Part 78: Ranged Magical Attacksnweismuller: Apologies for my lateness in posting this, I know I promised it like a week or so ago but I kept getting caught up doing other things.
Today I bring you a long-belated game mechanics post concerning Ranged Magical Attacks! As per usual, the actual data will be spoilered, so those of you who aren't interested in the mechanics or don't want to know can skip over it.
There are 41 units in Master of Magic that possess ranged magical attacks, and there is no method by which to give a ranged magical attack to a unit which doesn't possess one innately. 21 of these are Normal Units: Shamans (available to barbarians, halflings, lizardmen, orcs, draconians and trolls); Priests (available to high men, nomads, beastmen, and dark elves); Magicians (available to high elves, high men, orcs, and draconians); and all Dark Elven Normal Units except for Settlers, Nightblades, Triremes, Galleys and Catapults. Six are Fantastic Units: sprites, storm giants, djinni, efreeti, shadow demons, and demon lords. The remaining 14 are heroes: Aureus, Greyfairer, Jaer, Malleus, Morgana, Reywind, Serena, Yramrag, Zaldron, Aerie, Elana, Mystic X, Ravashack, and Warrax.
Though the game doesn't clearly tell you this, all magical ranged attacks belong to one of three out of the game's five schools of magic. The particular school of magic to which a magical ranged attack belongs can be identified by the animation it makes when fired, of which there are 9:
Small exploding blue sparkles (used by Sprites only) are Nature-aligned.
Large exploding blue sparkles look like basically a larger version of the Sprites' attack, and are used by priests, shamans, and the heroes Serena and Elana; they are also Nature-aligned.
The hero Jaer and djinni fire blue-white energy bolts which are also Nature-aligned. Finally, Greyfairer fires a greenish palette-swap of these same bolts, which are Nature-aligned as well.
Large blue spherical blasts are fired by the heroes Zaldron and Aerie; these are Sorcery-aligned.
Red fire bolts (another palette swap) are fired by Magicians, Warlocks, and efreeti; these are Chaos-aligned.
Lightning bolts are fired by storm giants and the heroes Yramrag and Warrax; these too are Chaos-aligned.
Small purple spherical blasts are fired by demon lords, shadow demons, and the hero Ravashack. You would expect these to be Death-aligned, but they're actually Chaos-aligned too!
Finally, exploding purple sparkles are fired by Dark Elf units, and these, too, are Chaos-aligned.
As you can see, there are no Life or Death-aligned magical ranged attacks. The alignment of a given ranged attack does matter, since it affects what enchantments and/or artifacts protect against it! For example, the Life spell Righteousness gives a unit a massive 50 Defense against all Chaos-aligned direct-damage spells, including Chaos-aligned magical ranged attacks - but does nothing against Nature or Sorcery-aligned magical ranged attacks. You can also observe that the magical alignment of a creature does not necessarily dictate the magical alignment of its ranged attacks: djinni are Sorcery units, but their ranged attacks are Nature aligned!
While we're on the subject of magical ranged attacks, let's also discuss ammunition for them. Some units with magical ranged attacks have ammo in the same way as conventional ranged units: a limited number of shots per battle that is static. For example, all Normal Units with magical ranged attacks can fire them 4 times per battle. Sprites and Storm Giants also have 4 shots per battle, while Shadow Demons and Demon Lords have 8 shots per battle.
However, the Djinn and Efreet, as well as all heroes with magical ranged attacks, are different: they have a mana pool, which they can also cast standard spells from. This introduces an element of strategy: do you spend their mana on battlefield-affecting spells, or do you spend it on their ranged attacks? For such units, each magical ranged attack costs 3 mana, and they can fire them so long as they have mana remaining.
Heroes have one other quirk to address here. The magical ranged attack of a hero can be enhanced by attack strength or to-hit enhancements on an equipped staff, wand, or piece of jewelry.
Other bits of interest about ranged magical attacks: they don't suffer to-hit penalties based on range and they ignore Missile Immunity. However, they are subject to Magic Immunity!