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Strategic Spellcasting 101
[09/12/2006] [Khanar]

One of the most common problems I see on the field is the lack of the proper magic at the proper time. As a caster, I know that it is impossible to know just exactly what spells youíll need for any given battlegame or quest, but that doesnít mean you canít plan the best possible list for you, depending on the circumstances of the game, and your strengths and weaknesses as a caster.

Caster, Know Thyself. It is imperative that, as a caster, you are brutally honest with yourself. You MUST know your strengths and weaknesses. If you put all you points into spellballs as a wizard, but couldnít hit a buffalo with a beach ball, then you have wasted valuable points. If you buy the healerís chant as a druid, but donít have it memorized, or canít read it quickly due to our public school system, then you may have already lost the game. You are better off buying enchantments to pump up your teammates, or buying a weapon to defend yourself with.

First off, take a couple battlegames to test yourself. Choose mainly all verbals one game, and then switch to spellballs or enchantments at the next. Watch how effective you are with each, and make your decisions. At the minimum, you should be taking out one enemy per life (by taking out we mean remove from play, using player removal spells such as Banish, Iceball, Entangle, Charm, Legend, or Wind, not just a kill like Finger of Death or Fireball). Not only that, but if youíre on a team, you should be aiding your teams effectiveness rate through useful enchantments. See which style has the best opponent removal rate. Donít discount the use of weapons. If you are a lower level bard, and donít have a lot of skill with verbals, taking a short sword or staff is probably a good choice for you.

Once you have identified your strengths, then you need to focus on those when selecting your spells. Donít ignore your weaknesses; just make sure that you donít over-emphasize them. Practice helps, but realizing that casting all your Barkskins and Stoneskins on people that wonít utilize them to the fullest is important (not all your weaknesses will be under your control, sometimes your biggest weaknesses will be the players youíre teamed with).

Evaluate your situation. Utilize the calendar. Know what type of game youíre playing before you select your spells.

Quests require special spells that you wonít use any other time. Spells that give you information like Lore, Speak with Dead, and Truth can solve the quest. Cure disease and Banish are essential against undead. Taking a blunt/wooden weapon like a quarterstaff is good against some monsters, and worth the point loss depending on what information you have about the quest ahead of time. Mute can make a monster spellcaster obsolete. If the quest involves an item that can be destroyed by your enemies, Harden it.

Last man standing games require you to be a lone killing machine, and enchantments are next to useless in those situations. Player removal effects and the Release spell are good here, as well as all the ranged death spells. If youíre a Wizard, the Iceball/2Fireball combo is a good tactic. Healers and Wizards get Hold Person/Stun and Wounding, both excellent lone caster spells. Teleport can get you out of a sticky situation. If your opponent is equipped with a pole arm or sword & board, then Wounding/Swords to Plowshares allows you to take their leg, heal their leg, destroy their weapon, then run up and gank them with your dagger. For a Druid, timely use of Pass Without Trace and an extended Finger of Death can be deadly. Be creative!

Team events require a team effort and team spells. Knowing who will be on your team before spell selection is nice (the entire opposing team is barbarians, for instance), but not always allowed. If you have a pole arm on your team, enchant if for wounds kill, or give it an extra point of damage against armor. Using a Magical Projectile on an archerís arrow gets around that pesky Pro-Projectiles spell. Hardening your shield manís shield can give you great protection (if, of course, you have a good shield man). Dispel magic is ALWAYS useful in a team situation, especially against a fighter with Pro-Magic or another caster with Defend. A line of enchanted shields can stop a good ball wizard in his tracks. Use the strengths in your team to your advantage, and make sure that you are protected. And finally, range verbals that destroy equipment or kill your opponents outright are very useful, as are protective magics like Defend, Stoneskin and Presence.

To Arm or Not To Arm? ALWAYS take a dagger, if you have access to one. If you donít, make one. If youíre a first level anything, taking one of the allowed weapons is OK, especially if you are proficient with it. At higher levels, you have to ask yourself a hard question, ďCan I be as effective with this short sword/staff/bow as I am with the magic points I lose?Ē At lower levels, the answer is probably yes. The really good instant kills come at level 4 or higher, so you have some leeway earlier in your career. However, take into account the enchantments youíll lose for your team, and how many unlimited spell ball points you give up. After second level for Healer, Druid, and Wizard, I would suggest not taking any weapon other than dagger. Bards, however, get the Warskill spell at 4th level, so taking a weapon for them is OK.

On the next three sections, I outline some of the essential spell choices that I would make in the three situations Iíve outlined above. Remember that these are my opinion, and also reflect my strengths and weaknesses. Try them for your self, and adapt your own spell lists. Above all, remember: Have Fun!

The Questing Mage

1st: Presence, Hold Person, Visit
2nd: Talk to Dead, Truth
3rd: Extension
4th: Awe/Fear, Honor Duel, Lore, Warskill (staff, just in case that extra planar entity is allergic to woodies)
5th: Mimic, Mute, Yield
6th: Release, Voice (Cure Poison, Cure Disease, Protection from Flame, Teleport, Flameblade)

1st: Cure Poison, Entangle, Heal, Heat Weapon, Warp Wood, Bladesharp
2nd: Barkskin, Cure Disease, Magical Projectile, Mend
3rd: Acid Bolt, Ambidexterity, Extension, Protection from Flame
4th: Call Lightning, Commune, Pyrotechnics, Stoneskin
5th: Flameblade, Teleport, Petrify, Release
6th: Finger of Death or None (FoD is a do or die spell, once per game. Iffy)

Healer: (the free point in Heal is always assumed)
1st: Cure Poison, Mute, Talk to Dead
2nd: Banish, Cure Disease, Swords to Plowshares
3rd: Resurrect, Stun, Wounding, Yield
4th: Enhancement, Harden, Release, Sever Spirit
5th: Awe/Fear, Extension, Summon Dead
6th: Circle of Protection, Protection from Magic, Teleport

1st: Bladesharp, Imbue Shield, Heat Weapon, Honor Duel, Iceball, Magic Bolt, Talk to Dead
2nd: Circle of Protection, Harden, Hold Person, Lightning Bolt, Mend, Messenger, Protection from Flame, Wounding
3rd: Ambidexterity, Dispel Magic, Extension, Pro-Projectiles, Protect, Yield
4th: Imbue Weapon, Finger of Death, Fireball, Pro-Magic, Pyrotechnics, Teleport
5th: Advancement, Lend, Flight, Vivify
6th: Defend, Expertise, Sphere of Annihilation, Stack

The Lone Spellslinger

1st: Charm, Hold Person, Presence
2nd: Legend
3rd: Extension, Imbue
4th: Awe/Fear, Honor Duel, Warskill (any)
5th: Confusion, Mimic, Mute, Yield
6th: Dance, Release, Voice (Finger of Death, Petrify, Acid Bolt)

1st: Entangle, Heal, Heat Weapon, Warp Wood
2nd: Magical Projectile (only if you take a bow)
3rd: Acid Bolt, Ambidexterity, Confusion, Extension, Plantdoor
4th: Call Lightning, Commune, Pyrotechnics
5th: Teleport, Petrify
6th: Finger of Death, Feeblemind

Healer: (the free point in Heal is always assumed)
1st: Lost, Mute
2nd: Swords to Plowshares, Entangle, Sleep
3rd: Stun, Wounding, Yield
4th: Enhancement, Sever Spirit
5th: Awe/Fear, Extension
6th: Circle of Protection, Dispel Magic, Teleport

1st: Heat Weapon, Honor Duel, Iceball, Magic Bolt, Shove
2nd: Circle of Protection, Hold Person, Lighting Bolt, Wounding
3rd: Ambidexterity, Dispel Magic, Extension, Yield
4th: Finger of Death, Fireball, Teleport
5th: Advancement, Flight, Lich, Vivify
6th: Defend, Expertise, Sphere of Annihilation

The Supporting Caster

1st: Charm, Hold Person, Pro-Control
2nd: Legend, Pro-Subdual
3rd: Extension, Imbue, Confidence
4th: Awe/Fear, Berserk, Warskill (any)
5th: Confusion, Mimic, Mute, Yield
6th: Release, Voice (Flameblade, Stoneskin/Barkskin)

1st: Cure Poison, Entangle, Heal, Bladesharp
2nd: Barkskin, Magical Projectile (if there are bows on your team), Mend
3rd: Acid Bold, Extension
4th: Call Lightning, Stoneskin
5th: Flameblade, Petrify, Release
6th: Finger of Death

Healer: (the free point in Heal is always assumed)
1st: Cure Poison, Mend, Mute
2nd: Bless, Swords to Plowshares, Entangle, Heal Extend
3rd: Protect, Resurrect
4th: Enhancement, Harden, Release
5th: Extension
6th: Dispel Magic, Pro-Magic, Teleport

1st: Bladesharp, Heat Weapon, Imbue Shield, Honor Duel, Iceball, Magic Bolt
2nd: Harden, Hold Person, Lighting Bolt, Mend, Wounding
3rd: Dispel Magic, Extension, Pro-Projectiles, Protect, Yield
4th: Imbue Weapon, Fireball, Pro-Magic, Teleport
5th: Advancement, Lend, Vivify
6th: Defend, Expertise, Sphere of Annihilation, Stack

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