[Suggestion] A possible solution to 1 of the 3 primary magic shortcomings

By on August 29, 2010 10:37:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Join Date 04/2006

I couldn't sleep without posting this, which sucks as it's past 6am here:-(  So...


To understand where I'm coming from, I already like this game a lot (as of v1.06). To give some context to that, my Out Of Memory CTD only happens after 4-5 hours of play - and I've seen about 6 of them in the last week.  I sometimes even stop before it crashes:-p  Why do I like it? I really feel like I'm building a fantasy kingdom.  I love the rain of stones from a stone giant, and the choices you have with a fire giant, including it's in-combat mana regen.  There's a very solid foundation here, with a lot of good stuff.


That said, the criticisms I've seen on these forums have almost all been entirely fair.  The issue I think have a fix for is one of the 3 primary magic problems.  That is, each individual caster regains exactly 1 mana per turn.  I know, there's a tower you can build in a level 5 city for +2 regen, but I've played a lot and haven't quite managed a level 4 city yet (which is awesome, btw - megalopolises should be hard to come by).  So for all intents and purposes, 1 mana per turn.  As a result, once you've used all of your mana, it takes at least 2 turns to cast the lowest of the low single damage spells (fire bolt should be 1 mana, btw - it's very cantrip-y).  Not exactly an a towering figure out of legend, is it?  It's also very frustrating:-(

Maybe it's time to revisit the concept of a global mana pool.  Essence would stay mostly the same, but instead of how much mana you can hold as an individual, it's how much you can cast per turn.  You would still increase your essence (casting talent) through leveling up, and spread the wealth through embuing champions.  You, as a channeler, would geenrate 1 mana per turn into the global pool (which starts at either 0 or your initial essence).  Why is it better to share a single person's 1 mana generation instead of 1 per caster?  Because of other sources of mana.  Possibly a building at level 2 or 3 of a city that could generate 1 mana.  Mostly, though, shards could generate 5 or so mana per turn.  Look how much more valuable shards just became!  And without shard-screwing anyone because it's not a shard type they can use (though they would still multiply damage for their spell types - for real, though).  So the resources that should be the most important (besides food) might actually become the most important.

In addition to un-gimping the actual usage of spells, this opens up other opportunities.  In sovereign creation,  in addition to selecting a profession, you could pick an elemental affinity.  So for each shard of that type you control, you get 8 mana per turn instead of 5.  You also open the door to mana upkeep, so that keeping around an earth giant doesn't cost as much as keeping around a familiar (for example).  You could have a higher spread of spell costs, with some possibly taking multiple uninterrupted turns to cast, maybe with a limit of turns taken so some mini-caster can't cast uber-spells.

Ultimately, this could make magic much more strategic.  Yay!

A complication is that you would probably want to decouple special abilities from mana.  An n times per combat and 1 per n turns mechanics would cover most cases (though not choosing between the fire giant's capabilities, sadly).


As for the other magic issues, a quick recap for those who haven't seen them:

Magic is uninspired.  That is, there are a bunch of spells that are all functionally identical.  I recall Frogboy saying in a journal post (please correct me if I'm wrong) that he was unwilling to put in really interesting modifiers to spells because it would make the AI tremendously difficult to program well.  I very much hope that is being reconsidered.  MOM had lousy AI - I'm certain that Frogboy can do better - but there's still a lot of people that want to have it's baby, 20 years later.  Part of that is because the diverse magic formed the core of it's meaty soul (is it even possible for something immaterial to be meaty?  A question for the ages...).  Or 'flavor', or 'feel', or 'differentiation', or just plain 'fun'.


Magic is underpowered, especially as the game goes on.  I think this will become a lot better once squads are 'fixed'.  That is, as figures in a group go down, the attack should remain proportional to the number remaining.  Also, ideally an attack would be applied to one figure after the other.  So say a 25 point attack hit a squad; the first figure's 5 defense gets a crack at it (preventing 2 damage, for example), then the figure absorbs it's life in damage, then the remaining 18 (25 - 2 from defense - 5 life = 18 remaining) is applied to the next figure, and so on.  The squad wouldn't apply a full 20 defense at the outset.  That would fix a lot of the squad goofiness and keep magic much more relevant.


I know this is reminiscent of Master of Magic, but it also solves a pretty intractable problem nicely, so hopefully it's not too obnoxious.


Hmm, I wonder if I'll finally get my first karma point for this one.

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M. Agrippa
August 29, 2010 8:33:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

First off, I agree with all your points. This wonderful game needs some more diversity with its magic system.


More on point, however, your idea of casters drawing extra mana from environmental developments is stellar. It does complicate your casting children's usage a bit (what with having the capacity to become full fledged channelers as well). A few mana generating buildings, some champion improvements which increase elemental affinity, and perhaps the odd magic item (and acquired caster skills if they get implemented) would help increase the usefulness of our casters, probably speed up the military aspect of the game (at least with the way I play), and still give both impedance and impetus to the magical growth of our empires.



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August 29, 2010 11:50:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It is starting to look like a global mana pool is going to be introduced in 1.1, which is great. A number of drastic changes are needed to the magic system before it even comes close to having an accurate title. 

Great post and a fantastic idea


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August 30, 2010 12:04:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Would a global shared mana pool be essentially (I think?) like MoM where all casters would be using one unified mana resource?

I don't necessarily like / dislike the idea - but it is going to do little to address the current issues with the magic system.

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August 30, 2010 2:26:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Fantastic ideas!  MoM did some things right, and some things wrong, but the thing it did absolutely fantastically was nodes/mana.  Nodes were the "power plants" that powered your leader.  The power flowing from them could was used in a variety of ways:

  • Spell research
  • Maintenance of enchantments
  • Maintenance of summoned beings
  • Increasing personal spell casting skill (how much you can cast per turn)
  • Storing in the mana pool for future spell casting

As a player, you were constantly re-evaluating and re-adjusting how you were spending that power flowing into you from your nodes.  It forced you to make important strategic decisions, and also drove you to covet more nodes.  It was like a drug addiction, you wanted more power flowing in so that you could accomplish all of those grandiose plans!  You'd happily sacrifice countless minions of yours in order to secure that next node!  It was my fondest memory of playing MoM.  If I'm sitting there coveting more nodes so that I can summon that new creature I just researched while maintaining that important global enchantment and still have enough left over to do research and raise my skill, I'm not going to go to bed.  I'm going to sit up all night long and play the game obsessively.

I don't normally encourage games to completely rip off ideas from other games, but in this case I will.  MoM did this part right.  It did it as right as I think it can possibly be done.  Rip off those ideas!  

  • Global mana pool
  • Shards funnel mana into the pool
  • Essence is equivalent to MoM's casting skill - it's how much you can cast per turn
  • Enchantments and summons require varying amounts of mana to maintain, not enchantment slots
  • Strategic spells which cost more mana than your Essence can still be cast, they just take multiple turns
  • New sovereign traits to take better advantage of shards

I'd even be interested in having shards protected by creatures, as nodes were in MoM.  With all of these changes, shards and magic suddenly become much more interesting.

Remember, great artists steal.


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September 3, 2010 5:24:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting TheProgress,
Would a global shared mana pool be essentially (I think?) like MoM where all casters would be using one unified mana resource?

I don't necessarily like / dislike the idea - but it is going to do little to address the current issues with the magic system.


In that respect, yes: all of your casters would draw from your mana pool; it would be dissimilar in that your incoming mana isn't split between increasing casting skill, researching, and actual usable mana.  While this wouldn't fix all of the magic system issues, it would make magic a lot better by un-nerfing how often you can cast - in other words, 1 of the 3 main problems (per the title)


It also makes a number of additional strategic possibilities, like different upkeep costs per summon / enchantment, increased usefulness and value of all shards regardless of whether your spellbooks line up with the shard type, and the possibility of more types of city improvements.

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September 3, 2010 7:01:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree...  This would really really really help...  Now its...   Wait for X turns so I can do Y ... Then Wait again....  Hit turn... hit turn... hit turn... cast spell.. 


Lol I like the affinity..    I touched on that a little in my post : http://forums.elementalgame.com/394749  But Like the Idea of it adding mana from the same node... Lol might steal your idea.... >.> 

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September 4, 2010 3:06:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like a lot of these ideas, especially shards boosting mana regeneration.

I would not like to have to pay a mana upkeep for my summons though.  It would lead me to use them for short term strategy only, instead of keeping them around and getting them to much higher levels. 

I'm not keen on the idea of a shared mana pool either, but from the sound of things, that's what we're getting.  I personally would prefer to see the current system fixed so that shards actually work as intended, and add to the rate of mana regeneration.

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September 4, 2010 10:36:34 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can understand doing something different but doing something different to be different is stupid.

I read in another topic they didn't want to be like MOM because of possible lawsuits. I think that is a cop out.

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September 4, 2010 7:34:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great point about the shards providing mana. It's almost like capturing a resource point in an RTS game like Supreme Commander, and there's a reason this makes the game more fun. This should make the game much more dynamic, it'll provide interesting border skirmishes as you and your AI neighbors fight over resources.

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September 8, 2010 1:56:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A shared mana pool is a good idea and will go a long way to making the game more viable. I'd like to take the idea one step further though.

Thinking about past ideas for the magic system, I think something like this would allow for more diversity.

Magic should be split into 3 distinct categories (It more or less is already split like this): tactical, strategic, and enchantment.

Tactical - spells that are temporary in nature. Basically the spells that you cast in combat. These would use mana like normal.

Strategic - unit/city enchantments and summons. Spells cast will make the user permanently lose essence/max mana or until the spell is cancelled

Enchantment - global enchantments that affect the world. These are world-shaking spells that have a huge impact on the world, either benefiting all your units/cities or adversely affecting your enemies. Only channelers can cast this spell and they need to stay within their capitol to cast, or where a special building is created, like a tower of sorcery or something. Instead of making it cost mana, make it cost shards as well as permanently losing essence/max mana until the enchantment is cancelled. If you lose a shard because you lost a city that was controlling that resource, the enchantment would automatically be cancelled.

For example:

Spell: Winds of luck

Cost: 4 wind shards, 50 essence

Effect: All friendly units automatically do max damage on every attack.

Since magic research is not very limited at all and everyone can get every spell pretty easily, this will allow for higher restrictions on spells. Making spells harder to obtain in this way will allow for highly unbalancing spells to be available without making the game fall apart.

This gives you more options and choices with real consequences to make.

Want to be a summoner? Sure! But the cost will be that you won't be able to cast as many spells in combat.

Want to cast uber world-shaking spells? No problem, but you won't be able to go out and adventure and lose out on other strategic enchantments ass well.


Another thing since we're on the topic.

Unit abilities should NOT use mana! Abilities like Crushing Blow. Great! My adventuring hero has a skill to use! Unfortunately, it requires mana to use which he doesn't posses . All abilities should be on cool-downs or have a chance of triggering on hit/defending. This will decouple the abilities from magic and not require another resource system to be introduced.

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