Finally Wrapping Up a Game: Some Collected Thoughts

By on June 14, 2013 8:22:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Elvenshae

Join Date 02/2007
+4

So, I originally posted these over on the Penny Arcade forums, and it was suggested that I post them here, too, so here we go.

I'm getting near to the end of my first game of LH,* and I've got a couple annoyances.

  1. Caravans.  Caravans routinely piss me off.  If you've got, say, a badguy army standing in the same square as a friendly caravan, you can't attack.  Every time you click, it'll take you, instead, to the "Talk to the Caravan's Owner" screen.  Similarly, if a friendly caravan is on the same square as an enemy outpost, you can't take the outpost; you can only talk to the caravan.  If there's an enemy army *and* an enemy caravan on the same square, you attack the caravan first, instead of the army, which is not a huge deal, unless you're now out of movement and can't attack the army.  If there are multiple enemy caravans on the same square (such as in the case where you've eliminated a bunch and they're now being sent out again), it takes a full movement point to squash each one.  This one's pretty minor, most of the time, until it combines with one of the above issues.
  2. Outposts.  I wish there was a way for outposts to build up garrisons in a manner similar to cities, without requiring you to manually train and station troops.  Without that, they tend to change hands ridiculously easily, doubly so since the AIs never seem to garrison them (on Normal, anyway).  I also keep running into this bug where the influence radius of random outposts keeps dropping to 1 square, but I can't pinpoint what's causing it (something to do with capturing and then losing it repeatedly, and possibly with the High Tower or Consulate improvements).
  3. Non-fort cities never get town walls.  Just something that irks me.
  4. Terrain in combat is pretty uninteresting.  There are places where you can walk, and places where you can't, and that's about it.  There's no cover, no difficult terrain, no benefit for standing on a hill, etc.  In short, I'd like to see a bare minimum of terrain modifiers make it in.  Crag Spawn and an Earth spell can create some terrain, but those are pretty rare occurrences (especially in the early game).
  5. Town militia with Crushing Blow can punch so far above their weight class that it's silly.  Crushing Blow, in general, seems overpowered to me compared to the weapon abilities (due, largely, I think, to the way attacks and defenses are compared when calculating damage; e.g., a single 20-point attack is much better than two 10-point attacks, especially since it also serves to immediately reduce incoming damage).  It's also somewhat harder to get the enemies to line up nicely to really make use of the Impale or Cleave abilities of the spear or axe, and counterattacking with swords gets hosed in that spears ignore it, special abilities ignore it (e.g., you can't counterattack when the enemy uses Crushing Blow, even if you survive it), and you actually have to get hit for it to work.  That being said, a champion with the +100% counterattack damage is a thing of beauty (when it works): you hit me for 10, I riposte for 60.
  6. There's no period of enforced peace following a war.  Three times during this game, I beat up on an enemy faction, they sued for peace, I accepted because most of the rest of the world was at war with me and I felt like freeing up a front, and the very next turn someone paid them to declare war on me.  Someone mentioned this earlier, and perhaps in a different thread, but I think 4X games can really stand to benefit from drawing on the grand strategy genre (especially Paradox games): things like having a specific casus belli, setting up puppet states, forming protectorates, etc. (CIV had a bit of this with the possibility for a portion of your empire declare independence, which you could grant, making them an independent nation that was allied with you.)
  7. There's no easy way to move through a friend's territory.  It's very easy to block off strategic points with an outpost or a sprawling city, and if that player is friendly with you, the only alternative is to go around the long way.  You can't path through the outpost to get to the other side.  In my current game, Altair was at war with Umber or Kraxis, and requested my help.  So I declared war against Kraxis, too - but I couldn't actually get my troops to the front without sending them on a 40-turn journey around the world because Altair had placed an outpost in the middle of the 1-square-wide isthmus between our nations.  I "solved" the issue by just declaring war on Altair, taking their outpost and their remaining city, and then going to war with Kraxis - which has saddled me with "You attacked a kingdom -2" and "You attacked a fellow kingdom -3" reputation adjustments with all the other kingdoms for, apparently, the rest of the game.
  8. There's no immediately easy way to repair relations with a former friend (and your relationship with them can drop quickly for no particularly apparent reason).  For instance, I've had Warm relations with a kingdom on the opposite side of the map for almost the entire game, and in the last couple turns it dropped all the way down to Neutral.  We still share no borders, I haven't attacked any new kingdoms in the past hundred turns (though Tarth and Gilden've declared war on me a couple times each in that period - see enforced peace, above); rather, I've been reducing Umber, Kraxis, and Magnar - who all declared offensive wars against me.  Maybe my score's just getting too high?

Also, I'd like to see a change to the way manufacturing and research works.  Currently, researching Magic can teach you how to make stronger axes (e.g., the first normal axe is ... 6 damage ... the first magic is 6 damage 2 fire, and you can invent the magic axe without inventing normal axes).  I'd like it better if researching the first level of weapons taught you how to make 6-damage axes (and basic swords, and basic staves, etc.), and the first level of magic weapons taught you how to make a +2 fire enchantment, which you could add to any weapon.  It'd be a major change, so I'm not sure if it's doable at this stage.  Also, the first levels of bladed weapons being daggers makes me sad; I'd rather have swords all the way down. " src="/plugins/Emotify/design/images/1.gif" alt="" width="1" height="1" />

All of these complaints aside, damn the game's fun.  I complain because I love.

* I have a tendency to restart every time a patch comes out.  I have played the first couple hundred turns of so many games.

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June 15, 2013 12:03:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Agree with most of your points.  Unfortunately most are game mechanics rather than modding, so will have to see if dev does anything.

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June 15, 2013 12:06:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
  1. Amen to that. We need to be able to choose which group in a tile to interact with; that way we can decide who to interact with and how.
  2. Since an outpost requires a pioneer to build, which costs the same population as a settlement, outposts should have an inherent garrison of militia like settlements. Also since outposts have population attached, maybe they should have some ability to level up?
  3. Fortunately the Immersion mod changes that. Speaking of walls, shouldn't theY keep out enemy troops and monsters? That's what walls are for, aren't they? Basically require enemy units to reduce walls before they can enter the city. In Tactical Combat, have a wall that separates the Armies that the attackers have to breach to get at the defenders. This would be a great use for catapults (which are pretty useless most of the time.
  4. Agreed. More variety would help here.
  5. Reduce Crushing blow to 50%, I think. It is very powerful and much more useful. Give spears an attack range of 2 tiles. As for swords, I suggest some kind of parry ability, being able to deflect blows (Increased Dodge)  plus maybe an accuracy bonus. 
  6. We really need deeper diplomacy here.
  7. One possibility from Civ4: Open border agreements.
  8. Maybe some kind of messenger/diplomat unit to go to another faction to do missions involving improved relations. Or gifts that will improve relations.
  9. Magical weaponry should ideally require multiple tech prereqs; for example, a magic axe should require both the ability to make axes and the appropriate enchantment tech. I wonder if it is possible to have equipment require techs from two different trees (magic and warfare for example).
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June 15, 2013 12:36:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My own thoughts:

  • More variety of thrown weaponry: Javelins (thrown spears) available from the start. Thrown axes when axes are available.
  • More variety of weaponry for trained units. Have weapons and equipment that require both crystal and metal to make.
  • Have units that can safely penetrate other factions' territories without being detected.
  • Have counterspells be able to remove magical effects.
  • We need Navies, water movement and combat! (my biggest peeve).
  • Make wildlands more expansive and aggressive.
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June 16, 2013 11:24:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The caravan things is very annoying indeed. Let's just hope there's an update to address this issue.

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June 17, 2013 3:57:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

2,3 and 6 dont really bother me, to be honest: I never get attacked. Multiple short wars are probably more realistic than enduring peace after a war.

1: Can caravans be flagged as 'neutral'. Part of the terrain, so to speak?

4: This could use improvement, but that would be more like a new feature or expansion.

5: Crushing Blow is too powerful. When I started LH after FE, I had to reload a couple of times, because my Sov got killed mysteriously. Crushing Blow turned out to be the culprit. Maybe make it 50%, but remove the daze?

7: Borders are still an issue. Specific agreements about borders would be a nice addition.

8: I am not sure how relations work. Low power causes everyone to attack you, and even simple trade seems to improve relations. It should be easy to improve your status with treaties, right? I honestly don't know if it is.

9: Magic weapons are more costly, so I don't really see the problem?

Highwayhoss: Thrown weapons - no. Weapon variety - no. Stealth and naval units - yeah, but those are huge changes, not simple fixes. Counterspells - yes, but it probably won't get used that much. Wildlands - Maybe as a setting you can choose at startup.

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June 17, 2013 7:55:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
My 2 cents
 
  1. Agreed. Their existence on map is very annoying.
  2. I am fine with how outpost implemented now, it is player's responsibility to protect those outposts, luckily the AI do not raze outposts (so it is possible to just retake them otherwise I would be pissed to rebuild them during war time)
  3. Normal wall is nice to have, fortress should have better wall still.
  4. I like the terrain change to have more strategic awareness, but it is a fundamental change which is not easy to tweaked. And I hope the resource does have relationship to terrain type, such as higher food near river, so when player look around the map they can immediately plan for their kingdom/empire territory.
  5. No comment.
  6. I haven't met this but agree that at least 10 turns of peace should be enforced.
  7. Agree. The AI would sound alert whenever my troops enter their territory for 1-2 seasons, while they love to enter my territory very often forcing me to do the tedious "leave my territory" every single season, a new pact should be implemented (like the no border pact from civ4) which allows the civilization to travel inside each other territory and by default no one should be able to enter to other territory.
  8. Agree.
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June 17, 2013 11:54:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree in general with everything except #5

Crushing blow is not at all OP.  It's just not.  Yes, it allows weaker units to punch above their weight class.  But the crushing blow weapons come with a significant initiative penalty.  So you're almost guaranteed not to get first strike and if the target survives (or dodges!), your unit is likely to be swarmed and destroyed before it can move again.  That's the tradeoff.

If you can't take a town because it's defenders are using Crushing Blow, your army is really weak and you shouldn't be attacking that town!

As an aside, the game should display the name of the applied skill over the head of the unit that is using it.  The current visual display of the AI using impale or cleave (where extra units take damage) is just bizarre.  And as Fallenchar points out, the animation for Crushing Blow is not exactly obvious either.

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June 17, 2013 1:07:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Crushing blow is fine as it is. But it must be susceptible counter. As does axe and spear. Right now swords seems the most underpowered one due to other weapon ability negate the counter effect of swords. Crushing blow, impale, cleave, all negate counter attack.

The only advantage right now is it has the highest initiative, so it's good for creating a unit with Finesse trait, +3 attack is decent, especially if you already unlock company that's +18 attack total. But the purpose of sword is lost, in original FE before LH is released, swords used to be my most favourite weapon, i can focus on defensive traits and equipments, then just press SPACE all the way and watch my enemies falls to their doom due to counter while my troops receive little damage. Now it can't be done, if i go on defend, i get crushing blowed, 1 crushing blow is not a big deal, but a few would mean certain death or near death for my troops, therefore i can't play sword to its true nature and role, and i'm forced to play offensive with swords.

Again the point is sword lost its role and nature. Offensive weapons are hammer, axe and spear not swords. Finesse won't make sword wielder come close to hammer/axe/spear wielder in case of offense. Hammer is offensive single target, axe and spear are offensive area attack. Sword is single target weapon, in FE it's a defensive weapon that rely on counter, however in LH it's useless, hammer fill that role now. Due to low initiative, hammer wielder can focus on defensive traits and equipments, and a few good offensive traits or equipments, the low initiative of the weapon makes the user act last than his opponent therefore the user is in defend mode, making it hard to kill, then when the hammer wielder turn comes, it can just crushing blow his opponent to death and the opponent is certainly not on defend mode and suffer twice the damage.

Axe and spear can cope with that kind of situation, because they can do area attack, so even if the wielder are dead after getting crushing blowed, they already deal decent or even devastating damage to opponent army due to area attack. Sword on the other hand, can't do anything. Hammer, Axe and Spear also have other useful passive bonus, hammer can bash, axe can have another chance to hit if it miss, spear ignore 33% defend/armor and immune to counter, what does sword have beside initiative? counter ability which is easily negated by almost anything all other weapons have.

In FE, weapons work like this : sword counter hammer, hammer counter spear, spear counter sword, axe doesn't counter anything but can have another chance to hit if it miss.

And in FE, finesse works on counter attack, now in LH it's bugged.

My suggestion is make sword's counter works on all abilities of other weapon. And fix the finesse bug on counter attack. Another alternative to crushing blow is not giving +100% attack bonus, but -50% defend for 2 turns (only works on enemy whose size is around the attacker, it won't work on big size enemy like dragons and elementals).

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June 17, 2013 11:35:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Some possible ideas on weapons balance:

  • Take backswing away from axes (except dual axes) and give it to swords. Swords being fast should give a user the chance at a second hit if the first misses.
  • All attacks at one tile range should be vulnerable to counterattack; no exceptions.
  • Give spears a range of 2 tiles instead of CA immunity.
  • Swords should get a slightly higher chance of critical hits.
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June 18, 2013 7:22:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting highwayhoss,
Some possible ideas on weapons balance:

Take backswing away from axes (except dual axes) and give it to swords. Swords being fast should give a user the chance at a second hit if the first misses.
All attacks at one tile range should be vulnerable to counterattack; no exceptions.
Give spears a range of 2 tiles instead of CA immunity.
Swords should get a slightly higher chance of critical hits.

I like these, sounds rational and fair enough.

I want diplomacy to have more option of what to trade. Like trading cities (like in civilization games) and trading peace treaty.

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June 18, 2013 11:00:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting highwayhoss,

Some possible ideas on weapons balance:

Take backswing away from axes (except dual axes) and give it to swords. Swords being fast should give a user the chance at a second hit if the first misses.

Why nerf axes?  In general the weapons should be balanced by making the weaker weapons as cool as the good ones. 


All attacks at one tile range should be vulnerable to counterattack; no exceptions.

In general I agree, but what about Cleave?  Would using Cleave on three swordsmen result in three counter-attacks?  Sweep?


Give spears a range of 2 tiles instead of CA immunity.

That is a great idea.

IMHO, there's no sense in nerfing the things that are working to make the things that don't work seem less sucky by comparison.  We should be thinking about how to bring the remaining weapon types into parity with the weapon classes that are working well. 

Those being: Spears, clubs, axes.

Spears: 2 tile attack range.  Remove immunity to counterattack.

Clubs: Crushing Blow has a casting time of two turns and no stun.  Can be interrupted.

Axes: no change

The weapon classes that I think could be perked up are: Swords, daggers, staffs, bows, magical

Swords: Lunge skill: double damage attack, stunned for one turn.  +1 CA when defending.  CA applies to all attacks (including skills/spells) targeting them within one tile. (Lunge would work like Crushing Blow does now, Crushing blow would change to have a 2 turn casting time, but no stun).

Daggers: +dodge/-defense when defending.  On dodge, they counterattack with +crit %.

Staffs: Trip skill: attack does no damage but knocks opponent to the ground unless dodged.  +defense when defending.  immune to CA.

Bows: Aimed Shot skill: +accuracy +damage +crit%.  Casting time 2 turns.  Can be interrupted.

Magical: Diffuse Cast skill: targets all enemies at 1/3 damage -accuracy.  Casting time 2 turns.  Can be interrupted. (as an aside, there need to be more caster-type weapons in the game to boost MP.  As it is, all magic champs/henchmen should be equipped with daggers for the init bonus, because there aren't any weapons that buff casting.)

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June 18, 2013 1:59:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's also good idea. I don't care nerf or buff, as long as it can balance them.

By the way, you still get countered by 3 swordmen if you attack the middle one in current version, but i think the damage is buggy and count as just 1 counter, perhaps this is due to swarm system animation.

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June 18, 2013 2:24:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting highwayhoss,

Some possible ideas on weapons balance:


Take backswing away from axes (except dual axes) and give it to swords. Swords being fast should give a user the chance at a second hit if the first misses.
All attacks at one tile range should be vulnerable to counterattack; no exceptions.
Give spears a range of 2 tiles instead of CA immunity.
Swords should get a slightly higher chance of critical hits.

 

Do spears really need a buff? on the one hand a range 2 weapon would be great (even if just impale was range 2 it would be nice), but i think people often discount the 33% reduction to defense. Especially by midgame that can be pretty significant.

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June 18, 2013 6:10:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting sweatyboatman,

Crushing blow is not at all OP.  It's just not.

While it may not be overpowered when viewed holistically (though I have my doubts), what I actually said was "Crushing Blow, in general, seems overpowered to me compared to the [other] weapon abilities (due, largely, I think, to the way attacks and defenses are compared when calculating damage; e.g., a single 20-point attack is much better than two 10-point attacks, especially since it also serves to immediately reduce incoming damage)."

ED: Added "other" back in, because apparently I forgot to write it.

Or, in other words, Crushing Blow is, hands down, the best weapon ability because a 20-point attack is better than 2 10-point attacks, especially when those 2 10-point attacks go against different units (which makes it better than Impale, and it is hard to get the enemy to line up nicely for a 3-hit Cleave, so it is usually better than Cleave, too).  Yes, opposing forces might get one or two additional attacks in against the unit which used Crushing Blow due to the 1-round stun and the initiative penalty, but the effect of Crushing Blow's is to reduce enemy stacks much more efficiently than through normal attacks.

This is for the same reason that focus firing is the optimal combat solution - e.g., 1 full-health and 1 dead enemy is a far better situation than 2 half-health enemies in the vast majority of cases.

Yes, it allows weaker units to punch above their weight class.  But the crushing blow weapons come with a significant initiative penalty.  So you're almost guaranteed not to get first strike and if the target survives (or dodges!), your unit is likely to be swarmed and destroyed before it can move again.  That's the tradeoff.

The tradeoff is not, at this point and of course in my opinion, equivalent to the pay-off.  You are, defensively speaking, no worse off standing still for your 1-turn stun than you would be had you just stood still (or relatively still) and attacked twice, and, offensively, you are far better off than you otherwise would have been (because 20x1 >> 10x2).


If you can't take a town because it's defenders are using Crushing Blow, your army is really weak and you shouldn't be attacking that town!

Not what I'm saying.  I'm saying that, when attacking a town, the enemy that is the most dangerous to your own army is not the Gigantic Animated Stone Statue or the ranks of archers;* it's the 3 or 4-member Level 1, unarmored militia squad with their 14x3 or 4 base attack and Crushing Blow, and they are especially deadly to melee-flavored sovereigns and champions (who would gladly go toe-to-toe with the Gigantic Animated Stone Statue and win handily).


As an aside, the game should display the name of the applied skill over the head of the unit that is using it.  The current visual display of the AI using impale or cleave (where extra units take damage) is just bizarre.  And as Fallenchar points out, the animation for Crushing Blow is not exactly obvious either.

Agreed on that one.

One other nitpick: I'd like to pick what items get upgraded when I upgrade a unit's armor.  On my Ice Witches and Fire Warlocks (both warg-mounted), I want them to upgrade their armor, but still keep wearing the Soldier's Boots for +1 Initiative.  Unfortunately, upgrading their armor replaces their boots along with everything else, even when the boots aren't set to "Upgradeable Boots" in the unit design screen.  Additionally, it doesn't let me pick which cloak they change into - defaulting, I believe, to the anti-Fire cloak (fine for the Warlocks, disflavorful for the Witches).

* Actually, archers are usually pretty meh, too, because of the even-bigger-than-for-crushing-blow-weapons Initiative penalty and the lackluster base damage and the inability to use something like Crushing Blow to gain a quick piece-count advantage.

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June 19, 2013 2:55:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

one other thing i will say about crushing blow is that its effects tend to scale with the number of units i have.

 

While 1 crushing blow won't kill everything (although it still does in many cases), combining it with 2 or 3 can routinely kill most monsters and units. Having an army that can systematically kill a couple of units each round at its whim is very powerful, and the loss of offense for the enemy is well worth the 1 round of stun for me.

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June 19, 2013 6:09:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Which is the problem with crushing blow right now, or i should say mass crushing blow. Because as said above, single crushing blow is not that threatening, however a massed one is crazy.

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