Dark Side Spell Analysis Part 3: Distortion Magic

Before starting: Exorcism is in the code, but commented-out, presumably because it doesn't fit thematically to give the player a Spell for purging the unholy while playing the unholy. Its actual numbers are untouched from Warriors of the North, though I don't know if that means they just commented-out the Spell and then ignored it or if it means they'd planned on keeping it in at some point -maybe reframing the aesthetic?- and simply felt the numbers themselves were fine. It's particularly striking because Exorcism is still in Distortion's portion of the .txt file, and not shuffled off to the end like many of the Rune Magic Spells are.

Additionally, Oil Mist has been replaced with Flammable Oil. It's... uh... a confusing change, as you'll see.


Ghost Blade
Crystal Cost: 3 / 6 / 9
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 100; Ignores 50% Resistance
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 200; Ignores 75% Resistance
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 300; Ignores 100% Resistance

A single enemy unit is attacked for Physical damage, ignoring some portion of the target's Physical resistance if it has any.

Unchanged.

In practice, you're fairly unlikely to use Ghost Blade in Dark Side simply because Chaos Missiles is so insanely ridiculous. Level 3 Chaos Missiles is 675 damage for 15 Mana. The only way Ghost Blade would do better is if either the RNG hates you or the target has more than 50% in every non-Astral resistance. That latter scenario doesn't happen, and the former is going to happen only rarely.

So Ghost Blade is pretty irrelevant, since Level 3 is what it always took to justify itself.


Geyser
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 20 / 30 / 40
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 100-200; Geysers: 4
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 190-380 Geysers: 6
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 280-560; Geysers: 8

A randomly chosen set of enemies are hit for Physical/Ice damage, with a chance to Freeze targets. The number of Geysers spawned is the maximum number of separate units that can be hit.

The in-game description claims Geyser will Freeze 'heat-loving' units. I assume it means any unit with innate positive Fire resistance will automatically be Frozen. If so, that would make it a pretty amazing Spell in parts of Atrixus and Helvedia, not to mention useful against dragons and some other units, and it would be a cool thing.


I'm not 100% sure it's actually true, but I suspect it is based on my own play experience. The main part I'm uncertain of is whether it's replaced the small, general Freeze chance, or if it's in addition to that.

Geyser's primary draw in Dark Side is, as always, its disconnected targeting. Damage-wise you've got better options, and unfortunately Ice-weak enemies are fairly rare in Dark Side, but nothing can quite displace Geyser for ability to safely target widely-spread enemies. Hopefully you'll be luckier than I and get it reasonably early in a Daert run.


Pain Mirror
Crystal Cost: 2 / 7 / 10
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Returns Damage: 60%
Level 2 Statistics: Returns Damage: 80%
Level 3 Statistics: Returns Damage: 100%

Inflicts Magic damage to a single enemy unit, said damage being derived from the damage the unit dealt most recently.

Not even Dark Side's devs saw any reason to tweak Pain Mirror: it works just fine.

I personally never had much cause to use it with all the percentage damage effects available in Dark Side, but it could be handy for Bagyr or Neoline in conjunction with summons used to get the damage done safely. Or in conjunction with Turn Back Time, I suppose, but that would be a slow, awkward way of delivering damage, and still expensive.


Trap
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 14
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 80-120; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 175-265; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 245-310; Duration: 5 turns. Poisons target

Places an invisible trap in a tile. If a unit enters the tile on foot, the trap triggers, doing Physical damage and immediately ending the unit's turn. The trap vanishes after triggering or after a number of turns have passed.

Unmodified.

Though interestingly enough, there's now a bit in the code labeled 'count'. It's explicitly labeled (In Russian) as 'unused', but my suspicion is that it would determine how many Traps you could place per casting. I'm kind of curious why Dark Side coded up such an effect and then didn't use it: this is a new piece of the code. Maybe they decided they were being too Trap-happy as was? You can already get 6 Traps at the start of a battle out of Trapper and Diversions. In fact, I almost never cast Trap in Dark Side; with how many Traps I start a battle with, it's usually easy to bait an enemy into one of those Traps, rather than place a Trap myself, which frees up my per-turn cast for something else.


Hypnosis
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 20 / 30 / 40
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2; Leadership: 40% of hero's total
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3; Leadership: 60% of hero's total
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4; Leadership: 80% of hero's total

Takes control of a single enemy unit that is within the Leadership limit, the Level limit, and which is not immune to Mind spells, for 2 turns.

I don't think it's been changed in practice, but the code looks different to me. I'm not sure if that's just a refactoring thing or a subtle change I'm just overlooking in playing the game.

It doesn't help that Hypnosis is highly impractical in Dark Side, particularly if you're not playing Neoline. Enemy battlegroup sizes increasingly vastly outstrip your Leadership in an attempt to maintain some margin of challenge, and furthermore Dark Side provides alternate options for turning enemies against each other -and for instance Jealousy doesn't care about Leadership at all. Hypnosis' utility for Sacrifice fodder is also largely irrelevant since Priestesses of Blood can just use summons. 

It's pretty irrelevant in Dark Side, in short.


Magic Shackles
Crystal Cost: 2 / 10 / 35
Mana Cost: 10 / 10 / 35
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4, Mass

Affected units are unable to use their Talents for 2 turns. (Before Intellect extension)

No change from Warriors of the North.

I don't use it very often, nonetheless, as there's lots of alternate means of avoiding Talents creating problems. Like using Jealousy on the key enemy. Still, there's occasionally moments it matters.


Slow
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 12
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 12
Level 1 Statistics: Speed: -1; Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Speed: -2; Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Speed: -3; Duration: 3 turns

Lowers a single enemy unit's Speed. At Level 3, the Spell's duration is doubled if the target's Speed is lower than the penalty being imposed.

No change.


Pygmy
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 12
Mana Cost: 5 / 10 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2; Health: -20%; Damage: -20%
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3; Health: -30%; Damage: -30%
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4; Health: -40%; Damage: -40%

Lowers a single enemy unit's Health and the damage of their basic attacks for 2 turns. Also disables certain Talents.

Unchanged to the very end.

Blind
Crystal Cost: 4 / 8 / 12
Mana Cost: 10 / 15 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-2
Level 2 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-3
Level 3 Statistics: Target's Level: 1-4

A single enemy unit is completely disabled for 2 turns. The effect ends if it takes damage.

No change. Curiously, there's a line in the code that seems to suggest they considered making Blind persist even if the unit was damaged, but there's no actual change that I can tell.

Berserk
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 8
Mana Cost: 2 / 5 / 8
Level 1 Statistics: Attack: +75%; Target's Level: 1-2; Adrenaline/Frenzy: +10%, Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Attack: +100%; Target's Level: 1-3; Adrenaline/Frenzy: +15%, Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Attack: +125%; Target's Level: 1-4; Adrenaline/Frenzy: +20%, Duration: 5 turns

A single allied unit increases its Attack, but control is removed from the player. Orc units also gain Adrenaline and Demon units Frenzy faster for the duration. Units that are immune to Mind spells can't be affected.

As with prior Adrenaline-affecting buffs, Berserk affects the new Frenzy mechanic and acts as a percentile modification of generation, rather than providing Adrenaline on demand. No other changes.

Could be worth considering casting on summoned Demons, actually. You generally won't have control over them anyway, and they'll be benefiting not only from increased Attack but also from improved Frenzy generation. I've never bothered, but it honestly hadn't occurred to me to try until I was writing this post.

Berserk is the last Scroll, alongside Sacrifice and Battle Cry, that a late-game Quest calls for giving up. So hold onto a copy if you care.

Haste
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 15
Mana Cost: 3 / 5 / 10
Level 1 Statistics: Speed: +1; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Speed: +2; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Speed: +2, Duration: 4 turns, Area: 7

Affected allies gain additional Speed/Action Points. (This won't give units an additional turn if they've already ended their turn)

Haste's third level now provides a 7-tile 'blast radius' for targeting, rather than simply bolstering every allied unit in the battle. This is a fairly significant nerf to the Spell, but I actually like it: for the player, it mostly just encourages making use of eg Tactics to get proper benefit out of it, rather than the third level being laziness to the max in usage, and critically it's a huge shift in high-end Gremlin fights, as Friendly Gremlin presence/absence is no longer starkly binary, where any existing can be ruinous to your forces on a moment's notice, but having more than one doesn't really scale that threat.

As such, it's a much-appreciated change.

Precision
Crystal Cost: 2 / 4 / 16
Mana Cost: 2 / 4 / 16
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: +25%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: +30%; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: +30%, Mass; Duration: 4 turns

Affected archers have their base damage increased.

Still unchanged.

Though unlike in Ice and Fire, there's no Avengers to compete with it, bolstering its relevance a little.

On the other hand, some of your best and most widely relevant 'ranged units' in Dark Side are Imps and Scoffer Imps, and they can't benefit from Precision, so that hurts it.

Magic Spring
Crystal Cost: 3 / 7 / 12
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 9
Level 1 Statistics: Defense: +5; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Defense: +10; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Defense: +15; Duration: 5 turns

A single allied unit bolsters its Defense by a flat value. Every time the affected unit takes damage, the unit's controller gains 5 Mana and the duration of the buff decreases by 1 turn.

No change.

In practice, Magic Spring is close to worthless in Dark Side. You have shocking amounts of Mana to work with no matter class/character you play, and unlike prior games your Spellslinging class actually has more support for Mana sustainability than your other classes, rather than relying solely on greater ease in purchasing the universally-available Skills. If you find Magic Spring really early on, you might use it, as it takes a bit for Dark Side's Mana generosity to really kick in, but past the early game it's essentially irrelevant, contrasting sharply with the first two games and to a lesser extent Warriors of the North.

Stone Skin
Crystal Cost: 1 / 2 / 4
Mana Cost: 3 / 5 / 7
Level 1 Statistics: Defense and Physical Resistance: +20%; Duration: 3 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Defense and Physical Resistance: +30%; Duration: 4 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Defense and Physical Resistance: +40%; Duration: 5 turns

A single allied unit has its Defense and Physical Resistance increased by a percentage, but its Initiative is lowered by 1.

The third level now extends duration one turn as it did in The Legend and Armored Princess. No other change.

One issue with Stone Skin is that Dark Side is unusually prone to non-Physical combatants in enemy battlegroups, relative to other entries. Human armies will almost always include Priests or Inquisitors, Dwarven armies are strongly biased toward including Engineers and/or Alchemists, and Elven armies almost always have Druids/Ents/Ancient Ents, all of which can perform non-Physical damage at range. As such, it's much rarer to have the opportunity to really leverage Stone Skin's biggest advantage. Since it also doesn't contribute to your resistance-bolstering Medal, there's very little cause to use it in Dark Side.

Invisibility
Crystal Cost: 3 / 6 / 9
Mana Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 3 turns
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 4 turns

A single allied unit is rendered invisible to the enemy, rendering them un-targetable. The effect ends prematurely if they attack or use any Talent.

Untouched.

Target
Crystal Cost: 2 / 6 / 12
Mana Cost: 3 / 6 / 12
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 1 turns. Level limit: 2
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns. Level limit: 3
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 3 turns. Level limit: 4

A single allied unit is made more appealing of a target.

Still no change.

As far as I'm aware, anyway. For all I know Dark Side has made AI or other code changes that broke Target or something. It's not like I've been testing Target much throughout the series.

Phantom
Crystal Cost: 3 / 6 / 9
Mana Cost: 15 / 20 / 25
Level 1 Statistics: Phantom Health: 20%
Level 2 Statistics: Phantom Health: 30%
Level 3 Statistics: Phantom Health: 40%

Targets an allied unit to generate a phantom version of the unit that lasts for three turns. The phantom's stack size is derived from a percentage of the unit being copied, going off of Health, though the initial unit number is only ever 'whole numbers'. (The new stack can be eg 1 troop or 2 troops, not 2 troops where the second one has only half health) This phantom is a completely fresh unit (Its Talents are fresh, even if the unit being copied has used up all its Talents), but it leaves no corpse when it dies.

Unmodified.

Particularly notable for its utility in conjunction with Blood Priestesses, as I've alluded to before.

Teleport
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 15
Mana Cost: 5 / 8 / 12
Level 1 Statistics: Range: 4
Level 2 Statistics: Range: 6
Level 3 Statistics: Range: Unlimited

Moves a friendly unit to a targeted cell within a certain number of tiles of the units starting location.

No modification.

Curiously, as with Trap, there's a new parameter in the code that doesn't seem to be used for anything. It's got a comment in Russian next to it, but Google Translate provides such confusing gibberish I can't even make a guess as to the proper translation. I'm really quite curious what Dark Side's devs were intending with Teleport, given it's been perfectly fine ever since Armored Princess extended the first couple of levels' range.


Flammable Oil
Crystal Cost: 2 / 4 / 6
Mana Cost: 5 / 5 / 5
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2, Burn Strength: 20%
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 4, Burn Strength: 40%
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 6, Burn Strength: 60%

Targets all units in a 7-tile circle, inflicting them with a negative effect. Anytime an afflicted unit suffers Fire damage, it's automatically inflicted with a Burn, and the duration of the Flammable Oil effect on that unit is reduced by 1 turn.

Here's our replacement for Oil Mist. The duration is longer overall, but instead of lowering Fire resistance and reducing ranged damage, we've got a way to inflict Burn reliably, assuming you combine it with Fire damage. Okay?

I don't really get Flammable Oil, to be honest, and the 'Burn Strength' effect I've listed... I'm not even sure what it does. I think what it means is that at Level 1 the resulting Burn only does 20% of the usual 5-10% damage (ie 1-2%), but I'm honestly not sure, and if I am correct that's pretty awful. Oil Mist was a bit niche and gimmicky, but occasionally usable. Flammable Oil I can't imagine ever using.

I like the idea of a Spell that makes the enemy highly flammable to then combine with setting them on fire, but the execution doesn't really work. If it had been something like 'units with Flammable Oil on them take increased damage from Burn', or 'units with Flammable Oil on them immediately take Burn damage each time Fire damage is done to them', it would be a nifty if somewhat gimmicky utility Spell. What it actually does is just baffling.


Turn Back Time
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 30 / 30 / 30
Level 1 Statistics: Max target Level: 3
Level 2 Statistics: Max target Level: 4
Level 3 Statistics: Max target Level: 5

Returns a target unit to the position and condition it began its last turn at.

No change.

Turn Back Time remains an incredibly useful, if expensive, Spell.


Calm Rage
Crystal Cost: 15 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 1 / 1 / 1
Level 1 Statistics: Converts up to 35 Rage into up to 15 Mana
Level 2 Statistics: Converts up to 45 Rage into up to 20 Mana
Level 3 Statistics: Converts up to 55 Rage into up to 25 Mana

Drains a portion of the player's Rage, and based on that value gives them a lesser amount of Mana.

No change from Warriors of the North. Though it's a lot harder to justify actually purchasing Calm Rage in Dark Side, due to the previously-mentioned Crystal issues, plus as noted earlier Dark Side is fairly generous with Mana capacity in the first place, making a Spell that generates Mana much less relevant. 


Cloud of Poison
Crystal Cost: 5 / 15 / 20
Mana Cost: 10 / 15 / 20
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2, Poison Strength: 5%, Ranged Reduction: 10%
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 3, Poison Strength: 10%, Ranged Reduction: 15%
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 4, Poison Strength: 15%, Ranged Reduction: 20%

Generates a 7-tile circle of a cloud that hovers in place, lowering the ranged damage output of units in its radius and applying a Poisoning effect between every unit's turn.

Note that its duration extends with Intellect.

Cloud of Poison has been stolen from Chaos Magic and notably overhauled. It still repeatedly inflicts Poison on everything in its radius, but its duration is turn-based rather than number-of-Poisoning-attempts based, and critically it's actually inherited the will of Oil Mist, being Dark Side's method of weakening ranged attackers en mass. Arguably this is a more natural synergy, too, as Poisoning units lowers their Attack and causes them to take damage before they get a chance to act: that's three ways Cloud of Poison lowers the damage of ranged attackers, two of which apply to everything in its radius!

The Poisoning damage is quite weak, though, and unlike mass Bleeding (ie Life Light/Dark Shroud) mass Poisoning doesn't effectively enhance the damage of everything else you do to the units, so while Poison Cloud is no longer worthless like it was in Warriors of the North it's still a Spell you won't have interest in using too often. Dark Shroud will usually be better, after all.


Snow Storm
Crystal Cost: 2 / 4 / 6
Mana Cost: 5 / 5 / 5
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 2 turns, Freeze Strength: 10%, Fire Resistance: +10%
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 3 turns, Freeze Strength: 15%, Fire Resistance: +15%
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 4 turns, Freeze Strength: 20%, Fire Resistance: +20%

Generates a Snow Storm in a 7-tile region. Units currently in the Snow Storm are Fire resistant, but at casting and once per turn the Snow Storm will also inflict Freeze on units in its radius.

Snow Storm has been stolen from Rune Magic and seriously modified, taking it from a somewhat situational Spell that was nice for anti-Demon work and supporting Snow Elves to being only really useful for inflicting Freeze en mass on enemies. Only a handful of units in Dark Side are immune to Freeze, and percentile damage from Freeze is a lot more threatening than whatever Fire damage the enemy does, so it doesn't really make sense to use it to protect your own units. It's a weird overhaul: is there any point beyond thematics to Snow Storm providing Fire resistance?

Inflicting mass Freeze is certainly useful, as it's basically a mass Slow that can't be canceled out by Haste or cleared by Dispel effects, though note that the actual damage over time is weaker than what other Spells that inflict Freeze will do. As such, you should primarily treat Snow Storm as a mass Slow effect, with any damage done being a bonus instead of the point.


Ice Spikes
Crystal Cost: 5 / 10 / 15
Mana Cost: 8 / 16 / 24
Level 1 Statistics: Ice Spikes: 3
Level 2 Statistics: Ice Spikes: 6
Level 3 Statistics: Ice Spikes: 9

Generates a number of Ice Spikes. At Level 1, they will be clustered in a triangle. At Level 2, they will surround a single tile. At Level 3, they will surround a triangle of tiles.

Another Spell stolen from Rune Magic. Curiously, its Mana and Crystal costs have both gone up a fair amount, while the Spell itself is unmodified. This is especially strange since Dark Side doesn't have any units with gimmicks centered around making use of Ice Spikes, meaning it's already been de-facto nerfed.

I've occasionally had cause to use it, so it's not unbearable, but it's still an odd decision.


Sonic Boom
Crystal Cost: 10 / 20 / 30
Mana Cost: 10 / 25 / 40
Level 1 Statistics: Damage: 120, Blast: 1 tile
Level 2 Statistics: Damage: 210, Blast: 7 tiles
Level 3 Statistics: Damage: 380, Blast: 19 tiles

Does Physical damage to all units in the blast radius, shoves them away from the center, and has a chance to Stun affected units. Damage drops off by 20% for each tile away from the center.

If I'm reading the code right, Sonic Boom now has a 33%/66%/100% (At Level 1/2/3) chance of Stunning, as opposed to whatever its chances were in Warriors of the North. It also no longer ignores Spell immunity, which... kinda sucks, to be honest, since that was one of the main things about it that could justify using it over eg Blizzard.

The only other change is that Distortion mugged Rune Magic for it.

On the plus side, a big point in Sonic Boom's favor is that Dark Side is extremely fond of battlegroups made of a large number of densely-packed stacks. While Blizzard will almost always outperform it if available, if it's not Sonic Boom will beat out everything else you might have for damage output in such situations -and it may well also shove enemies into your Traps for even more damage!

As such, while the inability to bypass Spell Immunity hurts it a fair amount, Sonic Boom is actually a lot more likely to be a staple attacking Spell in Dark Side runs than in Warriors of the North runs. It's pretty nice!


Blur
Crystal Cost: 3 / 5 / 15
Mana Cost: 3 / 5 / 15
Level 1 Statistics: Duration: 3, Evasion: 5%, Crit Evade: 15%
Level 2 Statistics: Duration: 4, Evasion: 10%, Crit Evade: 30%
Level 3 Statistics: Duration: 5, Evasion: 15%, Crit Evade: 45%

A single target ally is less likely to be crit by enemies and has a chance to be Missed when attacked.

Note that what I'm labeling 'Crit Evade' is an absolute lowering: 15% means that a crit chance of 15% or less is reduced to 0 against the Blurred unit. I'm not entirely sure how Blur stacks with regular Miss effects, though my guess is that it's rolled separately, just because Blurred units with a natural evasion effect will sometimes play their evasion animation and sometimes not.

Speaking of, Blur is visually quite... buggy. First of all, the above: Blur-based Misses have no animation at all, and in fact they mess up the way combat animations play so that often the unit being targeted is retaliating before their attacker has even properly gotten into position. (eg when attacking on the move) Second of all, when Blur is cast, the visual effect it produces lingers in the tile it was placed until the currently-active unit finishes its turn. Or sometimes just moving without finishing its turn will work instead. It's not entirely consistent.

Blur itself is primarily useful for feeding the Keeper of the Dark Medal. The Spell is unreliable (Unless you're expecting a unit to be outright dogpiled, even at Level 3 you can't count on a Miss happening even once over the course of the Spell's duration), and there's just plain better options for protecting your units.

It's also the biggest reason why Hex isn't worth considering. While Blur has only half the dodge chance provided, the fact that it's a buff means that eg you can slap it on a unit that then gets attacked four times in a turn, which is far more likely to get a useful Miss rolled than slapping Hex on a single enemy in an equivalent situation. And since Blur is one of your best options for grinding up Keeper of the Dark, you're probably going to be using it regardless for a good chunk of the game.


Whirlwind
Crystal Cost: 1 / 3 / 5
Mana Cost: 5 / 5 / 5
Level 1 Statistics: Level: 1, Damage: 50
Level 2 Statistics: Level: 1-2, Damage: 100
Level 3 Statistics: Level: 1-3, Damage: 150

A single target unit -enemy or ally- takes Physical damage and, if it's within the relevant Level range, is pushed one tile in a direction of the caster's choice.

Whirlwind is an interesting Spell in that it can be used as a cheap form of mobility enhancement on your own units if you're willing to take damage, and preferably are playing somebody other than Daert so the damage is minimal. Overall this isn't that useful or important in practice, not once you've got Haste, Teleport, etc, but it's an interesting idea anyway.

As an offensive Spell, it's dubious, but that's okay, because it's cheap damage that does knockback. No other Spell quite manages to compete with it, even though it's not that great. Certainly, it's one more strike against Axe of Magic: why pay 18 Mana for a base damage of 300 Physical when you could pay less than a third that to get half the damage while doing knockback to most targets?

It is, however, pretty badly held back by the harsh Level limitation, and the game doesn't provide feedback on which direction you'll push the target, so while I really like the idea of it the execution is shaky.


Time Shift
Crystal Cost: 2 / 5 / 12
Mana Cost: 5 / 7 / 12
Level 1 Statistics: Duration Modification: 2, Extends Friendly Effects
Level 2 Statistics: Duration Modification: 4, Extends Friendly Effects and Reduces Hostile Effects
Level 3 Statistics: Duration Modification: 6, Extends Friendly Effects, Reduces Hostile Effects, Reverse On Enemies

A single target unit has the duration of its effects modified. Reduction does not compete with extension. Which effects are chosen is random, where applicable. Freeze, Bleeding, Burn, and Poisoning are not affected by Time Shift.

To be a bit clearer: at Level 1, Time Shift will extend the duration of positive effects on allies. At Level 2, it will also reduce the duration of negative effects on your units, and if the duration reduction takes the effect to 0, the effect goes away instantly. At Level 3, you gain the ability to cast it on enemies, and when you cast it on them it instead extends negative effects and reduces the duration of positive effects. It's actually one of the cooler Spell progressions in the series, where each step is very clear and distinct.

Surprisingly, the duration modification is affected by Intellect scaling. Note that an effect can never have a duration above 9, though, so Daert's crazy Intellect won't let you extend negative effects to 18 turns or anything wacky like that.

Once Time Shift hits Level 2, it's sort of like a Level 3 Dispel you can only cast on your own units, but better because it outright benefits your positive effects instead of merely leaving them alone. And at Level 3 it can be combined with all kinds of nasty Spells like Blind to do amazing stuff. It's really one of my favorite Spells in Dark Side, being incredibly versatile and interesting and yet surprisingly unobtrusive: sometimes I'm using Time Shift constantly because it keeps being useful, sometimes I practically forget it exists because I don't really need what it does. It doesn't entirely redefine the 'meta' of the game, and that's cool.

Note that since Kamikaze is considered to be a negative effect, casting Kamikaze on an enemy and then Time Shifting them will delay the explosion. If you want to set off Kamikaze early with Time Shift, you'll need to cast it on one of your own units, preferably a summon you don't mind taking damage.

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

As yet more evidence Dark Side isn't complete:





These Spellbook icons are in the code, but go unused. The first is labeled '01_Strengthening', the second '02_Sharpening'. I assume these were meant to be two new buff Spells, though I'm not entirely sure what the difference between them would've been. Attack boosting vs Damage boosting, maybe?

In any event, next time we check out what Dark Side has done with Rage. It's pretty awesome.

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