Before we begin, the excuse: "If you don't like the Research Tree, just mod your game to have all of this research done. There, problem solved." Is not an acceptable response to this thread, as we are discussing the final product which will be sold and introduced to a public. 9 out of 10 players will not mod or adjust Elemental via its XML sheets, this shouldn't be depended on by anyone as a means to make the game perfect for anyone one player, especially the developers.
Introduction, Purpose of Thread
On problem most players can agree upon is that at present Champions are extremely powerful, and they are far too useful. In response to this problem and search of solution I've decided to draw attention to the Warfare Technical Tree and other technologies which relate to War and why I feel that one of the root causes of the current champion issue may reside within those technologies. I'm opening this thread as a forum for discussion upon this topic, and for people to share ideas on why it is a good idea to keep within the game, or whether or not it needs to be looked upon in a far different light.
After this introduction, I will be providing some detailed insights on some suggestions I would make to either phase out the Warfare Tree or to give it a complete overhaul. You may disagree with these insights, and that is perfectly acceptable. The idea is to open up a discussion to see if we as a community can come to some kind of consensus to help the game progress towards a better outcome. Hopefully this will thread will produce fruitful results, and I look forward to reading everyone's feedback.
OrleanKnight's Opinion & Suggestions
I've made a similar post of this nature before on this forum, now I'm just refining it with greater detail. The original post was delivered in the The 2 biggest issues hindering replayability thread. After some further reading, I understand some people may have no fully understand my suggestions so I'm going to further break them down into even greater detail backed up with some of my reasoning. I as as welcoming to my opinions as you all are, and I understand that my outlook may not reflect a lot of people within this forum. Understand that I am a player of this game, I have purchased it and I would love to continue playing it in the future.
Yet, this product is not yet a perfect one, and in my eyes far from it. I've read that many people still wish to keep the Tactical Combat as it is, so I've taken that into account when writing this thread too. Most of these suggestions apply to the game in its current state, and can be applied with some reasonable modifications.
What's The Problem With Warfare Tech?
At present, the Warfare Tech tree is a collection of very basic items. The list primarily includes weapons, armor, mounts, squad, and army size with some refinements to states upon productions. These things are extremely critical to a player early game, but are denied the player entirely until late game. The game is treated as though it were an Age of Empire game in which the people do not know anything and have to learn it; however, unlike Age of Empires your nation isn't under attack by massive ogres and giant spiders.
Because these things are so inaccessible to the player, Warfare may be overlooked entirely as players merely go around and collect armies worth of Champions. Since players can collect powerful weapons and armor from quests, fighting monsters, and battling enemy nations - the desire to research them becomes rather pointless. The player is coaxed towards forming large squads of Champions because it is a more cost effective and easier to maintain, not to mention faster to produce in order to proceed with the desire to keep fighting Tactical Battles and engaging larger and more dangerous enemies.
Many players will desire to keep fighting in an almost constant basis, ensuring that every turn at the very least one or two Tactical battles to keep the game feeling engaging and fun. The Warfare Technical tree ends up becoming a back-burner type of thing, because Army units are never produced because they take far too long research, too expensive to make, and take far too large produce in Queue. You can spend 26 Seasons (6.5 years) waiting for a single squad of 5 soldiers to be produced - when in reality if your country was in dire need you'd slap a sword and shield in just about any able bodied man's hand and push him out the door in matter of hours. In the time it takes me to produce army units at present, they practically pop out with a PHD in Poking Spiders with Sticks.
Cities are a factor in this problem, cities try to do too many things with just a single building Queue - I will explain this in depth later. While this is fine, the idea feels to have been carried over from GalCiv 2. As I've argued before, Elemental: FE is not GalCiv 3, and needs to be treated like a different creature entirely, especially now that combat is much more frequent and questing is part of the equation. These are concepts that were not in GalCiv 2, and they feel out of play within Elemental for several reasons. The fact of the matter is, the player needs an army, and a player should be able to devote resources to constructing that army very quickly from turn 1.
Warfare Tech Tree & Army Related Techs Completely Unlocked From the Start?
The Warfare tech tree is currently utilized as a means to inhibit the player from building an army, rather than a way for them to make one. Remove it and implement most of its features into the game from the start. Even so, the only clear restriction that will prevent a person from making army units now will just be a lack of resources like gildar, ore, crystals, and mounts. This feels like reasonable restrictions anyway, the additional waiting time for things to research and then queue in production is just cruel and laughable at the same time. There are potentially a few people who will not find this an enjoyable gaming experience, I assume this because I am one of those people - it displeases me so much that I've devoted several hours on multiple days to produce these forum posts in hope to translate my displeasure to constructive feedback.
Fallen Enchantress already has the pieces in place, they just have to be arranged correctly for things to feel more solid. Already we can battle Darkling Camps, Ogre Camps, and Drake Camps. After we defeat them, we get a nice message that they can now join our cause. Great, but the problem they really haven't joined our cause until...
- We've Complete Researching Cooperation (Civilization).
- We've completed Researching Bonding Ceremony (Civilization).
- We've completed Researching Wildland Allies (Civilization).
- Battled and Defeated an Ogre Camp.
- Waited 10+ Seasons to Train a Pioneer
- Waited several more seasons for that Pioneer to Travel to the Camp.
- Created an Outpost by the Camp.
- Waited for the Ogre Camp to get done constructing to Unlock Ogres.
- Designed a Unit.
- Sent that Unit to Queue.
- Waited 10+ Seasons for it complete.
This feels like a long road that is largely needless, especially when it deals with Ogres, Drakes, and Darklings. You might argue, yes but that hard work allows you to constantly keep making more Ogres forever and ever. Why? Will I ever need that many Ogres? Will I ever desire to have a huge army of them? Maybe, but unlikely. There are some players out there who will want an entire army of just Ogres, and you know what is acceptable - but perhaps we can figure a way to allow them to accomplish that faster without having to devote so many work into what should be a far easier goal.
If I desire to have Ogre units, perhaps the better method might be:
- Locate and attack an Ogre camp to make them submit to your cause.
- Once the Camp Submits, the Camp is yours! You own, it you gain a Sphere of Influence around it.
- Ogres can now be produced from that Camp for a fee, and will be generated and constructed AT THAT CAMP, not your City.
- The Camp is yours to do with as you please, you can even move it if you want or attach it to a Fortress (Forward Bases explained later) for safe keeping.
Because the Camp is yours, enemy nations can attack it and take control of it. But of course, they will also have to battle against Ogres just as you did from the beginning. The Ogres should defend themselves and not need any standing guards. Note, that if you were to attach the Ogre Camp to another structure you own, Ogres will lose their pride and not defend it unless you create Ogres and force them to do it. Moving an Ogre camp could also create Unrest in certain places, especially if you attach them to a city!
Note, Ogres were utilized as an example. I would also like to apply these very same methods to Darklings, Drakes, and whatever other monsters that can worked into that system.
Army For Hire
Understanding my previous suggestion about Ogres leads me into the next one. At present, Champions litter the map and sit around waiting for you to come by and pay them a fee in order to earn their services. I am not impressed by this feature, and feel that Champions are better suited as Quest Rewards rather than vending machines of death. At the beginning of the game your Sovereign is pretty lonesome and has little money and resources. Instead of Champions sitting around waiting for be hired, there should be packs of soldiers. Depending on your choices, you can choose to battle them or hire them.
Now soldiers should also include humans as well as monsters. I should see a pack of spiders as a possible ally, not a constant threat. Early game I would hope to approach them and tame them for a either a cost of mana or gold. This way I can build a small army within the first few seasons and begin performing larger tactical battles that don't depend on my Sovereign or Champion being some sort of super hero. The only downside to monster allies is that I will not be able to customize them in the future (explained later). Or maybe I could, that's really up to the developers. Armored Spiders doesn't seem like a bad idea, but may not be reasonable at this stage in development.
With plenty of wandering units I can hire, I can start to collect gear for myself and my army. This leads me to my next suggestion, Army Units should also have an equipment window that is very similar to Champions just with different forms of equips that are utilized for basic units only. This means that not all loot you collect will just be your Sovereign and/or Champions, but also for your Army units as well!
Customizing and Gearing Your Army
The ability to Design Units is well and good, but this shouldn't be the only way to customize them. Basic Army units really need to be treated like champions too, they too level up and gain more health and power. I don't like the idea that I have to constantly replace them with another unit I'm producing when I could just simply outfit them differently at a whim. Allowing me to outfit them differently can give me a chance to think about what I am fighting, and allow me to make adjustments to my army before I engage in a battle. If I am battling a large Storm Dragon, I should be able to plan ahead and increase my army's defenses by giving them fewer numbers and more gear - maybe even gear that has resistance to elements.
As armies are produced, I should be able to gear them at any shop. All equipment should be available to me, but at a cost of more than just Gildar. Let's say I want to outfit my army with plate, well it should cost me a fee and some iron ore as well. Let's say I want to give them power enchanted weapons, that will instantly consume iron and crystals too upon purchase. I can keep these adjustments in an army inventory that is not physically attached to any unit, but sort of like a bank I can share between all armies.
Let's assume that when I began the game, I took notice to a pack of wandering scouts. Three archers with bows who randomly happened my way. I approached them, for a dirt-cheap fee I hired them on to follow my cause and aid me in developing my great nation. They begin to level up with me, but as they do I've collected a set of advanced bows as loots which increased their overall damage by +1 and then I opened the shop and finally bought them some reasonable leather gear.
As I level, so do they. When I am able to now mine some more resources I open the show and buy them some more powerful bows with iron-tipped arrows increasing their damage by +5. Then I loot some very nice +3 Def Unit-Armor which I equip to them and put their old leather gear back in my inventory to be either equipped by another unit or sold off to help fund my army. Heck, after a few levels they suddenly gain a nice Volley Fire upgrade which allows them to do more damage but at a slower fire rate. In short, treat army units like champions.
Army Specific Equipment should include:
- Stat increases.
- Elemental Resistance.
- Special Attacks and Abilities.
- Bonuses to Special Attacks & Abilities.
- Special Rare traits like 'Dragon Killer' or 'Spider Killer'.
The Design Unit should remain, but really should only be used for generating new units as normal, but please remove that silly 'Upgradable' option.
Adjusting the Squad Size
Bigger may not be better when it comes to putting together an army. I like the idea of allowing a player to be able to choose the size of the squad from the start of the game, and the only penalty really could be that a larger units demands great resources. Ultimately you should be able to fill out an army from the start, but it's all about just finding people to join your cause, be able to afford their upkeep, and being able to produce the resources to continue to upgrade those units as they level up. You can customize them at anytime, adjusting their squad size at will. Just not that amending more people to the squad will demand a down payment of resources upfront to generate that unit on the fly and will permanently increase that unit's seasonal upkeep.
Downsizing a squad is possible, but you will not get your spent resources back if you do downsize it and will have to spend them again when increasing that squad size. Yet, the bonus to downsizing is that you can reduce the squad's overall upkeep costs.
You've Earned my Allegiance Sovereign, I wish to join your cause!
Champions, as I mentioned before, should be rare and special. These few and powerful members of the world are great leaders and are capable of spear heading your legions into battle with great abilities and powers. But before we proceed into explaining how we obtain these, let's first look over some interesting flaws that may not work out.
First of all, let's get rid of the Technology like the Letter. Keep it for Quests, sure - but remove it for overall requirements to gain champions. This is pretty silly. Champions should be rich, story driven characters that give your army some life and flair and some really unique qualities and appearances. Champions shouldn't be carbon copies of your Sovereign, they should be living and breathing entities that grow and develop in their own unique way. For starters, it'd be nice if they were randomly generated. Mixing in a whole bunch of factors, such as race, species, stats, and available development trees.
Let me clarify, because Champions shouldn't be carbon copies of the Sovereign this means they could be human or creatures. Monsters should also be Champions, and in fact rare and fancy looking monsters too like a brilliant White Winged Angel or a Golden Gryphon for a pair of quick examples. A Sphynx or Golbin king, a Bandit Queen or Lord of the Undead. These can be not only generated at random, but attached to quests as well. As a Sovereign, you should impress a Champion by doing a chain of quests for his or her favor. Before you begin, you should clearly see that the reward is that Champion and be able to investigate their basic stats and traits from the Quest Dialogue box so you can make the choice of whether or not they may be what you truly seek.
Finishing the Quest Line will have them join your cause at no cost, you've impressed them enough. Some may or may not have magical abilities already and have use of the mana bar. If they don't, then you can imbue them all you like. As they level, you can begin to work them towards the path you want. Some Champions will have randomly generated traits available, and these will be clearly identified as a RANDOM PATH you can choose when they level for the first time under your command.
If you choose any other path, like Warrior, Mage, Assassin, etc.. They will be forced to follow that path and generate states and abilities which reflect that every few levels. When they level, you should mainly be able to adjust their states. Only occasionally will you be able to adjust their traits and abilities, and even when you can if should only be towards the path you picked from the start. Example:
- Warrior Path: Will only specialize in STR/DEX/HP Stats and Melee Abilities.
- Mage Path: Will only specialize in magical damage increases and CERTAIN spells. You will have to pick and choose which spells they use. Sorry, no ARCHMAGE of all schools of magic here.
- Paladin Path: Combination of Warrior/Mage paths.
- Assassin Path: Specialize in DEX, Speed, and certain abilities.
- Random Path: Draws from all of these paths and more to develop your hero at a whim.
Ultimately, Champions should not be gods the battlefield but still very powerful things that hold their own and inspire those around them. They really should have a lot of positional based abilities which give bonuses to army units nearby, promoting the idea of them being side-by-side with their army instead of tanking a whole enemy force solo.
Taking Army Construction Outside the City Walls
My biggest and most complicated suggestion is the idea of taking Army building outside the city. Late in the game, it begins to get difficult to manage many cities on the map - most of which were created a bases to establish claim over a resource or to increase your zone of influence against an enemy nation to prevent their further growth. Seldom does a Sovereign player figure "Hey, this looks like a nice spot to development my humble city of Humbleton and achieve peace and love throughout the world." In most cases, at least with this player (the author of this post), I desire to build cities as stations or launching points for war!
I am constantly annoyed by the uselessness of Outposts, and the inability to properly have them guarded by forces. They are lifeless objects which project a zone of influence and nothing more. I protest to this, and feel that we can do better. Outposts can be completely replaced by a concept I call, Forward Bases, these are better known as Forts. They can be called Outposts in later version, I don't care - but for this post and suggestion purposes I'm going to call them Forward Bases as to not cause confusion with my readers.
Forward Bases are in short Outposts, but they are not built by Pioneers. I feel Pioneers are better suited for City founding, and shouldn't be used for anything else. Forward Bases are city-like instances that are built by Sovereigns or Champions, on any terrain, in any sphere of influence, without restriction. Naturally, if you choose to build a base inside an enemy kingdom, they are going to be angry and take it as an act of aggression and declare war.
They are founded by Sovereigns and Champions as I stated before, but demand an upfront cost of resources. The population is not instant growth, were the play to let the base manage this it would slowly grow in population per season. Yet a player can select it and draw a large population from any nearby city up to a cap. That cap is determined a bit later.
These bases are in fact MINI-CITIES, and share many of the common traits - including building construction; however, there one key difference - their Queue. Unlike Cities, these bases can construct Builds & Train units at the exact same time. The structures built upon a Fortress are merely upgrades to its capacity.
Forward Base Upgrades May Include:
- Supply Depots - Increase the population cap of your Forward Base.
- Better Defenses - Build higher walls and manned turrets to automatically battle against foes who attack.
- Training Facilities - Increase the production rate of army squads, as well as improve their base stats.
- Standards and Flags - Increase your zone of influence and reduce Unrest.
- Trade Post - Redirect Nearby caravan paths to this fort for faster trading.
- Breeding Post - Increased acquisition of rare resources.
Additionally, you can choose to attach claimed settlements of Darkling, Ogres, Drakes, and more to a Fortress of your choosing. This will allow that fortress to produce the monster type instead of having to select the camp you've claim to produce those units. But doing so will increase unrest and increase upkeep of the Forward base.
Increased Unrest in a Forward Base will slow down the process of training units and building upgrades.
Forward Bases cannot grow endlessly larger like cities, they only have a limited number of slots. Attaching claimed settlements takes up slots, as well as every upgrade. No Forward Base can ever have every upgrade. This means you will have to choose to which bases specialize in what, and you may have to build several bases close together if you want to have a large production facility for your army.
Forward Bases will also have a dramatically increased production flow of army units, which means far less seasons than your average City. Allowing a player to quickly produce several armies as needed to engage in full scale war against a nation. This can also mean much more dynamic and interesting armies can be designed.
What About Mounts and Wargs?
Mounts and Wargs are considered a rare resource in this game, and should also be treated in the same manner. You can still capture Horse and Warg stations as you do at present, but I feel that once you capture them you can choose to move them. You can choose to move them to a Forward Base, and then upgrade that base into a Breeding Post to produce more of those units as needed. You can create a Warg station, move several Warg resources to it and upgrade - producing a large amount of Wargs to feed your growing Wolf-Mounted armies at a larger and productive rate. You can also move these bases DEEP into your own territory to keep them safe, as Wargs and Horses will remain a global resource.
Okay, I just spent the better part of my day writing these out in more refined detail. I hope you can respect my opinions and outlooks as I hope to respect yours. I hope you all take this feedback to heart and post interesting ideas of yours own. Please try to withhold from simple statements like "I Agree" and "I Disagree". Express what you feel may or may not work with thought, and try to think about every outcome that the consumer base may want. I adjusted my suggestions considerably because I wanted to make sure these ideas were fun for everyone, not just myself. I hope you approach these and your own suggestions with the same consideration of your fellow player base.