Well, if your SG is focused on combat, my experience is that it is less fun to play a non-combat oriented character. It can still be fun, if you're willing to dig a little and work at it, but if the SG stages several combat encounters per session (because that's what most of the players want)...
There is also the way that a Columbae can use a picture or figurine for marking a target and for this I think they can use Creo Magic or Rego Craft Magic to create it in just one round.
But Tellus is right in mentioning that their focus is more on the defence side.
Don't get me wrong: I agree they are more defensive. But if the enemy just has to stay out of range, he can try ("spam") ranged attacks. Defense has never let anyone win a war. Thus "defensive" IMO doesn't mean "unable to harm".
And since 1 vs1 is the normality of wizard's war (except in the Hibernia if I read correctly TCI), and since not-magi enemies don't care about fair game... the columbae really need something, or allies. If she has allies, I consider boring from a out-of-game perspective when one player cannot do anything (because "defense" and short ranged without mean to counter it) while the others have fun.
But if they can do something like symbolic representation, it's cool too (long time I read their section in HOHS).
But why? I understand that you're contending that's the point of the spell, but your contention allows one to design combat spells that penetrate more easily. A standard Pilum of Fire cast with Wizard's Reach now reaches Sight range, with no attendant lose of penetration. A Sight range version of Pilum of Fire has 5 less penetration. Why does Wizard's Reach get a pass when a properly designed spell doesn't?
So often times at the table balance does come up, when a character does something like this it could conceivably harm another character's concept. The issue isn't what the spell can do, the issue is that the capabilities of the spell need to be hammered out before play begins, or it has to have consensus from everyone at the table. Someone else might be reasonably peeved about this happening after play begins. Metamagic has implications for the entire saga and it needs to be agreed upon by everyone. Why doesn't Penetration change? Should it change to the level of the Muto Vim total? What if that was higher than the original effect? You can go any direction and RAW is relatively silent in this area. Why does Sorcerer's Fork split the level of the spell AND the penetration in half when Wizard's Reach does absolutely nothing but extend the range? There is inconsistency in the realm of metamagic, and perhaps a round of trade off is worth it, or not, it's something ripe for discussion.
Balance shmalance. Ars isn't balanced. But, I was really asking a question of why. So a round is worth 5 points of penetration, like a cheap Life Boost that is slightly harder to pull off? And if you can get spells off at sight, spells like say Ball of Abysmal Flame or the Incantation of Lightning, you're getting them off while the opponent is out of range, which means 2 rounds is almost moot. And what if I have the Reach spell master for fast casting? For 5 xp, I've changed it to two actions in 1 round, reduced my CS for the MuVi by 10, and if it goes off, it doesn't change the penetration of the spell I'm trying to extend the range on?
After all, to make a better PoF you just need more CrIg.
To use Wizard's Reach, you need MuVi as well as your CrIg, and at least a basic understanding of how the system works.
Not all options are equally good? Like I wrote, I consider that a feature, not a bug.
That? Meta magic? Yes, it is a feature. But the system is generally consistent and reliable. Wizard's Boost increases a spell by one magnitude, but leaves the exact result up to the SG. Would it increase or decrease penetration, or have no effect?
The fact that the result is left to the SG is a spell design (flaw IMO). The player choose to use the guideline, and when a guidelin allow him to do multiple things, he has a word in what he wants to achieve.
If I want to use a MuVI (lesser base guideline) to increase by 1 magnitude penetration of my 'form' spell (if they need to be 'form' related, I do not anymore remember, it seem there is an errata about it), I would design my spell with this.
The fact that 2 sets of techform produces a comparable result to a high 1 set of techform is not strange.
To kill a person, you can use base 30 in PeCo. Or you can create sand in its mouth (base 1 ? with finesse to target exactly the right place). Penetration of the latter is more easy. That doesn't mean it's not possible.
And that is the beauty of Ars Magica, isn't it? clever spell design can do many thing, including lowering difficulty to achieve effect.
I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about Wizard's Reach?
Wizard's Reach is a well-designed spell. It does one (fairly well-defined) thing.
Wizard's Boost is not a well-designed spell. Oh, it probably was back when it was introduced (1st or 2nd edition IIRC), but time have left it behind as an unfortunate relic which doesn't live up to the MuVi guidelines (ie. that MuVi spells must be well-defined and do one thing).
Atleast it was errataed to be slightly less silly (now you must have a version per school IIRC), but to be honest, I wanted rid of it.
I wasn't sure. Your use of that wasn't really specific, and I had meandered into meta magic generally, so I was unsure.
It's arguable as to whether it is well defined. Increasing the range is already possible within the rules, meaning you can have a prepared wizard cast his invented sight range Pilum of Flame, or you can let the guy who alters his magic on the fly extend his standard Voice ranged Pilum of Fire to sight.
I'll stipulate that Wizard's Boost is not well designed. I can't figure out what it does, I have to make it up as an SG, or rely on the SG to do something with it when I cast it as a PC. No player wants to do that with any of their spells, they want to know what's going to happen.
There isn't a MuVi effect that increases penetration as a direct consequence of the effect. I'm saying that Wizard's Reach, when used increases the range, and if it doesn't adjust the underlying level of the spell, too, then it is effectively increasing penetration by 5.
In my sagas, spells that put things into the body require a corpus requisite. I suppose you can throw it into the body with finesse, but that suggests a Rego requisite, too. And then there's the issue of keeping it in the body, which the Rego Requisite would solve, I guess.
But, you're looking at a 15th-20th level spell, and unless it is D:Sun, you're not going to harm the person much (see the Deprivation rules). Finally, just putting the sand into the mouth isn't enough, you need to cover the nostrils, or perhaps the lungs, and if we do it to the lungs, I'd really say this should be a Corpus spell with Terram requisites.
Indeed, Wizard's Boost is quite vague as to what it does. But, considering that there are variation of the spell to affect Range, Duration and Target, I would suggest that the effect of Wizard's Boost is to change the Base of the spell.
For spells like Pilum of Fire, it is easy as increasing the Base simply increases the damage of the spell. Most of the bases can be ramped up like that.
Other bases are a bit more difficult, though. Consider a spell that uses the CrCo Base 2 "Preserve a corpse from decay". Increasing the base might be more difficult in such cases.