ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:45 pm 
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Cornac

Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:43 am
Posts: 34
I just ran up a Lich to about lvl 28 - he's going fine, except that the points I have been throwing into Advanced Necrotic Minions appear to be a complete waste.

The minions summoned by this category are mostly vampires - which are a LOT weaker than your basic armored skeletons, ghouls, archers, and skele mages. Whereas any of those others can hit for 100+ a turn, the vampire (and master vampire) can only hit or cast for around 20, and their defense is unremarkable. All told they are a complete waste of minion slots, suitable only for prompt detonation.

The Dreads are ok - but not particularly better than the basic undead - and I strongly suspect that if I ever pulled a barrow wight, it would promptly destroy my entire horde with an acid cloud.

All told, I'd have to advise burgeoning necromancers to stay completely away from ANM - it's a big investment for an actively negative return. The bone giants could be worth it in combination with Animus so you can double up on them, but definitely avoid the tier 4 talent. All told, I'd go shades instead to help make your basic minions more effective if you are running a minion build.

In total, running a blaster non-minion lich is almost certainly more effective than the minion lich. Between the issues of soul management, high mana costs, micromanagement, and constant friendly fire issues, the lich minions don't really come across as a particularly formidable force. Not terrible mind you - but they require even more careful methodology and patience than the summoner, which is saying something.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:55 pm 
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Cornac

Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:43 am
Posts: 34
Shifted the build to work with maxed out bone giants and animus so I can summon two of them - much more potent than any of the random undead, if a tad soul expensive and even more logistically complex.

The problem here is that the bone giants appear to be bugged. As followers they will only ever use their bone armor and re-assemble skills once (the heal, not the resurrect), and then they will never trigger them again, so they are only tough for one fight - and given the huge number of souls and talent points they take to create, that's probably not worth it, as without being able to cycle their defenses, they'll be of no use in any of the real boss fights except as temporary and essentially irreplaceable meat shields - which I already have cheaper versions of.

So again - not so great with the Advance necrotic minion line, though if this bug were addressed the bone giants would probably be reasonably viable.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:01 pm 
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Thalore

Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:58 am
Posts: 152
I think the benefit of the advanced minions is supposed to be that most of them are spellcasters - however most of them have rather lacklustre spells.

I also agree that minions are weaker then just going blaster necro. The soul mechanic combined with them decaying constantly just makes them seriously unreliable in many situations (not to mention skeleton mages shooting you (and the rest of your minions) in the back all the damn time).


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:45 pm 
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Cornac

Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:43 am
Posts: 34
Yeah, by far and away the most powerful spell-casting undead are the basic skeletal mages - they hit like trucks, but of course, the fact that almost all your undead abilities have friendly fire sorely reduce their usefulness. If you go minions, you can't use your ice spells OR your lich twilight line, nor can you use the exploding minion ability in ANM without blowing any other nearby minions away.

All told its a conceptually amusing, but weakly realized build, I have a rather hard time imagining it surviving in any late game boss battles, particularly given the amount of AOE damage that a lot of late bosses throw around without even thinking about it. I'd say that the minion build is strong enough to carry it through the mid-game, but is likely to become an exercise in teeth-grinding frustration in the end, unless you think of them purely as wisp-torpedo weapons with no actual capacity to fight whatsoever - and even then the wisps would very likely be obliterated before reaching anything against real endgame enemies, thanks again to their casual AOE bombardment.

I suspect that to have a fair shot at the end-game the undead minions would need to be retooled a bit:

1) Dark Empathy should reduce the damage of all your minions towards each other, and of your spells against them, by at least 50%, if not completely. Watching your undead blow each other apart is simply not very fun and adds to the frustration of playing an already logistically complex class - friendly fire renders 2/3 of your offensive spell categories essentially useless. Alternatively, if the necromancer's resistance bonuses were granted FULLY to your undead, they might have some chance at surviving the more hectic battles for a few turns.

2) The advanced undead should not be weaker than the basic undead. As a player I have always found that basic vampires and wights were less dangerous opponents than skeletons and ghouls, and this point is driven home when you try to use them as a necromancer. They really are very substantially weaker. Frankly, they could stand to be beefed up in both cases, as NPC's and as followers. As it stands, taken ANM weakens your undead force rather than enhancing it.

3) The AI of the necromancer minions could stand to get some love, such that the minions have a move-thru priority (melee>ranged>casters), so that your minions can manage their own positioning a bit more reasonably without you having to re-organize the entire mess every time before you open a door.

4) Fixing it so that undead minions with support abilities (bone giant armor/heals, ghoul wretch, etc) actually use them as expected. Right now they only seem to use purely passive abilities and attacks, but they only seem to use self-targeted abilities once ever (if at all)? Not sure what's up there, but it looks like some kind of bug.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:21 am 
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Sher'Tul Godslayer

Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:46 pm
Posts: 2275
Location: Ambush!
Vastin wrote:
1) Dark Empathy should reduce the damage of all your minions towards each other, and of your spells against them, by at least 50%, if not completely. Watching your undead blow each other apart is simply not very fun and adds to the frustration of playing an already logistically complex class - friendly fire renders 2/3 of your offensive spell categories essentially useless. Alternatively, if the necromancer's resistance bonuses were granted FULLY to your undead, they might have some chance at surviving the more hectic battles for a few turns.
IIRC HousePet had a fix for the Meta / Spellcraft talent which made your spells not harm any of your allies.

Then change Dark Empathy so it grants that friendly-fire benefit to the spells of your necrotic minions, so they don't blow each other up, and grant Spell / Meta as a category for Necromancers. (Given how few attack spells they get, Quicken is actually kind of a good option, and everyone likes Spellshock.)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:09 am 
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Archmage

Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:31 am
Posts: 393
The advanced tree is indeed not very useful.

As for the skeleton warriors and mages that we all love, they can take a LOT of aoe punishment and laugh if you take some precautions in your build, namely to max the talent that reduces their friendly fire on you to zero, and that gives them a percentage of your resists. As a lich, you resist caps are 85%, so you can seriously push resists very high. Additionally, if you find an item with the Retch ability, use it to create a healing area for you and your goons (Retch heals Lich).

Use the enemy AOE against them. If they cast the usual inferno on you and the entire screen is flame, cast maxxed curse of the meek and watch your soul count go up again. Cast a whole new ensemble of skellies. Repeat as needed. Also slowed casters (rigor mortis) cast less infernos and other similar nastiness.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:19 am 
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Sher'Tul Godslayer

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:16 pm
Posts: 2258
Vastin wrote:
I just ran up a Lich to about lvl 28 - he's going fine, except that the points I have been throwing into Advanced Necrotic Minions appear to be a complete waste.

The minions summoned by this category are mostly vampires - which are a LOT weaker than your basic armored skeletons, ghouls, archers, and skele mages. Whereas any of those others can hit for 100+ a turn, the vampire (and master vampire) can only hit or cast for around 20, and their defense is unremarkable. All told they are a complete waste of minion slots, suitable only for prompt detonation.

The Dreads are ok - but not particularly better than the basic undead - and I strongly suspect that if I ever pulled a barrow wight, it would promptly destroy my entire horde with an acid cloud.

All told, I'd have to advise burgeoning necromancers to stay completely away from ANM - it's a big investment for an actively negative return. The bone giants could be worth it in combination with Animus so you can double up on them, but definitely avoid the tier 4 talent. All told, I'd go shades instead to help make your basic minions more effective if you are running a minion build.

In total, running a blaster non-minion lich is almost certainly more effective than the minion lich. Between the issues of soul management, high mana costs, micromanagement, and constant friendly fire issues, the lich minions don't really come across as a particularly formidable force. Not terrible mind you - but they require even more careful methodology and patience than the summoner, which is saying something.


so, part of the problem here is the ai engine. If your minions started to behave a lot more cleverly and kill faster, so would every npc in the game using their ai (some use dumb, some tactical). so sometimes be careful what you wish for.... The ultimate solution, imo, would be to tweak the ai so that it is different for our summons, but DG likes symmetry at every lvl. So we and npcs are mirror images of each other in many respects. This makes sense programming wise.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:45 pm 
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Cornac

Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:43 am
Posts: 34
Actually, I agree with the symmetrical approach DG takes. The AI of the necro minions could much more easily be forgiven if they didn't take friendly fire damage from each other - which should be easy to achieve by simply extending the Dark Empathy benefit to all minions within your aura.

Also in line with that symmetry - regular vampires and master vampires could afford to be a lot more powerful than they are. As it is now, they are as unremarkable (or more so) than basic wolves as enemies go. They are statted as casters, but the only spell they possess is one very weak disease dot (at least as far as lvl 31). Not exactly what you're looking for on the front line.

Another issue is that the completely random nature of your minion summoning makes it too unreliable to be useful as a build mechanic - one cannot exactly go into a major boss fight crossing your fingers that you'll roll the 3% chance of putting a lich into play...

It might also be much less finicky and useful if the skill produced a fixed mix of minion tiers depending on your skill levels, such that you are guaranteed, say, 2 basic, 2 intermediate, and 1 advanced undead per casting, at a given skill level.

On the other hand, liches look like they would make fantastic archmage-style blasters. Rather mana hungry, but once you start buying up your twilight line, that would become much less of an issue - and you can occasionally summon a mess of undead to use as a short term shield or healing battery - but you certainly don't need ANM for that.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:12 pm 
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Uruivellas

Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:03 pm
Posts: 717
There are actually two pretty big factors that make "Advanced" Necrotic Minions a downgrade. The first is that ghouls and skellies get racial talents, but other minions don't. Given how good the undead racials are, that alone makes a difference.

The bigger factor, though, is weapons. Most undead use built-in attacks, and the advanced minions certainly have better combat stats than the regular ones. Skeletons, however, don't care about their "combat" values, since they use weapons instead. Furthermore, they get access to the Weapon Mastery and Combat Accuracy talents, and they get those to high levels. The minion AI doesn't need to be smart to benefit from those talents.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:18 pm 
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Master Artificer

Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:53 am
Posts: 726
+1 vote for stronger advanced minions please


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:03 am 
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Uruivellas

Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2013 12:14 am
Posts: 762
Make that plus two!

I want my Advanced minions to be advanced.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:09 am 
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Perspiring Physicist

Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:43 am
Posts: 5514
I could design/code up some extras if anyone is interested.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:36 pm 
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Archmage

Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:21 pm
Posts: 343
Location: From Russia with atchoum!
Of course we are interested that Lich becomes more fun to play. )

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:48 am 
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Thalore

Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:09 pm
Posts: 157
My few cents:

It would be nice if all your vampires gained Invoke Darkness, like the enemy "lesser" vampires get. Then maybe your vamps could deal a little bit of damage (maybe)

And, +1 to dark empathy reducing damage minions do to each other. I don't find that I kill my minions due to 5/5 invoke darkness. My skeleton mages and up doing that for me.

Personally, liches are currently the only reason to go for the whole ANM tree. They trail you around the level until they finally die, and they have fair damage and seem to never run out of resources. Best yet, they drop artifacts rather commonly.
Bone giants are meatshields, with less health than the total of the three skeletons you used to make them, and are generally less tanky and less damaging than above average armored skeleton warrior.
Sacrifice would probably be useful on NM or harder, but I otherwise don't use it.
Undead explosion... ugh. I'd rather a skill that lets me (somewhat) control what minions I create, so I can get more skeletons and less vampires/wights/teamkilling mages/etc. Rather than blowing them up after I make them. Or, make the useless ones better.

Just random thoughts (I have won with two necromancers {before 1.0.5})

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:06 am 
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Higher

Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:25 am
Posts: 57
I just won with a heavy ANM investment, on my first necro ever. I assumed I would fail, so I dropped points in the tree just to see if they were as sub-par as I heard.

They are. Liches were really strong offense, but aside from them, the only things I summoned worth anything were the 3 skeleton types. If Advanced don't... advance I wouldn't take the tree again.


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