Wednesday, November 5, 2008

RDK: Burned to Alcinder (Zealot #1)

Name: Father Alcinder
Title: The Hierophant
Set: RDK
Group: Zealots
Role: Dual-Range Scrapper
Health: 80
Resistance: 0/5/4
Innate: When Alcinder attacks, he has a 60% chance to heal himself for 5.
Bar (v14):
  1. Smiting Blow. 25En, 5spd, 12x2(24)dmg, Light. 95Hit, 100Proc. You strike down upon your foe with righteous fury, adding their Dark resistance to your attack as bonus damage. Close.
  2. Flame Strike. 60En, 4spd, 50dmg, Phys. 90Hit, 60Proc. Gouts of flame strike your foe, having a good chance to Burn, dealing 3 damage for 4 turns (12 DOT). Far.
  3. Healing Prayer. 40En, 1spd, Light. 100Hit, 100Proc. Each of your teammates is healed for 10. Both.
  4. Word of Excoriation. 30En, 3spd, Light. 100Hit, 100Proc. Your foe Burns, taking 20 damage. This skill transfers one debuff and its remaining duration to your foe. Both.
Summary: With Alcinder around, evil trembles. Sworn to root out foul heresy and magics, the leader of the Zealous Order is as strong as any of his knights, with battle-hardened strength paired with the wisdom of years. Alcinder hunts evil and, when he finds it, evil burns.
  • Removes Debuffs
  • Heals
  • Flexibly Ranged
  • Physical Attacks
Backstory: The leader of the Zealous Order, Alcinder climbed through the ranks of the Warrior-Priests. A born fighter, a man of boundless strength and iron will, he strove tirelessly to advance the Order's grand design. And when it came time for the Hierophant to pass on his secrets and his title to the next, there was no better choice. Alcinder set aside his armor and his weapons and continued to work relentlessly, inducting new members to the faith, overseeing an ever-expanding army, and ushering them to worship and leading them in prayer. Like the many Hierophants before him, his most important task was the study of the ancient and sacred manuscripts handed down through the centuries and kept safe within the Order's vaults. Containing volumes of Medeval prophesy, they told of the return of terrible evils and how the knights of the Zealous Order would stand against them. When a young girl, an orphan stray, her clothes tattered and worn, her speech crazed and delirious, was found collapsed outside the monastery's doors, Alcinder knew. The time of prophesy was at hand. The fate of the world hung in the balance. The Lich-King had returned. And, now, his fate was to lead the Order to their destiny against the legions of the unliving. Alcinder knew well the power of prayer but these times called for strength of arms. So, once more Alcinder donned the holy armor and sacred weapons of the Zealous Knights Templar. No longer a young and strapping but with strength tempered by knowledge and experience, the man known as Alcinder strode out for what would surely be his final war.
Appearance: Ever play Ogre Battle? There was a Tarot card in that game named the Hierophant, it featured a bearded priest in an ornate white robe and miter, stretching out his hands with a large staff as a halo of spiritual energy forms behind him (Here's a pic. It's the one that put opponent's to sleep. I came THIS close to giving Alcinder a stun because of that...). That's, basically, what I want Alcinder to look like. I picture him as an elderly man with a big, bushy salt and pepper beard. He's a large, robust man, like a blacksmith. Large, burly, muscular arms but an expansive stomach that's spread out over the years. His face is weather-beaten and time-worn, ground down by the passage of years and its presence at one too many a battlefield. Alcinder is an old warrior, the kind who's grown old because he's so damned good at fighting. He wears armor not unlike what Bridgette and Louis are clad in but it's covered under some ornate, priestly robes – we're talking steel plated boots and mailed gauntlets peaking out here. His garb, his armor, is gilded and decorated with swoopy, swirling, golden leaf – the kind of outfit that lets you know right away both how important and powerful he is. In his hands he's holding a long, double-handed mace with a broad, lengthy head that's also golden. Maybe he's standing to the side, slapping that mace-staff into his hands like a batter stepping up to the plate, looking grizzled and bad-ass. Maybe he's turned towards the viewer, his arms spread wide like in the aforementioned Ogre Battle or kind of like Le Morte.
  1. Smiting Blow. An arc travelling downwards, ending in a solid hit.
  2. Flame Strike. A pillar of flame shoots up from the ground at the opponent's feet and engulfs them before fading away.
  3. Healing Prayer. A breeze of wind moves across the field, teammates in hand glow green.
  4. Word of Excoriation. Flames cover the opponent as Alcinder glows.
Suggested Item: Sacred Text

Alcinder is an early attempt to make a flex-range character. Something I played around a lot with in the Gangsters and a task where I've obviously learned a few lessons since. Actually, under my self-derived nomenclature system, he'd be more of a dual-range character since he flips from being a efficient pound-away Scrapper to a Far-range nuke 'em til they stop moving Burner. It's not as huge a shift as some other cards but it's there. Still, Alcinder typifies the Zealot shift to a line that has a lot of range flexibility. He's definitely come a long way from his initial conception as a kind of light magic Juju, though.

You can still see the vestiges of that origin point, though, in a resistance matrix that's just reversed the Light and Dark values and also in his innate. With it, Alcinder has a significant chance to heal whenever he attacks. It's currently in a slight but low variance state where there shouldn't be much in the way of wacky swings, it's 60proc for 5 which works out to an average of +3 a turn. That's a lot of healing, especially if you get multiple procs in a row but it's not quite as extreme as it would be if it was, say, 30p for 10, where you'd get runs of +20~30HP and then, runs of nothing at all. I've said it before but I like innates that actually turn up in relevant gameplay states rather than ones that have only an outside chance to proc and such reductions in the swing factor are a big reason why. +3HP/turn gives Alcinder a built-in Herbal Remedy (So long as he attacks, he doesn't heal when he's resting or intercepting or, really, doing anything but blasting away.) which is, when you get down to it, a lot of healing. Not as much as I'm prepared to hand out, as we'll see, but I've toyed with strengthening it. Perhaps by allowing Alcinder to heal both himself and a random teammate when it procs to play into the idea of a helpful healer. Since he can slot a Salve or another item and push that even further, though, I felt it's pretty strong already laid on top of what amounts to a solid bar.

Alcinder, after all, is a 3/3 card, with a variety of skills to use at either range. He's got two useful dual-ranged skills and a pair of strong attacks restricted to opposing ranges. That gives him a lot of flexibility and more than a few tools to work with. Alcinder is about having a lot of options at his fingertips, ready to deal with different situations.

I think it's a good fit, though, because Alcinder was not just conceived as the “good” Juju (In oh so many ways) but as a Cleric. A healer as well as a fighter and giving him some ways to make green numbers goes along with that. Skill #3, Healing Prayers is right along those lines, giving Alcinder a powerful healing spell – that's up to +30HP in 3-Card and +50 HP in 5 – since it's not a “hits all” it's a “heals all”. At the same time, it's not all that dangerous to hand to a character who can already heal, I feel, because it doesn't have much in the way of raw healing power for a single character. +10HP isn't going to blunt a lot of attacks and it's expensive enough that it can't be kept up for long. But I added several devastating hits all skills in this set as it went along, so Healing Prayers exists as a counter-measure of sorts. A pressure relief valve that can help to combat a lot of deck destruction plans.

That's been a part of his bar for a while now but, still, I struggled with Alcinder for a long while, feeling that he'd never really come together. That he was a top-down character that had a good concept but lacked defining features. It all gelled, however, when I added Skill #4, Word of Excoriation (Or, yes, WoE). Before this current variation it was, at one point, more than a skill that transferred debuffs, shifting their target from Alcinder to his foe. It was in keeping with the Zealot's anti-debuff theme, heck, it inspired the Zealot's anti-debuff theme and the idea was that if Juju had an innate that dealt with debuffs and a skill that healed, then, Alcinder would have a skill that dealt with debuffs and it would be his innate that healed. Like I said, these are some early ideas.

But it all changed when I decided that rather than just shifting debuffs, WoE should be dealing damage, too. I actually thought of this current variation that delivers a blast of armor ignoring damage through Burning before I ever heard of the Curse of Juju that does something similar with Bleeding. WoE is better than CuJu, though, since it deals that damage up front. And it can still shift those buffs. It gives Alcinder a reliable, cheap attack that he can use. A good follow-up to his brutal nuke or an alternative to his staple when he's run up against a foe with a lot of resistance (Well, a lot of the wrong resistance, as we'll see). It also fits into the theme of holy flames that inspired Alcinder's very name – it's Burn Baby Burn when he's around, after all.

Best of all, though, since WoE isn't technically an attack, it doesn't trigger Alcinder's innate, helping to limit the potential imbalance of a powerful healing effect.

With that skill in place, working with Alcinder has largely been about fiddling with his two attacks and making sure they're working as advertised. As I explained earlier, he's got two, one for each range.

Up Close, he's got Smiting Blow, a limited multi-hit with a nasty twist. It's got a version of Voss's innate, allowing it to add Dark resistance to that damage. As a multi-hit, that resistance is multi-plied and that can add up to a big hit against an “evil” foe. The Marquis, for example, takes 22x2 or 44 damage in a single blast from a skill that costs only 25 energy (And, sure, he either Vamp Touches or L-Drains but that's, at best -20 to that damage and the next round you can pound him right back into the ground again. You'd wind up taking a lot of damage, especially against Vamp Touch, but not enough to die and that's where that innate really come in handy.). It's a cheap, effective attack, then, that can be repeated ad nauseum as needed.

From Far, though, Alcinder has to rely on the weaker Skill #4, WoE, or Skill #2, Flame Strike, a massive nuke. It's a double shot friendly 60 energy – you can't step into it but if your opponent steps away you can fire once and then again, if it doesn't hit. Even if your opponent switches, someone's going to burn. And Burn they will, thanks to the healthy proc rate here. Flame Strike not only deals a scary 50 damage against a generally weak resistance type but it has, effectively, a 55% chance to Burn for a bit more as well. It's set just low enough that you can't one-hit even the weakest of foes (A 55HP character with 0Phys takes 50 raw damage and then burns for 12 more on a proc. But on that critical first turn, they take only 54, just enough to survive for one more turn.) but that DOT can polish several off, in subsequent turns.

As a result, Alcinder can pound away when Close and nuke away when pushed far. He can heal himself, he can heal his team. He can cut through resistance. And he can cleanse himself of debuffs. I worry that his damage has been set a little too high but I mostly find it's in acceptable limits – I also think that Alcinder's been a weak card for most of his existence so I'm happy to see him be a real strong presence. And, at the moment, I think he's shaping up to be pretty strong. A flexible character with a variety of strong moves, that should be a card that can't really go wrong.

1 comment:

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