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sdbutler80: Thank you all for the suggestions!

I created a spreadsheet (which anyone can modify for the 4 characters) to see how and when you get access to particular skills, posted in another thread, here is the link:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AoxYdn_z85dwdFA0emV1YTJvaF9HcEpQVXpWZVc4TXc#gid=0

This helped me visualize all of your suggestions and see quite quickly what skills I would miss out on. I tried to maximize most skills that matter (but I don't have any use for Dagger or Unarmed for my first playthrough...I get that the Monk probably rocks, but probably better for a 2nd playthrough when I do the Dark path).

I decided I am willing to take a hit to Disarm Traps in exchange for the Bow & Magic of an Archer...just simply that I think I'll have more fun with that class. I'll be sure to invest in Disarm, but it seems like I can do OK with an Archer, just not great...probably more of an issue mid-game and late game than early on, I would suppose; by mid-game I am hoping I can find someone else to pick up the slack on Disarm, or I just won't get every single chest, which is fine with me. I was sorely tempted to go with Paladin instead of Knight, but I decided for my first playthrough I do want a dedicated Tankersaurus, particularly since my other 3 are not tanks.
So, did you pick knight, archer, cleric, sorcerer?
I did; it was a tough debate, and I had it narrowed down to my chosen Knight/Archer/Cleric/Sorcerer -- or its close contenders: Paladin/Archer/Cleric/Sorcerer, Paladin/Thief/Cleric/Sorcerer, or the default Knight/Thief/Cleric/Sorcerer. I punched them all into the spreadsheet to see what I was missing, and weighed the suggestions provided here...and also decided how much I would be disappointed if I couldn't open every chest, and decided it wasn't that much...and I really like the idea of playing an Archer, it is one of my favorite classes in general, across most RPGs.
Post edited September 10, 2013 by sdbutler80
and now the fun can begin :)
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DF1871: M&M 7 can be played with any group depending at your style of play and how much time you are willing to invest.
Yeah, just choose what please you.
You will be a long time with your group, so make it in your playstyle.
You'll prefer having hard times and fun, than easier and boring.

I prefer
1) Ranger,
2) Archer,
3) Paladin (or Knight),
4) Thief (or Monk)
I don't like easy magic, like Sorcerer or Cleric, and I feel alchemy is boring.
I like hybrid, range attack, and close fighting too.
Post edited September 14, 2013 by ERISS
As others have mentioned you can finish the game with any party, so pick one that you like the theme of. That said, the following lower the frustration level:

A cleric with grandmaster body magic can make you immune to death attacks with protection from magic. There are a lot of death attacks later in the game, and they really do insta-kill you without protection from magic cast at grandmaster level (druid can only manage master).

A sorcerer with grandmaster water magic can cast lloyds beacon, which allows you to set five (if I recall correctly) spots that you can teleport too. This is a huge quality of life improvement.

Grandmaster air gives flight and invisibility that have durations measured in hours rather than minutes. Much nicer than druid version.

The big advantage of druid is grandmaster alchemy, which allows you to brew black potions that permanently raise your attributes by 50 points. Throughout the world there are challenge pedastals that award you skill points if you have a high enough attribute. I think you need a druid in your party to have a shot at completing all of them. This isn't a big deal unless you are trying for a high score, which means you don't level up past 10 or 11 and you need all of the skill points that you can get.
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sdbutler80: I'm getting into MM7; have played 6 partway through (but lost it when hard drive died). I really wanted it just as a warm-up for 7 anyway, which sounds more interesting to me, as it is in HoMM3 timeframe which I also have and really enjoyed.

Anyway, I wonder how important tank v. spellcaster v. disarmer of traps is in MM7? I am considering a few different parties, which would be best for someone who knows some about MM series but hasn't played 7 before? (No spoilers!)

* Paladin, Archer, Cleric, Sorcerer -- probably my most highly desirable class, if I can get it to work and don't miss out on much this way...how bad would lack of expert traps and lack of a total melee-focused person hurt me?
-- As a slight variant, I would be willing to substitute Knight in for either Paladin or Archer, and that would be close to my most desired, if a tank is highly recommended for first play through.

* Knight, Thief, Cleric, Sorcerer -- the basic one recommended on the screen, seems to cover all areas. That said, the only reason I would be interested in the Thief class is for traps/perception...can I substitute something else in and still do fine with traps? What would be the best sub to still manage most of the traps in the game?

Also considering Monk, but probably not for my first playthrough. I have heard there is a big decision-point on light v. dark, and I would probably choose light my first time through, if that makes a difference in your first-time recommendations.

Thanks!
My absolute favorite build is all archers with a cleric.
Most fights are real time and you get really good at backing up in twisty caverns while firing in situations also using shooting at an angle and twisting and turning ,you can just feel it plays like an action rpg....sort of. Turn based is there when you feel the need.. (read super challenge fighting some)One of the things that I love about mm6-7,its turned based or real time,nothing else gives it.
Then when the spellcasters are thick or the minotaur lords are impossible to get through, archers get the first level of light magic so you have four casters .Of course the cleric gets all of the light magic spells for anything else you need.
It's the most challenging and fun build in my opinion.
It is what I started with because I play archer types whenever I can, rpgs or mmorpgs.
It's the hardest in many areas but not too hard to learn and the easiest in others.
One of the differences, is that as opposed to a heavy beef party there is a learning curve instead of a leveling curve.
There are a couple of real bottlenecks you need to learn to get through but they are learnable, below the frustration,I quit range,for myself at least.
With the extra speed and master level spells(not grandmaster except for the cleric),it's also tons of fun in turn based mode.
They also get flight and invis,put a bit extra into skill on these and invis will last long enough to quickly get the
job done.
Oh yah, the cleric and sorcerer get exactly the same light spells if you go light,again info right in the manual.
Btw, the solid info I put here is available in the info about each class in the creation mode,the rest is just my opinion.
Post edited October 05, 2013 by Tervvo
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djwinn: As others have mentioned you can finish the game with any party, so pick one that you like the theme of. That said, the following lower the frustration level:

A cleric with grandmaster body magic can make you immune to death attacks with protection from magic. There are a lot of death attacks later in the game, and they really do insta-kill you without protection from magic cast at grandmaster level (druid can only manage master).

A sorcerer with grandmaster water magic can cast lloyds beacon, which allows you to set five (if I recall correctly) spots that you can teleport too. This is a huge quality of life improvement.

Grandmaster air gives flight and invisibility that have durations measured in hours rather than minutes. Much nicer than druid version.

The big advantage of druid is grandmaster alchemy, which allows you to brew black potions that permanently raise your attributes by 50 points. Throughout the world there are challenge pedastals that award you skill points if you have a high enough attribute. I think you need a druid in your party to have a shot at completing all of them. This isn't a big deal unless you are trying for a high score, which means you don't level up past 10 or 11 and you need all of the skill points that you can get.
Master air gives you flight and invis.
As for black potions look for them throughout the land and visit certain magicians and alchemists once a week, by end game you will have high stats.
Post edited October 05, 2013 by Tervvo
That's what he said, though. He means that with GM Air you at least get to use the spell for a while without having to refresh it every 3 sec (Hours instead of minutes)
Sorcerer/Cleric and rest is really whatever, but with such parties... well for me the game loses challenge pretty quick, you basically have access to everything at the highest quality in terms of skills and what you can manage, makes me feel like I am cheating when mid-game you are face-mashing-keyboard to victory by holding your attack button.

That's why I play solo, one character, rest drowned at the start of the game and never used. If you want to have the ultimate experience and get most out of the game, I advise that at least for the second time you consider to play the game.
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so you use the other characters as packing mules or? :p
For a new player, you can't go wrong with Knight/Cleric/Sorcerer/Anything. Knight, Cleric, and Sorc are all the best at what they do, and with those three you are not lacking in any real ability or skill(you can't disarm well, but master earth takes care of that)

I prefer Knight/Ranger/Cleric/Sorc, the ranger adds a lot to the party, adding alot all around. Ranged ability seconded only by the archer, really useful backup magic, suprisingly good fighting(there are a lot of good 1h and 2h axes around, and chain and shield makes them pretty tough), and gm id monster saves some skill points from the point starved sorc.
I played Cleric and Sorcerer x 3.

It's kind of cheating. But I played this game before with standard party. I know that with MM games I get really tired of them sometime in the second half, and cleaning up areas/dungeons by manually slashing monster by monster really gets boring after 1000th time and I lose interest in the game, and kind of abandon it.

So CSSS combo makes finishing the game pretty interesting. Easy, yes. But the beginnning of the game is pretty tough. So it's all balanced in the right way in the end.