Playing What If? - NeoQuest II
Part of what makes NeoQuest II so much fun is that each of the four characters you recruit can do different—and valuable—things. Rohane, your heavy-hitting fighter, can also goad enemies into attacking him and significantly increase his defensive capabilities to take those hits. Mipsy, the spellcaster, can apply shields around the party in order to damage opponents, but also slow the enemy down without having to rely on slow potions. Talinia, the ranged attacking archer, can slow enemies with each arrow she lands, or stun the entire crew of enemies in one go. Velm, the invaluable healer, knows how to mesmerize opponents to remove them from the fight for long periods of time, but he can also cast a hammer to damage and stun enemies when he’s not healing the party’s injuries.
But few players actually use all the abilities I’ve mentioned above, for practical reasons—you only get so many points to use in NeoQuest II, so you often can’t use every single ability your character has available to them—but also because, well, some of those abilities just aren’t that useful. Sometimes they’re just on the wrong character. Sometimes they pale in comparison to other abilities. And sometimes they have unattractive drawbacks, like taking a long time to cast or needing to have multiple points in the category in order to be useful.
But what if that weren’t the case? What if we could reorganize and re-design NeoQuest II’s abilities to make even tougher those decisions about which abilities to use? In the interest of fun, this article seeks to do that, and even though my view of these abilities is of course limited to, well, my point of view, that doesn’t mean that other ways of playing the game are invalid! And it doesn’t mean that the game, as is, is bad in any way. This is just a fun game of What If?
Regular Abilities: Critical Attacks, Damage Increase, Combat Focus, Stunning Strikes, Battle Taunt, Innate Magic Resistance, Innate Melee Haste
What If? Abilities: Critical Attacks, Damage Increase, Shockwave, Slowing Strike, Stunning Strikes, Innate Melee Defense, Innate Melee Haste
In this scenario, Rohane keeps four out of his original seven abilities—damage increase, stun, critical hits, and melee haste—and trades three of what I’ve found to be his least popular abilities for ones that seem to match with his fighting prowess a bit better. Rohane’s powerful strikes can stun already, so why not have the chance to stun the whole field of enemies, too, with a powerful Shockwave? I never understood quite how Talinia’s arrows could cause shockwaves, but a hearty swing of a sword makes a bit more sense. Slowing Strike makes sense for Talinia—an arrow can be a nuisance that slows you down—but giving it to Rohane makes for an interesting situation. Imagine being Rohane’s enemy: this Blumaroo just keeps hitting, and hitting, and hitting, and he won’t go down! Wouldn’t you slow down a bit, too, to try to come up with a way to stop this behemoth? Add on an ability to up Rohane’s Melee Defense rather than his Magical Defense and suddenly Rohane is a slowing, stunning, critical hitting tank that strikes even more fear into his enemies than he did before.
More Alterations: To make Slowing Strike even more effective, it could scale. By this I mean it could start out really effective—say, 20% or so—and then each subsequent hit could add on half of the previous slowing effect; thus hit 2 would add 10% slowing, and hit 3 a 5% slowing, hit 4 a 3% slowing, etc. Obviously the highest it could go would depend on how many points are put into it, but it would make the ability a more appealing option. Shockwave could also be an activated ability instead of one that the player can’t control like Critical Hits and Stuns are.
Regular Abilities: Direct Damage, Group Direct Damage, Group Haste, Slowing, Damage Shields, Innate Melee Defense, Innate Casting Haste
What If? Abilities: Direct Damage, Group Direct Damage, Group Haste, Slowing, Celestial Hammer, Innate Magic Resistance, Innate Casting Haste
Mipsy is perhaps the character whose abilities make the most sense. I only chose to swap out two of her regular abilities, Damage Shields and Innate Melee Defense. This is because Mipsy is a spellcaster, and most of what she does already is, well, cast spells. So why not just up the ante on Mipsy’s abilities and make her even more of a glass cannon—that is, able to deal out a lot of damage, but not take very many hits—and swap out Melee Defense for Magic Defense? It would make sense that a spellcaster knows how to protect herself from enemy magics; suddenly knowing how to roll out of the way of an incoming melee weapon seems…out of place. And trading Velm’s Celestial Hammer over to Mipsy gives Mipsy some strategic options in battle. Instead of just hammering away (pun not intended) with Direct Damage or Group Direct Damage, Mipsy could instead slow an enemy down just enough for another companion to get a turn. Maybe that turn ends up being valuable—a chance for Velm to heal or Rohane to get a Shockwave—or maybe it doesn’t, but by the end of the game, I find that Mipsy doesn’t have much to do other than cast group haste and then Obliterate/Astral Maelstrom away. This could be more fun.
More Alterations: Mipsy’s Slowing spell is all right, but what if it were more effective if she were already hasted? Say, increasing the slowing ability by half if the caster is hasted would be a cool combination with Mipsy’s Group Haste ability. Celestial Hammer could also feature the ability to toggle between damage and stun, sacrificing one on a given turn in order to boost the other. For example, one might command Mipsy to just do the stun part of the Hammer, and because that was chosen, the stun lasts longer than usual. All of this would allow for a build of Mipsy that is more of a debilitator rather than just an obliterator, which could be quite fun to play.
Regular Abilities: Increased Bow Damage, Multiple Targets, Ranged Attacks, Shockwave, Slowing Strike, Innate Magic Defense, Innate Melee Haste
What If? Abilities: Increased Bow Damage, Multiple Targets, Ranged Attacks, Battle Taunt, Mesmerization, Innate Melee Defense, Innate Melee Haste
Now it starts to get really interesting. As an archer, Talinia already has an abundance of tricks to supplement the party’s success. But changing her abilities around allows for even more chaos. Giving Talinia access to Melee Defense means that she can take hits even better. But why would she want to take hits, if Rohane’s already there to absorb them? Ah, that is because Talinia could Taunt her enemies into attacking her! Couple that Taunt with Talinia’s already excellent Ranged Attacks, and suddenly enemies are all attacking Talinia, taking forever to get their next turn, and barely doing any damage to her in the first place. What this makes Talinia into is a kind of rogue character, which the game sorely lacks. (I suppose it is implied that Talinia fills this role, but it just doesn’t quite match up.) As for Mesmerization, this Taunting/Ranged Attacks dance that Talinia does might just be the most fascinating and distracting thing on the battlefield—so much so that the enemy forgets to attack, caught up watching this zany Eyrie’s antics.
More Alterations: Mesmerization could be passive rather than active, so that it has a chance to activate after, say, Talinia’s Taunt (see above on how that could mesmerizing) or her Multiple Targets ability (watching a spray of arrows is probably really beautiful…even if they do hit you, you might be thinking about how artistic it was? It could happen!). Talinia might also be able to do more damage to Taunted enemies, since they could perhaps be so angry that they make foolish mistakes. Rohane might be a more consistent attacker, but allowing Talinia to have more damage potential when the battlefield is in her control would be a really fun aspect to explore.
Regular Abilities: Healing, Group Healing, Group Shielding, Mesmerization, Celestial Hammer, Innate Melee Defense, Innate Casting Haste
What If? Abilities: Healing, Group Healing, Group Shielding, Damage Shields, Combat Focus, Innate Magic Resistance, Innate Casting Haste
Velm’s prowess as a healer is already well-known to NeoQuest II players. I think we all look forward to the Lost Desert chapter for that very reason! But what Velm also does well is protect the party from harm in the first place, via Group Shielding. So instead of clouding up his ability tree, why not focus on what Velm does best: stopping damage. Giving Velm Combat Focus keeps him safe. Everyone knows that if Velm goes down, the party is in serious danger of following right after him. Allowing Velm a defensive option at the cost of his (admittedly lackluster) melee ability would make Velm rival Rohane’s survivability. Couple that with his Group Shielding and add on Damage Shields to allow Velm some minor offense capability…yeah, that InSaNe run sounds like a cakewalk to me!
More Alterations: Damage Shields could do more if Group Shielding is already in place—say, double. This would make Damage Shields a more lucrative option for players looking for something for Velm to do when he’s not healing. It might also stack with—that is, further increase the damage output—if Velm is in Combat Focus. Enemies who attack Velm while he’s focused and Shielded could take four times the damage from the damage shield, for daring to attack the defensive master. Finally, Velm’s single-target Healing spell could have a chance to remove some Slowing percentage from a companion. There’s no real way to get rid of slow except to offset with Haste, and since healing can snap a companion out of Mesmerization, why not give Velm a chance to help out even more?
Although these swaps have almost no chance of coming to fruition any time soon, it is fun to think of what could be, in NeoQuest II. These characters are, after all, part of a team; why couldn’t they teach each other how to perform a few of their tricks? An NQII fan can dream, anyway...
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