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Shaman Summon Mechanics: Very Wierd, Probably Bugged.


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So I've spent a few hours testing how Shaman summons work, and the results are a bit odd.

 

1). There appears to be no meaningful increase in the strength of the summoned creature with higher levels of the summon skill (possibly a 4% difference in armor between a salamander summoned with 1 in the skill versus one summoned with 8 in the skill, and slightly better initiative, along with a bit longer summon duration). A wolf with 2 points in the summoning skill is basically identical to a wolf with 11 in the summoning skill. So not only do summon skills not give a bonus for levels 7 and 8, as the tool tip says they do, levels 7 and 8 in summon skills are basically wasted skill points. Don't raise Call Salamander to 7 or 8. It's pointless.

 

2). The only meaningful difference between the summon types is their active skill. A level 2 Wolf and a level 8 Drake appear to have the same armor, health and melee attack strength. The Drake is stronger only because it has a better active skill (Cone of Fire every 2 turns versus War Curse every 12).

 

3). Beast Focus, on the other hand, increases the power of summoned creatures immensely. A level 1 Salamander with 0 in Beast Focus against my test enemies (four archers who appear identical and have no abilities beyond basic attack) died in an average of 12 hits of ~25 damage each. A level 1 Salamander with 14 in Beast Focus only lost about 30% of it's health after taking 42 hits from the same enemies, with an average damage of about 8 damage/hit. Beast Focus also greatly increases the power of AOE attacks for the summoned creatures that have them.

 

4). The damage of summoned creature AOE attacks appears to increase a bit with the level of the player character. This was unexpected. I have not done testing on whether they get stronger in any way other than increased AOE attack strength, but would not be surprised if they did.

 

5). Not that I expected it to, but Beast Focus doesn't help when a shaman uses Summon Major Aid with a scarab. Would be cool if it did though.

 

6). The Drake's average Cone of Fire attack damage is higher than the Hell Hound's at equal levels of beast focus, and the margin increases with additional levels of beast focus.

 

This all has some interesting implications. For instance, a player who rushes for Drakes better enjoy that Cone of Fire every 2 turns, because if he'd gone for Beast Focus 8 instead, his Hell Hound could take more than 3 times the damage and would have a much stronger melee attack, as well as a stronger cone of fire (only available every 4 turns rather than every 2, but still...). Second, if you want the strongest possible drakes, increase beast focus every way you can. There are items available that increase beast focus by a total of +5, and a drake summoned with those is vastly stronger than one summoned without.

 

Does this all seem to be working as Jeff intended? Or is this bugged? I would think, intuitively, that a wolf with 8 points in call wolf should be quite a bit better than one with only 1 point in call wolf, and that a Drake should be stronger than a wolf in more ways than just having a cone of fire attack, but maybe that's just me.

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Any chance Jeff would be interested in a more complete version of this? I know he's not much for bug fix patches, but either the tool tip is wrong or the skills aren't working the way he intended. Fixing the level 7 and 8 being useless bit, if nothing else, would go a long way toward making Shamans competitive with Tinkermages as summoners.

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This is interesting! I did some testing on this that confirms most of Hawat's observations with some nuances. Basically, as has been the case in all SW games for over a decade, almost all of a summoned creature's stats, including attack strength, AoE strength, armor, HP, etc., are directly dependent on its level. I THINK the formula to determine summoned creature level is as follows:

 

Pet level = [Caster level * 3/4] + Caster Beast Focus + 2

 

As far as I can tell there is no difference between improving Beast Focus and gaining a comparable number of shaman levels, as far as any of the summoned creature's stats and attacks go.

 

For the summon skills, I was going to write off the 4% armor as random variance, but better initiative (which I saw as well) suggests that something else is going on. In the definitions, these skill boosts are coded in a way that is mostly used for status effects. On status effects used against enemies, it increases the chance they will succeed by a certain amount per level. On status effects used against allies, it provides a chance to increase their duration. At level 8 this should be +70%. I'm not sure how this works on summons. It's likely responsible for the extra duration. It's possible it's also providing a chance for +1 or +2 levels on the summon, which could explain all of what we've observed.

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Interesting! Neither of my shaman PCs are summoner types (they're both more healing/buff oriented characters) but this is good to know anyway.

 

Triumph - yup, all animal summons have activated abilities. I was disappointed to see Drake only gets Cone of Fire though; didn't it have up to Circle of Fire in Avadon 1?

Edited by springacres
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Slartibus, thank you very much for doing additional testing. I had under-estimated how much caster level effected the level of the summoned creatures. That would explain how summon major aid stays useful even as the player characters and enemies increase in level.

 

Drake never had Circle of Fire, but Salamander does in both Avadon 1 and 2. The Drake's Cone of Fire can be used every other turn however, and once you've maxed out Beast Focus (including equipment and the 3 specializations), its damage is comparable to the Cone of Fire scarab - my PC shaman went 1:1 Int/Endurance, and my drake's Cone of Fire actually hits for more damage than my PC using the scarab.

 

I think that if summons worked how I had guessed they would - each level of the summon skill adds a level to the creature, with levels 7 and 8 each adding 4 levels - then summons would be a bit too strong. However, I think every other level of the summon skill adding a level to the summon, with levels 7 and 8 each adding 2 (in keeping with how damage skills work) would be balanced and a lot more intuitive.

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And perfunctory testing indicates the same pattern applies to Tinkermage summons. There is literally no difference* between a Bolt Flinger built with level 1 skill and one built with level 8. They both have about 75 HP, same armor (as far as I can tell). Hit rate and damage are hard to compare with the small sample size (testing vs. ogres, the turret dies in one or two rounds), but seem unchanged.

 

Raise Turret Craft to 8, however, and the difference is dramatic. It's impossible to know the exact HP, because they regenerate a little every round, but a level one Bolt Flinger made with 8 TC took 230 HP of damage over 5 rounds before dying. Armor is vastly improved, somewhere around 50% as opposed to maybe 10%, getting missed twice out of 15 strikes as opposed to never out of 26.

Offensively it went from almost never hitting (again, small sample size) to never missing, total damage about double, though not that much penetrating (automatic War Blessing that comes with Turret Craft obviously a factor here as well).

 

Bottom line: Don't waste your skill points raising turret skills any higher than level 6 (or actually level 4/5 with the Fancy Toolbelt). The tooltips lie! (as usual) GRRRR

Edited by Jerakeen
*except for the razor spray effect, obviously
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