View Full Version : when to take Higher Learning

07-06-2009, 07:25 PM
I am a level 7 mage, and will have enough runes to get Higher Learning at level 8 (if I find 1 extra magic rune). Should I save it for that, or take the 3rd level in chaos magic first? Or, the first 2 levels of destroyer? Or 1st Learning level for 10% XP bonus?

When did most of you take Higher Learning? It's so expensive! I wish they reversed the costs as the 3rd level seems to be half as expensive as level 1.

07-06-2009, 09:57 PM
Myself I take High Magic asap but temper with other consideration. In last games I took it at level 10+/5/9. That depends a lot of game style and game opportunities. The point is what you'll make with it. If you plan two attack spells, do you have yet the mana for? High Magic offer many possibilities but do you have yet the spells for?

Too soon high magic can be a waste but myself I never regret have take it soon. But my way of playing mage isn't based on attack spells, for example I take distortion level 3 first, in last game even before level 2 of the other schools.

In impossible mode the xp bonus is a real plus and I'd probably go for it first. In normal mode it's not so important.

07-06-2009, 11:45 PM
Thanks Vilk. I'm in normal mode, so maybe I'll just grab other skills first, like Destroyer, which gives more damage for the same single spell mana use. I can grab HL in the upper teens.

12-14-2010, 10:04 AM
It depends but you should work on your spell upgrades first. Theres not much point in doubling up on level 1 spells per turn because it costs a tonne of magic runes to get Higher Magic and many spells tend to scale in such a way that the effect outpaces the increase in mana cost the higher you upgrade. i.e. level 2 fireball does 100% more damage than it does at level 1 but it only costs ~70% more mana. Some spells like Fire Arrow and Dragon Arrow stay the same cost but the potential damage increase is huge.

Then there are the massing spells like Mass Haste and Mass Bless which are great value for mana at all points of the game. They also develop well into the late game and they are cheap to upgrade and cheap to cast. Theres also devastating spells that have an effect which scales with enemy level like Blind. Level 1 Blind is only good for weakling enemies that are easy enough to deal with outright by the time you have cleared all the prereqs and stockpiled enough runes for Higher Magic.

Higher Magic works best for setting up high level spell combos i.e. level 3 Hypnosis + Sacrifice all in 1 round or level 3 Hypnosis + Magic Spring i.e. so you can:

1) get back a tonne of mana from the opposing army killing itself.
2) keep the opposing army busy and all their melee huddled around the hypnotized stack which creates a free pass to...
3) cast Kamikaze on the hypnotized stack in turn 2. You can finish it off yourself in turn 3 to set off the bomb but yeah. You get the idea.

But this type of thing is best left later because comboing low level spells over 2 turns isn't a good deal in terms of bang versus mana cost. For example, level 1 Hypnosis + Magic Spring doesn't have the same effect because you can only steal control of weak troops that die quickly under fire. In many cases they won't last long enough for you to get off a Kamikaze in the next turn either. So you don't get the mana return, your troops will get attacked sooner and overall it just doesn't work very well.

Later on the mana cost of comboing can potentially be quite large (level 3 Hypnosis + Sacrifice for example is something like 70 mana for 1 turn if I recall correctly).

I took Higher Magic at around level 16, after I had level 3 distortion magic and had around 100+ mana with items. I took it at some point in Taron Mines where I felt the difficulty ramp up quite suddenly (this will vary due to the randomness of the game and what troops and items are available to you). Anyway, I felt that the transition into Higher Magic was quite natural in the sense that I was stockpiling magic runes because there wasn't anything pressing that I needed to spend them on. I had my core spells developed to level 3 and had 1 point in all key magic tree skills except Higher Magic. I ended up taking it at around the time where I was breaking 100 mana and felt I could handle the mana cost and had a bunch of powerful, upgraded spells in my spell book that would combo well.

If you stockpile magic runes and zoom to Higher Magic as soon as you can thereby neglecting your spell upgrades, you will probably find yourself in a pretty ugly situation in the mid game (around the dwarven mines or elven islands most likely) and especially so on the harder difficulty settings. The first time I played this game I did something similar and built myself into a corner from which the only thing I could do was throw waves of shock troops at the opposing army, zulu style. I simply hadn't developed the means for a '1 turn' win. Early on you don't need 2x spells per turn to do that. You just need to be able to disable a couple of high threat enemy stacks, which makes the rest of the army easy to mop up with few losses. You are better off in the early game by doing this with high initiative troops and i.e. level 2x Blind on 60 stack of Beholders and then focus firing on the next deadliest threat i.e. 100 stack of Berzerkers.