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Author Topic: Evaluating the Schools of Magic  (Read 3353 times)

Zuberi

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Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« on: March 12, 2014, 11:10:17 PM »
Let me start by stating this is more of a plea for help than a posting of results and findings. Over a week ago, we conducted a series of discussions regarding current imbalances within the game and I became convinced that the source of these imbalances is in the discrepancies between the different schools of magic. I took it upon myself to try and evaluate the various schools. Real life has kept me from devoting too much focus towards this goal, but primarily I've run into an issue with inexperience. I really have no clue what I am doing, lol. Regardless, I figured I would post what I've come up with, and maybe somebody more skilled than I can do a better job with what I am attempting.

The first thing I did was attempt to break the various functionality of spells into categories. I came up with 14 total categories. Keep in mind, some spells may fulfill multiple functions.

1) Action Advantage: These are spells which provide you with additional actions you can perform. Spawnpoints, Familiars, and just Creatures in general all fit into this category.

2) Condition Removal: Self explanatory, I think. These are spells you may use to rid yourself of conditions.

3) Counterspells: These are spells which counter your opponents actions and prevent those actions from being performed.

4) Damage - Indirect: These are normal sources of damage such as Attack Spells, Creature Attacks, and Weapons.

5) Damage - Direct: These are sources of direct damage, such as many Curses.

6) Damage - Buff: These are spells which do not cause damage themselves, but do increase the damage other sources are capable of inflicting.

7) Damage - Reduction: These are spells which reduce damage, either by debuffing the source of the damage or by increasing a creatures ability to prevent damage.

8 ) Enchantment Removal: These are spells that negate the effects of enchantments.

9) Equipment Removal: Spells which negate the effects of equipment.

10) Increased Mobility: These are spells which help you to move things around.

11) Reduced Mobility: These are spells which prevent things from being moved around.

12) Healing: Spells which heal damage.

13) Mana Generation: Spells which increase your mana supply, either by increasing channeling or reducing spell costs.

14) Mana Denial: Spells which reduce a persons mana supply.

After creating these categories, I then set about the task of rating the different schools. I tried a few different routes with this, but my final solution was to simply put the schools in order of best to worst within each category. I decided to apply a letter grade to the results, with the best school being given an "A" and the worst given an "F". If the school of magic didn't really have spells that fulfilled the function, I gave it an automatic F. I then realized this only gave a partial picture, and decided to add in a "+" to the grade for any school I felt was self-sufficient within a category, meaning that it had no need to dip outside of that school to fulfill the function. The results were as follows:

Action Advantage: Nature (A+), Arcane (B+), Dark (C+), Holy (D+), War (E+), Mind (F)
Condition Removal: Holy (A+), Nature (B), Arcane (F), Dark (F), Mind (F), War (F)
Counterspells: Arcane (A+), Mind (B), Dark (C), Holy (D), Nature (F), War (F)
Damage-Indirect: Dark (A+), Nature (B+), Arcane (C+), War (D+), Holy (E+), Mind (F)
Damage-Direct: Dark (A+), Nature (B), Arcane (F), Holy (F), Mind (F), War (F)
Damage-Buff: Nature (A+), War (B+), Dark (C), Holy (D), Arcane (F), Mind (F)
Damage-Reduction: War (A+), Mind (B+), Nature (C+), Holy (D), Dark (E), Arcane (F)
Enchantment Removal: Arcane (A+), Holy (B), Dark (F), Mind (F), Nature (F), War(F)
Equipment Removal: Mind (A), Nature (B), Arcane (F), Dark (F), Holy (F), War (F)
Increased Mobility: Arcane (A+), Mind (B+), Nature (C), War (D), Holy (E), Dark (F)
Reduced Mobility: Nature (A+), Mind (B+), War (C), Dark (D), Arcane (E), Holy (F)
Healing: Holy (A+), Nature (B+), Dark (C+), Arcane (F), Mind (F), War (F)
Mana Generation: Arcane (A+), Nature (B+), Mind (C), Dark (D), Holy (E), War (F)
Mana Denial: Arcane (A+), Holy (B), Mind (C), War (D), Dark (F), Nature (F)

At first I thought this was going swimmingly. It seemed to wrap things up nice and neat and keep things simple. It might surprise a few people, but I'm a big fan of simplicity. However, I quickly realized this system was woefully inadequate and does not really allow for much comparison between the different Schools. First off, it is fairly subjective, which I would like to move away from if possible. Second, not all of the categories are equal in importance, so it is currently impossible to compare Arcane's A+ in mana generation to Dark's A+ in Direct Damage. Thirdly, the grades themselves have relative value and don't provide a stable model with which to judge. There could be miles of difference separating an A grade from a B grade, while the B and C grades might be virtually tied, since all I did was order them from best to worst. Finally, we might should expand our evaluation to include the Minor Schools as well as the Major.

So, this is not the best evaluation and I would love to hear from others on how we might do a better job. This does already hint at how Arcane is overpowered though. Arcane has been given roughly twice as many "A" grades as any other school of magic, being rated in first place for 5 out of the 14 categories. Arcane was also labeled by me as being self sufficient in half of the categories.

While I welcome all comments and would be glad to discuss the results of my evaluation, I'd really like to hear about ways we could improve the methodology and create a better evaluation. I know this one is flawed.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 12:54:16 AM by Zuberi »

Aylin

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Re: Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2014, 12:29:07 AM »
Equipment Removal - Nature - Corrosive Orchid. Shouldn't be an 'F' here.

Enchantment Removal - Holy - Purify. This can remove any number of poison enchantments (as well as poison conditions) in a single action. That by itself should warrant at least an 'E'.

Action Advantage - War - Battleforge. Why is this an 'E'? This school has one of the three best spawnpoints in the game, on top of it being the most-used spawnpoint. On top of that, War has a released familiar (and another coming soon). I don't see Holy having action advantage nearly that good.

Healing - Holy. Holy only wins if you're talking about burst healing. I think Nature wins overall, since Regeneration doesn't require another action every time it heals. Before DvN I would have said that Dark was second, though with all these undead wondering around now Vampirism has lost a lot.

Zuberi

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Re: Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2014, 12:53:24 AM »
I completely forgot about Corrosive Orchid and the fact that Purify can remove *some* enchantments. As far as action advantage goes, I felt Dark, Holy, and War were all pretty close and could definitely see them possibly being rearranged. Healing has a similar issue. I'm not really sure how to compare the different methods objectively. Holy, Nature, and Dark all seem perfectly able at the task. I gave Holy the medal mostly because of the sheer number of healing spells in it's arsenal, and Nature took second from a coin toss, lol.

I'll update Nature to a B in equipment removal and Holy to a B in enchantment removal. I'm not going to bother jostling other things around until the system has actually been improved upon. Thank you for your feedback.

ACG

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Re: Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2014, 04:56:10 AM »
I don't think there's much point in ranking schools, since the ability of a school to accomplish one of these broad categories is somewhat subjective. It seems to me that a better way to evaluate this would be to look at which schools have access to specific mechanics. For instance, looking at mechanics for autodestruction of objects at will (the typical comparison):

Spells that can autodestroy equipment:
Corrosive Orchid (nature)
Dissolve (water)
Explode (fire)
Steal Equipment (mind)

Spells that can autodestroy enchantments:
Dispel (arcane)
Seeking Dispel (arcane)
Purge Magic (arcane)
Destroy Magic (arcane)

[with limited scope]
Purify (holy)
Clear Mind (mind)

Spells that can autodestroy conjurations:
Conquer (war)

Spells that can autodestroy creatures:
Mind Control (mind) [in conjunction with a spell that grants upkeep cost]


If we want to look instead at healing mechanics:

Spells that grant regeneration:
Regrowth (nature)
Mohktari (nature)
Unicorn (nature)
Regrowth Belt (nature)

Spells that grant vampirism:
Vampirism (dark)

Spells that increase life or innate life:
Etherian Lifetree (nature)
Bull Endurance (nature)

Spells that can directly heal damage
Minor Heal (holy)
Heal (holy)
Group Heal (holy)
Healing Charm (holy)
Asyran Cleric (holy)
Drain Life (dark)

Spells that can autoheal damage:
Drain Soul (dark)
Acolyte of the Bog Queen (dark)

Or we can look at counter-spells:

Spells that can prevent damage from enemy attacks:
Block (mind)
Reverse Attack (mind)
Forcefield (mind)
Mind Shield (mind)

Spells that can prevent the casting of enemy spells
Jinx (arcane)
Divine intervention (holy)

Or we can look at movement:

Spells that can teleport creatures:
Teleport (arcane)
Teleport Trap (arcane)

Spells that can autopush creatures:
Force Push (mind)
Repulse (mind)
Force Wave (mind)
Force Bash (mind)


Though disagreement on the precise definition of mechanics may still vary, I feel that this is a more objective measure of which schools have access to which mechanics, which seems to be the primary concern in these discussions. The same spell may, of course, fall into multiple schools if it has multiple effects; for example, corrosive orchid is an example of a spell that may autodestroy equipment and a spell that grants a corroding attack. Mechanics can be defined broadly or specifically; we could, for instance, analyze which spells make use of which codex terms, which seems like a pretty objective way to see which schools control which codex terms (a useful classification, since codex terms often define unique mechanics, though there are still some mechanics that we would want to define separately).
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 04:59:54 AM by ACG »

wtcannonjr

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Re: Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2014, 06:11:11 AM »
Great topic!

I've been thinking about this as well, but was planning to start with just summary views of the data rather than jump directly to evaluation. The idea would be that patterns in the data would give us a view of gaps in certain schools and individuals would be free to evaluate what this means to them from a spellbook design or arena battle standpoint rather than have a universal 'static' evaluation schema.

I was considering how to group the major systems of the game similar to the list zuberi developed (e.g. actions, movement, damage, life, mana cost, mana generation, spell level, traits, etc.) and then score spells against these systems. Once I get my taxes done I will try and move this idea forward and post back here. Right now there are roughly 400 unique spells so I would need to summarize the results to keep with zuberi's 'simplicity' principles.
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Zuberi

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Re: Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2014, 07:54:37 AM »
@ACG: We definitely could be more specific as to what is available to the individual schools than the list of functions I provided. It's almost like the classification of organisms with the whole Kingdom, Phylum, Class, etc. It is a matter of opinion as to how specific we should get with our classification, but I think that if two mechanics are so similar that they could potentially replace one another then we do not need to distinguish between them. For example, regeneration and vampiric. They are two very different mechanics, which work in very different ways, but they both accomplish the same feat of removing damage from your creature and are thus interchangeable.

And that's kind of the level I'm aiming for with this comparison. Spells and Mechanics that could be interchangeable should be in the same category. After we decide on the categories though, the WHOLE point of the exercise is ranking, or at least comparing, the different schools of magic to see how strong they are in relation to each other. Is this school better at doing something than that school? Can this school do something that that school can't? That's what we want to find out.

@wtcannonjr: yeah, again I'm not any kind of statistician or other expert who deals in this kind of stuff so I was kind of taking a shot in the dark and probably did start in the wrong place. Evaluating the individual spells and then working our way up might be a better approach.

ACG

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Re: Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2014, 09:21:49 AM »
@Zuberi:

Good point about classification. I think the place to start (for me, at least) is with simple access to keywords. A few new keywords will need to be defined to simplify things. When I have time, I will try to make a spreadsheet with schools on one axis and keywords on the other. This should make it clearer which schools have access to which keywords (defined by whether the school has at least one spell with that keyword). I know keywords don't capture all of the mechanics, but it is a low-level place to start, with pretty clear criteria.

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Re: Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2014, 10:29:25 AM »
Great topic!

I think a good starting point would be to just count the number of cards that fall into each of the 14 categories you've identified, then split them up by school. Maybe count certain cards in certain categories as 2 or 1/2 depending on what they are (Teleport can count as 2 in Movement, Acolyte of the Bog Queen can count as 1/2 in Healing). Then add them all up and compare each school in each category.

That way we could see the differences between an A, B, C, etc. ranking in each category.

sIKE

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Re: Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2014, 06:34:02 PM »
@Zuberi:

Good point about classification. I think the place to start (for me, at least) is with simple access to keywords. A few new keywords will need to be defined to simplify things. When I have time, I will try to make a spreadsheet with schools on one axis and keywords on the other. This should make it clearer which schools have access to which keywords (defined by whether the school has at least one spell with that keyword). I know keywords don't capture all of the mechanics, but it is a low-level place to start, with pretty clear criteria.
The OCTGN spellbook builder would be great for this, as you can sort and/or by type, subtype, traits, stats, schools, etc. and you can use keywords on the card text. You could then copy and paste the results out into a spreadsheet.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2014, 01:28:38 AM by sIKE »
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Evaluating the Schools of Magic
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2014, 07:34:54 PM »
I bet that all these mechanics can be classified by the amount of each resource they produce: Spellbook points/#of copies/reuses, Mana, Actions, Tempo, Position, Life/Damage.

You can learn more in this article that I read a while back:

http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13197
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