King's Bounty Skill Analysis Part 2: Mind

Same format as for Might, but now we're covering the Mind tree.

Here's the Paladin's symbol to start us off:

The player can right click units in the field to get a list of the unit types and an overall estimate of the threat level of the battle group.

The player can right click units in the field to get a list of the unit types and an overall estimate of the threat level of the battle group, and can also click on castles and 'shelters' for the same effect on any battlegroup within.

Now the player gets an exact unit count when right clicking on enemies or occupied buildings.

Skill tree requirements: None.

You should get Scouting 1 fairly quickly, if only to reduce how much time you spend in front of loading screens because you had no idea that one battlegroup was ten times as large as the rest of the units in the area. You're going to have to purchase the first rank just to unlock more useful Skills down the line anyway, and a single Mind Rune probably isn't particularly hurting you to use up early on.

Unfortunately, in general Scouting is really more about player convenience than it is about actual gameplay benefit. The benefits of Scouting 2 and 3 are handily replicated by the process of saving, charging recklessly into battle, looking at the enemy group, maybe playing a few turns if you're not sure how realistic it is for you to fight the group, and then reloading if it's not worth fighting. Scouting also doesn't help with Keeper fights and won't provide any forewarning on Plot Ambushes, which unfortunately The Legend does occasionally employ. As such, the second and third levels should be ignored in favor of Skills that provide a concrete benefit, unless you really value your real-life time so much you can't stand the idea of wasting a good ten or twenty seconds on save-load shenanigans.

Later games make an effort to make Scouting mechanically useful in addition to player convenient, which is definitely a better dynamic, but I kind of wish its mechanics had just been made the default in the first place. You can still use save/load shenanigans to replicate its effects, so there's not much point to the game trying to withhold information like this.

+100 Leadership.

+250 Leadership.

+500 Leadership.

Skill tree requirements: None.

Oh god why.

You should endeavor to get Glory 1 reasonably early in the game, when its benefits have their greatest impact, and then ignore the further ranks until such time as you have more Runes than Skills worth spending them into. Once you're into the Islands of Freedom (which really isn't that far into the game), you'll likely jolt up to somewhere between 2500 to 3000 Leadership (and I'm talking on Impossible difficulty here, where your Leadership is at its lowest), at which point a total of 500 Leadership added is... not useless, but a pretty dubious way of spending so many Runes. In the longer-term, you expect to get over 10,000 Leadership, of which 500 is basically nothing.

Glory is particularly agonizing to the Warrior and Mage, whom get little in the way of Mind Runes and are constantly spending all of them just by advancing down their own primary trees, making it difficult to spare the obscene cost for the first rank, making for a sizable hurdle before they can reach the actually useful and more reasonably priced skills down the Mind tree.

It's incredibly frustrating just how bad Glory is, and it's one of the few design mistakes The Legend makes where I'm just genuinely baffled as to how it happened.

Thankfully, the later games recognize the problem and work to correct it.

... eventually.

+10% combat Experience for the Hero.

+15% combat Experience for the Hero.

+20% combat Experience for the Hero.

Skill tree requirements: Scouting.

I can't find the original calculations, unfortunately, but Learning is basically worthless. You might as well push for the first level as early as you can since other stuff is locked behind it and hey getting a given Level a battle earlier sometimes is something, but the higher levels aren't worth bothering with. You won't make back the Runes spent, even if you somehow magically had Learning 3 from the beginning of the game.

Note in particular that it only affects combat experience. Quest experience is not bolstered, and makes up a fairly sizable fraction of overall experience, so it has a lot less effect than you might first expect by just eyeballing it.

The Hero has an extra unit slot which is not bound by Leadership requirements, but is not used in combat.

The Hero has two extra unit slots which are not bound by Leadership requirements, but are not used in combat.

Skill tree requirements: Glory.

You have no idea how glad I am Reserve became a standard element basic gameplay in all later games, rather than a Skill to be purchased.

Reserve primarily functions as a player convenience tool -instead of wasting your real-life time on behaving optimally by constantly running back to reinforce your units that have suffered casualties, you can have a Reserve stack to pull from. Instead of wasting your real-life time on running back to a Castle to dump a stack of units you intend to replace with what you just found in a shop, you just shove the old unit into Reserve and buy the new unit, and drop the Reserve unit off at a Castle when you happen to be around anyway. Instead of engaging in all kinds of shenanigans to avoid wasting randomly generated troops from searchable objects (eg Skeletons from graves), you can just let the game shove them into your Reserves and get on with your life.

Reserves only has meaningful in-game utility in cases where a player has basically gotten themselves trapped behind enemy lines, which is something The Legend is very careful to avoid imposing on the player. If you're trapped behind super-powerful enemies you can't beat and can't bait out of the way to get back out, it's almost certainly your own fault. So... not much of a niche, outside of a tiny handful of cases where the game actually locks you into a multi-battle gauntlet with no ability to leave until all battles are dealt with.

That said, getting the first rank does a lot to save on your sanity, where the second rank is... a lot more meh.

At least it's fairly cheap.

+10% Gold from combat.

+20% Gold from combat.

+30% Gold from combat.

Skill tree requirements: Scouting and Glory.

Trophies is strange. Gold, when it gets down to it, does two primary things. Firstly, it goes into your army, as Leadership climbs and also as casualties are suffered. Secondly, it goes into long-term investments: equipment and Scroll purchases.

The first point means that additional Gold generation is a natural compliment to a class that's focused on larger army sizes, so that they can actually work to their full potential without worrying about running out of Gold before they've reached max Leadership. But... that's supposed to be the Warrior, not the Paladin. Why is it in Mind, if this is what Trophies is about?

The latter point is just a general quality/convenience point, encouraging the player to get Trophies as early as possible as high a level as possible without making major sacrifices elsewhere, to make the game easier in general.

So... I'm not really sure what Trophies is imagined to actually do, honestly. What's specializing in Gold generation supposed to be for?

It's at least a useful Skill from a 'pure gameplay' standpoint, unlike Scouting and Reserve, but it's still a strange case that contributes to my suspicion the developers were fuzzy on their concept for what Mind/the Paladin is actually about.

Scrolls now sell for 30% of purchase price, while other items now sell for 50%.

Scrolls now sell for 40% of purchase price, while other items now sell for 75%.

Scrolls now sell for 50% of purchase price, while other items now sell for 100%.

Skill tree requirements: Learning.

A Skill whose existence I hate.

Like Glory, Trade is a Mind Rune sink. Unlike Glory, Trade is actually useful, but Trade is designed so that optimally you'll buy all three ranks in it before you sell anything ever. I actually would rather the game didn't have Trade at all, so I didn't feel obligated to hold off on selling things until it's maxed. Scrolls, in particular, are maddening in this regard, since the Scroll carrying capacity can lead to you being unable to buy a Scroll until you've somehow cleared out some of your Scrolls.

Thankfully, Armored Princess does, in fact, immediately do away with Trade. It has a broadly equivalent Skill, but it doesn't have any relevancy to Scrolls and it can literally pay for itself so I'm okay with it.

So: try to max Trade as soon as you reasonably can -after Trophies is maxed, preferably- and then sell a bunch of useless junk all at once. Gold will largely stop being something to pay much attention to after that, if you're not prone to unnecessarily accepting massive casualties,

If an enemy force contains a stack that is identical to one in the player's forces, one of these matching stacks is randomly chosen and up to 5% of the stack is siphoned to add to the player's own stack. This cannot take the player over their Leadership.

If an enemy force contains a stack that is identical to one in the player's forces, one of these matching stacks is randomly chosen and up to 10% of the stack is siphoned to add to the player's own stack. This cannot take the player over their Leadership.

If an enemy force contains a stack that is identical to one in the player's forces, one of these matching stacks is randomly chosen and up to 15% of the stack is siphoned to add to the player's own stack. This cannot take the player over their Leadership.

Skill tree requirements: Reserve.

Diplomacy is this weird Skill that sounds really useful but has the problem that it does nothing if your army has no matches to the enemy army, which is exacerbated by how the game encourages acquiring matchup advantage ie avoiding having your army overly similar to the enemies. It also negatively impacts Spirit of Rage experience, since that's notably influenced by relative army size.

You might as well take the first rank and be mildly thrilled when it occasionally saves you a bit of Gold because you lured away troops and so don't have to buy as many, but the later ranks fall under 'buy when you have more Runes than worthwhile Skills to spend them on'.

Note, if you weren't paying attention to my careful framing, that Diplomacy picks one enemy stack to steal from. If you're fielding Necromancers and Demonesses below strength and run into an enemy force containing both? The game steals one or the other, not both.

Diplomacy is really bad.

I especially don't get why it doesn't siphon units into Reserves if nothing matches and you've got a Reserves slot open. It outright requires Reserve, and it seems the natural solution. That would be pretty cool, and open up some interesting things to mess around with, as well as encouraging trying out things -if you ended up siphoning a bunch of some unit you would never buy, it's not like it cost you anything, so letting them get ground down would be just fine.

Keeper of the Light
Fights against Undead and Demons provide 20% more Gold and 5% more Experience.

Fights against Undead and Demons provide 30% more Gold and 10% more Experience.

Fights against Undead and Demons provide 40% more Gold and 15% more Experience.

Skill tree requirements: Trade.

As far as I understand it, Keeper of the Light is all-or-nothing, based on whether the displayed unit is Undead/Demonic or not. I'm not completely confident on this, but it's probably a decent rule of thumb.

Anyway, you'd think I'd be critical of Keeper of the Light, since it's Learning and Trophies rolled together, buuuut... no? I think it could be better, but Keeper of the Light leads to actually interesting types of decisions. Do you, for example, delay going into the Marshan Swamp's cemetery region until you've maxed it, to maximize the payoff from the Undead fights there? Or maybe try to ninja around the fights and complete the Quests, intending to fight later? Or just get the first, maybe second rank, and then clear out the cemetery. Maybe later on you're fairly close to being able to buy the third Level, and have some Undead you could fight right now, and you deliberately hold off on it until you've gotten said third Level, or maybe you decide you don't feel it's that important and buy some other Skills with the Runes instead and fight them even though you're missing out on Gold and Experience.

My main criticism of it is that the Experience boost is so small, while effecting such a small selection of enemy units throughout the game, that it's almost certainly basically irrelevant. This isn't a dealbreaker, though, because trying to maximize Gold income is worthwhile, and the experience is just a bonus in this case.

Undead no longer impose Morale penalties on allies.

Demons and Undead no longer impose Morale penalties on allies.

Skill tree requirements: Trophies, Diplomacy.

Tolerance is a strange Skill on several levels. Normally, a defining factor in Undead and Demons is that they're hated by everyone that isn't the two of them or Neutrals, making the inclusion of Demons or Undead in your army something that noticeably impacts how you construct the rest of your army. If you take Tolerance 2, the only racial hatred you have left is that Elves and Dwarves quarrel. So with Tolerance 2 Elves and Dwarves are now your most problematic species for managing Morale. Buh?

Then on a more practical level, Tolerance is fairly all-or-nothing. Either you're fielding a force where Tolerance is wiping out Morale penalties, or you're not, in which case the Runes spent in it are completely worthless. This would be more interesting if the game had deliberately made an effort to make cross-species synergies of some kind, but there's not actually that many. Maybe you max Bowmen Commander and want to use it as fully as possible -then sure, being able to mix in Skeleton Archers without your Elves, Hunters, and Bowmen freaking out is a nice little benefit. Similar sort of idea with Archmage-the-Skill, where Necromancers upset Archmages-the-unit but they both benefit from the Skill. But then you get into stuff like how Necromancers have Plague, which discourages using Necromancers alongside the units Tolerance helps with because they're almost all affected by Plague anyway (Treants and Ancient Treants are the only exceptions), while Priests and Inquisitors are fine with Necromancers because of their personal Tolerance Skill, making that a bit lame of a thing to be trying use Tolerance for.

I think Tolerance is striking at a neat concept, but its gameplay implementation is strange and a bit lacking. The developers seem to agree, too, because Tolerance never comes back in this exact form.

The fact that Demon tolerance comes from the second rank also has a weird effect on the planning process. If you want to mix Undead with eg Archmages, you buy Tolerance 1, and that's that. But if you want to mix Demons with your forces, with no interest in using Undead, you still need to purchase the first rank of Tolerance, even though it isn't doing anything for you. So even though both ranks cost the same and have essentially equivalent effects, considering mixing in Demons involves Skill inefficiency.

This isn't too big a deal for the Paladin, as they have Mind Runes to burn, but for the other classes it's just difficult to justify unlocking the ability to field Demons alongside your other forces without penalty, especially since even reaching Tolerance 1 can be a bit of a herculean effort for them.

The Hero can convert Priests into Inquisitors using Gold.

Skill tree requirements: Keeper of the Light, Tolerance.

Inquisition is completely unique, adding a whole new interface element when looking at Priests outside of combat.

It's a bit unfortunate Inquisitors peak in value early in the game, specifically when the Chest of Rage is acquired, when even a Paladin isn't going to get Inquisition anywhere near that early.

Still, it's a nice idea, and overall Inquisitors are flatly superior to Priests. My main gripe is that it's another you-better-be-using-specific-units-or-this-is-worthless Skill, and not some amazing one that can redefine how you play. (ie Dark Commander) I suspect I'd like it more if it were a broader 'upgrade unit' skill, letting you convert Pirates into Sea Dogs, Robbers into Marauders, Swordsmen into Guardsmen, Elves into Hunters... it would still be a bit finicky about army makeup, but it wouldn't be 'do you intend to use Inquisitors as much as you can for the rest of the game y/n?' It would also make it more meaningful that these unit types are clearly meant to be related, as having a Skill that let you upgrade every 'lesser version reskin' into its 'greater version reskin' counterpart would mean that a source of a 'lesser version' unit would effectively double as a source of the 'greater version' unit.

Still, I like aspects of the idea behind it, and it's a bit disappointing later games just chuck it entirely instead of trying to refine it into something more appropriate. Armored Princess and especially Crossworlds explores the upgrading units mechanic, but it's not based in Skills, among other differences, and the games after that just drop it entirely.

The following two Skills are exclusive to the Paladin. Like with Might, I'll be using Mind to talk a bit about the Paladin more broadly.

Holy Anger
The Hero's troops who are neither Demons nor Undead gain +5 Attack against Demons and Undead.

(As with Anger 1, this is the internal numbers, but you'll never see this cost in normal play)
The Hero's troops who are neither Demons nor Undead gain +10 Attack against Demons and Undead.

The Hero's troops who are neither Demons nor Undead gain +15 Attack against Demons and Undead.

Skill tree requirements: None.

Holy Anger is overpriced and terrible, with the additional weirdness that it's a philosophical oddity of the Paladin encapsulated: here we have a Skill that doesn't benefit Demons and Undead, which in fact hates enemy ones, in the tree whose high-end benefits involve the smooth integration of such units into any army you like. This is sort of weird, but not bad, when it's found on individual Priests and Inquisitors, where they get bonus damage against the Undead and yet can be fielded alongside them just fine. As part of the Paladin's design, though, it's just... uuuh? Am I supposed to be trying to implement Demons and Undead in my army or shun them? Pick one!

Mostly though, the Skill isn't really worth putting points into. It's lucky Runic Stone is really awesome, because if Holy Anger was all alone in carrying the Paladin's attempt to find a niche on its shoulders, that would end poorly.

Admittedly, the late game has a Demon-heavy section, but that comes back to the issue Demons have lots of awesome units that the player has been hankering to actually use for ages, and Holy Anger doesn't help you if you're using these sweet new Demon units. And then you move past that section and largely stop fighting Demons -in fact, you can outright bar yourself access to Demonis permanently if you complete a specific Quest, potentially cutting you off from a bunch of Demon fights!

By the same token, Undead are prominent in the late-game, but you basically stop fighting them in the endgame. So Holy Anger spends a fair amount of time not helping you at all. I usually don't buy any ranks, focusing on other Skills.

Runic Stone
Purchasing immediately provides 10 and 10 
Purchasing immediately provides 10 and 10 
Purchasing immediately provides 10 and 10 

Skill tree requirements: Keeper of the Light.

This is the main way in which the Paladin is the 'balance' class. Eventually their propensity for getting lots of Mind Runes from level-ups will be fed into even more Runes, which are not Mind Runes. It's a very simple mechanic that works surprisingly well!

That said, I'm perfectly happy with the fact that the later games don't reuse Runic Stone. One of The Legend's main flaws is that it's fuzzy on what Mind Skills are about and by extension what the Paladin is about, and 'the balance class' is not very interesting or meaningful, so it's a bit of a relief that the later games moved away from the Paladin being the 'balance' class and into having their own niche. It takes until Warriors of the North to really hit that note, but I'm glad they went for it at all, rather than moving forward as if 'balance class' works just fine, regardless of how neat Runic Stone is.

The Paladin starts with Heal and Dispel already learned, as well as a Resurrection Scroll ensuring they can learn it as soon as they have Order Magic. Heal makes their early game quite distinctive, and you'll probably have acquired Order Magic before Heal has stopped being useful, so that's pretty cool. Certainly a lot more interesting than the Warrior. They're also technically in the middle on the Leadership continuum, having less than the Warrior but more than the Mage, but as I've already covered class-derived Leadership isn't all that worth pursuing in The Legend until fairly late in the game, diminishing its actual impact.


Next time, we cover Magic Skills and talk about the Mage.


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