Fun with Elemental: War of Magic v1.1

By on December 17, 2010 12:08:09 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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I went ahead and put a quick video demo here.  I accidentally got killed at the end from being careless but it should show people some of the things about the game.

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December 17, 2010 1:33:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

LOL Frog, good try there!  haha  My wife was like noooo, dont go near those troops haha.

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December 17, 2010 2:01:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I dont know if I understood correctly, but you said in your video that there was 4 major shard, does it imply that it will have lesser shard in the upcomming version?

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December 17, 2010 3:16:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

"I'm like Kevin Costner" 

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December 17, 2010 3:21:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You can still run away from battle can't you?

Anyway, much humour, we laughed (gf and me) thanks! Fun to watch

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December 17, 2010 3:40:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Where is Janusk?

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December 17, 2010 3:46:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Dude, Brad, you're bad at your own game!

No offense, but OMG. I'm only going to do this because you are writing the AI, otherwise I would never be this critical of someone else's game. It's goddamn rude, I wouldn't like it and I don't like giving it. But feedback is what you need, and you made a lot of errors. 

Errors in the tactical battle:

YOU MOVED FIRST. Don't. Reposition your troops so that the high def ones are up front and the low def ones are in the back. Let the AI walk and waste its AP moving towards you! Since it prioritizes nearby units unless there is a seriously weak option with a viable path (non-unit obstructions are ignored), it ensures that the targeting priority is managed according to your preferences. This also ensures that if the battle goes poorly, you can retreat in a single turn! Your familiar died before even attacking once because you didn't manage distance and placement! That meant you lost the ability to use that unit to absorb counter attacks and provide damage. It also crippled your group!

Once battle was joined you didn't focus your fire on a single target. This is a first order priority! It guarantees that you minimize counterattack possibilities, and maximize reduction in enemy offensive capabilities. This is the most efficient use of your HP, so do it!

You put a high atk zero def unit in the front line, and then used it to attack first against an enemy with good def who still had attacks remaining. Poor placement, poor management! Don't do this! Use your beefcakes to absorb retaliatory strikes, and then hit with your high attack units.

You didn't run away! It is trivial to escape a battle before the enemy can even reach you. It takes two turns to flee, maybe three. It is functionally impossible for an enemy to reach you before you make it to the exit. When that huge army hit you, you should have moved all your dudes to the exit. You would have then been moved two, three or even four squares away, and they would not have been able to reach you before you could escape on your next turn. 

Strategic errors:

You had a familiar. Familiars are simply not worth the maintenance cost. They are also not worth the 10-15 turns it takes to research them in the early game. Having that silly thing and not having either heal or arcane arrow, both of which are worth another couple of units on the field, was a huge error. You also spent time research magic. Magic has one tech and one tree worth researching -- shard harvesting, and the arcane equipment line. You didn't have the money (or the crystal) for magic gear, and you already had shard harvesting. Furthermore, you had TWO air shards and almost certainly no fire shards. If you really wanted magic, the proper choice was the Book of Air. But, really, magic should not have been a priority. There is nothing in any of the elemental books that can come close to the damage and mana efficiency of arcane arrow, heal and magic blast or whatever it's called. 

You didn't have teleport. If you had had teleport, you would have simply teleported away from that huge army and faced zero repercussions from your Pyrrhic victory. Teleport BREAKS THE GAME. My spell research is heal, level 2, magic arrow, teleport, level 3, magic blast. Once I have those four spells, I dismantle my arcane study things and build more libraries. Every other spell is a waste of time, pops and upkeep cost. There are no spells worth bothering with beyond those four -- although a case could be made for return, simply so that you can cast Imbue and then Return on exploring heroes who are too stupid for teleport. 

Your units were poorly built! Basic staves and no armor? Your sov had armor, this means you had the ability to build troops with basic leather armor and oak spears, this means that if you are going to build a group it should have armor. Armor is, pound for pound, more important than attack. A unit can attack between three and six times in a turn. It can receive between three and twenty four attacks per turn, although six to nine is more likely for a unit. Back of the envelope calculation I use is a 2h weapon must provide at least atk => 2xshield def + 1h weap for me to take it. When the 2h == the adjusted damage of the 1h, I go with the cheaper option -- which is why the war staff is so superior to the mace+shield combo! It costs far less and provides an equivalent amount of utility!

If you had had a properly built unit at your tech level, it would have been 9x4 24 atk, 5x4 20 def. You would have roflstomped the AI with that unit.

You didn't build a study until you had a farm, a beacon, a hut and a workshop! This despite having, what, 15-20 materials? Plus several unexploited goodie huts nearby? That means you went 3+5+5+5+5 == 23 turns without a single point of research. Optimal build would have been hut + workshop, which would have put you at 10 turns, giving you an extra tech level. 

You didn't explore before settling! Really, this is a Monty Hall problem, the right answer is always to switch unless you've got a gold mine, an iron mine and two food resources right on top of you. A refugee camp is, if I recall, worth 100 citizens, and a basic hut only holds 20 people. Since the SOP is three huts in the capital, moving towards it would have saved you 15 turns worth of building and 9 units of materials. This would have allowed you to start researching another 5 turns in advance, putting you a tech and a half ahead of the AI at minimum. 

 

I don't know how many cities you had, but it looked like only two. If you have only two cities by the time you're pumping out munits, your priorities are wrong. Furthermore, based on the quick look at your late video city I'd say specialization was not a priority. 

 

Alrighty then, I now feel like Super Douche. I hope that that helps with future AI builds. 

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December 17, 2010 3:57:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Doublepoastin, a lot of the tactical and strategic errors I've brought up are problems with game design.

Magic is worthless outside of four-five spells. If this weren't the case, I'd have a reason to spec a city in something other than tech or money.

Researching magic, unless you're bored and have more money than you know what to do with, is worthless outside of shard harvesting.

Diplomacy is worthless outside of caravans, period stop end discussion. I have no idea what else is up there in that tree because I've never bothered looking.  

Adventure is a complete waste of time. If you don't have enough resources, the right answer is to take them from someone else, not waste time popping more. You can still build some excellent units (leather armor + warstaff) without a single unit of metal. 

Civilization has some go to techs (housing line which improves food efficiency, gold line which lets you pimp your heroes faster, Harvesting which is obvi mission critical) but is stuffed full of fluff. I think I go down maybe one or two lines and then just ignore it. 

The only tech worth bothering with is Military. Other than City Defense (I can't remember where Seafaring is, but it's a waste of time so I ignore it) it's a line just chock full of gold.

Questing in general is pointless. If it's not a "dumps out goodies" hut, it's not worth the aggravation of visiting. 

Strength is the only worthwhile stat, unless you plan to go for a teleport force. Usually I'll spec str on my sov, tear up some stuff, and spec heroes that start with 13-15 int into int so that they can lead stacks with either return or teleport.  

 

If you're playing to mess about and RP, Elemental is a fun game. I enjoy the heck out of it when I'm just fluffing about. But if you're powergaming, this game is a joke. There is exactly one serious strategy - tech mil, "rush" AI. Rushing isn't even rushing in Elemental because the rush research and build order is exactly the same as the boom strategy. This is a serious design flaw. 

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December 17, 2010 3:59:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brad sounds like my old WoW guild leader heh

 

 

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December 17, 2010 4:21:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

After a few games, I still find it difficult to keep resources available....food in particular.

I'm not blaming programming/devs at all... just my incompetence .

But my repeated problem is that food shortages prevents hut building which begets low population which begets again another "begets"   for low level buildings.  So I basically cannot advance my kingdom in this regard and then the neighboring kingdoms/empires notice it and eventually have a festival on my dead sovereign's head.

I'll figure it out but from now on I'm going to start a game on "easy" difficulty to see if I can get past 150 turns without reaching stagnation.

Oh, and I also figured out that a harbor cannot be built off a cliff, but only at a shore...  HA!   I sorta chuckled at myself when I figured this one out.  Only once did I get to build a harbor and only after I destroyed 2 workshops and a library.

-.-

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December 17, 2010 4:23:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd say magic is not useless until late game.

 

Fireball spell early on for 12 damage if you get a fire shard allows your sov to use that instead of arcane arrow, which means you can put pts into str/con.

 

I have to agree with the assessment that powergaming turns this game to crap quick.  Hopefully this can be fixed at least somewhat in 1.2, and should probably be the #2 priority behind fixing the remaining stability errors.  Many AI issues would be fixed by this as well I believe.

That doesn't mean don't add new toys, but add them in the context of fixing problems, not just because they're shiny.  Shiny can wait for the expansion.

 

 

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December 17, 2010 4:44:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So you're going to make all the attacks happen as one?

Will there be an option to disable that? Because I very much like to be able to heal part way through, depending on how the dice fall.

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December 17, 2010 4:51:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's actually a bit of a universal that game designers are rather bad at their own games.  Particularly digital game designers who also have to worry about the technical details that players never (ideally!) see.

I don't know whether it's a true story or urban legend (it was related to me as the former, but, well, you know), but there was once a wargame about the American Civil War that got released with a critical flaw that totally broke the game.  It turned out that the mechanics allowed you to charge uphill, with bayonets, against an entrenched enemy, and win.  How did this make it's way through basic design, much less playtesting?  Well, it turned out that both the designer and all the playtesters were experts on the American Civil War.  They knew such a tactic was suicide, historically, so they never tried it.  They played the game the way it was supposed to be played.  Only when the game was brought into contact with historically-unfamiliar gamers in the public did the game actually get played according to it's written mechanics.  Only then was it brought to light that the written mechanics contradicted the way the game was intended to work.

Sound familiar?  Basically, don't have your strategies designed by players who already know how the game is intended to function.  They'll write good strategies for how the game is supposed to function, but they'll get obliterated by players who have fewer preconceptions.  Right now, I feel like Brad, and the AI, is attempting to play Elemental as intended - and it's not working, because the game doesn't play as intended!

(Side note: unintentional consequences, in game design, are not strictly a bad thing - in fact, they're one of the most wonderful and magical parts of the gaming experience.  The problem comes when one doesn't take that part of the experience into account.)

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December 17, 2010 4:54:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

He mentioned in chat today that it would be more like Final Fantasy Tactics.

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December 17, 2010 5:00:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Could someone give me the IIRC chat channel/password? I would like to follow along since i'm on break form school (6 more months until i'm an engineer, yay).

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December 17, 2010 5:04:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Four major shards means 4 types of shards, earth, air, fire, water, named after the medieval european notion that these 4 are the essential Elements from which all matter is formed.

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December 17, 2010 5:15:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Fewer but bigger attacks will make combat, and thus the game, more random. Not sure how I feel about this. More one hit kills is not a good thing. However, combat is already stupid long and imba towards melee. Reducing the melee output 66%-80% would cut out a lot of cheese and make magic out and out better on a per turn basis. 

 

Still, it's lipstick on a pig. 4/5ths of the tech tree is at best borderline useless. 3/5ths of the stats aren't even as good as the Diplo tech line (Dex? Armor is better. Con? Armor is better. Charisma? Are you high?! My sov wanders around with 15 in strength and int, 5 in the rest, and more talents than you could shake a stick at). I'd wager roughly 9/10ths of the spells are in the same boat. 

Most of it is just redundant +1 junk that should be cut. Con can go, make HP a function of level. Charisma can go, replace it with talents. Dex could go, with dodge made a function of armor, but then you'd have to cut strength and int and center the level up process around talents -- which I've got an inkling most people would prefer anyway.

Ditch adventure tech, tie spawns to pop or prestige or average tech level. Ditch Diplo, allow players to "buy" new diplomatic abilities with diplomatic capital, with cost determined by the size of the capital. 

Most spells are junk. But here, the direction is good. I'd still hack the majority of them out, teleport first. Teleport is an I-WIN button for the player that the AI will never use as well -- and if it does end up using it as well, you'll end up with a game where travel is mostly meaningless and wars are decided by who can warp their army around the most in a single turn. 

Most of the armor and a good portion of the weapons should go. Instead of planned obsolescence -- you'd have to be an idiot to use padded when you can use leather, etc -- armor should be viable throughout the game. Easier to balance, more viable choices. No more crap versions of weapons -- longbow and shortbow should provide different functionality in the same type.

For gear, just follow the Guild Wars model of everything is useful. Don't do what they did with skills though, even Arenanet admits they made too many to balance. 

 

The greater the number of strategic choices, the greater the chance that a weakly or strongly dominant strategy will emerge. Elemental has a huge number of choices. Elemental also has a strongly dominant strategy -- rush rush rush, more armor, more strength, bigger weapons. You can tweak, which will possibly work. Or you can cut, prune, whatever and focus on making the few existing systems extremely good. And then add a couple more systems.

 

Either way, I have faith that in a few years, this will be either the best game around or in the top ten. You guys will get it right, mostly because you're willing to stick it out long term. And that's why I own this goofy game right now!

 

 

edit: Having thought about it, I'm fairly certain that the end result of a game where all players are equally skilled with teleport is complete peace. Teleport guarantees second strike capability. An enemy that strikes first strikes by moving into enemy turf and then ending their turn. Player two teleports their sov from city to city until they have a larger army, and then teleports to attack range and goes for the kill. If the enemy sov is present, checkmate in one. If not, army can return to post and wait. Why wait? No way to know if the enemy has an even larger force in reserve. Since this outcome is obvious to all players -- or will be after the first player welps an army -- no other player should be willing to attack unless they can guarantee superior numbers. Which they can't. End result should be world peace. Please, please get rid of teleport. 

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December 17, 2010 5:16:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This why he's called Frogboy.

4:34 - 4:35 about 3 times in a row. 

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December 17, 2010 5:57:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ElanaAhova,
Four major shards means 4 types of shards, earth, air, fire, water, named after the medieval european notion that these 4 are the essential Elements from which all matter is formed.

 

Yep, I understand that principle and it's for that same reason that I ask IF it will have some minor shard (maybe summon/life/death) or if he just say Major to say 4 type of shard. But thank you for the explanation . Could be cool to add chinese philosophie and be more like fire/water/earth/wood/metal.

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December 17, 2010 6:00:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh I could have totally won. I only let the AI win because I felt sorry for it..

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December 17, 2010 6:15:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love it when a dev sucks at their own game. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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December 17, 2010 6:53:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

"Stuff."

<--- approves

 

Lets hope for Frogboy improving his game-fu before he tries to improve the AI...

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December 17, 2010 7:01:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Oh I could have totally won. I only let the AI win because I felt sorry for it..

Man I don't doubt it, because anyone with decades of gaming experience who can also "toss together" a multithreaded AI really ought to play better than that. I just had a bit of a pants filling moment of "uh, this is how our benevolent dictator plays? HELL NAW!" : post: : post: : post:

Anyway, I hope that was mildly useful feedback and such. I think I might do a "how to minmax elemental WITH PIX" post to really get the point across to the community that some tactics are far too efficient.

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December 17, 2010 7:09:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Seriously, the AI can be defeated pretty easily, please get that AI up to snuff pleasseeeeeeeeeeee. Just so you know Brad, it is even worse when playing with lots of factions and on a huge map. Even when the AI countries get huge in size, their armies are still just small.

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December 17, 2010 7:18:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I didn't watch the clip. It's sort of amazing you got 14 minutes of 1.1 gameplay without a crash. That rarely happens for me. I'm not going to watch somebody else have fun with a game I can't really even play right now.

Quoting Aeon221,
You also spent time research magic. Magic has one tech and one tree worth researching -- shard harvesting, and the arcane equipment line. You didn't have the money (or the crystal) for magic gear, and you already had shard harvesting. Furthermore, you had TWO air shards and almost certainly no fire shards. If you really wanted magic, the proper choice was the Book of Air. But, really, magic should not have been a priority. There is nothing in any of the elemental books that can come close to the damage and mana efficiency of arcane arrow, heal and magic blast or whatever it's called.

Quoting Aeon221,
Magic is worthless outside of four-five spells. If this weren't the case, I'd have a reason to spec a city in something other than tech or money.

Researching magic, unless you're bored and have more money than you know what to do with, is worthless outside of shard harvesting.

Clearly you haven't actually explored the full magic tree and all the spells. Demons and Earth Elementals are monstrously powerful. A handful of either can almost instantly wipe out any armor in the game no matter how large or well equipped.

Quoting Aeon221,
Diplomacy is worthless outside of caravans, period stop end discussion. I have no idea what else is up there in that tree because I've never bothered looking.

No I guess you haven't looked. Diplomacy grants you access to special units if you are near their resource nodes. I forget the name of them, but one is this crab spider thing, if you are near the node you can very quickly research them in the diplo tree and start pumping them out and they are ridiculously strong for something so early in the game.

Quoting Aeon221,
Adventure is a complete waste of time. If you don't have enough resources, the right answer is to take them from someone else, not waste time popping more.

First, the resource spawning techs are fairly low in the adventure tree, to not grab them in mid game when it will only take you a dozen or so turns is silly. Second, the purpose of the tree aren't those techs, it's the quests and treasure nodes which can dramatically improve the power of you sov or champions.

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December 17, 2010 7:46:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Aeon221,
Dude, Brad, you're bad at your own game!

No offense, but OMG. I'm only going to do this because you are writing the AI, otherwise I would never be this critical of someone else's game. It's goddamn rude, I wouldn't like it and I don't like giving it. But feedback is what you need, and you made a lot of errors. 

Errors in the tactical battle:

YOU MOVED FIRST. Don't. Reposition your troops so that the high def ones are up front and the low def ones are in the back. Let the AI walk and waste its AP moving towards you! Since it prioritizes nearby units unless there is a seriously weak option with a viable path (non-unit obstructions are ignored), it ensures that the targeting priority is managed according to your preferences. This also ensures that if the battle goes poorly, you can retreat in a single turn! Your familiar died before even attacking once because you didn't manage distance and placement! That meant you lost the ability to use that unit to absorb counter attacks and provide damage. It also crippled your group!

Once battle was joined you didn't focus your fire on a single target. This is a first order priority! It guarantees that you minimize counterattack possibilities, and maximize reduction in enemy offensive capabilities. This is the most efficient use of your HP, so do it!

You put a high atk zero def unit in the front line, and then used it to attack first against an enemy with good def who still had attacks remaining. Poor placement, poor management! Don't do this! Use your beefcakes to absorb retaliatory strikes, and then hit with your high attack units.

You didn't run away! It is trivial to escape a battle before the enemy can even reach you. It takes two turns to flee, maybe three. It is functionally impossible for an enemy to reach you before you make it to the exit. When that huge army hit you, you should have moved all your dudes to the exit. You would have then been moved two, three or even four squares away, and they would not have been able to reach you before you could escape on your next turn. 

Strategic errors:

You had a familiar. Familiars are simply not worth the maintenance cost. They are also not worth the 10-15 turns it takes to research them in the early game. Having that silly thing and not having either heal or arcane arrow, both of which are worth another couple of units on the field, was a huge error. You also spent time research magic. Magic has one tech and one tree worth researching -- shard harvesting, and the arcane equipment line. You didn't have the money (or the crystal) for magic gear, and you already had shard harvesting. Furthermore, you had TWO air shards and almost certainly no fire shards. If you really wanted magic, the proper choice was the Book of Air. But, really, magic should not have been a priority. There is nothing in any of the elemental books that can come close to the damage and mana efficiency of arcane arrow, heal and magic blast or whatever it's called. 

You didn't have teleport. If you had had teleport, you would have simply teleported away from that huge army and faced zero repercussions from your Pyrrhic victory. Teleport BREAKS THE GAME. My spell research is heal, level 2, magic arrow, teleport, level 3, magic blast. Once I have those four spells, I dismantle my arcane study things and build more libraries. Every other spell is a waste of time, pops and upkeep cost. There are no spells worth bothering with beyond those four -- although a case could be made for return, simply so that you can cast Imbue and then Return on exploring heroes who are too stupid for teleport. 

Your units were poorly built! Basic staves and no armor? Your sov had armor, this means you had the ability to build troops with basic leather armor and oak spears, this means that if you are going to build a group it should have armor. Armor is, pound for pound, more important than attack. A unit can attack between three and six times in a turn. It can receive between three and twenty four attacks per turn, although six to nine is more likely for a unit. Back of the envelope calculation I use is a 2h weapon must provide at least atk => 2xshield def + 1h weap for me to take it. When the 2h == the adjusted damage of the 1h, I go with the cheaper option -- which is why the war staff is so superior to the mace+shield combo! It costs far less and provides an equivalent amount of utility!

If you had had a properly built unit at your tech level, it would have been 9x4 24 atk, 5x4 20 def. You would have roflstomped the AI with that unit.

You didn't build a study until you had a farm, a beacon, a hut and a workshop! This despite having, what, 15-20 materials? Plus several unexploited goodie huts nearby? That means you went 3+5+5+5+5 == 23 turns without a single point of research. Optimal build would have been hut + workshop, which would have put you at 10 turns, giving you an extra tech level. 

You didn't explore before settling! Really, this is a Monty Hall problem, the right answer is always to switch unless you've got a gold mine, an iron mine and two food resources right on top of you. A refugee camp is, if I recall, worth 100 citizens, and a basic hut only holds 20 people. Since the SOP is three huts in the capital, moving towards it would have saved you 15 turns worth of building and 9 units of materials. This would have allowed you to start researching another 5 turns in advance, putting you a tech and a half ahead of the AI at minimum. 

 

I don't know how many cities you had, but it looked like only two. If you have only two cities by the time you're pumping out munits, your priorities are wrong. Furthermore, based on the quick look at your late video city I'd say specialization was not a priority. 

 

Alrighty then, I now feel like Super Douche. I hope that that helps with future AI builds. 

This but with an emphasis on letting the enemy walk right in front of you without attacking and then hitting their weak def high attk people first.

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