The Early Rush: Balance or AI?

By on December 14, 2010 10:44:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

TarlSS

Join Date 03/2006
+1

Early attacks on the AI are really strong. This is not unusual for a strategy game by any means, as anyone who 6 pools can attest.

However, the following stratagems are too effective and have too little risk.

1) Create a combat-monster sovereign (15 str, pre-equipped, warlord or assassin). Walk over to the nearest enemy. Kill him. Repeat.

2) Create a charisma-monster sovereign. 15 Cha, Royalty or Bard. Pick Green Thumb.

-Build a Hut immediately. In the meantime, search for heroes.

-Hire every hero you meet. With high CHA, this should be easy.

-Upon leveling your first city, pick random guardian

-Proceed to annihilate the nearest civs with your hero/wolf/spider pack.

These strategies are doubly effective if you picked a faction with Tools of War, or add the trait that generates 1 Tech Research for your Sov. Arming your combat monster sov or hero pack with oak spears is really, really deadly.

---

Honestly, I'm not sure whether this is a balance issue, an AI issue, or both. I think a human player would be hard pressed to stop this strategy without creating a monster sov or hero army of his own. It demonstrates the severe weakness of dex-based or int-based sovs. Those attributes need to do more.

Here's what I think:

- Attacking cities should require SIEGE tech. Walls should physically block units from attacking other units. They should have high-hp that is only reasonably broken by siege weapons or super-buffed units in the lategame

-Outposts don't get walls. Your first city, starts as a level 2 city (15 pop)

-Dexterity should increase combat and move speed for a slight amount (Maybe +1 for 3, or something like that)

-Intelligence should do SOMETHING. Here are some suggestions

  Increase Tax Rate in Stationed Cities

  Provide a bonus to Non-Hero units during combat

  Decrease the cost of spells

  Increase the effectiveness of EVERY spell, somehow.

-Finally, all sovereigns should start with a level 1 spell at the beginning of the game. This makes it so intelligent sovereigns aren't completely destroyed by bandits or something.

 

 

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December 14, 2010 10:55:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's real simple to thwart this, just don't GRUNT RUSH stupid. Very simple to make one easy house rule. Don't attack anybody for 100 turns or an amount of turns deemed fair to the ai to give it an opportunity to grow.

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December 14, 2010 11:23:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
Here's what I think:

- Attacking cities should require SIEGE tech. Walls should physically block units from attacking other units. They should have high-hp that is only reasonably broken by siege weapons or super-buffed units in the lategame

-Outposts don't get walls. Your first city, starts as a level 2 city (15 pop)

-Dexterity should increase combat and move speed for a slight amount (Maybe +1 for 3, or something like that)

-Intelligence should do SOMETHING. Here are some suggestions

  Increase Tax Rate in Stationed Cities

  Provide a bonus to Non-Hero units during combat

  Decrease the cost of spells

  Increase the effectiveness of EVERY spell, somehow.

-Finally, all sovereigns should start with a level 1 spell at the beginning of the game. This makes it so intelligent sovereigns aren't completely destroyed by bandits or something.

how about

- initial city gets walls

- cities with walls require seige tech to attack if defended (OPTION - only units with ranged attack may attack units in city, units in city get an automatic ranged attack to represent throwing rocks from the walls, units in city may leave and attack normally)

- soverign gets 1 spell for free if INT is 12 or above, and gets 2 spells for free if INT is 14 or above

Providing Seige tech is on a non military path then the additional time taken to reasearch it would allow the AI to create a reasonable defense.  The additional spells give int based soverigns some initial defense.

Dexterity might increase attack speed.  it might just be cool to have a hero that can take out several normal people per turn.

Quoting rossanderson48,
It's real simple to thwart this, just don't GRUNT RUSH stupid. Very simple to make one easy house rule. Don't attack anybody for 100 turns or an amount of turns deemed fair to the ai to give it an opportunity to grow.

But the game should be balanced enough so that house rules like that are not required (or at least minimised)

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December 14, 2010 1:00:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting rossanderson48,
It's real simple to thwart this, just don't GRUNT RUSH stupid. Very simple to make one easy house rule. Don't attack anybody for 100 turns or an amount of turns deemed fair to the ai to give it an opportunity to grow.

Or let's have the game make sense (I know, you hate balance, yet that is a necessary part of the solution to this problem) and the AI do smart stuff, instead, because your solution is extremely artificial.

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December 14, 2010 1:10:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Perhaps because your first city is being founded by your sov your sov could also automatically buff the city with a one off spell which grants a bonus the the stats of defending troops. This buff could last for 50 turns and take one mana to maintain. You could cancel the spell at anytime to get that 1 mana per turn back or after 50 turns the spell fades and you get the mana per turn back anyway. This would give other nations a chance to survive an initial zerg rush from the above strategy yet has the advantage of still allowing the zerger to feel like they have gained something by choosing their setup as they could explore and rain death on any faction silly enough to leave their starting capital while they are about.

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December 14, 2010 1:51:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well a simple standard ceasefire counter that you can enable as an option and set number of turns of in map creation would solve this, is fairly common in TBS. But really only useful in multiplayer. Singleplayer solution: just don't rush AI

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December 14, 2010 2:01:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ratatosk7,
Singleplayer solution: just don't rush AI
That's not a solution. If the game is flawed, it's not up to the player to compensate.

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December 14, 2010 2:01:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting rossanderson48,
It's real simple to thwart this, just don't GRUNT RUSH stupid. Very simple to make one easy house rule. Don't attack anybody for 100 turns or an amount of turns deemed fair to the ai to give it an opportunity to grow.

 

Those rules just turn things into a turn 101 rush.

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December 14, 2010 2:13:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This has been bantered around a bit in other threads... generally, I like the idea that the capitals should be buffed in some manner to make conquering them a mid-game endeavour. I'm all for open warfare from the get-go but roflstomping the AI would be more difficult if the enemy capitals were protected. There could be warfare over minor cities, resources, etc but taking those all-important capital cities should somehow wait until late-early game to mid-game in my opinion. There were some good ideas on how to do this from the community but I think the simplest solution is to provide:

  • AI capable of defending it - probably difficult to code as players can easily use force magnification and zerg, the AI not so much, especially the variability of teleport as it is today
  • City walls requiring siege technology - probably easy to code
  • Some kind of special SOV buff (maybe like the one you can select at custom SOV creation) that permanently buffs the capital
  • Archery/magic towers that provide ranged offense against any attackers
  • Some kind of mixture noted above

I think it would create some interesting situations early game if the Capitals were essentially off limits until near mid-game. There could be all sorts of battles over resources and land that we don't experience today and the overall experience would benefit.

I've always played on medium maps, max players, custom SOV's, & ridiculous level AI. Maybe the experience is different on larger maps but I did try a 1v1 on tiny once and just stomped the AI in like 30 turns. Thanks for listening, that's my two gildars.

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December 14, 2010 2:19:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,

Quoting Ratatosk7, reply 5 Singleplayer solution: just don't rush AI That's not a solution. If the game is flawed, it's not up to the player to compensate.

 

Well I don't see why this would need any 'solution' easily a dozen other ways to super abuse AI that they don't matter that should be looked into first. Ok then, name a single strategy game that has a 'solution' that doesn't involve massive early game cheating for AI. I can list off a ton that haven't.

 

Civ 1-5

SC 1+2

any C&C game

Warcraft (not the mmo)

etc

 

Only one I can think of is Dawn of War 2, but its pretty unique and hardly counts for this example, as everyone starts out with a super base with a massive amount of HP...and thats pretty much it outside of a turret or two.

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December 14, 2010 4:10:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think some of the problem is early game weapons are OP.  Oak spears and warstaffs especially.

 

I'd also like to see an interection between weapons, kinda like what was done in Civ IV.  Makes perfect sense in Elemental

 

Unsure what the actual relationships should be, and if we did this, we'd need to add polearms like glaives into the game.

 

 

 

 

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December 14, 2010 4:40:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's not really the weapons. It's the fact that you can grab like 8 combat units really fast, and utterly crush anyone who doesn't have a similar setup.

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December 14, 2010 5:32:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


- Attacking cities should require SIEGE tech. Walls should physically block units from attacking other units. They should have high-hp that is only reasonably broken by siege weapons or super-buffed units in the lategame

This is a bad, bad idea. It's already bad enough that if an enemy sov poops out a poorly placed city on one of two resources you wanted, you have to go 2 tech out of your way to get rid of it and place a real city. At least you can take it from them now. If you couldn't even do anything about cities without researching tech... That would be rough.





-Intelligence should do SOMETHING. Here are some suggestions

  Increase Tax Rate in Stationed Cities

  Provide a bonus to Non-Hero units during combat

  Decrease the cost of spells

  Increase the effectiveness of EVERY spell, somehow.

Intelligence DOES do stuff. It should have more interplay with the game mechanics (spells in particular) than it does, but Intelligence is how you make Arcane Arrow the most powerful spell in the game.

 

-Finally, all sovereigns should start with a level 1 spell at the beginning of the game. This makes it so intelligent sovereigns aren't completely destroyed by bandits or something.

This right here would be a giant bonus. A simple attack spell (5 Damage per cast, range of 6) would go a very very long way to offsetting early game chicanery.

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December 14, 2010 5:36:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think that if cities had a natural "milita" then the early rush could be reduced. It is unlikely that dozens if not hundreds of people who follow a single person would not fight their invaders. It would be nice if some "free" population could be spawned to help defend.

General Rules

Every city level will provide a fixed number of soldiers to defend the settlement. Where I specify sizes (soldiers not levels), the appropriate tech is required. I know empire techs better so I'm "balancing" these ideas towards this.

Level 1: No defenders, its just an outpost

Level 2: 1/3/6/12 Defenders (1 group).

Level 3: 3/9/18/36 Defenders (3 groups).

Level 4: (5 groups)

Level 5: 8 groups.

Additional Improvements

Militia Quarters- +25% more militia.

Militia Armory- +1 tier of equipment (City Level 2)

Militia Headquarters- +1 tier of equipment (City Level 3)

Militia Equipment

These are the levels of equipment for militia. In order to use new levels of equipment, the pieces must be researched. In the event of only a partial match (You have the armor but not the weapon) then the equipment you have unlocked through tech is used and the next best equipment that your missing is used (example later).

Level 1: Club, no armor

Level 2: Shortsword, Leather armor (chest piece only).

Level 3: Imperial Shortsword, Full Leather Armor.

 

Example

You have unlocked the shortsword but no armor beyond padded. You have built a militia armoury. You have researched the 1st tier of grouping technology. In this case, one group of 3 soldiers would be outfitted with shortswords and no armor.

 

Just some thoughts,

 

Jec

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December 14, 2010 5:57:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

MOM had a solution to the grunt rush through city walls.  Rather than needing siege tech, you had to attack at the doorway to the city.  This meant that you had to:

A) actually reach the doors, during which time archers were killing you with a + to their attack (due to altitude) and a - to the attackers archers (due to protection from the walls).

Once you were at the doors, you were in a 3 to 1 combat.  You could only attack the unit right behind the door, but the units in front, to  the left, and to the right could attack back.  Ranged attackers could attack from anywhere, so it was a grinder.  I could see this getting better as you upgraded your city walls.

So, I agree that easy, early walls are part of the solution, but it needs to be implemented in TC to be effective, not just a straight denial of attack if they have walls and you don't have siege equipment, then it takes too long to start actually having fights.  Siege walls should make holes in the walls that allow additional combats to occur, again in the TC.

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December 15, 2010 1:40:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As an addendum, I don't think outposts should get physical city walls, but I do think that capitals at least should automatically get them.

Intelligence is really a strange stat. Yeah- Arcane Arrow /Arcane Burst is great with it, but it doesn't really affect any other spells! EVERY SPELL should be scaled via intelligence, somehow.

Dexterity though, is plain useless. I don't really see the point of it. When would you want to spend point in Dexterity when you could just get armor that's way more effective?

Dexterity ought to provide a combat bonus to damage with certain weapons. Daggers, short swords, 'light' weapons and the like. 

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December 15, 2010 10:39:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As a competetive player (particulary of RTS), I understand the importance of balance. I also believe you should be able to do early attacks. The reason they are so effective in Elemental is because the game is designflawed. You couldn't rush A.I in Master of Magic on a challenging difficulty lvl. Norr could you in Age of Wonders (any of'em). But in Elemental....

 

Needing siegetech or siegeequipment to assault towns is a bad idea.

 

Why?

 

Age of Wonders.

You had to bring along a unit with wallcrushing, wallclimbing or flying to be able to assault a town with walls.

 

What was the result of that then?

 

In the early stages, you brought along a batteringram or two. They were slow (20mp) and a bit vulnerable. If the defender destroyed your batteringram then you had to abandon the siege unless you had a ranged unit advantage (the sieging players ranged units had to go up against the wall to have any chance at all to hit the defenders. And up against the wall they had a 50% chance to miss.

That doesn't sound that bad, but the A.I wasn't good at controlling their batteringrams so you simply attacked the A.I when they were coming to your cities and took out the batteringrams. Alternatively you could do it if they ever attacked you.

In the later stages, you could use flyers and more importantly, regular units with wallcrushing (Dwarven Giants anyone?) so walls weren't a big issue anymore.

 

That system hindered early aggression though and kinda forced you to bring in catapults or a ranged unit advantage since you wanted to take over lots of towns.

 

Age of Wonders II and Shadow Magic solved this problem. ANY unit could attack the walls so any peasant or swordsman could take over a capital if it was unguarded. If a city had walls though, the defending archers had a substantial advantage since they gotted a higher Chance to Hit due to height difference.

And even if you managed to smash down a gate, you would face three units against one of yours since the gate is a chokepoint. You get the first strike though. That's the benefit you get for putting yourself in a 3v1 situation.

 

AoW II Shadow Magic TC

 

Gave karma to werewindlefr and Winnihym for defending the belief of early attacks and particulary for arguing against suggestions to play simcity for 100 turns.

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December 15, 2010 10:44:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh god this game could benefit immensely from copying borrowing a lot of stuff from Age of Wonders. Though sieging sucked till Shadow Magic

 

My cities pretty much never get attacked by the time I get walls (wtf is a hedge wall anyways, bushes?!) but from what I hear its no different from a regular old boring tactical battle.

 

Edit: Just noticed you typed more stuff but for some reason made it black. I agree with most of it. The game should allow for early aggression styles as well as defensive styles. As I've stated elsewhere styles like exploration are overwhelmingly unrewarding except to reveal the generically empty maps. Right now there is weapon A/armor A style, and then weapon A+1/armor A+1 style, and its really booooooring for people who crave strategy in their strategy games.

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December 15, 2010 10:57:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Eh, just give every faction's initial city a midgame-level guardian unit (that can't move outside the city, of course).  It'd stop quick kills, both by players and NPCs.

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December 15, 2010 10:57:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

arguing against suggestions to play simcity for 100 turns.

That's the best way to put it ever. That's exactly what I'm against.

Burning enemy outposts while they're still young and poorly defended is a perfectly valid strategy. Early attack needs to be there as a means to slow down your opponent; the solution to early game steamrollers is to have the AI do... smarter (can't even call it smart) stuff and defend its cities. There are already bonuses for city defense.

Balance the game so that units don't suddenly become invulnerable in 6 turns of research, fix the AI so that it defends its cities and creates patrols. Create early defense buildings. Problem solved, while not having an artificial solution like "100 turns building gardens and breeding rabbits", which, in a game supposed to be about a total war for resources, is kind of mood-breaking.

Later, when tactical combat is less simplistic... well, we can have tactical-map city walls, siege stuff, and all.

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December 16, 2010 1:10:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My "rush" attack is as thus...

Sovereign has the mobility spellbook, the terraforming spellbook, the adventurer perk for +1 movement, and the trait that also increases movement.  I buy him speedy boots and he starts with a movement of 5.  Start by rushing around gathering locale freebies while uncovering the map.  Battle as much as possible so you gain levels.  If it will take you more than 5 turns to get home to heal OR you need to get home quickly, allow a wondering monster to kill you.

The goal here is to build towards some armor while uncovering a quest that will give you the Sword of the Sovereign.  The quest requires 3 midnight stones, but that is rarely a problem with the heightened movement rate. 

With the movement, you can get to level 3 or 4 very, very quickly, find plenty of gold for armor upgrades, complete the sword quest, and then single-handedly conquer nearby sovereigns with very few issues.

The nice thing is that this approach only requires tweaks to your sovereign... Any other end of game strategy will work - this just lets you take down a few of the near-by enemy sovereigns which opens expansion and earns you a few nice towns.

 

Top

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December 16, 2010 1:30:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ratatosk7,
Ok then, name a single strategy game that has a 'solution' that doesn't involve massive early game cheating for AI.

Age of Empires 2 and 3 had a solution to prevent early game rushes: Ring the bell at your town center and all your peasants will take refuge in the structure and fire off a volley of arrows deadly enough to wipe out small armies.  It was basically impossible to take a town without siege weapons and/or overwhelming forces (and then you'd better hope your opponent didn't plant a castle in his territory!).  You could still do a lot of damage to an enemy early game, but it was pretty much impossible to win without more advanced tech.

Of course that's an RTS, but it's still a relevant example.

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December 16, 2010 1:35:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting TarlSS,
As an addendum, I don't think outposts should get physical city walls, but I do think that capitals at least should automatically get them.

Intelligence is really a strange stat. Yeah- Arcane Arrow /Arcane Burst is great with it, but it doesn't really affect any other spells! EVERY SPELL should be scaled via intelligence, somehow.

Dexterity though, is plain useless. I don't really see the point of it. When would you want to spend point in Dexterity when you could just get armor that's way more effective?

Dexterity ought to provide a combat bonus to damage with certain weapons. Daggers, short swords, 'light' weapons and the like. 

 

Don't quote me as I am not 100% on this but I believe Stat distribution is a player choice.   my heros tend to become mirror copies of my sov, let's call it a casualty of my playstyle and choice.

I find that Intelligence besides amping up a few select damage spells does the following:

+ Improves Spell resistence attribute

+ Improves the chances of spells cast to not be resisted.

+ Required to be a minimum amount to to even be able to cast many higher level spells (Spell Dependent). 

 

Dexterity for:

+ Dodge

+ Accuracy (speculation on my part- its possible that this is Strength and/or both Dex/Str related) Accuracy is used for to-hit calcs for melee and bows

 

Str For Damage modifier

Charisma for Hero recruitment and diplomacy modifiers (speculation)

Constitution for HP

 

I roleplay a Wizard-Sov and my sov stats look like Str ~10/ Dex~10 / Int MAX / Cha ~10/ Con ~10-12

I need the 10's for the early game before I have spells and any significant mana pool.

I eventually make all or certainly most heroes into casters and their stats grow to be usuall like my Sovs except that Dex and Cha are Don't Cares(DC) for me.  (playstyle choice)  Str ~10/ Dex  DC / Int MAX / Cha DC/ Con ~10

This is just my 2 coppers...

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December 16, 2010 2:38:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Generally have a few high cha govenor heroes, preferably the ones with admin talents, a bunch of strength based heroes, and one or two int based ones. Sov is usually a caster, since I gimp his phys stats to buy more bonus talents. First few turns can be a little rough, but it only takes a little while to get Equipment and then he's armored up and ready to roll. 

 

In terms of rush, I typically start building dudes with staves right from the start of the game, get about 3-4 of them together, and then gank the nearest enemy capital with my Sov and one other. I lose a few peasants, but it's worth it. Something to make that gank act a little more difficult would be nice. As is, a gank is a no brainer that doesn't even require going out of my way to pull it off -- even if I weren't going to take down an AI capital, I'd still research equipment and build a few peasants.

 

That's silly. In SC1, pulling off a rush meant gimping your economy. In Age1 and 2, same thing. This is not good early game design. Rushing is good, rushing without having to give up anything is not good. 

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December 17, 2010 10:32:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Part of the reason rushing doesn't cost economy, is because you can't use the unit queue for anything BUT building offensive units. If combat units costed more, or you could build economic units instead, THEN there would be a trade off between rushing and economics.

I see two solutions

The Easy and Predictable Way

-Combat units cost more population. Like way more. Every 'model' costs 5 citizens. The more expensive the units, the more citizens it costs to make.

The Fun Way

-Add in cheap 'unit packs' that allow you to train units that provide resources or special bonuses. I saw something similar to this in the XML files, where an early game ability was to build 'loremasters' that would increase your mana pool. Totally overpowered, but it could be utilized for something similar. You could have 'unit versions' of buildings, allowing an economics focused player to utilize the power to double build queues.

-Make building scouts much cheaper. That way you have a trade off: build scouts to find new resources, or overpower your enemy?

 

 

 

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December 17, 2010 11:00:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Civ 5 did some to mitigate this by simply giving cities an innate ability to attack and defend themselves even without units at the city. At the start of the game, they start off at a decent strength - with the minimum recommended 4 units, even that takes many many turns and a lot of save scumming as well as experienced units to make it possible. As the game progresses, cities scale in power (though slower than units).  Any attempt to early conquer a city means a significant devotion to the task.

 

While maybe not an ideal solution, it's a simple and effective one that doesn't rely too heavily on special complex rules. It also is one that doesn't rely on AI or player only options; it's something that will work whether in SP or MP.

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