Armored Princess Skill Analysis Part 3: Magic

Lastly, time for the Magic tree.





Wisdom
+6 to max Mana, and +3 to Scroll max.

+12 to max Mana, and +6 to Scroll max.
10 
+18 to max Mana, and +9 to Scroll max.
11 

Skill tree requirements: None.

More expensive and provides less Mana, but provides more Scroll capacity.

Honestly, the Scroll capacity is appreciated primarily because Wanderer Scrolls are a thing. Since you can just sell Scrolls as soon as you decide you don't care about them, with no Trade to make early selling sub-optimal, Scroll capacity is just not nearly as important as it was in The Legend. Even with Wanderer Scrolls being a thing, it takes a while to start mattering; they're rare, and enough of them are complete junk you should sell right off the bat that it can take a bit to accumulate an inconveniently large stock of them.

Regardless, Wisdom works out essentially fine on a design level. The Mage will probably take ranks in it just because a pure Magic Rune dump is an easy grab for her, and the other classes will probably grab the first rank and no more and not mind that they don't have the extra Scroll capacity and only slightly mind missing out on the Mana increases.

Linguistics
+1 Intellect.


+3 Intellect.


+6 Intellect.

12 

Skill tree requirements: None.

Huzzah! A way to directly boost Intellect with Skull Runes!

Linguistics is most worth grabbing the next rank in when it will take you past either of the breakpoints: a multiple of seven, or a multiple of 20. It's a good general choice for the Mage, period, boosting any Spell that can benefit from Intellect -which is most of them- and from the Mage's perspective it;s fairly cheap. It's just you're probably better off putting off grabbing the second and third ranks until breakpoints because you've got other, higher priorities and individual points of Intellect are fairly low-impact in Armored Princess.

For the other classes, getting anything past the first rank is harder to justify, though not impossible. You'll probably want your Magic Runes for other vital Magic tree choices, is what it boils down to, and you're just not so heavy on Spell reliance. So it works out that the first rank is a cheap; you probably are only going to grab that first rank, at least for a long time.

But anyway, speaking of one of those vital Magic Skills!

Alchemy
Crystal costs for learning and upgrading spells reduced by 15%.


Crystal costs for learning and upgrading spells reduced by 30%.

5  
Crystal costs for learning and upgrading spells reduced by 50%.



Skill tree requirements: None.

Made generally available, thank goodness, and had its cost scaling altered. You still spend the same number of Runes, but you spend more on the first rank and fewer on the final rank.

Alchemist being made general ties into the game restructuring Magic Crystal availability, so that it's no longer the case that the Mage has far more than they could possibly ever spend throughout basically the entire game while everybody else is constantly having to think hard about whether a given expenditure is even worthwhile. Instead now the Mage is the one most likely to end up having to make really hard decisions, because she can advance down so many Spell spheres that she just has a million things she wants to level up and not enough Magic Crystals to go around. Which is appropriate a design choice! Having the Mage be the one who delves deep into Spells and finds herself making hard decisions about what to specialize in is good and interesting design; the Mage in The Legend had a rather boring late game in some ways, since he got to be the best at everything he did with little in the way of interesting choices to be made.

The one complaint I have about Alchemist being made general is that it's a notable Magic Rune sink for everyone, because you really should try to max it as fast as you can (After actually grabbing a Spell sphere, obviously) so you can grab all the Spells you want without wasting Magic Crystals in the process. This is particularly frustrating for the Warrior, who really struggles to spare Magic Runes in the first place, but in general it just leaves me feeling like it would make more sense to halve Magic Crystal costs, get rid of Alchemy, and then replace it with some more meaningful Skill than the current setup.

Or get really weird and have Alchemy effectively apply retroactively, refunding you Magic Crystals you've already spent as you rank it up. That would actually be kind of an interesting dynamic, where you could ignore Alchemist for a while and just accept being a bit low on Spell diversity early on due to Magic Crystal intake not keeping up with Scroll variety, and when you started feeling you actually needed to diversify actually grab a rank or two. It would also make it potentially acceptable to eg have your Warrior reach the end of the game with only two ranks in it because they never found themselves needing the extra Magic Crystals.

Regardless, Alchemy as a general Skill is a bit annoying as-is and could use some work.

As with The Legend, it's good to keep in mind that if a Scroll drops to one Magic Crystal at a given rank you can just learn it then and there instead of waiting until you get the next Alchemist rank.

Order Magic
The Hero can learn Order Spells.


The Hero can upgrade Order Spells to Level 2.


The Hero can upgrade Order Spells to Level 3.



Skill tree requirements: Wisdom and Linguistics.

More expensive than before, but as I've repeatedly noted you get more Talent Runes overall so that's misleading.

Distortion Magic
The Hero can learn Distortion Spells.



The Hero can upgrade Distortion Spells to Level 2.



The Hero can upgrade Distortion Spells to Level 3.




Skill tree requirements: Linguistics.

Same as with Order Magic: more expensive, but that's misleading.

Notably, it's actually flipped with Order magic as far as ease of access: in The Legend, you needed one Skill for Order Magic and two Skills for Distortion. In Armored Princess, you need two Skills for Order Magic and one for Distortion. I appreciate this given that the Trapper Medal was introduced, as it makes it actually practicable for a non-Mage to get started on Trapper in a reasonable timeframe.

Magic Light
Increases the spell power of Bless, Divine Armor, Healing, Life Light, Resurrection, Avenging Angel, and Exorcism by 15%.


Increases the spell power of Bless, Divine Armor, Healing, Life Light, Resurrection, Avenging Angel, and Exorcism by 20%.


Increases the spell power of Bless, Divine Armor, Healing, Life Light, Resurrection, Avenging Angel, and Exorcism by 25%.



Skill tree requirements: Order Magic.

Notice Exorcism being in the list means this isn't Order-only, unlike The Legend's Healer. Also notice it's pricier all-around, though as usual that's misleading.

I still don't really care for it personally, and while Avenging Angel and Exorcism are both effects that scale properly (where eg Healing and Life Light receive no benefit if they're already fully healing the 'top' member of a stack), Avenging Angel is only vaguely decent if you're specifically a Paladin or abusing summon spam and Exorcism is difficult to justify even when you're looking for single-target damage on a summon and have maxed Magic Light. You're pretty much always better off buying other Skills before Magic Light, and in some ways it's worse than Healer was in The Legend; a Paladin's Resurrection Skill both provides a bigger boost to Resurrection (ie the only Spell that really benefited from Healer in real terms in The Legend) for a more convenient Rune cost (Though admittedly they stack) and makes it less important to be able to use Resurrection-the-Spell competently because your Designated Meatshield will undo all the damage for free after a battle.

I'm sure there's people who swear by Magic Light, but I'm not one of them.

Transmute
When a stack dies, if it wasn't finished off by a Spell the player gains Mana. 4 is the base value.


When a stack dies, if it wasn't finished off by a Spell the player gains Mana. 7 is the base value.


When a stack dies, if it wasn't finished off by a Spell the player gains Mana. 10 is the base value.



Skill tree requirements: Order and Distortion Magics.

I say these are the 'base values' because you double it if it's a player unit and quarter it if it's a summoned unit. (Which means summoned player units produce half the listed value, incidentally)

Transmute is an amazing Skill, and ironically it's actually lowest in utility for the Mage. Since Spells don't trigger Transmute, and the Mage tries to kill things dead with Spells first and foremost, she has to go out of her way to let her units actually grab the finishing blow to benefit. Summon spam units like Royal Thorns and Engineers can still make it worth pursuing, and at minimum you should certainly take at least the first rank, but it's really much more a Skill that helps the Warrior and Paladin keep up with some of the burdensomely expensive support Spells they favor, such as Sheep.

I really, really like it as an idea, but I kind of think it should've gone under the Mind tree.

Chaos Magic
The Hero can learn Chaos Spells.


The Hero can upgrade Chaos Spells to Level 2.


The Hero can upgrade Chaos Spells to Level 3.

13 

Skill tree requirements: Distortion Magic.

Chaos Magic has been made 1 Rune of each type more expensive every level. Okay, sure, why not.

It's also a lot more accessible overall, since it only has one requirement, which itself only has one requirement, as opposed to having two requirements, one of which has a further requirement and the other of which has two requirements. This is a fairly huge relief to the Warrior, since it means it's actually true that Chaos Magic is relatively accessible to her, but it's also fairly important to the Mage since she doesn't begin the game knowing Fireball like The Legend's Mage did, instead starting with a Scroll to be learned from once she has Chaos Magic.

Little things adding up.

Meditation
Overland Mana regeneration is 30% faster. Also, +4 max Mana.

Overland Mana regeneration is 60% faster. Also, +8 max Mana.

Overland Mana regeneration is 100% faster. Also, +12 max Mana.
10 

Skill tree requirements: Magic Light.

Meditation is placed later in the tree, costs a lot more (But no longer costs Mind Runes!), but in exchange has more concrete benefits. (It also is slightly more effective at the third Level than in The Legend, even discounting it now providing max mana) I very much approve.

It helps that Armored Princess has re-tuned Mana regeneration to be faster overall, so that Meditation is no longer essential for your sanity. It feels like an actual benefit now just for that.

Though if you're not a Mage it's iffy whether it's worth the investment.

Summoner
Increases the power of summoning Spells by 15%.


Increases the power of summoning Spells by 30%.


Increases the power of summoning Spells by 50%.

10 

Skill tree requirements: Transmute.

I'll admit to not being certain if this did anything for eg Phoenix in the base game. In Orcs on the March, at least, the Summons that don't do Leadership scaling only get half the benefit, and my understanding is that it's applied through the Intellect bonus. (ie someone with Summoner 3 whose current Intellect bonus would provide 50% more Health and Damage base would instead provide 75% more Health and Damage)

I've also never bothered in Orcs on the March. The first rank is equivalent to 6 points of Intellect, which will also boost all your Spells instead of just your summons, and same with the second rank, with the third being equivalent to 8 points. Certainly, Skills get more expensive as you buy higher ranks, but I'd still rather just max out Linguistics, Learning, Scouting, Thesis, etc, before even considering ranks in Summoner, and frankly a Mage with tons of Intellect already has fairly shockingly powerful summons anyway. It's just not a good investment of Talent Runes. It's not even required for anything!

For other classes, you just don't have Magic Runes to burn, and it's questionable whether it's worth it given that. Especially since Alchemy has been made general; it's disproportionately effective to be upgrading the actual Spell Level of the historically-non-scaling summons, and Alchemy means non-Mages can actually afford the Magic Crystal demands for getting a good selection of Spells to Level 3. You're probably better off maxing Order Magic if you want strong Phoenix, Chaos Magic if you want better Books of Evil and/or Chaos Dragons, and Distortion Magic if you want better Ice Balls than trying to take ranks in Summoner.

Destruction
Damaging spells have their spell power increased by 15%.


Damaging spells have their spell power increased by 30%.

9 .
Damaging spells have their spell power increased by 50%.

10 

Skill tree requirements: Chaos Magic.

I like how Armored Princess has changed its requirement from Archmage to Chaos Magic. It's a lot more thematically appropriate, not to mention practically appropriate, that you unlock access to 'I nuke thing better' by purchasing the school oriented toward nuking things, rather than buy buying a Skill that... let's you lead... better?...

Otherwise it's basically the same as always, just more directly accessible once you're raring to nuke things with Chaos Magic. Which is very much appreciated by the Mage; it was genuinely frustrating in The Legend to have to jump through Archmage before you could get to making your Spells better at killing things, when you're the class whose entire thing is killing things with Spells. (It's not like The Legend had any other Mage Skills that oriented them toward leading mages)

And it's fine it's nearly the same as always, because Destroyer was nearly perfect in The Legend. The bizarre Skill requirement was really its only design flaw, and Armored Princess has fixed that, so there you go.

As with The Legend, the Mage should max it out ASAP, while for other classes it's more dubious whether you should bother. In some ways this is less true -it's way more accessible, making it easier to justify the Runes if you want to try a Mage-y Warrior or Paladin- but in other ways it's more true; now that the Warrior actually has an amazing tool for specializing in Rage (Bloodlust) and the Paladin has an amazing army-supporting tool that redefines how she plays (Resurrection-the-Skill), trying to go play at being a bad Mage is just a silly waste of your potential in these classes.

Thesis
+2 Intellect and +7 Mana.


13 
+4 Intellect and +14 Mana.


13 
+6 Intellect and +21 Mana.


13 

Skill tree requirements: Destruction and Meditation.

An essential Skill for the Mage, simple as that. For the other classes the requirements and costs are rather difficult to break into, and the only thing it has over eg Linguistics is the Mana bonus; if you want to extend your Mana reserves as a Warrior or Paladin Transmute is probably smarter, being more accessible and also able to be leveraged fairly significantly in several ways. The need to grab Destruction in particular is inconvenient for them, and Meditation is also dubious as to whether it's worth pursuing, with the bigger appeal of Meditation being going for Concentration, which costs less than Thesis, has better Mana extension per rank if battles last even 5 turns (And the third rank of Concentration actually beats out the third rank of Thesis in 3 turns, which is a typical length for a short and easy battle), and doesn't require you waste Talent Runes on Destruction.

Of course, if you're trying to run a Paladin as more of a Mage I suppose you'll want ranks in Thesis eventually...

Concentration
+2 Mana per combat turn.


+4 Mana per combat turn.


+8 Mana per combat turn.

16 

Skill tree requirements: Meditation.

If you're not paying attention: the third level is twice the price because it's an increase of +4 instead of +2.

The big thing about Concentration is that instead of being an early, accessible Skill that kind of breaks the Mana economy's assumptions, it's now an end-tree Skill that breaks the Mana economy's assumptions... which is honestly not that big a deal because the Mage tends to blow through even crazier amounts of Mana in Armored Princess than in The Legend, while for the Warrior and Paladin Transmute tend to much more readily break the Mana economy in real terms. Rank 3 Transmute will give you 50 Mana from a typical fight if no enemy dies to Spells (Ya know, aside from Trap actually being a Spell and yet still tripping Transmute), where rank 3 Concentration takes six turns to equal/beat that amount, and battles usually don't last that long... and the ones that do are often battles against more than 5 enemy stacks, and so Transmute still wins.

It's a really nice improvement on the design, though I'm not sure how I feel about it still specifically requiring Meditation. I get the thematics behind it, but mechanically it's weird and a bit frustration. They're sort of related, with Concentration sort of being a superior form of Meditation -if you're generating Mana in battle you don't necessarily need to wait for your Mana to recharge out of it- but it's only thanks to Meditation now affecting maximum Mana that it's not true to say that Meditation doesn't affect things like how many instances of a Spell can be cast within a battle. Meditation is still really more of a Rage supporting effect, and Concentration more a Spell-slinging supporting effect, which has in fact been emphasized by Transmute's existence/mechanics. (ie as covered the other classes tend to want to take Transmute for Mana extension, and this is less effective for the Mage)


As before, two Magic Skills are exclusive to the Mage, and again I'll be using this as an opportunity to cover the Mage as a class.

I'm... not sure why being a Mage involves dressing like a fantasy stripper. More precisely, she's wearing almost exactly the same thing as the other two classes, color aside, except the chest/belly-covering portion has been replaced by some weird... jacket? I guess? I think it's supposed to be a leather jacket, but it's honestly hard to say.

I actually used to be kind of uncomfortable with this aspect of Armored Princess, especially since the Mage was the version chosen for the boxart (Where they used the Paladin for The Legend, and I've already covered how the Paladin is logically the most 'correct' Amelie depiction), but eventually when I went back to The Legend it struck me that its Mage is wearing a Fabio shirt. While people are very aware that women dressing in a way that shows off their chest is sexualized, something people are less strongly aware of is that the same applies to men, and indeed if you think about eg dress codes for work it's actually a cultural truism that men aren't supposed to show off their chest when they're being professional and all. (With allowances for eg 'it is blazingly hot out here, we're not forcing people into shirts'... aaand if you look at for example ancient Egypt, it was normal for both sexes to go topless and indeed wear barely anything because, you know, otherwise people would be literally dying from the heat)

In conjunction with the 'looking soulfully right at you' phenomenon, which all of The Legend's portraits engage in while depicting handsome men who are conveniently smiling at you the camera... I'm pretty sure the King's Bounty games are just kind of generally going for the 'main character as eye candy' dynamic, with Mages just happening to be especially chest-baring for whatever reason. As you'll see when we get to Warriors of the North, this shows up with Olaf too! His Warrior-equivalent has his body largely hidden by his clothes, aside his bare arms, his Paladin-equivalent has nothing showing aside his face and hands, while his Mage-equivalent is conveniently barechested. (And only his Paladin-equivalent isn't staring right at you the camera, which is also consistent with The Legend and Armored Princess having their Paladins be overall the most 'prudish')

That's actually very interesting to me, instead of worrying, and I'm curious as to why the developers have a fairly consistent idea that wizardry is intertwined with... whatever neatly summarizes this phenomenon. Magic as power, where power is attractive? Nerds are sexy, with mages as nerds? Something to do with some element of Russian culture I'm entirely unfamiliar with and thus will never, ever guess on my own? I'm very curious, because it's not what I'm used to seeing from fantasy. Certainly, plenty of stuff out there has female wizarding types practically naked, but that's because fantasy is prone to doing that with women in general: female wizards are not more prone than female warriors to looking like a fantasy-themed stripper.

The King's Bounty series is the only fantasy series I'm familiar with that connects magic to sexiness like this, and it's not even exclusive to the main characters: back in The Legend King Mark has no love life at all, his daughter literally a gift from the gods with no wife to be seen, but one of your Quests in that game involves getting his scholarly/wizardly brother hooked up with a witch whose scholarly writing so impressed him he desperately wants to marry her. (While having missed that she's over a hundred years old, because The Legend has that kind of sense of humor) This is the most memorable example, but shades of this keep showing up across the series.

So I'm really curious what drove it.

Anyway, though, Mage-exclusive Skills.

Higher Magic
Twice per battle, the Mage may cast twice in a single turn, so long as the first Spell cast in the turn cost 10 or less Mana.
12 
Four times per battle, the Mage may cast twice in a single turn, so long as the first Spell cast in the turn cost 15 or less Mana.
14 
Six times per battle, the Mage may cast twice in a single turn, so long as the first Spell cast in the turn cost 20 or less Mana.
16 

Skill tree requirements: Destroyer.

Higher Magic has been made a lot more accessible -which is appropriate, since it's now the Mage's only class-defining Skill if you ignore the Orcs on the March addition- in terms of Rune cost, and it's been tweaked to be simultaneously less ridiculous (No double-casting your best nuke spells to wipe out everything) and yet more consistent/useful. (In The Legend, battles in the extreme late game tended to drag on long enough for Higher Magic to be benefiting you for only a relatively small portion of the battle in a direct sense, and Armored Princess resolves that issue with more turns to use Higher Magic in)

The Mana limitation on the first Spell also does a lot to redefine how the Mage goes about picking her Spells, as I've already touched upon previously, with it being important to have a selection of low-cost Spells that are nonetheless significantly contributing and then ideally have high-cost high-power Spells to follow up with.

Critically, this means that Higher Magic can no longer be accurately characterized as doubling the Mage's damage output at the beginning of a battle, since you can't actually do stuff like open by double-casting Geyser like you could in The Legend. It's still a fairly significant boost in power, certainly worthy of being a class-defining Skill, but it's not so drastic, which is good since it was kind of ridiculous in The Legend how you could find yourself struggling intensely, juuuust shy of buying your first rank in Higher Magic, and then you buy it and suddenly encounters that were notable challenges don't even get the chance to deal damage to your forces. Too much power from a single Skill purchase can genuinely be unhealthy for the game experience just in terms of messing up the difficulty curve.

Higher Magic also has the somewhat silly consequence that the Mage is the fastest class at grinding out Guardian Angel, which is pretty bizarre on a thematic level and kind of weird as far as gameplay consequences goes; the Mage is the class that least cares about reducing how much damage her units take when struck! I really think there shouldn't have been a Medal that was ground out through Spellcasting unless it was going to be one that improved your magery. (eg how Fire Mage increases your max Mana)

The overall picture is that Higher Magic is a much better designed Skill, and I particularly approve of how the Mage has less egregiously difficult a time breaking into other Skill trees. That was a very strange consequence of how the Magic tree was so unusually intensive in its non-Magic Rune costs in The Legend.

Archmage
Reduces the Leadership requirements of magical units by 10%.


Reduces the Leadership requirements of magical units by 17%.



Reduces the Leadership requirements of magical units by 25%.


12 

Skill tree requirements: None. Quest-locked, instead.

I don't know the exact list of units that benefit from Archmage in Armored Princess. The .txt file doesn't actually list it, unusually, and I've never exhaustively tested it in-game. 

In any event, Archmage itself has been made noticeably more powerful, which I appreciate. If I have an incentive to specialize in a specific sub-set of units, I'd really rather feel like I'm getting bang for my buck, which The Legend wasn't very good at.

The fact that it's not connected to any other Skills is also nice; you can take it or leave it at your discretion. If you feel like doing a run specializing in mages, you don't need to wait particularly, but if you're not planning on using mages particularly you can just ignore it, instead of being forced to spend Talent Runes on a Skill you might get literally zero benefit from because it's mandatory for Skills you actually want.

The overall result is way better than The Legend's iteration, though I still find it fundamentally an odd choice for a Magic tree Skill, and in this case it's even odder now that it's actually class-locked. Again, it'd be one thing if Armored Princess had a larger, more consistent theme of the Mage being best at using mages -imagine if mage units used your Intellect score where most units use your Attack score, and maybe throw in Destruction increasing their Damage- but it's this weird one-off thing that's there for purely thematic reasons to all appearances. I kind of suspect it's only here because it was already a finished bit of code/graphics from The Legend and they either couldn't think of something else or didn't really want to put in the effort to think of something else, honestly.

-----------------------------

Next time, we move on to covering Armored Princess' Bosses. Which are more interesting and better-designed than The Legend's, thankfully.

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