Surviving as a Caster

  • Storyteller [DM]

    With the recent AI changes, I suppose this is a warranted thread and I feel like giving advise to people would be a productive way to make the game more enjoyable, and less frustrating to people who, admittedly, are not as adept at mechanics as others. This thread has advise primarily for sorcerer/wizard classes, but I am more than willing to answer questions about other classes.

    Also realize, that sometimes, no matter what you do, you're screwed. 🙂

  • Thank you, Thomas.

    I am sure we will all follow your advice on how to make cookie cutter mages and clerics.

    Please construct a fighter thread next and tell us how to play those properly too.

  • Storyteller [DM]

    These are not cookie cutter concepts. You can easily play an evoker who runs around fireballing everything in sight and still make use of some of these tactics, shield/mage armor/barkskin and a stoneskin spell on your person to survive the inevitable response from enemies.

    Further, you can play a Conjuror who summons a swarm, goes invisible, casts stoneskin, and drops an evards on the enemy before sending forth his minions.

    These are -key- principles to surviving as a mage. If I was playing a fighter, I would want the mage to just stay invisible and keep spamming healing wands while buffing me as I get dispelled.

    This clearly isn't going to happen since it is -boring-. However, I just outlined basic precepts to playing a mage successfully on a quest, many which our higher level mages already know and consider to be essential (the healing wand bits incredibly so.

  • Great post.
    I'd just like to add that casters would do well to learn how to use WASD movement, because mobility is very important for squishies in some situations. It can help you shrug off a monster and get him killed by meleers' AoOs, but can also cause your own death if you generate AoOs yourself while you're at it. So you have to direct carefully your every step.
    A question: Are hybrid builds viable? Armoured mages? Rogue mages?

    Another group of characters i think got significantly harder to play is support meleers. Like rogues, two-weapon rangers and monks. Any insight on that?

  • Tactically, you've got some nice ideas, but tactics are dependent upon the situation, and there's no way you can know how to respond to a situation without good game sense anyway. If you were to ask me, all a wizard needs as far as protection is a stoneskin, an elemental protection and an extended endurance - and that's if he's high level with lots of extra spell slots.

    Otherwise, my only major disagreement is the notion that your build is important. Your build is the least important part of surviving or otherwise meeting with success on CoA. And while yes, I'm including plots, I'm also talking about power gaming. Your build is worthless. Your team's composition, game sense and ability to communicate is tantamount like any other team game.

    A 6 con, 10 dex elf wizard can hit level 12 if he's smart enough to be patient and has useful allies that know how to quest.


    Your team's composition, game sense and ability to communicate is tantamount like any other team game.

    So very true.

  • Storyteller [DM]

    The melee mage on CoA is quite literally a lost cause with the prevalance of +1 weaponry on even low level quests. Staples for them like BLUR are made impotent because of it. Unless this changes, I would not advise a melee mage, however…if you're still keen on it, I would look at a build with moderate intelligence (14) and build it as if you would a fighter from there. Then take martial weapons, and toughness at level 1, Light armor at 3, and medium armor at 6. If you rock, you might convince a DM to make a spell failure free set of Full Plate for you and take the feat at 9. Use a two handed weapon and focus on buffing yourself solely, and if you got extra spells, don't be afraid to hold them in reserve if you get dispelled.

    I also hear Polymorph on this server is utterly OP. So that might be a viable option for you.

    That said, armored mages are fine if you are willing to expend the feats. The Rogue/mage, or "Arcane Trickster" is a difficult build to pull off, but something along the lines of 3wiz/3rogue and keep the levels even might enable you to reap the benefits of both classes. Again, low HP classes aren't mechanically designed for taking the critical hit from the Orc Warlord, and should keep this in mind if you get fugued while being an utterly ballsy an awesome player.

    For monks, there is no class that reaps the benefits of spells, or suffers so devastatingly without them. Any spell is something a monk benefits from in some manner, owls wisdom gives them dodge ac, so does grace, damage comes from strength and hp from consititution, they can get +4 ac from mage armor, they also benefit from shield... they make WONDERFUL assassins, and a true strike combo with stun fist can make any player or monster easy to bring down. With monks, you just have to be willing to spend gold on these potions from mages, purchasing them from PCs can save you forty gold a brew, while the shield brew is easy and cheap to get if you know where you're looking. Having an ample supply to replace buffs after getting dispelled is key for a monk.

    The two handed ranger, well, it truly depends on what you're going for. I've played rangers that can utterly dominate a battle field, or could stealth behind enemy lines and wreak havoc. Play them as a rogue if you are interested in being subtle and clearing the path of traps and shit for the group behind you, or treat them as a fighter in medium armor (or FP if you take heavy armor) and take the fore with animal empathy to possess animals and ultimately take some of the pressure from the fighters with disposable NPCs.

    Essentially, flank if you're in light armor and be ready to run the moment the enemy targets you.

  • Awesomeman, i don't disagree, but ability to communicate is very limited during the actual combat. And team's composition is often far from ideal and even random, if you don't have a stable group of buddies who all log to "raid" on the same time.
    You do need to learn to survive even on your own.

  • My last char IC-ly trained his crew how to best support him in a fight, how the 2 handed warriors should avoid drawing too much attention to themselves (before it's too late anyway) etc…

    It is something i have seen too often stay the same for a level 1 or a level 10 and it is tactics... it is good to learn it IC-ly from someone who "knows their shit" and ask for pointers IC too (or ooc, but ic way is always more fun).

    I could write a guide for how to avoid damage and work as a team for your "base" party compilation, but the real fun is elarning it IC-ly as your character progresses. It is the difference between the disciplined level 10 and the novice level 1.

  • @Direfish:

    Awesomeman, i don't disagree, but ability to communicate is very limited during the actual combat. And team's composition is often far from ideal and even random, if you don't have a stable group of buddies who all log to "raid" on the same time.
    You do need to learn to survive even on your own.

    Pretty much, not everyone is gonna jump on TS when you quest with them.

  • You guys need to take typing classes if you seriously have trouble talking IC.

  • My typing speed is rubbish, that's why my characters tend to be pretty quiet during combat. Maybe someday I'll have time for typing classes, but I don't foresee it in the near future.

    Anyway, back to the main topic.

    I've seen four basic types of pure class mage/sorc on CoA:

    1. The mage who buffs the fighters and stays in the background with their crossbow/bow
    2. The mage who shoots fireballs and acid arrows from the back lines
    3. The mage who summons
    4. The mage who turns him/her self into a monster and joins the front lines.

    Personally, I strongly dislike the melee mage. If you want to melee, play a tank. A mage who turns themselves into an umberhulk and buffs up spends a full minute to make themselves not quite as good as a normal fighter. I don't care if you've got 26 strength, your base attack bonus is still rubbish and you're still only getting one attack per round, meanwhile the 16 strength fighter with two or three attacks per round and great cleave feat is wiping the floor while you're still buffing yourself. Defensively, the monster mage's ac is likely no better than a fighter who's used a shield potion and the mage's whole world collapses if the enemy uses dispel magic. So, imo, only the first three are viable, really. But which, in your opinion, is better in CoA? The mage who buffs the fighters and wastes arrows with their lousy attack bonus, or the mage who lets the fighters fend for themselves and wipes out enemies with direct damage, or the mage who calls forth minions to help the front-liners?

  • Quick tip.

    IF you want to survive as a caster, and you plan on being a support role type character… go throw your crossbow in the trash. All it does is give the enemies even MORE reason to want to eat your face, and makes it even harder for the front to hold the line. Then the line breaks, you run screaming - and someone else dies. Sometimes even the fighter. Because now he's chasing the thing chasing you, leaving himself flat-footed and not dealing any damage when he should be killing things.

    Ranged attack weapons get mages killed.

    Grab a dagger or a quarterstaff so an accidental attack doesn't generate an AoO - and play the role you picked. Support /caster/.

  • Hmm… hadn't thought of that, but you're right. I've seen it time and time again.

  • So which do you people who play casters think is the most viable in CoA? The mage who buffs the front line, the mage who kills with offensive spells, or the mage who summons minions?

  • The beauty of wizards and most casters is versatility. Depending on the situation, you can be a nuker, you can be an invisible buffer, a summoner, or polymorph it up and be a second tank.

    The key is choosing which archtype to fill and matching it to the situation you think you'll be facing - And the party you're with.

  • There is no "right" way to play a mage, just like there is no "right" way to play a cleric, fighter, rogue, or any other class. Glow was pretty on track when he said that communication and teamwork are paramount. This doesn't mean you have to jump on vent or TS so you can have instant communication with each other. OC and Citizen_Bane will agree with me that our last characters had phenomenal teamwork because we TALKED about it ICly before fights ever happened. "Hey Hallvor, let me engage the enemy, the you circle around behind them and help flank them so we have the advantage. Amar, you watch the enemy for any spells and augment us as it's needed. Turn into a bulette if gets hairy." "k."

    That's really all you need to do, in a basic example. Communication doesn't have to happen during combat, because a lot of people have difficulty typing in combat. I know I do sometimes just because I'm too busy examining combat data or keeping a watch on enemy movements to type full or even fragmented sentences. On the other hand, it is helpful to learn to blurt out quick one word cues such, as, "Ambush!" or "North!" or "Behind you!" Even if your allies know about them already, having that verbal reinforcement is always nice.

    This is especially true for people who are in Green Monster's situation where logging in frequently and acquiring consistent questing partners is not a viable option. If you do find yourself in a relatively stable network of allies that you regularly quest or adventure with, prior communication on combat tactics is possibly the best use of whatever intelligence modifier your character will ever have.

    As far as mages go, I can't play one. I've tried. I suck at mages. It's because I love melee far too much to play the one class type that is the worst in melee, sans Shadow Adepts. I do know that there is a lot of tension towards crossbow mages and buff-bot mages. I see nothing wrong with either so long as they are done in moderation. OC probably did one of the better mage roles that I've seen - hold off on augmentations until you feel that they are needed, and let loose evocations and summons at appropriate times when your melee units need support. And you can either use a crossbow or neglect it, but honestly, with this new AI, a crossbow-wielding mage probably looks scrumptious to monsters.

    Anyway, tl;dr, talk beforehand. If you can't, learn quick cues. Mages, I love you guys, just stay versatile.

  • I honestly don't think the polymorph option is ever a good idea. If your group needs additional front-liners, fine, summon one. Polymorphing and buffing youself takes too long and results in more spells slots used and more time spent than just summoning a ready made fighter like a dire wolf or, even better, a warrior from the book of combat summoning theme. Yes, I realize that it's fun to feel like a badass and have your character personally rip enemies a new one, but if you want that, play a fighter (or a fighter/cleric for buffing goodness augmenting armour and skill).

    Like I said before, now matter how big a monster the mage makes him/her self, they've still got a lousy attack bonus, still got only one attack per round, and one dispel magic ruins their whole day, meanwhile the 4 or 5 spells slots used to get there could have been used to buff up multiple other people, or summon multiple ready-made monsters, or daze the enemy, or burn them, et cetera.

  • Play how you want, I enjoy taking all that gold when you whitelight in confused rage because somehow your 12 HP elf died because DumbfartMcOrcenstein triggered a trap. Or when those archers crit your 12 AC butt from out of your sight range. Or, best of all, when you snipe with your crossbow at that enraged ogre berserker who decided "robes = bad magic hurt!!!" as you draw attention and swiftly proceeds to grind you into fine powder.

    TBH all you need to do to play a mechanically strong mage is to stay IC and roleplay your INT score.

  • Versatility is fine for sorcs, but wizards need to plan their strategy in advance, usually before they even know what they're up against. Say for example you're a wiz and you're about to go out with a pretty much ideal, well-balanced group (something that doesn't happen as often as we'd like, I admit): A rogue or ranger for scouting and trap handling, a bard or cleric for healing, three good tanks, and you. What spells would you prepare? Buffs for the tanks? Blasting and disorienting spells, or summons? Assume that you're not a lvl 12 mage who has enough spell slots to have all of the above.

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