What we do (and don’t) know, Part 1

Short answer: Very little.

Exposition: Remember how excited Paul Barnett was to tell us nothing other than general hand-wavy themes in that initial podcast? (If you don’t, link.) That was a while ago, and I forgive Mr. Barnett. I also suspect that since it’s coming close to curtain time, it won’t be long before more finalized information comes to light. (Worst case, my bet is open-beta at end of August, so I haven’t jumped the gun too bad creating this blog. link.)

What do we know? The archmage fulfills the “high elf support role” in WAR, meaning it is a healer as well as a damage-dealer: in this case, damage dealing is ranged magic. We also know that its “sister career” (my words, not theirs) is the greenskin shaman, meaning that their mechanics will be very similar. In short, casting certain spells (which cost AP – or Action Points) will build a reserve of “high magic” that will somehow benefit your casting. From the Warhammer Online official site:

“An Archmage is a powerful caster both offensively and defensively. However they must strive to keep a balance between the powers they manipulate. Weaving only powerful healing or destructive spells will leave the Archmage tired and unable to assist his allies in their darkest hour. However by carefully applying force in critical places the Archmage can reserve a wellspring of magical energy that allows him to aid his allies when a normal mage would be all but spent.” (link)

Speculation and Theory: Certain spells in the archmage’s arsenal will, when cast, accumulate high magic. I haven’t found anywhere yet how this works: a fixed amount all at once or an gain over-time per spell cast, I don’t know.

At first I recall reading that high magic will reduce the cost of all of your spells. This may have been early design or speculation, as I haven’t seen anything definitive on this. The blurb from the mainsite could loosely support this idea and, lacking another theory, it’s what I’ve believed until recently. I also recall thinking that a literal drain mechanic of some sort would be involved, something that Barnett seems to allude to in the Career Video. I seem to recall seeing this debunked somewhere, but I wasn’t able to find it.

Initially I believed that casting certain spells would accumulate a reserve of high magic, and casting others (the aforementioned “powerful healing and destructive spells”) would tap out your AP quickly without that reserve. After reading about the shaman class, I’ve come to think that high magic (like Waaagh is reportedly for the shaman) serves two functions: it will reduce the cost of some “lesser spells” (sometimes making them free to cast) and make available more powerful spells (perhaps these are the archmage equivalent of Mork & Gork incentives). If you read the wikia shaman article linked below, there is an unsupported and uncited list of abilities at the bottom of the entry which lists spells in one of two categories: either they gain or spend Waaagh. It’s not clear how many mechanics we are looking at here.

Wikia entry on the Archmage

(More informative) Wikia on the Shaman

I’m all around skeptical, of course, since I don’t know how accurate the data on the shaman is from that wikia article. Bearing that in mind, here is my current thinking: the Shaman’s casting mechanic is based on (apparently) two “high magic”/”Waaagh!” reserves which benefit casting in one of their two sets of spells (healing and damage). Whatever set is not represented by the reserve is benefited by “incentives” issued by the god whose reserve you are *not* building up. (This is all from at interview at Massively.) Perhaps then Archmages also have not one but two bars representing high magic reserves: one for damage-oriented spells and one for healing spells. It could instead be a single bar (which I thought it was all along until I started analyzing it for this article), maybe a slightly simpler mechanic than the shaman: use an incentive-spell, blow your single high magic reserve. Maybe, maybe, maybe they should tell us a bit more, no?

Ok, enough speculation for now.

Short answer: I have no idea.

Videos: Two weeks of watching videos has yielded the links at the right, three of which contain alleged footage of the archmage himself. Officially, I recommend you don’t watch them, as I hope they don’t represent the class at all. The aformentioned career video shows no footage. The official game trailer shows off some fancy staff skills that we most certainly won’t have (not against a melee dps class certainly, since we are supposed to be weak against them). And actual in-game footage, bootlegged from the beta: There is one video in which the archmage is idle, and two in which the archmage dies. I filmed none of these videos myself; I only found them. They very likely break the NDA (which I’m not under as I’m not in the beta yet), and oddly enough the theme they share might be the reason: the high elf archmage does not look very attractive when viewed here.

Nevertheless, I won’t give up hope. The image of the archmage in the wikia article shows a ring of glowing runes encircling him as he casts (it looks very good), and Barnett says in the career vid that “[the archmages] have some of the best special effects in the game”. I’m still excited. And I find the theme behind those videos kind of funny.

Next time I’ll talk about the recently revealed masteries.

~ by thade on July 2, 2008.

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