Robert Whisler's Getting Started

My party has attained level 17 recently and I've cleaned out Goblinwatch, Abandoned Temple, Shadow Guild, Dragoon's Cavern, Temple of Baa, Temple of Tsantsa and Gharik's Forge (just kidding!). My party has also cleaned up the environs of New Sorpigal, Castle Iron Fist, Mist, Bootleg Bay and nearly all of Free Haven, ridding the roads of assorted scum and villainy--all in the first year. Although I'm far from completing the game, it's probably safe to saw I'm no longer a newbie. 

I'd like to offer the following observations and tips for those just starting this awesome game. The decisions you make early on will have a major impact on the later stages--and could save you a lot of headache and grief. Much of what follows has also been taken from the experiences of others.

Party Selection
The first decision you'll have to make when starting up MM6 for the first time is the composition of your party. The debate about what party make-up is most optimal will surely rage for as long as people play this game. Nonetheless, there is a general consensus on three classes that should be included in any party: 
  1. Knight - for sheer close-up fighting power, high hit points, and getting your party out of dungeons when the rest of your party is unconscious.
  2. Sorcerer - offensive and elemental magic user, will learn dark magic later
  3. Cleric - for defensive and healing magic, and light magic later
The fourth member is less clear. You have a choice of three others: 
Archer (Knight/Sorcerer)
Paladin (Knight/Cleric)
Druid (Generalist).
Although some have maligned the Archer, I think it's a good addition. Setting aside it's good ranged attack abilities (which is a critical in MM6), the Archer can complement the Knight in close-up attacks, and the sorcerer in magic attacks. My Archer is expert in Air Magic and is learning Fire Magic (my Sorcerer is expert in Fire, Water and Earth). The combination of Knight, Archer, Sorcerer and Cleric is very much an offensive party. While some may claim that a Paladin or Druid will add a critical back-up healing component, I've found that my Cleric alone is more than adequate for keeping my party conscious in battle. Nonetheless, it's important to note that as long as you have the Knight, Sorcerer, and Cleric in your party, whether you choose the Archer, Paladin, or Druid will not significantly harm or aid your party either way.
The second major choice you'll be confronted with is what skills to apportion among your party members. Again, reasonable people may disagree about the optimal mix, but there seem to be a few critical ones that will help any party throughout it's adventuring. Remember, all skills can be picked up at some point during the game. 
  • Most necessary Merchant - at least one member should excel in this skill, and probably all your members should have it at a minimal level.
  • Disarm trap - the ability to open the numerous traps and crates you come across, without taking damage (almost all of them are booby trapped), is very helpful.
  • Identify item - saves you a ton of money in expenses
  • Repair item - again, saves you lots of money (money is a commodity in short supply early in the game), not to mention handy if you're in the middle of a dungeon and have found that your favorite sword or armor has been ruined.
  • Meditation - adds extra spell points - give to Cleric and Sorcerer, at least (for the Knight, it's useless)
  • Needless to say, become Expert and Master these skills ASAP. 2. Helpful, but not critical Bodybuilding - increase HP
  • Learning - you can find NPCs that do this too

  • Perception - apparently good for grabbing things out of skull piles without getting ill 3. What's the use...? Diplomacy - seems not to have a great effect.
Spell Skills & Spells
The last big decision you'll have to make is what spells skills to distribute. Again, one may comfortably choose a variety of skills, but the seemingly most important ones are in order (spells in parenthesis are those most helpful early on): 
  • Fire (Firebolt, Fireball and Ring of Fire)
  • Water (Cold Beam, Water Walking and Enchant Item)
  • Earth (Deadly Swarm) Cleric Spirit (Bless and Heroism)
  • Body (Harm and Cure Wounds)

  • Mind (Mind Blast) Other Air (Wizard's Eye and Sparks)
One weapon is very important for at least three--if not all--members to have: the bow. Many of the enemies you'll face early in the game do not have ranged attack. And because your party is not that high in hit points, being able to sit back and pick off (or significantly weaken) the baddies before they finally get close enough to attack is of great help. The prime strategy I follow when confronted with hoards of raging monsters is: 

-- Approach close enough to "peal off" three or four monsters so that they charge. Attack with arrows and perhaps the occasional magic from the Cleric. If they've survived when they get into attack range, your Knight and Archer should be able to finish them off with little trouble. Later, the Sorcerer's and Archer's fireball spells offers added firepower if arrows are not doing enough damage or if a large number of monsters are charging. 

As for other weapons skills, distributing most of them among your party is a good idea because you never know when you'll come across a powerful weapon that does tremendous damage. Here are the weapons skills of my party members (the one listed first is the one they started with): 

  • Knight: Sword,Axe (had a powerful axe for a long time),Bow
  • Archer: Bow, Sword (probably should have learned spear instead for it's defensive capabilities)
  • Sorcerer: Dagger, Bow

  • Cleric: Mace, Staff
With armor, it's important to note that the stronger it is, the more time your party member needs to recover before attacking again (at least until you reach master), so you must strike a balance between protection and attack speed. There's no firm consensus on what class should learn what armor; in my game, only the Knight has learned anything beyond leather armor--the others are all expert in leather armor. 

Also note that regardless of the armor-wearing abilities of your members (some, like the Sorcerer, can't learn anything above leather armor), EVERYONE can wear protective gauntlets, shoes, helmets, cloaks, rings and amulets.

General Tips
  • Bottles - grab as many as you can. Those herbs and things lying around everywhere make potions, but you need bottles to put them in (hint: don't take a plain herb and click it on your character--he or she will get sick).
  • Bar tender tipping - there can be some useful tips he or she gives you.
  • NPCs - can join your party. The most sought after ones seem to be the instructors/teachers (who boost experience gained) and those who boost merchant skills.
  • Fountains and wells - usually offer temporary increases in stats or rejuvenate HP's or magic points. Beware of the troughs though, they are often poisonous.
  • Auto map - when you arrive in a new city, the automap kicks in. Be sure to uncover as much area as you can so that the map no longer contains blacked out spots. There's typically other areas on islands or remote areas that contain helpful shrines, caves, monsters, etc.

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