CHAMPIONS vs. SOLDIERS

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

Frogboy

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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 8:13:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

[quote who="Jean=A=Luc" reply="51" id="3237111"]
Instead of a 4 unit group with 10 attack per unit having a combined attack of 40, it should have 4 attacks of 10 (each unit's attack is calculated separately
[/quote]

Isnt this like it is right now? That is my impression after using trained troops for a couple of games now, I usually see them clink off lower armour.

[quote who="Jean=A=Luc" reply="51" id="3237111"]
In case of high armour values more attacks would also produce more *clinks* thus increasing the minimum damage done and providing better scaling between weaker/stronger units.
[/quote]

Clink is not the lowest damage, the lowest damage is "Block" which is another reason armour is powerful.

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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September 26, 2012 8:16:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ok, my point is the same.

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September 26, 2012 8:28:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

[quote who="Jean=A=Luc" reply="51" id="3237111"]
Quoting NorsemanViking, reply 39Well, the benefits with the system is pretty obvious. It's called strategical choice. Do you go for better weapons and armory first, or do you go for huger squads (meaning more hitpoints and more concentrated arms power), or perhaps I want to fit more heroes and units into an army (Having 5 instead of 4 units in an army of course can mean a great deal too)?

 

I'm not against differing groups sizes per say and I do agree with what you say here but the way they're implemented atm does way more harm than good imho. 

Because of the attack value stacking you get huge power leaps between different sizes and weapon tiers which doesn't scale well and is a balancing nightmare, even more so when you throw in champions/single units.

The only way I see different squad sizes really working is something like this:

Instead of a 4 unit group with 10 attack per unit having a combined attack of 40, it should have 4 attacks of 10 (each unit's attack is calculated separately). Combat-wise, not much would change. All these individual attacks would still be condensed into a single attack move/animation, only the combat formula would change. This way you could always balance a single weapon piece vs a single armour piece instead of attack values getting the crazy x3, x6, x9 scaling vs. x1 armour value. This would especially benefit group vs. single unit balancing I think. 

With units in a group doing individual attacks, larger groups would still have the advantage (more attacks) but things would scale much more reasonably/gradually without the high spikes in attack power. Each separate attack could be dodged and each would also get a separate chance to be a critical and their combined "damage done" values would combine to provide the final damage result. In case of high armour values more attacks would also produce more *clinks* thus increasing the minimum damage done and providing better scaling between weaker/stronger units. 

Of course, some overall rebalancing would be needed, especially in regards to champions, but it would be a big improvement imo.[/quote]

 

That is how it works now.

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September 26, 2012 8:34:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The actual mechanics of combat seem to mystify many beta testers. See the conversation on weapon balance to get a better idea of how it works. 

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September 26, 2012 9:07:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Would it also be possible to allow further customization of troops after they're built? Sometimes I level up a soldier to a pretty high level but then I feel it's really annoying that I can't later choose to give him a horse.

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September 26, 2012 9:37:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Has anybody talked about the fact that my games are over before anybody gets to chain or plate?  If there really is some strategy behind which weapons to use against which armor, then why not let chain and plate be more accessible early on?

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September 26, 2012 10:36:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just thinking out loud. Why not add some traits to groups of units that allow bonuses for attacking heroes? Why not add a trait to certain monsters that specialize in killing heroes? An inverse of the Overpower trait? The logic here is twofold: grant additional bonus to groups of units for "swarming" a hero because it's a group, they can surround and attack from multiple angles, etc. Furthermore, grant bonuses to select mobs that specialize in killing heros. I do remember in EWOM the troll warriors had a nasty ability to kill heroes, especially melee. I always tread lightly around those guys when I saw them. Wish I could remember what that ability was called.

For example:

  • A 3 man group of something gets the trait "swarm 1" which allows bonuses to fighting single units (heroes)
  • A 5 man group gets swarm 2 which grants a higher bonus than swarm 1
  • 7 man, 9 man, etc get even higher bonuses
  • A butcherman (or any other select monsters) gets some kind of hero assassin trait which doubles attack strength or something against heroes

On the other hand I guess one could argue that the attack strength is already reflected in the strength of the unit. An alternative could be to compare the size of attacking/defending groups and apply bonuses/penalities based on the disparity. A 9 man group fighting another 9 man group is on equal terms from a quantity standpoint, so bonus/penalities offset. However, a lone hero taking on 9 or a group of 3 is altogether different as the hero could be swarmed from all angles. It could be as simple as adding modifiers based on the relative size of the attacking/defending groups?

At the end of the day I think a system like this would push heroes to be dragon killers, and normal units to be the backbone of the military and pacifying the world. But I also could be talkin' out of me arse.

 

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September 26, 2012 11:04:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting bbr91,
But then when you add members to the squad, how do you explain them keeping their experience level? Say you have a level 10 3-member squad which you upgrade to a 9-member squad, you have effectively tripled the squad's power, but those new members start at level 10. So in the end it might, again, come to the balance, so that an early unit which has gathered much experience and is powerful already, may not be made even more powerful by increasing its size. Considering this, I think this mechanic is fine as it is now, otherwise you could have massively overpowered units.

Now you could make the point that the same thing should apply when a squad loses members, and when healed, and members magically reappear, the squad maintains the same experience level. But reducing the experience of a squad to compensate for new members would only add empty complexity to the game, which is a fantasy game, not a realistic military simulation. Games like Hearts of Iron 3 do reduce the overall experience of a combat unit when being reinforced to compensate for recruits' inexperience, but it is certainly not the case to add this kind of complexity to FE.

 

I do think it needs to have some costs to train, and the unit has down time.  ANother option would be the upgrade is added to the unit, and the extra figures are added at the rate of healing.  This could simulate a training time.  The problem would be a healing spell.  which we would have to figure out.

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September 27, 2012 12:35:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting AlLanMandragoran,
Just thinking out loud. Why not add some traits to groups of units that allow bonuses for attacking heroes? Why not add a trait to certain monsters that specialize in killing heroes? An inverse of the Overpower trait? The logic here is twofold: grant additional bonus to groups of units for "swarming" a hero because it's a group, they can surround and attack from multiple angles, etc. Furthermore, grant bonuses to select mobs that specialize in killing heros. I do remember in EWOM the troll warriors had a nasty ability to kill heroes, especially melee. I always tread lightly around those guys when I saw them. Wish I could remember what that ability was called.

For example:


A 3 man group of something gets the trait "swarm 1" which allows bonuses to fighting single units (heroes)
A 5 man group gets swarm 2 which grants a higher bonus than swarm 1
7 man, 9 man, etc get even higher bonuses
A butcherman (or any other select monsters) gets some kind of hero assassin trait which doubles attack strength or something against heroes

On the other hand I guess one could argue that the attack strength is already reflected in the strength of the unit. An alternative could be to compare the size of attacking/defending groups and apply bonuses/penalities based on the disparity. A 9 man group fighting another 9 man group is on equal terms from a quantity standpoint, so bonus/penalities offset. However, a lone hero taking on 9 or a group of 3 is altogether different as the hero could be swarmed from all angles. It could be as simple as adding modifiers based on the relative size of the attacking/defending groups?

At the end of the day I think a system like this would push heroes to be dragon killers, and normal units to be the backbone of the military and pacifying the world. But I also could be talkin' out of me arse.

 

 

I also believe - and have suggested - that a swarming trait which gave groups extra strength over single enemies would solve A LOT of the problems mentioned in this thread and others... just as you say, it would allow for heroes to effectively battle large, single monsters (dragons) and still need army-building in order to fight monster groups or other AI armies. It would also make it harder for single heroes to conquer cities defended by several weaker units.

Please, Derek and Brad, consider this for the next Beta (5C)... it may solve a LOT of problems !!!

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September 27, 2012 1:05:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


It would make mites a mite bit stronger too.

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September 27, 2012 1:51:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting KingHobbit,

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

Yep without a very good spell balance units will still be killed by one or two spells in tactical combat or even before tactical combat with strategic combat spells.

 

Quoting AlLanMandragoran,
Just thinking out loud. Why not add some traits to groups of units that allow bonuses for attacking heroes? Why not add a trait to certain monsters that specialize in killing heroes? An inverse of the Overpower trait? The logic here is twofold: grant additional bonus to groups of units for "swarming" a hero because it's a group, they can surround and attack from multiple angles, etc. Furthermore, grant bonuses to select mobs that specialize in killing heros. I do remember in EWOM the troll warriors had a nasty ability to kill heroes, especially melee. I always tread lightly around those guys when I saw them. Wish I could remember what that ability was called.

That is a great suggestion and it would help to improve the Path of the Assassin, too, because it could get + 15 / 15 / 20 % bonus damage against heroes.

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September 27, 2012 2:14:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One way to help balance the current magic system would be to increase the level requirements for unlocking higher level element traits.

Right now level one(I) is available at level 1(on creation), II > 3, III > 5, IV > 7, V > 9.

With the way champions are currently set up, it might make more sense to change the unlock level structure to : I > 1, II > 5, III > 10, IV > 15, V > 20.

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September 27, 2012 4:10:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

"Well, the benefits with the system is pretty obvious. It's called strategical choice. Do you go for better weapons and armory first, or do you go for huger squads (meaning more hitpoints and more concentrated arms power), or perhaps I want to fit more heroes and units into an army (Having 5 instead of 4 units in an army of course can mean a great deal too)?"

 

This is more virtual choice, in reality. In any of my games (challenging, hard), I was still able to research all what I wanted no matter the order I choosed. Whether I took squads or better armor first, it affected my empire´s strategic situation almost in no way. Yeah, it might be different if you decide on turn 10 to go for 9-men units, but otherwise...its just delay. Imo it usually worked againts the AI in my games (poor research prioritizing).

I am not saying different unit sizes are bad idea, but this is not a choice of any importance to me...currently. I would rather have to decide whether I go for mass drivers, beams or missiles...now that was a choice!

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September 27, 2012 5:40:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mqpiffle,
One way to help balance the current magic system would be to increase the level requirements for unlocking higher level element traits.

Right now level one(I) is available at level 1(on creation), II > 3, III > 5, IV > 7, V > 9.

With the way champions are currently set up, it might make more sense to change the unlock level structure to : I > 1, II > 5, III > 10, IV > 15, V > 20.

I think increasing the level requirements would result in two problems:

- The player has to wait until the game is basically over to get the powerful spells even if he plays a mage.

- There are not enough mage traits to fill the gap between the levels.

IF increasing the level requirements is the only solution and i think that balancing all spells is a much better solution it should be: I > 1, II > 4, III > 7, IV > 10 and V > 13

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September 27, 2012 5:56:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like the option of swarming for groups. Not all should have them in equal measure ofc (it is easier for small mites to swarm then for spearmen in phalanxformation. 

+1 Karma for u Alanmandragoran

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September 27, 2012 6:15:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm in agreement that the group size is a meaningless strategic decision. It is always better to build the largest group size available. Currently it just makes researching the civics tree even more of a no-brainer than it already is, and is causing all sorts of balancing issues.

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September 27, 2012 7:47:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As of Brad´s post: interesting proposal…I hope it will help!

In my eyes, however, I see heroes still quite differently… Coming back to Warlords III, one of the greatest fantasy games, there were also heroes with different paths, like in FE. Generals, mages, alchemists…and of course, warriors. And yes, they can become quite powerful. But the game and mainly the combat system was set in such way that even though godly hero can take on tons of crappy units, he would still get hit there and there…and get slowly overwhelmed and killed in the end. So yes, player could have soloed with his best hero few towns, crappy armies, even some better ones…but could not even think to take on whole factions that way. On the other hand, he would have much more difficult and bloody job trying to win just with units. Both parts were necessary (bonuses!) and worked best together. Yes, training and managing units (rallypoints) was, I have to say, much easier than in FE…

So in my eyes, it is ok that solo heroes can win epic battles. But they should never be able to solo win epic wars.

 

Which gets up back to Sauron and his numerous orc armies

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September 27, 2012 7:51:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting CdrRogdan,
I'm in agreement that the group size is a meaningless strategic decision. It is always better to build the largest group size available. Currently it just makes researching the civics tree even more of a no-brainer than it already is, and is causing all sorts of balancing issues.

Hmmm, perhaps it would help if the group size has a downside:

- 3 person group: + 0 initiative

- 5 person group: - 2 initiative

- 7 person group: - 4 initiative

- 9 person group: - 6 initiative

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September 27, 2012 8:50:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting CdrRogdan,
The second is that as far as hp is concerned, the reverse is the problem....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.

[quote who="Jean=A=Luc" reply="16" id="3236675"]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]

Quoting Lord Xia,
I have said this for years!  Years! 

Agree agree agree COMPLETELY.  Not sure if it can be done at this point, but removing variable troop sizes would be welcome.  As I am generally anti-unit-stack (thank you Civ5!  I love the game if only for that reason!), I couldn't agree more.

Quoting KingHobbit,
****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.

Yes, oh please yes.  It breaks immersion to have Magnar Ironhand (whatever his name is) out in the wilds slaying beast, all the while he's pondering how cool it would be to organize a new building project back in my city on the other side of the map.  Governors should level for being governors.  I thought E:FE did this already, but maybe I got mixed up with Endless Space (I think)...anyway, there is a game out there that does this already, and it should be emulated/improved upon.

 

Quoting mqpiffle,
I haven't seen a troll shaman in forever.

 True, but those Darkling shamans have been quite a surprise!  I was not expecting Flame Dart...cost me two battles.
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September 27, 2012 9:22:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Lord Reliant,
I'd also love to see research impact/help/progress champions to a greater degree.

Agree completely.

Quoting NorsemanViking,
Well, the benefits with the system is pretty obvious. It's called strategical choice.

Never thought of it that way before...Thanks for the heads up!  Maybe these choices/tradeoffs could be better presented to the player, to let us simpletons know exactly what it means if we invest heavily in a given branch, without having to tool-tip fifty different techs.

Quoting UmbralAngel,
I don't believe there is a way to balance it so that heavily invested champions can solo "epic battles" and also trained units are still useful.

What if some monsters could only be battled by heroes?  At present, when a unit walks on a quest site, you get the pop-up.  Maybe there could be monsters who, when you order a non-heroed army to battle, cry out "Such as this can only be bested by a mighty one of the land."  Think David and Goliath (kind of); two whole, manned armies sit around waiting for, essentially, heroes, to come along and do the hard fighting.

Quoting KingHobbit,
One of the things I don't like about trained troops.  You can upgrade armor and weapons as they progress, but you cannot upgrade unit size.

Agree completely.  Unit size should be upgradeable, perhaps at the cost of a level of two due to inexperienced troops being added.  This would be a strong incentive to get units early and keep them alive (ala Warlock MotA).

Quoting bbr91,
which is a fantasy game, not a realistic military simulation

This is true as well though

[quote who="Jean=A=Luc" reply="51" id="3237111"]Instead of a 4 unit group with 10 attack per unit having a combined attack of 40, it should have 4 attacks of 10 (each unit's attack is calculated separately)[/quote]

I like it.  Better than my solution (drop single-unit design, the only reason for current combat mechanics at present).

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September 27, 2012 9:35:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Napean,

[quote who="Jean=A=Luc" reply="51" id="3237111"] Instead of a 4 unit group with 10 attack per unit having a combined attack of 40, it should have 4 attacks of 10 (each unit's attack is calculated separately)

I like it. Better than my solution (drop single-unit design, the only reason for current combat mechanics at present).[/quote]
Group-combat already works that way. It just isn't that obvious for new players.

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September 27, 2012 10:13:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looks like some very good changes, looking forward to them. The game always was almost over when you get scallabas mace or whatever it's name is (1h mace, 32 attack, cast shrink on hit)

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September 27, 2012 10:39:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Wizard1200,

Hmmm, perhaps it would help if the group size has a downside:

- 3 person group: + 0 initiative

- 5 person group: - 2 initiative

- 7 person group: - 4 initiative

- 9 person group: - 6 initiative

 

good idea, also large groups should have -dodge, throw a knife at the crowd or shoot an arrow,  you'll always hit someone

- 3 person group: + 0 dodge

- 5 person group: - 10 dodge

- 7 person group: - 20 dodge

- 9 person group: - 30 dodge

 

don't know though if this wouldn't just nerf troops compared to heroes even more.

still with a good swarming trait (like -10, -20, -30 hero dodge against swarming troop attack) it should work very well.

then again all attacks should have increasing chance to hit to allow swarming even with troops without ability.

Case: single defender and two enemy attackers (troops or heroes doesn't matter), first attack against defender would be normal, second attack, with defender  having -5 to dodge. If the defender has an option to act he'll reset the counter, if he has initiative low enough to allow the attackers get another round, they would do so at -10 and -15 to defender dodge. swarming abilities would just build on this and allow say 25% armor ignore or +10 crit chance (swarming to find a weak spot) - now you'd actually want to have those 9 people groups with knifes against those heroes.

 

second issue is that hero without special traits shouldn't be able to kill more than one figure from the squad. to kill more he should have traits like broad cuts or use two handed weapon or magic weapon providing that ability.

 

Oh and give spears range of two, that would make it awesome defensive formation especially if militia's would be armed with spears.

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September 27, 2012 11:18:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Sentinemodo,

good idea, also large groups should have -dodge, throw a knife at the crowd or shoot an arrow,  you'll always hit someone

- 3 person group: + 0 dodge

- 5 person group: - 10 dodge

- 7 person group: - 20 dodge

- 9 person group: - 30 dodge

don't know though if this wouldn't just nerf troops compared to heroes even more.

still with a good swarming trait (like -10, -20, -30 hero dodge against swarming troop attack) it should work very well.

That is great suggestion and every group should get the swarming trait automatically:

- 3 person group: + 0 accuracy if the target is a single unit

- 5 person group: + 10 accuracy if the target is a single unit

- 7 person group: + 20 accuracy if the target is a single unit

- 9 person group: + 30 accuracy if the target is a single unit

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September 27, 2012 11:32:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Trojasmic,
Has anybody talked about the fact that my games are over before anybody gets to chain or plate?  If there really is some strategy behind which weapons to use against which armor, then why not let chain and plate be more accessible early on?

Agreed, I'd love to see the choices early.

Sincerely
~ Kongdej

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