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Friendly Fire spells - am I *meant* to hit my own people?


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I really am at a loss here:

A lof of spells (Cipher, Wizard, etc.) damage 'anyone' in the line of fire / in AoE range. But very rare is the case enemies will line up nicely or let themselves be controlled in such a way that these spells can be fired without hitting someone from my party as well. So the question is: Should I just fire them anyway and don't mind the damage I do to my own guys, or is there some scenario where wizards, ciphers etc. are suddenly front line material and have only enemies in front of them and nobody in-between?

 

I guess in large battlefields, you could build one front line and then position your casters to flank the enemy, but that hardly ever works in practice. Usually some enemies always break formation and attack my casters if they're too close. Casting something like Mind Lance really seems impossible without hitting your own. And it's almost never worth the hassle of positioning: If I can't even seriously damage enemies with a fireball in a way the fight is over that much quicker, I really don't know if I should take wizards of ciphers and the like at all into my party...

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No, you're meant to think about how to position your guys. I used mind lance just fine without hitting my own party. Maybe your problem is that you're assuming you need to literally hit (almost) every single enemy for these spells to be useful or something. Also, with high intelligence, you can use spells like fan of flames to fry a bunch of enemies from behind the tank and not hit him thanks to the enemy-only portion of the AoE. It often takes micro-management but there's nothing wrong with AoE spells in general.

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If there was no friendly fire, you would never need to think or make decisions - just fire at them whenever there's more than a couple. Friendly fire is necessary so you have interesting tradeoffs. You can try and jack up the Reflex on your Rogue, for instance, so that if he's surrounde4d by enemies he's still got a good chance of evading that fireball while others get hit (a time-honoured tactic in IE games). It also means it's harder to get a clean shot on things like Fan of Flames, which otherwise would be so powerful that you just use it infinitely every single battle from behind. 

 

Enemies also friendly-fire each other. 

 

Only 'AOE' abilities have friendly fire. 'Foe AOE' means no friendly fire. And the intelligence modifier as described above applies too.

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I couldn't even get enemies to stand where I want them, and moving out of engagement is risky as well.

It usually goes like this: I enter combat, some enemies attack my melees up front, but others walk past them and flank them from behind (can't move back and out of engagement without risking disengagement attacks) - therefore I can't fire anything sensibly without hitting my melees.

 

But thanks for the feedback so far - I guess those spells just aren't for me then. Microing of that depth (or worrying over tradeoffs) is nothing I want to spend much time on in this game. I will just pick spells or cipher powers that are Foe AoE or 'jump to enemies' only, and that's enough for Normal Difficulty anyway...

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Also, these spells are very good to open up the fight.

 

If you have detected the enemy, you can easily move your casters to the front and launch a mind-lance and a lightning bolt or two. Then, as the enemy starts to charge, simply move your casters back and your tanks to the front. Best of both worlds.

 

Once battle is joined and you are standing toe-to-toe with the enemy, these spells -are- situational, but the damage they inflict does make up for it. Just compare the damage a fireball does to the damage a lightning bolt inflicts.

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There's a lot of ways to make area of effect spells work. Basic example: corridors are usually wide enough so two party members can take the brunt, then a mage for instance can stand in line with them to fill the corridor, but not attracting too much enemy attention. With Arcane veil or other defensive spells, the mage is able to stand there for 3-4 'turns', blasting everybody with fan of flames. Summon a creature in the fray of enemies away from your characters' front-line, and as that creature nears death, hit everybody there with AOE spells. Etc.

 

But it seems you want to play without much micro or detailed decision making - fair enough. You'll be just fine with foe-only spells on Normal.

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Enemies also friendly-fire each other. 

QFT. I've had several fights end in my favor because the enemy caster CC'd his/her own party and my frontliners managed to make their saves (or rather the caster failed to beat their defenses).

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Once you get a little practice under your belt, it isn't too hard with the two-distance spells to nail a whole bunch of grouped enemies while still not obliterating your own guys.  Also you have a few geometries to use: circles (with an inner radius that hits anything, outer only enemies), fans (ditto), and lines.  You can use whichever is most appropriate for the situation.  I've almost never found a fight where I couldn't use those spells to good effect.  It's part and parcel of learning to play tactical RPGs.  Often you can hit 10 or 15 enemies while not hitting a single one of your own party, which makes them very effective at dishing out damage.

 

It does require moving your wizard around and using some good tactics and positioning of tanks, but that's part of the fun, no?  If it was just a console-style "fire away without thinking", it wouldn't be as much fun.

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There's a lot of ways to make area of effect spells work. Basic example: corridors are usually wide enough so two party members can take the brunt, then a mage for instance can stand in line with them to fill the corridor, but not attracting too much enemy attention. With Arcane veil or other defensive spells, the mage is able to stand there for 3-4 'turns', blasting everybody with fan of flames. Summon a creature in the fray of enemies away from your characters' front-line, and as that creature nears death, hit everybody there with AOE spells. Etc.

 

But it seems you want to play without much micro or detailed decision making - fair enough. You'll be just fine with foe-only spells on Normal.

 

Detailed decision making - to some degree. Detailed positioning - not so much. :) It just seems to me once combat starts, every carefully laid tactic flies out of the window anyway and I react instead of planning much ahead. I find control spells (Hold, Charm, etc.)  to be very helpful, though! Luckily, PoE accomodates that playstyle just as well - I can even mindcontrol dragons, it seems...x)

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Positioning your line of engagement to facilitate AoEs is the bread and butter of how this combat system works.

 

That said, if you don't want to be bothered, there are a number of foe-only spells that hit multiple targets, so you may just want to focus on them -- myself, I shamelessly abuse Mind Blades at the start of every fight.

DID YOU KNOW: *Missing String*

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Once you get a little practice under your belt, it isn't too hard with the two-distance spells to nail a whole bunch of grouped enemies while still not obliterating your own guys.  Also you have a few geometries to use: circles (with an inner radius that hits anything, outer only enemies), fans (ditto), and lines.  You can use whichever is most appropriate for the situation.  I've almost never found a fight where I couldn't use those spells to good effect.  It's part and parcel of learning to play tactical RPGs.  Often you can hit 10 or 15 enemies while not hitting a single one of your own party, which makes them very effective at dishing out damage.

 

It does require moving your wizard around and using some good tactics and positioning of tanks, but that's part of the fun, no?  If it was just a console-style "fire away without thinking", it wouldn't be as much fun.

 

Pretty sure there is more variety between those two worlds of either playing "geometry-dance revolution" or just diablo-esque durr-dumbclicking. ;) But like I replied to another post, I seem to have already found my preferred way of resolving combat: Lots of charms, control and the like. Don't have to position much to use those!

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Also endolex, one thing I've found helpful is to not use the spells for a few initial moments of battle until the lines "stabilize", which outside of some particular enemies such as the teleporting ones, they usually tend to do.  Once the lines become more solid, you can wander over with a wizard and start lobbing CC and damage AOEs.

 

Every once in a while, I've intentionally landed a CC AOE on one of my own guys, as a tactical choice that it was better to land one of my guys prone for a bit than to keep getting hammered by 15 bad guys.  But it was a conscious choice to trade off hitting more enemies in exchange for one of my own.

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Also endolex, one thing I've found helpful is to not use the spells for a few initial moments of battle until the lines "stabilize", which outside of some particular enemies such as the teleporting ones, they usually tend to do.  Once the lines become more solid, you can wander over with a wizard and start lobbing CC and damage AOEs.

 

Every once in a while, I've intentionally landed a CC AOE on one of my own guys, as a tactical choice that it was better to land one of my guys prone for a bit than to keep getting hammered by 15 bad guys.  But it was a conscious choice to trade off hitting more enemies in exchange for one of my own.

 

Yeah I thought about doing that, too, but in my case once the front lines stabilize they're just too darn irregular to hit anything without hitting my people. ;) Never mind, I won't worry about it that much anymore.

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Crowd management is definitely the way to go here. Open with spells/abilities that prone, cause stuck, or otherwise hinder movement. Move front line into position. Use ranged casters to put down AoE on then with the red area only touching the bad guys. For bolt-type spells, you either need to move your caster, or tank the caster (hooray wizards in plate mail).

How can anyone in their right mind try to ship a multimillion dollar product without making absolutely sure that they don't upset all their players with a degree in Medieval English Linguistics?

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I had trouble with this, too, at the beginning. I think I've gotten lazy playing games in which you don't have to worry about FF. I find that I don't use my aoe very often, or as often as I would in another game. But that's okay, because now I'm more conscious of positioning and seizing opportunities to use spells.

 

I play as a cipher and position myself off to the side, so that I can use a charm when I first engage the enemy. If I have another spellcaster in the party, I put him or her off to the other side. If I'm engaging a big cluster of monsters, I put the spellcasters in back so that they don't get engaged immediately in melee and can move around and draw a target away from my tanks. I have Durance lay down a seal to protect the squishier party members. With the ciphers, I tend to use the abilities that work with allies rather than pure damage, so it's more of a support role than my preferred DPS. I agree with Ibanix that using any of the spells/abilities that cause stuck or paralyze can set up an opportunity to drop a bomb.

 

I do understand the OP's frustration, as there are times when you just can't use a spell without hitting your own people. You kind of have to think of the damage aoe spells as secondary to using your weapon. The most irritating encounters are the ones that start immediately after a dialogue and don't allow me to position my party or use stealth. I need to investigate whether I can change the character order in the party before these start and place the tankier companions up front. In the dialogue ones, though, my cipher gets pulled right into the worst position and often has to take one for the team.

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with two frontliners i had no problem to hold the line. the fighter can take multiple engagements, holding the line tight, the second melee character take the other part of the line. if the line is about to get crossed, i switch one ranged character to melee to help holding the line.

 

i usually start fights with my rogue and his crossbow, he land a shot then get behind the line, waiting for the fighter to soak engagement. as the shot lands, i start casting AoE with my wizard and druid (mainly firebal and hail storm). as the foes hit the line, i have already casted one fireball and one hail storm and i'm about to throw another fireball. then comes the crowd control spell, giving me enought time to put my wizard on one side casting blast of frost or fan of flames. it works fr most encunters. in narrow area, it's even easier as 2 companions lock the line tight.

 

on totally open area, 3 companions are needed to be sure to hold the line.

 

if you get overwhelmed, use minoletta piercing burst from your wizard (or any crowd control spell) and relentless/returning storm with your druid.

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I don't like FF either. By that I mean, I have no issue with it being in the game per se, but means more micromanagement than I prefer - even without FF the darn collision/pathing AI + engagement system makes me have to babysit party members in tiny movement increments at times, pausing every single second. I don't need more to do, at least not when playing blind and thus not knowing what's coming.

 

I'm fine with just using the Foe-AoE's and CC spells vs. high dps spells. I can get my dps elsewhere. Early on it's limiting but once your guys are higher level the spells available become more varied/versatile to more playstyles (imo) and you can live just fine using non-FF stuff.

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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I really am at a loss here:

A lof of spells (Cipher, Wizard, etc.) damage 'anyone' in the line of fire / in AoE range. But very rare is the case enemies will line up nicely or let themselves be controlled in such a way that these spells can be fired without hitting someone from my party as well. So the question is: Should I just fire them anyway and don't mind the damage I do to my own guys, or is there some scenario where wizards, ciphers etc. are suddenly front line material and have only enemies in front of them and nobody in-between?

 

I guess in large battlefields, you could build one front line and then position your casters to flank the enemy, but that hardly ever works in practice. Usually some enemies always break formation and attack my casters if they're too close. Casting something like Mind Lance really seems impossible without hitting your own. And it's almost never worth the hassle of positioning: If I can't even seriously damage enemies with a fireball in a way the fight is over that much quicker, I really don't know if I should take wizards of ciphers and the like at all into my party...

Hi endolex. I see that you're a backer, so hopefully that means you paid attention to the sort of games that PoE set out to succeed, such as BG, IWD and PS:T. All of those games included friendly fire, just as did the tabletop RPG they were based after, Dungeons and Dragons. At the time, the thought of a someone standing in the middle of a fireball spell and not having a risk of getting charred was unthinkable, regardless of who may have cast said fireball.

 

I realize games like Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition have dulled our sensibilities to the logical manner in which many of these spells and effect should work, but yeah, Pillars of Eternity is getting back to its roots in this regard. And gods bless Obsidian that this is the case.

 

I think with a little time you will adjust and adapt and become effective with the system, just as so many of us have. ;)

"Now to find a home for my other staff."
My Project Eternity Interview with Adam Brennecke

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