I know I said I was done with Guild Wars, but something with the game finally clicked for me and I think I short-changed the game in my last post.
I dinged the game because I didn’t find the search for skills to be all that interesting. I also noticed that people kept saying the game was like a collectible card game. The other day this finally clicked for me and I understood what they were talking about. I just couldn’t stop thinking of the game in the terms I was familiar with, and it was giving me some kind of idiot mental block about it. I expect RPG games to follow a line of steady progression of character development from weenie to Wonderboy. I thrive on this sort of thing, and that expectation kept me from seeing the strategy game staring me in the face the entire time.
You can only have have eight spells or abilities avilable at any one time. I thought this was like, an interface limitation. You know, that’s how many spells fit on your hotbar, spell toolbar, whatever you call it. But this has nothing to do with not wanting to make the hotbar larger. The eight-spell limit is one of the parameters of the strategy game.
In town, you can completely re-spec your character. You can replace any of the eight spells with any eight others you’ve learned at will. (Think of the total spells you’ve acquired as your “deck”, and you can only have eight of those cards in play.) Once you’re out of town, you can’t change what’s on the hotbar.
Each spell comes from a skill. Healing Magic, Fire Magic, Ice Magic, etc. The strength of those spells comes from how many points you have invested in the related skill. As long as you have one point in fire magic, you can take any of the fire spells you’ve acquired and place it on your hotbar, where you’ll have access to it outside of town. You can sink more skill points into fire magic to make your fire spells more potent, but the cost goes up sharply each time you want another level in the skill. At the same time, the benefits of spending those skill points are fairly modest. The guy with level seven fire magic is only going to be doing a little more damage than the guy with level six fire magic, despite the fact that it cost him a lot of skill points to make the jump from level six to level seven. This creates a strong incentive to diversify your skills as opposed to dumping everything into fire magic. (Which is what I’d been doing for most of the game.)
You can reclaim all skill points and re-allocate them anytime you’re in town. People are saying this is a Magic: The Gathering sort of thing, although CCGs never did anything for me. I can’t help but think of it in a Mech-building sort of way, where selecting your eight spells and allocating your skill points is like mounting weapons on hardpoints and adjusting your loadouts. In any case, your performance on the battlefield is strongly tied to how well you configure your skills, and raw character level is of secondary importance.
Now that I “get” it, I can see why the game never clicked for me. I wanted to mention this because I know some people thrive on this sort of thing, and from my earlier posts you would probably just conclude this was a tepid game of character-building. The truth is that this is, at its heart, a strategy game with a little leveling and looting added in.
Please adjust your level of interest and expectations accordingly.
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