Monster Arena is a tournament-style game that takes place over several days, beginning fresh on the first of each month (if you register late, you can catch up without disadvantage). Battles take place automatically each night, so each day you can log in, see how your team did, and prepare them for the next fight.
When you register and enter the game, the first thing to do is to create three warrior characters. Once this is done, you can fight battles in the tournament.
The tournament consists of two phases: the first phase is the preliminary phase, which consists of several preliminary rounds. In each round, you fight a set of computer-generated characters. All players entered in the tournament fight instances of the same computer-generated characters, so you'll never be at an advantage or disadvantage because the characters you fight randomly happened to be stronger or weaker than the ones pitted against other players.
The second phase is the elimination phase. In this phase, players are paired up against each other. If you lose a battle in the elimination phase, you're out. The tournament continues until there is only one undefeated player, who becomes the winner of the tournament.
At the end of each battle, win or lose, you earn gold that can be used to outfit your characters for the next day's battle. You also earn points, which can be used to measure your prowess in the tournament with the other players. The better you do in battle, the more gold and points you earn.
If there is an odd number of players in an elimination round, one of the players will be pitted against computer-generated characters instead of another actual human player. This player will move on to the next round regardless of whether he wins or loses against the computer-generated characters, but of course he will still want to do well in the battle in order to earn as much gold and as many points as possible.
The process of creating and managing your characters is pretty self-explanatory. The genders of your characters have no impact on the game, and the races of your characters only matter in determining their initial statistics. In addition to setting the gender and race of each of your characters, you also have to set its "element" (air, earth, fire, or water). We'll get to how your characters' elements are important later; for now, suffice it to say it's usually a good idea for your three characters to be of different elements.
The three character statistics are strength, constitution, and agility. These values determine how well your characters fare in combat. The purpose of each is quite simple:
Initially, there is an upper limit on how high these three statistics may be set. With special cybernetic upgrades, however, this limit may be raised to permit yourself higher stats.
Finally, each character has a hit point count. In battle, hit points determine how much damage has been taken. When hit points reach zero, the character is out. Initial hit points start out at a flat amount but may be increased with cybernetic upgrades.
Once you've created your characters, the next thing to do is to set them up with equipment. Each character can optionally use one weapon and wear one suit of armor. The strength of a weapon or a suit of armor is indicated by its "class." For example, a staff is a weapon that starts off with a weapon class of 2. It is twice as strong as the dagger, which has a weapon class of 1.
In battle, strength and weapon class effectively amount to the same thing. Strength and weapon class are added together to get the character's attack power, and this is what determines how forcefully he can deliver blows to opponents in battle.
Likewise, constitution and armor class are added together to get the character's defense power, which determines how well characters can sustain blows directed against them.
Once you have purchased a weapon or suit of armor, you can spend some more money to enhance it with magical powers. Here's an overview of the various powers weapons and armor can have:
There are three drawbacks to the use of enchantment. First, each successive point of enchantment costs more than the previous. Second, you can't enchant an item beyond its base class (i.e., you can't go up to (2,+3); if you want a stronger weapon than a (2,+2) staff, you need to sell the staff and buy, for example, a (5,+0) war hammer). Third, and most critically, enchantment is temporary. After each battle, all of your equipment will lose one point of enchantment (unless, of course, it's not enchanted in the first place). Enchantment is cheap, and this is the reason for it.
As with enchantment, each successive statistics bonus costs more than the previous; unlike enchantment, the effect is permanent. Think of a weapon with a +1 strength bonus as essentially equivalent to a permanent point of enchantment.
Note that equipment bonuses are not capped by the statistics ceiling for the character.
A suit of armor with a +2 Earth Defense Bonus will not provide added protection when the character wearing it is attacked by Air, Fire, or Water opponents, but it will increase his defense power by two when an Earth-based opponent attacks.
An item of equipment can't have bonuses for more than one element at the same time. For a service charge, however, you can change the particular element an item of equipment has a bonus for, so you're never locked into an element choice.
In fact, all enchantment and bonuses can be undone for a refund (minus a small service charge), and anything you purchase may be sold back. So it's perfectly feasible to shuffle equipment around between battles as needed. Plus, characters may exchange weapons and armor amongst themselves freely without any charge at all.
Note that after you purchase equipment, your characters still aren't using that equipment. To get a character to wear or wield an item, you need to press the Equip button for that character.
If, at a later time, you want to downgrade or sell an item of equipment, you can do so with a refund, minus a service charge. Note that selling an upgraded item outright will net you the same amount of refund money as selling off the upgrades individually and then selling the item itself. So you never need to be concerned about the best way to sell an item back, because it doesn't matter.
With the Set Strategy button, you can give your characters instructions on how to fight the next match in the tournament. Essentially, all this involves is telling each of your characters which opponent you want him to go after first. For example, you might find it prudent to instruct your strongest character to go after your strongest opponent, to dispatch him as quickly as possible. Or, alternately, you might want to have him go after the weakest opponent and bump him off early, so you can focus on the strongest opponent without the weakest one picking away at you.
The only restriction on the set of instructions you give to your characters is that you can't have all three attack the same character right off the bat. You can have two of them attack the same opponent, but not all three.
If you do not give your characters combat instructions for their next match, they'll abide by a set of default instructions. It might work out, but generally it's best if you issue their instructions yourself.
Normally, battles take place automatically each night. Once you've set up your characters with equipment and given them combat instructions, you can log out. The battle will take place that night, and you can log in the next day to see how it went and prepare your characters for the next match.
The one exception is if you register for the game after the first day, when some of the preliminary matches have already taken place. If this is the case, you'll be told this and given instructions on how to catch up with the other players. Essentially, you'll need to hit the Fight button after you've set them up with equipment and issued their combat instructions. This will cause the next match to take place. When it is over, you'll be able to outfit your characters for the next match right then.
Repeat this process until the Fight button disappears and is replaced by the message that the next match will take place "tonight." At that point, you'll be caught up with the other players in the tournament and ranked among them on the Current Standings page.
Once the preliminary phase of the tournament ends and the elimination phase begins, it's too late to register for the tournament. And if you registered late and haven't caught up with the other players by that time, you won't be able to continue in the tournament. So if you register late, it's important to get caught up before the final preliminary match takes place.
A battle consists, basically, of two teams of characters taking turns hitting each other, until all the characters on one of the teams have been knocked out. In general terms, two factors determine the outcome: who each character attacks, and the amount of damage done per attack. The former was covered earlier; the latter is explained here.
The amount of damage done by a blow delivered in battle is determined by comparing two values: the attacker's attack power, and the defender's defense power. As mentioned earlier, attack power is strength plus weapon class (plus elemental attack bonuses, if applicable). Defense power, similarly, is constitution plus armor class (plus elemental defense bonuses, if applicable).
The attacker's attack power divided by the defender's defense power gives us a value we shall call d. The value d maps directly to the number of hit points that will be inflicted by the blow, as shown in the following chart:
|< 0.5||< 1|
|> 2.0||> 16|
When d is not one of the given values in the above chart, a proportional amount of damage may be done. This may result in a fractional portion of damage being dealt, but only whole points of damage are ever inflicted by a single blow, so the amount of damage done will be rounded up or down.
In a nutshell, the higher the attacker's attack power is in proportion to the defender's defense power, the more damage will be done. But there are diminishing returns: as attack power rises higher and higher above defense power, the damage inflicted increases at a slower and slower rate.
There is one more complication, and that is the effect of agility in battle.
The primary function of agility is to determine how quickly an attacker may deliver blows in combat. A character with six agility will deliver twice as many blows as a character with three agility, but half as many as a character with twelve.
But agility has an effect on how well you can defend incoming blows, too. Let's say you are a character with five agility, and you're being attacked by a character with ten agility. For the first five blows, the rules for calculating attack and defense power applies. On the sixth, however, you're struggling to keep up with defending the incoming blows, and your attacker can take advantage of his greater speed. This is reflected by the attacker's attack power increasing by one. On the seventh blow, it increases by two, and so on, until the tenth blow is delivered with the attacker having an attack power five higher than normal. The cycle resets for the eleventh blow, with the attacker doing normal damage again.
Note that there is no similar adjustment to the figures when a character of low agility attacks a character with a higher agility.
So, in preparing your characters for combat, you want to try to accomplish the following goals as best you can:
After each battle, win or lose, you'll be awarded gold and points, and your characters will have increased statistics. Some rounds of the tournament your characters will get a strength boost, some rounds a constitution boost, and other rounds an agility boost. Your characters will also get an extra point that you'll be able to assign to strength, constitution, or agility as you choose: hit the Edit Stats button for each of your characters to do this. If you don't, those extra points will carry over to the next round and may be assigned then. Normally, you'll want to assign extra points as soon as you get them, so they'll be put to use in the next night's battle.
Note: If strength, constitution, or agility is awarded after a battle, and one of your characters already has the maximum value permitted, this point is lost! Always make sure your maximum statistics ceiling is set to permit the addition of reward statistics points. This value can be checked and increased in the "Cybernetics" area.
The amount of gold and points you win is reduced by the medical expenses your incur by the damage you sustain in battle, so it's not enough merely to win a match: you want to win it as best as you possibly can. If you lose a match, there's nothing you can do to minimize the medical expenses you incur as a result, but you do get more points the more you beat your opponents up before losing.
The gold you win can be spent on upgraded equipment for the next battle. (There's nothing else you can do with gold, so no need to save it for other uses.) In the preliminary rounds, the computer-generated opponents you face will be increasingly strong, so you'll need to strengthen your characters each day to beat them. In the elimination rounds, the other players will be strengthening their own characters, so you'll need to make sure your team keeps up with them.
After the first battle of the tournament has been fought, several results pages will be available to you that will show you how you and everybody else in the tournament is doing. The Current Standings page will show you how you're doing in comparison with everybody else. You'll be able to view the battle histories of each player and reenact any battle you want. During the elimination phase, you'll be able to look at a Match Chart which diagrams which players are paired up to fight against each other.
As stated previously, the elimination phase of the tournament is when the various users entered in the tournament pit their characters against each other. The first round in the elimination phase is the "qualifying round." The winners of the qualifying round will qualify for the tournament; in addition, the highest ranked losers will also qualify. Click here for further details.
Those players who pass the qualifying round will play a series of elimination rounds. Only the winners of an elimination round will move on to the next. When there is only one player left, that player is the winner.
It's important to note that the better you do in the preliminary rounds of the tournament, the better your standing in the elimination phase. Basically, the better you do in the preliminary rounds (as measured by the number of points you have), the weaker the player you'll be paired up with in the qualifying round. Likewise, if you do poorly in the preliminary rounds, you'll be pitted against stronger players in the qualifying round. This is true of the successive elimination rounds as well, although the relative prowess of each player is reassessed after every round.
Match pairings are done this way rather than randomly to ensure that strong players aren't eliminated early just because they were randomly pitted against other strong players.
There is another way in which players in higher standing have a small advantage in the elimination rounds. It was noted previously that if there is an odd number of players in an elimination round, one player will be pitted against computer-generated characters instead of another human opponent. This is essentially a free ticket to the next elimination round, because you will not be eliminated from the tournament even if you lose to the computer-generated characters. The player chosen to be the odd player in an elimination round is basically the player with the most points that hasn't already been the odd player in a previous elimination round. This gives the players who excel most during the tournament a small reward for doing so.
The bottom line is that every match counts. It's important not just to win matches but to win them in the best way you can. And if a match is lost, it should be lost by as narrow a margin as possible.