AdventureQuest Wiki


As with all online games, AdventureQuest (AQ) can be reduced to a set of simple* mechanics and standards, to which every new item and monster must adhere. Given AQ is a single-player game, I'm often asked why we need these standards. They challenge the status quo by arguing that players having overpowered equipment doesn't matter since it won't negatively impact anyone else. However, there are multiple reasons why AQ needs to have these standards:

1). Curtailing Development: The existence of an overpowered item significantly influences future releases. As a simple example, let's pretend an overpowered Fire Melee weapon gets created. That weapon's existence makes it extremely difficult for any other fire weapon released in the future to be competitive. The only way it can be done is to make that Fire Melee weapon as strong or even stronger than the overpowered item. This forces the staff to continue creating more and more powerful weapons in the category, a problem known as runaway powercreep. Problems can run much deeper too. Let's assume our overpowered item is way stronger than any other Fire Melee weapon. Such a scenario makes it incredibly difficult for the Staff to create a boss that provides an appropriate challenge for every player. Base it on the regular weapons and players wielding the overpowered item will find it trivial. If it were based on the overpowered weapon though, players wielding the standard weapons would find it nigh impossible. Trying to strike a compromise between those two scenarios is a nigh impossible task.

2). Player Experience: Overpowered gear doesn't just make things more difficult for the developers. It also has a negative impact on players. The ability to trivialise any boss seems great... for a time. However, player experience will deteriorate over time because no boss can ever come close to challenging them. Certain players even deliberately choose to avoid powerful gear just to keep the game somewhat challenging.

3). Developer Integrity: "So what?" You may say. If an item is really that problematic, the developers could just step in. They certainly could... but having no standard making it very difficult to justify intervening. Arbitrary exceptions (or indeed the complete lack of any standard) would invalidate any justifiable reason for them to step in. And, even if they did anyway, members of the playerbase could (rightly) criticise any change the staff do make because there is no consistent standard items are forced to adhere to.

In other words, the standards aren't just there to make the developer's life a little easier. They are vital to the long-term health of the game.

In this series of blog posts, I'm going to guide you through some of the basic concepts associated with AQ balance. Most of the formulae I'm going to discuss can be found in the Big List of AQ Formulae. However, I'm going to discuss them in more depth, as well as how you can use them for yourself. I'll also point out some of their inconsistencies**.

Before we start, a word of caution. This blog aims to give you an insight into some of the core mechanics of AQ. What it won't do is instantly make you an expert in all things AQ. The only way you can do that is through experience. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend you join the Gogg's Tavern Discord server. It's a place where core game mechanics are regularly discussed. These mechanics will be discussed in depth, and it may take some time for you to fully understand them. I don't recommend going through all of these posts at once.

For a far more in-depth post that describes balance and why it's important, I highly recommend you check out this post by Lorekeeper, one of the AQ staff. The basic principles covered in this post are incredibly important when contributing to any discussion on balance. Any changes made to the game keep the discussed principles in mind.

Visit the Content Hub for other parts of this series

The Player Turn Model[]

At the heart of AQ balance is the Player turn model, also known as the 20-turn model. The premise is simple; the player is assumed to be able to kill two standard monsters in 20 turns without receiving a full heal. Every turn, the player is assumed to deal:

100% Melee [Player Damage] + 20% Melee [SP] + 20% Melee [Pet] = 140% Melee

% Melee is a metric referring to the value of a standard Melee attack (100% Melee = the value of one standard Melee attack). Player Damage refers to the amount of damage dealt directly by the player (i.e. Pressing the attack button). SP relates to damage dealt through SP (skills and guests). Pet damage speaks for itself. When combined, the Player's side is assumed to deal 140% Melee, the same amount as a Monster. This is why you often see /1.4 modifiers on items - monster attacks are worth more than damage dealt by the player directly. However, please note that this isn't the same as what the player actually does for a multitude of reasons.

At this point, Mages will be thinking "Where do spells fit in?". Spells deal 200% Melee (i.e. twice the amount of a standard Melee attack). Mages pay for casting 4 spells in 20 turns by sacrificing 25% of their regular weapon damage (this is why Magic weapons deal less than Melee/Ranged weapons). This subtracted damage is condensed into the MP bar (yes, the MP bar isn't an extra resource so much as damage taken from standard attacks). When you cast a spell, you pay 125% Melee in MP to bring your standard 75% Melee attack up to the value of a Spell. All of this balances within the Player Turn Model over 20 turns:

Warriors + Rangers:           20 * 100       = 2000% Melee
Mages:                 (16 * 75) + (4 * 200) = 2000% Melee

Skills (attacks that cost SP) operate in a somewhat similar way. They deal 200% Melee and you pay SP to bring your standard Weapon damage up to the amount of a Skill. Mages have to pay more when using a skill because they start from a lower baseline - 75% Melee rather than the 100% of Warriors and Rangers. The player regenerates 25% Melee in SP at the start of every round, allowing Warriors/Rangers to use a skill every 4 turns and Mages every 5. This averages out over a 20 turn period:

Warriors + Rangers:      20 Turns / 4 Turns Per Cast * 100% Melee = 500% Melee
Mages:                   20 Turns / 5 Turns Per Cast * 125% Melee = 500% Melee


Some eagle-eyed readers will have already noticed a major problem with the Player Turn model: The Player Turn model assumes players gain 20% Melee in SP each turn, but in the game the player regenerates 25% Melee per turn (98 SP at Level 150). This is one of the major inconsistencies in AQ. Skill costs shouldn't vary depending on your build because, for a Mage, the costs of being able to cast Spells are already taken care of internally within the Player Damage component of the Player Turn formula. The reason they cost more is because they deal the same amount of damage (200% Melee) as their Melee/Ranged based equivalents. Magic Skills should really be dealing 175% Melee to account for Magic Weapon damage being lower. To keep things simple, the developers chose to make all Skills deal 200% Melee in damage. Then, player SP regeneration was increased to allow all builds to output the same amount of SP damage over a 20-turn period. The player gets more SP regeneration than they should, but the system works!

There are other inconsistencies in the model too. For example, Pets are only expected to deal 20% Melee in damage. In most other parts of AQ's balance standards, Pets are assumed to deal twice that (40% Melee). They don't here because the Player Turn model assumes players haven't invested in CHA when estimating the damage Pets are expected to deal. CHA contributes around half of total pet damage, explaining the discrepancy***.

It should be noted that the Player Turn model is exactly that... a model. The player can and almost always does break it over the course of a battle, often more than once. Regenerating HP/MP/SP, casting more than the assumed number of Skills/Spells, and even just taking more or less than 10 turns to kill a monster all deviates from the model. With that said, it remains the core framework upon which every item in the last decade has been created.

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*Yes, this descriptor is doing a LOT of heavy lifting!

**Trust me, there are a lot more than I can discuss in a single blog series!

***The Player Turn model does, however, assume you have CHA when calculating the accuracy of that attack. Some standards can be quite contradictory!