Spells That Pack a Punch
Published on November 17, 2010 By ScottTykoski In Elemental Dev Journals

Since launch, one of the major complaints about Elemental: War of Magic was that the last bit of our title (the "Magic" part) was found to be...lacking (to put it gently). Global mana addresses areas of cheese, but without a significant overhaul to the Spellbooks and Spells you’re casting, that side of the game would still feel weak.  We’ve taken the following steps to rectify this in 1.1....


1. Spellbook Re-evaluation: There were several problems with the way spells have been organized in Elemental thus far, the most damning being the selection of Elemental based spells when designing your Sovereign. We’ve now moved these out of customization and into the tech tree, so you can make the choice to grab those books as shards are discovered. In their place, players can select books specific to a given strategy. The “Mobility” book has movement and teleportation spells, “Enchantment” gives the players city buffs, “Combat” does damage and protects friendly units relative to the caster’s INT, and “Terraforming” gives players the ability to sculpt the landscape in interesting ways.

2. No two spells should feel the same: Spellbooks in v1.0 through v1.09  were filled with tons of spells that all felt the same: Lightning, Fireball, Hurl Boulder, etc.  They were various tweaks on the formula, but the end result was a magic system that lacked interesting (and cool) choices.  Our motto going into 1.1 was that each and every spell (and each spellbook, for that matter) should feel unique and tempting over the use of another.

3. Bigger, badder, more ballsy high level spells: When I get a level 5 spell, it better not be a ‘slightly stronger version’ of a level 1-4 spell, ‘cause that would be lame.  Instead, I demand serious L5 muscle to my magical might - uniquely awesome options as I conquer the world.  For example...

L5 Mobility - Call of the Titans
A unstoppable spell that gathers ALL friendly unstationed troops and lets you target them directly into enemy territory.

L5 Air - Tornado
Cast upon the army of your foe, this spell will scatter all units in the stack, making them easy targets to pick off.

L5 Life - Death Ward
Taking 250 mp and 1mp/turn maint., Death Ward will allow any champion unit to escape death at the end of a losing battle (even if the battle is fought on enemy soil).

At the end of every spellbook the player will be greeted by a spell that was worth the effort to learn it.


Most of the old spells have been stripped out, and the v1.1 beta will have 68 new and improved spells. While the final 1.1 build will have around 75 spells to help your rise to power, we’ll continue taking suggestions on how to best make the ‘Magic’ half of our subtitle really shine!

Enjoy!

 


 


Comments (Page 3)
on Nov 17, 2010

What about spells for levels 10 and above? That area really gets ignored as well. I have had a level 16 spell book but no awesome world altering, empire wide destroying/crippling spells. The spell of "Faking" does not count. We REALLY need high level spells to reward those who manage to reach high spell book levels.

I think they removed this level and made all spell books 1-5 only.

on Nov 17, 2010

Oh?

Well either way we need more awesome and destructive spells! Also a spell that permanently reveals the whole map for the caster would be epic! (Hint hint)

on Nov 17, 2010

Have the possibility of smaller spell icons in the spell research window come up? I like to set up spell research queues well in advance, and having only a few (12?) spells fit on each page means that I'm flipping through pages like mad trying to organize things...

on Nov 17, 2010

Polistes
What about spells for levels 10 and above? That area really gets ignored as well. I have had a level 16 spell book but no awesome world altering, empire wide destroying/crippling spells. The spell of "Faking" does not count. We REALLY need high level spells to reward those who manage to reach high spell book levels.

That's yet another data point to support arguments that the Elemental game world itself has lacked "making" so far. Between let-them-eat-mods and magic-is-tech-with-funky-visuals, it seems like most or all of us outside the hardcore wargamer crowd are lacking satisfaction...

on Nov 17, 2010

Heavenfall



Quoting Gene1966,
reply 22

Quoting Heavenfall, reply 19Gene1966 what about Lower Land makes you think it will work on cliffs?

Maybe it was Raise Land, and Lower land defintion confused me but to the same effect.  And to address your question, #1 Cliffs are in fact land not water, and #2 if I want to create a beach today in 1.09e where there is only cliff, then I simply apply Raise land and the cliff is now a nice sandy beach that allow for transports to be contructed and embark/disembark.  Am I really that confident they would have changed that game mechanic?  in a word no.  Given the things that do not work or have not worked and then to rehash them and imply they will work w/o fixing them or at least documenting that they are fixed...  I hope you get my drift.  

Do you belief these things ever worked or that they got fixed?  Do you really believe based on the changelog and today's 1.09e that Erosion in practice is not a subset of Raise/Lower land?

I answered your question, dare ya to answer mine.


Heh, calm down there cowboy. If there's a problem with the spells overlapping in functionality, perhaps you should just make them aware of that instead of questioning their rationale. Clearly, I don't know how the spells will work in beta. All we have to go on is the text in the changelog, and I think we can both agree that neither of us know if the problem has been fixed, but that Erosion should NOT be a subset of raise land or lower land.

Clearly I am disappointed, not sure it is entirely appropriate or intelligent to tell a disappointed person to calm down.  If however you think I was being overly MAD or OVERLY EXCITED and was about to induce a panic or anxiety attack then it may be appropriate to recommend a calmer approach.  My approach is disbelief, not over excitement.  I have been playing a beta that SD called production since 1.05.  I do agree with you that Erosion should not overlap and I believe I did ask for clarification.(which has been ignored- I can only hope that they are checking on it now that I pointed it out.) Which brings me to my disappointment, I do not want to HAVE to point these things out but apparently others do not mind and their QA did not check it, or their QA did check it and does is not aware how that game works today.

I am excited positively about the direction they are moving but it needs a little more attention to detail on the existing details.

You still have not answered my questions.   Do you belief these things ever worked or that they got fixed?  Do you really believe based on the changelog and today's 1.09e that Erosion in practice is not a subset of Raise/Lower land?
 Unless your response was a wordy way of saying you do not know? 

 

 

on Nov 17, 2010

The problem with spell books in Elemental, is there are no spell books, Duh! The Hero/Champion should have books in their inventory  (book of air, book of earth magic, etc.) and if the character is killed or loses a battle spell books should some times be lost and sometimes found by the victor. This way killing a champion may also mean lost of spells, spell books should be very rare.

Finding/losing/capturing spell books should be part of the magic system in Elemental!

 

What about scrolls?

It would also be nice to have scrolls, (1/2, 1/4 power of spell book magic).

New Champion skill (Arcane Scribe) ability to create scrolls.

New Champion skill (Adept Scribe) ability to read/use scrolls.

 

 

 

 

on Nov 17, 2010

And, again, no spells which need multiple spellbooks. Ok we need to leave some ofthe magic to the two free expansions

 

edit:

 

The problem with spell books in Elemental, is there are no spell books, Duh! The Hero/Champion should have books in their inventory  (book of air, book of earth magic, etc.) and if the character is killed or loses a battle spell books should some times be lost and sometimes found by the victor. This way killing a champion may also mean lost of spells, spell books should be very rare.

Finding/losing/capturing spell books should be part of the magic system in Elemental!

The idea is nice but in my eyes can not work well with only ~70 spells. It can work if you take this 68/75 spells as basic stuff you can research to which you add a couple of Hundret more spells.

I play "The dark eye" ("Das Schwarze Auge" in german - our local DnD replacement) that offers over 300 spells but loosely only 60 or so are more or less "freely" available at a school (or similiar) to any Kind of Magic-user. From experience i can tell you that you are pretty limited with 60 to 70 spells on character creation, especially if you want/have to follow a theme like Elemental-magic (6 elements!). The game creators even included various means of creating spells.

Handing out books as loot is rather uncommon because even with 300 spells in the core-game because with them you could acquire a huge number of spells very fast.
For Elemental:WoM this would mean if you somehow get you hand on 3 books that each contain 4 spells you have a chance to get some darn powerful stuff right from the start and that you run out of spells pretty fast. Making up spells say procedurally does not work that good either because the engine is limited and you have to follow atleast some guidelines for balancing.

on Nov 17, 2010

And, again, no spells which need multiple spellbooks. Ok we need to leave some ofthe magic to the two free expansions

If the Shards had been meaningful from at least the early betas, I'd agree with you 100%. But since shards still appear to be little more than color schemes and spellbooks appear to be totally open to context-free extensions, I still have no idea what's going on with magic in the War of Magic.

on Nov 17, 2010

Gene1966


You still have not answered my questions.   Do you belief these things ever worked or that they got fixed?  Do you really believe based on the changelog and today's 1.09e that Erosion in practice is not a subset of Raise/Lower land?
 Unless your response was a wordy way of saying you do not know? 

 

I think it was pretty clear, none of us know.

on Nov 17, 2010

And, again, no spells which need multiple spellbooks.
Yeah, we had talked about reintroducing multiple shards for certain spells, but 1.1 is really about stripping back a lot of the fat that's built up and making the core as lean/solid as possible. We can discuss it once the beta is in everyones hands.

I do not want to HAVE to point these things out but apparently others do not mind and their QA did not check it, or their QA did check it and does is not aware how that game works today.
  Those three spells should be doing 3 distinct things...one to make a land tile, one to make a hill, and the last to make beach.  If raising land on cliffs makes beach then that's technicially a bug, though I could see wrapping making hills and cliffs into one spell and filling the gap with a new spell (in fact, after playing a bit, I want to suggest condensing some of the fire spells and introducing some more unique ones there as well).

on Nov 17, 2010

Just a couple or three semi-random thoughts:

1. Really high level spells are only a 'really good thing' if the AI is capable of using them well. Otherwise I don't use them either just to try to keep it sort of fair.

2. I thought combat magic was OK in 1.09, maybe even overpowered (certainly compared to combat based champions). My worst mage was better than my best archer.

3. 75 spells is a stunningly small number. Divide that into the various spheres/schools/whatever and you probably have ten to twelve spells per. Such a small number of spells (many of which one won't have access to) will make magic highly limited even with individually great spells. About an order of magnitude short in conception (not pure number) from MoM which, unlike Elemental, I am currently playing.

I still have great hope for 1.1 and, longer term, Elemental. Really geat potential in this game; 1.1 is clearly only going to unleash part of that.

on Nov 17, 2010

I agree with anglophile that 75 spells divided between the TEN books( ie fire, air, water, earth, life, death, mobility, enchantment, combat AND terraforming )with BOTH stratigic AND tactical areas gives an average spells per book/area of 3.75 spells, and if there are only FOUR(and as the OP suggests at least 5 spell levels) levels of spells, then there is LESS than ONE spell per level/book/type, which to me suggests that it is more in the realm of scrolls, rather than BOOKS, and NEEDS A HUGE increase of the number, RANGE and functions of the spells.

and even with the elimination of the stratigic/ tactical divide it still leaves 1.5 spells per level per book which does not suggest CHOICE between spells, just use the spell you have and HOPE it works,

and if there ARE more than FIVE spell levels then we will see enough empty spell levels to start causing MORE flame wars and complaints.

harpo

on Nov 18, 2010

Vast improvement of course. But then again my expectations about Magic in EWOM is extremely low...

Agree with everyone

 

75 spells is a stunningly small number. Divide that into the various spheres/schools/whatever and you probably have ten to twelve spells per. Such a small number of spells (many of which one won't have access to) will make magic highly limited even with individually great spells. About an order of magnitude short in conception (not pure number) from MoM which, unlike Elemental, I am currently playing

 

 

I agree with anglophile that 75 spells divided between the TEN books( ie fire, air, water, earth, life, death, mobility, enchantment, combat AND terraforming )with BOTH stratigic AND tactical areas gives an average spells per book/area of 3.75 spells, and if there are only FOUR(and as the OP suggests at least 5 spell levels) levels of spells, then there is LESS than ONE spell per level/book/type, which to me suggests that it is more in the realm of scrolls, rather than BOOKS, and NEEDS A HUGE increase of the number, RANGE and functions of the spells.

and even with the elimination of the stratigic/ tactical divide it still leaves 1.5 spells per level per book which does not suggest CHOICE between spells, just use the spell you have and HOPE it works,

75 spells is far too little. We need at least 200 spells (like MOM). But more importantly the spells have to be different! Perhaps the game mechanics in EWOM are too simple to support that amount of variety , I don't know.

 

The revised structure still seems more gamy than milieu-based, but at least there are signs of meaningful themes for magic in the game.

Hopefully, that might make it worth suffering profoundly un-magical word choices like "Mobility" for major aspects of the game design (where are the elements in a naming schema that includes Mobility at the top level?). That's language I'd expect from using the remote I rent from my cable provider, not a game with aspirations to be both a "successor" to MoM and an innovative 4XTBS/RPG hybrid. Still, it sounds like 1.1 might be more fun than I've hoped for so far.

I strongly dislike the way that Stardock games tend to have large units of knowledge based around functionality; a prime example of this is "Lasers" or "Engines" in GalCiv2, or your suggestion above. It always feels refreshing and exciting to have a large base of knowledge and being able to pick and use areas of it according to circumstance. Dominions is a good example of this: You research something like "Evocation", but that gives you the possibility of casting such various things as fireballs to divination spells -- depending on in-game circumstances. I'd much prefer Elemental to have books like "Life" and "Earth" or whatever, and have various functionalities within these split up; "Combat" feels like lasers, feels one-dimensional, and, much like lasers in GC2 was, could run the risk of being functional yet boring. I do mean this constructively, and will of course wait to see the results...

Yes!!!

I can understand the idea of SD though. Idea is increase strategic choice, so you got to make a decision which book to research.

But i'm still old school, I prefer letting some of your choices be constrained by sovereign design and the strategic choice be governed by the spells you get to choose within the spell books. 

This means maybe 5-6 spell books..  But this isn;t the way SD is going..

I don't quite understand why SD keeps mentioning the fear that players might not get the right shards.. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on Nov 18, 2010

And, again, no spells which need multiple spellbooks. Ok we need to leave some ofthe magic to the two free expansions

 

edit:

 


The problem with spell books in Elemental, is there are no spell books, Duh! The Hero/Champion should have books in their inventory  (book of air, book of earth magic, etc.) and if the character is killed or loses a battle spell books should some times be lost and sometimes found by the victor. This way killing a champion may also mean lost of spells, spell books should be very rare.
Finding/losing/capturing spell books should be part of the magic system in Elemental!

The idea is nice but in my eyes can not work well with only ~70 spells. It can work if you take this 68/75 spells as basic stuff you can research to which you add a couple of Hundret more spells.

I play "The dark eye" ("Das Schwarze Auge" in german - our local DnD replacement) that offers over 300 spells but loosely only 60 or so are more or less "freely" available at a school (or similiar) to any Kind of Magic-user. From experience i can tell you that you are pretty limited with 60 to 70 spells on character creation, especially if you want/have to follow a theme like Elemental-magic (6 elements!). The game creators even included various means of creating spells.

Handing out books as loot is rather uncommon because even with 300 spells in the core-game because with them you could acquire a huge number of spells very fast.
For Elemental:WoM this would mean if you somehow get you hand on 3 books that each contain 4 spells you have a chance to get some darn powerful stuff right from the start and that you run out of spells pretty fast. Making up spells say procedurally does not work that good either because the engine is limited and you have to follow atleast some guidelines for balancing.

 

I think your missing the point here, in combat if your spell caster loses, then there would be a chance (x%) of also losing your spell books, then there would a chance (Y%) of the winner, finding the spell books. This could be a real game changer if you lose a spell caster with your best spell books. Finding spell books would be rare but, losing them in combat less so!

 

 

 

on Nov 18, 2010

Not sure how the concept of imbued champions work though..

If they are imbued.. do the champions actually carry around spellbooks?

 

It's like in MOM, only if you defeat the Wizard himself at his fortress then you might get spells...

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