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Day 1 Mabinogi

Having put my first six hours into Mabinogi now, I'm happy to say that the passion has yet to leave this relationship. This is the first time I really had a chance to look at the combat, trade skills, and general economy seriously.

Combat

Things got off to a rocky start as I came to realize that the foes I was fighting were feeble little critters that could barely scratch me. Fortunately, this was not to last, and before long I was engaging foes that could absolutely devastate me in two rounds if I dropped my guard.

Picture Caption: My first screenshot of the game was marred somewhat by another player spurning an advance. Graphics in Mabinogi are a bit dated, as should be expected from a four-year-old game, but they're nonetheless decently stylized and easy to get used to.

I've yet to participate in a team, but it seems the single player combat model is strong.

Melee combat indeed involves reading your opponents and being careful not to attack them when they're set to counterattack or to use a smash attack when they're defending. While your foe flies through the air, reeling from the last attack in your weapon's chain, the ideal thing to do is try to immediately put your guard up so it's ready in time to deflect the coming attack. After that, it's your turn to attack again. Attacking out of sequence results in a sort of stalemate where both parties are injured.

Use of the Bow and Arrow is completely different from melee. Targeting a foe and clicking to attack begins a rapid increase in percentage to pop above your head, and clicking again launches the arrow at the designated percentage. (I can only assume this is accuracy, or damage, or perhaps a bit of both.) With a bit of distance, you can get off two or three arrows, and successful hits will knock foes back a bit. However, once the foe has closed to melee range, you're at a considerable disadvantage with a bow.

The last kind of combat I had a chance to experiment with today was a single magical spell, the Ice Bolt. Instead of the usual direct interruptible incantation-based attack approach, the Ice Bolt is "charged" prior to battle, causing up to five icy spheres to circle your hero. These bolts are able to be nearly instantly directed against your foes once charged, knocking them back. It's quite likely you'll get all five bolts off before they reach you. Getting hit causes charged bolts to vanish, and being spotted by a hostile foe while your charging your bolts will provoke their attack.

As I wrote a little earlier, the tougher foes "absolutely devastate me" when they hit me. Fortunately, it seems that avoiding injury outright through proper timing of defensive moves is possible for a vigilant player, and may be the only way to succeed against the greater challenges. I was rather surprised to see even the weaker foes I engaged at level 5 could cause me quite a bit of pain at level 15 if I was sloppy enough to attack one when it was defending.

I look to be shaping up as a bit of a tank mage, only without the "tank" as buying armor is expensive. I sort of regret spending some AP on archery because Magic takes care of the ranged component just fine without having the awkwardness of terminating a ranged attack mode before switching over to melee. Still, I suspect a dedicated archer probably needs neither magic nor melee, they're good enough to take down their targets before they reach them and are limited only by ammo. At least Archery would be a good party-supporting skill, I suspect. (Apparently, archery by horseback is supported.)

Harvesting

I can't say that I've seriously developed much trade skill affinity yet, the limit of my trade skill interactions has been processing cobwebs into thin thread and breaking down wheat into flower. Neither seemed to have a mini-game attached, although a tailoring manual suggests there will be a tailoring mini-game if I ever got enough cloth together to do it.

I can't really say that's Mabinogi's fault, neccessarily, as I spent the majority of my time today questing. However, as a part of my questing, I ended up learning how to do quite a bit of gathering.

For the most part, gathering makes sense. Cobwebs are spat out by giant spiders as they forage about and is able to picked up by player. Eggs are gathered by clicking a hen. Wool is gathered by equipping a shearing knife (or a sword, apparently), clicking a sheep. Firewood is gathered by getting an axe and clicking a tree. Wheat is gathered by equipping a sickle and clicking a wheat patch.

However, there seems to be a whole secondary gathering game that involves whacking things. Whack a sign post and nails might drop. Whack a berry bush and you might get a berry, or twigs, or a gold coin. Whack just about anything and there's a chance that gems (supposedly hidden by imps) will drop. So far as I can tell, these various knickknacks are used for odd collection quests and part time jobs.

Economy

I'm not sure what greater economy there is in this game. I suspect there's no auction house, although I've read that you can retrofit your house into a shop. On the micro level, however, there's a whole "part time job" system that provides a means other than questing for you to earn money. The system is really pretty complex.

It starts at a designated game time for different NPCs. For example, the shepherd hires people to shear his sheep at 7am. Once that time rolls around, there's a limited number of people who can be offered a "part-time job," in the case of the shepherd, it was 20 people. Once you have a job, you're given a special title and a limited amount of time to actually perform it. For example, the shepherd gave me 8 game-time hours to get the job done (don't quote me on that). Completing the task on time results in a nice little payout.

It's interesting to see players immediately cuing up at where they know the part-time jobs will be at a given hour of the day. Some of them will perform little musical numbers while they wait, perhaps hoping to sell their composed music (usually blatantly ripped off from popular culture) to other players.

So, at the end of the day, Mabinogi seems to be shaping up nicely in terms of being an interesting virtual world experience.

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