Puzzle Quest: Shifting Gears

I seem to be approaching the end of the game. At least, I’ve reached the vicinity of the castle of Lord Bane, God of Death and primary antagonist, who’s appeared personally a couple of times to taunt me and set his minions on me. I’m also nearly up to character level 50, which may or may not be the highest attainable level — it’s certainly the last point at which you get a new spell just for levelling.

At this point, a couple of things are happening to change gameplay. First, my opponents and I have high enough skills all round that any move has a significant chance of being followed by a free extra turn, especially if there are combos and cascades involved. Things can change very rapidly without your being able to do anything about it. Second, elemental resistance is becoming a large factor.

The way elemental resistance works is this: Each side has a percentage rating in all four elements. That percentage is the chance that a spell cast by the enemy will fail if it uses the relevant color of mana. Resistances don’t usually go very high — the highest I’ve seen was a Fire Elemental that had something like a 30% resistance to red. Still, even a 10% resistance is enough to put paid to certain tactics. For most of the game, I’ve been making heavy use of Entangle, a spell that makes your opponent skip a number of turns determined by your green mana reserves. Whenever there were multiple sets of skulls ready to go off, or other tempting targets, I’d cast Entangle to get them all — not even necessarily to get them myself, but to keep them from being used against me. In other words, I was using it at exactly those moments when I least want to risk losing a turn to a miscast and giving the enemy first crack at everything.

Resistance isn’t the only thing that’s making spells useless. Some of the more advanced undead have abilities that drain green mana, making it a lot harder to cast spells with green components. Now, I know a lot of spells, but you’re only allowed to take six of them at a time with you into combat (plus a seventh determined by your mount). I’ve been making only occasional adjustments to my loadout through most of the game, as I learn new spells or decide to experiment with new tactics, but now I’m starting to pick my inventory on an enemy-by-enemy basis. I commented before on emergent changes in effective tactics. It’s nice to see that this is still going on, in a reasonably unforced way, this late in the game.

3 Comments so far

  1. Merus on 6 May 2008

    Man, just wait until you get to Lord Bane – it’s yet *another* shift in tactics, one I wasn’t prepared for, and now I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do.

  2. Jacqueline on 6 May 2008

    You’ve only seen elemental resistance go to 30%? I had a battle against the Knight who was defending the spine of Sartek the other day and every single time he matched 4 or 5 his resistances went up. It was not uncommon during a battle for him to exceed 50%. Fortunately, I also have some incremental spell resistances, so it basically meant that spells were used pretty heavily at the start of the fight and then tapered off – or, sometimes, there’d be these really amusing exchanged where he and I just sat there casting spells back and forth, with the other one blocking every single one of them. Crazy.

    I am currently at L43 and fighting for the skull of Sartek against Minogoth. I hate him. Deeply.

  3. Merus on 8 May 2008

    My strategy for most of the game was based around two items, one granting extra mana for each one of my mana banks that was full, the other adding something like 2 to damage for each full mana bank. I stopped upgrading my blue mana, leaving it significantly lower than the rest, and started grabbing blue mana matches as often as possible. The snowball effect soon overwhelmed most opponents unless they were able to stop me filling up any one of my mana tanks.

    One terribly nasty enemy towards the end uses a similar strategy, however – to kill him, you need to deny him turns as often as possible. I simply wasn’t set up for this, and had to go back and grind gear and spells in order to find a different approach. I’m not sure what I’m going to do: most of the advice I find revolves around a silver bullet spell that requires more red mana than I can carry.

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