Might and Magic: Whither Might?

I mentioned before that in Wizardry, as the title suggests, the spellcasters are the real powerhouses of the party, while the fighters mainly function as their bodyguards. From the title, you’d expect Might and Magic to treat the two disciplines more equitably. Is this the case?

I can’t really speak to what happens at high experience levels yet, but there are a few things suggesting that it is. For one thing, there are a great many more highly-effective combat buffs. For example, there’s a level 2 cleric spell that increases one person’s effective experience level by 2 for the duration of the encounter. This is essentially an effect that scales with the level of the castee: no matter how powerful you are, two levels will make you substantially more powerful. Still, it won’t turn a sorcerer into an effective melee fighter. Buffs are essentially a means of collaboration between the casters and the fighters.

Mind you, there’s no shortage of damage-all-monsters spells, but they seem to come rather late in the game. At the moment, the only spells I have that affect multiple creatures are the sorcerer’s Sleep spell and the cleric’s Turn Undead. (These are sort of complementary: undead, by definition, resist resting.) Sleep is useful enough that I use it at nearly every encounter, but even when monsters are asleep, someone still has to step in and kill the things.

Also, I think the combat mechanics makes fighters somewhat more useful. Like in Wizardry, there’s a concept of front and back rows, with only the front row being in range of melee attacks. But fighter-types can remain effective in the back by using bows and other missile weapons. (Indeed, one class specializes in it.) Also, characters can exchange positions in mid-combat, making it possible to cycle characters out of the front row as they get hurt. Finally, there’s variation in how wide the front row is. In a narrow dungeon corridor, only two can walk abreast, but in the open wilderness, the first five characters — and the first five monsters — are in melee range. It all makes me think that a fighter-heavy party would be very viable.

Not that I’m much tempted to try such a thing. Might and Magic provides an obvious natural party composition: there are six slots in your party, and six character classes. Only two of which specialize in spells.

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