Lately my thoughts keep turning to henchmen when I play. Quite simply I don't use them because I currently don't need to. It's super easy for me personally to fill a group with my four accounts. I have level 60 healers on a couple of different accounts. What I realize though is that I'm abnormal. Seriously. LOL.
Most people in Wizard101 are running only one account. When I ran through the test realm in Zafaria, I did this. I avoided loading multiple accounts. I wanted to experience what the game would be like solo as a necromancer. Truth is that there were a couple pinch points and henchmen came in handy in the Test realm. Case in point, the healing fight with Tim-Tim Snakeeye. I dropped those test realm crowns for three level 70 Life henchmen and suddenly the fight was cake. There was also a point in the Drum Jungle when a group of Myth casting spider monkeys were irritating me, and so I dropped the test realm crowns for three level 70 storm henchmen and burned through the fight.
Would I do that on the real realm? Nah. BUT, you know what would make me do something like that on the real realms of The Spiral? I think I know . . . let me explain.
Henchmen aren't a new idea in games. My first experience with them was in Guild Wars. In Guild Wars, all areas are tuned to group play. In every zone, you'll find a series of henchmen lining the walls just waiting to be hired out. I don't even think there's a cost for henchmen in Guild Wars . . . the only cost is that they will take a portion of your loot when you use them. That really isn't a problem. Once you select a henchmen to play with you, then tend to stick around in the group until you remove them. It isn't like you summon them for each fight like you do in Wizard101.
My second experience with henchmen is with Dungeons and Dragons online. In DDO, there's a cost to henchmen use and when you purchase them, you purchase them for an hour. Your first hireling will cost some platinum to hire out and you can only summon them at the entrance of an instance. Any additional henchmen you put in your party will cost DDO points (like crowns) and may be summoned at any time in an instance. You can have as many as five hirelings if you're soloing.
Their cost? Well, they all cost 40 DDO points or less. There really isn't price scaling like what was recently introduced in Wizard101. Of course, it's also capped for free to play players so you can't summon a hireling that is higher level than you. (I believe subscription players can summon hirelings that are up to two levels higher then you are.)
In DDO, if I finish an instance early, I still have the hireling sitting in my inventory with a timer on it. (Think mounts with a timer on it in Wizard101--they sit in your inventory with a timer until they expire).
If Wizard101's henchmen sat in your inventory for the span of an hour after purchase, and I could summon them and de-summon them from combat, I think people would buy them and use them all the time (especially at their current cost).
I do think you would have to allow for them to be de-summoned with a toggle button since that's one of the main gripes I currently hear with henchmen use (outside of locked instances). How many times have you seen friends port into a fight where henchmen are being used and feel disappointed they can't join the fun? We need the ability to de-summon henchmen to allow friends in if they show up to play with us.
What are your thoughts on how to improve henchmen? Have you experienced their use in other games and liked it more than how it's used in Wizard101?
To me, it's just simply not on par to have a one-use, one-fight Level 70 henchman cost as much as a Wyvern Hoard pack. Or maybe I'm wrong, what do you think?