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Six offensive magic elements

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On 12/10/2021 at 3:30 PM, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

It's usually a marginal effect, but I honestly like how, say, the Boat map in FE7 gives an incentive to bring Lucius over Erk. And in Sacred Stones, it provides a motive for Sages to train in Light (for WTA over certain lategame monsters). Without the triangle, magic types become even more samey. And to the common refrain "well magic types should be differentiated further at a fundamental level", I firmly agree, but having a WTA system isn't preventing that sort of change from happening. 

Definitely second all of this. SS's Stone in particular made the magic triangle very relevant indeed.

On 12/10/2021 at 3:30 PM, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

I think this is sorta what Heroes does, since tomes can be Red, Blue, or Green (functioning akin to the Fates triangle). I generally liked Fates' triangle system, but I'm conflicted - Shurikens were already useful, and WTA plus oft-high Res just made Ninjas perfect anti-mages, perhaps to a fault.

I honestly kind of like the weapon triangle reinforcing existing stat archetypes. Like in your standard GBA Fire Emblem, sword-users are fast enough to double axe-users, and they have high evade to their low hit, so they're even more effective than the weapon triangle suggests. Meanwhile axe-users are slower, but still fast enough to double the glacial soldiers and armour knights, and have high power to overwhelm their high defence. And finally your tanky lance-users may be doubled by some fast swordies, but with their high def facing low atk, they still take very little damage, and have enough accuracy with WTA to hit them back. To some extent this system was destined to fall by the wayside once characters started varying for stats more within their class archetype (which, to be clear, I consider a good thing), but it was neat to see IMO.

So in that sense I was pretty happy with shurikens being the clear anti-magic counter. Although Fates didn't apply that logic everywhere (magic was meant to counter low-res enemy axe-users, but presumably also low-res armours, who use lances).

Regardless, I like weapon triangle effects, so of course that includes the magic triangle (although having two of them a la RD is probably overkill). Whether that's done via trinity of magic, red/blue/green tomes, or the Fates system makes little difference to me.

I also definitely agree with differentiating the elements more than they already have, via weaknesses, larger numerical differences (range, crit, big power differences, big hit differences, big weight differences in a system which actually allows mages to be fast, etc.).

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On 12/10/2021 at 5:30 PM, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

It's usually a marginal effect, but I honestly like how, say, the Boat map in FE7 gives an incentive to bring Lucius over Erk. And in Sacred Stones, it provides a motive for Sages to train in Light (for WTA over certain lategame monsters). Without the triangle, magic types become even more samey. And to the common refrain "well magic types should be differentiated further at a fundamental level", I firmly agree, but having a WTA system isn't preventing that sort of change from happening. 

Honestly, your point might have had traction were it not for you choosing Blazing Blade, which (1) has piss weak enemy units and (2) has Luna, which is itself a giant middle finger to the magic triangle. Sacred Stones isn't much better on the enemy quality front, and it doesn't really help that by the time the monsters in question are relevant, the game is handing you sacred twins (and even a specific character) to BOOM HEADSHOT them.

Edited by Shadow Mir

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16 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

Honestly, your point might have had traction were it not for you choosing Blazing Blade, which (1) has piss weak enemy units and (2) has Luna, which is itself a giant middle finger to the magic triangle. Sacred Stones isn't much better on the enemy quality front, and it doesn't really help that by the time the monsters in question are relevant, the game is handing you sacred twins (and even a specific character) to BOOM HEADSHOT them.

You don't have Luna for the boat map (and it wouldn't be great even if you did), so I'm not sure you understood the point of the example. The argument is that the magic triangle makes it tempting to deploy Lucius rather than Erk for that map, which I'd agree with (since the two have relatively similar stats). Even if it stops being relavant later, that's still more relevance than many other games.

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On 12/9/2021 at 5:13 PM, Jotari said:

Much like the weapon triangle benefits axes most, this made dark magic more reliable, which otherwise kind of sucks in Binding Blade.

???

Nostanking is viable, you can infinitely buy Nos' in a store or two. Have you not tried Niime + 1-2 buyable 'Robes to avoid Silver Lance OHKO and maybe a Speedwing? It works for the Murdock map! The tomes, like all in FE6, are lightweight to a fault, and not particularly inaccurate or weak. The main problem is getting a good Dark user.

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18 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

Honestly, your point might have had traction were it not for you choosing Blazing Blade, which (1) has piss weak enemy units and (2) has Luna, which is itself a giant middle finger to the magic triangle. Sacred Stones isn't much better on the enemy quality front, and it doesn't really help that by the time the monsters in question are relevant, the game is handing you sacred twins (and even a specific character) to BOOM HEADSHOT them.

I don't see how "enemy quality" is really part of the discussion. Like, sure the boat map Shamans may be weak (save for Novala), but I'd usually rather have Lucius face them than Erk, mainly due to the magic triangle. It's not as though enemy Shamans have such bad stats that Erk is securing 100% hit rates against them. As for Sacred Stones, it's far from guaranteed that every unit will be using a Sacred Twin, and their limited uses dissuade using them exclusively. If I've trained up two Anima users, only one of them can wield Excalibur at a time. So, the other one will likely find more success using Light tomes, at least against Dark-magic monsters. And yeah, FE7 Luna is very good, but it still has worse hit rates against Light-magic users (and better against Anima users), which is at least one marginal way to distinguish the magic types.

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5 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

???

Nostanking is viable, you can infinitely buy Nos' in a store or two. Have you not tried Niime + 1-2 buyable 'Robes to avoid Silver Lance OHKO and maybe a Speedwing? It works for the Murdock map! The tomes, like all in FE6, are lightweight to a fault, and not particularly inaccurate or weak. The main problem is getting a good Dark user.

Yeah of course thats the main problem. Its still sort of a major problem. One that I don't think hoarding your stat boosters for is particularly advisable. And i have done it, not for Niime, but for Sophia. It can certainly be fun, but then so too can training Wendy.

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8 hours ago, Dark Holy Elf said:

You don't have Luna for the boat map (and it wouldn't be great even if you did), so I'm not sure you understood the point of the example. The argument is that the magic triangle makes it tempting to deploy Lucius rather than Erk for that map, which I'd agree with (since the two have relatively similar stats). Even if it stops being relavant later, that's still more relevance than many other games.

You missed the point I was making, which is that Luna in Blazing Blade was completely borked, sporting such a high hit rate that unless your Bishops had the speed of The Flash, they were likely getting hit anyways. Also, as enemy resistance is generally garbage, I'd find it tempting to just use both.

6 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

I don't see how "enemy quality" is really part of the discussion. Like, sure the boat map Shamans may be weak (save for Novala), but I'd usually rather have Lucius face them than Erk, mainly due to the magic triangle. It's not as though enemy Shamans have such bad stats that Erk is securing 100% hit rates against them. As for Sacred Stones, it's far from guaranteed that every unit will be using a Sacred Twin, and their limited uses dissuade using them exclusively. If I've trained up two Anima users, only one of them can wield Excalibur at a time. So, the other one will likely find more success using Light tomes, at least against Dark-magic monsters. And yeah, FE7 Luna is very good, but it still has worse hit rates against Light-magic users (and better against Anima users), which is at least one marginal way to distinguish the magic types.

Because it's hard for me to take the magic triangle seriously when enemies are generally weak. And when they AREN'T weak, it's generally a waste of time to send a mage at another mage unless my mages are much stronger than the enemy's... in which case we go right back to it not mattering again. Long story short, for it to matter, you'd pretty much have to make the bonuses and penalties obscene, like +/-6 might and +/-30 hit or something.

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2 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

Long story short, for it to matter, you'd pretty much have to make the bonuses and penalties obscene, like +/-6 might and +/-30 hit or something.

Whats wrong with that?

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7 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

Because it's hard for me to take the magic triangle seriously when enemies are generally weak.

Let's stick to the boat map for the moment.

The shamans aren't super-strong, but they have just enough res that they may be difficult for one of your mages to one-round, so your atk is absolutely relevant. Lucius and Erk at equal levels have pretty similar atk stats - normally Erk has a bit more because of Thunder having 4 more mt than Lightning, despite his lower magic. But against the shamans, Lucius gains a point while Erk loses one, putting Lucius back in the lead... and on top of that, WTD reduces Thunder to 65 base hit, which is to say, it has more trouble hitting those shamans than such Shadow Mir favourites as FE3H axes.

Secondly, consider your own durability. Lucius normally has about 2-3 more res than Erk. With weapon triangle concerned, the gap is now 4-5. The shamans with Flux probably do around 8 damage to Erk (the ones with Nosferatu do a bit more), possibly 3HKOing him, with high accuracy, and struggle to both hit and damage Lucius. If not for weapon triangle, Lucius would still have a durability advantage but it would be smaller.

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3 hours ago, Dark Holy Elf said:

But against the shamans, Lucius gains a point while Erk loses one, putting Lucius back in the lead... and on top of that, WTD reduces Thunder to 65 base hit, which is to say, it has more trouble hitting those shamans than such Shadow Mir favourites as FE3H axes.

Dark Holy Elf must be FE7 Luna over here, because

He don't miss!

...Ahem. If the notion is "other units (namely those with a Javelin and non-terrible Res) are better at taking out the Shamans than Lucius is", then I'd agree. However, the point here is between Lucius and Erk. The weapon triangle provides a strategic incentive to bring Lucius over Erk (as we've seen the numbers to back it up). Without it, there's no substantial performance difference, it's just a matter of who you like better. And the converse is true too - the triangle disincentivizes Lucius (relative to Erk and Canas) on the Anima-heavy chapter 19x.

8 hours ago, Jotari said:

Whats wrong with that?

TBH I'd be game (assuming no reaver tomes) for tomes to just get a flat double triangle effect, relative to weapons. IMO that'd be enough to make the difference stand out more, without rendering disadvantaged units completely hopeless.

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12 hours ago, Shadow Mir said:

You missed the point I was making, which is that Luna in Blazing Blade was completely borked, sporting such a high hit rate that unless your Bishops had the speed of The Flash, they were likely getting hit anyways. Also, as enemy resistance is generally garbage, I'd find it tempting to just use both.

I agree with this, FE7 Luna is a lot more dangerous when it's on the enemy Druids (especially those in Genesis and HHM Cog of Destiny) since they are the enemies with the highest Mag in the game, this combined with the tome's high hit and crit chance means you're better off oneshotting the Druids rather than trying to dodge their attacks using Lucius (his high Res does nothing against them and his low Luck means that he'll most likely get critted if their attack lands). 

I think people would've taken the GBA Magic WTA system more seriously if the weapon types themselves were more balanced, Light tomes are more expensive, rarer, weaker and heavier than Anima tomes in exchange for some accuracy and crit that rarely ever matter and IS loves nerfing whatever makes Dark Magic viable (Nosteratu was strong in FE6 before IS decided to add a billion pounds to it the next game, Luna was OP for like one chapter and they chopped its hit and crit rate by half in FE8, FE6 was the only game with a good S rank Dark Tome). I'm sure that there are moments in FE7 where magic WTA matters but Lucius and Erk kind of do the same thing to me most of the time, with their advantage being Lucius' C staves upon promotion versus Erk's cheaper and more powerful weapon type.

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Some random minor points on things that were discussed.

  • If you want to add a bunch of elements and make them matter, sure, go nuts, but don't also let the player have TOO much control over it.  Take a look at your average Shin Megami Tensei game - if there are 6-8 different weaknesses to hit, but you can trivially hit whichever one you like, it's not actually that rewarding.  Letting FE9 mages pick whatever tome they liked mostly mooted the point of that game's mini-magic triangle (okay, okay, Soren's Str is so bad that he loses speed going to non-Wind Tomes, but that's about it), just give everyone all three types and a staff (/dagger).  Echoes & Fates both had magic sets customized per character, so that's good at least.
  • FE7 enemies aren't THAT weak.  They can absolutely swarm & overwhelm you if you're not careful or fall into the various traps the game has (Fog of War maps if nothing else, everyone's favorite).  Yeah, if you're low-manning the game on Normal they'll die horribly to overlevel Heath with a Javelin or whatever, but that's kind of a known quirk of the game.
  • As others have said, FE6 Dark is fine.  Sophia is bad, but that's her fault, not dark magic's fault!  (That and enemy design - if FE6 had more enemy mages, then Sophia's sky-high Res might mean something, but it doesn't really.)
  • I do think it's a little odd that Three Houses didn't include a magic triangle.  I get why Echoes skipped it (not in FE2, extremely limited choice of mages without use of rare Villager's Forks from DLC), but IIRC the designers said they skipped the weapon triangle because it clashed with the tone and was too game-y?  Anyway, the ol' classic White (Holy) > Dark > "Black" (Arcane) > White would have been fine, but if it had required a skill to set (like Bowbreaker & friends in the 3H weapon triangle), it'd probably almost never be used, barring a few really specific situations like some lategame maps in Azure Moon if you're not using a flyer to dodgetank the siege tomes.  Maybe better would have been to make it an inherent property of certain spells - make it so Aura gets +40 Crit if foe wields Dark Magic, that Death heals the user if foe wields a Black Tome, that Agnea's Arrow doesn't cost a spell charge if foe wields white magic (something real useless here since we don't need to punish white magic use even more - although how many enemies even wield Agnea's Arrow anyway?).
  • I hinted it at it in the above two comments, but Fire Emblem map design should probably include more magic-wielding enemies.  I think it's an idea descended from certain 20th century fantasy works where magic is very rare and wielded only by the Big Villain and the Hero's Mentor (maybe the Hero too).  That's fine, but it's mechanically more interested to test both the Def & Res stats, so make a world where you can hand a conscript a tome and let them go nuts.  We're already assuming that the bad guys find random level X/15 Generals out of nowhere to staff the final map, they can get some Level Awesome Druids & Sages too from the local elite mercenary requisition store.  (The one game that avoids this is Fire Emblem Heroes PvP, where players have no shame about using lots of magic users.)

 

Edited by SnowFire

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22 minutes ago, SnowFire said:

Some random minor points on things that were discussed.

  • I do think it's a little odd that Three Houses didn't include a magic triangle.  I get why Echoes skipped it (not in FE2, extremely limited choice of mages without use of rare Villager's Forks from DLC), but IIRC the designers said they skipped the weapon triangle because it clashed with the tone and was too game-y?  Anyway, the ol' classic White (Holy) > Dark > "Black" (Arcane) > White would have been fine, but if it had required a skill to set (like Bowbreaker & friends in the 3H weapon triangle), it'd probably almost never be used, barring a few really specific situations like some lategame maps in Azure Moon if you're not using a flyer to dodgetank the siege tomes.  Maybe better would have been to make it an inherent property of certain spells - make it so Aura gets +40 Crit if foe wields Dark Magic, that Death heals the user if foe wields a Black Tome, that Agnea's Arrow doesn't cost a spell charge if foe wields white magic (something real useless here since we don't need to punish white magic use even more - although how many enemies even wield Agnea's Arrow anyway?).

 

I do think that a magic triangle of Black > White > Dark > Black could work, though I must admit that the magic triangle, at least to me, that is, seemed a bit pointless when dedicated spellcasters already had sky-high Res to begin with. At least it could work for the purposes of accuracy (+20 Hit & Avoid for triangle advantage), and then have where Black Magic’s four elements (fire, ice, lightning, and wind) would be what he majority of enemies have weaknesses too, White Magic (light element) would be effective against demons and undead primarily, and then Dark Magic have very few who are weak to it, instead often having debuffs and ailments rolled into them, or simply having higher Might. An instant-kill spell or two for Dark Magic would be nice. Generally speaking, you’d be having more monsters and more types of monsters, and they’d be where the bulk of exploitable elemental weaknesses and resistances would be.

Then, have where all three families of magic have support spells thrown in for variety’s sake; Black Magic chiefly having offensively-oriented buffs, White Magic healing and defensively-oriented buffs and ailments (i.e. Sleep, Silence), and Dark Magic debuffs and offensively-oriented ailments (i.e. Poison, Slow).

Edited by BernieBearSimp

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4 hours ago, SnowFire said:

Some random minor points on things that were discussed.

  • If you want to add a bunch of elements and make them matter, sure, go nuts, but don't also let the player have TOO much control over it.  Take a look at your average Shin Megami Tensei game - if there are 6-8 different weaknesses to hit, but you can trivially hit whichever one you like, it's not actually that rewarding. 

Hold up. Hitting weakness in SMT gives you extra turns. That's super rewarding.

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18 minutes ago, Jotari said:

Hold up. Hitting weakness in SMT gives you extra turns. That's super rewarding.

Hmm, that can be taken two ways, but I meant a different sense of the word.  I mean rewarding as a player experience, not rewarding as in powerful.  If there's no cost to having FE9 Calil drag around a Fire, Wind, and Thunder tome at the same time, and you see an enemy Cat Laguz, I'd argue it's a very trivial and basic strategy to choose to pick the right tome.  Do you want to do more damage or less damage?  I'll take more damage, thanks.  (Barring the rare circumstances where you plan on frying a cat now and are stuck with the same tome equipped in enemy phase where you expect a Dragon or Raven to attack her - maybe at Twisted Tower?!).  After you've scanned an SMT enemy, if you have a magic generalist capable of hitting most weaknesses, the sole question is if you want to hit the weak point for massive damage, or not.  The correct answer is "yes", and the game will throw confetti at you for your tactical brilliance.  Personally, I don't find that very fulfilling or rewarding - that's more a tutorial-level experience.

Compare this to something like Pokemon, where elemental weaknesses are very potent, but you have exceptionally limited skill slots and going outside of type means giving up a substantial same-type bonus to attack.  This makes being able to hit a weakness much more rewarding and more about using the right Pokemon than just having a single generalist that always hits weakness.  I'm getting a bit loose with my analogies, but this is closer to, say, the different magic sets in 3H - Lysitheachu hurts high MDef units & cavalry (Luna & Dark Spikes), Annettepuff & Snorlinhardt hurt flyers but not very well (Excalibur), Hubertizard hoses low-move units (Banshee), etc.

Edited by SnowFire

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20 minutes ago, Jotari said:

Hold up. Hitting weakness in SMT gives you extra turns. That's super rewarding.

Their point is the reward itself, it's the amount of effort you need to get to the reward.

When a demon can easily carry Agi, Bufu, Zio, and Zan or at least three of those. The majority of demons with weaknesses has a weakness to one of those; Phys is extremely rare to be weak against, Gun, Expel, and Death are a little less common than four no-instadeath elements. And all of the above spells use the same Mag stat for damage. So it really isn't a challenge to land a weakness hit and deal good damage with it.

Contrast this with Octopath Traveler. Hitting weaknesses does result in the enemy becoming broken and taking significantly more damage for a time as a result of it. Yet, one hit does not break enemies' defenses, bosses can shuffle their weaknesses, there are more things to possibly be weak against without a corresponding increase in the amount of attributes that a character can attack . And, weakness hits prior to breaking an enemy's defense don't deal a significant amount of damage. Now, I personally think Octopath Traveler's system is too severe, damage outside of Break is too low, and I don't like it. But I won't deny it could possibly be seen as more strategic and fulfilling. Nor that the present and beloved Press Turn system in SMT could use some reform.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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8 hours ago, Ari Chan said:

I think people would've taken the GBA Magic WTA system more seriously if the weapon types themselves were more balanced, Light tomes are more expensive, rarer, weaker and heavier than Anima tomes in exchange for some accuracy and crit that rarely ever ma

In FE6, light tomes felt deliberately weak because they were exclusively the weapon type of promoted healers - they even had low hit in that game. Blazing Blade actually buffed them by giving them hit/crit (while nerfing both anima and dark), though I agree they were clearly weaker than Anima. (Although in the specific case of Erk vs. Lucius, the fact that Lucius had superior magic base/growth largely offset the power differences, sometimes entirely depending on the point of the game.)

Agreed that the weapon triangle sucked for fighting against Luna though. "Ignores res" is too big a trump card in mage-vs-mage fights, given that they typically have pretty good res. If you must tank a hit from a Luna druid (as you note, it's often better to just not), the most important stat is critical avoid.

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22 minutes ago, SnowFire said:

Hmm, that can be taken two ways, but I meant a different sense of the word.  I mean rewarding as a player experience, not rewarding as in powerful.  If there's no cost to having FE9 Calil drag around a Fire, Wind, and Thunder tome at the same time, and you see an enemy Cat Laguz, I'd argue it's a very trivial and basic strategy to choose to pick the right tome.  Do you want to do more damage or less damage?  I'll take more damage, thanks.  (Barring the rare circumstances where you plan on frying a cat now and are stuck with the same tome equipped in enemy phase where you expect a Dragon or Raven to attack her - maybe at Twisted Tower?!).  After you've scanned an SMT enemy, if you have a magic generalist capable of hitting most weaknesses, the sole question is if you want to hit the weak point for massive damage, or not.  The correct answer is "yes", and the game will throw confetti at you for your tactical brilliance.  Personally, I don't find that very fulfilling or rewarding - that's more a tutorial-level experience.

Compare this to something like Pokemon, where elemental weaknesses are very potent, but you have exceptionally limited skill slots and going outside of type means giving up a substantial same-type bonus to attack.  This makes being able to hit a weakness much more rewarding and more about using the right Pokemon than just having a single generalist that always hits weakness.  I'm getting a bit loose with my analogies, but this is closer to, say, the different magic sets in 3H - Lysitheachu hurts high MDef units & cavalry (Luna & Dark Spikes), Annettepuff & Snorlinhardt hurt flyers but not very well (Excalibur), Hubertizard hoses low-move units (Banshee), etc.

I can see your logic, it make a sense, in in practice SMT games also tend to be measuredly more difficult than most Rpgs (and more often than not it's not fake difficulty, its actually rather good difficulty). So tactical depth is still happening there. Its not as simple as picking the right element to win (which Pokemon actually can be a lot if the time, especially if were just looking at a story campaign and not PvP), what order on which you attack, heal and buff will matter for how long you can last against the enemy and the press turn system does make hitting effective damage an element of that.

Edited by Jotari

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1 hour ago, Jotari said:

I can see your logic, it make a sense, in in practice SMT games also tend to be measuredly more difficult than most Rpgs (and more often than not it's not fake difficulty, its actually rather good difficulty). So tactical depth is still happening there. Its not as simple as picking the right element to win (which Pokemon actually can be a lot if the time, especially if were just looking at a story campaign and not PvP), what order on which you attack, heal and buff will matter for how long you can last against the enemy and the press turn system does make hitting effective damage an element of that.

To the extent that most SMT games have strategy, it's secretly around the buffs & debuffs, yes, as well as building a diverse enough team such that you can exploit relevant weaknesses.  Difficulty doesn't always correlate with depth of tactics, though - FE Fates Conquest on Normal will have the same deep systems but will be pretty easy.  Meanwhile something like Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is ultimately rather simple in its tactics, but balanced its bosses quite on the difficult side.  SMT can end up similar to the Lunar example - simple tactics (use the spell that hits the elemental weakness, not a basic attack!) but balanced on the difficult side (oh no you missed and lost a turn!).

Anyway, to me, the cool thing in a strategy RPG is placement on the map and an incentive to feel clever by ensuring my units get in advantageous matchups.  If for some reason I have a very flexible unit for whatever reason, then this element is muted a bit - no matter where I throw this unit, they'll do fine as long as I ensure they're using the right weapon/spell.  Maybe I felt a bit clever from building such a flexible unit in the first place if that took some work, but that's a little less interesting than having it come up in combat too.  Basically, fine, go ahead and have six magic elements if you want, but it's mostly interesting if different characters have different match-ups.  If mages can easily select their favorite Tome (like happens at several points in the series), then all mages are interchangeable and the "strategy" is just use the right Tome.  If selection is limited, then you can feel cool when your fire mage fights the fire-weak crew, your thunder mage fights the thunder-weak enemies, etc.

As a side note, I've been playing through SMT V lately.  I'm not THAT far in, only beat the first major boss - but knowing SMT difficulty curve, that may well have been the hardest part of the game, and it's "interesting" for now.  However, based on my experience with SMT4, later in the game once I've opened up more skill slots I'll just be smashing.  Certainly in SMT4 random enemies in the last 2/3 of the game just die screaming if you go first and hit their weaknesses, or even just do Concentrate - Other Demons Pass - Some Almighty spell once a magic-focused main character gets rolling.

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