HEALER (Divination Magic)
Challenge Game type: None.
And, lastly, after tackling all the other classes, I had
to play Healer class, especially so I could compare its gameplay to the other magic-using class, Mage.
I played Virtuous Healer (to give me the one additional "free" Bless spell at the beginning of the game, aside from the pre-provided Fleshboil spell), and I think this was how my (Rifter) Healer character started off (approximate stats at the start of the game are shown first, for Attributes):
Attributes, at start:
STR: 12 -> 13
DEX: 8 -> 10
END: 13 -> 13
SPD: 10 -> 10
INT: 12 -> 17
WIS: 15 (14+1) -> 37 (35+2)
PER: 31 (14+2+15) -> 40 (38+2)
CON: 12 -> 15
With these stats, I started off with only about 72
Mana Points - that's right! even for Healers, it looks like the number of initial Mana Points is based off your Perception and your Intelligence
Skills, at start:
Arcane, Divination: Lvl. 6 (-> Lvl. 33(+3))
Lt. Armor: Lvl. 1 (-> Lvl. 7)
Hide in Shadows: Lvl. 1 (-> Lvl. 4(+3))
Meditation: Lvl. 1 (I'm not sure about this one - but I think I started off with Meditation again…)
Bows: Lvl. 1 (I'm not sure about this one - I may have added Bows after Level 1 but before Level 5…)
Swords: Lvl. 1
Through purchasing and skillbooks, I later added Alchemy, Cartography, Mercantile, Heavy Armor, Cleaving and Thrown Weapons, Bows & Swords (through Level 5), and Elemental magic (to Level 7, then after level-ups to Level 11 (Level 14, with a Grand Master Wizard's Hat)).
In the end, this is how my Healer played out:
Out of all the character classes, I was most disappointed with the Healer class.
Why? Well part of it may be that I tried to play the Healer the same way I played the Mage - as an offensive spellcaster.
Turns out, playing Healer as an offensive spellcaster doesn't work very well. Why? Because while Fleshboil (Tier 1 spell) has a decent chance of success against even relatively high level monsters (you can almost kill Thugs with high enough level Fleshboil spells without needing a melee attack, and you can take some hit points off Tauraxes before you have to melee attack them), you can forget
about Sunder Flesh (Tier 2 spell) and Smite (Tier 3 spell) spells working much!
That's right - no matter how high in Divination level I was, and no matter how high my Wisdom was, Sunder Flesh and Smite spells failed
more than 50% of the time. Which means, against high level monsters like Tauraxes, they're useless (and, meanwhile, they burn through too many Mana Points to make them worthwhile against lower level monsters).
I'm guessing, from a gameplay standpoint, this is because monsters are saving vs. Magic against Healer spells, rather than saving vs. Elements as they do with most Elemental Mage spells. Well, there's clearly an imbalance here, as this totally hobbles Healers offensive spell capabilities. In fact, from my experience, you might as well not even bother getting Sunder Flesh or Smite as spells, as they do you pretty much no good at all.
In general, I found a number of the Healer spells to be somewhere between problematic to almost useless: Poison Spray
- The few times I tried it, it failed against monsters rendering it pretty useless. Sunder Flesh
- As stated above, I found it failed around 50% of the time against mid-level monsters, and >50% of the time against higher-level monsters, rendering it pretty useless as an offensive spell. Turn Undead
- Effective at lower level casting in making skeletons runs way; effective at higher level casting at inflicting damage on skeletons (but uses more Mana Points than Fleshboil which is just as effective at damaging skeltons(?!? - why does Flesh
boil work on skeletons & poltergeists?!), so you're better off using Fleshboil). Meanwhile, I found this spell pretty ineffective against poltergeists - with poltergeists, Healers are better off using the Fleshboil spell. Bottom line: Mage's Compress Atmosphere spell is much more effective against poltergeists than the Turn Undead spell, and to my thinking that is *backwards* from the way it should be. Smite
- Even more ineffective than Sunder Flesh: fails >50% of the time. Pretty much useless against monsters like Tauraxes, and it should be the spell that's most effective against them IMHO. Dehex
- Ah, Dehex! Perhaps the most frustrating spell of all! It's a Tier Three spell, right? OK, well, the only time you need Dehex is going up against poltergeists, as poltergeists are the only thing that can inflict curses. And, playing a Virtuous Healer, my character was particularly susceptible to curses. Well, guess what? - ONLY DEHEX CAST AT LEVEL 6 REMOVES ANY CURSES! Believe me, I tested this - a Level 5 Dexex did not remove my curse after multiple tries. The problem here is that to cast a Tier Three spell at Level 6, you need Level 33 Divination and WIS=33!! [edit:
scratch that last part - you only need WIS=20 to read
Tier 3 spell scrolls, but you don't need higher WIS to cast
spells at all; also, you only need to be as Divination Level=31 to cast Tier 3 spells at Level 6, not Divination=33 as I indicated before]. These are very difficult levels to achieve, and burn through many Mana Points!! - All of this renders Dehex a seriously flawed spell IMO.
What did I learn from all this?
Well, two things:
1. Healers should probably be played as defensive
spell casters (i.e. focusing in on Divine Heal, Detox, Cure Disease, and possibly spells like Turn Undead, Nimbleness and Stoneskin), and offensive
melee fighters. This seems odd to me, to play a magic-user as a melee fighter, but this is what I was forced to do in later levels with my Healer character - beef up on Swords and Bows - to make up for the fact that spells like Sunder Flesh and Smite basically did not work.
2. A number of the Divination spells, especially Sunder Flesh, Smite and Dehex, appear to be flawed, and need to be reworked. Either that, or monsters' save vs. Magic (and/or save vs. Elements?) stats need to be reworked. (Comparatively, the only Elemental spells that I've never really used are Dancing Lights and Sonic Blast - I've had occasion to use all of the other Elemental spells, and they all worked as advertised. Basically: Elemental magic is better than Divination magic.)
This is something that I hope BW and co. look closely at in putting together Book II.
(Ironically, the Healer character class would work perfectly as a primarily defensive spellcaster, if
Eschalon were a 'party-based' game like Ultima III rather than an 'individual hero-based' game. Which, of course, it isn't!