CHAMPIONS vs. SOLDIERS

By on September 26, 2012 9:23:20 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Who can ever forget the epic battle shown at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring?  Sauron the Maiar was able to wipe out hosts of men and elves in a single swing.  So terrible and powerful was he that he single handedly kept the armies of the last alliance at bay.

And yet…

There is a balance. Because what most people don’t realize is that the power of Sauron seemed great only in relation to his foes.  Some time in the past, the host of Numenor – mortal men – no elves, so overwhelmed Sauron and his allies – when Sauron was at his peek, that they were able to take him prisoner (this didn’t end well for Numenor in the long run).

And before then…

The half-elf, Luthien’s guardian companion, Huan, single handedly defeated Sauron in combat. Single. Handedly.  Huan was, essentially, a dog. How’s that for humiliating?

And before then…

A single elf nearly crippled Morgoth in single combat. Morgoth is to Sauron what Sauron is to Aragorn. Morgoth was a Valar, an entire order beyond what Sauron was. Practically a god.

The point being is that you don’t have to cripple the champions to make the soldiers you train relatively powerful.  The challenge is balance. And it is, to be certain, a significant challenge.

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In the world of Elemental…

In the picture above, on the left, is Resana. She is the Empress of Krax. A Level 6 Channeler. She is quite mighty but only a wisp of what she will become later.  Next to her is a party of Krax Legionaires.  In Beta 5-B, they take 8 seasons to train (in Beta 5-A, the current public one, they’d take 17 turns to train).  In 1 on 1 combat, Resana would win unless the Legionaires got lucky in combat (critical hits).  But if there were two parties of them, she’d lose.

What changed?

What made training units unpleasant was that unless they were total junk, they took a long time to train. The equipment and skills were simply adding far too much training time. Why bother researching all this great tech if you couldn’t build it? So a considerable amount of time was spent relooking at how much equipment and traits should cost.

Another big change has to do with loot.  This is something we will be working more on. But in previous betas, it was common (literally) to find high end weapons very quickly – just laying around.

What we are moving towards, instead, is where you find cool loot early on but it’s not nearly as over powering. Your sovereign and champions start out with fairly low grade weapons (8 attack).  It’s a bit de-balancing to simply luck out and find a 12 attack +4 speed weapon.  That’s a 50% increase in raw damage not to mention a 25% improvement in initiative.

So instead, Resana finds interesting weapons with trade-offs. A Iron War Hammer that does 12 attack (yay) but weighs a lot (slowing her down) and lowers her initiative.  It makes her tougher in battle (she is doing more damage after all) but it also means she’d need troops to keep herself from getting swarmed. That’s just one example. 

Powerful, rare weapons are out there still. But they have to be earned. You won’t just turn over some lost cargo and find a magic broad sword anymore.

The other change we made has to do with hit points.  Previously, units gained 4 hit points per level.  So by level 10, that’s an additional 40 HP. It doesn’t take long before the trained units become almost irrelevant to the battle because that level 10 champion would have 60 HIP while that newly trained unit might half less than half of that.

The Goal

We do want players who have invested in their champions to be able to win epic battles, single handedly. However, we also want players who invest in building an empire to be able to achieve victory equally effectively.  In the early betas, the champions were considered to weak. The pendulum has swung too far the other way.  Beta 5-B will be our first pass at bringing balance to this conflict.

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September 26, 2012 9:34:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Very nice. I like the ideas that you present here and the goal of what you are trying to achieve. By this description alone I am very excited for the upcoming game.

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September 26, 2012 9:35:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cool.

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September 26, 2012 9:45:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

YES! For me this is the major problem of the game right now. But I don't want champions to be nerfed, shorter training times, some HP adjustments and slightly less powerful loot sounds like a much better plan.

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September 26, 2012 9:49:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looking Good.

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September 26, 2012 9:52:01 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds good to me

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September 26, 2012 9:55:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

  Two thumbs up from me!

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September 26, 2012 9:58:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So what are you doing with HP?  HP should have a higher base and a lower growth than they do now.  

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September 26, 2012 10:04:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

THANK YOU FROGBOY!

 

This is exactly what I was looking for in balance. I'm gonna buy ur game, bro.

(EDIT)

I agree with Lord Xia above; it does sound like that's what you're doing - I hope so.

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September 26, 2012 10:05:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Quoting ,

   
Powerful, rare weapons are out there still. But they have to be earned. You won’t just turn over some lost cargo and find a magic broad sword anymore.
The other change we made has to do with hit points.  Previously, units gained 4 hit points per level.  So by level 10, that’s an additional 40 HP. It doesn’t take long before the trained units become almost irrelevant to the battle because that level 10 champion would have 60 HIP while that newly trained unit might half less than half of that.
 

 

 

There are two issues I have with this. The first is that it does nothing about the randomness of champion strength. Technology should allow champion specific weaponry (and armor) that regular units cannot use, and champions should have a steamlined path of progression that isn't a roll of the dice.

The second is that as far as hp is concerned, the reverse is the problem. Champion (and single tile unit) hp is too low, resulting in random chance often deciding survival, while regular unit hitpoint get rediculous very fast. Currently it is possible to design a unit with 12hp (with the +3 hp trait) and with a command post will start them at level 3. That is an automatic 20 hp per unit. Straight out the door even with the most basic grouping techs, that is 60-100hp. This can get absurd with enchantments and some of the high end buildings and a 9-man group can easily hop out the door with more than 200 hitpoints.

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September 26, 2012 10:08:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Lord Xia,
So what are you doing with HP? HP should have a higher base and a lower growth than they do now.

Via the change log for .981 they have

Changed hit points from 4 (base) + 4 (per level) to 6 (base) + 2 (per level) so a few levels don't make such a dramatic difference

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September 26, 2012 10:08:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We do want players who have invested in their champions to be able to win epic battles, single handedly.

I want to quote this bit because it is important. Note Frogboy says "players who have INVESTED in their champions". Currently, there is no trade-off for making uber champions because you do not need to invest in them. Hopefully, this means champions will be more (but not completely!) dependant on the advancement of your faction, expressed through Research (to unlock gear) and Gildar (to decide what can be purchased and for how many). Less great gear easily available, a stricter enforcement of tax benefits on Gildar, and a faster tech progress (0.981 changelog) may mean exactly that. Hopefully.

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September 26, 2012 10:12:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting parrottmath,

Quoting Lord Xia, reply 8So what are you doing with HP? HP should have a higher base and a lower growth than they do now.

Via the change log for .981 they have

Changed hit points from 4 (base) + 4 (per level) to 6 (base) + 2 (per level) so a few levels don't make such a dramatic difference

 

Ooh, well then, yay!  

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September 26, 2012 10:18:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There is also the problem that around mid-game, units train at significantly lower level then what your sovereign and other champions would be.  And since they gain levels more slowly, they still could not possibly keep up with heroes.

Also, I believe that in order for cities to become more meaningful, hero's abilities ought to be tied to research and city improvements just like trained units (sort of) are.

[EDIT] So in conclusion I agree with the folks above who landed their posts while I was writing

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September 26, 2012 10:23:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There does need to be some tie in with Champions and cities.  There needs to be a reason that champions need more and better cities, that there is a reason to want more and better cities.  

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September 26, 2012 10:24:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great news Stardock, thanks for listening.

 

Quoting CdrRogdan,
This can get absurd with enchantments and some of the high end buildings and a 9-man group can easily hop out the door with more than 200 hitpoints.

 

The whole differing group sizes thing should've been axed imo. It just complicates balance so much. One group size for the entire game would work just fine and everything could be more easily balanced around it.

 

 

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September 26, 2012 10:57:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How timely

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September 26, 2012 11:02:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

[quote who="Jean=A=Luc" reply="16" id="3236675"]Great news Stardock, thanks for listening.

 


Quoting CdrRogdan, reply 10This can get absurd with enchantments and some of the high end buildings and a 9-man group can easily hop out the door with more than 200 hitpoints.

 

The whole differing group sizes thing should've been axed imo. It just complicates balance so much. One group size for the entire game would work just fine and everything could be more easily balanced around it.

 

 [/quote]

 

I have said this for years!  Years! 

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September 26, 2012 11:03:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds really good, cant wait to see how your efforts pay off!

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September 26, 2012 11:14:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Can't wait to see the change.

 

Is there any chance you are going to let us create our own magic items for champions?

 

****Edit---are you going to address the Path of Governor issue.  You need to level them up by fighting, but then they are not doing their job.  Make a building to be constructed called the Governor's Office.  You can assign one Governor to it, and they can experience while they are doing Governor work.

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September 26, 2012 11:33:48 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

After giving it some thought the big problem with champions was they snowballed quickly without requiring anything from cities or techs at all. Thus they quickly outpaced the city part of the game and rendered it pointless. The reduced hitpoints, lower level loot, and reduced build times will definitely help but I think they will simply slow down the initial snowballing not stop it. Once your champion finds even a shortsword and gain 2-3 levels he will still be able to start questing and farming pretty much every monster, which will lead to the better equipment. In fact faster build times on units will actually allow them to farm because it is easier to back your champions up with troops. 

I think this will delay the exponential growth of champions and that we will see more troops used to back those champions up early however champions will still outshine everything else midgame. Although the reduction in armor and hitpoints will reduce their ability to tank a bit once they get higher armor and attack then most monsters they will still easily farm monsters and snowball competly divorced from the rest of the game. 

Stardock could kill two birds with one stone by making the midgame monsters like ogres, troll warriors and whatnot tougher. Then heroes ability to farm will be further delayed and all the quests and lairs won't disappear quite so fast, which is another big problem. If a monster has less defence then leather troops it's basically a free lunch. Some non end game lairs should be tough enough that single champions can't consistently take them down, they should require troop back up. Perhaps divide lairs into clear stages, ie early game, midgame, lategame, and endgame. With those lairs having attack and defence values comparable to unarmored clubmen, leather axemen, chainmail macemen, and platemail with mauls. Monsters right now don't scale with troops or champions very well. 

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September 26, 2012 11:48:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DsRaider,
Stardock could kill two birds with one stone by making the midgame monsters like ogres, troll warriors and whatnot tougher.

I think this is already in for Beta 5b.

This is quoted from the .981 Change Log:

Monsters were given many traits (Frail, Endurance I, Endurance II, Tough, Large, Monsterous) that impact their hit points per level

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September 26, 2012 11:54:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mqpiffle,
Monsters were given many traits (Frail, Endurance I, Endurance II, Tough, Large, Monsterous) that impact their hit points per level

That was just to counteract the fact that base hp per level was reduced. So monsters were nerfed as well. I'm not too worried about hp. It is the low defence and attack on some monsters that is the problem because the defence and attack of champions grows really quickly. A champion with a good weapon does a lot of damage versus a monster with no defence. 

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September 26, 2012 12:22:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DsRaider,
That was just to counteract the fact that base hp per level was reduced. So monsters were nerfed as well. I'm not too worried about hp. It is the low defence and attack on some monsters that is the problem because the defence and attack of champions grows really quickly. A champion with a good weapon does a lot of damage versus a monster with no defence. 

In addition, by mid level, an ordinary champion can cast pretty effective tactical spells.  by the time a mid level monster is able to hit a champion they have taken several hits, or have been hindered by numerous spells.  The changes Frog talked aobut will help slow the pace, but the fact that all the champions have spells, will only slow it some what.  By mid game, a stack of 3 or 4 champions is going to be able to kill almost any monster den

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September 26, 2012 12:28:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Currently equipment ramps up too fast and tops out too high, and there are no enemies that specialize in slaying champions thus requiring masses of troops to help with. Anything troops can do, champions can do better, given enough equipment and some levels.

Some effort needs to be made to bring the extreme low and high ends of weapons and armor a bit closer together.

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September 26, 2012 12:29:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Intelligent monsters (troll, ogres, darklings, etc.) should spawn more spell caster and ranged types.  Why are the no boulder hurling ogres?  I haven't seen a troll shaman in forever.

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