Intel Pentium III 800 MHz
256 MB RAM
800 MB free HD space
GeForce 2MX, ATI Radeon 7000, Matrox G550, i82865
ADSL or Cable Modem
Intel Pentium 4 1.5 GHz
512 MB RAM
1.5-2 GB free HD space
GeForce 4, Radeon 9000
DirectX 9.0c or higher
256kpbs DSL or better
Mabinogi is a free* Korean MMO by DevCat and operated by Nexon. I've been playing it since Open beta, and having a lot of fun, but I've noticed no one seems to talk about it here, except for a few posts in the free MMOs thread. It's a unique MMO, and I thought it deserved its own thread.
I've played Korean MMOs, they're just grindfests. Why should I play Mabinogi?
Despite being a Korean MMO, Mabinogi is less of a grind, IMHO, than even popular western MMOs like WoW. I'm not saying you can't grind, you certainly can, but you don't gain much for it. Combat in Mabinogi is very tactical, and if you just attack and mash skills you're going to end up lying on the ground dead in short order no mater how much grinding you've been doing. To beat anything beyond the weakest monsters, you'll have to move around, react to and predict their actions, and match their skills with skills of your own. To put it in perspective, a popular leveling dungeon, Rabbi, contains monsters that are perfectly capable of one shotting any character in the game, but make up for that by being slow and somewhat predictable. A higher level, better skilled character might be able to kill them faster, but a day old character could handle it if he knew what he was doing.
And leveling really does provide minimal benefit. Playing a few hours a day, you could easily reach level 30 in a few weeks. Playing hardcore, you might reach 40 in the same timespan, and this will only provide slight advantages in skills and stats over a level 30.
I'm listening. Tell me about Mabinogi
A popular misconception about Mabinogi is that it's an MMO Harvest moon. This isn't quite true; there are part time jobs and non-combat activities that you can do, and you can level from them, but the emphasis of the game is on combat, and to a lesser extent crafting. What seperates Mabinogi from the rest of the MMO pack are two things; the fast paced and interesting combat system, and the frequent free expansions (called Generations).
To cover the combat system first, in addition to basic melee attacks you learn several melee skills during the tutorial:
Defend: Greatly reduces the damage you take from melee hits, and gives you an opening to hit an enemy as they recover. Takes a second and a half to set up, and you can only walk while it's active. Also, if an enemy could one shot you without defense, they'll probably still beat you to a pulp if you have it up.
Smash: A single, slow attack that hits for high damage and bypasses defense, and will send the target flying backwards. Takes 2 seconds to set up, and you can run around. However, even once it's set up it still takes time to land and can be countered with a normal melee attack.
Counterattack: Returns normal attacks and smash back on the attacker. Takes 1.5 seconds to set up, and you cannot move while it's active. Also consumes stamina quickly as long as it's active.
Windmill: An AoE attack that hits everything in the area. Will break through counterattack, and while defense will reduce the damage the defender takes it doesn't provide the defender with an opening. Takes 1.1 seconds to set up, and you cannot move while it's active. Using windmill also drains 10% of your max health.
Here's a diagram of how the basic melee skills work against each other, from the excellent Mabinogi Combat FAQ
These are just the basic melee skills anyone gets, and winning any fight more challenging than a rat will require you to figure out what your opponent is doing and react. There are also spells and ranged attack skills that complicate things more, and pure melee types can raise the skills for other bonuses (for example, a higher counterattack skill reduces the stamina drain, and a higher windmill skill reduces the load time and increases the range of the AoE).
As for the expansions, the Korean servers are currently at the 8th generation, I believe, and get a new one every 4 months or so. The North American server just patched to the first generation a month ago, and is aiming to localize and update a new generation every two months (but I expect this goal to slip). Each contains new skills, items, areas, and occasionaly new races (Elves and Giants on the Korean server), plus a lengthy storyline quest. The first generation storyline (The Advent of Morrighan) deals with, well, the Goddess Morrighan who sacrificed herself stopping an invasion of the evil fomors long ago. To give you an idea, it took me about three weeks to complete it, and only thanks to the help of my guild, one of the largest on the server.
That combat system sounds really dependent on how much you lag
Yes. Anyone with a horrible connection is not going to have much luck in Mabinogi. Anyone with a decent connection should be able to manage, but having a rock bottom latency will help when things go wrong or let you execute a few special tactics.
For those willing to brave the windows registry to improve performance, this thread
has instructions for disabling Nagle to reduce lag. It doesn't actually improve latency, just keeps your computer from bundling up all the info into decent sized packets before sending. I use it and it does help, but it's not essential for play. Known side effects are an increase in bandwidth used and a large increase in packets (the latter probably only a problem if your local router handles a lot of traffic, for example in a college dorm).
Ok, I'm interested. But how free is it really?
Not very. Oh, you can play the game for free just fine, but there are three big things you can only get from the cash shop.
Rebirth: You can choose to rebirth your character, for a cost of about $8. This lets you recreate your character from scratch, keeping only your skills. Since learning skills costs AP, gained from leveling and aging, this is the only feasible way to get your skills to the highest ranks. However, it also resets your stats, which, in addition to leveling and aging, are also gained slowly from eating food and are therefore not as limited. So over time, players who don't rebirth will have the limited consolation of much higher stats than those that do. It's worth saying that, from what I have heard, the later generations don't include the sort of "power creep" you get in most MMOs, and you'll probably be able to take part in the new areas and monsters even without rebirth.
Premium services: There are three premium services you can buy at about $10/month, or a value pack including all 3 at $15/month. One lets you self-rez once every in game day (36 minutes) and gives you 3 powerful bombs (AoE attack) every real life day. Another increases your bank storage, allows you to carry more, and lets you set up a player shop. And the third gives you one or more special items each day, such as dye for clothes or a pill to untrain a skill (but these items are tradable and can be purchased by non-premium players).
Storyline quests: The most painful one, in my opinion, the storyline quests for the generations are only available when you have atleast one premium service. However, players without a premium service can still participate by helping someone who does.
What kind of character can I be? Can I gimp myself?
At this point (Generation 1) there isn't a lot of diversity in characters. Basic melee, magic, and ranged skills are available, but advanced ones aren't until Generation 2. Currently the most popular character is probably a melee heavy fighter/mage, who can use spells to knock over/interrupt enemies while setting them up for melee combos. Less popular would be magic heavy characters, since killing with pure magic is slower and not viable against fast enemies. Least popular currently are pure archers, who have longer range than mages but suffer greatly if the enemy manages to get into melee, which is hard to prevent. Archers do alright in groups but are very poor at soloing currently.
Generation 2 should include wands, advanced spells, and the arrow revolver skill, making pure mages and archers more feasible.
As for gimping yourself, the only semi-permanent choices you make are learning skills (which can be unlearned with an expensive item). If you're planning on rebirthing occasionally if you like the game, AP for skills isn't a limited commodity. If you don't plan on rebirthing, you'll probably want to be stingy about what skills you raise.
Wait, it asks me what age I want to be. Why does it matter?
Age is a somewhat unique mechanic to Mabinogi. When you create a character or rebirth, you select an age between 10-17 (because it's anime based, har), and every Saturday you age one year. When you age you gain AP (for learning skills) determined by age and stat points equivalent to four levels. Whenever you level up, you gain 1 AP and stats dependent on your current age, so being the right age can help you get stats appropriate for your class.
HP gain is highest at 10-11
Mana gain is highest at 16-20
Stamina and strength gain are mostly the same but drop after 20
Intelligence gain is highest at 21
Dexterity gain is highest at 11-13
In addition, older characters start with better stats, and younger characters gain more AP each time they age. Also, gains from aging drop off sharply after 20 years old, and at 26 you stop gaining anything. My advice would be start at 10 if want to play long term without rebirthing, or don't mind starting very weak in return for a few more AP after rebirthing; but start at 17 if you're just testing the waters and want a strong character starting out, or are planning on rebirthing frequently and want good mage stats in your first life. If you do rebirth, I'd say always be reborn as 10, because you'll gain massive amounts of AP the first few times you age and your already high skills will mean you aren't limited by your low stats.
Is there a Penny Arcade guild?
Not currently. I'm actually CEO of the Penny Arcade EVE Online corp (atleast until the members see this post and realize why I havn't been around much in the last few weeks), and I don't want to try and manage two guilds. I'm currently in the Something Awful guild (biginkorea on the Mari server) and if someone wants to form a PA guild on the Mari server I'll be glad to help out, and maybe even talk to my guild leader about temporarily switching to help you set up. My in-game name is Iantine.
Mabinogi doesn't lend itself to screenshots, but there are a few videos you could check out to get a feel for the game.
Lorna and Pan
A video guide to Mabinogi by a girl and her talking sheep.
a player made youtube video showing all the skills.
Small Golem fight
Another youtube video showing one of the early boss fights.
Last of all, here's a picture of my character Iantine celebrating his completion of the generation 1 main questline.