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A return to shaping[G5]


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I feel kinda boneheaded. While I did experiment some with shaping during the beta testing process, I didn't devote to shaping.

 

And I should have.

 

G5 really is a return to shaping. It is powerful again.

 

I fired up an actual Shaper. (Not a Lifecrafter, a Shaper) I dumped him in torment. I had some trouble at first because I didn't raise fire shaping. I placed most of my points in mech and leadership to start, some in int, and then I began building up battle shaping to level 10. I got all sneaky and slunk off to the testing halls, where I weaseled my way through, and got my clawbug reward.

 

What does level 10 battle shaping get you? Level 20ish clawbugs, with 170 health that do absolutely absurd damage for so early in the game. Since I was in test mode, I created them with the AI turned off. I wanted to see how well they could do on their own to carry me through. Were they strong enough on their own to deal with enemies? Yes. Indeedy. They were frighteningly effective. I went back to the very first area, where you start, because it repopulates, and there are fyoras there that will drop a chain mail, an icy crystal, and a fyora skin cloak. (At least every time I've been there I found a cloak) I had four bugs swarming through the area. They obliterated all foes in path, with no guidance from me. No blessing, no daze, no protection, nada. The bugs swarmed through the area, killing some things by swarming them. It was freaky. It was like playing on easy, set to auto-pilot. I brought my bug army to the promenade and let them go. They swarmed over the worms, thahds, and fyoras, killed the shrouded rogues, and they did so with an ease I have never seen in ANY geneforge game on torment. Mind you, I am not controlling the clawbugs at all. Not only are the bugs tough, but they are tough enough to compensate for the idiot AI. When I cast blessing, my swarm did phenomenal damage.

 

I don't know if I would go through the whole game with no control over my creations, but it is certainly possible to play through the whole beginning of the game with no direct control. Creations now are STRONG... I do mean STRONG. I don't know about fire or magic creations, as I haven't delved into those to much, but the battle creations, in this case, the clawbugs (and a thahd I experimented with) are brutally effective. I can not recall a geneforge game where shaping felt so strong. Torment didn't even feel like torment. It felt like easy. I have never cleared the first few areas so quickly.

 

A dedicated shaper build is worth investigating. I can only imagine what a second tier rotter-thingamajig upgrade would be like when created with, say, a level 20 battle shaping. Not just one, but a few.

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I have me a shiny new shaper robe...

 

I was feeling bold, so I created the max number of creations that I could, a mix of clawbugs and cryoas. I prepped my self, and then broke into Rawal's bedroom. It was a frantic battle, but I managed to kill the wingbolts. One clawbug managed to live out of the whole horde. Heavy losses, but great rewards. Shaper robe, magic crystals, and a corruption baton, which I am sure will be most useful later. I merged the runed onyx with my fyoraskin cloak.

 

The game doesn't feel like torment at all.

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You didn't need to fight your way into Rawal's bedroom. As long as you have mechanics 12 to disarm the traps, you can sneak past the spire guardian after looting it's nest and then sneak into the bedroom and remove an item at a time alternating trips with closing the chest. You never get caught if you watch yourself.

 

Quote:
How did you manage to survive getting to the testing area? Did you make a lot of creations and just run to exits?

 

There is a mechanics test, then stealth, and finally diplomacy (leadership) that will get you through without fighting. The first combat test falls quickly to ice-infused crystals and then concentrating on the spawner with burning spray. It's doable early in the game if you don't try the combat tests.

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If you can make clawbugs maul through torment, I'm completely sold on Battle Shaping. A little bit of entirely unscientific testing has me convinced that War Tralls are nice and rotdhizons are death on two creepy, spindly legs. 12 AP! That's not just the two attacks that plated clawbugs get. That's two attacks most of the time, even if you kill your opponent with the first one. And it's two attacks that add immense amounts of acid damage. And it's on creations that resist acid all but completely and are hardy enough to shrug off most other sources of damage.

 

I actually haven't even tried battle alphas/betas yet, but if they're even decent then I think the game can reasonably be played with only battle creations.

 

—Alorael, who still thinks the lack of ranged would be hard. On the other hand, making disposable, intelligence-free creations might just be fun. DV certainly seems to be enjoying it.

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*blinks twice*

 

Somehow, I didn't notice the +4 AP on Rotdhizons.

 

Rotdhizons are not hands down better than War Tralls or Wingbolts, I think, but they are certainly a very useful companion to the Trall.

 

But yes, this is what I have been saying all along, DV. G4 is very close to a return to G3 levels of creation power, thanks to the immense amount of experience points available in the game. Shaping is disgustingly good.

 

And you really don't need to waste points in Fire Shaping. Just put it in battle.

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I plan to raise fire and magic shaping through items and training. (Alwan)

 

I have plated bugs. Plated bugs started over 300 hit points, level 30ish, and with the AI off, they are brutal disgusting horrifying creatures. Mixed with clawbugs, a lone cryoa, and a vlish named Delicious, (what else?) I have taken to calling my mob "Creeping Death." Never, ever, even with an Agent romping around at full power, have I ever had this easy of a time on torment. I am running around, essentially on auto-pilot, destroying anything and everything I've encountered so far. I am about to go and wipe out my first servile village. I don't know if it will be Penta or Kaz... I want access to battle alphas to see how they do. I've also got to clear out the Murkwood bandit bunch.

 

Most of the time, I don't even need to cast blessing. Stuff is already dead, or near death by the time my turn rolls around. So there is no point at all in casting much of anything. My shaper mostly just stands there picking his nose.

 

Antonia, the bandit in the inn, she went down under a swarm of clawbugs, a cryoa, and a roamer I made for kicks and giggles. The roamer is gone, replaced by a vlish.

 

I think I am going to clear the shadow road the hard way... No necklace, just violence and lots of it. Scour the area clean of all rogues and filth. I want the battle alpha canister down there.

 

End game plan is two rotter-thingamajigs, 2 war tralls, and 2 well pumped betas. One vlish most likely, and a spare slot for a situational creation, like an eyebeast or a cryodryak. I strongly suspect that my shaper will be along for the ride, and probably wont need to do much of anything other than observe and occasionally cast some kind of healing.

 

I kinda wish that I had made a shock trooper. Would be nice to do something other than stand around, and pelting the enemy with thorns might be nice.

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Originally Posted By: Blurb
I meant getting across the Promenade to the testing area. I guess I'm wondering how early I can manage it and how easy it is to slip through in battle mode and cross without engaging the rogues in the Promenade.



The pacification pylons turn on with mechanics of 5 to disarm the traps. Then just avoid creations by waiting until they aren't near you. The worm one, then move north to the fyora pylon west entrance, then cross to the thahd pylon control and exit to the north.

Click to reveal..
Then when you reach the sentinel fyora, they don't attack if you go around them using the passage to the north. Be careful not to get too close.
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Yes. Exactly that. No control over them. In previous games, it was suicidal to do on torment, well, mostly. Most creations were to fragile and didn't get into defensive positions or keep rank and file.

 

Now, battle creations are absurdly beefy... There is no need for rank or file so far, no defensive stances, no well organised pack. Just swarm the enemy and they will die.

 

At least in the early game. This is bound to change sooner or later, right?

 

Edit: The cryoa (my second, the first died) has almost died a few times. It is to fragile. If I had pumped fire shaping more, it might be a bit more durable, but I have a strange feeling of doubt about that. I'd need to turn AI on to manage a cryoa pack.

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Master1, yes it is OK to run on 2 machines. Just email Jeff for a new code. I did this when I moved computers and lost my old Avernum registrations. You need to include the code from the other machine in your email, of course.

 

Please don't abuse Jeff's good nature, he & his family need to eat. Buy a copy for your friend for Xmas. smile

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Entering Penta, I ran into Greta. She is an insufferable pain in the neck, always preaching on this or that. There is an option where you refuse to let her by.

 

I paused for a moment, considered that this is torment, and Greta is probably a tough nut to crack... I thought about it, and then I refused to let her by. FIGHT! DING DING!

 

I used my only chaotic aura spores, used some speed spores, and we got busy.

 

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She summoned a rot. That was probably the worst thing that could happen... Right? WRONG! She summons more rots and an ur glaahk for kicks and giggles. Mind you, I'm low level. I've barely entered into the Mara areas. I just completed the Murkwood bandit quest.

 

So how strong are battle creations exactly?

 

I cast terror on the rots and I started to find out.

 

Plated bugs and clawbugs are very different critters. Plated bugs make excellent shock troops. They can run down almost anything in a turn and give it a good poke. Clawbugs don't need to run something down, provided they get in one good sting. Greta is a runner. She likes to run away, summon a critter, and then cast searer. Which does poison damage, might I remind you, and clawbugs are pretty much immune to poison.

 

So there are terrorised rots everywhere, servile guards, ornks, that learned fellow comes out of the building to see what the ruckus is, and it is utter and complete chaos. I burn off a few charges of my corruption baton. I am horribly outnumbered, and my creations are waking up the whole map randomly selecting targets. Greta is still running around willy nilly, casting and summoning, and it is pretty much the worst possible situation you could imagine. Absolute anarchy. The learned fellow, he has an area of effect attack that does like 150 to 200 damage per cast. Ouch! The cryoa bites it. It takes more damage than it has health. But the bugs, dang, it is like a scene in Starship Troopers. The bugs are winning! There are bugs all over the map, there is poison and acid everywhere, and things are dying. Rots are dying. The bugs are surviving.

 

Greta finally dies. Serviles are dying. The rots are taking awhile because they have parry, but they are dying. There are some roamers that enter the fray. They are torn to pieces in very little time by a pair of plated bugs.

 

I lose a clawbug somewhere near the end due to acid. I couldn't travel far enough to heal it. It was very, very far away.

 

And finally, nothing moves. The learned fellow drops a key and a fantastic bit of armor, perfect for my shaper. The rogues are purged.

 

Battle shaping is utterly deadly now. In fact, I'd say it is grossly overpowered compared to the other two branches. I'd even go as far to say that battle shaping might need a bit of nerfing... Except that it was weak for so long, so it deserves a moment in the sun, in the final game, as a final kick off.

 

The fact that my bug swarm took out Greta, her summons, and an entire village of serviles, including the annoying servile vets, who kept healing everybody and everything, says quite a bit at how much things have changed.

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Look at the picture. And look at the tiny dent of damage on the rot after a few rounds of sustained pummeling.

 

Had this been normal or easy, that'd be a dead rot.

 

Greta in that picture had already taken hundreds of points of damage, and it barely dented her. She's poisoned, covered in acid, and has been slammed with vlish bolts, ice bolts, and a few stings.

 

Figure it out on your own.

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No, no, no. This is how powerful ALL creations are when used properly.

 

P.S. It was definitely possible to turn the AI off in Geneforge 3, and in Geneforge 1, with a good setup on Torment. In fact I never turned the AI on for my team of Vlish in G3, not for the entire game. (Granted I did get bored and quit before the Monastery of Tears.)

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Methinks you are enjoying this too much as you float behind your bugs and destroy zones without major trouble. Still taking out that zone so early in the game without most spells is great.

 

Of course now Astoria is out as a faction and I wonder if Greta can now appear in Gazaki-Uss and that other place.

 

Since this is a viable character build, it makes Strategy Central as an example. It'll be interesting when you hit the Helft Ruins.

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I just destroyed Kaz. I razed it to the ground. It was... Easy. To easy. I created two corrupted thahds... I was oh so very wrong about charged creations being worthless... Corrupted thahds when summoned at a high level of battle shaping are like mini-rots. Absolutely stupid acid damage. They wrecked the servile barracks, going in there and pretty much cleaning the whole place out by their lonesome. One died of violence, the other was allowed to expire.

 

I also picked up two battle alphas. I don't know what to say. The difference between a low level alpha summoned by a part time shaper and somebody who has a level 11 battle shaping... Alphas had over 300 hit points and consistently hit for about 60 to 80 damage in melee, a little less against physically resistant foes. They hit harder than the plated bugs. They also shrug off damage quite well.

 

Not sure what I will do next. I might go unbound hunting...

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But why shape as a sorceress when you can shape as a shaper?

 

—Alorael, who is no expert min-maxer. When he says he can't see how to extend a sorceress's essence into the necessary horde, it's not definitive. But sorceresses have more expensive shaping and less essence to burn than shapers/lifecrafters/shock troopers

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A sorceress couldn't do this. Sorry.

 

Anyhoo...

 

I went hunting in the swamp for some bandits. Dimwit and Numbskull, my two alphas, remain under my control for now. Eventually, I will have to control my creations, as I will need to maneuver them around fire tiles in the stoneworks.

 

The bandits didn't know what hit them. Hasted plated bugs are scary. Really scary. It was over quickly.

 

Then I went over to check out the local artilla infestation. I was busy mopping those up, when who should appear...

 

An unbound! It was on like donkey kong! I was kinda busy fighting artillas when he appeared, but that was ok. I have enough beat-down in a can to go around. I mean, he was just begging for a fat lip.

 

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My bugs ran him down. Major advantage to battle creations, they can box in a foe, forcing them to use their melee attack. Unbound have a nasty ranged assault. But up close and personal? They are pussy cats.

 

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They boxed him in. And when they did, it was OVER. One unbound down, many, many more to go. You can see how much damage the alphas can do. His melee attacks were weak and ineffective, pathetic and sad. He had a hard time connecting against the plated bugs actually.

 

I'm still being hunted by artillas. They are, at this point, a minor annoyance. I will deal with them later.

 

It takes a long while, but the unbound goes down. He has a lot of hit points, and it takes a while to whittle him down to size. Delicious does about a 100 damage per hit. (maxed strength already)

 

At this point, I am undecided what to do, but I am considering a full on assault of the unbound nest in the ruins. There is stuff in there I want. I wouldn't mind a glaahk to go with my bug collection. There are a few canisters I want. Several directions I could go. I might go wipe out the Trakovite safehaven. I think it can be done. The shadow road has some stuff I want too... Just not sure where to go at the moment.

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No I didn't. Until you reach high levels of shaping, there isn't a lick of difference between level 3 or level 5 of shaping skill. A sorceress can not devote to much to shaping or else she cuts off her nose to spite her face. It all averages out. Average overall ability. The servile's turtle mage status tilts the field in his favour. tongue

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The difference between the Unbound patrol in the swamp and Gorash-Kel is the latter have a scripted area effect attack. They each have a different one, but they will wear down uncontrolled creations while their pathetic melee attack is shrugged off. Still if your creations have enough health and you are there to heal them, you might clear out part of the ruins.

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I just cleared the vlish infested ruins and killed another unbound. Killed the dryak there. He posed more of a challenge than the unbound did.

 

It is getting a little harder, finally. I have turned level 30, my skills are starting to mature a bit, but I am really nothing more than a healing battery for my goon squad. I do occasionally cast terror just to pretend I am being useful.

 

And, by the way, what is the point? I am curious. I don't see how the sorceress can make a strong shaper. Am I missing something?

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The sorceress makes a decent shaper if you like to make creations early and level them up, since then you're running with low-tier creations (which don't use much essence, so the essence disadvantage is negated) and most of their levels will be gained from experience instead of shaping skills (which mitigates the Lifecrafter's other advantage). You're going to want to pump Int for spell energy anyway, so you might as well use some of that essence you get for a constructive purpose. If you restrict yourself to lower-tier creations, you can just about play like a Lifecrafter but with better magic. Considering just how long you're stuck with second-tier creations in G5 whether you like it or not, it's not a bad strategic decision. By the endgame you've probably got lots of spare skill points and shaping-skill-boosting artifacts, and can switch to high-tier creations.

 

The Sorceress's niche, I think, is as an extremely Mental-Magic-heavy shaper. If you work on it, you can charm and daze just about everything that isn't completely immune, and then kill it with your creations. A little battle magic also comes in handy for when your creations can't do the right type of damage against a resistant enemy, or if your creations have weakened something and you can finish it off.

 

I'll try a playthrough at some point with a Lifecrafter using a fairly similar strategy and see whether it's superior; I haven't actually done the numbers on whether my build would have been better off as a Lifecrafter.

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Right, essence is the only real disadvantage since you aren't likely to buy more than 10 or so points in a shaping skill, anyway.

 

The point is that the gap between lifecrafter and sorceress is much smaller than the gap between sorceress and servile -- something you yourself had implied in an earlier post. Buying 10 points of a shaping skill will cost a servile 30 points more than a lifecrafter, and the essence/Int handicap is sizable -- 2 points less Int on top of 6/8 the final essence.

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Getting a shaping skill to level 10 or higher makes a huge difference.

 

Because of this, shaping really should be an all or nothing skill. Honestly. Dropping a point or two in to it doesn't hurt, but it is wasteful, especially when you can shape through items. Either go all the way or don't bother.

 

Right now, I am debating to go past 10. It is going to cost me 6 skill points to jump to eleven. Worth it? maybe. I am sorely tempted to squeeze in a few more levels.

 

A sorceress can't crank a skill up to ten and still be a solid effective build.

 

What makes shaping work isn't just a high level of skill, but a high number of creations. I've already observed that my survivability drops considerably if something dies or my numbers are reduced. I've gimped my self, my other skills are near useless. I haven't bothered to pump much of anything other than battle shaping, int, leadership, and mech.

 

In G5, thus far, it is safe to assume that a shaper is only as good as his swarm. Shaping is a viable skill on its own, or at least I hope it is. We shall see how this game turns out.

 

Those who minor in shaping will require an investment in skills to make up for their shortcomings...

 

As such, a sorceress is better served waiting for items or merely a shaping skill by one or two and then using items, and then following her strength. Anything else would be selling her self short really.

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Originally Posted By: Delicious Vlish
As such, a sorceress is better served waiting for items or merely a shaping skill by one or two and then using items, and then following her strength. Anything else would be selling her self short really.


This is pretty much what I did. I only raised her shaping skills to the bare minimum needed to make the creations I wanted, and spent the rest of her skill points on Intelligence and some magic skills (and wasted a whole lot of skill points in Strength in the midgame, but that's another story.) I ended up with a fairly competent battle mage who had enough essence for 6 war tralls, or 7 if I really pushed it. It's possible to make tralls with levels in the mid-40s using boosts from equipment alone, and that's more than adequate for anything you'll need them for.

Of course, if you're not going to invest in Shaping skills at all, you may as well be an Infiltrator -- but almost everybody wants some Healing Craft, unless you're willing to rely on an artifact to provide it for you (which means forgoing the Int boost from the Girdle of Genius, plus either rushing to get the ingredients or spending half the game with substandard healing magic).
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Originally Posted By: Mythrael
do the shapers really have that much essence in this game? In previous games you couldn't make that many creations nor could you max out their stats this early in the game.


1000 essence is a reasonable target for a shaping build to shoot for by the endgame. It's possible to have more. There are about 5-6 points of intelligence boosts from items available, and it's reasonably possible to buy up to about 20 Int with skill points. Being a Lifecrafter at level 50 with 25 Intelligence will give you a sickeningly large amount of essence.
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The essence levels of shapers, lifecrafters, and shock troopers is unchanged from previous games in the series, but it's possible.

 

1. It's always been possible if you optimize your build enough. Pump Intelligence to the exclusion of everything else in G4 and you can have whatever you'd like shaped, although surviving that long with such a godawful character through the beginning of the game would be painful.

 

2. G5 lasts longer. You get more levels, which means more base essence and more skill points to put into Intelligence.

 

—Alorael, who isn't quite sure how DV has gotten his shaping stats that high that early either. It's possible, but he would have guessed that it would impinge on the ability to have the Intelligence necessary to make all the clawbugs.

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Completing the demo area alone should get you to level 15, even with creations. (My munchkin servile got to level 20!) You can have a natural Intelligence of 7 at that point (base 4 + report servile + use geneforge + student's belt). For a shaper-type, getting to 10 in shaping costs only 28 skill points for battle, 34 for magic, 36 for fire. Getting to moderate levels of Mechanics & Leadership is even cheaper, and Int boosts start at 5 a pop. By level 15 you have a total of 85 skill points to play with -- that's more than enough to get, say, 12 Int (for 202 essence), 6 or 8 mech and leadership and at least 10 in a shaping skill. You'll likely have another level or two by the time you get to Quothe in Astoria's caves, anyway.

 

By the time the really good creations are available, you'll likely be level 25 or 30, which puts you at close to 400 essence just from 12 Int. A few more points from level ups and items gets you to an easy 18, for nearly 600 essence. You can get higher if you want.

 

The goal is NOT to start making high levelled cryoas in the third zone, unless you want to go the fire shaping route, in which case you handicap Int and just make two cryoas, which is all you'll need anyway. Otherwise you start making high levelled creations when you get clawbugs, plated bugs, or vlish.

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If anyone sees anything amiss about these numbers, let me know. But here's what I came up with:

 

It takes 28 skill points to give lifecrafter 10 levels of battle shaping. Since you start with 15 pts when the game starts, the additional 13 will take about 2-1/2 levels. Int needs to be raised 3 times (cost of 13 points), again about 2-1/2 levels. By level 7+, it's possible to have those stats up to that level. But Int is bare minimum to support 4 bugs, which is fine, actually, if you don't need to cast spells. Then, if you want mech/ldrshp at the recommended 5/7, an additional 28 skill points would need to be spent. You could wait on some areas and go a little off the map. Some quests would be on hold, like persuading Twixx she isn't a rogue. Some areas where mines need disarming could wait. Battles with the Presence might be tough without the sabotage options. But you have powerhouse creations.

 

It's kind of interesting.

 

ETA: Slarty, I totally forgot about the equipment and Geneforge spikes. You're right about that.

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10 shaping was easy to hit. I had low int, and enough leadership and mech to get me through the tests. I turned in the servile. (loyalist) I gained a few levels here and there doing things all by lonesome before going to the testing grounds. The real trick was killing the serviles in the storeroom. That was done with a pair of thahds.

 

I was in my mid twenties before I had 10 int. I didn't max strength right away on my bugs. I added a bit at a time. I had no other skills for a long time. No magic, no healing, no endurance, no strength, I was, basically, a deadweight shaper.

 

All of my starting points went into mech and leadership, with 4 left over dumped into int.

 

Four clawbugs with base stats to start = 20 essence x 4 = 80. I had the essence left over to make more critters. And didn't.

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The vlish bought the farm. It proved far to delicious to be resisted, kept dying, and just wasn't strong enough to keep up with the pack.

 

I've battled my way through the shadow road. The rotter thingy and his wormy henchman proved to be quite difficult. I lost a lot of troops. I've been creating clawbugs and plated bugs as disposable shock troops, and that works out rather well with battle aura, which occasionally provides a nice ancillary boost upon a physical attack.

 

The patchwork gazers gave me quite a bit of trouble. I didn't think I could do it to be honest. I was in way over my head, had to burn through a lot of goods. Pods, spores, various magical items, a wand, etc. When it was done, I had lost most of my army, except for my pair of alphas, Dimwit and Numbskull. I can crank out cryoas but they typically die in one hit.

 

I have close to 400 essence now, 12 int with items. Magic skills were sorely neglected. I had placed just enough into mental magic to cast terror, and a few points in battle magic. I should have waited to buy training.

 

After clearing the shadow road, and selling loot, I maxed out at 30,000 gold. All those green crystals, all those blue and red crystals, suits of armor, iron bars, shaper equipment, all that junk, it really adds up over time. I bought 2 levels of spellcraft, a bunch of spells, bought two levels of battle magic, and still had enough left over to have bought two levels in blessing magic and mental magic. I wish I would have waited, but it would have been to painful.

 

The bugs are slowing down. Against foes like dryaks, they don't do as well as I had hoped. Battles are slow, but steady. The alphas however, do just fine against most foes. There is a noticeable difference. Alphas seem to have more physical resist.

 

My shaper is the weakest link. There has been a few occasions where he has been in mortal danger, and mental magic wasn't strong enough for terror to be effective. I really wish that I had started off as a shock trooper. I do try to keep Dimwit and Numbskull close by as bodyguards, but some times things just get hung up on attacking me. I predict some real problems later, I'll need to catch up on other skills neglected for far to long.

 

The build is still exceptionally powerful, but I am starting to hit that mid-game slump where I really need a few new creation types.

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Turning in Mehken gives such an amazing reward. It's one of the best rewards in the game, actually, and it's practically the first one you can get. And despite what it would imply, I don't think it restricts you from anything else later in the game -- somebody else might be able to confirm that.

 

The easy, early +3 to Int is one of the main reasons shaping is so great in this game. Combined with incredibly rapid levelling up in the demo, it all but obliterates the early part of past Geneforge games where Shapers have not had enough essence to really flex their muscle.

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From memory, I think Alphas have 40% phys and 20% fire/ice resist, so they are better against drayks. Although the clawbug poison effect possibly makes up for this in damage output. Clawbugs have 30% phys.

 

The only real difference between a lifecrafter & shock trooper, as far as defense goes, is the HP multiplier, which shouldn't ever make much of a difference when you are 1 target of 8. (i.e., if you're going to run out of HP, it's probably by a lot and not a little.) Remember that you aren't going to have to invest in shaping skill OR intelligence much in the second half of the game. That gives you over 100 skill points to put wherever you want. Mental magic WILL become a viable defensive option.

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But right now, I am dangerously close to death to much of the time. I really skimped out on basic torment survival skills early.

 

Surviving to that point might get tricky.

 

I have some thoughts brewing on the advantages of cheap battle creations. More on that later. For the essence spent, they really are quite exceptional.

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Turning in Mehken used to have you miss out on a quest in Gazaki-Uss to get the charm canister, but Jeff was supposed to have fixed that. Otherwise there are plenty of places to increase Rebel reputation to compensate for that decision.

 

Running creations through the Stoneworks hot plates is a pain. The waypath algorithm has too much slack in the path so the creations can stray into hot plates outside of combat mode. Worse is if the creation flees in terror. I had to go into combat mode and slowly guide each creation through that area.

 

I think you hit the Shadow Road a few zones too early. Your build could probably clear most of Okavano.

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Some battle creation thoughts, and shaping in general.

 

If a sorceress really wanted to shape, and she should have a few meatshields, battle shaping really would be the best option. Low costs wont hurt the essence pool as much. A sorceress is packed to the gills with fire damage, acid damage, cold damage, lightning damage, etc, what she truly lacks is physical damage. So another point in battle shaping's favour. Also, as I've been discovering, battle creations truly are fine on their own, for the most part. To further save on some essence costs, a sorceress could get away with adding no int to her creations. With fire or most magic creations, this would not be the case. Cryoas, as I've found out, when left on their own, do some truly stupid stuff, like run into the middle of a pack of deadly enemies to have a clear shot at something almost off screen. Next round, death. Roamers will do it too. So will most magic creations. Only magic creations with a surplus of hit points would be ok in a set it and forget it free for all situation.

 

Battle creations are study enough that you can trust them to go off on their own to take care of business... And let me tell you, they can take care of business.

 

No battle creation I've had so far is really better than anything else. Clawbugs do a lot of physical damage, one of mine is up to about 110 or so average per sting right now, plus the poison damage. Plated bugs do not do as much physical damage. Most of mine will hit for about 50 to 60ish, on average. The upside is, they might get two attacks in a round, so it comes close to clawbug damage, minus the poison. The real advantage to plated bugs are as first responders. Panzers. They can close the distance very quickly. This is immensely helpful. A pack of 2 to 4 plated bugs can make enemy mages and other runner types beg for mercy. They can not be outran. Once they have something backed against a wall or a corner, and they start getting their two attacks a round, that particular enemy's lifespan is drastically shortened, doubly so when the clawbugs finally catch up to apply poison and slow down the regeneration rates. Alphas so far behave more like heavy armor. They do great damage, but not quite as much as the clawbugs, they don't move as fast as the plated bugs, but they can soak up damage like a sponge. They feel a lot tougher for some reason than in previous geneforge games... I've always had a thing for battle creations, and I've managed to complete a run or two in each geneforge game using nothing but battle creations... Even when they sucked eggs. They always needed baby sitting. I'm not sure what is different, or why things are different, but they are.

 

The only real shortcoming to battle shaping is the surplus of physical damage. There are a lot of physically resistant foes. However, battle aura is perfect with battle creations, causing the occasional random ancillary effect. This can assist somewhat against physically resistant foes, but I am finding that my troops can outlast enemy troops, so in all out slugfests, I tend to have the upper hand even if it takes a long time to pound something into jelly. Acid application is more important than ever, although I dare say that proper use of batons would be just as good, if not better. I remember quite well my experiments into using batons and missiles with creations with different classes, including a shaper. (Bullseye shaper)

 

Haste is still good. In fact, even though it is nerfed, haste still makes battle creations quite nasty. Plated bugs especially.

 

As far as the sorceress vs servile shaping issue, I believe both are about equal actually, but for different reasons. After giving it a lot of thought, I'd venture an educated guess that a servile might actually be better off with a few magic creation companions or fire creation companions, provided that the servile was the sort that dealt in a lot of physical damage himself. He could tank for his more fragile creations. A magic oriented servile would still be served well by a few fire or magic creations, but a war trall would probably be enough. The servile still has the upper hand over a sorceress in choosing what sort of damage to deal, as he has access to all forms of damage, physical though magical, while the sorceress has mostly magical damage and her physical outlet will only come through creations. This gives them mostly even footing, with the servile having a slight tactical advantage. Before the argument is made about the sorceress summoning more creations, I'll counter than doing so will drain her essence to much and hamstring her magical abilities.

 

All that said, a sorceress build focused on one or two dedicated brutes, with a few dedicated points to battle shaping, you would have a very powerful build that would be much easier to play for a less skilled or new player. Not as much micromanagement and hustle as a servile. General survivability would be quite good, even on torment, and probably even for the first time player. With a strong focus on magic support and two well built creations, as well as a focus of upgrading said creations, you'd have a nice little team. Situational constructs could still be summoned in emergencies.

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