Calling All Battlemages: Battlemage Keep Bundle Review

May 25, 2018

Preface

It’s that time of year again! Today I’m reviewing the newly released Battlemage’s Keep! This is one interesting bundle! It seems that KI is trying out some new things with it and that fact is apparent right from the get go. Naturally, in the usual Julia Lionflower fashion, expect this review to be as thorough as humanly possible and by that I mean lengthy. So, strap in kids, here we go. Let’s get started!

Let’s Talk New Things

I just wanted to really quickly discuss some of the awsparkly, shiny new features (and by that I mean those we haven’t seen before) available in this bundle.

I was surprised to see the purely cosmetic version of the wand also land in my gift tab. A feature touted by the bundle is the ability to switch the colors of the wand, but I assumed that would be through dying. However, this addition is actually the way that that is intended to work. Once you redeem this “cosmetic” version of the armaments seven different color options land in your backpack! These are seven independent [stats-less] wand skins, which does present the possibility that if you like the look enough, you can spread them to your other wizards as well! On the other hand this does mean more wands sitting in your backpack…which, for someone who is usually out of backpack and bank space (I’m a hoarder, we’ve covered this) was a little bit annoying. Looks like my Battlemage Keep is destined to have an armament wall…

In that same vein is the addition of 100 crowns for wand stitching. This is actually a thoughtful touch in my opinion, because this is the first bundle with a wand with different color options included in addition to the usual fun of stitching your bundle wands. Clearly KI wants to encourage players to try out this new method, but they could’ve easily just left the first color stitch completely up to the player to fund.

Outfit | Battlemage’s Attire

So somehow I argued with a max balance *cough* Catherine *cough cough* for 15 minutes who was somehow under the impression the stats on this gear were better than the Darkmoor gear combo she’s wearing. Spoiler alert: they aren’t.

I mean, let’s be real here, bundle gear stats don’t wow players very often. However, I will say that they’re somewhat intriguing for lower levels. I really feel like they aren’t too bad an option for a player that wants an easy method of attaining universal damage gear (and a smidge of universal resist). The cards available on the gear are also all useful for lower levels. I’m definitely gonna be testing these out on my level 50!

In terms of aesthetics I’m not particularly impressed by this one. Granted, that that’s based purely on personal preference. If I had to describe it, the KingsIsle design team really wanted to amp up the medieval tone of the bundle, delivering an armor similar (but more elaborate) than that found in Avalon. It definitely appears that the female and male sets are the same in terms of appearance. As I’ve stated before, I’m down for the armored look, but, essentially, I don’t like it when my female character looks like a dude. Could this be jazzed up and nudged in a more feminine direction? I think it is possible and I will be trying it (expect that article soon! #shamelessplug #ad #keepreadingoursiteplz). In terms of things I did like about the looks of this new gear, once again, all the detail that was packed into it is just awesome.

Look at all those little scale details!

Wand | Battlemage Staff and Shield

Let’s talk about the 120 maycasts because they are indeed interesting. They seem to be both accelerated pip gain and decelerated/halted pip gain which is a very intriguing concept. Pvp is all about pip gain and management and in high level pvp pips (and obviously the spells they lead to) can be the difference between a quick loss or a quick win. I’m excited to see if this is a hint of utility spells to come in the future.

Stats for low level wands rival the pack dropped skull wands, exchanging school specific damage for 6% universal damage. However, they don’t have the maycast or the smidge of piercing so that’s definitely something to weigh in your choice of low level wands.

The Death color variation of this wand is by far my favorite!

Pet | Wargoyle Pet

This pet is cute in the way that all babies animals are: a little chubby, a little sleepy and, in the case of this “wargoyle”, a little sneezy. (And when this guy sneezes, he spouts fire! Definitely a pet to keep away from new books and parchment…and crafting ingredients…and the wood parts of your house…Could this be the reason why the new Keep is primarily made of stone? Discuss.) This is by far my favorite aspect of this little flying pet. It’s very endearing.

Mount | Battle Havox

A fun feature of this mount is its dye-ability! I’ll admit, I was a tinge disappointed that the only aspect of the mount that changes is the light of the runes. However, I’m hoping this is just the start of more dyeable mounts to come! Regardless of the fact that they’re small, the color changing scale runes are really neat to behold in different hues. Light blue is, in my opinion, the best match for this mount aside from red.

The extra damage is cool and definitely is especially of benefit to more aggressive wizarding schools like storm and fire. As the boost is only 2% so on lower levels this will be a more apparent benefit, where on higher levels it’s really just a drop in the puddle. However, drops do still make the puddle bigger, so….useful all around really?

Here you can see my Havox’s dyed light blue scale runes!

House | Battlemage Keep

First Impressions:

  • Super pretty castle from a distance.
  • Love the teleporter up to the door!
  • I will say that this place is a bit of a nightmare for those players whose fear of heights extends into the virtual. I was good until I reached the pvp arena which is honestly so scary to run around the edge of.
  • Gorgeous secret water walkway!
  • The fact that the secret door to the kitchen isn’t the center arch of the wall it’s a part of annoys my OCD.
  • The island in the kitchen is a little too high for my wizard and that’s just not functional.

This castle is so tall I can’t even get a good screenshot of the top!

General Aesthetic Overview

Positives

The exterior of this place is so aesthetically gorgeous to look at from a distance. In terms of texturing and smoothness this castle really shows how far we’ve come from the “Massive Fantasy Palace”. That said, this house actually reminds me a lot of a sort of upgraded, less dark and dragon-y heavily themed Wizard’s Watchtower, which is great for decorators. With the “Watchtower” I feel like decorators get kind of pigeon-holed into one set style of decor and are constrained by the tight space of the house. Here, that’s not an issue at all. There’s a ton of space for decorating and the aesthetics of the house are simple enough to adapt to many different decor styles.

The walls and floors of the interior are naturally very pleasing, thus rendering flooring and wallpaper switches super necessary unless you really want to switch things up. My favorite room is the “living room” area with the fireplace. I just love the flooring design in there!

The lighting in the main hall is also really a notable part of this house for me! I love what they did with the windows!

Look at that gorgeous window light effect in the main hall!

Negatives

This really just applies to the basement area, but, if you’re decorating the kitchen like I am, you spend a lot of time there: Guys, there’s so. much. stone. everywhere. It’s in the walls and the floor and the ceiling too! This isn’t a huge issue and frankly, yes, it is a little nitpicky but geez guys. I get that we’re going for a genuine medieval castle look here but the sheer amount of tightly packed stone is a little overwhelming (larger stone blocks making up flooring and walls are a little easier to take in than small, brick-like blocks- do I sound like I’ve thought about this too much? Perhaps). Luckily floors can be changed, so it’s time to get out all those different floor tiles you’ve been hoarding saving!

Another sort of nitpicky comment I have (see you know the house is good when I’m reduced to just nitpicking the snot out of it) is about the columns in the house. This sort of grecian style is probably my least favorite in the game, just because I don’t think they’re very good looking in terms of texturing. The columns are featured primarily in the main hall and clearly are supposed to mirror the marble-esque floors of the house, but they don’t utilize the same textures/style that makes the floors look so good. Unfortunately, they’re also a part of the construction of the house, so you can’t swap them for something more in your vein.

You get a stone and you get a stone and you get a stone!

Spacial Awareness

In comparison to the other bundle homes I would say this one is on the larger side. It also can cater to both an indoor and outdoor decorator. The outdoor space is on the partitioned side (as opposed to being an open, flat area), but isn’t terribly confusing to navigate.

In terms of rooms this house does not disappoint- there are so many! Sometimes having a huge house with tons of decorating space can be maze-like. Luckily I didn’t have any problems with this! I really feel like the rooms really have a logic/intention to them. This kind of structure is great for decorators like me who shoot for realism. Sizes of rooms do range, but it’s really just from large to even larger.

In addition to my usual discussion in this section, I also wanted to mention the pvp arena in this house. This is not an arena where you can have a bunch of people watching the fight. The area around the actual dueling circle is minuscule to the point it’s tough to navigate around without getting caught in the circle when you’re just up there by yourself. Definitely an arena to use just for personal training! or more cozy fights to the death…

Isn’t that an incredible view?

My Kind of Kitchen

Most of the bundle homes feature a special npc or special object that gives daily prizes to the player. In this house it’s a “Prize Cauldron”! The whole room is actually styled like a castle kitchen with a large center island. To find it head down into the basement of the Keep and use the secret door on the opposing wall from the stairway opening. I just love this one because, in fact, the castle kitchens would be down in the basement area. I am honestly so beyond excited to decorate this! I’m definitely gonna have some fun decorating down here!

Conclusion

My recommendation in terms of the stats is to either try this out on your lower levels (even then, I actually found that the Abyssal gear from the Fantastic Voyage bundle has better universal resist) or the wand on your high level if you want to test out the new features. Otherwise, I wouldn’t spring for this solely because of the stats.

In terms of aesthetics, this really feels a lot like a bundle for the guys. Its components are definitely very masculine in tone, from the spiny mount to the armor of the robe. (That’s not to say that us gals can’t enjoy this one though) The house, though, really sets itself apart from the rest of the bundle. I think KI really hit the mark in between mystical and standard castle, creating a house just generic enough (and I really mean that in the best way) that it can suit lots of decorating styles.

All in all, this a really cool little bundle. I can actually appreciate that it seems to be a little more geared towards the guys, as many past bundles have probably been a little too delicate of a package for them. I’ve been having fun running around scaring people on my giant Havox! I was also super happy to see some new features debut in this bundle and I hope that it’s a sign of things to come! It’s about time the structure of bundles had an update! My favorite part of this was by far the house. As I mentioned, the design is just so flexible- I’ve already started decorating!

Isn’t this the prettiest water path!

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