I have to admit, I was a bit scared when Summoning was first released. JaGex had by then pumped out a few updates that were viewed by many as something to keep us appeased, and I had suspected that this was a bit rushed in. Right away they mentioned that this was the first half of it, and that was a good thing too, apparently. It rained complaints about Shard prices, the impossibility to get a decent amount of Charms without having a Combat level, and for all it would cost, your Familiars were not exactly worth having around. On top of that, they later adapted the Bounty Hunter mini-game where you could not bring your Familiar with you. Which is odd, considering that the Combat level limits for the craters tend to take Summoning into account?
Another thing that was very hard to accept was that you would have to use your Summoning points to "renew" your Familiar's time left in this world. That was ok, but if you had to recharge these points, you relied on uncommon and costly potions, or one of the few Obelisks that were out there. Now, they added mini-obelisks all over the place for your convenience, but no need to renew your Familiar anymore. This seems a bit of overkill to me.
So, what else has changed? They cut the Shard prices in half, Charms drop from many creatures, and more at a time too, and best of all, your Familiars have gotten a huge upgrade. The new additions also allow you to level it easier and cheaper. For example, at level 17 you can summon a level 32 Familiar for just 1 shard, 1 pouch and 1 Proboscis, which is stackable and hence now costs 2k a piece but is very easy to obtain for free.
And now we have Beasts of Burden who provide us with numerous extra inventory spaces and run energy. Familiars who, sometimes invisibly, boost our Hunting, Farming, Fire-making and even Mining by up to 10 (Runite at 75, anyone?). Familiars who help us gather resources. Familiars with amazing special abilities that even go as far as recharging Glory Amulets and several new Teleport locations. And last but not least, Familiars who can help you in combat in every possible way imaginable by holding, draining, hurting, healing, disarming, and even eating your opponent’s food.
The rant section on the official forums was surprisingly empty when batch 2 was released along with the other updates to the skill, which leads me to believe that it is "slightly" overpowered. But still, while I didn't think 1.0 was worth wasting my time on, I am now training it up, because I've never let a good thing slide.
Very much worth mentioning are the graphics of these critters. Already up to par with the monsters that have had their overhaul, I still dont recognize a Familiar when I see one. I catch myself way too often right-clicking and examining it, followed by a quick trip to the Knowledge base to see what it can do, and if I would be interested in using one. And all too often, I do.
And still, one thing keeps bugging me about this skill. You get the most experience by making the pouches and sometimes transforming them into scrolls, but actually using the pouch to summon your Familiar or using his special abilities yields next to nothing. This makes it the second skill that you do not train by using it.
Considering that I did not even start the quest, so my Tears of Guthix would go on Construction instead, I'm now trying to level it as efficiently as possible. I am working on strategies for and against the Familiars that we'll likely see entering the battlefield, and of course also how to train it fastest. It has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for people when duelling, or going to mini-games like Castlewars or Clanwars, and I hope that we'll be able to unlock more Familiars in the future. Where I gave version 1 only a D, Summoning 2.0 gets a B+ from me.
Did You Know...
...that while wearing a Ring of Charos (a), from the Garden of Tranquility quest, the Blast Furnace only costs 1250gp to use? That's half the normal cost. Of course, it's free if you are level 60 Smithing or higher, and also if you're just operating the machine without smelting anything, but you might still get you some Smithing XP. (Thanks to The Tal Shiar Alliance!)
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