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What is Vantage Master?

A free turn-based SRPG in English by Falcom for PC. The objective of each map is to duel your opponent's Master to the death. A Master can attack, cast support magic, and most importantly, summon monster units known as Natials. Anything other than basic attacks, including Natial upkeep, costs MP. You gain MP based on the amount of magic stones on the map you are in control of and the Master's Magic stat. Magic stones (usually) start neutral and by having an unit end their turn on one you gain control of it. So battles are a matter of strategic positioning and unit management. It's rather simple to learn, but very deep. Controls are simple: Left click to do things, right click on an unit for info menu.

Go download it already!

There, you know the basics now. Try playing on Easy at first - the AI is fully capable of kicking your ass regardless of difficulty. If you want to know more, read on...

Other stuff about the game

There are four game modes:

Scenario is the "story" mode of the game. A Master class is chosen based on a few questions the game asks you at the beginning, then you start at level 1 with basic Natials to summon. Each map you conquer nets you a level up and a new Natial or spell to play around with, making for a good learning curve.

Expert feeds on your tears. (And mine.)

Free Battle allows you to, well, do a free battle with full customization choices including free choice of map, Masters, levels, stats and natials/magic allowed. 1P vs CPU, Hotseat, or CPU vs CPU.

Network Battle is why the "Online" in Vantage Master Online is there. Fight a Free Battle OVER THE INTERNETS.

Left clicking on an unit brings up their command menu. Wait, Move, Attack, Magic. When you hover the unit itself you see an arrow, click when it's at the desired position to change your facing. This is vital because attacks from the sides and back hurt more. You can both move and attack or cast magic on a single turn, but can't move after acting. Waiting makes your next turn come up faster, move+acting slower.

Right click on an unit brings up the Sub Command menu. You can conveniently check all ranges for both ally and enemy units with this, and use Destruction to destroy your own Natial to free the upkeep MP. If you check your own unit's movement+attack/magic/area range, you can even click on the desired target unit to see all the hexes you can attack from!

Help window shows information for whatever your cursor is on.

Battle view window shows a minimap.

Information window has a bunch of stuff. Time of day and brightness on top left, this matters for certain Natials that get stronger at either Day or Night and weaker the opposite. One clocktick is one ingame minute. On the right of that, the "Decre" tells that Downtide has been used. (Spell that lowers water level. There is a counterpart for it, too) B/H shows how many minutes it lasts.

Below those, masters and their MP bars are shown. Shows current and max MP numerically and as the blue bar. Yellow bar is your MP regeneration and red is your Natial upkeep.

Then you see currently selected tile's defensive properties and height. Magic Stone also recovers 1HP per turn for the unit on it. The elemental cycle is also shown: Earth > Water > Fire > Heaven > Earth.

Below that, you see currently selected unit, their day/night preference if any(to the right of name), HP(heart), minutes until next turn(hourglass), where they are in the turn order(bell), and their attack/defense/magic/Mdef/speed/move. Their movement type is also represented: Walk, Swim, or Fly. Walk 2 can also move on water with movement penalty and Swim 2 likewise on land. The SAT bars represents their exp, which they get from kills. When they get a star from the exp their stats go up. And finally, the bottom has the time limit if you're playing with time limit on.

The game has

*27 Master classes, ranging from all-around well rounded but slow and magic suspectible Knights to fast but fragile knife throwing Thieves.
*6 spells with healing, utility, water level control and direct damage.
*24 Natials to summon, ranging from mechapenguins that freeze things to archers on flying carriages.
*52 maps of all kinds.

If you fancy SRPGs at all, there's absolutely no reason to not give this a shot.

EDIT: Fixed image size.
I read the Hardcore Gaming 101 article on this series. It looked interesting, but none of the screens were in English so I figured they were Japanese only.

Probably won't play online, though.

You put "story" in quotations, so's that mean there's little story to speak of in story mode?
This actually looks...pretty cool.
can't make a bad game if you don't finish any games
I actually have had this game for some time now, but I refuse to proceed until I beet that friggin' thief in the second tier of fights.

Seriously, I bust out my Ae-Ferrions to cap his ass and he pulls like, five Marmes out of his pants. What the hell.
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