Stone faced euthanasia advocate Stillman continues his Chaos Run month with a study of Storm Casters. They don’t cast any storms, but they do cast some doubts about our mana system. And…hey! Pink lasers! The first ‘paragraph’ is below. Click through to read the rest.

    Eye of the Storm Casters

    Man, these things are easy.

    Storm Casters (aka Finger Mages, Doom Casters) are among the handful of awesome looking denizens in Hell. They almost look like space stations with their hovering, laser firing, and homing missiles. But gameplay-wise, Storm Casters are more like delicate snowflakes you made in grade primary; they are works of art that eventually got thrown in the garbage. If you stare at Storm Casters hard enough, their eyelids will flutter while they have drop seizures. No need to kill any survivors?they will just float away on their own. And, the Grand Visor of Chaos has no hands! No wonder nothing gets done around here to fix up the Chaos Sanctuary.

    So what happened here, exactly? Why are Storm Casters so paper-like and easy? They just sort of float around like jellyfish and wait to be dispatched. Maybe in earlier versions of Diablo 2, the Storm Casters were a cause for concern. Now, they dangle there like ornaments on a Christmas tree with a ton of presents under them. The answer to what went wrong can be found when you hover your mouse pointer over them in a fit of boredom. They seem to have a key vestigial structure, something that was functional and useful to their species eons ago: homing missiles that drain mana.

    Aha! Could this be some ancient weapon the Storm Casters employed to earn their dining room in Hell? Does anyone know what mana is and why draining it is dangerous? Perhaps the blue water orb on the bottom right of our screens had once been a power source of some kind from which our heroes drew their deadly magics. Today, the water orb is almost always full, and losing even all of one’s water is no sweat so to speak.

    The downpour of blue precipitation in Sanctuary is conveniently bottled for us. In earlier versions of Diablo 2, you could not even buy the stuff in town. These days, however, Sanctuarians live in the lap of luxury. Monsters such as Storm Casters, Ghosts, and mini bosses with mana burn who drain your blue water orb will actually drop a ton of blue pots to replenish whatever they took. On top of that, there are WWF championship belts that hold 16 bottles to keep you loaded. Later patches introduced elites on top the exceptional belts to ensure that even sashes can hold the standard of 16. The blue stuff became as obtainable as air.

    But wait! There was even a patch in the past that forced all mini bosses in Hell mode to drop 2 full rejuvenation potions. This ensured no one had to wait for their blue water orb to fill up slowly. Everyone had a full orb nearly all the time. All you saw was pink on your belt, which meant the pink Storm Casters had nothing going for them. Although there are now fewer full rejuv’s shelled out, we still have a redundant Horodric cube recipe to brew your own pink drinks.

    Later, the ridiculously cheap embryonic noob puzzle Insight runeword sounded the death knell of our mana needs. Now, the Diablo 2 screen is processed in my visual cortex without a blue orb at all. Sometimes, though, a blue orb-like entity fades in and out of existence…while it’s parents awkwardly kiss at a high school dance, then the blue orb snaps back into reality to finish playing that god awful boring song by the Righteous Brothers, and later the blue orb’s nutcase buddy says, ?No, no, I sent you into the future!? but then the blue orb yells, ?I’m back! I’m back from the future!?

    So with a heavy sigh, let us add mana to the list of useless things that have no function anymore:     

    -choking gas potions and their ilk
    -Amazon spear skills
    -Inferno, numerous other skills
    -ethereal belts and gloves
    -Cathan’s set among others
    -all the Act 3 and 5 mercenaries
    -mana potions
    -belts that hold more mana potions
    -anything that drains mana (Storm Casters)
    -mana orb

    Woah, mana looks like it can’t be knocked the hell out of existence any further. I hope Diablo 3 knows what it’s doing making one of these resource systems for every character. If they go the route of Diablo 2, it means we will have 5 orb thingies that you will one day ignore completely.

    The moral of this Slab is that if one ‘organ’ of a game (like the mana system) is wrecked, then organ failure elsewhere is sure to ensue. Monsters need to evolve with each patch to keep up with the changing tides. Making mana 100% obsolete has turned Storm Casters’ volley of mana draining missiles into a fun fireworks display for your kids to admire while they go about pwning the game. These critters of the sky are like, I don’t know, cardboard bowls of pudding with gold at the bottom. Blizzard gave us the nice design of the Finger Mage, but later just gave the finger to mages who are now invincible and unchallenged. Storm Casters just aren’t so manly without the mana system.

    Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

    Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.

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