[Game-breaking Imbalance] Fleshbound Tomb + Decalon is Stupidly OP

How to Win in 40-60 Turns on Insane with a Custom Faction.

By on May 30, 2013 10:22:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Chaosti

Join Date 08/2009
+5

Suggestions:

- Change Consume to only generate 30-40 mana

- Cull the weak should only be castable on faction units (so limit it to races like ironeers, men, mancers, etc.).  Make sure the spell cannot be cast on elementals or undead!!!!

- The road building ability is too good. Have the trait become available when Economics is researched (mid-game), or even remove it entirely.  Similarly, I would recommend that commander hero's need to be level 7-8 to learn Road Building, and not be able to learn it at level 3!!!! You can perform the exact same strategy with any level 3 commander hero on a horse (replacing the scouts).

 

Overview:

Flesh Bound Tome is just insanely overpowered, and if combined with Decalon, it becomes an 'I win' button.

 

Here are the issues:

- Consume destroys a Shard for 200 mana.

- Decalon's Arcane Monolith creates unlimited mana generation with Consume.  Create a monolith, consume the shard, earn 150 mana.  Rinse and repeat.

- With unlimited mana, beastmaster's tame skill can be used infinitely (or any other spells to demolish the enemy, but beastmaster is easiest).

- (Optional): Choose Empire, summon skeleton horde (45 mana cost), and consume skeletons (20 mana each) will generate a net gain of 135 mana if necessary.

 - Mancer road building perk is plain OP as it allows your scouts to build roads for your army to use, basically giving a 2 movement army 5-8 movement.

 

So here's a custom faction using the above factors that just makes the game a complete joke:

Mancers Faction, Beastmaster Hero

- Flesh Bound Tome (destroy shards for 200 mana, can also cull the weak for 20 mana, especially with summon skeleton horde, which would generate 180 mana for a cost of 45 mana)
- The Decalon (2 points, can buy tomes for air/fire/earth/water magic, Arcane Monolith)

Optimized Hero Leveling Path:
Level 2:    Mage
Level 3:    Prodigy: +10 spell mastery (higher chance of taming success)
Level 4:    Prodigy II : +10 spell mastery (higher chance of taming success)
Level 5:    Prodigy III : +10 spell mastery (higher chance of taming success)

 

HowTo:

- First, you customize the scouts to have an additional ability: road building.  You can build a scout in 2 turns.  They have 3 movement, and you can use them to just keep scouting / building roads forward, to allow your hero and army to move rapidly.

- If you have a shrine in your settling zone, cast 'Consume' from Flesh Bound Tomb to have an instant 200 mana.

If you don't have a shrine, when you have 50 mana, Cast Arcane Monolith on a nearby Shrine, then consume it to earn an 150 additional mana.  You can repeat this whenever you spot a shrine (aka. infinite mana).

- These roads will let your hero with his army reach enemies with beasts easily, which you will tame (taming an enemy unit gives you the full XP for winning the battle, and gives you a bigger army).

 

Here's a silly little screenshot of this in action.

http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/1118296799376403178/F90E102D75AF7B49DD955A3E7DAC6023010BC895/

Note this is merely turn 20, and everything is already completely set up (I actually didn't choose the optimal hero leveling here, and went for summon skeleton horde instead of magic skill, as I picked up a +10 spell mastery wand early on).

Nami, my leader, is level 5 with 4 captured web casting spiders (against armies with multiple beasts, just keep them webbed and capture the beasts 1 by 1).  I have 851 mana on hand (with more shards to consume for mana if I want).

My secondary hero is just running around to capture lairs to speed things up.  Each 'road-builder' (scouts with the road-building perk) has a mere 42 production cost, so it's very easy to get lots of them running around as required (depending on map size).  This one, I only have 2, and am training 2 more.

There's that monolith trail setup so I can settle forward without the unrest penalty, buy equipment for heroes (i.e. warhorses).  And also for consuming shards.

Not much else needed to win at this point.  Just need to find some bears / umberdroths / big spiders to capture, find the enemy AIs, and kill them.

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May 30, 2013 11:38:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Pretty sure road building is a mancer trait - so serrane is unneeded.  Could be wrong though but my latest game I took mancers and my pioneers can build roads and road building is an addable skill.

Beastmaster is OP compared to the rest of the starting professions, but so what.   SP game, and its fun.  IMO opinion, don't select it if you don't like it.

Decalon + fleshbound tome could be broken.   Do you need to actually build the shard before you can consume it or can you consume with the hammer visible?  Think you should need to build it before you can consume it.

Possibly reduce it to 100 mana - since you are giving up 1 mana/turn and the spell benefits (i.e. +1 defense for stoneskin for earth).  

Without fleshbound you can still go mancer/whatever or mancer/beastlord.   The road ability is nice but trading gets you roads to towns and economics (?) gets you roads to outposts.  Then there is the governor road ability - disagree that it should have a higher level requirement.  They're lackluster enough as is.  With the road ability I now include them so they can suck XP and get to +xp traits (yay accuracy..sigh).

 

IMO I think the biggest change would require you to actually build the shard first and then possibly reduce the rewarded mana.   Kind of agree on limiting being able to consume summoned units as well.

 

 

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May 30, 2013 12:06:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is a very clever strategy. I don't think the flesh-bound tome itself is overpowered, since the shards have to be in your zone of influence, but using arcane monolith to sweep the map of all shards is wild. Using the roads like you do amounts to an epic movement buff as well.

Maybe a cooldown on consume (10-20 turns) would fix the issue with the first two traits? What about having roadbuilding be slow, so that roadbuilding units move only one movement per tun? That seems like a logical way to reign in using roads as just nearly-unlimited movement buffs. 

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May 30, 2013 12:16:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Decalon's Arcane Monolith creates unlimited mana generation with Consume. Create a monolith, consume the shard, earn 150 mana. Rinse and repeat.

Eh?  This makes absolutely no sense.  Consume targets shards.  What does AM have to do with this?

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May 30, 2013 12:29:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

jutetrea:

You're right.  It's a Mancer ability, not linked to Serene, so I'm updating my post.

You don't have to build a shrine on them.  And even if you did, it takes 2-3 turns to build a shrine to consume...  For 200 mana, that's totally worth the few turns it takes.

The problem with the road-building is twofold.

- without roads, exploring the whole map (Small) generally takes around... 130 turns or so?  With roads, you can explore a full map in... 40-50, and clear everything on the map as well in this time.

- it allows your 2 speed army to function at 5-8 speed per turn instead.  I'm pretty sure that's not an intended game mechanic

- Roads between cities only allows you to manuever fast in a defensive manner.  Making a treaty with an AI merely gives you a 1-line path to the enemy base if you were to attack him, and may let you grab a lair or 2 easily.  To actually be able to research economics for roads to outposts requires like turn 80-90 or so (which is fine for mid/late game)  But building roads lets you manuever anywhere on the map, grabbing every lair on the map at will easily since your army has such a huge speed boost.  Which would not necessarily be overpowered in mid or end-game, but is ridiculous if you get to start with it (or get it on a level 3 hero via 3 fame -> commander -> Road Building -> Buy him a horse - you now have a 4 or 5 movement road builder).  And all that needs is... 32 XP (10 to hit level 2, 22 to hit level 3).

Finally, while I gave the example with beastmaster.  Frankly, having unlimited mana offers all sorts of ways to instant-win, whether it's mass summoning with mage heroes, or using powerful spells in combat.  Unlimited mana in a game where mana is generally a rare and hard to acquire resource is not a good thing

 

 

mqpiffle:

You can only consume shards inside your zone of control.

So AM to put shard in your zone of control, and then consume it?

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May 30, 2013 12:36:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

*Redundant post, I thought you were talking to me at first.*

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May 30, 2013 12:37:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mqpiffle,


Decalon's Arcane Monolith creates unlimited mana generation with Consume. Create a monolith, consume the shard, earn 150 mana. Rinse and repeat.

Eh?  This makes absolutely no sense.  Consume targets shards.  What does AM have to do with this?

Pretty sure you can only consume shards that are in your territory.

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May 30, 2013 12:51:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Burress:

the problem with even 1 movement road-builder is that 2 of them could 'leapfrog' each other and extend your road 2 spaces every turn.  Which would be more or less the same as the current scouts (3 movement, so you move 3 spots, and build roads on 2). It would slow down the road-building a bit, but the inherent issue of 'super speed buffs' remains haha.

 

And once the roads are setup, you got highways everywhere.  But of course, if you did do that to the Mancer road builders, it would make them basically useless in comparison to the 4-5 movement commanders building roads.

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May 30, 2013 1:41:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Overview:

Flesh Bound Tome is just insanely overpowered, and if combined with Decalon, it becomes an 'I win' button.



Here are the issues:

- Consume destroys a Shard for 200 mana.

- Decalon's Arcane Monolith creates unlimited mana generation with Consume. Create a monolith, consume the shard, earn 150 mana. Rinse and repeat.

- With unlimited mana, beastmaster's tame skill can be used infinitely (or any other spells to demolish the enemy, but beastmaster is easiest).

I don't think this is a problem. If you do this, you've sacrificed most of the potential power of most of the spells available for a bit of mana that goes away relatively quickly (assuming you made use of your mana; if you don't, then you sacrificed potential magical power for no real benefit). It's a trade-off between immediate power and future power, and unless I'm in position to steamroll a faction or two I just don't think it's a worthwhile trade-off.

Plus, having a few random monsters in my army is certainly nice, especially in the early game when monsters are on average better than regular troops, but much past the early part of the mid game most monsters just can't compete with regular troops. Once again, it's something where you sacrificed a long-term benefit for a short-term gain.

Let's think about what you lose when you consume a shard:

  1. You lose 1/2/3 mana per turn. This equates to 1/2/3 potential unit enchantments lost for every shard you destroy and a lot less potential mana over the course of the game.
  2. You lose 1 shard power of whatever type the shard was. This severely nerfs most damage and support spells, as spells which scale with caster level are the exception rather than the rule.
  3. If you're playing an Amarian faction, you've chosen to sacrifice your blood trait benefits for an immediate and temporary boost to your mana supply.
  4. If you're playing a faction with the binding trait, you've chosen to sacrifice your shard demons (which, I admit, is not much of a loss in my opinion).

Yes, in certain cases it can be very powerful, but it also has a significant trade-off if the game lasts long enough that the AI can hold off your initial aggression, or if you cannot take advantage of your early game strength (for example, by not finding an AI to conquer until it's fielding mid-game units, since decent mid-game units are at least on par with, and generally superior to, most beasts). Having a huge mana surplus in the early game and a few random beasts in your army is only going to help you for so long.

And yes, it is certainly possible to create custom factions which, in the hands of a human, completely outclass the AI factions. But in all honesty, any faction in the hands of a decently skilled human player will completely outclass the AI. By how much it does so depends on the sorts of trade-offs you're willing to make. To you, trading away most of the potential strength of magic for an early advantage is worthwhile. You probably also find converting every shard you have to be a Death Shard worthwhile when playing with Death Worship, since that turns Dirge of Ceresa into an army-killer. My preference is to not sacrifice the power of the other types of magic to that extent.

Consume Shard grants a temporary advantage for a long-term loss. I would not normally make use of it. I'd be more concerned by the balance implications of Summon Skeletal Horde and Cull the Weak than by the balance implications of Consume Shard and Arcane Monolith.

Of course, with Cull the Weak and Summon Skeletal Horde, you're also wasting time so that you can sacrifice skeletons for mana instead of moving on with actually playing the game, since you need to sacrifice at least three skeletons before you get a positive amount of mana from doing this (assuming no mana cost discounts), which means you've spent three turns doing nothing but killing your own forces instead of finishing off whatever enemy you picked for this waste of time. Fact of the matter is that there will always be mechanics available to exploit if you want to spend the time and energy to do so. If you find it fun, go ahead and do it. If you don't, then maybe you should consider not doing it, especially since by no means is summoning a horde of skeletons and then passing turns so your champions can cast Cull the Weak even remotely mandatory or akin to normal gameplay.

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May 30, 2013 3:10:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I'm glad we have joeball in these forums to bring some serious insight to all these non-sensical claims.

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May 30, 2013 4:21:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Chaosti- please post your save one turn before victory, on insane/insane.

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May 30, 2013 5:13:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

JoeBall, I think you are missing the fact that the strategy is to use Arcane Monolith to depopulate the entire map of shards, shards you would never have made use of. If you wouldn't have had it to begin with, then it is 150 mana profit for nothing and the AI can never use it.

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May 30, 2013 6:02:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

davrovana:

I already finished and don't have a save of that game lol.

I guess I can start a new one with this though.  Want to list out the map settings (size, etc), and number of enemy AIs?   I'll put them all on 1 team just to make things interesting lol.

 

joeball123:

1. How long does your games run?  I've yet to have a game go beyond 200 turns... and I've never even reached the level 3 temple tech.  At most, I've built a few level 2 temples.  Well, massed road network tends to prevent games from going on for too long in general.

2. You do realize that was turn 20 right?  Not like turn 100 or 200 or whatever.  This is turn 20, when with a faction like Tarth, I would only have the starting army, with maybe another militia, golem, and wolf on the map, and be barely able to scout anywhere.

Also, I only consumed 3-4 shards for that amount of mana.  If Consume generated less mana, it wouldn't be so much of an issue.  But at 200, it's utterly insane.

3. The consume shard thing is just for the initial mana boost so you can start capturing beasts right at the start.  It's not like you have to keep destroying shards.  I would also mention that casting meditation on high essence settling locations would generate tons of mana, a lot more than shards produce really.  Finally, you can always use Procipinee's crown for your hero and mass buff him with spells (don't see a need though).

4.  Maybe you're playing a different game from me.  I have yet to find something that this kind of army cannot take down (and none of the spells here really benefit from shards - I suppose technically, your summons would get more levels which gives them more hp):

Earlygame: use beasts to clear map.  Aim towards Grave Elemental (which would cast death ward on the units in the spots around it to make your beasts signifcantly harder to kill).

Shroud 'Boss': use 4-5 fire or ice wand equipped mages with +initiative and +fire/ice equipment.  Base of 6 attack, add 2 from ice and water items for 8 magic attack.  Multiply by 4 for a 32 ranged attack.  With 4 or 5 of them, that gives 128-160 attack.  Use summons (if necessary) to delay the enemy from getting into your mages while they demolish the enemy.

- Generally, with the wildlands cleared, I would of picked up some high melee attack weapon (they generally have at least 1 with 40-60 attack), and use my mage hero to summon + melee attack rather than spellcast.

- But as an option: level 2 fire magic later (For flame dart) - you get fire magic via The Decalon, and when your hero levels put 1 point into it leveling it for flame dart.

 

As for the 'your exploiting idea is wasting time... I agree with the concept, but I still feel a game should be decently balanced.  I enjoy FE: LH, but I can also see it slowly getting steadily balanced and potentially having MP tacked on.

Certainly in its current state, this game cannot be considered MPable if that was even offered as a feature.  Especially not compared to the other TBS games currently on the market like Civ 5 (great MP), Warlock (only good MP in 1v1s, otherwise turns takes too long), and of course Age of Wonders 2 (3 is coming out soon!).  Heck, even Shogun 2 Total War is now offering MP campaign, and I can only see Rome 2 Total War continuing that.

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May 30, 2013 10:39:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Chaosti,
How long does your games run?

Until I get bored. I'm also more interested in building an empire than wiping the floor with the AI.

Quoting Chaosti,
You do realize that was turn 20 right?

I did notice that that was turn 20. I also noticed that you'd destroyed every shard you'd found, and had not yet encountered an AI faction. 800 mana isn't going to do you any good unless you've got a decent spell to use it on, and at that stage in the game you rarely have a decent damage spell, and if your sovereign dies trying to take a beast you'll lose something like a quarter of it for no benefit. Beast taming is risky, especially if you go after the stronger monsters, though I could see increasing their spell resistance to make it a little more difficult.

Quoting Chaosti,
Also, I only consumed 3-4 shards for that amount of mana.

You consumed at least five shards to have 850 mana after spending 250 on Arcane Monoliths, because by turn 20 even a 4-essence starting city with meditation and a sovereign with Attunement is only going to give you 160 mana. Maybe one of the outposts is from a Pioneer, but you won't have made more than one or maybe two of them by turn 20, which is only going to save you 50 or 100 mana. If you've also been using Tame during that time, then you've consumed six or more shards.

Quoting Chaosti,
I would also mention that casting meditation on high essence settling locations would generate tons of mana, a lot more than shards produce really

True, assuming you have access to cities with essence. I've had games where I never found a settleable location with more than one essence, though, so it's not like it's guaranteed, and in that game most of my mana definitely came from shards since I also didn't build many conclaves. But meditation also sacrifices an enchantment slot that could go to something more useful, one shard temple for three mana doesn't cost me that spot, and I find three or more essence on a tile to be a rare occurrence. One or two essence is common enough, but even so usually only about half of my cities have natural essence, despite that I prefer to settle tiles with essence over tiles without it.

Quoting Chaosti,
Finally, you can always use Procipinee's crown for your hero and mass buff him with spells (don't see a need though).

Procipinee's Crown is only good for one unit, unless you aren't the only sovereign in the game with it, and then you'd have to force that sovereign to surrender to you before you can make use of the second. I don't usually run with a single all-powerful army, nor do I usually stack enchantments primarily on a single champion. Even in the early game I like to have two, or occasionally even three, armies running around.

Quoting Chaosti,
If Consume generated less mana, it wouldn't be so much of an issue.

If Consume generated less mana, it would be something I'd never even consider using, especially if it were reduced all the way down to the 30 or 40 you suggest. Right now it's something that I'd rarely ever consider using. I like having powerful spellcasters, and destroying half the shards on the map isn't going to help with that.

Quoting Chaosti,
But as an option: level 2 fire magic later (For flame dart) - you get fire magic via The Decalon, and when your hero levels put 1 point into it leveling it for flame dart.

Fireball's better; so is Blizzard. Neither of these gets any benefit from levels aside from being cast at a higher spell mastery or with additional Evoker bonuses. Also, the strategic level fire damage spells are heavily dependent on shards for damage, and can potentially wipe out armies at little risk.

Quoting Chaosti,
Generally, with the wildlands cleared, I would of picked up some high melee attack weapon (they generally have at least 1 with 40-60 attack), and use my mage hero to summon + melee attack rather than spellcast.

Blizzard can wipe out an army in a single cast, if you have the shards to back it up or are facing sufficiently low level or low resistance or poor counterspell opponents. If you want to play super swordsman, you need to have enough armor and health to play with the regular troops, who all have many times your health and damage, probably at least as much defense, and if the AI were doing things properly would come out of a good fortress with as many of the Auras of Whatever and Heart of Fire as possible with the troop-benefiting level-up structures. It's a rare champion that can compete with that. You can have one or two great champions, with their special Wildland weapons and the best armor you can find or buy, but they aren't really any better than decent mid- or end-game quality troops coming out of a fortress, and they play the same way, too.

Quoting Chaosti,
Maybe you're playing a different game from me. I have yet to find something that this kind of army cannot take down (and none of the spells here really benefit from shards - I suppose technically, your summons would get more levels which gives them more hp):

Summoners don't really get much benefit out of shards, but damage and support spellcasters do, and I don't really care for the rather limited selection of summons available. Also, if you're using summons to hold enemies in place, then extra levels for extra health never hurts, but they don't get enough for it to really matter unless you've got a lot of the appropriate shard.

Low-level fire mages can get more from shards than from levels with Flame Dart, Burning Hands can actually be a halfway decent spell if you have a couple of Fire Shards, and none of the later Fire Magic spells scale with your level yet can be far better than Flame Dart, especially with a few shards behind them. Haste and Slow become enormously powerful with even two or three Air or Water shards, and cost next to nothing to cast, but are also essentially unaffected by level (Slow sticks more often with a higher level caster, but that's about it). A few Earth Shards can let you make a champion nearly invulnerable to elemental damage.

You aren't getting spell bonuses from shards because you've chosen not to use spells that get the most benefit from shards, so you decided that shard bonuses are more or less useless to you. Yes, summons and Tame can be good, but summoned critters and tamed beasts are at their best in the early game, are often no better than equal with mid-game troops, and if late-game troops come out they'll become increasingly outclassed, especially if you foolishly try to make use of the strategic version of the summon in combat. Summoned critters and tamed beasts may let you win the battles early game at little cost, but a good strategic-level damage spell destroys whole armies without even risking a battle, and you won't have good strategic-level damage spells without shards. Nor will you have the really good tactical-level damage spells, unless you're playing an Empire for Horrific Wail, since all of the best tactical damage spells scale with shards. An 18-damage to nine tiles fireball is decent, but a 30-damage to nine tiles fireball is far better, and it doesn't take too many shards to make that difference (depending on magic settings and map size).

Quoting Chaosti,
Shroud 'Boss':

The Shroud is by far the easiest Wildland to clear, since all that's in it are spiders, wargs, and darklings. You could do this with a militia army, if you were careful or don't care about losses.

Quoting Chaosti,
Shroud 'Boss': use 4-5 fire or ice wand equipped mages with +initiative and +fire/ice equipment. Base of 6 attack, add 2 from ice and water items for 8 magic attack. Multiply by 4 for a 32 ranged attack. With 4 or 5 of them, that gives 128-160 attack. Use summons (if necessary) to delay the enemy from getting into your mages while they demolish the enemy.

And how much crystal does that cost? Lots. Crystal is the equipment resource I'm most frequently short of, and the crystal mines are at best half as productive as the metal mines, and don't have a Wonder that provides a massive income for the resource. Nor do upgrades to crystal mines come with upgrades to production capacity, unlike upgrades to metal mines. Crystal mines are also the mine that I most frequently lack or have the fewest of.

Also, you consider a champion with 30-40 melee attack as something that's viable against units with over 100 ranged magical attack? Even though the champion probably only has half the health of the ranged units? Even high-end summoned critters and high-level champions have difficulty matching that, and that's only a mid-game unit. Heck, it's an early mid game unit, since all it takes is the first tier or two of magic research and a mid-level Civilization tech, at least assuming you can get the crystal for it.

Quoting Chaosti,
I guess I can start a new one with this though. Want to list out the map settings (size, etc), and number of enemy AIs? I'll put them all on 1 team just to make things interesting lol.

Huge map, maximum world difficulty, three AIs at highest difficulty, dense monsters, whatever magic you feel like. Don't care about Wildlands; have as many or as few of those as you want. Win by consuming shards and taming beasts all the way across the map. Other settings up to you. Oh, and perhaps go for Yithril as one of the AI factions.

Quoting Chaosti,
As for the 'your exploiting idea is wasting time... I agree with the concept, but I still feel a game should be decently balanced. I enjoy FE: LH, but I can also see it slowly getting steadily balanced and potentially having MP tacked on.

Certainly in its current state, this game cannot be considered MPable if that was even offered as a feature. Especially not compared to the other TBS games currently on the market like Civ 5 (great MP), Warlock (only good MP in 1v1s, otherwise turns takes too long), and of course Age of Wonders 2 (3 is coming out soon!). Heck, even Shogun 2 Total War is now offering MP campaign, and I can only see Rome 2 Total War continuing that.

I couldn't care less about multiplayer (actually, I could - usually they take fun things out of single player because they are 'imbalanced' in multiplayer, and I don't like that, so actually multiplayer tends to be something that I consider bad for the game). I also couldn't care less about game balance as long as the game is fun. If making the game 'balanced' makes the game less fun, then making it 'balanced' is a bad thing, and very few games still provide the ability to revert the game to the last version that you considered to be fun, which you used to be able to do by reinstalling from floppy/CD/DVD and then downloading the appropriate patch installers. For some reason, this is not thought to be a good idea anymore, so you're stuck taking a chance every time you install a new patch. If there is an exploit that you consider to not be fun, but you're doing it anyways just to have a little advantage over the AI, that's your own fault.

Don't ruin a spell just because in combination with another spell it creates an exploit, especially when it takes the creation of a custom faction to have any access whatsoever to this exploit. If I'm not mistaken, Warlock: Master of the Arcane has this same 'issue' with regards to its faction customization options, where if you choose certain race and trait combinations you get advantages like free armies (amusingly enough, it's spell-created beast armies, just like the Beastlord armies you're complaining about with your monolith/consume exploit). Their community solved this by agreeing not to combine those traits. Ours wants to 'solve' this by ruining portions of those traits?

Quoting Burress,
JoeBall, I think you are missing the fact that the strategy is to use Arcane Monolith to depopulate the entire map of shards, shards you would never have made use of. If you wouldn't have had it to begin with, then it is 150 mana profit for nothing and the AI can never use it.

I'm well aware that the strategy is to depopulate the map of shards; however, the shards that he's killing to get that kind of mana by turn 20 are precisely the shards that he'd be most likely to get some use out of for the majority of the game, and they aren't the shards that the AI would be using, unless you mean to tell me that you let the AI settle that part of the map which is that close to you. That's his corner of the map, and that's where he's wiped out all the magic power. Can it be a useful trade-off? Sure, if you can find an AI to conquer before your army of monsters is no longer competitive, but settling cities and researching trading gets you the same degree of mobility at about the same time, and building a proper army gives you something that can actually be worthwhile in the later portion of the game, if you're willing to pay the upgrade costs. I will admit that large expanses of swamps, hills, and forests could greatly slow expansion without Mancer blood's extra move or Master Scout's free pass on the terrain penalty, but it looks like there's at least one path going most of the way through that peninsula that's clear of all that for all but four or five tiles.

Of course, his strategy also relies on having something useful to do with all that mana he's been building up. If there were few creatures of the Beast type available for taming, his chosen profession becomes essentially worthless. Even if there are a fair number of beasts, the monsters you tame are essentially irreplaceable, because you're probably clearing the lairs in and around your territory, and the AI almost certainly is clearing the lairs around itself (at any rate, it should be, though it doesn't always). By telling me to grab the Decalon to pick up Fire Magic, he's indicated that he doesn't have access to one of the few damage spells that scales with caster level, and that he's lacking perhaps the best direct-damage magic school. He's also playing a Kingdom faction, so he doesn't have the best of the damage spells that scale with caster level. He's wiped out every last one of his shards, so any support spells like Haste and Slow he might have are stuck at their least powerful level, and even though they can still be useful, there's no way that you need 800 mana to make use of Haste and Slow. You might have an argument for 200 mana, if you wanted to haste your entire army and slow the entire enemy army for five or six battles, but if the AI has enough armies for fix or six battles it probably isn't early game anymore, so the beasts and summons are becoming less useful without decent troops or a good spellcaster backing them up. By destroying all his own shards, what do you think he might lack in the spellcaster department? A good spellcaster.

If you want summoning to help you, you need to be at least level 4, because otherwise you don't have any decent summon spells (sorry, but Shadow Wargs are garbage except in the very early game, and Familiars are only as useful as the spells your sovereign has, and those are the only two summon spells a level 3 or lower sovereign could possibly have, while the champions with special summons tend to be high level and rare - and he probably lacks Shadow Wargs because he probably took Beastlord for his profession; plus, at one cast at a time for each summon spell on either the tactical or the strategic level, summoning isn't a particularly strong way to make use of all that mana). If you get to a high enough level to get the good summons, then it's probably getting towards mid-game, so even the good summons are more like army supplements than primary army units (although this depends heavily on game settings - small maps have absolutely astronomical leveling speeds compared to large maps, at least until the monsters run out).

What can he do with his mana? Well, he could try for a fortress with three or four essence (assuming he finds such a tile) and put all sorts of buffs on it, but that only takes about 200 mana. He could also try for unit enchantments, but he apparently doesn't like those (I can't say I blame him; I myself usually make use of tactical spells, city enchantments, and non-sustained strategic spells). He could tame all sorts of things, if they are available and don't manage to kill his sovereign while he tries it, but that's only early game and perhaps mid game strength, unless he's lucky and gets a few Umberdroths, and if his sovereign dies trying to tame any of this stuff, he loses a lot of mana for little gain. He could try strategic damage spells, but most of them are almost useless without shards, and many don't work outside of his zone of control. If he has Alchemy, he could boost his gold enough to rush out a small army, or maintain a large one produced normally for a while, but without that quest it's not something to build a strategy around. Early tactical spells either don't cost enough to require that kind of mana or don't deal enough damage to make it worthwhile, though if he can pick up Fireball it might be alright in the early game, while Blizzard without shards could be decent into the mid game. But it's still nothing to spend all that mana on - especially Blizzard, since with Mantle of the Oceans most spells become low-cost, and you'd get Mantle of the Oceans before you can have Blizzard unless you're using scrolls.

Again, this is very much a trade-off of early game power and late game strength. He's gone for the early game power, and since he appears to be playing a small map it probably isn't a bad trade. But there's little real use for all the mana he's got (what, are you going to cast tame 200 times? Slow and Haste 100 times each?), and he's chosen to sacrifice most of the potential power of his support and damage mage champions for it.

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May 30, 2013 11:12:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I apologize joeball123, I realize now he posted a specific strategy which you were responding to. I was only considering the strategy as a general idea to exploit. In my mind I was considering vague ideas of using scouts to poach distant shards to build up mana for damage spells in the early game. I wasn't thinking about winning an insane/insane game (I am not that competitive), but it would seem quite easy to kill a challenging-expert AI early with unlimited mana for AOE spells.

The consume shard is a decent gambit in my opinion anyway (on non-damage increasing shards), since it takes quite a long time get that much income off a shard, and if you can accomplish a significant strategic objective early it will probably more than pay off. From what I have seen posted, it is not easy to take out an insane AI early, so I can see why you would place more emphasis on long-term value.

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May 31, 2013 12:15:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Burress,
The consume shard is a decent gambit in my opinion anyway (on non-damage increasing shards), since it takes quite a long time get that much income off a shard, and if you can accomplish a significant strategic objective early it will probably more than pay off. From what I have seen posted, it is not easy to take out an insane AI early, so I can see why you would place more emphasis on long-term value.

I agree that consuming distant shards to feed early spells is a decent gambit, especially if it denies the AI access to good magic. I don't agree that it's such a major exploit that the Consume shard should be nerfed to 20% of what it is now to 'correct' this, which is what the original post is asking for. I could go in for certain traits becoming mutually exclusive, or perhaps for certain traits to become Kingdom-only and Empire-only, but not simply to remove an exploit that carries this much of a trade-off and which requires a specific set of traits to be chosen for a custom faction.

Quoting Burress,
I wasn't thinking about winning an insane/insane game (I am not that competitive)

I'm not, either. I usually play at Challenging/Challenging, unless I just want to fight the AI (in which case the AI difficultly and number of opposing factions goes up, because I don't think that at Challenging the AI is much of an opponent) or unless I just want to screw around creating a giant empire (in which case the AI difficulty goes down, though world difficulty might go up, because I want the AI out of the way). But I also generally want to play longer games, so I'm not really thinking about taking out AI factions early unless they get aggressive with me. That portion of my previous post was there mostly because Chaosti accepted a challenge from davrovana to play an Insane/Insane game and asked for game settings. Insane/Insane was specified by the challenge, and the other settings I gave are generally in line with what I usually play, which usually means that I don't meet at least two of the AIs until they've had time to develop into the mid game, which means that they've probably got at least a few decent armies I'd need to face before wiping them out, and it also means that all the factions have a decent chance of becoming large, relatively powerful empires by the time everyone meets.

Large maps with few opponents provide few opportunities to fight an AI faction before mid-game, unless for some reason you spawn right next to one another. Large maps also provide much slower champion leveling, so that portion of the player's power takes a lot longer to ramp up.

Quoting Burress,
since it takes quite a long time get that much income off a shard, and if you can accomplish a significant strategic objective early it will probably more than pay off.

I agree with that, and it's why I started playing larger maps with fewer factions - I don't really like wars in the early game, I'd rather be dealing with monsters or playing around with quests at that point, and at difficulty levels where the AI doesn't receive massive bonuses it's too easy to cripple the AI factions in an early-game war. Fewer factions nearby means I'm less likely to be at war with them early, and thus less likely to cripple a faction by taking its best cities, wiping out its armies, or crippling its champions (when I'm looking for a challenge rather than just playing around, though, I'm also much less likely to be able to do this since high-difficulty AIs get significant bonuses, so then I'm fine with having higher faction densities and spawning closer to potential enemies). It also means I'm less likely to massively boost my own faction early on by taking over the cities some other faction kindly planted next door, which at Challenging isn't that hard to do in the early game when the AI is next door unless you've had a bad start. And I tend to be of the 'if you go to war with me, I'm going to cripple your empire' opinion when it comes to peace offers from AI factions, if they started the war (if they didn't and my objectives were limited or my armies are getting depleted, that's different).

I also think that it's probably not worthwhile to sacrifice a shard to fuel spells just to clear a bit of expansion room, especially since damage spells in the early game tend not to have the same power to affect battles as they can later on, and damage spells are the only ones I can think of that cost enough for me to consider doing this as opposed to waiting a few turns for the handful of mana it costs to cast slow and haste a few times, or heal a couple times - five casts of haste or slow for the same mana as one cast of flame dart, with early haste and slow probably being better than early flame dart, means I don't see much value in sacrificing shards for the mana for early spells unless I'm desperate or can get a really good advantage out of it since I probably have four or more mana income per turn (assuming two-essence first city with meditation, which is normal for me unless I have both Enchanted Hammers and Inspiration).

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May 31, 2013 9:00:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sorry, i shouldn't of said 'Shroud' when I meant 'Wildlands'.  All the bosses have died to the above army I mentioned, mixing ice and fire as necessary.

 

As for crystal cost...

a mage with just a wand costs 3 crystal, 2 more for the ring (optional), and an initiative ring costs 1 more.

So depending on how cheap/expensive you want it to be, it's 9 crystal for an 18 damage group of 3 (upgrading with gold later to increase numbers), or 32 for a maxed out group of 4.

Whether I add those rings and such is honestly dependent on my crystal income / amount of crystal on hand.

 

 

As for the consume.  No it was 3-4.  The rest were the skeletons thing.  If you look at the minimap, the northern AM has a water shard there, and to its left is also another shard (air or life/death).

 

Ok I'll create a new game with 3 insane AI on dense monsters and all that.  I'll post occasional updates and screenshots then.

I'll be using consume shard early on to create the necessary mana (you seem to be 1 dimensionally assuming I consume for mana the whole time, when I just do it as necessary for more mana) to start to show how this combo trivialize the game.  I'm expecting finish the game in 150 turns or so.

 

I can't believe you think removing 3-4 shards is actually a 'gambit' that would make you useless later on though.  If I were consuming every possible shard that would be 1 thing, but it was mainly an early-game thing to get everything going **shrugs**

 

EDIT:

Just restarted again.  I had a 50+ hp corpse spider on turn 4 (inn rat quest had me fight a solo corpse spider, which I tamed).

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May 31, 2013 10:25:45 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Chaosti,
Ok I'll create a new game with 3 insane AI on dense monsters and all that.

Huge map, don't forget that.

Quoting Chaosti,
I can't believe you think removing 3-4 shards is actually a 'gambit' that would make you useless later on though. If I were consuming every possible shard that would be 1 thing, but it was mainly an early-game thing to get everything going **shrugs**

I don't usually expand very aggressively, but on a huge map with only 3 opponents I can often be thinking about settling my seventh or later city before even meeting the first AI opponent, let alone finding their cities to conquer. Certainly if I were more aggressive about expanding, I might come in contact sooner, but in my current game there's enough space between my capital city and the closest AI faction that I have five cities on the most direct land route between my capital and the border. The next-closest AI faction was about twice as far away (distance between capitals, though they've expanded a bit and are now about equally far away), and I still haven't found the third (though we are in diplomatic contact and have a trade route).

I also don't feel that there's much of a point to having several hundred mana in the early game, because none of the spells I can think of that cost enough for me to need that kind of mana are worth casting at that point (for that matter, they also aren't usually available to me at that point). Fireballs aren't really justifiable just for fighting monsters and tend to come somewhat late for that anyways, Flame Dart and Horrific Wail are only really decent for mid-level or better champions, and the other good damage spells tend to come much later. Support spells like Haste, Slow, and Heal are enough to keep my armies going strong and beating monsters in the early game, especially if I have a shard or two boosting them a bit, and that also provides enough mana that I can generally cast as many of those as I want. Curse isn't particularly useful in the early game, because most of what you fight doesn't have any significant defense, and Blind is a lot cheaper. Tame, if you have it, could be worth the destruction of one, or maybe two, shards, depending on available monsters, but only if there's something good to spend it on immediately, because otherwise I'd rather wait.

Image of the world map as my empire knows it at turn 300-ish (early part of the mid game), with notes:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/0x49s4awz14fsuc/LH_Empire.png

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May 31, 2013 10:41:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

the thing with custom factions is (at least the way i see it) that they aren't meant to be balanced.i doubt it's actually possible to balance them without making all traits weak and unappealing. decalon and flesh bound tome make sense for the premade factions that have them.

pariden is a heavily magic foucsed kingdom that revolves all around grabbing shards to boost their blood trait and the multi spellschool champions they will probably end up with. so the ability to spend mana to grab more shards and create even more mana is thematically appropriate. Magnar on the other hand also makes sense. the faction is built around a powerful spellcaster god-king. they can build cheap slaves and have a spell that turns those slaves into mana for the leader. and they have the option to blow up some shards (preferably those types magnar doesn't use to boost his spells) to create extra mana in emergency situations or when the trade off is worth it (i.E. blow up an air shard and use the mana to clear a dangerous area which allows you to plop down a nice 3 essence conclave for better long term mana income -or something along that line)

i disagree that the traits should be nerfed to prevent unbalanced combinations in custom factions. clever players will always find some unintended synergies between traits. nerf the tome and/or decalon now, and you'll have to nerf every other possible trait combo that can be unbalanced. in the end, all traits will be weak and all factions play the same. not desirable, imo. 

 

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May 31, 2013 11:22:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree that it's not hard to create a custom faction that is very overpowered. I'm not sure this really counts as a balance problem. If you think a certain combination of traits is game-breakingly overpowered... don't use it. If your intention is to say "I beat the game on Insane" then you may attempt all sorts of exploits, but again, it's not compulsory to play the game that way.

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May 31, 2013 11:57:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I tried this out last night and it works pretty well. You definitely have all the mana you need for whatever spells you want. It seems like the fire line would be the quickest, giving you early attacks to level-up your sovereign to throw lethal fireballs. I was greedy and wanted to wait for annointed by fire, and also use horrific wail and the skeleton horde to run a one-man show. I picked Warlock and Staff of Souls, but went with death and water for magic schools. I wanted everything and this left me with nothing good early on, which is counter-productive to the mage rush I was wanting with all that mana. I definitely recommend using fire magic for anyone trying this, you need something to use right away (scorched mobs = levelups).

The only difficulty is getting to the far away shards. Building scouts is slow and takes away from other development, and they have to travel far through lots of monsters (I had them set to dense) to get to the right shards. I was lucky and found a wolf figurine, which I set loose as a fast scout. I destroyed all earth and air shards, which was plenty of mana. I could have destroyed all death shards too, I had too many damage spells already. I had a thousand mana by the time I could cast an AOE spell. 

This sounds like a great strategy, and it is, but I doubt anyone will clear the map of shards quickly because of the obstacles in the way. But that strategy is there all game long. This pairing is great, AM gets you to shards to Consume instantly, and Consume lets you cast as many AMs to grab other resources and cast any spells you need. I think damage spells are great early, especially in the fire line. Unlimited mana and damage magic lets you demolish mobs, which accomplishes the first objective of leveling. Once you have a good fireball/blizzard/wail then you can take out AIs. In the middle/end game it might even be worth it to Consume all non-damage shards and live off the 25% mana tech.

It's fun, and it is a great custom strategy. I agree with Azunai_, I don't think this needs nerfing. If you use it, you know you are using something far more potent than the default sovs/factions.

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May 31, 2013 12:47:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If the devs agree this combo is a balance issue, it seems to me the easy fix would be just to make flesh bound tome and the decalon mutually exclusive picks during faction creation. I don't think either ability is overpowered on its own and wouldn't like to see any radical changes to either of them just because of one clever, overpowered custom race strategy. 

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May 31, 2013 1:58:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ok here you go joeball123.  Started a game without the crazy corpse spider to start.  Have it described up to turn 13 thus far.

http://forums.elementalgame.com/445172/page/1/

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May 31, 2013 5:27:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

cwg9 / Azunai_ :

I honestly believe consume generates too much mana regardless.

Arcane Monolith makes it even easier, but I consider training a pioneer, placing it on a shard, and consuming it for 200 mana to be a very worthwhile regardless.

I mean, with a shrine, you need 200 turns to earn 200 mana.  Even with a level 2 temple, that's still 100 turns.


Or you can just consume it for an instant mana boost.   And in general, you only focus on 1 or 2 types of magic, such as earth and fire.  So that means all the water, life, and air shards would be consumable (or whatever branches of magic you aren't really using).

If it was 40 mana though, it would still be worthwhile to consume it for an instant boost for a critical battle, but it also makes keeping the shards worth considering.

 

Right now, the fact is that consume and cull the weak are too much of a good thing.

- consume at 40 mana - it becomes an option like you said azunai.  destroy the occasional shard for more mana.  Fact is, 200 lets you cast a ridiculous number of spells.  Even 70 mana would be acceptable.  100 is honestly too much for a single shard.

- cull the weak only applying to trained units, not elementals and undead would actually make sense in the lore (culling those slaves for mana, not culling summoned skeletons!)

 

As a side note, I'm consistently seeing the argument that

1. Imbalances are fine as it is because this is a SP game.

2. Nerfing the mana generated will make it utterly useless.

3. Balancing makes all factions the same, and thus boring.

 

With regards to #1,

Having something clearly imbalanced is like having a cheating system.  Personally speaking, it would take away from my sense of enjoyment / achievement to know that it's stupidly easy to win if you simply choose a few different options.

And I mean, that sense of achievement is a reason that resonates with a lot of gamers, or Achievements would not be built into most games now (look at all those steam achievements to get)!

 

Finally, about #2 and 3,

As for balancing making all the factions the same... tons of games out there clearly show that's not the case.  Starcraft, Age of wonders, etc.  The factions are very different from each other in playstyle, but yet they remain balanced.

The point with regards to balancing is that it's a fine line to tread, because go too far and it becomes either OP or useless.  But balance is generally the sign of a very well designed game.

The point being, right now, 90% of the time, you discover a shard, and it's worth consuming it (barring say, 1 or 2 branches of magic as I stated above).  However, if the mana generated was reduced significantly, then it becomes another decision that needs to be made, over short term or long term games.  Short term, you get access to a huge mana pool.  Long term, you lose mana production.  Right now, short or long-term, the mana generated by consume is so extreme that it's the 'go to' choice.

I firmly believe 200 is too much.  40 is what I consider a good number, but I freely admit I could be wrong on that.  Maybe 60-80 would be better.

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May 31, 2013 5:53:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

don't know. consume always seemed like a crutch to make an evoker sov (i.e. Magnar) viable from the start. without an infusion of mana, spellcasters are better off using cheap support spells (wither/heal/slow/haste) in the early game. with the option of blowing up a shard for a decent immediate return, Magnar can go straight for fireball and use it effectively early on. later, he can spam tons of slaves and sacrifice them or use one of his other champs to do it while he's busy setting the world on fire. at 40 mana per consume, that doesn't really work, since that covers the cost of a single fireball - not worth it.

the other premade mage sovs don't really need that option. queeny has the 3 best starting magic schools so she can just go straight for the summoner route (maintenance free thanks to the crown) and support her summons; later when her faction controls lots of shards, their troops are pretty good thanks to the various shard based buffs (amarian blood) and they'll probably produce enough mana to get rid of the strategic summons and use tactical summons instead.

likewise, ceresa gets cheap troops from binding, so grabbing shards is a priority for her. early game, she doesn't need that much mana - slow, curse, web (from built spiders) wither, use infection to spread the debuffs to all enemies on the field, watch the lowly binding demons slaughter the crippled enemies. later when you can afford it, go for summons (double summons in fact, since she also gets the familiar) and/or trained troops (mage units combined with webbing spiders seems appropriate, but you can of cource also use super dodgy melee untis with dodge traits overcome the lower health and no armor penalties).

the othrs sovs aren't really typical mages, imo, and their factions aren't designed around a mage sov playstyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 4, 2013 1:42:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Only allowing cull the weak to cull non-summoned units makes a lot of sense to me and seems like an easy win.

I don't really have an opinion on consume as I've never tried this strategy. Conceivably it could be made to scale with game difficulty, e.g. reduce the mana gained by 25% per level above Challenging. We could call it the "stop Chaosti rule." 

If it's felt appropriate to go for an across the board change, I would personally start with 100 and see how that played. But the game developers have made bigger jumps in the past, e.g. in the cost of Tornado.

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