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Geneforge2 : Agent - supposed to be this hard ?


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Playing on normal, level 21 Agent with 11 in Battle Magic & 6 in Spellcraft, plus a few items. Its pretty much a neverending chain of instant deaths for me. I thought Geneforge was bad for shapers, well at least while you run away someone else is whacking enemies, agent has to do everything herself. And nothing really works. With all protective spells i have, a single Battle Alpha can kill me in two hits, while i generally need three to kill him, and i miss horribly.

 

/*rage mode on*/

 

And really, having ranged combat in a game where EVERYTHING can cross the screen and still hit you (sometimes twice) is just a flawed design choice. Sorry Jeff, maybe once, in Geneforge1, i could forgive you for something like this, but not changing it for the sequel is just stupid and incompetent. There is no tactic involved in this game. NONE. Just constant running away. And not being able to.

 

Sorry Jeff, even though i liked Avernum - you've completely failed basic game design class on this series. I dont care about trying GF3-5 anymore, what could you possibly do to make it better ? Except forsaking the entire thing and starting from scratch.

 

/*rage mode off*/

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Really? This was an awesome game for me, I never had any problems. One of my favorite SW software games. What difficulty are you playing on - nvm, normal. When I first played it on easy, though I wasn't an agent, I thought the game was that: easy, but still exiting because of all the different types of fights in the game. Going back to normal, I never noticed difficulty with the game.

 

You are playing as an agent? Try these tricks. Use a few thahds with high endurance as meat shields. Let them take the hits while you deliver them. Secondly, get lots of parry. With high parry, not only will you parry lots of missle and melee attacks, but you will riposte those battle alphas to death with no problem. Once you have high parry, you wont need meat shields so much, and can focus on the damage power of your creations.

 

You shouldn't have problems with the later geneforges, as lots of problems have been fixed. It also becomes easier to make a less combat focused character.

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Strong Daze.

 

Unlike Daze, Strong Daze affects all visible enemies. They remain unable to attack you for several turns, allowing you to pick them off one by one. Unlike the later games, in G2 nothing can resist (not even major NPCs like Barzahl and Rhakkus). It's a total game-breaker.

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By that level you should have concentrated on spellcraft to raise the effectiveness of all magic spells and only raise battle magic and mental magic to acquire spells.

 

Geneforge 2 was the last game where you could only daze one opponent at a time. So charm is still better than daze. You are better off killing them by creeping up to get only one attacking you at a time.

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The trick to survival in this game as a solo agent that I play as in all geneforge games, is to change your weapons depending on the enemy you are fighting.

 

I've found that certain enemies are easier to hit and kill faster with one weapon over another.

 

This is pretty common with most RPGs like this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is all good advice, but everyone seems to be overlooking the Terror spell. With high enough mental magic you can completely incapacitate enemies. This is especially useful against strong solo enemies, like the battle alphas in the new Rising bridge area. Sure, you have to run down your enemy once you hit them, but if you can corner them they wont move at all. They just sit there and let you hurl spells at them smile .

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If you are having trouble with the Agent, it isn't the character, it is you.

 

Plain and simple.

 

The Agent requires a certain level of deviousness and cunning, and should you lack these traits, it will be very difficult for you to advance in the game using an Agent. You must engage your brain and apply critical thinking skills, threat assessment, strategy, combined arms, tactics, and have a good working knowledge of ancillary effects, enemy resistances, and base knowledge of how the game works so you can manipulate the game, which is the Agent's prime ability in the earlier Geneforge games. Also, you must play on harder difficulties, as the harder the difficulty, the easier the Agent becomes to play.

 

Parry really isn't needed. You should never be in a situation where parry engages. If you are needing parry to survive fights, you are doing something wrong and your tactics should be reconsidered.

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Originally Posted By: Delicious Vlish

Parry really isn't needed. You should never be in a situation where parry engages. If you are needing parry to survive fights, you are doing something wrong and your tactics should be reconsidered.



Yes, but this is G2. Even though it isn't really needed, Parry is still so incredibly useful that there isn't really any reason to not invest a few dozen skill points in it and buy ~5-7 levels. Even for a shaper, picking up a level here or there and training a few points with spare SP is a good idea.
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Parry is a great skill, I do not debate that.

 

But building an Agent that relies on parry teaches you bad habits that will hurt you in later games. Receiving damage should scare the hell out of you and make your nerves all jittery. Teaches you a good and proper response to taking a hit. It is what will separate you from a mediocre player and turn you into a well played Agent.

 

The Agent is the finesse class.

 

I just took an Agent through G1 for nostalgia's sake. I kept trying to play like a Servile from G4 or G5 for some reason. laugh

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Originally Posted By: Delicious Vlish
But building an Agent that relies on parry teaches you bad habits that will hurt you in later games.


Yes, but we aren't discussing "later games", we are discussing the best strategy to play an Agent in G2. That strategy happens to be abusing the hell out of Parry.

I fail to see how we should give p the best and easiest path to victory because it might prove a disadvantage in later games- it certainly isn't a disadvantage is G2!
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Very well then.

 

Each point in parry destroys your ability to produce damage. Every point not spent in magical skills or intelligence takes away from your ability to blow stuff to smithereens. Dangerous things should never reach you, hence parry is un-needed.

 

But, hey, what do I know. It isn't like I have a long history of playing Agents or writing the book on effective Agent tactics or anything.

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In Spiderweb games, mechanics are often similar or nearly identical between different games in a series. So as players of those games, we often get used to the idea that the same min-maxxed build -- or the same element of such a build -- will be effective throughout a series. However, this is not always the case, and G2 Parry is a case in point.

 

It is certain possible to have a very, very effective Agent in G2 that does not use Parry. However, it will be just as effective -- and much easier -- to run an Agent or Guardian that relies on Parry. That's just how the mechanics are. Mechanics never trump personal preference, of course, if you don't like Parry. But neither does personal preference obliterate the objective reality of the mechanics.

 

Originally Posted By: Delicious Vlish
But, hey, what do I know. It isn't like I have a long history of playing Agents or writing the book on effective Agent tactics or anything.
Assertion based on appeal to authority? Where the authority is yourself?

 

I gotta say this is poor form. You did write probably the best explanation of how to play an Agent -- back in G3 when Agents were hot stuff -- and you do have a long history of great contributions to tactics. That doesn't mean anybody should assume you are right. It's the same thing with anyone else. Take me. I've done more empirical research into game mechanics than anyone else here, produced more formulas and statistics and extrapolated more evasive mechanics. But that doesn't mean I'm always right, and indeed I have been corrected on many occasions. If people believe what I say, I want it to be because my methods are transparent, my evidence is robust, and my reasoning is clearly explained. Nobody should trust me to always get it right, and that goes for you, too.

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
In Spiderweb games, mechanics are often similar or nearly identical between different games in a series. So as players of those games, we often get used to the idea that the same min-maxxed build -- or the same element of such a build -- will be effective throughout a series. However, this is not always the case, and G2 Parry is a case in point.

It is certain possible to have a very, very effective Agent in G2 that does not use Parry. However, it will be just as effective -- and much easier -- to run an Agent or Guardian that relies on Parry. That's just how the mechanics are. Mechanics never trump personal preference, of course, if you don't like Parry. But neither does personal preference obliterate the objective reality of the mechanics.

Originally Posted By: Delicious Vlish
But, hey, what do I know. It isn't like I have a long history of playing Agents or writing the book on effective Agent tactics or anything.
Assertion based on appeal to authority? Where the authority is yourself?

I gotta say this is poor form. You did write probably the best explanation of how to play an Agent -- back in G3 when Agents were hot stuff -- and you do have a long history of great contributions to tactics. That doesn't mean anybody should assume you are right. It's the same thing with anyone else. Take me. I've done more empirical research into game mechanics than anyone else here, produced more formulas and statistics and extrapolated more evasive mechanics. But that doesn't mean I'm always right, and indeed I have been corrected on many occasions. If people believe what I say, I want it to be because my methods are transparent, my evidence is robust, and my reasoning is clearly explained. Nobody should trust me to always get it right, and that goes for you, too.


A gentle sense of sarcasm translated poorly in text form, you are correct. Poor form indeed. It was meant to be mildly sarcastic, somewhat ironic, and a gentle poke at the past.

And Slarti, you can do no wrong. Remember, you, I, and Synergy, we are the Shaping Council, and since when has the Council ever made a mistake? (Taken from an ancient discussion on tactics where an observer commented how much like the council we were)

My agent contributions weren't limited to G3, but also G1. When G1 first came out, it was generally accepted that the agent was the weakest character and it took forever to convince people otherwise. Same issue in G2. It seemed like every 'successful' build in G2 focused on parry, with people claiming that the guardian was now at the top of the heap.

G2 was actually a great game to play an agent as an agent, because of new spells and some changes in mechanics, Shanti's advice, etc. Abusing the parry feature really takes away from what you can do. G2 was great to teach you the basics like ambush and bottle necking, hit and run, and how the nuclear option was the best option. Magic still had the ability to generate completely crazy damage rolls. (Well, it still does, but it feels like it has been toned down slightly.)
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Jeff did tone down magic a bit in the later games or maybe it's just that creations became so much more powerful. But a pure agent can do so much more on his own as long as you play to his strengths and avoid getting swarmed by playing it as a guardian.

 

When G3 made daze work as an area effect the agent became even more powerful since he could now fight swarms without having to whittle them down from an edge.

 

It's hard for most players to have the patience to slowly move up and pick foes off one at a time. I know I still want to go in there and take them all out at once.

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I should probably count my blessings that you took my words so kindly and shut up. I'm bad at that :-D Everything you say is true, but when you write that people were "claiming that the guardian was now at the top of the heap," it makes your writing sound less credible... because the guardian _was_ at the top of the heap in G2. You don't have to like G2 Parry, but don't be solipsistic about its power either.

Originally Posted By: Delicious Vlish
Remember, you, I, and Synergy, we are the Shaping Council, and since when has the Council ever made a mistake? (Taken from an ancient discussion on tactics where an observer commented how much like the council we were)
LOL! Hah, I never saw that. That is particularly amusing given the Encyclopedia Triad.

 

I suppose now we're going to have to fight over which one of us is the Agent on the Council, and who is stuck being the Shaper and the Guardian!

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Originally Posted By: Randomizer
Jeff did tone down magic a bit in the later games or maybe it's just that creations became so much more powerful. But a pure agent can do so much more on his own as long as you play to his strengths and avoid getting swarmed by playing it as a guardian.
Ehh, I dunno. Let's look at what's affected relative class/strategy strength:

G1: Creations overpowered due to at-creation formula for stats, Shaper wins by a mile. Agents harder due to lack of spells and low damage of spells compared to melee (d8, Quick Action, AND Anatomy).
G2: Parry overpowered, Guardian wins by a mile. Creations still strong, Agents get more spells but spell damage is even lower compared to melee.
G3: Vlish overpowered, creation XP system overpowered, Shaper wins by a mile. Melee damage nerfed, so Guardians struggle, while Battle Magic is at its most attractive despite doing less damage than in G2. Daze affects a group now, aiding Agents and Shapers greatly.
G4: Most balanced game, Wingbolts are least balanced aspect. Less creation XP available though. Lifecrafters, Infiltrators, and Serviles are all excellent choices.
G5: More creation XP available, giving Lifecrafters an edge. Infiltrators remain a decent choice. Quick Action nerfed, hurting Serviles.
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I agree with most of what you wrote Slarti, but it lacks fleshing out on a few finer points.

 

G1, the agent could go places the Shaper had some trouble. Like places with poisonous atmosphere. Compared to the guardian, the agent really could do more damage to mobs. Dominating an augmented sholai was just to powerful. Essence orbs allowed mobs to be worn down faster than the guardian's one on one approach. The guardian was powerful, especially on the lower difficulties, where if you could reach it on your turn, it would die. But the guardian began to have issues on the higher difficulties because of numbers. The agent was unique, because out of the three characters for G1, the agent was the only one who became exponentially stronger with each increase in difficulty, mostly because of dominate. Making the monsters stronger made the agent stronger. This was her strength.

 

In G2, the guardian was powerful. Let's get that out of the way right now. And parry allowed you to outlast the mob of flesh trying to kill you. The guardian still had to kill stuff one on one mostly. The ability to process mobs was poor. It was slow work, especially on higher difficulties. The agent got a few new tricks to blast mobs to smithereens, a few new options, including total thermo-nuclear detonation. The agent still had one thing working in her favour though, higher difficulties. On normal, she was considerably weaker, but you crank up the difficulty and start charming stuff, the powerful monsters in G2 became your playthings. But you really had to devote to your magic skills to be able to do this, and make it effective, because if something resisted, you could die. So parry, while effective, was detrimental to your cause. It was better to crank magic skills and spellcraft out the wazoo. G2 was also the game where the agent felt most godlike, because there were a few random assorted high powered monsters, surrounded by mobs of comparatively weak cannon fodder. And instantly incinerating a screen full of cannon fodder in the opening turn was, well, addictive. How could you not like that? G2 was the game that truly allowed the Agent to ROMP™ if built properly and no game since has ever been quite the same.

 

G3 turned the agent into a finely crafted neutron bomb. By this point, she had matured into the deadly killing machine we all know and love. Because of the game engine, she suffers from the same problem as before. On lower difficulties, she is weakened. She loses a lot of her punch on normal. The guardian really was hosed in G3, as I seem to recall... My missile shaper did better than the my guardian did. But the hunter guardian was a ton of fun. The agent became to powerful though at this point, there were to many high powered enemies around, the cannon fodder effect was starting to go away. With all of the high powered monsters, charm became far to effective, you could get a better wall of meat shields than a shaper could, so the agent really had no draw backs. The ability to turn high profile monsters to do your bidding broke the game, and there was far to many of them. The guardian still had issues dealing with mobs while the agent could charm a few meat shields and then flash fry them in any number of ways.

 

I've said it many times, the agent's strength lies in her enemies. The stronger her enemies, the stronger she becomes. G3 was flooded with to many high level extremely powerful monsters and the agent could charm almost all of them. And many of the monsters felt more powerful than most things a player character shaper could shape.

 

In G4 and G5, cannon fodder was largely gone. Maps now consisted of vast mobs of powerful monsters, all of them ripe for charming and dominating. Any character that could cast domination or charm could breeze through the higher difficulty settings. Terror became more important than ever for safety, because you can't be hurt if they can't touch you. Certain classes even manage to have it all... Any class that can achieve absurd levels of mental magic and spellcraft can also wear items to allow them to shape the most powerful creations as well, effectively breaking the game. You can charm the most powerful of your enemies AND crush them with your own absurdly powerful creations. This is what completely broke G4. You could reach a place within the game where you could just completely steamroll. There was no real resistance. Jeff put in the hardest monsters you could imagine trying to make the endgame challenging, but to any agent like class with cheap magic skills, all that did was make the endgame easier. Midgame as well, as I seem to recall.

 

This has been a problem consistent through the whole series, magic was always just to good, even if you didn't use it to damage directly. You could ratchet up the difficulty and turn the game against it self.

 

As a completely unrelated side track, what the rebellion really needed was to create some new creation that was completely immune to mental effects, something to counter the all to powerful agent. Something magically resistant and mental magic immune. That is really what the problem boils down to, really. The rebellion creates new high powered creations, this slows down the shaper and the guardian, but actually aids the agent in her endeavors, as she now has new shock troops to charm. They created the means of their own undoing really.

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I've said it before, and I'll say it again. DV, I have great respect for your ability to beat the game engine into submission and produce unlikely but functional builds. These are wonderful tactics. But you get swept away by your tactical creations, and you sell them with songs that distort the truth... first just a little, then a bit more, until finally you are convinced that an ingenious but suboptimal tactic is better than anything else.

 

It's a great storytelling capability. That's what made your monograph on the battle magic agent in G3 so compelling. But don't confuse it with rational judgement.

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. DV, I have great respect for your ability to beat the game engine into submission and produce unlikely but functional builds. These are wonderful tactics. But you get swept away by your tactical creations, and you sell them with songs that distort the truth... first just a little, then a bit more, until finally you are convinced that an ingenious but suboptimal tactic is better than anything else.

It's a great storytelling capability. That's what made your monograph on the battle magic agent in G3 so compelling. But don't confuse it with rational judgement.


The agent isn't an unlikely functional build, it is abusing the game engine.

It is really very simple. Magic was the overwhelming and broken element in the game. Not the battle magic, even though that is great for damage, but the mental magic, which arguably, will do more damage than any levels of battle magic. And right now, there are people scratching their heads and going "huh?" Simple really... The most powerful monsters in the game can all be charmed. And as you go up higher in difficulty levels, the more damage these monsters can do because they'll live longer. Living longer = more damage output. And lets face it, there are certain monsters that do more damage than you can. And in some areas, there is more than one of them, and there is nothing stopping you from charming more than one of them.

Mental magic has always been where the lion's share of your damage will come from, and a good part of your damage prevention. It really isn't difficult to understand, yet people have a hard time grasping it for some reason.

But we've had this conversation before.

The agent's ability to take control of another > any other skill in this game.

If there was, say, an ur-mechafyora, and it is the deadliest creation in the game, and the endgame is littered with dozens of them scattered through the various endgame zones, and you can enter a zone and take complete control of said ur-mechafyora, what does that make you? If you take control of it and then use it to completely clear the zone for you, and it does so effortlessly, what does that make you? And at the end, when everything is dead, you zap it with terror and then dispose of it while it cowers.

There is nothing irrational about this conclusion.
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If you could always dominate anything, I would agree. Then it would be more or less unbounded power, constrained only by (easily replenishable) essence and energy. You can't dominate everything, however. What happens when you face creations with 100% resistance to mental magic? Or for that matter, what happens when you face a Gazer with 70% resistance and you fail to dominate it twice in a row?

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
If you could always dominate anything, I would agree. Then it would be more or less unbounded power, constrained only by (easily replenishable) essence and energy. You can't dominate everything, however. What happens when you face creations with 100% resistance to mental magic? Or for that matter, what happens when you face a Gazer with 70% resistance and you fail to dominate it twice in a row?

 

Dominate the cannon fodder.

 

Failing to dominate gazers really was only a problem later. In G2, you could pretty much bend anything to your will, provided you spend enough points in mental magic and spellcraft. But if you blew all those points in parry, no luck. As I mentioned in a long ago thread. It really comes down to commitment, really, every available point has to go into magic skills. No endurance, minimal strength, absolutely NO shaping skills, as they were far to expensive, and in general melee skills were left as is and raised through items or trainers. Failure to totally commit to magic means that, yes, you will fail to charm your target on the first try. The same was true in G1, as the augmented sholai seemed to resist everything. Including domination attempts. You really, really had to ratchet up your magic skills to turn them. But you turn one, and the battle instantly changes toward your favour. I don't recall exact stats off of the top of my head, but the augmented sholai had something like 500 hit points on torment level, did insane physical damage, and were rather dangerous. Dominate one, and you could watch him shred his former companions. Same is mostly true in G2. There are some dangerous critters running around, and almost all of them can be charmed, provided you play to the agent's strength.

 

The agent is not an easy class to play however. It requires a certain mindset to play effectively.

 

I have always maintained that with the agent, it really is all or nothing. Failure to give all will cause you to run into the exact problem you describe, which makes you absolutely correct. If you look in the old threads, you will see plenty of people who sold themselves short somewhere during the game and then had problems, along with the assertion that the agent was weak, underpowered, etc.

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Yes, that's exactly what I was saying earlier. There may well be more than one build option that obliterates the enemy, but one of them is probably easier to play than others. Parry obliterates the enemy's offense, making it easy to pick them off, while Dominate obliterates them somewhat more directly, and making a bunch of Vlish obliterates them even MORE directly. Yes, investing in Parry is a bad idea if you want to obliterate things with superpowered Dominate spells. But that's an IF that needs to be spelled out.

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Originally Posted By: CRISIS on INFINITE SLARTIES
Yes, that's exactly what I was saying earlier. There may well be more than one build option that obliterates the enemy, but one of them is probably easier to play than others. Parry obliterates the enemy's offense, making it easy to pick them off, while Dominate obliterates them somewhat more directly, and making a bunch of Vlish obliterates them even MORE directly. Yes, investing in Parry is a bad idea if you want to obliterate things with superpowered Dominate spells. But that's an IF that needs to be spelled out.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't Gazers, Eybeasts, and Drakons/Ur-Drakons immune to mental effects in G2?

Or is it just that your high-level creations are immune to mental effects?

EDIT: Oops, missed one of DV's posts on this. Sorry.
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Gazers, Eyebeasts, Drakons and Ur-Drakons are most certainly not immune to mental effects in G2. I have an agent game that I've been playing, and I was able to walk into Inner Gazak-Uss, cast a bunch of Terror and Dominate spells and pick everything off with little to no trouble.

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