…It is time to discuss….DEATH!!!! (or at least combat)

By on October 21, 2009 8:04:11 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Starting next Monday, we begin work internally on the Elemental combat system.  It won’t see the light of day for months (tactical combat part anyway).  But this is the place to discuss how you would like it to work.

Right now, a unit has Attack, Defense, Hitpoints, and speed.  It’s very straight forward. When in battle, other factors come into play too (range of attack, height, and cover).

But obviously there are a lot of other factors that could be looked at.  Blunt weapons vs. Cutting weapons for instance.  My personal inclination is to stay away from damage types because they add a lot of complexity without really giving back a lot of fun (in my opinion).  I’m sure there are those who will disagree but we’ll have to agree to disagree there and perhaps damage types can be made something available to modders later.

I would like to see experience be used more than as simply a modifier to attack and defense and HP.  I don’t mean when you train your units (which gives them more HP) but I mean real combat experience causing them to simply be better at combat but we have not yet come up with a way to convey this well in the game.

I would also like to see Mobility be taken into effect somehow in combat.  The Mongols conquered much of the known world because they were strictly a mobile army that could easily outflank their infantry-heavy opponents. How to convey this to players is again, a challenge that would have to be dealt with.

What would you guys like to see?

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October 21, 2009 8:14:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

From MoM I recall ToHit and ToDefend stats that had very interesting effects, as well as the Resistance stat.

Edit:

There's also cool things like "First Strike", "Breath Weapon", "Armor Piercing", "Illusion Attack".  How do you feel about that sort of thing?

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October 21, 2009 8:16:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So Damage Types like "Ice" and "Fire" and "Electric" won't be in? Without Damage Types you won't have monsters or units that are "weak" against certain types of damage. That's pretty sad in a game that should have multiple ways to hurt your enemy in combat Imo.

I really, REALLY, think you should include damage types. Not including them is the lazy way out don't you think? Especially in a game where you have a vast library of spells at your disposal that all do different things. A Ice Spell should hurt a fire creature more then a Fire Spell. That's just common sense to me and I honestly think a Lot of other Fantasy Game players feel the same way. Leaving out Damage Types is a big mistake.

As for mobility that should be pretty simple. If the field of combat is implemented in a grid system then certain units can or should be able to move more "Squares" per turn then others. Obviously mounted units would be able to move closer to an enemy in one turn then infantry types would. Example:

Infantry = 3 Squares per turn in combat

Mounted = 6 Squares per turn in combat

Flying = 9 Squares per turn in combat

Terrain can also play a Large part in mobility. Swampland would slow down a unit moving through it or take more "movement points" to move through while Flying units wouldn't be affected at all.

Edit: on a side note, just because the game is Highly Moddable doesn't mean you should rely on Modders to make the game fun or to do your work for you. (Not that I think you'd do that)

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October 21, 2009 8:19:12 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I would like a medal system, where the way you win the battle or perhaps where earns troops trinkets. Example Medal of mountain for winning a number of mountain battles, then this group would get a bonus for mountain fights. Perhaps have 3 slots for medals and you choose what to use. Even coward medal for fleeing that earns you a better chance to flee but has a neg effect too. Just some random thoughts!

 

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October 21, 2009 8:21:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You don't have to go hog wild with damage types, but at least some kind of distinction between physical and magic damage would help.

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October 21, 2009 8:26:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If you can make combat like Age of Wonders, I'll be pleased. That was the series real strong point. Just the single units were a bit of a letdown. But other than that it is a good sysem to start from.

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October 21, 2009 8:29:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I asked this a fair while ago but i had no response. Can you modify the combat mechanics? I developed my own combat system a while ago and i'd like to implement it in elemental. Is this possible without too much of a headache?

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October 21, 2009 8:32:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A good way to utilize experience would be to implement tatical formations and manuvers.

For example a group of sword and shield infantry could form a shield wall front line that would reduce damage from direct front attacks and some ranged attacks (arrow protection). As the units gain more experience the damge reduction could be increased as they learn these formations better.

Also as units gain experience advanced manuvers for dealing with diffrent types of units could be intoduced or unlocked. The infanty could learn to dismount riders giving them a large advantage to mounted units.

This would also allow for some really great mods in the future.

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October 21, 2009 8:38:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmmmm..... combat is one part of games I really don't care about..... I enjoy complexity, but I don't want TC to upstage other parts of the game.... like MODDING.

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October 21, 2009 8:59:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As far as damage types go, I agree that only one physical type is necessary. More than that is just tedious. However, I think that it would be wise to include at least one magical damage type, if not multiple elemental damage types. After all, the game IS called Elemental.

To make tactical battles interesting, there has to be a noticeable difference between battle results of a poorly planned and executed battle and a well-executed, sound battle plan. I want to know that if I'm attacking an archer, the speed of my unit is important to be able to close the distance and minimize the number of ranged attacks I recieve. Also, if there is a heavily armored knight, I want there to be a major difference between having my infantry attack it, versus casting a spell which the knight may be weak against. Each unit should have weaknesses that need to be exploited for tactical mastery.

Here are some possible factors to balance during combat. Having multiple dimensions of stats, rather than just a bunch of modifiers to a few stats, provides for much more diverse combat.

Attack/Defense

Magic Power/Magic Resistance (perhaps one for each element)

Missile Range/Movement Speed

Things like altitude, cover, and even experience, often just modify these stats, which is only slightly interesting to me. The interesting decisions are the ones where you can use a unit's magic power to counter a unit with high defense. Even having city walls and towers are only interesting if there are strategic ways counter them that would lead to varied battle strategies. Having seige engines or having flying units be able to open a gate adds variety, rather than just making the defense of units behind the walls higher. That's not to say we don't need modifiers to the base stats (far from it), but I would like to see more time spent trying to balance the different types of stats and strategic options, rather than just tweaking the units' attack and defense.

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October 21, 2009 9:03:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What I want to see are formations and definitely a system which allows you to take advantage of mobile forces.  Both of these were a huge part of A Song of Ice and fire, and since this game is influenced by the series it should reflect that.

btw, great idea, NuclearEngine!  something like that would make my day.

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October 21, 2009 9:32:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One thing I would like to see that isn't used very often is guys fleeing due to low morale. That way enemies can be scary. This is something that can be tied to experience. I'm not talking about a magical spell called 'cause fear', I mean good old fashioned, 'those guys are better than us' type of fear.

One reason I like this is because it adds a measure of uncertainty and tension if you don't know exactly how well you can control your troops. It's kinda realistic too.

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October 21, 2009 9:40:10 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting rho_,
...there has to be a noticeable difference between battle results of a poorly planned and executed battle and a well-executed, sound battle plan...

I agree, and recommend that both the Clausewitz'ian massing at the enemy's hub-of-all-power/center of gravity and the Sun Tzu 'vian divide and conquer methods of total combat be balanced and achievable within Elemental game mechanics. This would be incredibly difficult but if achieved it would provide a unique and rare gaming experience... the assured superiority of Clausewitz'ian rushes taint far too many games imo.

... I also submit that when an attritted but successful unit is given experience, it should be a smaller/more effective unit... until reinforced, in which case the experience should be ameliorated to a comparable degree.

... mobility allowed the Mongols to unhinge their opponents plans/operations and tactics - the fog of war could be used to partially replicate this Mongol advantage, while it would be prohibitive to make their opponents fog of war stronger, perhaps it would be possible to lessen the impact of the fog of war on a Mongol player... in this manner, it would be up to the Mongol player to both discern and then take advantage of what he glimpses in his reduced fog of war, be it an enemy's geographically separated main body of troops or a vulnerable but valuable territorial prize...

 

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October 21, 2009 9:41:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Raven X,
So Damage Types like "Ice" and "Fire" and "Electric" won't be in? Without Damage Types you won't have monsters or units that are "weak" against certain types of damage. That's kinda sad in a game that should have multiples ways to hurt your enemy in combat Imo.

I really, REALLY, think you should include damage types. Not including them is the lazy way out don't you think? Especially in a game where you have a vast library of spells at your disposal that all do different things. A Ice Spell should hurt a fire creature more then a Fire Spell. That's just common sense to me and I honestly think a Lot of other Fantasy Game players feel the same way. Leaving out Damage Types is a big mistake.

I think I agree with this. If there are no damage types, then you fall back to your favorite damage spell and you don't have to learn about the different enemies you face. The learning process should last a good while to keep the game interesting.

Also, damage types can provide a mechanism to punish a player for being too specialized and ignoring his options. It provides some risk to being a powerful one trick pony.

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October 21, 2009 9:57:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting cephalo,

I think I agree with this. If there are no damage types, then you fall back to your favorite damage spell and you don't have to learn about the different enemies you face. The learning process should last a good while to keep the game interesting.

Also, damage types can provide a mechanism to punish a player for being too specialized and ignoring his options. It provides some risk to being a powerful one trick pony.

Definitely!!!

Also, didn't Gal Civ 2 have damage "types"? I believe it had Phaser/Laser, Mass Driver, and Missile types. All these affected the target in Different ways.

Even at a very basic level Elemental needs to make a distinction between Physical and Magical Damage.

In unit design if we can imbue our troops with Magical abilities I would imbue a number of caster units with "Fire" to fight a enemy from a cold climate or one that lives in a snow environment. Reverse that if my empire is based in a colder climate and my enemies come from hot tropical zones. Utilizing Damage Types brings a Lot of Diversification and Strategy to the game for Combat. I still think it's a HUGE mistake to leave out Damage Types.

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October 21, 2009 9:59:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

For unit experience, some ideas:

- they don't get more hitpoints, but they can do more things. Maybe better formations that are good offense/defense so experienced units are better at flanking or avoiding flanking

- better morale, they don't flee or suffer reduction in abilities as readily. This could apply to zones of control where experienced units are better at battles outside of the friendly confines of your own territory.

- better or more varied terrain advantages. Experienced units know how to use that forest, mud, whatever more to their advantage than inexperienced units.

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October 21, 2009 10:00:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Firstly regarding flanking. If the mounted units or any units for that matter (mounted would be easier with better speed) manage to get in behind the enemy and attack from the side or rear than they should get a bonus. Even if you don't implement some kind of facing direction for the units it could still work with the units defaulting in a forwards facing direction. An attack from behind would automatically change the units facing though otherwise the recipent of the attack would get the same bonus when they responded.



Secondly regarding damage types. I agree with some of the other posters, magic damage types is very important. Probably not slashing, piercing, blunt etc but magic damage types and magic resistance.

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October 21, 2009 10:02:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm hoping we see weapon types with different bonuses (pikes get a bonus against mounted units, for example). I'm also hoping we see unit enchantments and buffs that can grant weapon bonuses (like poisons that do damage for a few turns after they land).

You could also be able to make weapons with damage types (fire/lightning, etc), and armor that gives protection from those.

Nothing fancy, but it makes the system a lot more dynanmic then straight attack/defense/HP. That's just too basic on its own, IMO.

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October 21, 2009 10:03:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd like to see a system where light infantry / cavalry have a chance to evade when charged and heavies can counter-charge.  Heavy infantry under attack from missile fire may have a 'shield wall' option, while lights have a 'skirmish order' option. Infantry could close up when charged by cavalry and so on.

I think a system that manages this would have a really nice ebb and flow to it.  Experience could be factored in by giving units better chances to react based on experience levels (isn't that what experience is all about?)

In terms of implementation, maybe it could be done by placing units in a 'ready' (overwatch?) mode if they have enough movement left, or simply make it a 'bonus' move if they've already moved, but make the unit more tired.

Tiredness - that's something I'd like to see added.  Units that charge too much get winded and lose effectiveness.  This could be a great tactic for mobile armies - force the other guy to chase you around until he's exhausted.

And one more thing - flank and rear attacks should be devastating against units (but maybe not monsters).

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October 21, 2009 10:19:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As for upgrades when levelling, I think it would be fun to have a feats/traits system, where every level or once every X levels you gain some sort of unique "power". Check out Elven Legacy for examples. When units level up, the elves can pick say, extra attack or defense while in forests. Or an archer unit can make premptive shots against everyone attacking them for a round or two. Longer range than normal. And so on. It might be useful to make spears feel different from axes... for example, you could give axe-men the unique shieldbreaker feat available, spearmen could gain a ZOMG kill horsies power. Or whatever.

An easy way to make mobility matter would be to have facing matter, so that attacking from the side/rear gives bigger bonuses to attack. A horse archer unit could zoom along the side of the battlefield to attack from their sides. I guess the size of the battlefield and range of archers would be important things to consider too.

I'm surprised to read that you don't like different damage types, since GalCiv2 had the laser/missile/gunthingy damage types. Did I miss a post about you turning against it?

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October 21, 2009 10:24:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If different damage types are not implemented, then it is crucial for the sake of strategic diversity to give different types of weapons some sort of distinction. I think that the best way to do this is to give different weapon types (and even individual weapons) some kind of special bonus. For instance, cavalry lances should provide a bonus on charge, one handed swords should increase defence (parrying bonus), and warhammers should have some degree of armor penetration. In addition, some weapons should have abilities that can be used in battle, such as special formations; some of these abilities should only be unlocked if the unit is sufficiently trained upon creation. Examples of these would be a phlanax formation for wielders of long spears that would skewer any units charging the it, but leave it vulnerable on the flanks; troops armed with pavises should be able to plant them in the ground, thus greatly increasing their resistance to ranged attacks at the expense of being immobile. I think that this system has the advantage of being straight-forward and intuitive, while creating an interesting system of counters between units.

In addition, I believe that the current set of unit stats is much too restrictive. More ways to costumize your units should be added, like giving them more attacks per turn. In addition, I believe that an fatigue stat should be added, which will be affected by the type of armor worn by the unit, and increase as the unit gains experience. The stat will affect the amount of activity a unit can endure in combat before getting exhausted (which would mean a great penalty to attack, defence and movement). This would be repsresented in combat by a fatigue bar, which would be higher according to the endurance of the unit (or drain more slowly?), and will be reduced every time a unit moves or attacks; different kinds of movement and attacks should drain a different amount of fatigue. The main advantage of adding fatigue is that it balances small elite armies against large swarms of angry peseants, because even a mighty knight would eventually run out of juice and be overwhelmed by the filthy lower classes. Another stat that would add depth to the small elite/large swarm dynamic would be morale. By adding morale, a smaller army could win the battle simply by scaring the unexperienced troops of the enemy, allowing it to triumph without taking on the entire enemy army by itself.

As for the advantage of experience, I believe that the most fun solution is to unlock new abilities for a unit, much like the ones granted by special armaments. For instance, experienced knights should be given a "fight on!" ability, which replenishes their fatigue but can only be triggered while in close combat; infantry units could be given a forced march ability, providing a free move at the cost of fatigue; fast cavalry or fliers can be given an ability to disentangle themselves from melee without incuring additional casualties (this assumes that units can't simplt waltz in and out of combat like in MoM);  archers can unlock a "darken the skies" ability, which lets them rapidely shoot several volleys of arrows at the cost of ammunition and fatigue. All in all, I think that unlockable abilities not only add strategic depth, but are also a very fun interactive mechanic (much more fun than a flat bonus to stats. Math is boring! ), and in addition, abilities reinforce the RPG vein of Elemental.

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October 21, 2009 10:26:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Advancement:

1) I'd say more advanced troops could unlock tactical maneuvers that gave various bonuses, reducing opponents defenses, or increasing attack or damage

2) On a more individualized basis, it might be possible to unlock special abilities through advancement.. just pull out a d20 3.5 book and thumb through the feats section or look at some prestige classes.  Things like parrying, raging, power attacks are all good examples of things that could be unlocked by leveling.

Mobility:

Mobility should be important, the easiest way to achieve this is to consider options such as attacking an opponent from the back or side would bypass some of their defenses.  Terrain should hinder movement, which could give an advantage to more advanced troops who do not receive penalties or as severe penalties for rough terrain.

In MOM it might have been cheezy but a significant portion of my strategy was to out maneuver the opponents until the battle ended in a "draw."  While this is not what was intended by "tactical battles" it still played an important part of the game.

Damage Types:

I tend to concur that piercing, slashing, bludgeoning damage types create unnecessary minutia that could reduce game enjoyment for minor advantages in some circumstances; that said, the game being elemental, there probably should be some creatures more vulnerable or resistant to magic and preferably each element of magic.  This coding could also open up the door for mod’ing:

Damage type (Physical/Magical): Physical Subtype (Basic/TBD) Magical Subtype (Fire/Air/Earth/Water/Life/Death).  Something like the preceding allows the dev team to leave all physical damage basic to start but open to amendment.

 

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October 21, 2009 10:47:32 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I agree there should be multiple damage types for magic.

One idea I have is that there should be a "Ready Attack'/ Retaliate option.  When a player has a unit use it, unit can no longer be given an attack or move order for that turn(and a unit can ready an attack if it has moved or attacked.  The next time an enemy unit enters moves into combat range or attacks unit, the readied unit automatically attacks.  This attack would take place the instant the condition is met.  In the case of enemy unit moving into combat range the attack interupts the enemy's move action.  Once the attack is complete the enemy may resume their move action.  In the case of being attacked, the unit's attack takes place before the enemy's.  If the enemy survives, they execute their attack.  To take this a bit farther, different weapons could modify the damage done by a readied attack, such as double damage for spears( reflect their reach advantage and how they can be set against a charge).

The result of that would be making spears effective against charging units such as calvary without needing a special damage type.  The downside is that it would make defense a very powerful option so there needs to be a way around it.  One way could be requice the player to specify the direction the unit is facing and then only let the readied attack happen in that direction.  There could also be a damage bonus for an unit that attacks a readied unit in a direction other than the one it is readied against.  Say double damage for attack the sides of a readied unit and triple damage for attacking from behind it.

For mobility, what about letting some units move after attacking?  Say a unit with a move speed of 5, it moves three and attacks then moves back two.  This could apply to all mounted units or be special training units recieve.  This would let mounted archers wear away an entrenched enemy like the Mongols played hit and run.  However, mounted archers should have less range than infantry ones.

Now if my two ideas are combined, the result would be interesting.  Mounted archers could wear down any melee infantry that go defensive and ready attacks.  If the infantry to move to attack, the mounted archers can retreat or have other mounted units attack the infantry while they don't have attacks readied.  By having the range of a mounted archer be less than an infantry archer, the infantry archer could ready an attack from behind a melee infantry unit and do damage to the mounted archer.  The problem then would be a massed amount of infantry archers behind spear using infantry being very hard to beat for mounted archers.  One solution could be using magci to 'break' the redied action of enemy units vie a spell that induces fear or extreme pain.

Another solution, and my third idea, would be to let completly mounted armies break off and leave the battle at will.  There should be a few conditions or course, such as the enemy having no mounted units or if they do have mounted units over 50% of their units have readied an attack and thus cannot pursue.

Another way to have tactics would be having map position influence tactical battle starting position.  If multiple stack can be in battle based on being adjacent to/touching the primary attacker/defender, then flanking situations(or defensive ones) can be set up.  An example would be attack an enemy with an infantry army from the east and a mounted army from the west.  You would then start on both sides of your enemy in a tactical battle.  There should also be an option that you set for a unit stack that it will not join battles that happen nearby.

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October 21, 2009 10:56:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm the first to say it but I don't really care about modding. I'm competitionminded and will play to win.

As long as the TC (Tactical Combat) battlefields are big enough to allow for effective kiting and have initiative (Heroes V) as a stat, I'm contempt.

 

Formations though like in Age of Empires make things WAY too simple. Getting your infantry to surround your casters is something you have to use your turns to achieve. It's not something that  should happen automatically.

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October 21, 2009 11:10:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Some good ideas I really like here.

I really would like to see a morale system where leadership can matter. Bad morale can make your units automatically fall back when you want them to move up (they still fight but aren't brave enough to get closer), become inactive and will only defend (paralyzed in fear), or just plain broken and the unit scatters to the wind. Veteran units could have better morale. Green units can be dangerous to field because they might suddenly "break" after minimal losses.

The exhaustion idea sounds like a fun way of modeling reality. Give units a stamina statistic that winds the more actions they take. As they become more exhausted their to-hit and to-defend accuracy would suffer as well as moving slower (maybe even not at all). Thoroughly exhausted units might lose morale as well.

I think damage types are a MUST for being included. But I think you can get around doing too much work on them. Make Humans and Fallen the base line for damage storyline wise so it doesn't matter what damage type it is. Instead you can give special statistics on a few rare units (like elementals) that include vulnerabilities and immunities to certain damage types. So when the opponent suffers a super bad Fire Elemental it has immunity to all your fire spells but a little water spell might just make it go up in a poof of steam. This avoids having too many statistics to worry above for rank and file units but also allows for fun strategic battles with special units (*cough* Elementals *cough*). I'd like to see the rank file kept to Armor, Physical Defense, and Magical Resistance statistics on the defense side.

 

P.S. - since your starting on monday it sounds like the patch should be a go for this week

 

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October 21, 2009 11:13:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think it would be great to see terrain effect battles in two ways:

1. Terrain within a tactical map can be used to specific advantage. Example: forests offer defense from arrows and cavalry charges a la the total war series. This adds another element of skill to the tactical battles themselves.

2. Topology of the tactical map should confer general advantages. Example: in arctic terrain, fireballs should have reduced damage and area of effect, but ice magic should do more damage. Or in arid terrain, foliage could catch fire and deal damage over time to units in the area. This adds an element of strategy to where you choose to engage the enemy.

 

 

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