Hero Experience - The Highs and Lows

Or how I learned to keep pace with AI heroes...

By on May 14, 2013 6:12:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brenil

Join Date 09/2008
+3

So I've been playing a lot more Legendary Heroes as of late and I've begun to have some pet peeves that nag me.  Overall, the game is great and fun, a definite improvement over the past two titles.  However, outside my previously mentioned opinion on the lack of naval.. anything...  I've found hero experience is one aspect of the game that's dragging the fun down.  Here's the problem:

Experience bonus traits and experience 'sharing' between heroes.  

These two issues frustrate me more than anything due to the simple reasons that the bonuses are mandatory traits and the experience penalty on heroes makes early game heroes more or less unrest buff bots.  These unhappy souls sit in cities doing nothing until you can afford units to protect them out in the wilderness, which can take a while, depending on your faction.

I've seen these mentioned in passing before, but I haven't seen a thread dedicated to them yet.  So if I missed one and am being redundant, I apologize in advance.  Yet, these two issues continue to plague me as they heavily restrict freedom in the early game.  On the one hand, the experience traits are mandatory because if you do not take them, you gimp your heroes because most (if not all) of the AI takes them.  So to keep up with the Joneses, you must wade through 3-4 traits that do nothing for your hero except make them level faster.  Not fun.

On the other hand, the hero experience penalty for having more than one hero in an 'army' means that the early game sees someone sitting on the bench once you get your first (or even second) hero in addition to your sovereign.  Couple this with no way to gain exp from governing until you get the Adventurer's Guild and you have basically a glorified enchantment in the form of unrest reduction sitting at level 1 for.... a while.  Again, not fun.

Both these issues make the early game in terms of hero development and party selection very linear.  Why bring several champions if they'll only all slow down leveling and be crushed by a high level AI sovereign later down the road?  For the same reason, why not take all the exp bonuses you get along with having your heroes off on their own?  To do otherwise risks the aforementioned crush scenario.  There's no real variation, and in some cases, you actually have to slow down your fame accumulation or you'll have a harem of heroes doing nothing but sucking up pay and exp all for unrest reduction because you have no room for them in your armies without the experience penalty.

 

My solution to both these problems is simple:

1)  Remove all experience bonus traits.  

They add nothing to the game, are tedious, boring, and are mandatory to stay competitive with the AI.  In short, they delay the fun parts of hero leveling as you don't really start picking traits until level 5-6.

2)  Ease the experience penalty on multi-hero armies. 

I understand that the probable reason for this change was to stop stacks of army munching heroes from destroying everything.  But that was back when actual army units were far less useful than they are now.  Furthermore, you can still have an experience penalty, just have it a gradient where the more heroes you have in an army beyond a certain point (two or three, for example) the more severe the experience penalty becomes.

The result of both the above changes frees up the early game and character development to be less linear and not having a mad dash just to keep up with the AI in terms of leveling.  You wouldn't be forced to take experience boosting traits and you wouldn't have early game heroes doing nothing but yelling at villagers to stop relieving themselves on your Monument.  As an added benefit, your early game force would be less screwed over if they took early losses, as now you could bolster unit loses with your champions without worry of penalty.

In short, I think these changes would make the game more fun and less artificially structured in the early game.

 

P.S.  I should also extend a personal thanks to Stardock for the free copies of both Fallen Enchantress and now Legendary Heroes.  I think, despite the flop that War of Magic might of been, I got the better end of the deal as both FE and LH combined were more than worth the 60 bucks I sunk into WoM.

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May 14, 2013 6:49:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

After long times of playing LH and thinking about it all, I have to agree with both points you are making. The drastic XP split certainly was a very good idea for FE and it helped a lot, but it is very counterintuitive and even counterproductive for LH. I also fear that this will be the main issue for new players and THE big complaint on any gaming site that reviews LH. Three champions in a stack should be "free", after that the punishment must be more severe...

Regardless of what you decide to do, you absolutely, positively, critically must let new players know that the XP split actually happens. The same goes for the swarm mechanic, it must be explained to rookies why the adjacent units seem to join in for the attack.

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May 15, 2013 2:50:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On the XP thing, I've never really had a problem with experience being split between units in the stack.  IN  FACT, I'd argue that each unit shoud get an equal split, unless you want to get fancy and track how much damage a specific unit/hero did in combat and how many opposing units it killed.

This is how it is done in several other settings (total xp for monsters, divide by number of members in party).  Rolemaster used to give extra experience for using skills and spells, and also for delivering critical hits, in fact, so giving a bonus XP award for skill/spell use would be interesting, but not something I ever see being done in Elemental.

Although, I do think XP awards overall should be higher, especially for units.  Units do not generally survive long enough to hit fairly high levels, which can be a problem in the early midgame, when fairly tough defenses/larger formations haven't been researched yet, leaving them outclassed in many cases.

And the HP award for level for some units needs some love.  When a unit starts at 8 HP, even 5 levels isn't going to help the HP situation much, and they are essentially dead meat at that point.

As for the traits tree, at this point I think this is in the realm of the modders, as 'gold' day is fast approaching, and at this point we are essentially down to chasing bugs and doing some minor balancing.  I'm guessing more major changes will have to wait for one of the patches after release.  Still worth discussing though, and I do agree that hero advancement bogs down/traits aren't equally balanced.

 

 

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May 15, 2013 3:58:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

i agree on the potential traits - the game would be better off without them. RPG players are greedy. of course they will pick traits that promise MOAR POWER in the future, not realizing that those same traits basically make your heroes useless for the most important part of the game.

 

disagree about the XP split. it's not really a penalty. you always get the same total amount of XP, whether you funnel it into one, two or three guys doesn't change that.

the effect of split isn't as negative as one might think, because the level progression isn't linear. f you split XP among three guys, that doesn't mean they end up at one third of the level of a single guy. 

there was a lengthy (and mostly tedious) discussion about that mechanic recently. bottom line is - splitting XP between two guys gets them to about 3/4 the level of a single guy takign all the XP; splitting three ways results in about 2/3 of the level of a single XP sponge.

IMO, that's fair enough.  2 level 12's aren't worse than one level 16, and 3 level 10's are also a viable alternative if you prefer multi hero stacks.

 

tried it myself, works just fine. i personally prefer using 2-3 champs early on. they aren't crippled, they aren't useless. you can still split them up later when you actually established a little kingdom/empire that can build & maintain deveral armies

 

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May 15, 2013 4:13:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It doesn't matter if this subject has been touched before:

The Potential Traits really need to go! They are awful. As Azunai describes, most players will feel obliged to take them. Just grant a bit more xp, and everything will be fine. No need to torture gamers like that.

About the XP split: maybe a less severe penalty? I do not like the penalty, but it's a designer choice. Not as bad as, let's say...

The Potential Traits! Those are poorly designed and should be removed before the game ships.

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May 15, 2013 11:52:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Adventuring with heroes is one of the things I really enjoy about the game.  Being limited by the number of heroes I can bring with me in an army seems dumb to me.  I'm not sure how the math works out, but that needs to change.  If I want to bring four heroes to take on monsters, I should be able to do so.  This is especially true in the beginning of the game where some of the most effective units you have are heroes.

 

As for the XP buff traits, these are definitely the least imaginative traits in the trees.  The very first trait I always pick after choosing a path is an XP bonus trait.  But it seems like it would be better to reward the player in other ways and amp up the XP gain some.  I would instead add some things that enhance the loot you get.  I think that a bonus in the Commander tree that enchances the XP that an army gets would be fine (and would actually make sense). 

Easing the XP penalties or increasing the XP gained in encounters should be a factor.  Also rewarding clever players in combat for fighting against long odds should be a thing.

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May 15, 2013 1:27:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ishantil,

Adventuring with heroes is one of the things I really enjoy about the game.  Being limited by the number of heroes I can bring with me in an army seems dumb to me.  I'm not sure how the math works out, but that needs to change.  If I want to bring four heroes to take on monsters, I should be able to do so.  This is especially true in the beginning of the game where some of the most effective units you have are heroes.

 

As for the XP buff traits, these are definitely the least imaginative traits in the trees.  The very first trait I always pick after choosing a path is an XP bonus trait.  But it seems like it would be better to reward the player in other ways and amp up the XP gain some.  I would instead add some things that enhance the loot you get.  I think that a bonus in the Commander tree that enchances the XP that an army gets would be fine (and would actually make sense). 

Easing the XP penalties or increasing the XP gained in encounters should be a factor.  Also rewarding clever players in combat for fighting against long odds should be a thing.

there's nothing holding you back if you want to play with several champs. that whole XP split whinefest is really just hysteria. you get a fair share of XP on each of your guys, not more and not less than with a single guy. thanks to the exponential XP->Level curve, your guys will still be at a reasonable level, not that far behind a single hero character that gets full XP. plus, the last patch introduced bonus XP for defeating higher level encounters, so a motley crew of 4 level 5 guys will get bonus XP for defeating that level 8 spider thing (or whatever) while a lone hero who made it to level 9 in the same time won't get any bonus. 

it's really just a matter of preference. a team of 2-3 heroes with synergizing abilities (prime example: the "holy trinity" - tank & healer & damage dealer) will probably outperform a single hero who is a few levels higher, so the level doesn't really matter. 

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May 15, 2013 1:44:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've noticed that my single heroes with armies level faster than groups of heroes.  As I said, I haven't looked at numbers, but I believe the difference to be non-trivial.

I've found that it's inefficient to have more than two heroes in a group, or the XP just bogs down to much.

 

Does anyone know how the numbers work, offhand?

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May 15, 2013 1:55:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

the XP split is linear - 1 guy gets 100%, 2 guys get 50% each, 3 get 33% each etc. 

the level progression is on a roughly exponential curve; the table for level - total XP for next level looks like this (credit goes to user joeball123)

1 0
2 10
3 32
4 69
5 123
6 197
7 294
8 416
9 566
10 747
11 962
12 1213
13 1505
14 1840
15 2221
16 2650
17 3131
18 3667
19 4261
20 4916
21 5635
22 6421

 

 

 

if you have excel or open office Calc or something similar, you can easily copy& paste the numbers and have the program plot them as a chart.

what this means is - you need an ever increaing number of XP for levelling up (which is pretty obvious actually )

 

if you have say a grand total of 400XP, a single hero getting all of it will be close to level 8, 2 heroes sharing 50% are both level 6, 3 heroes are level 5 etc.

at 1000 XP total, a single guy would be 11, a duo makes it to 8, three guys get to 7 etc. etc.

 

 

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May 15, 2013 1:58:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Thanks for posting that Azunai, I'd seen Joeball123's breakdown before but couldn't find it, saved me some testing.

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May 15, 2013 2:00:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What about the regular units with the heroes? If you have one hero, don't they get twice the exp than they would if stacked with two?

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May 15, 2013 2:05:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

yeah that's right. they get the shaft in multi hero units. but frankly, if you roll with a powerful group of heroes (like the insane tank & healer combo) troop levels are pretty much irrelevant. those guys are just there to do some damage in that case.

but it's still a valid point. maybe the system could be improved by making troop XP independent of the number of heroes (would also be a bit more consistent i guess)

 

 

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May 15, 2013 2:46:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think you need to tie troop xp with #heroes in the same army to keep the system organic and the xp in check.  The way the xp is divided and balanced right now is just about perfect.

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May 15, 2013 4:36:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If they did a fun audit on this game, the only problem areas from this expansion would be heroes.

XP should not be something you have to spend picks for, you should not even be able to spend 4 levels on just MOAR xp. It is like they are trapping players who think they are making a good long term investment, though without the forum you would have a lot of trouble figuring out how bad that investment is.

The XP split keeps what I am guessing is a large percentage of players (from forum posts) from using heroes together. It is not fun to get a hero and put him/her in a city. Encourage players to use heroes together! That is actually fun!

The most fun game trumps the most balanced game any day. Now if they are really brilliant they can make the most fun way balanced.

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May 15, 2013 4:41:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

well, to be fair, two of the XP boosting picks will be removed with the next update (see changelog of .92), so it's not like Derek ignores the fan input. 

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May 15, 2013 4:51:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The problem we have early on was that people would just run one stack of doom with only heroes in it. There was no point to have troops. Now, troops are fine, but heroes became not so useful anymore. I think bigger problem is that most of the wars you fight and win with one stack anyway. Either you have a stack that can beat anything AI throws at you, or you loose. Thus, heroes are not that much needed anymore anyway.

Saying that, I do not like xp split, but i would do compromise: i would make it that xp split happens only if you have more than two heroes in an army. Furthermore, you could allow faction with no-xp split as a feature, or have technology (+1 hero in army with no xp penalty) or you can have a spell or even an item with this bonus.

I am also for removing xp perks: i always choose them first. It is also kind of easy - i play on ridiculous and usually xp gain allows you to get to level 4 very fast (after 3-4 battles) and then you have this bonus which allow you to feel that your hero actually is doing a progress through game (not to mention you can use best weapons/armors faster). If, however, you leave this perks for later it just takes sooo much time before levels. From my experience of running parallel heroes by level 15 you have your investment back, and since play on large/huge maps it is no choice.

Finally, xp-split between heroes is a mechanic that is nowhere explained. New players would soon complain that leveling is so, so boring and it takes forever to level. Even in my last game i got an ogr hero i thought that he is a special troop; it took me a while to realize he is hero and is destroying my xp-gain. I am not sure whether new players would know whether a troop is a hero or not (i recognize it by 'equip' option ...). Similarly, there should be an info on hero's screen saying how much xp bonus he is actually getting (from spell/equipment/bards/other heroes etc.)

 

 

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May 15, 2013 5:04:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with the OP that the potential traits need to go and am glad to see some progress towards that in the patch notes. I'd take it farther and seriously consider removing potential I as well since that is still going to feel like a boring mandatory pick to a lot of players. Still, reducing it to one trait instead of three is a big improvement.

I've also come around to agreeing with Azunai et al that the xp split isn't really the problem (although I'm not opposed to softening the xp split 'penalty' in the interest of hero grouping feeling more fun). However, this could be easily solved by either a) just making fights with monsters and AI troops give more XP across the board or b ) make the heroes exponential leveling curve a bit less steep so less xp is needed to reach the next level. Something is definitely off when a lot of players think taking dense monsters is pretty much mandatory if you want to have enough xp on the board to get several of your heroes up to a satisfactory level.

I should mention however that I am noticing a difference with the change in 0.91 for higher level monsters to give more xp, but I haven't had a lot of time to test it out, so maybe that change will prove sufficient on its own.

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May 15, 2013 5:07:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting bpalczewski,
Similarly, there should be an info on hero's screen saying how much xp bonus he is actually getting (from spell/equipment/bards/other heroes etc.)

 

This I like.

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May 15, 2013 5:31:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

the XP split is linear - 1 guy gets 100%, 2 guys get 50% each, 3 get 33% each etc.


That's the problem.  In the later game does this make a big difference?  No.  In the early game?  Definitely.  This is especially true for your first and second hero where you literally have a hero sitting in reserve because the penalty is pretty damn severe.  50% less exp to your sovereign is huge when you run into another hero (or worse, sovereign) who leveled by himself.  Are you saying having two heroes half the level of one hero is their equal?  I have empirical evidence of that not being the case.  

As in most RPGs, level is everything when it comes to power.  A level 16 will kick the crap out of your level 10 sovereign and level 10 starting hero (although, in reality, it'd be more like your two level 8s). Yes, you get higher level champions through fame, but still, so do they.  Their might advantage with the sovereign (usually the most powerful unit in the game, rightfully) means they can tackle higher level quests, monsters, and greater numbers of armies.  Therefore meaning they gain more exp faster than you do by virtue of being able to attack higher level... everything and potentially have access to far better equipment, money, fame (and therefore more and higher level heroes), and so forth.  These levels do not exist in a vacuum, getting higher level with your sovereign first is a big advantage to your entire faction.

I honestly do not see how the split, penalty, or whatever one wants to call it improves gameplay and adds options.  I only see it as restricting options and diminishing gameplay.

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May 15, 2013 5:35:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Brenil,


the XP split is linear - 1 guy gets 100%, 2 guys get 50% each, 3 get 33% each etc.



That's the problem.  In the later game does this make a big difference?  No.  In the early game?  Definitely.  This is especially true for your first and second hero where you literally have a hero sitting in reserve because the penalty is pretty damn severe.  50% less exp to your sovereign is huge when you run into another hero who leveled by himself.  Are you saying having two heroes half the level of one hero is their equal?  I have empirical evidence of that not being the case.  

...

just curious - you quote my post, yet you somehow missed the other half of it where i explained WHY it isn't such a huge deal ?! don't know why i even bother replying

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May 15, 2013 5:36:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And you're ignoring the part of my post about the higher level heroes being able to tackle higher level monsters and quests, which grants them more exp, better equipment, and more fame.

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May 15, 2013 9:26:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree so much with dropping the Potential traits. Get rid of them so we can use those early picks on fun things instead.

As I've said before I don't see anything wrong with XP splitting for heroes. I do see a lot wrong with completely dropping the XP splitting as it makes a single uber hero stack by far the optimum plan. However Stardock could probably come up with a slightly more relaxed scaled version of XP splitting and have it work.

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May 15, 2013 10:53:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm not against the exp scaling's existence, I understand why it is there.  But it shouldn't be so harsh, especially for your first hero which you usually get within the first few turns of the game.  

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May 16, 2013 12:22:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

...but i would do compromise: i would make it that xp split happens only if you have more than two heroes in an army.

Sounds reasonable, but the reality is it would make it almost mandatory to have two heroes in a group or you would be throwing away a lot of experience.

I also believe Azunai makes a convincing argument why XP-splitting works.

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May 16, 2013 12:48:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting coyote303,

Sounds reasonable, but the reality is it would make it almost mandatory to have two heroes in a group or you would be throwing away a lot of experience.

I also believe Azunai makes a convincing argument why XP-splitting works.

It seems like this same argument makes playing Altair with henchmen mandatory. Henchman are heroes without XP splits, so you must play them or you are throwing XP away.

XP greed needs to go as a high-level imperative. Whatever mechanics work the best to do that, it will make the game more fun. XP splits, battle XP formulas, quest XP formulas, whatever, they are just tools to make the game fun.

Whatever mechanics are necessary, players need to feel encouraged to use heroes together because that is fun. The need to split up heroes will always be there as long as one group moves X times slower than X groups and covers 1/X as much territory. I think being -3 to -5 levels at crunch time is a price too many people find too high to use heroes together, so they play in a less fun way. I think this is a creative design problem, but one that can be overcome in a more elegant way than what is in place currently.

I like bpalczewski's ideas. Those implementations seem to appeal to both sides of the problem.

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May 18, 2013 5:12:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Burress,
I like bpalczewski's ideas. Those implementations seem to appeal to both sides of the problem.

I cannot agree. Saying two get full XP (and three split XP) means--as I said before--you should have two heroes in a group. Furthermore, it also means you should never, never, never have three or more.

I'm not sure one is called for, but if a compromise must be had, this would be better:

Two heroes get a 10 percent bonus each (total 60 percent split each or 3/5)

Three heroes get a 4.167 percent bump each (total 37.5 percent split each or 3/8)

Four heroes get no bonus (25 percent split or 1/4)

Here is the total XP payout for both compromises:

#1 option: 1 hero = 100%   2 heroes = 200%   3 heroes = 100%   4 heroes = 100%

#2 option: 1 hero = 100%   2 heroes = 120%   3 heroes = 112.5%   4 heroes = 100%

no option: 100% in all situations

 

 

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