This is just the first portion of mage PvP. There will be more to come if there is interest enough in it. The class didn't go as well as I had hoped since there were far too many comments and jokes to sort through that basically just interuppted and didn't help. So here is part 1. A Practicum in AoS PvP This document is written in an effort to bring a better understanding of Player versus Player (PvP) combat in Age of Shadows (AoS) to those interested. Much has changed since the days of yore and many have been left wondering what to do and how to do it in order to remain competitive in this new age. This is MY take on it, and how I manage. If you disagree or do not like something, that is fine, and to be honest, I don’t want to know or hear about it. If you think something should be fixed or incorrect info is posted, then please, by all means PM me and I will check into it. This is a ground up explanation and isn’t meant to be anything new to those who consider themselves “hardened” or “hardcore”. Even though, after fighting most of them, I would consider this a must read for them as well. Theory To begin with, some explanations are needed. There is a grand misunderstanding about what is and is not PvP. Seemingly self-explanatory in its own right, it is commonly confused with Player Killing (PK’ing). A PK is not necessarily a PvP’er and vice versa. The goal of a PK is to kill using whatever means they deem appropriate. Often times the methods of PKs include ganking. Some call this cowardice, when in fact it is a very wise tactic for quickly dispatching players. A PvP’er on the other hand looks for the fight. They are those that will gladly fight you 1 on 1 to see who is the better fighter. A PvP’er may often times take on “bad” odds just to see if they can make it out alive. This is an important difference that most seem to miss, and must be cleared up before we can proceed. Introduction This document will center primarily around Mage PvP but will periodically touch on other template options from time to time. The reason for this being the main theme is because of the bandwagon thinking that mages are no longer playable in the AoS PvP environment. Having played one from the word go, I can attest to the fact that Pure mages are not only playable, but often times the better option. Macros By now everyone in game should realize that spell macros can be the difference between life and death for either you or your opponent. I will assume that there is a basic understanding of how to set up client and UOA based macros. An important thing to note here is that UOA is supremely important for, at the least, its potion macros. More on Potions later though. The general idea behind having macros is that you will have quick access to lengthy actions. This being the case, complex macros are almost counter productive here. Macros need to be set to at most 2 combined keystrokes with a preference on single key strokes. If you can spare it, try to get all macros set to single key presses to avoid confusion. In AoS PvP, speed is everything. Having to press CTRL ALT F1 versus just F1 can cost valuable time that could potentially leave you to view the world in monochrome. Macro positioning is just as important. If you have to reach all over your keyboard to hit spells for a combo, or to cure then heal, you are losing valuable time. Centralizing your macros on your keyboard can save you a lot of time. My preference here is put my most common spell macros on the number pad. (The number grouping normally placed on the right hand side of the keyboard) Spell preferences become important here. For reasons that I will get into later in the document, my macros are set as follows: / = Greater Heal Potion * = Greater Cure Potion - = Total Refresh Potion (TR) 7 = Arm Shield 8 = Cast Mini Heal 9 = Cast Cure 4 = Cast Explode (EXP) 5 = Cast Energy Bolt (EB) 6 = Cast Mindblast (MB) 1 = Cast Poison 2 = Cast Harm 3 = Cast Fireball . = Cast Lightning + = Last Target (set in UOA) 0 = Target Self (set in UOA) These are my primary spell macros for mass PvP. I can place my hand on the number pad and reach every single one of those macros without any great amount of movement, thus making it easier and faster to cast. This also helps to prevent miscasting of spells by hitting the wrong macro. I have other important spells set to my function, or “F” keys. For instance, my stat rockering spells: Weaken, Clumsy, and Feeblemind, are set to F6, F7, and F8 respectively. F4 is my Recall macro and F5 is my Greater Heal macro. If there are any mistakes in my casting, it occurs here. In combat I have to move my hand across the keyboard to hit those hotkeys. My most common mistake is casting Recall instead of Greater Heal. I will organize my macros at a later date. It is important to practice with your new macro set-ups as often as possible. You will eventually develop reflex memory and because of this, you will cast much faster. Your hand simply knows where to go at this point and you won’t have to think about it. This can be a problem at times though when it comes to changing macro set-ups. Some people prefer to set their mouse wheel to do their targeting for them with target queues. For instance, rolling the wheel forward would queue last target while rolling it backward would queue target self. Pressing the mouse wheel down would cancel and clear the target queue. This is a matter of personal preference however. This does bring up the idea of special peripheral equipment for macros. The 5-button mouse, for instance places those extra programmable (through UOA) keys right there at your fingertips. Simply set the macro in UO to a mouse button / wheel, and practice. Less overall hand movement means quicker spell casting and faster reaction times. Another option available is a separate programmable keypad. What these do basically is give additional keys that can be programmed to correspond to normal keyboard macros. For instance, if one were to have SHIFT F1 as a heal macro, one could simply program a single key on the extra pad to correspond to SHIFT F1 on the keyboard. This would allow for greater centralization of macros and quicker usage. This option however can run upwards of 100$ so shop around if this is a reasonable solution for you. Again, the ability to hit your spell macros with ease and speed is of the utmost importance. In AoS PvP, speed is everything. This leads us into our next topic. Spell Casting Items Obviously, the ability to cast spells is quite important to Mage PvP. Unfortunately, with the onset of AoS, Mages were dealt a crippling blow when the speed at which they cast spells was lengthened. This was done, I assume, to even the playing field for those who had no knowledge of a trick known as “fast casting.” To counter the slower casting times however, Mages were given Fast Cast (FC) and Faster Cast Recovery (FCR) as item properties on Jewelery. FC increases the speed at which a spell is cast while FCR shortens the period between spells cast in succession. (note: the FC property is also available on weapons and shields, however, they are not as useful as one might think. To begin with, in order to cast, the weapon and/or shield will be unequipped giving the FC bonus as a one spell bonus. It is not a viable option to re-equip after every spell in a combo. Included in the new item properties is something called Spell Channeling. Spell Channeling allows for weapons and shields to “channel” spells essentially making is so that they needn’t be unequipped. Unfortunately, the Spell Channeling property cannot exist along side the FC property. Spell Channeling comes with or without a casting penalty, but never a casting bonus. Also, it is important to mention that FC and FCR do not effect Necromancers or Paladins; the only two classes that inherently allow casting without unequipping. More on Necromancy later.) Speaking strictly in terms of normal loot drop item properties, the maximum intensity FC can get is +1 per item, while FCR can get +3. What this means is, outside of shields and weapons, a Mage has the potential of getting a maximum of FC +2 and FCR +6. (Artifacts change this a bit, but those will not be covered, as they are special loot drop items from doom bosses. Their properties defy normal loot drop rules) At a bare minimum to be competitive, a Mage should have FC+2 FCR +3. Ideally however, FC +2 FCR +6 is wanted and should be sought out. Timing To be a truly effective Mage PvP’er, one should know the timings of their spells. Prior to AoS this wasn’t as important due to the ability to “mash” or press and hold spell macro keys. It used to be that you could mash a macro key up to and beyond the point the targeting cursor came up. This was one of the ways people were able to perfect the now defunct “fast cast” trick. Now, however, mashing a spell macro will cause you to cast through the spell that was just cast. In other words, by holding down the macro key, the spell will continuously cast, canceling out the previous cast. One of the easiest ways to see this in action, is to press and hold your mini heal macro. Your character will keep casting mini heal over and over, each time canceling out the previous targeting cursor. Timing is not only important in regards to not canceling your own spells, but for delivering damage as well. The most visible example of this is the damage delay of the EXP spell. Once EXP is targeted, the damage does not immediately take effect. This allows time to cast other spells “under” the EXP. Prior to AoS the preferred combo was EXP EB. There was enough time to tuck an EB under the EXP and have both spells deal their damages at the exact same moment. The same still holds true, however, the choice of spells to tuck under the EXP is a bit broader. More on spell preferences later. Another spell with a delay on it is MB. MB has a much shorter delay than EXP, but it works essentially the same way. Once cast, one could just as easily tuck a Poison or a Fireball (FB) under the MB. Currently, these are the only two spells that have significant enough delays to be worthwhile. Lightning formerly had a long delay period, which consequently caused people to think it had a greater range than any other spell, but this is no longer the case. A part of spell timing is disruption, both of your spells and of your opponent’s. The ideal scenario would have you land spells in a way such that any attempt to heal or cure by your opponent would be disrupted or any attempt to disrupt you would be avoided. For instance, if both you and your opponent cast EXP MB at roughly the same time, it would be wise of you to hold your next spell till the damage has hit you, so that you are not disrupted. In regards to disrupts, holding a spell such as harm a moment longer till your opponent begins to cast a cure or heal would give you greater time to pull off a finisher spell. Keeping your opponent from going back to full health is very important, as it will save you time/mana in the long run. Spell Information This section is just a quick note or three on what spells affect what resist and some other random bits of information on spells in general. To begin with, the resists and the spell that are effected by them: Physical: Earthquake (EQ) Fire: Fireball (FB), Fire Field (FF), Flamestrike (FS) Energy: Lightning, Energy Bolt (EB) Cold: Harm, Mindblast (MB) Poison: Poison Strike, Strangle Resisting Spells Skill: Weaken, Feeblemind, Clumsy, Paralyze, Poison, Curse, Mana Drain, Mana Vampire, Poison Field. These are just off the top of my head and generally constitute the bulk of spells used in PvP by a mage (included a necromantic spell or two for flavor). The damages these spells do are based on different things however, and not just on resists. In other words, not all damages are a constant, modified only by resists. The three “tricky” spells are Harm, MB and Strangle. Harm has its damage based on distance. The closer you are to the target, the greater the amount of cold damage that is checked. MB deals cold damage as stated above, but its damage is modified by the CASTER’S magery and intelligence. In other words, higher magery and higher Int. will up the amount of damage to be compared against the target’s cold resist. Strangle is one of the more annoying necromantic spells. Its damage is dealt as poison damage that is modified by the target’s stamina. At full stamina, the multiplier is 1 (no effect) and at half stamina, the multiplier is 2 (twice the amount). Everything else is pretty much self-explanatory. A quick note before I continue however, meteor swarm is a fire damage spell that has its damage modified by the number of targets that it hits. The more targets, the less damage each receives. The same applies to Chain Lightning, however it is an energy-based spell. I have yet to use them in open combat, but will be trying sometime in the future just to see how well they go. Spell Preferences Everyone has their “favorite” spells and combinations and each will preach the various pros for each. Here I will discuss mine, and why I use them. Harm: I like this spell because it is so quickly cast. I use it primarily for disrupts and not damage. Often times my targets are on the move so I don’t have time to get in close to get the damage bonus. Since the most neglected resist seems to be cold, this spell often does quite a bit more damage than most would expect. I use this more often than not in a 1 on 1 situation or 1 on 2, but almost never when I fight groups. Fireball: Fireball wins UO. It really is as simple as that. It has a short casting time and takes very little mana. Even against 70 fire resist, Fireball is a very deadly spell. One might think that FS or Exp would be needed since those damages are greater, but in reality, when you compare the amount of mana you use for the amount of damage the target takes in any given amount of time, Fireball wins hands down. I cannot tell you how many times I have killed people using only fireball and poison. Lightning: A quick firing energy spell. This one rounds out the resist test spells. If Energy happens to be the low end, Lightning is always the way to go. It casts fast enough that it can be used for disrupts much like I use Fireball. I am trying to work this one in more and more, but I still need a bit more practice and a better hot key before it becomes a mainstay in my fighting. Poison: This one is self-explanatory really. Its use isn’t for damage or damage over time, it is plain and simply used to stop healing, nothing more, nothing less. The Nox mage was quite the popular template for a while, but in my opinion, since poison is too easily cured, it should never be used for damage. Damage via the poison spell should be a bonus, nothing more. Mindblast: It has an incredibly fast casting time and has a small delay before the damage is dealt. It targets a resist that most neglect and with my 120 magery and 125 int, I get a bigger “bang” for the mana used, which coincidentally is quite small. This is a great combo spell and, if done right can be chain cast against those who don’t know what they are doing. Explosion: It is all about the delay. Explosion in and of itself is not all that great a spell. However, because it has such an immense delay before the damage is dealt, it can be used to create spell combos that deal large amounts of damage all at once. The down side to Exp is also that which makes it so great. The delay. Seeing an explosion cast gives more than enough time to cast a greater heal. Energy Bolt: Not as good as it once was. This spell has slowly worked its way out of my repertoire. It has a long cast by comparison and deals damage to energy, which I have found is generally a person’s higher resist. I tend to go for speed over damage and this one just isn’t as fast as it used to be. Flame Strike: Generally used as an insulting finisher spell. It means you have lots of mana left to end the fight. Against anyone with 60’s or so resist though, this spell loses much of its bite. Paralyze: The first spell I pull up against a necromancer or a paladin is paralyze. These two classes generally have a crowded template and neglect Magic Resist based on OSI’s nerfing of the skill. If this one sticks however, it leads to other deadly choices. Mana Drain: I don’t use it since the drain is only temporary. I have been known to pull it up as a last minute spell to stop a heal and cure setup at the end of a fight, but that is VERY rare. Mana Vampire: If paralyze sticks for any length of time, I use this spell. Its costs for casting are almost always recovered when the spell sticks. This leaves most necromancers and paladins scrambling to come up with new tactics. Heal: Mini Heal is your friend. Chain cast it if you aren’t sure you can pull off a Greater Heal. Greater Heal: If you are confident in your spell timing, don’t be afraid to use this spell. In the long run, it is better to cast one Greater Heal as opposed to 4 or 5 Mini’s. Cure: Need I say more? Earthquake: Probably the most underestimated spell in the game. I use it primarily in mage fights when I see them buff their elementals with a Magic Reflect. Stat Spells: Weaken Clumsy and Feeblemind aren’t all they cracked up to be. Always Weaken a person carrying a lance though. Normal lances have a requirement of 95 strength, so it’s worth a shot. Clumsy is a good idea in conjunction with something like strangle, but I generally don’t use it. Feeblemind can help lower the effect of MB but in the long run, just like the other stat spells, are best used against necromancers with crowded templates. Poison Field: Poison Field is always fun when fighting a dexxer of any sort. Make sure you are in a guild though, or else this spell will be as much a bane as it is a boon. Cast it and stand in it. Deal your damage from within the field and you are set. Spell Combinations and Tactics Stringing spells together for an overall affect (death) is always a good idea. Although you could just continually hit your EB macro as I have seen so many people do, it just won’t get you as far. Exp MB Poison. With 2 FC 4 FCR you can make those three spells land at about the same time. That is A LOT of damage with a poison tailing it. If someone suspects you are going to cast poison at the tail end of this, and you see them cast a cure prior to your poison, change up to harm or fireball, or even chain in another MB. Sure they may get a mini heal in, but the damage is far greater than that mini, and if you do chain in another MB, follow that one up with poison if you see them trying to heal. Fireball and Poison. Fireball is so unbelievably fast its insane. Start with a single fireball and watch their reaction. If they immediately go to heal, you know they are pure defense and you will have to remain tight on your spell casting. If they let the first FB stand and go into an offensive stance, light off another FB followed by Poison. Then just ding down their HP alternating between FB and poison. If they miss a cure, get two FBs in. Harm. After any spell combo that results in the person being poisoned, harm is godsend. Its so fast you can chain disrupt till poison and harm damage has gotten them low enough to finish off with something like MB FB. Earthquake. I use this one quite often with the Fireball Poison set up. If I can kill them with just FB and Poison, I forgo the EQ. However, if while I am working them down, I see them starting to predict my casts, I stop the combo and med to full. Once at full mana, I start in again with FB and Poison watching for the first pre-cast cure. This normally happens early on, so, as soon as their cure is cast, I light off the EQ followed by a poison and whatever I think is necessary to finish them off. This works best against people who have cast Magic Reflection, since their physical resist is lowered letting EQ do more. Invisible Bola. Always carry a bola with you. Its as simple as that. If you get dismounted, even the playing field by dropping the person that dismounted you. A nice tactic I use since I ride an eth, is to invis and begin re-mounting my eth. Just before the forth pump in the casting, I throw the bola which reveals me just as I am re-mounted. Divide and Conquer I often times fight upwards of 6 people at a time, but this does NOT mean I sit still and let everyone hit me. Standing still is just plain stupid and anyone who thinks you are a bad fighter for not sticking around to be ganked, is just ignorant. The best way to fight groups is to peel them off. Fight them 1 or 2 at a time. The group that would be the HARDEST to kill is that which can stick together and never leave each other’s screen. With any sort of moderate cross healing, a group of three people could survive any single assault. In this case I target a single person with a few spells and take off, coming back to repeat. Once I see that everyone has figured my target to be a single person, I light off a single spell on that person and immediately change targets. This tends to confuse most and lets me pick them off easier. Another nice tactic to split up groups is the Energy Vortex (EV). People will often run 1 or 2 screens from a single EV, which generally splits up the group enough to pick them off 1 or 2 at a time. In tight areas, Poison Fields can do wonders, but I wouldn’t suggest any other wall type. They just aren’t effective enough to warrant the mana usage unless you are fighting alongside a group of people.