Tactical games: Kiting

By on February 18, 2012 12:34:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiting_(video_gaming)

This is an issue that, as the AI guy, I'm still struggling with.  How to defend against this?

I've been tempted to have the AI do it to the human but the more I think about it, the more unsatisfying that would be.

In beta 1, the kiting issue isn't huge because the tactical maps are so small. But in Beta 2, they start to get a lot more interesting (I have one map that is basically inspired from Demigod complete with multiple paths).

I'd be interested in hear different ideas on how to prevent excessive kiting.

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February 18, 2012 2:08:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Limiting ammo might be nice ... but limit it to no less than 10, preferably 20 arrows a-piece because ... we don't want ranged units to be too weak

(if ammo is limited too much, then we may need to add secondary weapons to our archers)

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February 18, 2012 2:12:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Kiting is hard to deal with in many games because it is so simple. Basically: faster + longer range = win. Not much the AI can do about that. As a human I certainly couldn't think my way out of the problem. Someone who is faster and has longer range would destroy me. Only counter would be magic. You would have to know you are going up against a kiter and to plan ahead.

You would have to do the same thing with monsters and just design some monsters that you can't kite. Kiting will always be good against some but it shouldn't be good against them all. Faster movement, more ranged attacks, slowing spells, teleporting, and long range spells are all things that would help monsters fight kiting and make them more interesting as well. For instance ogres could have a hurl boulder spell that has a chance to prone. Demons could thunder-strike to people. Darkling archers? There is no reason elementals couldn't be ranged. An earthshock spell for large monsters that has a chance to knock all enemies prone? Tons of other stuff you could implement. If heroes have ridiculous initiative late game then so should monsters, if heroes just out initiative monsters that's a balance issue. From a game mechanic point of view their could be a problem with initiative and movement being to powerful and easy to get.

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February 18, 2012 2:12:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't know, I kinda like my incredible shrinking battlefield idea.  Think of it like Tron, where the combatants could destroy segments of the battlefield with their little magical frisbees as a tactical option.  Y'all aren't thinking outside the box. 

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February 18, 2012 2:17:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Another thought that might help: a setup /channeling time to prepare to fire ranged weapons.  Maybe on the first turn of battle you could freely move and still be setup to fire, but after that round, if you changed location you'd need to set up for a turn or two before you could start bringing the pain.

 

 

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February 18, 2012 2:22:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

hehe, a battlefield that shrinks in size after people die (with a 5 turn delay for each shrinkage) ... sounds crazy!!

 

I think DsRaider has a good point-> Don't allow all monsters to be Kitable

 

Not sure if initiative needs to be nerfed because of the fireball spell (or really damage-dealing spells in general)

maybe movement? But not initiative(i think). Initiative is just too important for melee units. (important for casters as well, but not because casters need Initiative to survive, CASTERS NEED INITIATIVE TO bECOME OVeRPOWEReD)

 

Maybe frogboy was on to something with the idea of initiative-caps for ranged and (by extension) caster units.

Not sure how to designate casters .... (from, say, melee units that use Haste)

 

However, I think once a unit uses a ranged attack, or a ranged MAGICAL attack (with damage dealt) ... then their initiative should be lowered to a 'manageable number' until their next round of combat.

In this way, if a unit continues to use arrows/fireballs ... they will be slower than had that same unit run around with a sword (same stats, different initiative effects)

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February 18, 2012 2:35:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Range Penalties

Archers lose damage and accuracy the farther away they are. Opponents without ranged attacks should attempt to get as far out of range as they can to alleviate damage.

Ammo Limit?

Something to consider.

Retreat! Can't unit's flee anymore? If there's nothing to be done about a hail of arrows, why don't they attempt to run away?

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February 18, 2012 2:40:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting CHiZZoPs,
Range Penalties

Archers lose damage and accuracy the farther away they are. Opponents without ranged attacks should attempt to get as far out of range as they can to alleviate damage.

Ammo Limit?

Something to consider.

Retreat! Can't unit's flee anymore? If there's nothing to be done about a hail of arrows, why don't they attempt to run away?

 

these ideas have possibilities, as at least part of the solution

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February 18, 2012 2:49:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think this has already been said but I would like to echo that to me the best solution is to decrease accuracy with movement.  kiting only works if it is assumed they hit every time they shoot.  kiting may remain effective BUT not a guarantee for victory this way.  You may also want to consider further panic influences as the monster or opposing army approaches.

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February 18, 2012 2:49:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I chose the 6-shot ammo limit because 6 shots is extremely much in this game. My fights don't even last 6 turns, never-mind the already-lower-initiative archers. 6 shots would enable archers to keep shooting for the entirety of a normal fight. You would only run out of ammo if something is delaying the fight, such as AI or player trying to kite forever.

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February 18, 2012 2:58:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OK here's my views on ways to tackle kiting without killing it off as a strategy completely:

1) You could increase the moves of some of the bigger monsters like ogres and drakes and the boss monsters (kiting works against them too, I was able to take down the big ice elemental (Vetrar?) despite blizzard using a lvl 18 solo channeler on ridiculous setting) - move 2 is ok for bog standard units but the stronger guys should be faster

2) alternatively, give the bigger monsters abilities that boost speed temporarily (e.g: reckless charge/ flying maybe?), ranged attacks (e.g: hurl boulder/spit acid?), or dazing/proning effects. Some of the monsters already have ranged effects e.g: the shrill lord, the spiders, the big ice elemental, which helps them a little but channelers often have very high spell resistance and can normally shrug off these effects. Maybe Vetrar needs evoke too ( when he cast blizzard on my channeler it did just 3/4 damage).

3) bows are not an effective answer to kiting champs as the damage they do is normally very low (like 1 or 2 damage) but I would be very wary about buffing bows as they work well against other units. The wind guardian spell also hobbles bowmen badly - air magic is probably the best for kiting strategies really as lots of the spells are movement based.

4) some people have suggested opportunity attacks for breaking away from melee, that could work against melee hit and runners (i personally think they should get a dodge check to avoid the opportunity attack in this case) but not against bow horsemen or spellcasters who cast for free.

5) Maybe introduce a maximum discount to casting tactical spells (say 75%?) - this way at least kiting mages are expending resources to win battles.

6) Limit the number of arrows a bowman can shoot per battle (maybe 20?) as there is going to be ammo limits for bowmen and 20 is going to be plently in most cases

Its going to be a tricky balancing act to keep movement and initiative useful but to tone down it's effectiveness so that it doesnt dominate

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February 18, 2012 3:23:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

This is an issue that, as the AI guy, I'm still struggling with.  How to defend against this?

I've been tempted to have the AI do it to the human but the more I think about it, the more unsatisfying that would be.

In beta 1, the kiting issue isn't huge because the tactical maps are so small. But in Beta 2, they start to get a lot more interesting (I have one map that is basically inspired from Demigod complete with multiple paths).

In beta 1 i won my games only with a high movement, high initiative mage sovereign. It is too easy to get high movement and high initiative, because too many items and talents stack. Instead of looking for artifical solutions i would limit the number of magical items and split the movement into strategical and tactical. If a unit still has high movement, high initiative and ranged attacks it should be able to kite and win, because a unit with higher attack and defense will win, too.

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February 18, 2012 3:30:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DGB246,

5) Maybe introduce a maximum discount to casting tactical spells (say 75%?) - this way at least kiting mages are expending resources to win battles.

6) Limit the number of arrows a bowman can shoot per battle (maybe 20?) as there is going to be ammo limits for bowmen and 20 is going to be plently in most cases

These things. I think 20 is a good arrow number because it *would* allow kiting for a time (a time in which the enemy could simply retreat if it wanted to-assuming armies can retreat), yet it would eventually run out ... and all archers would be dead (eventually) if the enemy had something survive.

however, assuming retreating is a possibility, the Archer can retreat once it runs out of arrows just as ably as the enemy can retreat once archers start kiting.


Quoting DGB246,

Its going to be a tricky balancing act to keep movement and initiative useful but to tone down it's effectiveness so that it doesnt dominate

this rings true for all aspects of tactical combat I think

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February 18, 2012 3:31:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

But in Beta 2, they start to get a lot more interesting (I have one map that is basically inspired from Demigod complete with multiple paths).

 

.. AWESOME!!!

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February 18, 2012 3:37:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree that kiting should be one of possible strategies: if i am facing a huge monster that can hit for 100s hp i either build up my defense or i build up my initiative ... 

I dont like solutions about accuracy penalty - right now we cant set up our armies at the beginning of the battle and you have to move your archers to the back ...

 

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February 18, 2012 3:56:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
Ammo limit sounds good. There's nothing wrong with a high speed archer getting off a couple of kited shots. Just put in a limit instead of having infinite ammo.
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February 18, 2012 4:04:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Maybe we just need a specialization to deal with kiting...

 

Path of the Assassin: A roguish hero that specializes in befouling enemy tactics. The Assassin relies on flawless accuracy to execute his mischievous bag of tricks. He is expert at ranged combat, relying  on critical strikes to seriously wound his foes. When he cannot outright kill an enemy, he prefers to counter their tactics against other units. Even the most rapacious mounted archers can be thwarted with the Assassin's expert use of tripping devices, poisons, drugs, and exotic weapons. Though the Assassin is a powerful tactical ally, his greatest weakness is lack of health and armor, instead relying on reflexes to avoid attacks. Neither is he particularly resistant to magic. 

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February 18, 2012 4:19:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm ok with your ruthless AI kiting. 

 

My ideas (anti-archery and anti-kiting)

 

Archery: the fundamental counter to archery should be speed.  Cavalry needs to be more accessible.  Cavalry should be countered by spear units.

 

anti-kiting


Mounts+archery should have a heavy accuracy penalty, that is only reduced by experience/promotions.

 

after 30 turns or so, a battle should end as a draw.

 

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February 18, 2012 4:29:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Limit the range. Increase the action points used. Add accuracy/damage penalties at distance. Limit ammo and mana usage.

Introduce a fatigue system for units which have moved excessively (A fatigued unit takes more damage while dealing less. Accuracy and Dodge suffers. The chance of taking critical hits increases). Consider a fatigue system for magic casting. Excessive channeling of mana brings risks. Mutations, burnouts, misfires, fizzles. 

And introduce limited use range options for specialized melee units. Such as javelins and throwing ax etc.

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February 18, 2012 4:32:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Entangled!

 

With every move the archer's risk to get entangled increases.

 

1/N for the first movement

2/N for the second movement

...

 

N might depend on the size of the battleground, but keep it tight as archers are meant to hold position. Defend them with melee units instead of moving them around like crazy (aka kiting).

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February 18, 2012 4:39:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Sythion's three step process to fixing the kiting issue:

Step 1) Fix initiative so champions can't go 3 turns in a row. It's currently just stupid OP. A VERY focused champion might be able to go twice in a row compared to a very slow monster.

Step 2) Give monsters (and units) special abilities that allow them to close the distance. A fairly common charge ability comes to mind. Some monsters might still be kitable. That's okay.

Step 3) Penalize disengaging from melee.

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February 18, 2012 4:51:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I had a couple of ideas, but one was already mentioned above (aimed shots vs. running shots).  The other - not to be used in conjunction - is perhaps setting a minimum movement of two for all units.  If a unit attacks, they only have a "tactical" move of one that they can make along with it.  You would have to select an "attack move" or "standard move" while using the unit.  That makes sense to me on a pseudo-realism level, as you're not going to be running full-bore when swinging swords back and forth, and you're not going to hit the broadside of a barn if you shoot off arrows while running, either (no matter what Legolas could do).  This will allow a slow, plodding monster to eventually catch up with a pesky archer.

It will still allow for some kiting but should reduce the behavior a good bit, and as mentioned that should be allowed as a useful tactic if it's viable in a given combat scenario.  In addition, that will give an "escape" option to wounded units so they can flee from the thick of things before they get wiped out (more AI to code, I suppose - sorry!).

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February 18, 2012 5:08:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiting_(video_gaming)

This is an issue that, as the AI guy, I'm still struggling with.  How to defend against this?
The historical answer would be light cavalry. Considering that cavalry is currently underpotent and underutilized, this seems like it would be the appropriate answer for FE.

Don't provide gamey solutions when you can avoid it, those make the game less fun for grognards and harder to get into for new players.

Don't nerf horse archers harder than you have to, they're a substantial resource investment for pretty limited additional utility compared to normal archers. Kiting is pretty much what they're for, and they should be good at it. The player has air magic, ranged options, and his own fast units to deal with them, and the AI has these things too. So let there be kiting horse archers.

Don't limit ammo, nobody wants to have to deal with that from a game perspective, and historically archers were totally capable of stocking as many arrows as they would need.

Putting accuracy penalties on range is not a bad idea, but don't make them too steep. Archers need to still be effective at their role. You could also make an ability which becomes available after researching the longbow or yew longbow tech which reduces or nullifies this.

Personally my strategy against archers has mostly been more and better archers, so the AI should do something like that too.

Ideally the optimal method to protect archers wouldn't be kiting, but rather screening, so perhaps we should also focus on making that more viable.

In beta 1, the kiting issue isn't huge because the tactical maps are so small. But in Beta 2, they start to get a lot more interesting (I have one map that is basically inspired from Demigod complete with multiple paths).
Fuck yes. Interesting tactical maps are the single biggest thing that FE needs.

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February 18, 2012 5:20:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looking at the problem from a higher level, there are really two issues:  Shoot and move, and initiative * movement.

For the Shoot and Move issue, why not give an initiative bonus if you move and do not attack and/or initiative penalty for doing both in the same turn.  This would allow units to rush past blockers easier by moving and not taking time to attack the adjacent blockers so that they can bypass them faster.  In the case of kiting, given initiative being equal, the ranged unit will move and shoot, while the melee unit will move and then move again sooner, allowing him to eventually catch the kiter.

That brings up the bigger issue, I think, of initiative multiplying movement.  Initiative as a means of allowing you to attack or perform actions faster is fine, but movement gets a de facto multiplication by your initiative in tactical combat.  It doesn't in strategic movement, so why does it in tactical?  What the solution is, I don't really know because they are so linked at the moment.  Initiative affects how often your "turn" comes around, but it should not affect how far you can move in a given amount of time.

The only thing I can think of is a system that replenishes a unit's movement based on the unit's raw movement rate and passage of time.  Basically it takes X units of time to replenish your full movement, regardless of how often you can act.  When your turn comes up, you can use your available movement and/or act.  If you use all of your available movement, depending on how soon your next action comes, you may or may not have your full movement restored.  Low initiative units would have most or all of their movement restored by their next action.

Something like this makes combat a bit more interesting for high initiative units.  Do you use all your movement to rush the enemy and attack, leaving yourself unable to move far next turn, or do you move close to the enemy, then dart in and attack, then fall back, or rush past next turn?

If a ranged unit does have really high initiative and movement, then he should be able to kite to some degree, otherwise what is the point of building such a unit?  The movement * initiative makes this behavior extreme though.

As for high initiative casters destroying the field before anyone else can act, I thought that casting time was supposed to represent an amount of hard time units necessary to cast the spell.  Measuring that casing time in unit actions opens the system for abuse as we have all seen, with Blizzard or Fireball being cast by Impulsive casters before anyone can move.  If casting time was measured in hard time units and the spell was placed in the queue at that point in time, then at least everyone would get to move before the spell was released.

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February 18, 2012 5:31:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree ... Move + Attack on the same round should either be done at limited movement OR an Initiative penalty (or both).

 

Say, Attack gives a move penalty, while move+attack gives an initiative penalty (temporary).

 

Additionally, you could have initiative slowly wear down (fatigue) for faster units, while they move/attack move (to a certain point).

-> perhaps every 'attack' reduces initiative by 0.25, while every attack-move reduces initiative by 1.0 (for duration of the battle only)

 

-> Additionally, an accuracy penalty for Attack-moving (in general? or ranged attacks only?)

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February 18, 2012 5:59:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


The MOM solution would be to not limit kiting, but to limit the number of ranged attacks per combat.  I think slingers only got 8 shots total, and warlocks only got 4 attacks.

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