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Combat is essentially broken down into two distinct phases, a player phase and a enemy phase. When the battle starts you will see a timer located at the top center of your screen. You have 20 seconds to complete all of your actions. During your first turn you will only be able to give orders to two or three of your characters before the eneyphase begins. The enemy will also have 20 seconds to compete their actions.
During the player phase you can do everything from skipping a members turn to using abilities and items. One of the more unique things about the combat system is that it allows you to move your members positioning. Positioning plays a big part in the strategy side of the game.
There are three rows and three columns for both players and npcs to function in. Basically it is a 3x3 grid that players and mobs can move around in. The reasoning for being able to move around is simple. You can not attack a mob and a mob cannot attack you if you are standing behind another member. Since you start out with 3 mercenaries I will just use a swordsman, a staff and a ranged class for an example.
You will want a class that can take a hit out in your front row. Any member that is behind a front row member can not be hit, unless it is a ranged or flying unit that is attacking. The same goes for picking your targets to fight. You can not attack a mob that is behind another mob without first killing the mob out in front. The postioning of your members as well as the positioning of your enemies plays a great factor in how you should plan out your strategies.
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If you're not spending time at a marketplace inside a city then the only way you can get loot and items is by killing mobs. When a creature dies, it's body is left on the ground for about two turns. You must search the corpse before two turns are up or the body (and the loot on the body) will disappear. To search a dead body, just double click it. Picking up loot from a dead creature will consume the turn of the member who picked it up.
During your adventures you will get pick up all sorts of loot. However, this isn't your typical 'kill mob, pick up loot' type of game. Instead of creatures dropping weapons and gear for you to pick up, they drop a variety of boxes that contain everything from gear to abilities and upgrades. The most common types for gear and equipment is commodity boxes and equipment boxes. Once you pick up any one of these you need to right click on it in your inventory (remember, press the space bar to bring up your inventory window). This will bring up a new window that will randomly shuffle through equipment and eventually stop on a piece of equipment. It works very similar to a slot machine.
Other items such as potions and materials for crafting are simply just drops that work the way you would expect drops to work.
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Gaining Experience and Leveling Up
You gain experience by using action points, killing mobs, and completing quests. Each mercenary in your group gains experience individually. You can see how much experience each member of your group has by looking at the yellow bar beneath their icon on the bottom right hand side of your screen. When the yellow bar fills up that member gains a level.
When a member gains a level a few things happens. First, you will get skill ponts and bonus points. You will use skill points to either upgrade current spells or learn new ones. You use your bonus points to use certain items such as growth vials. Growth vials increase a random state of the member that uses the item. Generally, it is a good idea to use all growth vials you can with your main character before letting other members use them. Secondly, base states are increased by a few points.
Aside from looking at the small icon to see how much experience and what level your party members are you can also see a more detailed description about any member in your party. In order to see such stats as how much experience, how much damage, how many skill and bonus points, current level, basic stats (such as strength, intel, dex and vitality) and which skill you currently have you need to open your inventory. You can open your inventory by pressing the space bar. Once your inventory is open you can then click the small magnifing glass to pull up your party members details. By clicking on the small sword icon you can pull up the equipment window which displays your members equpied gear.
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Progressing Your Character and Your Mercenaries
Advancing your character and your mercenaries is done very different than traditional MMORPGs. There are no ponts to distribute when you level up and you don't have to visit a class trainer to buy new skills or level up known skills. Instead, you use skill books to level up your characters abilities. You gain these skill books by looking inside commodity boxes. As you progress through the game you will most assuredly come across these books. To use a book simply place the book in the mercenaries inventory slot and right click on it. Each ability can be upgraded roughly 20 times so in order to max out an ability you will need to find all 20 books for said ability.
At levels 20, 50, 80 and 100 you can upgrade your mercenaries. Upgrading a mercenary is, once again, different than what you're probably used to. Each mercenary has 5 ranks. The ranks determine what abilities they have and how strong they are. For example, the Swordsman has 5 ranks. Swordsman, Sword Fighter, Sword Warrior, Gyebaek and Hero Gyebaek. Each rank increases the mercenaries stats and opens up more abilities.
Upgrading mercenaries doesn't happen automatically however. You must collect a rather large amount of Ashen Crystals to upgrade. It takes anywhere from 20 to 100 crystals or jewels to upgrade them. You can only get Ashen Crystals and Jeweles from mobs in dungeons. To upgrade a mercenary simply open up your inventory and click the small magnifying glass besides the mercenaries inventory and then click the Upgrade button.