[1.2f feedback] Tactical combat numbers

By on July 7, 2011 6:31:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Das123

Join Date 05/2003
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The new build is much better than anything that has gone before. Cities, money, food and population all feel good now. You actually have to think if/why you're going to expand and what buildings you are going to build.

The big glaring problem now is the numbers used in tactical combat. Basically it isn't fun because the balance is so far off. I'm not going to go into terrain, line-of-sight, etc. I'm not even going to go into weapon types (blunt vs sharp vs impact etc). While it would be awesome to have these in tactical combat, we need to get the balance right first. If this is the model we have to work with then fine, lets get this humming along as best it can.

I've had numerous times now with this build where two glass cannon units kill each other in the same combat round. So what isn't working and what needs to be re-looked at?


Attack scale of weapons is ridiculous. If you are going to have units with 2 or 3 hit points, why have lumps of wood such as the war staff so over-powered. A group of weaponry-tech level 1 units cannot compete with a single weaponry-tech level 2 unit

I can't remember the actual numbers involved but please make the benefit of better weapons much much much more subtle. Please!

And don't start with such a low number scale unless you are going to allow decimal points. So, for example, if you have a cudgel with an attack strength of 20 points, then make a staff 23 points but just add a slight defensive bonus. Spears could be 30 points, War staff could be 35 points with a slight defensive bonus. Daggers could also be low, say 25 points with a combat speed bonus, swords going up slightly with the best weapon in the late game at say around 70 points.

By having a higher number scale balancing the game would be so much easier!

Of course, you would also need to boost hit points as well, so instead of starting at 2 hit points, a unit might start at 40. Once again, bonuses would be easier to scale if the number system was larger to begin with.

Similarly, armour and defence values should have subtle increases but a much larger scale. Padded leggings could be say 18 defence points and leather leggings 22 hit points. Etc etc.

The slight increase in numbers will move the odds in your favour a bit in your favour, but battles would be much more interesting. And it would promote a real quality vs quantity emphasis. At the moment quality is the key to tactical battles because even large numbers of weak units can't compete with a single unit with weapons or armour the next level up.


And following on - by making numbers much more subtle it would not make the tech tree all about studying the Weaponry field.

This is a really important side benefit because tech is such a game-killer at the moment because of the weapon level imbalance.

If your tech level 1 units have a chance against tech level 2, 3 and even level 4 units it allows you to focus on higher quantities of low level troops while you explore the other tech trees. It would allow a player, as an example, to spam out a large peasant army while he/she focussed on researching magic and spells. While another player with metal deposits might still specialise in a well equipped but smaller army.

This would make much more sense of the tech tree AND promote different ways of playing the game.

The game is so much less than it should be because there is really only one good way of proceeding. That is, by focussing heavily on weaponry tech.


Multiplying attack numbers for groups is shit. Make the benefit of groups mainly about survivability with a slight attack bonus - not a multiple of all the attack strengths in the party.

Lets say (using the larger number scale mentioned above) a single unit has an attack factor of 30, make each extra person in the party add 10% to the base. So a party of 4 would have an attack of 30 (for the first unit) + (3 x10%) = 39. The next size up party (8) would have an attack of 30+70% = 51 etc. But the real benefit is that the larger units would be able to survive for longer.

By doing this it would also give opportunities to have certain weapons boost or penalise the group factor. A spear wielding group could provide a +12% boost per party member instead of the base 10%. While a battle axe with a high initial attack value could penalise large groups and only give a 6% boost. Once again, it means the player needs to plan out his army much better. The larger the group of spearmen the better, but for axemen it may be better to have many small groups.


Ditch simultaneous combat if you are going to keep the glass cannon units. Better yet, ditch simultaneous combat AND don't have glass cannons.


I have tried to only list do-able adjustments to the current system instead of talking about a big wish-list of things that couldn't be added in the short term.

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July 7, 2011 5:37:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And don't start with such a low number scale unless you are going to allow decimal points. So, for example, if you have a cudgel with an attack strength of 20 points, then make a staff 23 points but just add a slight defensive bonus. Spears could be 30 points, War staff could be 35 points with a slight defensive bonus. Daggers could also be low, say 25 points with a combat speed bonus, swords going up slightly with the best weapon in the late game at say around 70 points.

By having a higher number scale balancing the game would be so much easier!

 

I agree completely. Having larger numbers would allow for better resolution. Right now a lot of the system comes down to one hit kills because of the low resolution (4 hit points).

 

Multiplying attack numbers for groups is shit. Make the benefit of groups mainly about survivability with a slight attack bonus - not a multiple of all the attack strengths in the party.

Lets say (using the larger number scale mentioned above) a single unit has an attack factor of 30, make each extra person in the party add 10% to the base. So a party of 4 would have an attack of 30 (for the first unit) + (3 x10%) = 39. The next size up party (8) would have an attack of 30+70% = 51 etc. But the real benefit is that the larger units would be able to survive for longer.

By doing this it would also give opportunities to have certain weapons boost or penalise the group factor. A spear wielding group could provide a +12% boost per party member instead of the base 10%. While a battle axe with a high initial attack value could penalise large groups and only give a 6% boost. Once again, it means the player needs to plan out his army much better. The larger the group of spearmen the better, but for axemen it may be better to have many small groups.

 

Imagine this scenario, a group of 12 people are trying to attack a single soldier. Guess what, not everyone will be able to attack at least in melee.

 

Ditch simultaneous combat if you are going to keep the glass cannon units. Better yet, ditch simultaneous combat AND don't have glass cannons.

 

While i initially pushed for simultaneous combat, i'm inclined to aggree. I've recently played the beta for HoMMVI and they use the attack, counter attack system (what E:WOM used to have). They pulled it off because of high resolution (units have a lot of health + lots of units per stack).

 

Frogboy, Paxton, please give this a good read. This fellow touches on some good points here. Unless your engine uses short ints, you should be able to expand your resolution without overflow. I think a good start would be to increase the base health to like 20 - 30 hits. I might try that later and post the results.

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July 7, 2011 8:23:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Poor equipment balance is something I have been pointing out since the game came out. It has improved a bit but then the beta messed it up even more. Honestly I just don't think that Brad and most of Stardock are very good at balance... Fortunately from what I have seen this is an area that Derek excels(pun not intended). 

I believe that Brad did mention that balance fixes would be one of the last things to be done in the beta, so maybe your concerns will be met in the near future. If they are not fixed I might do another tactical balance mod if I'm not to busy playing FE, and if enough people are still playing to warrant it.

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July 8, 2011 12:32:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DsRaider,
Poor equipment balance is something I have been pointing out since the game came out. It has improved a bit but then the beta messed it up even more. Honestly I just don't think that Brad and most of Stardock are very good at balance... Fortunately from what I have seen this is an area that Derek excels(pun not intended). 

I believe that Brad did mention that balance fixes would be one of the last things to be done in the beta, so maybe your concerns will be met in the near future. If they are not fixed I might do another tactical balance mod if I'm not to busy playing FE, and if enough people are still playing to warrant it.

 

if you update it for 1.3 when its done, i'll definitely try it out.

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July 8, 2011 4:14:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Same here. Its really making me cringe to see two large stacks get one hit in each and both die.

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July 8, 2011 5:11:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, we've been complaining about balance and low hit points since last august. There has been improvement (not enough by any mean, but improvement nonetheless) half a year ago. Now they've utterly destroyed any sort of sense the combat system could have by giving 2 HP to each unit (in the history of balance decision, this must be the most nonsensical ever made. I swear). Raising it to 3 HP was almost a joke. Weapons deal 20-40 damage easily, so HP should be around at least 20-25 per soldier. It's a no-brainer if you want to avoid one-hit kills, but the message never got across, and at this stage, I doubt it ever will. I suggest you wait for Fallen Enchantress.

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July 8, 2011 10:26:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I play and enjoy Elemental War of Magic, and there is much improvement from where we were last year, however, if hit points and weapon damage numbers are out of line, can these not be corrected in a mod?

I come from the Sins forums and have modded SoaSE for some time, though my expertise is only at a tweaking level. Swapping numbers high or low, speed or numbers of units and various ability durations or strengths or cooldowns can all be adjusted, with varying effects of course, some good, some bad, depending on who wants what.

But to re-emphasize my point, Sins is moddable and therefore changeable.

I am guessing this is approximately true for E:WoM, yes?

If a mod can change these numbers significantly and be shown to ease the issues then i have no doubt that Stardock would appreciate the help from the community in getting the game to a point where most of us are happy with it.

But since this hasn't been done yet, then i can only assume that my guess that a 'mod' can correct these issues is not true at all. Or that these values are hard coded and not changeable by the player?

Anyway, does anyone see any way that this might be approached as a community effort where we can all pitch in, and take some of the pressure off Frogboy doing it all himself?

 

-Teal

 

 

 

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July 9, 2011 12:51:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Teal_Blue,
I play and enjoy Elemental War of Magic, and there is much improvement from where we were last year, however, if hit points and weapon damage numbers are out of line, can these not be corrected in a mod?

I come from the Sins forums and have modded SoaSE for some time, though my expertise is only at a tweaking level. Swapping numbers high or low, speed or numbers of units and various ability durations or strengths or cooldowns can all be adjusted, with varying effects of course, some good, some bad, depending on who wants what.

But to re-emphasize my point, Sins is moddable and therefore changeable.

I am guessing this is approximately true for E:WoM, yes?

If a mod can change these numbers significantly and be shown to ease the issues then i have no doubt that Stardock would appreciate the help from the community in getting the game to a point where most of us are happy with it.

But since this hasn't been done yet, then i can only assume that my guess that a 'mod' can correct these issues is not true at all. Or that these values are hard coded and not changeable by the player?

Anyway, does anyone see any way that this might be approached as a community effort where we can all pitch in, and take some of the pressure off Frogboy doing it all himself?

 -Teal
 

You would think that Stardock would welcome this sort of approach where the community gets involved - but in my experience this isn't the case. Last year I was fairly keen to spend time trying to work with the numbers a bit and get better balance so wrote a post asking for some clarification in battle numbers. There was zero response from Stardock and so I thought if they aren't willing to explain a few things that are hard-coded under the hood then why should I waste hours and hours of my time discovering these through trial and error. If others are willing to wade through the numbers without help from Stardock then that would be great - but at the moment I have next to zero interest in doing this.

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July 9, 2011 12:56:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I will have to look at the files myself then, in Sins, it is the entity files. Here i understand they are xml? anyway, still readable with notepad, unless they have to be converted first?

If so, then i guess i will do that first, then try to take a look and see what i can see

and if i can make sense of it.

 

Wish me luck,

 

-Teal

 

 

 

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July 11, 2011 7:27:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The problem is that no one at Stardock is interested in tactical combat. Derek is a Civ guy, he does not see the importance of it. FrogBrad has expressed that he wants TC to be over quickly. So FE will have the same problem as WoM in this regard. And they are stuck with some ideas that kind of limits Tactical combat, like "a sovereign should be able to take out an army". Why?

Luckily it is easy to mod. Just give trained units 20 base hp and suddenly the game is more interesting.

 

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July 11, 2011 7:36:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm sorry, I disagree that FE will have the same boring TC. We will have to wait and see, but don't assume. It is supposed to be one of three KEY areas in FE that they focus on. Maybe it's shit, maybe it's great.

TC in E:wom is pretty much a lost cause. No depth, terrible AI.

Another problem with the ludicrously low health of units in 1.3 beta is that when units level up, their health shoots through the roof. This creates a steamrolling effect for anyone who wins a fight, as he can now go on and win the next one.

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July 11, 2011 11:06:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Magog_AoW,
Luckily it is easy to mod. Just give trained units 20 base hp and suddenly the game is more interesting.

Lol, I imagine that makes champions and monsters pretty weak... The problem is that because of engine limitations and min possible armor values any real balance change would have to involve significant work on every unit and monster in the game, and I think they are trying to avoid that for WoM.

Quoting Heavenfall,
I'm sorry, I disagree that FE will have the same boring TC. We will have to wait and see, but don't assume. It is supposed to be one of three KEY areas in FE that they focus on. Maybe it's shit, maybe it's great.

TC in E:wom is pretty much a lost cause. No depth, terrible AI.

Another problem with the ludicrously low health of units in 1.3 beta is that when units level up, their health shoots through the roof. This creates a steamrolling effect for anyone who wins a fight, as he can now go on and win the next one.

%100 Agree. It would be possible to add a tiny bit of depth to tactical combat in WoM but it would require a complete super organized redo of basically all unit stats. As I said earlier that doesn't seem like their forte. Of course Derek has already shown us several really cool excel sheets that fill me with confidence about the balance in FE.

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July 11, 2011 11:36:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
A quick note to op. Attack numbers are not multiplied for groups even though the UI shows it that way. A group of 4 soldiers with 6 attack each will make four distinct rolls of 6, not a single roll at 24.
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July 11, 2011 11:39:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The difficulty of modding these numbers is that attack and defense rolls are NOT random ( from 1 to unit stat ). A unit with 3 defense is as likely to roll a 3 as he is to roll 1 or 2 together.

Edit: This post explains it better.

edit2: And here http://thedyinggrounds.com/Elemental/patch12.htm is an old script I ran to check the mitigation numbers of attack vs def, based on the above post.

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July 11, 2011 2:40:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You know that you need to level your units to to about level 3 before Glass is replaces with Dampened Wood cannons right? Unit hp goes way up after that. that is why i camp my new recruits next to a forest so they can level a bit before taking on a real challenge. I thought we all did that.

A simple flick of the wrist changes hit points to higher values. Problem solved. I think there is a fatal flaw though in that heroes are much more expensive than trained units and rarely have an advantage in combat. they are scouts and treasure hunters and wizards and very fast cavalry, but only because trained cavalry are limited by horse production. Is that all? What about tanks and healers and dpt (damage per turn)? 

I create a massive level of lore for every game I play. I like to name each hero, develop dynamic characters and have epic story arches. I do like this version's ability to make some very powerful rogues, but too many classic hero archetypes are missing. That said, there is some really good advice in the OP about adding defense to weapons and maybe even special magical shields that increase damage. 

At this point FE seem to be the Deus Ex Machina of all these problems. I frakking hope it works.   

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July 11, 2011 4:10:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
I'm sorry, I disagree that FE will have the same boring TC. We will have to wait and see, but don't assume. It is supposed to be one of three KEY areas in FE that they focus on. Maybe it's shit, maybe it's great.

Ofc I have no idea what TC will be like in FE, and it will no doubt be better than in WoM. But since Derek wants TC to be quick so that you can "return to the main game" faster, I kind of wonder how that fits into making TC more interesting. But yes, wait and see.

Lol, I imagine that makes champions and monsters pretty weak... The problem is that because of engine limitations and min possible armor values any real balance change would have to involve significant work on every unit and monster in the game, and I think they are trying to avoid that for WoM.

Monsters yes, they become experience fodder. But for me the interesting part is not to camp your city waiting for a bear and a spider to attack, so that was just an improvement.
Champions not so much for some reason, there are some battle calculations that I don't really understand when it comes to groups of units. Well equipped champions were not easy kills at all...

Only tested it for a bit though, there are a lot more stuff that might become unbalanced, like combat spells.

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July 12, 2011 7:42:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
I'm sorry, I disagree that FE will have the same boring TC. We will have to wait and see, but don't assume. It is supposed to be one of three KEY areas in FE that they focus on. Maybe it's shit, maybe it's great.

I think it is strange that FE will have the option to auto resolve a fight, because if the TC is a key element it should not be possible to skip it. Otherwise Stardock could build auto resolve buttons for the other elements, too.

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July 12, 2011 7:57:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It makes sense to me. Not every fight is interesting all the time. Some fights you can just skip (often against monsters), and others you just don't want to wait until they're over (if you are guaranteed a victory after defeating the enemy general or whatever).

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July 12, 2011 2:59:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Vallu751,
A quick note to op. Attack numbers are not multiplied for groups even though the UI shows it that way. A group of 4 soldiers with 6 attack each will make four distinct rolls of 6, not a single roll at 24.

This is the point exactly.

Everyone keeps saying "unit X should get 12.512% attack bonus in Y situation," but they're really missing the point. It is not a question of how the system can be tweaked but of how it works fundamentally that produces these problems.

The problem is the way that "attack" values are multiplied when unit sizes are increased. This is very deceptive because it's not how the mechanics work. A four man unit each of whom have 10 attack do NOT have 40 attack. They do not roll one dice between 1 and 40 and then subtract the total enemy defence, they roll 4 dice between 1 and 10, subtract the defence of one individual and then add each of those dice together.

It is really important that the game works this way. It's built on the principle that it doesn't matter how many archers you have if none of those arrows are powerful enough to pierce a dragon's hide. When fighting tough enemies this means you end up doing less damage; but when you'r attacking, say, unarmoured wolves, it means you do more. The game should NOT display "40 Attack" for 4 guys with 10 attack each, it should display "10 Damage" and "4 AttackS." This distinction is important because it allows for situations like 300, where one good unit can hold off many enemies. Numbers and quality are both strengths, but they are different kinds of strength. Arguably heroes could be able to get extra attacks by taking certain traits, but that's a whole other can of worms.

Once you start thinking about it in this rational way the solutions to combat mechanics become a lot more simple.

Quoting jecjackal,


Imagine this scenario, a group of 12 people are trying to attack a single soldier. Guess what, not everyone will be able to attack at least in melee.

Absolutely. Arguably there should be a way of limiting the number of attacks a group can make against an individual (say, max attacks = your unit size + enemy unit size / 2), but this would only serve to diminish the value of having numbers, which is the opposite of what needs to happen immediately. I agree it should happen, but at the moment the game could not handle it. If we make some of the changes I'm about to describe however, I think it could.

The point is that what we call attack is not really attack, it is DAMAGE. Men with swords do not hit twice as hard as men with spears, they just hit in different ways. As the OP has stated, the basic attack strength for all units needs to be much higher and increase much less. Start at 10 and increase to 20 or something. More importantly, upgrading unit weapons for higher attack values should increase in costs exponentially, because increasing your damage potential this way is much more valuable than increasing the damage. Doubling unit size is less useful than doubling attack values, so the latter should cost much more, like 4x as much. If you really need to increase attack value (which should be called DAMAGE) it should be done by using magic weapons (which would be a trinket that you add to whatever unit, rather than a different weapon), increasing experience, or increasing strength / buffs.

So as the OP said, attack /defence values for equipment need to vary less and HP need to be much higher. I'd personally start with a number like 10 attack and 10 defence for an unarmoured guy with a club, design the equipment to increase slowly from there and then balance combat by adjusting base HP at the end. When I originally argued for the basic unit size to be increased I assumed the basic HP / guy would remain the same, and I have no idea why it was reduced.

The value of weapons instead needs to be more subtle. If you look at other systems, like D&D, the basic damage values of weapons do not change very much. At the bottom, daggers have 1-4 and at the top greataxes have 1-12. Other factors like strength, experience and enchantments are more important, and damage reduction (D&D's equivalent of defence) is much more limited (of course, they also have a to-hit system, but that's a whole other can of worms).

Ditch instantaneous attacks. It's a poor man's work around. Instead, weapons should have reach and mobility statistics. If you have a longer reach than your enemy then your unit always strikes first when attacked. If your reach is twice that of your enemy then he cannot counter against your attacks.

This is then balanced by the fact that swords and other short weapons have 1) slightly higher attack values and 2) better mobility. Mobility determines the number of sides you can counter-attack on in a given turn. If you have mobility 1 you can only counter-attack against frontal attacks. If you have 3 it is the three squares in front, if it is 8 it is any side. This is a much better way of limiting counter attacks then the current arbitrary limit and it would make maneuvering a more important part of the game. Spears become powerful weapons against frontal attacks but are vulnerable when outmaneuvered. Swords can hit harder and are more tactically flexible.

This would seem like a fundamentally better system that would be more fun because it is more realistic. There is nothing wrong with realism when it is simple. A shred of realism means that the game behaves more like people expect it to, and until it does so people will not be able to use the tactics that work in real life, which is what we all want.

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July 12, 2011 5:34:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I was wrong in the specifics about attack/damage values in my opening post but in reality you still end up with multiple hits delivered by a single game unit. I would much rather each game unit (stacks or individuals) gets a single attack/damage roll and that the size of the unit helps more with survivability.

As a guide I think the most powerful individual should still need about two hits to kill the weakest individual and equal individuals requiring about 6 hits to get a kill. If this was the case you would end up in battles where units would need to work together to reduce reaction phase hits before a unit could be killed and even weak units could play a strategic role. It would also mean that simultaneous strikes could be dropped and weapon types could play more of a role such as Sethai describes above. There should be a disengagement penalty for units that are next to each other as well.

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July 13, 2011 7:59:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

MOM handled multiple units well, because attack values for any given combat were based on single unit on single unit combats.  A unit with 8 figures in it (halfing slingers) was devastating not because of a single large attack, but because of 8 little attacks.  I think each slinger had an attack value of 3 or 4, wihch in the MOM world was 3-4 30% chances to hit and do one point of damage.  Defenders had a defense rating, of which each point was a 30% chance to mitigate one point of damage.  Defense numbers were typically higher than attack values, so the statistics played in favor of no damage.  However, occasionally an attack would go well, a defense would go poorly, and a point of damage was done.  This calculation was done for each figure in the unit, so ganging up multiple figures in a unit was effectively a way of getting more chances to hit, not more probability of a hit landing.  Since it's only a statistical thing about how often a point of damage was done, having more units pushed odds in your favor.  MOM also had simultaneous damage, and it worked well.  The thing was that as the unit with multiple figures was worn down, figures in the unit would dissappear, and along with that, the additional opportunities to attack.   I think EWOM does that now, by lowering the attack value as figures are removed from a unit.

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July 14, 2011 6:31:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Winnihym,
MOM handled multiple units well, because attack values for any given combat were based on single unit on single unit combats.  A unit with 8 figures in it (halfing slingers) was devastating not because of a single large attack, but because of 8 little attacks.  I think each slinger had an attack value of 3 or 4, wihch in the MOM world was 3-4 30% chances to hit and do one point of damage.  Defenders had a defense rating, of which each point was a 30% chance to mitigate one point of damage.  Defense numbers were typically higher than attack values, so the statistics played in favor of no damage.  However, occasionally an attack would go well, a defense would go poorly, and a point of damage was done.  This calculation was done for each figure in the unit, so ganging up multiple figures in a unit was effectively a way of getting more chances to hit, not more probability of a hit landing.  Since it's only a statistical thing about how often a point of damage was done, having more units pushed odds in your favor.  MOM also had simultaneous damage, and it worked well.  The thing was that as the unit with multiple figures was worn down, figures in the unit would dissappear, and along with that, the additional opportunities to attack.   I think EWOM does that now, by lowering the attack value as figures are removed from a unit.

Yes, as I mentioned this is more or less exactly how it works. The problem is the way the game shows large units as having higher attack values. They don’t: they just make multiple attack rolls at the same time. If the game were to show “10 damage, 4 AttackS” instead of “40 damage” the problems with the combat system would be evident to everyone who played the game. Ie, that the huge scale over which attack and defence values run makes it much more of an important factor than the number of attacks (ie, number of men in a unit). There needs to be less difference between the damage values of early and late game weapons.

The other problem with combat is heroes and monsters. Because they only ever have one attack roll, they need huge damage (ie, Attack values) to compete with the amount of damage output from a large group of well equipped men. While some distinction is needed (units get a lot of weak strikes, monsters and heroes get few but powerful ones) it is far too stark at the moment. Units and monsters are effectively operating in different systems and it’s a nightmare to balance.

So i think monsters and heroes need less damage than present but more attacks (ie, effectively working as if they were small units). Monsters might have 2 or 3, heroes would start with 2 and gain more as they levelled up through traits (with a max around 5). This is how many other game systems, such as D&D, work.

This way units and heroes/monsters would be brought more in line. Start the basic defence and attack values for a guy with a club at about 10, then steadily increase this to about 30 for a guy with end of game quality gear. Then let’s say that the ability bonuses for heroes give them about half again as high damage values, Some numbers then:

4 Peasants: 4 Attacks, 10 Damage (formerly “attack”) = 40 hp of damage

10 Dread Knights: 10 Attacks, 30 Damage = 300 hp of damage

Early Game Hero: 2 Attacks, 20 Damage = 40 hp of damage

Late Game Hero: 5 Attacks, 50 Damage = 250 hp of damage

Ogre = 2 Attacks, 30 Damage = 60 hp of damage

Dragon = 4 Attacks, 80 Damage = 320 hp of damage

That way the damage dealing potentials of various unit types in the game would be in the right sort of scale and all unit types are competitive. Big units do more damage than heroes in theory, but when attacking a unit with high defence (say 20) the unit of knights deals (30-20)x10 = 50 hp of damage, and the hero does (50-20)x5 = 150 damage, making heroes more effective in certain situations.

And because EVERYONE would then make multiple attack rolls instead of one big one, there would be less of the crazy variability in damage dealt. It’s the difference between rolling two dice and adding them together (where a 7 becomes most likely and a 12 is 1 in 36) and rolling a dice with 12 sides, where all results are equally likely.

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July 14, 2011 7:56:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

Multiplying attack numbers for groups is shit. Make the benefit of groups mainly about survivability with a slight attack bonus - not a multiple of all the attack strengths in the party.

I dispute this. It's certainly not as valuable as better weapons, but this is because of the problems with weapon damage values starting to low and finishing too high, which is the real problem here. I know you're trying to work within the sytem, but I really dislike it when people start throwing round these "+10% bonus" ideas. Why 10? Why not 11? or 12.519? An extra attack makes intuitive sense because you have one more guy to swing his sword in the same time. An extra guy does not mean your guys are any more resistant to arrows. It means they can take more, and that's why they have more hp. If everything just becomes a bonus to attack or defence, then what is the difference between unit size and wargear?

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July 14, 2011 12:34:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Sethai,

...

I dispute this. It's certainly not as valuable as better weapons, but this is because of the problems with weapon damage values starting to low and finishing too high, which is the real problem here. I know you're trying to work within the sytem, but I really dislike it when people start throwing round these "+10% bonus" ideas. Why 10? Why not 11? or 12.519? An extra attack makes intuitive sense because you have one more guy to swing his sword in the same time. An extra guy does not mean your guys are any more resistant to arrows. It means they can take more, and that's why they have more hp. If everything just becomes a bonus to attack or defence, then what is the difference between unit size and wargear?

I agree with most of what you are saying, Sethai, but as you yourself point out the very nature of the beast makes balancing this game nigh on impossible. I'm considering how other games have abstracted combat and other than Heroes of Might and Magic I'm struggling to find good examples of stacks of individuals attacking as multiple units as opposed to stacks of individuals abstracted down to a single unit. And the big difference with HOMM is that when your units die they don't recover.

By the way, just to try and avoid confusion I'll use the following definitions:
Individual: A single person.
Party: A group of individuals.
Unit: A single game-play item that occupies a square in tactical combat. Either parties or individuals.

So a hero or monster is an individual and a unit, while a group of soldiers is a party and a unit. The party is made up of individual soldiers and individually these are not units in the game sense. Does that make sense?

Lets say that basic variables for individuals are:
Strength: Buffs damage values. Base value 10.
Dexterity: Buffs attack/defence values. Base value 10.
Constitution: Buffs hit points. Base value 10.
Cohesion: Buffs attack and damage values as a percentage for each individual added to a party. Base value 10(%).

So basic peasant individuals would have stats such as :
Str: 10
Dex: 10
Con: 10
Coh: 10

But basic Trog peasant individuals would have stats such as :
Str: 12
Dex: 8
Con: 12
Coh: 8

This would abstract as Trogs being bigger and stronger, but slower, having better hit points but not working as well in larger groups.

For the sake of the example, lets assume that the numbers translate directly across so 10 strength leads to 10 damage, 10 dexterity leads to 10 to-hit and 10 dodge. 10 constitution leads to 10 hit points. Lets also assume just for simplicity that to-hit divided by (to-hit + enemy_dodge) is the percentage of attacks that get through and that damage delivered is between 1 and the damage variable. Also each unit gets two attacks per combat turn and three reaction attacks. Now, of course, these would need to be properly formulated but I want to show how by abstracting individuals and parties into single units it makes the game so much easier to balance.

Both the above units are armed with clubs that give no bonuses to any of the stats. 2 4-person parties of Trogs are attacking a single 8-person party of peasants.

Each Trog unit of 4 members has the following stats :
Damage: 16. (12 + (4 x 8)/100). Average damage 8.5.
To-hit: 11. (8 + (4 x 8)/100).
Dodge: 8.
Hit points: 48. (4 x 12).

And the peasant unit with 8 individuals has these stats.
Damage: 18. (10 + (8 x 10)/100). Average damage 9.5.
To-hit: 18. (10 + (8 x 10)/100).
Dodge: 10.
Hit points: 80. (8 x 10).

Attacks for Trogs are: 52% (11/(11 + 10)) Makes the average damage per attack 4.4 but we'll round to 5.

Attacks for Peasants are: 69% (18/(18 + 8)) Makes the average damage per attack 6.5 but we'll round to 7

After round 1: Trog unit 1 attacks peasants receives 2 reaction strikes. Trog unit 2 attacks and gets 1 reaction strike. Peasant attacks Trog 1 and gets two reaction strikes. Results: Trog 1 down to 20hp (2 trogs left). Trog 2 down to 41hp (4 trogs left). Peasants down to 50hp (5 men left). Loss of individuals affect the cohesion factor but I won't bother factoring that in here. But you can see that parity is kept between units and survivability is the big winner for larger parties. Lets keep playing it out (without recalculating factors as numbers drop)

Round 2: Trog_1 0hp; Trog_2 27hp; Peasants 20hp.

Round 3: Trog_2 0hp; Peasants 0hp; So getting rid of simultaneous strikes, in reality whoever had the last hit won the battle by the narrowest of margins.

Weapons and armour could then subtly buff or nerf the base stats. And I mean really subtly - not Stardock subtly.

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July 14, 2011 2:31:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Das123,

I agree with most of what you are saying, Sethai, but as you yourself point out the very nature of the beast makes balancing this game nigh on impossible. I'm considering how other games have abstracted combat and other than Heroes of Might and Magic I'm struggling to find good examples of stacks of individuals attacking as multiple units as opposed to stacks of individuals abstracted down to a single unit.

It is indeed very tricky to balance units with multiple attacks (ie parties/regiments/whatever) when everything else in the game only has one attack roll. But I'd argue a better solution would be to make the monsters and heroes MORE like the groups rather than less. Ie, reduce their Damage stats but give them multiple attack rolls at once, as if they were small but very well equipped groups. Reasons why?

1 - It keeps the fundamental difference between regiments and monsters/individuals. If a regiment can be assembled that performs exactly the same way as a dragon (because it has the same ultimate attack, defence and hp, and just achieves them in different ways), then really what is the point in having dragons?

2 - It means less erratic numbers. A dragon or (in your example) unit with 100 attack is equally likely to roll a "weird" result like a 2 as a normal result like a 54. a Dragon with 30 damage and 3 attacks is much more likely to do a reasonable amount of damage (just like 7 is the most likely result when adding two dice together)

3 - It fits better with elemental economics. Currently 12 guy units cost twice as much as 6 guy units. Who's going to recruit big units in your system, when all they give is a small buff to attack?

I personally dislike the idea of cohesion as it seems like a "betterness" stat. Surely if your trogs are less disciplined there are better ways to reflect that, such as using the stats we have already. For example, you could use the Int of your race to determine rolls for initiative (a new mechanic which is coming in). Or perhaps if a player wants to play a game with a barbaric, poorly organised army, he will just not research bigger units. And you've already got strength as your damage boosting stat. Who's going to want to sit down and work out whether buffing their unit's strength will improve their attack more than buffing their cohesion?

Multiple attack rolls for everyone makes units and heroes/monsters more easy to balance against each other, but effective in different ways. I'll not go over the how again, but the numbers are there in my last but one post.

Like we've both said though, it ALL depends on making the differences in damage potential from weapons much more subtle

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July 14, 2011 3:34:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Sethai,

It is indeed very tricky to balance units with multiple attacks (ie parties/regiments/whatever) when everything else in the game only has one attack roll. But I'd argue a better solution would be to make the monsters and heroes MORE like the groups rather than less. Ie, reduce their Damage stats but give them multiple attack rolls at once, as if they were small but very well equipped groups. Reasons why?

1 - It keeps the fundamental difference between regiments and monsters/individuals. If a regiment can be assembled that performs exactly the same way as a dragon (because it has the same ultimate attack, defence and hp, and just achieves them in different ways), then really what is the point in having dragons?

Ahh. OK. I get where you're coming from now. I agree with your reasoning but I still disagree with the solution. I was using very simplistic maths in the example above and I agree there should be a min, max and normal distribution curve. But rather than using dice roll mechanics to do this, it would be better to just use maths to achieve the same thing. And then if you are using maths to do this then you no longer need multiple hits for regiments and they can then work as units.

In answer to your question about dragons, in pure melee there wouldn't be much of a difference hit for hit but Dragons should have other abilities. They may have some spells, fire-breathing, fear, perhaps even flying one day. And if the normal distribution curve is programmable then the middle of the bell curve could be shifted along the damage axis, etc etc.

Quoting Sethai,

2 - It means less erratic numbers. A dragon or (in your example) unit with 100 attack is equally likely to roll a "weird" result like a 2 as a normal result like a 54. a Dragon with 30 damage and 3 attacks is much more likely to do a reasonable amount of damage (just like 7 is the most likely result when adding two dice together)

As mentioned above, this would be better handled through probability maths using min, max, normal distribution and critical hit calculations. Agree that real results should not be equal distribution between min and max number.

Quoting Sethai,

3 - It fits better with elemental economics. Currently 12 guy units cost twice as much as 6 guy units. Who's going to recruit big units in your system, when all they give is a small buff to attack?

The real benefit of larger parties - other than subtle attack buffs - is the survivability. If just a hand-ful of individuals survive a battle they can recuperate without needing to be re-built. This is a massive bonus.

Quoting Sethai,

Like we've both said though, it ALL depends on making the differences in damage potential from weapons much more subtle

Well we certainly agree on that score.

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