Tactical unit arrangement plans for LH release?

By on May 10, 2013 8:51:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

flagyl

Join Date 06/2008
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To my knowledge, this issue hasn't been discussed by the dev team.

 

I am wondering what the plans are for troop placement in tactical battles. In FE, opposing forces were too far away, leading to many turns being used to get melee units into close enough proximity; in LH, the arrangement seems to be very haphazard.

 

Some units are scattered far from the center of the map; others are places near areas where it still will take many moves to get close to the enemy. While not ideal, I don't have as much of a problem with those two issues as I do with an enemy unit starting directly in front of me and having higher initiative, getting to strike first. If it were a random issue, that would not be an issue, but three times in playing the campaign (ver 0.90), a wilding rider started directly in front of me and struck first.

 

What are the plans for tactical unit placement by the player for release? If we cannot manually place units (because of the difficulty it poses to the AI to respond or because the devs want to streamline game play), I would ask that the devs please not place enemy units with higher initiative directly in front of a player unit (unless this is a tactical ability the unit has, which would be cool if there is a way to counter it, thereby adding more depth).

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May 10, 2013 10:07:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

A Wilding Rider with a high initiative is supposed to be able to strike first.  That's the advantage of a high initiative.

There are a lot of counters for it.  Equipment and traits that increase initiative is a big one.  More defense to negate the advantage of that attack.  Not attacking unless you are tough enough to take the army is a big one (if you are being attacked by the wilding army all your units will start defending, giving a big defense bonus that will help negate their advantage).

By intent high mobility units like wiling riders are supposed to represent a threat by being able to close immediately (sometimes even with units the player may not want), and high init units are supposed to put the player on his heels reacting to their advances (instead of allowing the player to always control the battle).  Combining both in units like the wilding rider is a special challenge.

Lastly its possible that the wilding riders bonus may be to good for his approximate level, which makes it a balance issue.  We could reduce his init or attack.

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May 10, 2013 10:16:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

IMHO, the biggest issue is the maps where your units are scattered.  If I am attacking, why are my units spread all over the place?

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May 10, 2013 10:18:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Derek Paxton,

 

A Wilding Rider with a high initiative is supposed to be able to strike first.  That's the advantage of a high initiative.

There are a lot of counters for it.  Equipment and traits that increase initiative is a big one.  More defense to negate the advantage of that attack.  Not attacking unless you are tough enough to take the army is a big one (if you are being attacked by the wilding army all your units will start defending, giving a big defense bonus that will help negate their advantage).

By intent high mobility units like wiling riders are supposed to represent a threat by being able to close immediately (sometimes even with units the player may not want), and high init units are supposed to put the player on his heels reacting to their advances (instead of allowing the player to always control the battle).  Combining both in units like the wilding rider is a special challenge.

Lastly its possible that the wilding riders bonus may be to good for his approximate level, which makes it a balance issue.  We could reduce his init or attack.

 

Thanks for the quick response.

 

I noticed this in the scenario...there was a spawn spot to the west of where I settled (which was the area Porcipinee wanted me to cover for the Kingdom). I am NOT the best player in the world , so it may be that I ventured west too quickly.

 

All of your explanations make sense to me...I do like the fact that there are battles I shouldn't take on without being prepared or properly leveled for. I guess there was surprise on my part seeing the wilding rider start off directly in front of me and then smacking me in the face. I guess I'll get used to it . But I suppose that there will be no tweaking to add just a little more space between the opposing armies? I can live with it as it is, it's just that it SEEMS like placement sometimes favors the AI (this could be entirely due to observer bias however. I am totally willing to concede to that).

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May 10, 2013 11:34:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would ask that my units with high initiative not be placed behind a wall of units with low initiative.  Kind of defies the purpose of them having extra turns if they can't do anything with them.

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May 11, 2013 10:22:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Darxim,

I would ask that my units with high initiative not be placed behind a wall of units with low initiative.  Kind of defies the purpose of them having extra turns if they can't do anything with them.

This and/or that you could move through your own units to get to a tile rather than needing to go around them.

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May 12, 2013 1:47:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Or you could have a 'wait' button that doesn't increase defence but puts the unit higher on the turn list

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May 12, 2013 2:01:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Necaradan666,


Or you could have a 'wait' button that doesn't increase defence but puts the unit higher on the turn list

That would be a nice tactical option. Heroes of Might and Magic had it and I used it pretty often, especially when you had units that you couldn't move at the time, but it would only use up half of their turn (or so).

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May 12, 2013 2:54:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

+1 vote from me for proper pre-battle placement. The rest is just stopgaps and increasingly obscure ideas for how to make the current system work. It doesn't. We need placement.

It doesn't have to be complicated. Just assign 12-30 thingies to each tactical map and have us be able to move our units from any square to any square, clicking on an existing unit switches place.

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May 12, 2013 8:48:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

..Or the 9 tile grid used to represent armies on the strategic map could be made to relate directly to a 9 tile grid on the tactical map, with the top row being the back, bottom the front (middle - middle).

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May 12, 2013 9:05:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's too late for a full-on placement feature to make it into LH by release.  It would take too much work, and they've still got a lot of bugs to fix.  We can only hope that some tweaking may make its way in.  

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May 12, 2013 11:56:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
I agree with many of the points made above. Very frustrating to have higher initiative (moving first) way-too-often TRAPPED behind much slower acting troops. This is maddening on many city boards with the two, one square wide passages), and some outside fields that have big, un-transverse-able 'holes', etc. This happens way, way, too often. Or maybe I should stop designing a few quick (initiative) troops (who are always trapped by friendly formation) and make them all slow tanks? Please retire Operations commander Jerry Lewis, and give us a more flexible initial placement. Also, cardinal direction pointed out something I mentioned in my "Posture" thread about using the 9 army box to designate which units go into the three tiers, forward, middle, back). For those interested in a way for the programmers to create an AI/init placement in combat, look at the basic idea in the 'posture' thread.' Even the AI player could do some serious / clever contesting with the users with postures.
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May 13, 2013 12:43:57 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd be good with a 'basic formation' option, and the ability to change unit order in the ovals (drag and drop).  So the units you want at the back would be in the first few ovals, and the units you want placed towards the front placed in later ovals.  Or vice versa, although protecting the Sovereign is often the order of the day, hence why I think they should be first as they often are the highest level units in a given army, and often hang out in the back once tactical combat spells become a significant part of your strategy.

An "Infinity Engine style Formation Picker" would be just awesome, but that would require a lot of work, so this is probably an idea for next time.

Formations are still placed randomly, working around existing terrain, to reflect fog of war, but the game tries to fullfill your deployment wishes as best it can.  Defenders probably should pre-place, but again that's probably too much to ask for at this point, assuming we could get any change at this point.

Also, I think that, in normal situations, opposing forces should start at least four squares apart, unless it's a surprise situation (some calculation based on Int or some skill would be appropriate for determining surprise).  Starting right next to the enemy units doesn't usually allow for forming up, which since this is supposed to be opposing empires on the battlefield instead of some party of adventurers exploring the wilderness, seems more appropriate to me.  It'll add a turn to combat resolution probably, but I don't see this as a bad thing time investment wise.

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May 13, 2013 12:36:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What bothers me the most is having an important unit placed in front where it gets immediately attacked and  I would like to decide what units are important.

Wilding Riders have high mobility and initiative so their placement near my units is not really an issue. 

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May 13, 2013 12:41:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't think you'll ever see pre-battle tactical placement. I'd veto that. Hate hate hate that sort of thing.

But I would like to see something that lets the player set where units, in general, get placed.  That is, designate unit types (including champions) so that the placement happens better. 

We've been doing that recently in LH with smarter algorithms (your champions, based on class, won't end up on the front line now for instance).  But I would like to see this taken much further.

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May 13, 2013 12:51:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would like it if my Great Wolf is not placed in the front line where a dragon will kill him on first move.

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May 13, 2013 12:51:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As much as I am satisfied with the tactical combat in general since it has just about the right amount of tactics involved for me, I have to agree that this one thing can be extremely annoying. There is no real sense behind the fact that sometimes when you are attacking an enemy army, one of your units is stuck all alone right next to the enemies and all the others are completely scattered around the map. I could somehow understand it if you are attacked, but it doens't make a lick of sense when you are actively going into a fight.

Which made me think of doing it two ways: Leave it as is if your army is the one being attacked, but give us some form of manual placement or much better automatic placement beforehand (higher Initiative to the front, no scattered positions for your troops...) if you are the attacker.

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May 13, 2013 3:37:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OK, here is a graphical representation showing my suggestion r.e. tactical unit placement.

Formations

 

The base location of units would be determined by some function (Side A of map, somewhere near the middle, etc.) that the game uses.  This base location would not always be the same, to reflect fog of war and such.  The game would do it's best to place the formation into the squares available, shifting units out of impassible terrain, which would of course disrupt the formation a bit, as it should.

I'm envisioning a Button below the 9 unit ovals on the interface, which would display the current formation pick (Say, Wedge).  Clicking on this button would open up the chooser, allowing you to select a different formation.

Prioritizing unit order could be implemented fairly easily without formations.  The unit order would determine which units are protected (placed towards the back) and which ones are closer to the front of the player's position/initial placement.  I.E. if you had 7 units, units 1-3 would be towards the back, and units 4-7 would be towards the front.

The only wild card on this would be additional city defenders.  These could be placed based on their use (bowmen added to the rear, militia placed at the front, next to the stack formation).

Note that formation options do not automatically place unit #2 in the back, for example, if there are a lot of units.  So players would need to be mindful of each unit's placement in the formation order (i.e. if you have a 7 unit stack in the wedge formation, position #2 might not be the best place for a bowman, #3 or 4 might be better).  The alternative to this is to assign different formation assignments based on stack size, but I think that as long as it is clear where each unit is placed based on it's priority, players will pick up on this fairly quickly.

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May 13, 2013 5:22:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looking at the screen real estate, this might work better than a button at the bottom:

Formation Window

Clicking on Change would bring up the Formation Chooser window that I alluded to above.

I'm also thinking that there chould be a 'loose' and 'tight' option in the formation chooser, so if you prefer your units to be two squares apart, you'd select loose. 

Or a slider that sets spacing between units, or even two sliders (for side to side and front to back spacing), but that might be a bit much/too micromanaging for this crowd.  I'd love having that option, though!

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May 13, 2013 5:37:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

how about making this an option on the battle preview screen?

you could also see the formation your opponent is using.

as an aside, have I mentioned how much a loathe the battle preview screen?  it's like they went out of their way to design the least informative, most confusing and often misleading dialog.  I wish there was more useful information on there.  But Stardock thinks it's far more important to show portraits of bears and anonymous spearmen.

Argh.  Thinking about the dialogs in FE/LH makes me grumpy.

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May 13, 2013 6:06:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This could also be accomplished with formation icons to the right of the unit ovals...

Formation Window, alternate

Essentially, click on your formation of choice, and it is highlighted in yellow.

This would not require a separate window, but might limit formation options/require multiple columns.

Double clicking a formation icon could bring up a mini window, describing the formation, and show how units will be placed in the formations (1-9).  Any additional formation options that there might be would appear in this mini window (unit spacing, etc.).

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May 13, 2013 8:53:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Another issue to consider here is the shape of the maps.  I find the default ordering is alright on most of the tactical maps, but there are a couple that really cause problems.  In particular, the dark-forest one with a single large rift in the middle causes problems, because the "front" units are trapped between the edge of the rift and the "back" units.  Since melee units with high initiative get put in the front, the first unit to act is generally unable to move, meaning that the "lead" unit basically looses its first turn.  While having some actual control would certainly be nice, just going through the tactical maps and making sure that the starting locations don't "pin" anyone would be a good start.  Just shifting the whole formation one tile in the right direction will generally fix the worst issues of this type.

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May 16, 2013 4:10:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like tjashen's idea.

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May 16, 2013 4:29:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Darxim,

I like tjashen's idea.

 

I love  tjashen's idea, please make it happen.

 

Having your units so badly placed at the start of tactical, really drags the enjoyment down.

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