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Date:    2018 May 29 18:14
From:    darke
Subject: Darke Tidings (Tips/Advice) #1: The Importance of Class Order
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This is the first of a series of posts about things that might not be
immediately obvious to a new player to Alter Aeon. Tips and Advice that,
looking back, I wish I had known when starting out. As it was, many times I
have gotten to level 28 or so and think "perhaps I could have done things
in a better way" due to me not really understanding the various systems in
this game beforehand, and then restarting my character to try it out.

Now on to the first topic of this series, the Importance of Class Order.
While leveling up a character in Alter Aeon, you will eventually put levels
into all six of the classes. But due to how the leveling system works, in
general your first class (that you pick at the beginning) will be 5 levels
above the one you choose second, which in turn will be 5 levels above
whatever you choose third, and so on. So if I pick Warrior first, Mage
second, and Thief third, at level 15 warrior my class levels might look 
like 15 war/10 mage/5 thief.

The question then, is "what is the impact of choosing a certain class first
versus choosing it last". What's the difference between picking Mage first
or picking it last? The most important consideration is the "skill level"
or "cast level" of the class, which is always equal to the level you have
in the class plus any bonuses you have from equipment.

A level 30 mage will always deal more damage with the basic spell "Shower
of Sparks" than someone with a mage level of 1. That is because the level
30 mage has at a minimum 30 'mage cast levels', while the latter only has
1. The higher the mage cast level, the more damage that any mage spells
deal, the longer any buffs last, etc. This applies to all skills from any
class... thief levels influence backstab effectiveness, warrior levels
affect the thrusts and lunges, etc.

But by the time your first class reaches level 30, you will be fighting
monsters with health appropriate for level 30 or higher. The damage from
the level 30 shower of sparks might make a dent in their health, but
someone with a mage cast level of 1 (who chose it as their sixth class)
trying to use that same spell against a level 30 monster won't even make a
scratch with it.

As a result, in my opinion the offensive abilities of your primary and
secondary classes will in general be a lot more important than the
offensive abilities of your quarterary classes onwards (the third class may
or may not have useful offensive abilities). If I am a primary mage and
pick warrior fifth, the warrior damage skills like like thrust or lunge
will be practically worthless, while I would still be using the high damage
mage spells in every fight. Getting thrust or lunge would be a waste of
prac tices that I could instead use to raise my stats or learn mage
abilities.

With that being said, the utility abilities of each class are useful no
matter when you get them in general. Take the spell Armor from the cleric
class, it will improve your ac by 20 points regardless of whether your
cleric casting level is 30 or 5. The duration might change with the casting
level, but the effect is always the same. Now some utility skills do
improve their effect with skill or cast level (such as dodge or parry), but
they are still good to get at some point even if they are not from your 
first few classes.

When planning a build, I ask myself "by the time my primary class is level
30, what are the damage dealing abilities that I want from both my primary
and my secondary class (which would be at level 25), and what utility
skills do I want from my tertiary class onwards (that are at levels 20, 15,
10, and 5)?"

----- For an example, I will explain the thought process behind my current
build, a Thief/Mage/Warrior/Cleric/Necromancer/Druid (disclaimer: this
build is hard to do properly due to how all of the stats are spread out). I
have Thief first because I like using the offensive shadow blade ability to
take out mobs without using mana, plus good dodge and shadow decoys to keep
myself alive in fights. With Mage second I can cast the offensive spells
fairly well in a pinch, and eventually get to the really good spells  such
as fireweb when I raise my mage level higher. The defensive spells last
fairly long, and I get useful damage dealing spells like Burning Hands that
I can use due to me having a free hand available to throw shadow blades
anyways.

With Warrior third, I don't care about the melee attack skills such as
lunge and thrust since they'll never be as good as my shadow blades or mage
spells. What I am more interested in are the utility skills, such as Parry
and Cry of Victory early on, and stuff like Increased Stamina and Retreat
later on, that I would be unlikely to reach if I picked warrior fourth or
fifth.

Cleric is fourth just for the utility spells such as Refresh, Armor, and
possibly Sanctuary. Necromancer is fifth for Blood Sacrifice that I can
pick up at level 2 and maybe corpsecutter at level 7 (if I want to use that
stuff to brew poisons or potions). Druid is last because I need absolutely
nothing from their low level skill set, it's just good for the 5 practices
per level. -----

Hopefully this post has been helpful. The importance of class order is
probably the biggest thing I've come to realize over the course of
restarting this Thief/mage character 4 or 5 times, trying to get it right.
I tried Thief/Mage/Cleric and Thief/Mage/Druid, but I always reached a
point where I was always having to rest after every battle to regenerate
mana (since I was using it all keeping myself alive with no tanking
capabilities) and it just wasn't fun. I wasn't really thinking too much
about the class order for the third classes onwards. With that being said,
all of those trials and errors allowed me to see what skills were really
worth it for the build I am trying to make, so it was not a waste.


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