available early on - usually to everyone in the form of powder, and because it lasts longer and scatters/drives away your opponents). Teleportation later in the game facilitates this as well AND allows you to avoid moving around the roads that otherwise might be annoying and time consuming. The greater number of casters you have to teleport, the greater number of places you can set as a teleport location. You will need at least two to effectively teleport out of a bad spot (run-away) and then return to that location after replenishing supplies (one to set a teleport location to your safe haven and another to set a teleport location at your “bad spot” so that you may return there to resume the battle). Tip: If you have a teleport set at a teleport machine you can then use the machine to teleport to different locations.

Battle Strategy Conclusion.

Now that we have the basics on offensive and defensive battle strategy its time to apply this knowledge to party development. (Perhaps the number one mistake I made is to try and adapt party development to battle strategy, its not wise, and most people make this mistake - even some very experienced players, though subconsciously they may be effectuating proper development.)

SECTION II:

Lets PARTY!: Party development.

By analyzing battle strategy tactics first we can begin to look at party development. Ah, but were to begin here? Well first lets make a few general conclusions from the analysis on battle formation. Number one, we need a spell caster capable by about a quarter to a third of the way into the game to cast the spell Element Shield (and preferably Soul Shield as well). This means they will have to be both capable of learning the spell(s) and sufficiently developed magically to cast them. Number two, we need a character capable of going “toe-to-toe” melee style with boss type opponents (again generally not needed until later in the game). Number 3, we should have at least one spell caster capable of substantial area effect magical attacks for massed opponents (in particular mental and fire attacks often work best, noting however that there are some group opponents that don’t fit this generalization), also noting that this character is very useful early in the game as well as later. Number 4, if we have a low hit point character, or characters, we will need at least one “meat shield” type character to protect them from physical attack. Well it should appear rather obvious that what were talking about here is at least two characters (though you could have one character doing it all - extremely difficult however). You could combine your defensive spell caster and offensive spell caster into one character. You could also combine your melee character and your meat shield into one character. (This essentially defines our minimum party size, 2 characters - one a melee meat shield and the other an all around spell caster.)

Beyond general conclusions.

We can also further analyze, (“dig deeper”), character development with the analysis from battle strategy. In particular (going back to offensive strategies), we note that magic is the “rule” of the game for its abilities in eliminating large groups of opponents (as well as providing other offensive and defensive measures). Additionally the magic casting character should be able to caste offensive spells from mental and fire realms as well as from other realms. Of course to further this effectiveness multiple magic casters can be used to accumulate large amounts of damage per round so that the battle ends more quickly with fewer opportunities for opponents to damage you. Also note that within the defensive section on battle staging it suggests that these spell casters can be better protected with meat shield characters (plural) where at least one is up front and another meat shield can be transferred to protect an “exposed” side (if a 3 sided barrier location isn’t found). This also gives the ability to swap melee characters during difficult battles or alternatively allow for extra “pounding power” by having two melee characters up front (usually when a good 3 sided barrier is found). Moreover better physical protection of your “soft” magic casters can be accomplished with those meat shields utilizing extended range melee weapons. Furthermore those meat shield characters should also have high stamina (for prolonged battles) AND hit points, high AC, and as much damage resistance as possible. This then suggests a party with at least 2 melee meat shields and 2 or more magic casters with access to varying subclass spells.

Other preliminary considerations.

Of course the game isn’t completely about combat (though it’s close), there are other areas of interest (lock picking, trap removal, charming, mind reading, pick pocketing, shoplifting, etc.). Most of these other skills can be accomplished using magic, about the only thing that is useful that can’t be is pickpocketing (shoplifting is rarely effective, and really shouldn’t be used). Your magic caster (or casters) would obviously need access to the appropriate spells. Pickpocketing however could be achieved by dual classing (unlikely), having a Rouge or Bard class character, or “hiring” Myles to pickpocket for you (and you can always dump him after you have the pilfered items you wanted).

TIP: When first starting a game make sure you "recruit" your spellcasters first, then add in your melee meatshields. This gives your spellcasters the ability to cast spells first when intiating combat, (rather than possibly wasting an attack or 2 of your fighters who might not be in "range"). Additionally it is helpful early in the game for spell casters raising defenses for the party, though latter in the game your casters should have enough speed/initiative to raise them first. Obviously when you first start on the beach in-game you will need to re-position your melee-meatshields as mentioned above in the battle strategy section.

Attributes. Picking classes and races.

Well we have determined that we want two or more magic casters and two or more melee meat shields, but which classes and which race for that class? Additionally, what classes don’t we want to include? It at first appears fairly simple (pick a class then match up with a good race), but of course its not so easy as that - the overriding factor here is the level of attributes AND the desired attributes. Referring back to the defensive strategy portion we notice two glaring desired attributes (one for the magic caster and one for the melee meat shield). First, a good magic caster should have a very high initiative, and Speed is the attribute of choice. Wether its putting up defenses or obliterating your opponents, that first strike capability will give you a SUBSTANTIAL edge. (Note: even Priests as healers (or to cast Soul Shield) should have speed as their primary attribute - I can’t tell you how many times (A WHOLE LOT) I’ve had a character killed JUST BEFORE the Priest’s turn to heal that character.) Second, a good meat shield will be able to take hits (lots of them - because they will get hit) and have enough stamina not to pass-out, all of which implies high Vitality. An exceptionally important overlay to this analysis is the contribution of expert skills from maxed (100) points in an attribute. (Attributes and expert skills and their contribution can be found at this site: http://i45.narod.ru/wiz/stats.html ;and at this site: http://www.geocities.com/shau185/attributes.html ). The expert skill for Speed is Snakespeed which simply adds more initiative to your character (all to the good, but its maximum point increase is only 50% of the attribute increase - still, the faster the better). The expert skill for Vitality however is VERY nice (and in my opinion easily the best expert skill of the lot) and is called Iron Skin. Iron Skin “soaks” up to a maximum of 25 points of physical (not magical) damage per hit (and reviewing the defensive strategy section suggests that this is more important than even high AC). These certainly are not the only considerations, but they do offer an excellent start to narrowing down your choices. They also nicely highlight that maxed out attribute levels in a couple of attributes can be more effective than mediocre levels in multiple attributes.

Attributes and classes. (and why hybrids break wind...without landing a “hit”.)

When considering class structures we need to look at the attributes they require. The reason is fairly simple but often under appreciated - the fewer attributes needed for a particular class the greater the attribute points that are left for distribution. This in turn allows you to apply those extra attribute points (upon character creation) to those attributes that the character would find most useful, (and is determined in conjunction with race). (And as previously mentioned above, its far better to have a few excellent attributes than mediocre attribute levels in each attribute.)

The first analysis/break down that should be done is this: which classes require the most attributes and which require the least (in order from most to least)? (A class list can be found in your manual and here: http://www.geocities.com/jandrall/Wizardry8/classref1 ). Extrapolated List (least desirable to most desirable): Ninja 6; Lord, Valkyrie, Ranger, Samurai, Monk 5; Gadgeteer, Bard, Bishop 4; Fighter, Rouge 3; Priest, Alchemist, Psionic, Mage 2. Those first two class groupings (Ninja to Monk) are commonly referred to as hybrid classes. As is apparent from the numbers, hybrid classes (those that try to perform 2 functions: fighting and magic) are at a distinct disadvantage here because they require more attributes. Furthermore (what isn’t apparent in these numbers) is that they also require substantially more experience to “level-up” - placing them at an even greater disadvantage (far greater is more accurate). (This in fact is the “hidden” fourth point of analysis.) To make matters even worse, (often the reason for choosing them), those cool special abilities they have require high attribute levels that might other wise be worthless. For instance, Critical Strike relies heavily on Senses, do you really want to max-out this attribute for a character that is a fighter in preference of being able to actually hit your target or cause normal damage (or extraordinary damage)? Also consider that to be able to even have a chance for a Critical Strike you must be able to hit your opponent. Additionally there are weapons that achieve similar effects - but more work more effectively. Furthermore, look at what is actually required from the analysis on battle strategy - not one of these characters really “fits the bill”. None of them meet the requirements early enough, (depending on how you “train” your characters), for the ability to cast the proper magical protections. For melee meat shield purposes things get a little better - Valkyries and Lords aren’t bad, Samurai can’t use extended range weapons, Monks can’t use armor and there best fighting with hands and feet (though they do have stealth and damage resistance), Rangers are best used for ranged fighting - something covered better by properly using magical casters; ALL however are at a serious disadvantage for attribute points and leveling up. In fact, ignoring everything about battle strategy in conjunction with PARTY development, you are often better off creating a hybrid class of your own by dual classing, or perhaps evolving a pure class to both fight and use magic. (Ex. A dwarf priest requires only 2 attributes, one of which involves something a meat shield should already be concentrating on - Vitality. This leaves a lot of points available for other attributes, (and as such the possibility to later dual class to meet the minimum attribute levels for that other class), which allows you to specialize attributes.) This isn’t to say however that Hybrids can’t be effective or FUN. The key here is that they are less optimal to a maximally efficient party utilizing many/most of the basic methods mentioned in battle strategy. Are their exceptions to this rule? Yes, but remember - this is a BEGINNER’S reference, not an intermediate or advanced players reference.

The second (and third) areas of analysis that need exploring are the quantity of attribute points available for a race-class combinations AND the maximum attribute level attainable for a particular attribute. (The numbers breakdown and flawed analysis can be found here: http://www.geocities.com/jandrall/ by clicking on the appropriate class under Bochser’s best race. Basic tables for secondary analysis can be found in the manual and here: http://www.geocities.com/jandrall/Wizardry8/Tables1.htm ). After determining the preferred class its usually best to glimpse at this table to see what races offer the highest levels of attribute points to “spend”, and moving on with those few races and seeing what they have to offer for maximizing preferred attributes. The best way to do this is to simply play around with creating a character in the game and seeing what you come up with.

Your Melee Meat Shield.

Now that we know Vitality is the major consideration for our meat shield characters we need to find a class race combination that further enhances their prowess as a meat shield and as a melee fighter. In particular it is HIGHLY desirable that we “unlock”, (100 points in Vitality), Iron Skin as quickly as possible to start increasing that skill and thus attaining damage reduction as early as possible (allowing time and experience to “crank up” the skill to its maximum 100 points). So what melee classes do we have available? Discounting hybrid classes we really only have one class - the fighter (rouges don’t have backstab ability with extended reach weapons they can use). Further more the fighter is easily the most preferable of any class for its stamina regeneration (regeneration that is actually substantial enough during combat to be useful), its ability to use most weapons and armor (except specialty class restricted items), its berserk combat mode (which is broadly comparable to the rouges backstab for damage), and its ability to KO opponents. Additionally the ability to use most power items (cool weapons and armor) in the game is not to be overlooked for “fun-factor”, from what might otherwise be a boring character. (But note there are other ways to spice up your fighter, and buff it I might add - which will be discussed later.) So now that we have the class what will be the race? Well looking at the secondary analysis for attributes we find that Dracons, Lizardmen/(women), and Dwarfs have the largest quantity of points to spend. (60,50,and 45 respectivly). Then we compare these with those stats considered to be desirable, with particular attention paid to Vitality. With Vitality as our “compass” our analysis starts and stops rather quickly - Lizardmen have HUGE vitality. They start with 70 points in Vitality before adding points, effectively meaning that when always maxing out Vitality when allocating points you will reach 100 by character fighter level 6 and unlock Iron Skin. (Of course how you allocate the rest of the points can be far more complex and is described further below.)

Your Magic Caster.

This is far more complex than finding your meat shield, (and variable for that matter). Discounting hybrid classes (for the extended length of time it takes to be able to cast the fourth level protection spells), you still have 7 classes to consider (Bard, Gadgeteer, Bishop, Priest, Alchemist, Psionic, and Mage). We can eliminate the Bard, Gadgeteer, Priest, and Psionic (at least as non-dual class characters) because they don’t have the most important spell available, Element Shield. Furthermore we can also eliminate the Mage class because it doesn’t have healing. This leaves as pure classes the Alchemist and the Bishop (though the Bishop behaves more like a hybrid class because of the way it levels up). HOWEVER, we have concluded that at LEAST 2 magic casting characters are preferable here - so realistically (for defensive magic) we only need 1 magic caster for element shield and one for healing and Soul Shield (though of course its nice if they could do all three). So sky is pretty much the limit here, but I’ll make a few more observations. First, only TWO casters need to be “speed” (Speed as the Primary attribute) casters (one for Element Shield and one for Soul Shield, with Heal All “speed” cast later in battle) - though it is obviously highly useful for all casters to be “speed” casters from an offensive view point. Second, both the Mage class and the Alchemist class have the same required attributes, so a dual class here is possible, and perhaps enviable considering that Alchemists can mix potions and heal lower in level while Mages can pick locks and Freeze All later in level - in this respect you could likely train your potion mixing/Alchemy to the max at a fairly low character level and then switch to the Mage class where you would gain the bonus to magical resistance, and more importantly have higher level spells earlier (-than the Bishop alternative, I think). However always consider dual class magic users versus Bishops (though I’m not certain, intuitively Bishops would appear to be a better solution because of far greater access to spells and higher levels of mana). Third, avoid PURE stamina casters (Bard, and Gadgeteer) - particularly the Gadgeteer. (In fact avoid the Gadgeteer altogether.) These classes receive most spells later in the game by way of instruments or gadgets found, so they don’t have access to a great many spells until 50% of the way into the game (in fact they don’t have access to many spells period). Furthermore they rely on stamina for casting and as such rarely can caste more than 3-4 spells per battle unless they are constantly drinking heavy stamina potions (but this of course takes a turn). And the reason for avoiding the Gadgeteer altogether is because his/her weapon (while a very good ranged weapon) also sucks up massive amounts of stamina (-this character will either be sleeping during battle or constantly chugging heavy stamina potions). The reason for using them? - They use stamina instead of mana for casting (I know I just said thats bad, but if you’ve run out of mana and you have stamina left its good - and it replenishes more quickly), AND they cast the spell at close to full power. That said either of these classes could be utilized for a dual to Alchemists, Mages, or Psionics. because their attributes match. Again (as with the Alchemist Mage), consider the alchemist as the preliminary class but don’t switch until after you have element shield AND your Alchemy skill sufficiently high from potion mixing. With this “mixture” not only will you have proper defenses and healing but you’ll be able to honestly say that you have real roleplaying value: your character mixes his own drinks! (And if it were me it would be the Alchemist/Bard, “Bardtender?”, because of the “omnigun” problem with Gadgeteers, the fact that Freeze All is available later for Bards only, and because Bards can pick pockets.) Fourth, the Bishop really has the edge in flexibility for spells. Two or more (more, More, MORE! “MwHaHaha! I have ALL the power! Tremble before me as I SMITE your pathetic existence!”) Bishops properly developed can be a real powerhouse because they can usually fire off an offensive spell where the opponents have a lower resistance. Plus of course they can do any kind of magic, have much higher mana reserves, can mix potions, and repulse/destroy undead. Effectively they are magical “tanks”, and are even more versatile than a Gadgeteer (that has been drinking heavily) believes themselves to be. The down side is that they can take a lot of mind numbing hours/days (your time, not theirs) to develop their true potential (and because they level up more slowly). Fifth, Priests are nice and can do “double duty” because of their basic attributes (Vitality, and Piety), moreover Speed does not have to be their dominant attribute IF they are simply support in nature (if they are your only healer, or only Soul Shield caster, in the group then Speed should be their dominant attribute.)

So what race will your magic caster be? Again look at the secondary analysis for your caster of choice, if it will be a dual class character then look at the class that has greater attribute requirements. As before, pick one that has higher levels of points available for distribution but understand that your primary class will be Speed (provided their not support type casters.) For the most part this to is a “no-brainer”, Faeries! They have large quantities of points and they have the highest Speed of any other character. (An exception however is if you want a dual class as discussed above - the “Bardtender” appears overall to be better as a Felpurr.) If you want two “speed” casters in your group then you have even greater flexibility.

Basic party conclusion.

So IF we have 6 characters in our party, then we have at least 2 (possibly 3) Lizard Fighters as meat shields utilizing extended range weapons. Then we have 3-4 magic casters (probably two faeries, possibly other races.) Furthermore we recognize that only TWO casters need to be speed casters (one for Element Shield and one for Soul Shield, with Heal All speed cast later in battle), though we also note that its preferable for all casters to be speed casters. Additionally we should have offensive casting ability for every realm and preferably speed cast. A non-speed caster class-race combination could be utilized in favor of a third meat shield if a third meat shield is desired (particularly a Priest Dwarf for their high vitality and stamina - noting however that they do not meet the speed cast requirement early enough (if ever) for either Soul Shield or Heal All). Alternatively, (or in addition to) we could also utilize a Bardtender as both a speed caster and a fighter (not a true meat shield) in favor of a third Lizard Fighter. Finally we recognize that a caster (speed or not) can be utilized for picking locks or disabling traps in favor of a Rouge (but we will need to “hire-on” for pickpocketing ability).

Remember, none of the race-class combinations are fixed in stone for your party - feel free to deviate from the “mold” here. For instance perhaps you want two Valkyries instead of fighters, or perhaps you only wish one fighter and one stealth support character (like a monk or a rouge). Maybe you don’t want the limitations imposed on faeries or perhaps you would prefer Rangers instead of pure magic casters. Anything goes here and the point of the game isn’t to role over every opponent - its to have fun! (Though of course rolling over every opponent maybe fun for you, at least the first time through.)

SECTION III:

Wax on? NO, Wax OFF! It’s Buff Time!

There are several ways to buff your characters beyond basic party construction. One, you can equip them with all sorts of goodies (though the Faerie race have a LOT LESS to choose from). Two, you can increase their skills. Three, you can dual class to obtain extra skills that are effective upon transfer. Four, you can utilize enhancement spells that act as if they are always “on”. Five, you can utilize enhancement spells just for battle.

Ethics time.... One, Four, and Five are generally considered Non-Cheat, (though you can “run right over” number one by creating characters specifically for a particular weapon, armor, etc.), methods of buffing your character. Three, and particularly two, are often considered “Cheese” methods. Well to those people that have a problem with cheese, I say, “Do what you feel comfortable with that provides maximum enjoyment!” (Hmmm, sounds like Dr. Ruth - oh well.) However I’ll suggest methods to reduce the cheese factor/increase the role playing factor.

Stuff.

Well number one on our list concerns usable items by characters. I will discuss a few power items generally - but nothing detailed (especially concerning location other than to say you can get it sooner or later in the game). First off, please be aware that a good many of the “really nice” items in the game are not placed - they are variable depending on the AREA. (An area would be Arnika, or Trynton, or Arnika-Trynton road, etc..) For instance, you can save a game outside of Arnika and then enter the town and open a chest and get item A - then re-load the game outside of Arnika and enter the town again and open that same chest and get item B (assuming the item isn’t “placed”/fixed in that chest). Drops however (stuff pick pocketed or pillaged from dead opponents), variably occur when pickpocketing or killing an opponent. Well I don’t know about you, but I find that generally knowing a type of item does or does not exist (or is or isn’t usable by a character) far more preferable than not knowing. This usually avoids the following: “I’ve come all this way to get this fab. weapon people have been talking about and now I find my character can’t use it - crap!”. Essentially, “knowing” a little helps you plan your characters better. A semi-spoiler list of items can be found here:
http://www.tk421.net/wizardry/wiz8items.shtml Note: that not all stats appear to be correct.

Well lets start with weapons. We have at least two races here: Lizardmen and Faeries. Faeries will essentially be using 2 diff. weapons only, IF they ever use weapons at all (and it’s a big if). One of those is the Faerie stick they get as starting equipment, the other is a sling - Thats It (unless they are throwing something like a bomb). Your Lizardmen fighters however can use just about anything (except class or race restricted items), but as we have mentioned - they should be using an extended range weapon - most of the time. Lances, Bo’s, and Monstrances are out. Additionally the Giant Sword is out (its race restricted to Mooks). Practically speaking this means they will be utilizing some type of polearm (spear or halberd). However the staff or mace isn’t a bad idea either. The staff of doom is one of the best weapons in the game and is a placed item a third to mid way through the game. The cat o’ nine tails and the vampire chain are also very nice items (mace type) and there found/forged about 50-60% of the way through the game. Additionally these mace type weapons are one handed so that you can use a shield (not a weapon in the off-hand). Successful pickpocketing (higher in party level) may sometimes produce excellent halberds from people in Arnika. Good spears will sometimes “drop” from dead Trynnie champions (and you don’t have to kill them - just engage combat with them around and strong opponents, a couple might die and you might get one.) Additionally you may also want to “train” with swords or maces for some of the nicer swords/maces later in the game AND for when you don’t have to protect your magic casters (perhaps a 3 sided barrier utilized against an enemy with only short range melee attacks, or you’ve killed off a “swarm” and have a “boss” left over, etc.). Your melee meat shields should also use bows, crossbows, or slings (for the occasion when they have worth). You can find good stuff early on for each type of ranged weapon. Note: Typically do not use modern weapons, good ones won’t surface early and they don’t provide a strength bonus, additionally the ammunition can be problematic. For variety (since your faeries can only use slings) you may want one meat shield to use a bow and another to use a crossbow. (In particular the double-shot cross bow is quite nice and can be made by a gadgeteer you can recruit early in the game. Also see below on training.) If your using a Priest/fighter consider staffs. For a Bardtender consider swords, Bloodlust is available early on (also consider dual wielding swords) - though while they are an alchemist it will most likely be either staffs or daggers. The same ranged weapon info generally applies to these cross-classes.

Ranged weapon ammunition tip: Purchase the good stuff when it becomes available and simply drop it where your likely to return (it doesn’t vanish), rinse and repeat to stockpile. Ammunition is HEAVY and you don’t want much of it on you or in your inventory when you fight - the extra weight KILLs your AC and attacks. Note: if possible your weight limit should be white in color, but blue isn’t bad either (anything else gets bad).

Now lets look at wearables. For Faeries you have the clothes they came with or forged Zynaryx plate. The plate can be forged very early in the game BUT finding all the ingredients for more than one character can take a long time (and there is only enough for two). They can also wear hats and broachs/rings etc. (i.e. a bishop can wear a mitre hat). For Lizardmen, simply put, wear the best stuff when you can find it AND when it’s appropriate to do so (see skills below). You can walk out of Arnika with a 10 AC from selective purchases alone from Antone (with some magical resistance to) - not including shield bonuses. Additionally, go ahead and purchase heater shields from Antone for those characters that might be utilizing shields on occasion.

Extras: It would be nice if: each character had at least one resurrection powder, 5 heavy heals (or moderate heals for Faeries), and the same for stamina. Additionally flash powder and smelling salts are also nice to have. Offensivly, canned elementals and acid bombs are very nice (but make sure the character can throw the things). Also keep on hand restoration potions for later in the game.

Store Tip: For store purchased items, right click on the item to see if your character can use it before you purchase it (look at the highlighted race and class boxes in the upper left). For forged items simply initiate dialog with the smith and type in the word “custom” to find out about custom items.

Skill “Training”. (I smell the cheese......and it smells GUUUDa!)

Quite a few people “frown” on this aspect, in that they believe you should only perform an action for that desired result. For instance, casting the spell Knock Knock just to open the lock - not to increase your alchemy skill. I see this as a rather flawed viewpoint for two reasons: 1st this game is very difficult in comparison to most other RPG’s (and its this way ALL the time - not to realistic, but it can be a lot of fun.); 2nd unlike a game like Morrowind, there are no people you can go to and pay to train you. So instead of going to master lockpick for training - you go to Bank Vault in Arnika and cast the spell again and again and again, etc.. Even then however, your not really doing it to increase your ability to open locks - your doing it to increase your earth magic skill (so it smells a little ripe and violates number 2). But hold on - can’t we premise this so that we achieve something that smells a little better and tops out a bit higher in role playing value? Sure! Instead of using the alternative route to the vault, why not go the less common way - pick it from the outside (and only get the stuff inside the vault once you have successfully picked it). In fact this method has “problems” that can actually work with other methods of skill training AND make you lots a cash (see the Kitchen Sink and the ATM below). With a little creativity you can usually achieve a fair bit of roleplaying value out of most (if not all) “training”.

Skill training for weapons and battle skills (close combat, ranged combat, dual weapon, shield, critical strike, etc.) involves use in battle. You have to “swing” but not necessarily “connect”. (Unlike magic however, a miss doesn’t seem to count as much as a hit.) The more often you “swing” the faster you will increase those skills. If your dexterity or speed is up you’ll attack/“swing” more often, however this is also predicated on your skill with the weapon. Usually with only a moderate level in dexterity (>55) + a skill level of 55 in that weapon you should see two attacks, which will of course further serve to increase you skills. As an extra for ranged attack skill increases you can utilize a double shot cross bow (or triple shot for that matter) - this is particularly useful for increasing ranged skill on those meat shields that really haven’t been utilizing ranged attacks much. (There is also the double shot sling which can be acquired fairly early in the game (25% or so). The double shot can be created sooner in Trynton with the help of an hireable Gadgeteer NPC there.)

Stealth and Iron Skin training is also trained in battle. For the Stealth skill you only have to be attacked but not hit. Iron Skin however requires that you be hit (i.e. take damage, though just one point of damage is enough), and it must be done during battle. As you can see, it behooves you to “unlock” Iron Skin as quickly as possible so that, when your taking damage to increase this skill, your earlier in the game where opponents don’t hit with as much damage, (and also because it takes a LONG time to increase). Additionally, if your character is wearing armor then go ahead and take most of it OFF, particularly when your not worried about large damage potentials from opponents, this will allow your character to be hit more often thus increasing your Iron Skin skill. Many players often “up the cheese factor” by parking their Stealth class character just within range of Seekers (in the Monastery) and heal when necessary to increase that skill up to 100 with one prolonged battle. I think that’s GREAT, particularly considering that most opponents will land hits often even with very high (>20) AC scores. In fact this is an area of the game that is VERY unbalanced, (I say make up for the designers flaw by “spackling” with cheese). (Other special skills work in much the same manner.)

Magical training works just as mentioned with the Knock Knock spell and other spells. Healing often ups divinity. Charming ups mental. (You get the point.) Again, you can always “Charm” an NPC for the role playing factor of being in their good graces (when purchasing or questioning). In fact you can always Charm for each question or purchase to up your roleplaying value (Mind Read roleplays in the same fashion). (The Jedi says, “you’ll sell that sword for 500". The vendor replys, “No I think not, the price is 1000 - your Jedi mind tricks won’t work on me.) Magical training in general works best by utilizing a spell level that is either the highest level of green or the yellow next to the highest level of green - its not just a matter of frequency. (Of course at the start of the game nothing is green, just use the lowest setting then.) When the spell works (and particularly when the spell fails) your increasing your skill, sometimes however the spell doesn’t backfire or fail, but neither does it work (this is the only time your not getting skill credit). If you have “mana to burn” (a.k.a. lots of mana), AND your not in danger of hurting yourself or other NPCs you value, go ahead and “push” things by utilizing the highest setting - particularly if a higher level is useful (as with Magic Screen, Enchanted Blade, etc.). Whenever your in battle ALWAYS use magic. This doesn’t necessarily mean use offensive damaging magic, in fact you generally DON’T want to use offensive damaging magic unless you have to (at least early in the game). By utilizing spells like sleep, itching skin, terror, blinding flash, paralyze, etc., you can train not only your magic casters but ALSO your melee meat shields by allowing them to get in plenty of hits. If you do utilize this technique, (and you really should), then you should also utilize Enchanted Blade (to increase your chance to hit which is better than melee “missing”) AND utilize the least powerful weapon in the weapon class you wish your fighter to improve in. This of course maximizes your hits while prolonging the battle to get in more swings. Note: Bard music training works the same as magical training.

Spellbooks should always be purchased IF your characters can learn the spell (now or in the future) EVEN if you don’t plan on using the spell. This is another method to “train”. Simply by using/reading the book your magic caster not only learns that new spell but ALSO increase skills for that particular spell. In fact (though it is a SPOILER), If I were you I would look to see where the spell books are that can be PURCHASED. Located here: http://wiz8.web1000.com/mage_77.html With these lists you can plan out what spells you will be purchasing so that you have a better idea of what spells NOT to choose as you level up. Note that these Spellbooks are not all going to be there - they are variable like other equipment (with an 8-to-16-to-24 hour period similar to alchemy potions). Note: Anna in particular has a problem with inventory, and to have a better chance of more Spellbooks showing up - you may need to purchase large quantities of her missile inventory (which you can always sell to Antone at a minor loss).

The Kitchen Sink and the ATM. (How to make money and train at the same time.)

There are 3 methods for making money. Number one is finding stuff, (and pillaging the dead), that you don’t want to keep and selling it. Number two is increasing something’s value (i.e. alchemy or engineering two items into one better item). Number 3 is simply killing opponents. Of course the best way is use ALL three methods. So how to do this? Well most are familiar with the alchemy mixing method and I’d certainly suggest using it. The alchemy potions and the level required to mix are here: http://www.geocities.com/jandrall/Wizardry8/Recipe1.htm Of course the heavy heal potion is the main kitchen sink mixer. (In particular you should sell your heavy healing potions to He’li because she’ll pay more than Braffit.) While your waiting for the inventory rollover for the potions and the Spellbooks (as mentioned above), you shouldn’t be just sleeping your time away - not only does it up the cheese factor, its down right unproductive! Instead of sleeping you should be “heavying” Lorrac at the bank next door, making as full and complete a “withdraw” as possible. That’s right - its time to “shake-down” Lorrac. (Look at like this: your parties from off world, it looks pretty tough and unsavory - like you might try to take an “unauthorized withdraw” - all you need to do is go over to the counter and harass Lorrac a little.) SAVE YOUR GAME FIRST, then just push the middle button on the panel to harass Lorrac. (Only the middle button for now.) When you do this a bunch of bank guards pop-up in the lobby for personal deposits. You should move your party to the hallway that leads to the lobby for the vault and then turn your party around so that its facing those guards coming to “greet” you (greet means kill in case you didn’t catch on there). (Additionally you should be standing in the middle of that hallway/lobby entrance because its rather wide and you only want your meat shields exposed to attack.) Lorrac is usually the first to initiate attack. MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU DON’T KILL HER! (She won’t respawn if you kill her and then you’ll loose out BIG TIME by not having her.) Let her beat on your meat shields to kick up their Iron Skin skill, but don’t hit her. Because her initiative is so high I would suggest that you ALWAYS set your meat shields to defend until after she has had her first swing in and after guards have started showing up - only when you have a target other than Lorrac should you go into your berserker state and start killing guards. (Additionally you should be utilizing the methods mentioned in the magic training section for your magic casters, BUT be careful which spells you use - remember that Blinding Flash drives away opponents and you may or may not wish this result.) Lorrac may summon some more guards behind you in the vault lobby, if so then re-form you party and get the people in back and put them in the middle (preferably) and sides, AND of course transfer one of you meat shields to the rear position to “handle” the new threat. Lorrac may summon more guards again and again and again (be prepared), but after a while she’ll start to get nervous and retreat or “flee in terror” IF there is enough room for her to do so. Not only that but after a few “summons” by her she can no longer summon guards because there is no room for the guards to appear - so there is an end in site provided she doesn’t return back to the bank from “fleeing” or retreating before you have killed the rest of the guards. (If that happens she may start summoning guards again.) After you have killed the guards and pillaged the “drops” then cruise on over to the buttons on the counter. Go ahead and press the rest of the buttons now that Lorrac is outside - this opens up the elevator doors to both the personal deposit area and the main bank vault. Go to the main vault elevator and take it down and train utilizing knock knock if available or if you have a rouge bard or gadgeteer then also train their ability. (Note: after one character has picked or cast knock knock on the door then exit that function interface and click on the door again for the next character to train - otherwise you will typically increase your probability in opening the door by simply moving on to the next character to try and pick/cast on the door.) After training (without picking the lock) go back upstairs and walk out into the lobby and you will see Lorrac coming back at you from her normal counter position. Try not to engage in combat yet and move your party back into the main vault elevator which provides you with a nice 3 sided barrier. Lorrac should then make it into the main vault room (enticed there presumably from your party making noise walking around in that room) and initiate combat. Again you’ll have much the same drill here as before, this time however after Lorrac has fled, your party will leave the bank. BE CAREFULL LEAVING THE BANK. What you want to do is peak around the corner to view the pool and statute outside the bank. You should see Lorrac off in the distance, she should start advancing toward you and then disappear (you DON’T want her to initiate combat, you want her to disappear.) Essentially she is “teleporting” back into her normal counter position in the bank. When she has disappeared IMMEDIATELY move your party out of the bank (otherwise Lorrac will start moving toward you again and try to initiate combat). Now go do your mixing and selling. Rinse and repeat this method. Typically you can sleep in the main vault elevator in position after Lorrac has left the bank without her disturbing you - simply sleep when you need to which is usually when Lorrac stops spawning guards for that 8 hour period (which works well with repurchasing potions).

Tips: Heal Lorrac if you hit her or she gets hit by “green-dot friends”. Always save your game before entering and after exiting the bank. BEFORE utilizing the ATM process here you should engage a group of two or more savant troopers where they kill off all the Lay Brothers wandering outside - this will keep Lorrac from getting killed by them when she runs out side and keep you from having to reload the game (and keep you from getting in trouble with Braffit for personally killing of the Brothers).

So what’s the tally from this process? Well typically within a 24 hour period you will have “kitchen sink mixed” at least 20 heavy healing potions and gained Alchemy experience (provided you have a character capable of learning this skill) just from store purchases. Often you will have about another 5 mixed from light and medium heal potion “drops” from guards. In addition you will have “hassled” Lorrac 4 to 5 times per 8 hour period (or in another words about 13 times in a 24 hour period). You will typically average 4 guards per hassle, so that’s 52 kills in a 24 hour period. The great thing about this is each guard is worth 250 credits, so that’s 13,000 just killing guards in this 24 hour period. Additionally they have drops, some are worth a little and some are worth a lot, (and some are worth keeping - like the rare acid bomb drop). Its very rare that you’ll get a Bipennis worth about 3000 from a guard, but its considerably less rare to receive enchanted katanas worth about 1200. Somtimes however you’ll get a string of “crap-drops” where your only get near worthless ammunition. In a 24 hour period its rare that I don’t double the 13,000 amount to 26,000 from sales to Antone. In truth however I haven’t included the time it takes for performing all of the proper actions - so your 24 hour period is likely to be 26 to 28 hours total. Perhaps the best thing about training in this fashion is that its not boring - your actually involved and it always interesting to see the combinations of drops that you get from killing guards. (You may often be saying to yourself, “Awe man, the drop on this shake down was pitiful - just some sticks, rocks, and urine samples (a.k.a. weak stamina potions)”. Alternatively, you may have gotten an acid bomb an enchanted katana and a couple of breast plates with some moderate potions thrown in, then you’ll be grinning and saying to yourself, “Sweeeeeet”.

Of course its not just about cash, its also about experience. I’ll often utilize this method until the party members have more than a million in experience points. In addition to this rotation of course you should be purchasing spell books from Braffit and Anna and Charming/Mindreading Anna, and using knock to pick the bank vault, and of course casting spells and performing melee and ranged combat during your “shake down”.

Dual class time.

A portion of what you should or should not do with regard to dual classing is mentioned above in the section on Attributes and Classes. In addition however you may want to consider what many believe to be the number one cheese tactic in the game - one level of Rogue. In essence the reason your taking one level of rogue for your characters is to max out their Stealth skill and thus achieve a base AC of 10! Additionally however Stealth has a few other nice benefits. If ALL of your characters in your party have this skill then they will be able to get closer to opponents before being detected and having a battle initiated. If only a few of your characters have this skill then typically your opponents will try and concentrate on attacking non-stealth characters. Some opponents will simply flee from stealth characters because they can’t see them. Critical Strike (available from ninja, monk, and samurai) also “travels” to other classes, so you could take one level in one of these classes to try and max that skill for melee purposes (far more difficult to train though). Note however that things are not as easy as they appear - you still have to allocate the minimum attributes for that class to be able to dual-over to that class (feasible for a Rouge, but far less so for the hybrids.) Another classic example is for magic casters to remain in their class for a VERY long time and then switch to fighter near the end of the game so they can wear armor and infinity helms (this however isn’t an option for Faeries). Role playing wise I’d say it isn’t so cheesy having high stealth skill in Faeries - there not just fast, there also small and as such should be hard to see (and typically they are always wearing what they started the game with clothing-wise). Also think about it for your lizard fighter for later in the game (not until at least 25 in Iron Skin). Typically this character will be developed more like a Monk, (a berserker pole fighting monk), than a pure fighter and that character most likely won’t be wearing armor until the last 20% of the game.

Lasting Magic Buffs:

1. Light 2. Detect Secrets; 3. Enchanted Blade; 4. Missile Shield; 5. Armor Plate; 6. Chameleon; 7. Magic Screen; 8. Shadow Hound; 9. X-Ray. (Obviously 1 & 2 are not combat related, and 6, 8, and 9 are only quasi-related to combat.)

Combat Magic Buffs:

1. Bless; 2. Guardian Angel; 3. Razor Cloak; 4. Element Shield; 5. Eye for and Eye; 6. Haste; 7. Ring of fire; 8. Soul Shield; 9. Superman.

CONCLUSION:

Not much to say here that hasn’t been said already - have fun!

[ 01-07-2004, 01:14 AM: Message edited by: ScottG ]
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Old 08-02-2003, 07:39 AM   #2
Variol (Farseer) Elmwood
Jack Burton
 

Join Date: May 16, 2003
Location: Dartmouth, NS Canada
Age: 52
Posts: 5,634
(3. If your hit, minimize the damage. 4. If your hit, heal the damage.)

It should be "if you're hit or if you are hit".

..not trying to be a smartty pants but I was confused as to what you were trying to say there.

An excellent post, even after I have played as much as I have!

[ 08-02-2003, 07:41 AM: Message edited by: Variol (Farseer) Elmwood ]
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Old 08-02-2003, 12:15 PM   #3
ScottG
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Join Date: June 13, 2003
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Mon Graci.

Yup, I'm sure there will be several areas of confusion, as well as basic grammar and mis-spellings. My editing skills are weak and my writing style can be somewhat obtuse. (I remember one post where EE and I were saying the same basic thing over and over again, but EE was still having trouble understanding what I was saying.)
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Old 08-02-2003, 12:51 PM   #4
Variol (Farseer) Elmwood
Jack Burton
 

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Well, I think you might win the longest post award with that one. How long did you spend on that?
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Old 08-02-2003, 01:35 PM   #5
SecretMaster
Apophis
 

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Hmm, this is an honest question. Have you ever considered writing a Wiz8 strategy guide? Serioulsy though, this IS impressive. Wiz8 should of hired you to make monster A.I. for big bosses so the party really has a hard time beating em.
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Old 08-02-2003, 02:35 PM   #6
ScottG
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Couldn't say how long it took me - several hours all told (maybe 8), but worked on it off and on.

This is my attempt at basic strategy guide. The real reason I did this was because I had extreme difficulties with this game similar to Tarjan's recent post:

http://www.ironworksforum.com/ubb/cg...;f=15;t=003346

I was looking for exactly this type (beg.s ref.) of a post (either here, on other forums, or on someones web page) but could not find it. The best I could find was some analysis on character creation and a multitude of tips and hints. Worse still the character analysis was flawed in several respects - primarily because the emphasis was always on the character itself, and not on characters as they relate to a party.

Its funny you should mention AI work, a friend of mine is an expert in this field (phd physics) and has worked for the gaming industry before. My prof. however isn't this at all...business, tax, and estate planning. (In otherwords I draft things like strategic trusts/LLC's to screw over creditors like the IRS.)

[ 08-02-2003, 03:19 PM: Message edited by: ScottG ]
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Old 08-19-2003, 12:30 PM   #7
Wereboar
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I only took a short look at it (have to read it completely at one day), but there's one point i totally disagree:

The most important protective spell isn't elemental shield. It's magic screen.

Well, elemental shield give you a high resistance (+70%) against 4 of the realm after you successful casted it in combat. Magic screen gives you the same protection, against all magic. And you can cast it outside combat, so it will always be up in combat.

In addition, you don't really need fast characters to get elemental shield and soul shield up, if magic screen is already running. I rarely push speed for spellcasters, and usually play in expert ironman. If you need them up in a combat, you usually are able to engage combat from outside the enemies view, so they can't cast at you in the first round.

The second most important defensive spell is missile shield IMO. Most ironman parties i lost after Arnika were killed because they didn't have a good missile shield available (usually only samurai for wizardry spells).

Another point: You say Fairie is the best race for spellcasters. Well, IMO it is for mages and psionics. But Priest, bishop and alchemist can use lots of armor (and weapons) that a fearie is unable to use. Fairies can'T even wear robes of Rejuvination. So Fairie is ok for classes whitch are very restricted by themself, but IMO bad for the other ones.
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Old 08-19-2003, 10:10 PM   #8
ScottG
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Graci Wereboar!

The reasons I chose Element Shield as being the most important:
1. Though I don't remember exactly, I think that for an equal power level setting Element Shield (and Soul Shield) provides more than double the protection of Magic Screen.
2. You don't really need Magic Protection always on, in fact you rarely need it - (but of course when you do you need it you want it as strong as possible, see #1).
3. There are multiple elemental attackers in the game; there are only a few mental attackers. Divinity attacks can be guarded against with amulets. Essentially then, with the exception of those rare mental attacks, Element Shield is the most valuable spell in the game.

Don't get me wrong, I like Both in operation - but if forced to choose one over the other utilizing the battle strategy I've mentioned I'll take Element Shield ANY day over Magic Screen,(its an essential, Magic Screen is a luxury). If I'm wrong about the strength of the spells and Magic Screen is at least 80% as effective as Element Shield and Soul Shield then I will reverse my position.

As for speed casting:
1. Remember this is a beginners guide.
2. If you have Magic Screen up before a fight then thats great, but you can still be substantially damaged (or killed) with the protection it provides UNLESS you have a great deal of additional items that add to your protection (and even then you will have some characters that have little better than 50% protection in half of the available subclass "elements"). Additionally here you are assuming that you have Magic Screen in addition to Element Shield and Soul Shield.
3. I have rarely had a magic casting opponent NOT cast their worst spells the first round of combat (Murphy's Law at work?). What do you think a beginner will have happen to them? (i.e. see #1.)

I'd actually consider Missile Shield more important than Mag. screen, but NOT for road type weeds and throwing Brigands. Utilizing the battle strategy and party creation techniques I outlined, (used consistently and faithfully), no beginner should have problems with the roads, (let alone intermeadiate or advanced players). Even in Ironman mode you should find the roads to be VERY easy.

Faeries are the best class for SPEED CASTERS, in addition they have better magical protection AND mana regeneration. No they don't wear armor, but they don't need to (and I provided the one level of Rogue/Stealth skill as an option for enhancing AC. Again, they don't need armor because of the battle strategies in conjunction with the proscribed method for party creation.
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Old 08-20-2003, 06:47 AM   #9
Wereboar
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Quote:
Though I don't remember exactly, I think that for an equal power level setting Element Shield (and Soul Shield) provides more than double the protection of Magic Screen.
IIRC both increase your resistance by 10% per spell level (more with powercast).

Quote:
You don't really need Magic Protection always on, in fact you rarely need it - (but of course when you do you need it you want it as strong as possible, see #1).
But you can cast magic screen once, and it usually lasts for several battles. Elemental shield needs about the same amount of mana for each cast. Plus, priests have lots of divine mana to spare, while mage or alchemist can easy use up their earth mana for whipping rocks.

Quote:
I have rarely had a magic casting opponent NOT cast their worst spells the first round of combat (Murphy's Law at work?).
Either murphies law, or maybe they notice that your resistance is low without magic screen?
In my experience (just back from rapax castle), enemy spellcasters usually cast thier own protective spells first.

Quote:
I'd actually consider Missile Shield more important than Mag. screen, but NOT for road type weeds and throwing Brigands.
The weeds in Xxxxxxx are often very hard without a good missile shield. In Arnika road, it helps quite a bit, but is not crucial.
Deathsting apuses are deadly. I lost two level 10-11 ironman parties to them in xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx, because my samurai couldn't cast it at high level.

Quote:
Faeries are the best class for SPEED CASTERS, in addition they have better magical protection AND mana regeneration.
Yes, the mana regeneration is very nice, especially if you have only fairies as attack casters.

[ 08-21-2003, 04:44 AM: Message edited by: Wereboar ]
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Old 08-20-2003, 08:38 PM   #10
ScottG
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I wasn't able to go back to a saved game without powercast, however I did go back and test the two types with characters that had powercast at 50%.

I removed all modifying equipment from one character (a Lizardman) that had the following base resistances at level 24:

Fire = 40, Air = 25, Mental = 15, Water = 35, Earth = 35, Divinity = 15

Magic Screen provided the following:

Fire = 75, Air = 60, Mental = 50, Water = 70, Earth = 70, Divinity = 50

Element Shield and Soul Shield provided the following:

Fire = 100, Air = 89, Mental = 100, Water = 99, Earth = 99, Divinity = 100

All spells were at top (7) power level. Perhaps more importantly some have suggested that the "100" figures are not accurate in that the display will only list up to 100 but the amount of the protection can exceed this - something useful to counteract party levels lower than opponent levels.

So in this instance Element Shield provides this amount more than Magic Screen:
Fire = 25 (presumably the figure is 29, but the additional 4 points are not shown)
Air = 29
Water = 29
Earth = 29

Magic Screen provided 35 to the "elements" (Fire, Air, Water, and Earth). Essentially in this scenario then Magic Screen is about 60% as effective as Element Shield - not bad but not good enough, particularly with the character vs. opponent level alteration. Now it could be that I'm getting that additional "40%" via Powercast, (but I doubt it) - if so then I will change my position, but from the data I currently have I won't.

Now if you purchase certain cloaks for your characters you are bumping an additional 10% across the board and this, in conjunction with Magic Screen, MAY be enough depending on your party AND depending on the level of your opponents. However, in my opinion this is still to risky for a beginner especially considering the places you have to go to get these cloaks. (there are however other items in the game that also boost element protection, but rarely across the board in the "elements", and rarely with as large and increase - and you will "never" find/purchase either enough of these items or items that will be able to be used by all characters in your party).

I definitly like Magic Screen's "staying power", but, with the exception of one battle I remember (at AP), Element Shield lasted through the duration of each battle (and this included earlier battles where Element Shield was not cast with full power). Following the format I've provide, battles typically end quickly.

I was being somewhat facicious with the "Murphys Law" statement. You are quite right about opponet casters casting protections at the start, the piece of the puzzel your missing is that a majority of battles with spell casting opponents have more than one caster in their "group" (and sometimes involve several groups). Futhermore (for combat balancing with the engine) these casters will either raise Soul Shield OR Element Shield (not both), though in some cases like the Rapax Mages you will have one casting Magic Screen (fairly rare with most other casting opponents). Essentially then you have one caster casting a defense and several others casting nasty spells at your party.

Deathstings are nasty (all characters should have 1 ressurection bag available in their inventory for such cases - especially at the level your describing), but actually I was thinking of Rapax Archers in addtition to numerous other Rapax. (btw, please edit your post and remove where you encountered Deathstings, a bit to much of a spoiler that far into the game.)

[ 08-21-2003, 03:21 AM: Message edited by: ScottG ]
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