To Buff or Not To Buff that is the question

Do yuo enjoy buffing in RPG types of games?

  • I prefer lots of buffing; the more options that I can pile on the better

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I prefer moderate buffin; I am more selective about using them

    Votes: 11 42.3%
  • I prefer minimal buffing; Just critical ones for big fights

    Votes: 11 42.3%
  • I hate buffing in general and avoid it as much as I can

    Votes: 3 11.5%
  • Other, please explain

    Votes: 1 3.8%

  • Total voters
    26

wolfgrimdark

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In a discussion with some folks the topic of buffing in RPG games came up. Some enjoy buffing to the max before a fight. They carefully review all their spells, scrolls, potions, and abilities to maximize the buffs with minimal overlap, optimized for each encounter. Others find it tedious and wish for a "buff all" button as they find themselves repeating the same general buffs over and over each fight as they struggle with balancing the short term to long term buffs.

What do folks enjoy, and not enjoy, when it comes to buffing? What types of mechanics from games have you liked or not liked?

For example games like Pathfinder and Solasta have a lot of different buffs you can case. In games like that you can spend quite a long time buffing before fights (only to have a timed cinematic interfere with them afterwards). Other times it is a situation where you can't buff until in actual combat then it becomes a balance of whether you buff or fight with each valuable turn.

On the other hand a game like BG3 had a rather cool (IMO of course as I rather liked it) mechanic where you can only maintain certain spells with concentration. So you could cast a buff spell that would last for as long as you kept concentration on it. If concentration broke, or you wanted to switch buffs, you lost the original.

I liked this as it made buffs seem more tactical and valuable while at the same time helping to cut down on the time spent buffing for every fight. In the past I used to love spending the time buffing. I remember in BG2, especially, where your mages could build intricate layers of spell protection and spell stripping aspects for big battles. Some of those mage battles were amazing and intense.

Yet these days, perhaps due to old age, I find I don't enjoy tons of buffing before every fight anymore and don't want combat that is set to a difficulty that assume everyone will be fully buffed.

In general my preference is to have some good variety on buffing but have limited ones you can use at any time, like around 3-4. I also prefer longer term buffs versus the very short ones ... although I understand there is a balance there. the "per round" buffs can be more powerful as they are so short, while those that last minutes or hours have to be balanced so that they don't overpower every battle. Hence why I like the concentration aspect ... do I bless everyone to get better chances to hit and make saving throws? Or do I haste everyone to get an extra attack? Or protect everyone from elemental damage?

Anyhow was curious how others view the whole buffing ritual and what types of buff mechanics appeal to them … or not.

PS - I had a very hard time trying to decide how to phrase the poll questions so apologies in advance if I missed some important option or nuance. It is all in good fun.
 
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Redglyph

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You could actually make a good poll out of this. It's been a while since the last one!

While I occasionally enjoy going through the available spells, abilities and potions, I find it tedious to do that before every single combat. Most of the time I'm not preparing for combat, or doing the minimum, relying on a quick offensive and a cleric when it turns out badly ;)

When it's unavoidable, for example at low level or if I spot a very bad guy, then I tend to follow a routine which is not always optimal. So I'm a bad planner.

It doesn't help that in WotR, it's almost impossible to buy defensive potions, I don't know why they neglected that part.

There's also the issue of non-stackable buffs. In WotR I'm often frustrated because Nenio could easily cast Mage Armor for example, but it won't do any good to most of the characters when they already have an armour. So It's funny at first, but again, annoying when it's a repeated process. It's not the reason why I'm playing.

Solasta and BG3 are D&D 5, so the insane buff ritual has been limited to a minimum with the help of concentration, which makes it easier. At the end of the day, I'm torn between the two styles: it's a little too much in Pathfinder / D&D 3.x, and too little in D&D 5. So no real preference, I like both of them. :)
 
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wolfgrimdark

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Yea I debated submitting it as a poll idea but wasn't sure how that all worked so in the end just made a post :p

I used to be the old way but now mainly in the camp of Solasta and BG3 I think now. In WOTR I do some insane buffing at times :p

There was a great meme on that for WOTR aspect of buffing on reddit but not sure I can find it again.

EDIT: Here it is: https://images.app.goo.gl/U6HJNAkX2s8Mot3Z8

U6HJNAkX2s8Mot3Z8
 
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Redglyph

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I used to be the old way but now mainly in the camp of Solasta and BG3 I think now. In WOTR I do some insane buffing at times :p
That's probably it for me as well. Now I'm more motivated by the discoveries, the story and the quests than subtle optimization, which is a bit sad. Now and then I take the time to enjoy it though.

There's also the level-up part, which is not unrelated to the buff question. That doesn't occur too often, so I take the time. In fact, character creation and level-up are very time-consuming for me - and I know I'm not the only one… :D That's where I find D&D 5E somewhat lacking, at least in the current games vs Pathfinder. To be fair, Owlcat Games pushed that to the limit.

EDIT: 4 votes in the same category so far, conclusion everybody's lazy these days :p
 
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sakichop

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I’m not a huge fan of buffing mainly because it just becomes busy work in most games.

Typically you either use the same buffs every time you encounter a certain enemy or you just cast the same buffs before every fight. It becomes mindless and repetitive.

I prefer either equipment that buffs or buffs that you active and then are always on at a cost of your mana or spell points or whatever system the game uses.
 
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Carnifex

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As someone that takes his time going through games, I'm a huge fan of buffing, making sure the aces are always in their places as much as I can, before an encounter even happens when possible, or shorty after it happens. To not use available buffs just seem rather silly to me.
 
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wolfgrimdark

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...

There's also the level-up part, which is not unrelated to the buff question. That doesn't occur too often, so I take the time. In fact, character creation and level-up are very time-consuming for me - and I know I'm not the only one… :D That's where I find D&D 5E somewhat lacking, at least in the current games vs Pathfinder. To be fair, Owlcat Games pushed that to the limit.

One of my most favorite parts in games is the level up assuming its a game with complex character development. I can remember pausing the game in old games, or now in Pathfinder games, before a big level up so I can get my coffee and sit down and totally enjoy debating every possible option - especially when you get a lot of feat and spell choices.

Character development is one of my favorite aspects of gaming.
 
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Nereida

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I detest buffing when it is assumed and calculated into the game's difficulty and the monster stats. At that point, it's only one more layer of wasting the player's time with unfun shenanigans.

Just adjust the monster stats to not need buffing, and make buffs limited and impactful enough so that you can use them to make a difference.

One of the reasons I grew sick and tired of DnD 3rd/3.5 and so readily embraced 5e, even if it isn't perfect either. I just can't see the appeal on spending 2 minutes buffing every time I rest just so my party can function as intended.

So, buffs, yes, when they are impactful, limited, and it's meaningful to use them. Not as everyday's bread and butter.
 

kborom

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I don't enjoy it so attempt battles without it, and tend to end up with loads of unused scrolls and potions as a result. The main games where I would use it are tactical RPG's and after a defeat I would have an idea of how to win the next time and then I would be would be checking out buffs. I only play one of those a year though.

With you guys on levelling up, seperate topic but it is a big part of roleplaying for me and I tend to be disappointed when the process is basic.
 
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bkrueger

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I voted "Other".

Explanation: The other options somehow assume that a buffing mechanic exists and you can then decide, whether you want to invest more or less busywork in buffing.

My choice is different:

If I see that a game has a mechanic that might end up in busywork if you want to play the game in the best way, then I see this as a reason to vote the game down.

If you have to cast several buffs before you even start a fight, this is such kind off useless busywork for me.

Baldur's Gate 2 was notorious in that (you could buff every character with several buffs before each fight). I hated this aspect, though I liked other aspects still enough to see it as a great game overall.



In order to avoid busywork I prefer one of the following options without ranking:

1. No buffing in the game at all.

2. You have to choose exactly one buff at a time and cannot pile up buffs.

3. The buff is always on, e.g. as an aura, you don't have to activate it before every fight again. (2. and 3. are best implemented in combination: You can have one aura at a time also outside of a fight, so you don't have additional actions before each fight. But you can still decide to use different auras before different fights, if necessary.)

4. Buffing is possible only after the fight starts. So you have to make a trade off between buffing and other actions. This leads to meaningful choices and consequences. In that case I would also accept piling of buffs since every decision for an additional buff means to miss out on other actions, so it is a meaningful tactical decision to make.

If the game system is unfortunately made in a way that you can cast several buffs before a fight, this should be automatable. (Was it in Dragon Age, where you could define a script per character, which executed certain actions automatically when a fight started?). But this is only a workaround which could better be replaced by one of the options above.

Sidenote: In general some game designers confuse a game being hardcore with adding a lot of busywork to the game. For example an eating/drinking mechanism is dumb if it only means to have to do the same actions again and again at certain times without adding anything substantial to the game experience. Similarly arena fights with several rounds, were you have to replay the complete fight with all rounds if you die in the last round, are in reality only dumb busywork. Or if you can only save at certain points and have to replay complete sequences of the game if you die between two such points. Such things make a game longer and therefore "harder" only artificially.
 
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Ripper

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I think buffs are pretty pointless if, as in many games, you're always going to use them, and probably then have to rest to recharge them for the next scrap. That does seem like busywork, to me. TBH, I think most RPGs are not that well-designed in terms of having tactical depth. I think in an ideal tactical game, every move you make should have potential pros and cons. I don't think it's great design if the no-brainer in almost every situation is to spam your buffs, and then find somewhere to have a kip.
 
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lackblogger

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I'm not a buffer for every fight, I think if someone's doing that then they're playing it wrong or the game's borked in some way.

I will always challenge myself to defeat the next encounter with zero buffs and do a few reloads merely trying out different tactics.

When all possible outcomes fail, then I absolutely adore having all the buffing options to play with.

I absolutely love it when I have the occasional "Ohhh, so you want me to go full monty eh? Right, LET'S HAVE IT!!!!"

*Bless
*Prayer
*Recitation
*Bull's Strength
*Protection from Energy
*Protection from Missiles
*Shield of Faith
*Protection from Alignment
*Death Ward
*Resistance
*Haste
*Divine Might
*Divine Power
*Enchant Weapon

SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH

So damn satisfying. Just as long as it's not every fight.

Also, buffs are a great concept, particularly ones that are encounter specific, like Death Ward and Protection from Energy, absolutely what role playing is all about, picking and choosing the right spells for the right encounter rather than dumbed down general buffs that the game assumes you'll have up all the time as if it was equipment.
 
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wolfgrimdark

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I am very glad I asked now as this is great stuff! Easy to exist in a vacuum sometimes with wondering how others view the mechanics.

I also know we have a lot of folks who like tactical playing so was also curious how they would feel about the buffing. While not as tactical as many here I do enjoy having to chose with consequences, i.e. pros and cons.
 
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purpleblob

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Maybe its due to my love for D&D games but I don't find buffing a busy work but just a natural part of combat :)

I usually prebuff the party with the usual stuff like remove fear, protection from poison which has long duration and lasts until I clear the whole local map. Other shorter buffs are saved till tough combat encounters. Works well for me.
 
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Carnifex

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Yeah, I'm right there with Purpleblob1, it's just another mechanic to me, I'm in no hurry to rush through any game, so when I venture into combat, I do it with authority. I want to hit first, smoke the opposition, listen to their women weep, and get on with the treasure hunting!
 
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Zloth

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Like others have said, I like buffs, I just don't like standing around, casting various spells on everybody (sometimes even casting spells on one person so they can cast a spell on another person) multiple times a night. Avoid that tedium with whatever game mechanic works well, and it becomes fun to balance taking buff spell A vs. attack spell B.

P.S. And how the heck did we start using the terms "buff" and "de-buff" anyway?? Was it an Everquest thing?
 
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Carnifex

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That's where I got the term, Zloth. Long live the original Everquest, the very best mmo ever, we'll likely never see anything like that ever again. Those phase three and four times I was lucky enough to play are the best online memories I have, and I doubt that will ever change.
 
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Zloth

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Seems like it was. I never heard the term over in Asheron's Call. Then, as time moved on and everyone moved to the next games, it was suddenly everywhere.
 
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JDR13

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I chose minimal buffing. It's fun to plan for more difficult battles, but you shouldn't have to constantly pre-buff. I usually only try to do it for obvious boss fights.
 
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