Stackable summon spells - how to balance it?

By on May 3, 2013 11:24:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

abob101

Join Date 11/2010
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Hi guys,

I've been thinking about trying to mod in some additional summon stuff, specifically stackable summons.  Curious to see how it would play out  Thing is, I can't quite come up with a way to have it balance.  Hoping for some discussion from the clever people here.

The basic thing I'm shooting for is to have 1 *stackable* summon spell for each element.  So lets say for Earth, you get:

Earth 1 - Summon Earth Shrill (10 mana)

Earth 2 - Summon Stone Golem (20 mana)

Earth 3 - Summon Crag Spawn (30 mana)

Earth 4 - Summon Earth Elemental (40 mana)

Earth 5 - Summon something big and nasty (50 mana)

So by stackable I mean you can cast these at the strategic level as many times as you want.  The mana cost shown there is just an example (would probably need to be higher costs, possibly something like 10, 20, 30, 50, 80) but would obviosuly be a higher mana cost depending on the level.

The question here is... what should the mana upkeep be for each of these?

As far as I can tell, all the strategic summons currently have 1 mana upkeep.  That works fine when you can only have one of each summons at a time.  But i'm wondering if it would be way too powerful if the spells are stackable.  For one thing... if they all had a mana upkeep of 1... there would be no reason to cast anything but the most powerful Summons you have.

Maybe make the upkeep cost equal to the level of the spellbook, so 1 to 5 ?   Not sure, that seems kind steep.

What do you think?  Any input appreciated.

Thanks.

 

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May 10, 2013 10:04:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Guys something i'm trying to get working at the moment is a reduction in mana maintenance based on an ability.  That in itself is not difficult, the problem is i'm trying to use fractions / decimals.

ie. most summon spells cost 1 mana maintenance by default.

Champion takes the "Channeling" ability, it should provide 50% mana maintenance reduction.  The way i'm trying to do this is by giving back half the mana maintenance via resource production.  Not ideal but not really any other way.  Problem is that makes the maintenance 0.5 per turn.  That's what I want.  The idea being that you can now run 2 summons for 1 mana maintenance.

<GameModifier>
   <ModType>Resource</ModType>
   <Attribute>Mana</Attribute>
   <PerTurn>1</PerTurn>
   <Value>0.5</Value>
</GameModifier>

This doesn't seem to work though... seems to round up the value to 1.  If I have 2 summons running with this 0.5 it still seems to cost 2 mana maintenance (rather than 1).

Does anyone know for sure how a decimal value is handled in a situation?  I was hoping the "rounding" would happen after all the maintenenace was added together, but seems it might happen individually for each GameModifier?

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May 10, 2013 10:30:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Really want to have a mana maintenance for Summons... +1 for each seems too steep though when you have 6 or 7 shrill squads running around..  Not being able to set a decimal value is a bugger.  Thing I have pretty much everything else working.  Let me know if anyone has any ideas      

 

 

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May 12, 2013 7:34:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh so after further testing seems the problem is not the decimal Value.... rather, as far as I can tell spells can't produce a resource over time (unless it is a city enhancement).

So a one off modifier when casting a spell (such as a summoning spell) like this works fine:

<GameModifier>
   <ModType>Resource</ModType>
   <Attribute>Mana</Attribute>
   <Value>10</Value>
</GameModifier>

But this doesn't:

<GameModifier>
   <ModType>Resource</ModType>
   <Attribute>Mana</Attribute>
   <Duration>-1</Duration>
   <PerTurn>1</PerTurn>
   <Value>10</Value>
</GameModifier>


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May 13, 2013 6:29:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Perhaps I am missing something, so excuse me if what I say makes no sense, but... Have you tried calculating the upkeep cost? So instead of giving back the resource you directly take away a smaller quantity of the resource.

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May 13, 2013 9:11:13 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You mean this bit from the SpellDef?

<SpellResourceCost>
   <Resource>Mana</Resource>
   <PerTurn>1</PerTurn>
   <Amount>1</Amount>
</SpellResourceCost>

 

Yeah, you can't put a Calculate in there, that's the problem - it's fixed.  Bummer what be great to be able to put an expression in sections like this.

I think i'm just going to go for a flat rate of 0.5 mana per turn for maintaining a summons for now.

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May 13, 2013 9:36:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ok, what about this?

You have two sets of spells, the full upkeep cost spells and the half upkeep cost spells. You also have two unit stats, called something like CastsAtFullCost and CastsAtHalfCost. The Summoner ability gives the champion 1 point of CastsAtFullCost and the Channeller ability gives 1 point of CastsAtHalfCost and -1 point of CastsAtFullCost.

Each spell has two requirements, the ability requirement and the unitstat requirement. Then, you basically have two whole sets of summoning spells at different upkeep costs and which set is chosen depends on the champion UnitStat, which depends on wether the champion has the Channeller ability or not.

 

PS: Too bad that there are so many limitations to calculate values and use variables! Stardock should enable calculations in many places if they really want to encourage impressing mods!

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May 13, 2013 10:22:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting OliverFA_306,
PS: Too bad that there are so many limitations to calculate values and use variables! Stardock should enable calculations in many places if they really want to encourage impressing mods!

Yeah it's a real bummer, you spend half your time stuffing around trying to figure out ways to workaround things.  It's one of those things where the basic stuff is real easy to do with the xml, which is great... but once you want to do something a little bit beyond the framework it gets difficult and in some cases impossible.  Oh well.

 

Anyways back on track... your suggestion is brilliant!  I'm biased because that's how i'm already doing it for other stuff

I've actually got heaps of copies of the same summons spell... and they are blocked/unblocked by abilities.  For example one of the things I have done is set all the tactical summons to have a default range of 3.  Then there is an ability to change them all to unlimited range.  You get the appropriate spell based by just restricting/requiring the ability as appropriate.  This works *great* in tactical... because you only every see the version of the spell relevant to the caster, because you have to click on the caster first... then then you see the list of spells they can cast.

The problem with this technique in strategic mode... is that you get 2 of every spell showing in the spellbook (if you have more than 1 summoner champion).... because the strategic spellbook lists all spells that anyone can cast.  So it gets real ugly.  I'm avoiding it for the casting mana cost, by using a GameModifer that refunds the mana at the completion of the spell... not ideal but it means I can have several levels of mana discount with the same SpellDef.  Abilities give you points in Unitstat_Summon_Mana_Discount (or whatever I called it), then this is used in an expression to give some mana back.  Works great as a one off when cast cost but as mentioned doens't seem to work for ongoing maintenance :-/

So your suggestion will work... and possibly I will end up going that way.  But i'm trying to avoid the duplicate spell listing thing if possible.  Actually something I did try.... was to add different tabs to the spellbook.  Those bookmarks on the left, where it says "Enchantments", "Summon", "City" or whatever they are.  I tried to create 3 different Summon tabs, "Summon", "Expert Summons" and "Master Summons".... the plan was to have 3 different mana maintenance versions of the spells, one of each for each level and unlocked in a similar way to your suggestion.  I figured that would have been neat, because they would not have all been listed together, they'd have all been neatly organised in the spellbook.  It kinda worked.... you can create new Spellbook Categories for spells... the spells show up on a new tab, but it is has no icon and tehe tooltip says "string not found".  I tried to get it working but gave up on that, seems to be hardcoded to only expect to disaply the default ones.

Oh actually, back to your suggestion.... to avoid having the spell listed twice in the spellbook, the other idea I had was to make it so that once a champion picks the "cheaper summon maintenance" ability... make it is a global effect that applies to all summoner champions.  So the description would be like "All your factions summons have a a reduced mana maintenance".   That would actually be fine and I tried to get it working using exactly the technique you described.  I wanted 3 levels of mana maintenance reduction abiltiies.  So I basically tried this....

 

I had 3 UnitStats, something like:

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount1 (default 1)

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount2 (default 0)

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount3 (default 0)

Then 3 copies of each summon spell.  The idea was to have:

- Summon Shrill copy 1 (1 mana maintenance) requires unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount1 value 1

- Summon Shrill copy 2 (0.75 mana maintenance) requires unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount2 value 1

- Summon Shrill copy 3 (0.5 mana maintenance) requires unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount3 value 1

 

Then what I tried to do was create abilities to effect the Unitstats.... but the key thing is... I want it to effect ALL champions.  So I wanted an ability to do this:

1) Expert Summons (All your factions summons now cost 0.75 mana per turn). This should somehow set all champions to have 

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount1 = 0

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount2 = 1

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount3 = 0

2) Master Summons (All your factions summons now cost 0.5 mana per turn). This should somehow set all champions to have 

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount1 = 0

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount2 = 0

- unitstat_summonmaintenancediscount3 = 1

 

This last bit, I couldn't get working.  I couldn't figure out a way to have a unit ability, that sets some unitstats for all champions in your faction....

If anyone knows how to do that i'm all ears!  

 

(wow, long post.... hope there is some sense in amongst that).

@OliverFA_306 - thanks for the suggestions by the way.

 

 

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May 13, 2013 11:25:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting abob101,

 Yeah it's a real bummer, you spend half your time stuffing around trying to figure out ways to workaround things.  It's one of those things where the basic stuff is real easy to do with the xml, which is great... but once you want to do something a little bit beyond the framework it gets difficult and in some cases impossible.  Oh well. 

I couldn't agree more.

Let me say again, that I am really interested in your mod, because with all respects to the rest of modders is unique in the sense that you are really adding something to the game instead of just shuffling things. And even more, your addition can be played without changing the rest of things in the game. All my best wishes for your work. It really deserves to be successful despite all the obstacles

Quoting abob101,
Anyways back on track... your suggestion is brilliant!  I'm biased because that's how i'm already doing it
Great minds think alike

So you want the ability to affect ALL summoners? Are you sure? In my opinion I think that this kind of behaviour behaves more to a unique building. Make a building (Let¡s call it "Summoner Tower") that gets unlocked when one of your champions picks the summoning ability (via a hidden resource that is required in otder to build the Tower) and make that Tower give you the discount back each turn. City buildings are a lot more versatile because their output can be calculated, and you could even make it in a way that when your summoner is in the Tower the discount gets increased.

What do you think about it?

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May 14, 2013 9:35:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting OliverFA_306,
So you want the ability to affect ALL summoners?

I don't *want* to do it that way...  just thinking of different options.  I can do it with multiple spells (as per your suggestion), but i'm rather hesitant to go for that option as then there would be duplicates showing up in the spellbook for a lot of spells.  Haven't completely ruled it out but i'm trying to avoid it if possible.  Actually now that I think of it I did it for casting times so maybe i've already broken my rule...hmmm i'll have to think about it.

Regarding the improvement idea, yeah that's an option.  In fact i've already got something like that in my personal mod that i'm thinking of cleaning up and releasing in conjunction with this down the track.

 

What about this (similar concept)....

I haven't tried this idea but I'm 90% sure would work.... is to use a city spell to "refund" some of the mana maintenance from summons.  The idea was to have a hidden resource that keeps track of the number of summons spells that are active... then, have a "Summoning Mana Bonus" spell (not sure what the heck it would be called) that when cast on a city, would provide +X mana per active summons.

You'd just probably make it a spell that can only be cast once at a time (like tireless march).

So for example, maybe the Path of the Summoner would unlock this spell:

"Summoners Gift I" - City Spell - +0.25 mana per active summons (can only be cast on 1 city at a time)

Then have an ability half way along the Summoners Path:

"Summoners Gift II" - City Spell - +0.5 mana per active summons (can only be cast on 1 city at a time)

 

Kind of a back to front way of achieving a discount to mana maintenance for each summons.  But desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures!  

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May 14, 2013 11:49:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ok, I understand (at least I think so )

It's not nice to have the spell book crowded with several copies of the same Summon Spell. Then... what about this?

In your example (post #32) you have three different levels of summoning: Basic, Expert and Master. Then, instead of having the three sets of spells called the same way, you could include the proficiency in the name, like:

- Basic Summon Earth Shrill: Summons an Earth Shrill that has 1 upkeep cost.
- Expert Summon Earth Shrill: Summons an Earth Shrill that has 0.75 upkeep cost.
- Master Summon Earth Shrill: Summons an Earth Shrill that has 0.50 upkeep cost.

Despite being three times in the spell book the words "Basic", "Expert" and "Master" will help differentiate them and not look like complete copies.

I am not friend of using the unique city enchantment approach because IMHO looks very anti-intuitive and have serious doubts that the AI would understand it.

On the other hand, I really like the idea of the Summoning Tower, but of course I am biassed towards it

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May 15, 2013 8:59:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting OliverFA_306,
Despite being three times in the spell book the words "Basic", "Expert" and "Master" will help differentiate them and not look like complete copies.

Yeah thinking about that one, that's definitely an option.

I've pretty much got it all done now, other than I need to create about a dozen more monsters/units to fill in the gaps so that there is at least 5 types of summons per element.  Then i'll provide an alpha to those who want to try it.

Quoting OliverFA_306,
On the other hand, I really like the idea of the Summoning Tower

Oh I like that idea too don't get me wrong.  Will almost certainly put something like that in there.  

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May 16, 2013 3:57:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting abob101,

 I've pretty much got it all done now, other than I need to create about a dozen more monsters/units to fill in the gaps so that there is at least 5 types of summons per element.  Then i'll provide an alpha to those who want to try it.

Most definitely I would like to try it! Feel free to drop me a PM when you release the alpha in case I fail to notice it. Looking forward to it!   

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May 16, 2013 2:00:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I built a magma elemental awhile back by re-skinning a sand golem with fire elemental texture.  Feel free to use anything you like:

 

http://forums.elementalgame.com/440185/page/1/#3319443

 

I am too busy to fiddle with code for the foreseeable future, but am following your work here and the druid mod with great interest!

p.s. dsraider made a fun mud shrill with a knock-back ranged attack that was cool in his Secrets of the Past FE Scenario:

 

http://forums.elementalgame.com/440136/page/1/#3328469

 

Of course I would check with dsraider before borrowing his pet

 

 

 

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May 17, 2013 11:04:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cool - Just so happens I need a level 2 fire summons, I'll check out the Magma Elemental, that might work

Then i'm down to pretty much just needing something for Air level 3 (something roughly equivalent to a Crag Spawn or Lightbringer) and Life Level 1.   Open to suggestions....?

 

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May 18, 2013 7:52:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A blink dog for life level 1?  Give it blink, high dodge and +2  tactical regen but low attack (8).  An annoying distraction for the enemy...

Air 3: Storm Giant?  Ranged lightning bolt every 5 turns, + 3 electrical elemental damage in melee.  Possibly armed with a Thunder Hammer that can be looted (lightning hammer with modded in splash damage or knockback effect?). 

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May 26, 2013 9:56:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the ideas (i've added a Blink Dog and Storm Giant).  Still working on this...  It's coming along ok, just taking a bit longer than I thought... creating a few more monsters than I initially planned which is taking time... and had a few other ideas that i'm adding.  Will post some more info soon.

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May 26, 2013 1:26:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I found getting all of the xml ducks in a row... challenging.  Especially if you mislabel a spell icon pic and got a blank space in the spell book or in the army info window.  Still confused about names as well... some of my units were named correctly others had _ between two words or other oddities.  And I only did strategic summons, must be twice as much work to do tactical as well!!  Look forward to trying them out, keep on plugging!

 

 

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June 11, 2013 12:07:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hi all,

OK, I finally seem to have gotten most of this working and I have a beta version if anyone would like to try it.  Everything is functional, there is a few things I'm not happy with yet, mostly a few of the units but they are workable.  Also haven't finished some of the unit descriptions.  But it's playable in the current state.  I've done some testing and it all seems to work ok but would really like feedback if anyone has a the chance to try it.

This is my first time packaging up a mod, hopefully it installs and works ok.  You can get the beta version here:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/100348448/Demons%20%26%20Wizards%20-%20Summoner%20Mod%20v0_1.zip

Will post the mod in a new thread later, hoping to get some preliminary feedback to at least confirm it installs ok first.

There is a readme in the zip with instructions.   Will write up some more in depth info (user guide or whatever) later, but i'm sure you'll figure it out in the meantime.

Cheers.

 

 

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June 12, 2013 3:31:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looks great! I am a bit busy with RL at the moment but will try to make some room for it.

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June 12, 2013 6:02:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Outstanding!!  Started a new game last night and am really enjoying it thus far!!  I was wondering about the new summon stat but it works great.

 

Can't wait to summon an angel and archon later tonight!!

 

Thanks for all of your work!

Found one string not found, but I don't think it is impacting anything:

 

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June 13, 2013 9:50:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cool that's great thanks, glad it works ok!

The Archon needs a lot of polish, it was pretty much the last unit I put together and I couldn't quite get it looking how I envisaged it.  Will revisit that at some point.  I envisage tweaking the new unit types gradually now... to balance them a bit better, and to add/modify abilities... so any feedback much appreciated.

Cheers.

 

Edit -> Oh yeah, that string not found.... it's the descriptor for the resource, it's an annoying mod restriction thing.. it can be fixed but requires editing a file in the core directory.  Not sure if I want to do that or not yet.  Will think about packaged a file that can be copied to the core folder to resolve it.  Thanks.

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June 13, 2013 10:34:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can ignore it if it means not mucking around in the core directory...  

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June 13, 2013 10:38:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah... and even I provide a fix file, Steam will override it whenever it does it's thing too.   Not to worry.

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June 16, 2013 1:32:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ok, I am midway through a game as a Summoner/Life Mage and picked Summoner path at level 2.  It is tremendous fun, yet balanced.  The summoning pool keeps things balanced, better than mana maintenance alone.  I find that between the odd healing spell and summoning a few units, my mana pool has rarely gotten above 150 points at any portion of this game (the Ironeer blood doesn't help, but I wanted to try out Golems as well )  

 

The immobilization and casting times for the higher level units is also a great way to add depth to the vanilla game.  I just had a situation where I started summoning a drake and I found out i couldn't cast meditation as my sov was already committed to the other spell!  A minor issue, but if i was relying on my sov for Freeze and Tremor spells it could really affect my strategy.

I like how my other heroes also have access to a few summons as they progress up the magic levels, but the stars of the show have been my sov's Cyxtels, Angels and Archangels, great units and nicely balanced.

 

One suggestion for the Angel of Retribution:  Can you give it unlimited counterattacks, or a flaming Athican Longsword if that is easier?  

It kinda goes with the name of the unit, but the mace could be flaming as well if you wish to keep it.  And it would also benefit from the Rush ability as well as it seems to lag behind my other units.  

 

Looking forward to boosting my Summoning Pool so I can get an Archon...

Keep it up!

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June 17, 2013 9:14:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Edit - deleted.  One of a couple of double posts.  Partly crap forums and partly my fault for being stupid.

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