Combat/Unit Questions

By on September 11, 2013 6:13:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

McBeef

Join Date 09/2013
+3

I had read through Tuidjy's guide for newbies and the following thread and it cleared up a lot of things but I still had some questions. I responded in thread but I also realized that the thread hadn't seen any activity in a while so it probably isn't going to be read by anybody. At any rate, here are the questions:

1. When describing defense, you write that the "The actual damage reduction will be discussed elsewhere". Has it been? IIRC in Master of Magic every sword represented a roll for 1 HP damage and every shield represented a roll to block 1 HP of damage. Does FE operate on a similar basis? My memory of this aspect of MoM is bit fuzzy but I think the roll was a universal default of 30% and certain units/spells/experience levels would modify this.

2. What exactly does leveling do for baseline trained units? I know that certain optional traits increase with levels (+1 accuracy per level, etc) but assume that you don't have any of traits. Just looking at the unit itself, what is the effect of leveling. You mentioned that "All units gets hit points, accuracy and spell resistance from levels" so that implies that there is some effect from leveling even without traits that take advantage of leveling. So how much does hit points, accuracy, and spell resistance increase per level?

3. There is another trait (can't recall the name right now) that increases Defense +10 "while defending". There is a particular type of attack in the game (also can't recall the name right now) that reduces the damage in half but leaves the unit "defending". If I had to guess I'd say a unit is defending if it goes a turn without attacking and any attack takes it out of defense. But it is never explained in game what defending is exactly, so what is it? Does moving impact defending/not defending status? Does casting spells/abilities? Are units in a defending state when they first enter combat? Is there any baseline benefit to defending if you don't have the +10 trait?

4. I was thinking about the Spell, Elemental, and Poison resistances. Does Spell Resistance only block negative buffs (don't know if this is right term) or does it block magical attacks as well? To put the question another way: if a unit is targeted by a tactical fireball spell is this checked against the target's spell resistance, fire resistance or both?

5. Similar to #4, say that is unit is targeted not by a fireball spell but the conventional ranged attack of trained unit mages equipped with fire staffs. These attacks are "magical" and look a lot like fireballs, but then again this probably isn't regarded by the game as a spell. So what is it exactly is standard mage attack up against?

6. I gather that initiative determines move order and that even more significantly, the ratio of initiative values between two units will determine the ratio of the number of turns each takes. For example, if a unit A has 2x initiative of unit B then unit A will have twice as many turns. If unit A has 1.5x initiative of unit B then unit A will have 3 turns for every 2 turns of unit B, etc. This would be a less specific question, but overall how important is initiative? Obviously more initiative is better, but given trade offs, how do weight it against attack, defense, etc. To put it another way, would you rather have +2 attack or +2 initiative? It seems that if you can get a big advantage in initiative then it can be pretty significant but is otherwise not a big deal. If you're aren't going to go for a big advantage in initiative then it seems best to mostly ignore it except to make it sure isn't too slow. A sort of go big or go home effect. Thoughts?

7. Strictly non-combat question: the unrest due to number of cities, is it +3%/city? I've read posts about people doing well with a large number of cities, one poster suggested building on every available tile. But this mechanic of unrest from number of cities would seem to encourage building fewer cities, only building on the very best tiles, consolidating more clay/farm resources over a larger area per city, that sort of thing. So do you go for fewer high quality cities or more? How significant does the unrest due to number cities become?

8. What are your feelings about the various unit traits that you can add to trained units? You only have 3 free slots against many good traits so it is a tough choice. Iron Skin seems like a no-brainer to me. In the later stages of the game, Plate Ability would be a must have for the front line units. What are your thoughts on Reap (heals +1 HP per attack)? The traits that increase with the level seem good: Discipline (+1 accuracy and spell resistance per level) and Acrobat (+1 dodge per level). Spell Resistance (+20 spell resistance) and Precision (+10 accuracy) don't increase with the level but offer big up front bonuses. It is impossible to say anything useful about Defender (+10 Defense while defending) without knowing how defending actually works which goes back to question #3.

 

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September 11, 2013 9:31:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As I understand these things:

4.  Spells use Spell Mastery vs Spell Resistance to determine whether the spell hits (some spells do minimal damage even if resisted).  The spell's modified damage is then applied against the appropriate elemental resist (e.g, Fire vs Fireball) to determine damage done.  So Spell Resist helps you get hit less, and Fire Resist helps you take less damage vs Fire spells that do hit you.

5.  In the case of Wizards with fire wands, the attack is Ranged, not a Spell, so Accuracy vs Dodge determines hit, then Attack vs Fire Resist determines damage.

6.  I would personally take the bonus that was the larger proportionally, e.g., on a unit with 5 Attack and 19 Init, I would take +2 Attack.

I have to leave the rest to people who know more.

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September 12, 2013 9:23:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Great questions, I also want them answered.

IMHO an important aspect of 6) Initiative is to determine who gets to act first? If two opposing units can kill eachother in two blows, then even +1 can be important. It could make the difference of being able to hit first, then receive damage and then hit/kill (instead of the oppsosite). This is simplified as ranged attacks or movement also affects who gets to attack first - but still shows its situationial importance. Initiative is therefore also related to, or judged by, the opponent's initiative. I ask myself; do I act first in most battles, then my initiative is good and it doesn't need much upping. If I'm often acting last and dislike it, then I need to rethink troops (e.g. less range with lousy Init) or perhaps even take some +Iniative traits when customizing my next faction/Sov. 

Inside your army, the relative speed is also interesting. My main tank (e.g. Bard-Defender tank) I often try to give the +Initiative equipment so he can ride into the middle of the enemy troops (and hopefully draw aggro) as early as possible.  Or I may want my sov to cast shrink early vs a quick-moving bossmonster. So I sometimes moved around the +Initiative gear for henchmen/Sov. A Bard healer can have lower initiative than your offensive troops - so there is something to heal. 

In longer fights I judge +1 initiative for an 20-initiative unit to be worth 5% (1/20). I can compare that with how much +1 Attack brings up the unit's attack, e.g. +1 attack on a 10 Attack unit is worth 10% (1/10).  IMHO this mathematical value is not as important as the relative speed vs opponent's Init - it's more used when caldulating if my Sov should cast Haste or not in boss-fight. I then compare what the Sov can do for damage, with what Haste can improve on the most offensive troop in unit.

Hope you can find some use in my thinking?

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September 12, 2013 10:06:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

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September 12, 2013 1:06:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for all the responses.

I also wanted to add an eighth question:

8. What are your feelings about the various unit traits that you can add to trained units? You only have 3 free slots against many good traits so it is a tough choice. Iron Skin seems like a no-brainer to me. In the later stages of the game, Plate Ability would be a must have for the front line units. What are your thoughts on Reap (heals +1 HP per attack)? The traits that increase with the level seem good: Discipline (+1 accuracy and spell resistance per level) and Acrobat (+1 dodge per level). Spell Resistance (+20 spell resistance) and Precision (+10 accuracy) don't increase with the level but offer big up front bonuses. It is impossible to say anything useful about Defender (+10 Defense while defending) without knowing how defending actually works which goes back to question #3.

Quoting Crathsor,

4.  Spells use Spell Mastery vs Spell Resistance to determine whether the spell hits (some spells do minimal damage even if resisted).  The spell's modified damage is then applied against the appropriate elemental resist (e.g, Fire vs Fireball) to determine damage done.  So Spell Resist helps you get hit less, and Fire Resist helps you take less damage vs Fire spells that do hit you.

5.  In the case of Wizards with fire wands, the attack is Ranged, not a Spell, so Accuracy vs Dodge determines hit, then Attack vs Fire Resist determines damage.

Good to know. Spell Mastery is the magical equivalent of Accuracy and Spell Resist is the magical equivalent of Dodge.

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September 12, 2013 2:30:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting McBeef,

Thanks for all the responses.

I also wanted to add an eighth question:

8. What are your feelings about the various unit traits that you can add to trained units? You only have 3 free slots against many good traits so it is a tough choice. Iron Skin seems like a no-brainer to me. In the later stages of the game, Plate Ability would be a must have for the front line units. What are your thoughts on Reap (heals +1 HP per attack)? The traits that increase with the level seem good: Discipline (+1 accuracy and spell resistance per level) and Acrobat (+1 dodge per level). Spell Resistance (+20 spell resistance) and Precision (+10 accuracy) don't increase with the level but offer big up front bonuses. It is impossible to say anything useful about Defender (+10 Defense while defending) without knowing how defending actually works which goes back to question #3.

Too defensive  

Bloodthirsty, Fast (+2 Initiative), Constitution (+3 HP) Finesse, Brute, Underdog are all traits I would before your examples.

Exception being picking Iron Skin with full Leather Armor early in the game, but I will usually pick that alongside with 3 HP trait and underdog for some powerful early leveling. They get obsolete after they level too much, so I only use that trait really early. Later it's all offensive mayhem with good trinkets and mounts. (the elite troops intended for the entire game, leveled with help from killing the more powerful monsters)

Fortress levels/buildings gives you more HP, more Defense and more Accuracy, so that is why the accuracy traits are largely useless. (you can pick Commander path to solve it as well) The Spell resistance never seem to be worth it, since it reduces chance to get hit by spells, and not magic staves, so you are better off with dodge or elemental resists instead to counter magic troops.  

As for the dodge traits, they are situational, you can make wraith troops with them for good effect (innate 20% dodge so you reach 40'ish easily), but I wouldn't use them early on. They are good traits for mages though, since all offensive traits does not work on them with the exception being Fast. 

I would not bother with the Defender trait, since you skip an attack to make it work. You already pick one slot for Armor Proficiency, so you only have 2 slots left for melee troops either way. Dead enemies does not hurt you. I think the way defense works is pretty 1:1 vs attack, with some RNG messing stuff up. (I've had troops with 80+ defense being hit for 5-6 damage from a 60'ish champion attack) Swarm screws up the math as well, so it's no sure thing. I would rank the defensive stats like this: Attack, HP, Defense and then Dodge. (kill before getting hurt

(Keep in mind I play Huge+ maps, Ridicilous Monsters (tougher to kill and more xp) and Epic speed, so this might not suit faster paced games and smaller maps necessarily)

 

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September 12, 2013 4:38:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting sjaminei,
(kill before getting hurt )

Well said. Offense is the best defense.

Quoting sjaminei,
I would not bother with the Defender trait, since you skip an attack to make it work.

This confirms what I thought defending was. Is it merely attacking that takes a unit out of defense or can any action take a unit out of defense (casting spells, movement, etc)? Defender might have some small usage with an ability like Bash (available to club/hammer guys) that requires you to skip a turn after using but probably can't justify using up a precious trait slot just to get 1 or a couple turns of elevated defense depending on the duration of the battle (can't recall the cooldown for Bash).

Quoting sjaminei,

As for the dodge traits, they are situational, you can make wraith troops with them for good effect (innate 20% dodge so you reach 40'ish easily), but I wouldn't use them early on. They are good traits for mages though, since all offensive traits does not work on them with the exception being Fast.

I'm not following on the mages thing. Can you expand a little on the bolded part?

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September 12, 2013 5:44:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting sjaminei,
I would not bother with the Defender trait, since you skip an attack to make it work.

Now don't completely dis this trait. One must not forget the Guarded Strike that the Ironeers get as a faction blood trait. You get a half-damage attack plus the defense bonus. Thus, you can tank up and still cause some damage. It's uses are limited, but it can be effective especially when timed well against a bash.

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September 13, 2013 11:45:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting McBeef,

I'm not following on the mages thing. Can you expand a little on the bolded part?

Bloodthirsty etc. all work on attack damage, not magic damage, so mages get no benefits from them at all. Trinkets are the key to mages. (+1 and +2 elemental damage available (fire and cold), and +2 Initiative amulet to pick from as well) I usually end up with Constitution (+HP) Dodge or something similar and Fast on my mages since they are lightly armored. The Soldier's boots (+1 Initative) are a very good pick as well. 

http://forums.elementalgame.com/447412/page/1/ I made a mod linked there that adds a trait that gives mages more damage with a trait from conclave buildings similar to Fortress ones. Adds a little more depth to mages, but really they are very good with the whole ignore armor thing and hardly needs any buffs. 

Quoting parrottmath,
Now don't completely dis this trait. One must not forget the Guarded Strike that the Ironeers get as a faction blood trait. You get a half-damage attack plus the defense bonus. Thus, you can tank up and still cause some damage. It's uses are limited, but it can be effective especially when timed well against a bash.

Guard Strike does pitiful damage usually because it's calculated before armor reduction so with armored troops you might as well not hit at all. I'd rather kill something soft to prevent damage instead of tanking it. There are exceptions of course, (Champion Defenders etc.) but dodge builds usually works better (especially with the new Bunny Slippers) This is just my personal experience talking of course, please show us some Guardian Strike/Defender combos Parrot if you have them ^^

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September 13, 2013 6:38:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for all the info.

Quoting sjaminei,
Bloodthirsty etc. all work on attack damage, not magic damage, so mages get no benefits from them at all.

crap I built a couple mages with bloodthirsty. +X attack means physical attack.

What are your thoughts on archers? Archers obtained through quests in the early game are pretty valuable, but do you ever build archers? The technology for building archers is a good ways into the tech tree, where as it is much quicker to reach the tech for mages. From a resource standpoint it is the opposite, archers are easier to build than mages (all other things being held equal). I imagine an early game empire will lack for tech or crystal production to build either in most cases. When you get to the point where you can build both, do you build both or do just you go all mages?

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September 13, 2013 7:04:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting McBeef,
What are your thoughts on archers?

The main problem with archers is their place in the tech three. You want armor, Civilization techs, Magic techs, and they all bypass archery techs. The Faction trait archers is insanely good really, (Ram's Horn Longbow -50% armor -4 ini is SICK, add Bloodthirsty to that etc. and they will do more damage than mages) but  when I get pushed army wise by AI I skip archers because I can't afford the research. If you don't have crystal, troops with hammers can do the trick as well with some Sovereign backup, so archers aren't exactly necessary either. Your Sovereign/Champion can compensate for lack of ranged more easily than spending tons of research in a dead end tech tree. 

However, most players do not play Ridicilous+ difficulty like me, so you can probably afford the research to work archers into your build there if you want. I usually end up going for Enchantment tech early because lightning hammers are awesome (and I can trade for crystal if needed with AI) and it's on the way to juicy magic techs. So just from enchantment I get #1 ranged much quicker than archers #2 a very good melee weapon #3 progress further towards key magic techs. This is instead of focusing on archery techs, so the cost/benefit ratio favors Enchantment over Archery.

TLDR: Archers are very good, just harder to get than mages. My most used tech path is Enchantment for Weapons, Civilization techs for research/production/food when I can afford to do it, and finally warfare for mounts and armor once I want to make the end-game troops. After that I could get Archery, but I would rather get +5 and +6 troop size instead of new shiny archer weapons because those upgrades work on all troops

 

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September 16, 2013 9:21:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting sjaminei,
Archers are very good, just harder to get than mages. My most used tech path is Enchantment for Weapons, Civilization techs for research/production/food when I can afford to do it, and finally warfare for mounts and armor once I want to make the end-game troops. After that I could get Archery, but I would rather get +5 and +6 troop size instead of new shiny archer weapons because those upgrades work on all troop

I guess you can't prioritize everything, which is sad because no matter what you're passing up something awesome one way or another. That is one of the thing that makes it interesting, the hard decisions.

Going back to the bloodthirsty thing, do archers benefit from bloodthirsty or is that trait strictly benefit physical melee?

 

 

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September 16, 2013 10:10:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

1. When describing defense, you write that the "The actual damage reduction will be discussed elsewhere". Has it been? IIRC in Master of Magic every sword represented a roll for 1 HP damage and every shield represented a roll to block 1 HP of damage. Does FE operate on a similar basis? My memory of this aspect of MoM is bit fuzzy but I think the roll was a universal default of 30% and certain units/spells/experience levels would modify this.[/quote]

The way damage works is that damage_dealt = rand(0.5*max_damage, max_damage), calculated for each damage type in an attack.

max_damage is calculated separately for each damage type, with physical attacks being affected by defense and physical resistances (usually only from unit abilities, e.g. Banshee physical immunity), and magical damage being affected by elemental resistances.

physical_max_damage = [PhysicalAttack*PhysicalAttack/(PhysicalAttack + Defense)]*(100 - physical_resistance)/100

Most units have 0 physical resistance, so that can generally be ignored.

<element>_max_damage = <element>_attack*(100 - <element>_resistance)/100

No troop equipment offers lightning resistance, but on the other hand lightning damage is kind of rare and weak on troop weapons, and isn't offered on troop trinkets. Most factions can have 25% or 50% resistance to either Fire or Cold damage, but having either will generally mean that the other resistance is 0%; Altarians are one exception to this, with up to 75% Fire Resistance or 25% Fire and 50% Cold Resistance, while Quendar (Magnar) are the other exception, with up to 100% Fire Resistance but never more than 0% Cold Resistance, barring custom factions.

The "defense bonus while defending" stuff only comes into play with certain unit abilities (e.g. Guarded Strike) or by passing that unit's turn; the effect is that the defense of the unit which is defending (has a shield over its head) is increased by the amount listed (this is cumulative for each bonus - a shield that grants 8 defense while defending and the Defender trait which grants 3 defense while defending together grant a bonus of 11 defense while defending). However, this bonus is only active until the defending unit takes its next action, and a unit will not generally go into defensive stance if it makes an attack (there are exceptions, such as by using Guarded Strike). Swords, or Ironeer Blood units, tend to be the only units I would generally get defense while defending bonuses for, because swords have counterattacks (for half the Attack rating of the regular attack), and Ironeer Blood grants the Guarded Strike ability which drops the unit which uses it into defensive stance. Non-sword units that do not have Guarded Strike will only get defense while defending bonuses if they don't make an attack in their turn, and since they usually don't get counterattacks this usually isn't the best thing to do (note that this does not mean you should not use the best available shield when designing/training/upgrading a one-handed weapon unit, it only means that you probably won't be making use of its defense while defending bonus).

Quoting sjaminei,
Ram's Horn Longbow -50% armor -4 ini is SICK, add Bloodthirsty to that etc. and they will do more damage than mages

I disagree. Even when ignoring 50% of the defending party's armor, you'll lose half your damage when the defense of the target is twice the attack of the Ram's Horn Longbow, and since the Ram's Horn Longbow only has 12 Attack (plus Fortress benefits), this means that chainmail and a kite shield essentially gets you there. Anything better than that, or that has defensive traits in addition to that, or anything that has ridiculous amounts of +defense research (such as Ridiculous+ AIs late game), and your Ram's Horn Longbows will be outperformed by your Incineration Staff Mages or the equivalent cold staff Mages (and if you have Ram's Horn Longbows, you should have been able to get the high-end staffs, so don't tell me I'm comparing different tiers of weapons). The advantage is that the Ram's Horn Longbows don't cost strategic resources, not that they particularly outperform magic staves in terms of damage output.

Quoting sjaminei,
Archers are very good, just harder to get than mages.

This is true as long as defense numbers haven't gotten terribly high. Games against non-Ridiculous+ AIs, bows will probably work about as well as staves, as long as you don't drag the game out too long.

Quoting McBeef,
What are your thoughts on archers? Archers obtained through quests in the early game are pretty valuable, but do you ever build archers? The technology for building archers is a good ways into the tech tree, where as it is much quicker to reach the tech for mages. From a resource standpoint it is the opposite, archers are easier to build than mages (all other things being held equal). I imagine an early game empire will lack for tech or crystal production to build either in most cases. When you get to the point where you can build both, do you build both or do just you go all mages?

If I have sufficient crystal and don't want it for other purposes (or have enough of it to fund both staff users and "other purposes"), I'll skip archers. Magic damage is far superior to physical damage, and without the Master Archers faction trait the staves are generally far superior to the bows, and additionally much easier to research (even the initial staves are at least as good as Yew Longbows if the AI doesn't have any resistance items on its troops and has the majority of its troops with at least as much defense as the Yew Longbow units have per-figure attack, and even with 50% to the appropriate resistance the initial staves are at least as good as Yew Longbows if the AI troops have defense at least double the per-figure attack of the Archers, and neither of these situations is uncommon or difficult; for Ram's Horn Longbows, the defense needs to be double the attack rating for the initial staves to perform equally well in a 0% resistance case, or quadruple if the troops have 50% to the appropriate resistance, but again this isn't terribly hard or uncommon; the end-game staves will almost always outperform Yew Longbows against any opponent, and are generally at least equal to Ram's Horn Longbows in my opinion). If I don't have sufficient crystal to pull this off, then I'll build archers, assuming I've spent the research to allow me to do so.

Archers suffer the problem of there being so many superior technologies to research instead, and also that the basic staves are good enough to last the whole game and are available long before the bows are. Technologies that allow you to get better staves also allow you to get better other things (crystal mines, troop equipment, and city improvements), technologies that allow you to get better bows only give you better bows and a catapult (which is too slow and not really worth having in a field army). Early game archers obtained from quests are good, later on in the game I don't usually find it worthwhile to train more. Magic staves are simply better, especially with damage trinkets.

7. Strictly non-combat question: the unrest due to number of cities, is it +3%/city?

Yes. You can counter this globally with Apiaries (Twilight Bees improvement), a champion trait (Administration III, -5 global unrest, stacks with each champion who has this trait), a sovereign profession (Noble), and Fortress level-up options (Prison, Onyx Throne), or locally by improving the unrest-reduction buildings, by choosing certain Town and Conclave level-up options, by casting certain spells, or by adding champions/henchmen (particularly Commanders with Administration traits). Generally speaking, you'll have plenty of unrest reduction until you get to more than 10 or so cities even if you don't have any global unrest reducing structures or traits, and after that, just having a few level 4 or level 5 fortresses with Prisons or Onyx Thrones or both will take care of everything (if you have enough of them, you won't even need to build unrest reduction structures anywhere in your empire, but I wouldn't recommend making that many Fortresses). There are also a few structures that locally nullify the empire-size unrest (Towers of Dominion are one example).

4. I was thinking about the Spell, Elemental, and Poison resistances. Does Spell Resistance only block negative buffs (don't know if this is right term) or does it block magical attacks as well? To put the question another way: if a unit is targeted by a tactical fireball spell is this checked against the target's spell resistance, fire resistance or both?

Both - spell resistance to see if the spell is resisted (percentage chance that the spell applies the full effect equals Caster_Spell_Mastery - Target_Spell_Resistance, min of 5% and max of 95% or something like that), and Fire Resistance is then applied to the damage as a scalar multiple on the damage range - so damage_dealt = (100 - Fire_Resistance)*rand(min_damage, max_damage)/100. Both the spell resistance and the elemental resistance are checked on a unit-by-unit basis for area-of-effect spells.

Incidentally, the hit chance calculation works the same way - %_hit_chance = attacker_accuracy - defender_dodge, bound between 5% and 95%.

[quote who="McBeef" reply="4" id="3395609"]8. What are your feelings about the various unit traits that you can add to trained units? You only have 3 free slots against many good traits so it is a tough choice. Iron Skin seems like a no-brainer to me. In the later stages of the game, Plate Ability would be a must have for the front line units. What are your thoughts on Reap (heals +1 HP per attack)? The traits that increase with the level seem good: Discipline (+1 accuracy and spell resistance per level) and Acrobat (+1 dodge per level). Spell Resistance (+20 spell resistance) and Precision (+10 accuracy) don't increase with the level but offer big up front bonuses. It is impossible to say anything useful about Defender (+10 Defense while defending) without knowing how defending actually works which goes back to question #3.

I would say that Reap isn't really worthwhile because it's not affected by the size of your unit, Acrobat and other dodge bonuses are only really worthwhile if you're custom-designing a dodge-based unit (and dodge is a really weak defense mechanism later in the game), Discipline and Precision are decent but largely overshadowed by Fortress bonuses. Iron Skin is good early on for tank units, and can be useful for later-game tank units, or to pull the defense up a little on a weak unit. All of the spell resistance bonuses are generally too small to have an impact when facing a decently high-level caster, and most casters who aren't decently high level are often not much of a threat (exception made for Dark Wizards, Banshees, and Haunters if they can get their spells off), and are usually too specialized of a bonus to be worthwhile. Underdog/Brute are somewhat specialized and unreliable. Finesse makes the damage of your swordsmen and spearmen more comparable to that of your axemen and clubmen on a per-hit basis, and better on an over-time basis (disregarding special abilities, which favor axes and clubs due to the alpha strike). Initiative bonuses are almost always worthwhile. +X% damage or +X Attack bonuses are only useful on units with significant amounts of physical attack, and only as long as the defense ratings on the opposition haven't become significantly larger than the attack ratings on the troops you put these traits on.

On the whole, I'd prefer the initiative, defense, and health traits, and rely on trinkets which boost magic damage for offensive bonuses.

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September 17, 2013 6:32:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting joeball123,
I disagree. Even when ignoring 50% of the defending party's armor, you'll lose half your damage when the defense of the target is twice the attack of the Ram's Horn Longbow, and since the Ram's Horn Longbow only has 12 Attack (plus Fortress benefits), this means that chainmail and a kite shield essentially gets you there. Anything better than that, or that has defensive traits in addition to that, or anything that has ridiculous amounts of +defense research (such as Ridiculous+ AIs late game), and your Ram's Horn Longbows will be outperformed by your Incineration Staff Mages or the equivalent cold staff Mages (and if you have Ram's Horn Longbows, you should have been able to get the high-end staffs, so don't tell me I'm comparing different tiers of weapons). The advantage is that the Ram's Horn Longbows don't cost strategic resources, not that they particularly outperform magic staves in terms of damage output.

I'm pretty sure the armor reduction is counted first. I was surprised how easily my high armor troops were slaughtered against Rams Horn Longbows, I expected them to put up a better fight. Fast+Finesse is a very good option for them as well given the low initiative hit, and the damage can get quite sick then paired with Bloodthirsty and Enmity. (War College freebie) I would say mages are probably the best allround and safest bet, but end-game well designed RHL bowmen can compete and surpass them, especially vs light armored troops.

If you play a very long game, the attack tech scales with them as well, whereas mages get nothing.  

or anything that has ridiculous amounts of +defense research 

Did they fix it again? My last games the AI's have all gone nuts on accuracy, screwing up my dodge against ranged stuff completely. 

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September 17, 2013 6:46:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

8. What are your feelings about the various unit traits that you can add to trained units? You only have 3 free slots against many good traits so it is a tough choice. Iron Skin seems like a no-brainer to me. In the later stages of the game, Plate Ability would be a must have for the front line units. What are your thoughts on Reap (heals +1 HP per attack)? The traits that increase with the level seem good: Discipline (+1 accuracy and spell resistance per level) and Acrobat (+1 dodge per level). Spell Resistance (+20 spell resistance) and Precision (+10 accuracy) don't increase with the level but offer big up front bonuses. It is impossible to say anything useful about Defender (+10 Defense while defending) without knowing how defending actually works which goes back to question #3.

Bloodthirsty, Quick (+2 Initiative),  Finesse - for archers. I try to buff initiative to maximum.

Bloodthirsty, Finesse, Chain/Plate proficiency - for melee units, whom I try to arm with a quick weapon to have their initiative high.

 

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September 17, 2013 9:02:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting sjaminei,
However, most players do not play Ridicilous+ difficulty like me

Just curious, aside from difficulty, what do you like to play on? Terrain type, monster difficulty, monster level, quest density resources, etc, that sort of thing? The reason I ask, I played the scenario and while it was interesting I don't think it lived up to the games potential and none of these settings are configurable for the scenario.

 

Quoting joeball123,

The way damage works is that damage_dealt = rand(0.5*max_damage, max_damage), calculated for each damage type in an attack.

max_damage is calculated separately for each damage type, with physical attacks being affected by defense and physical resistances (usually only from unit abilities, e.g. Banshee physical immunity), and magical damage being affected by elemental resistances.

physical_max_damage = [PhysicalAttack*PhysicalAttack/(PhysicalAttack + Defense)]*(100 - physical_resistance)/100

Most units have 0 physical resistance, so that can generally be ignored.

OK, so not to be pedantic but take a look at this example to see if its right. Unit A is attacking unit B. A has an attack of 20, B has a defense of 11 and physical resistance of 0. So plugging in the numbers, you would get:

max damage = [20 * 20/(20 + 11)] * (100 - 0)/100 = [400/31] * (100/100) = ~12.9

actual damage = rand(0.5*12.9, 12.9) = rand(6.45, 12.9)

So randomly somewhere between 6.45 and 12.9 (and rounded at some point obviously). Is this correct?

 

Quoting joeball123,
Swords, or Ironeer Blood units, tend to be the only units I would generally get defense while defending bonuses for, because swords have counterattacks (for half the Attack rating of the regular attack), and Ironeer Blood grants the Guarded Strike ability which drops the unit which uses it into defensive stance.

So perhaps an earlyish-mid game army with a large proportion of Ironeer sword units might make this a worthwhile strategy. In every other instance, no.

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September 18, 2013 1:06:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting McBeef,
So randomly somewhere between 6.45 and 12.9 (and rounded at some point obviously). Is this correct?

Looks right.

Quoting sjaminei,
Did they fix it again? My last games the AI's have all gone nuts on accuracy, screwing up my dodge against ranged stuff completely.

I think it's more or less random what repeatable the AI picks for its research. Honestly, I kind of wish they'd get rid of the Refined Accuracy/Defense/Attack traits, because they screw with the late-game balance and seem more like a mechanic to make the guy who's behind fall further behind rather than a mechanic which really adds anything or encourages an arms race. Repeatable economy technologies are alright, but the repeatable accuracy technology makes dodge impractical (as if it needed a nerf against naturally growing accuracy that can be significantly boosted by Fortresses and design choices), the repeatable Defense bonuses can turn battles into slugging matches that just drag on, and the repeatable Attack technology has the opposite problem. The Attack/Defense technology pairing might have been an arms race if it weren't for the fact that the Attack bonus is slightly stronger in the long run, and if it weren't for that by the time I'm picking a repeatable tech I'm pretty much looking at not resetting my research for the rest of the game.

Quoting sjaminei,
I'm pretty sure the armor reduction is counted first. I was surprised how easily my high armor troops were slaughtered against Rams Horn Longbows, I expected them to put up a better fight. Fast+Finesse is a very good option for them as well given the low initiative hit, and the damage can get quite sick then paired with Bloodthirsty and Enmity. (War College freebie) I would say mages are probably the best allround and safest bet, but end-game well designed RHL bowmen can compete and surpass them, especially vs light armored troops.

I'm not sure what you mean. I'm using only half the defense score when calculating the 50% nominal damage point (e.g. Attack = modified Defense => maximum damage = 0.5*Attack, which with "ignores 50% of the defense" means that this comes at Defense = 2*Attack), as I see no other reasonable point to pick for applying the defense reduction. This means that against a 0% resistant enemy, Yew Longbows are on par with the basic fire or ice staff against anything with 11 defense, and worse against anything with more defense, while Ram's Horn Longbows are on par against 24 defense and worse against anything better. Against a 50% resistance enemy, Yew Longbows are equal against 22 defense and worse against higher defense, while Ram's Horn Longbows are equal at 48 defense and worse at higher (discounting attack bonuses of any kind - if you want to account for them, you can go ahead and do the math, it isn't that difficult). This means that the standard end-game bow sucks compared to the most basic magic staff you can give your troops, and the RHL isn't terribly better off. If we switch up to the end-game magic staves, then Yew Longbows are simply worse in all cases, and a 50% resistant target can use the same comparison as the 0% resistance target for the RHL. With the right traits, it can be a different story - bows can be quite good - but otherwise they're kind of garbage (and yes, Finesse + Quick would be one potential set of "right traits").

Also, when fighting lightly armored troops is pretty much the only time that bows are really competitive with staves (especially standard bows - were it not for the fact that staves cost crystal, I would never design a unit to use standard bows unless it were some kind of restriction I put upon myself). Sure, bows get better attack bonuses, and the repeatable attack bonus doesn't affect magic damage, but magic damage is both harder to counter and much more reliable, and can't be trivialized by Refined Defense.

Quoting McBeef,
So perhaps an earlyish-mid game army with a large proportion of Ironeer sword units might make this a worthwhile strategy. In every other instance, no.

This would probably be one of the better uses of a +defense while defending bonus, yes, but you shouldn't necessarily neglect it for a tank line whose purpose is to protect ranged damage dealers (e.g. a Mage with Water IV and Evoker IV with lots of Water shards, or a bunch of archers, or some other similar things) - it just depends on how you want to play the battles, and what difficulty level you're on. You can make almost anything work on the lower difficulties; higher difficulties tend to require more optimized strategies.

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September 18, 2013 4:36:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

joeball123 has provided very comprehensive answers, as always, but a few specific points:

2.

The main effect I'm aware of is that you get more hitpoints. This effect can be quite dramatic, high level units can have 50% more hitpoints than rookie units. This is very useful in itself, but also because for multiple figure units this effectively increases the damage they do (it takes them longer to lose a figure).

3.

Re: Defense, the only thing I'd add is that high level shields give big bonuses to armour and dodge if you're defending. So it can be a viable strategy to put your tank unit with a good shield next to a dangerous enemy and let them waste their attacks on your tank unit on defend while you deal with the rest of the army.

4 + 5

Some spells say they can be resisted; these always check Spell Resistance. To be honest I didn't think Fireball could be resisted, but I can't check right now. Death spells (for example) can be resisted, but are not affected by elemental resistance. Fireball on the other hand would have its damage reduced by any fire resistance. Ice staff damage is reduced by cold resistance, fire staff damage by fire resistance. Staffs can miss, i.e. accuracy is compared to dodge as with bows.

I almost never build bows. Everyone else has given the reasons; mainly because it's a research dead-end, but also because staff elemental damage (which ignores armour) is much more effective against late game high armour enemies.

6.

Initiative is extremely important, undoubtedly the most important stat. It means you go first and it means you go more often. Going first is important e.g. for killing figures in enemy units and reducing their damage. I don't only choose initiative boosting options, but certainly they're very high on the list of ones to choose.

7.

I always build a city on a halfway decent spot, except: if it's a rubbish yield tile I'll explore further and see if I can find a better one; very late in the game -3% unrest for all your cities may be more significant than one more marginal city. Also, the AI sometimes builds on absolutely useless tiles, so I will Raze these if I capture them, rather than have the -3%.

8.

 I like sjaminei's answer:

Quoting sjaminei,
Bloodthirsty, Fast (+2 Initiative), Constitution (+3 HP) Finesse, Brute, Underdog are all traits I would before your examples.

Bloodthirsty is always good, as is Fast. Constitution and Ironskin are helpful with weaker units, especially at the start of the game where the +3 is a much more significant increase in percentage terms. Underdog is another trait which is great at the start, especially on higher difficulty; at the start your units are lower level than almost everything, so this is a cheap Attack boost. Finesse can be a cheap Attack boost for high initiative units; Dodge, Acrobat can make very hard to hit wraith units.

Hope that helps.

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September 18, 2013 2:38:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting McBeef,
Just curious, aside from difficulty, what do you like to play on? Terrain type, monster difficulty, monster level, quest density resources, etc, that sort of thing? The reason I ask, I played the scenario and while it was interesting I don't think it lived up to the games potential and none of these settings are configurable for the scenario.

Dense Monsters, Huge+ Maps (custom mod), Epic pace. Resources/Magic are usually normal, I feel the lack of them makes the game more interesting.

Quoting joeball123,
I'm not sure what you mean. I'm using only half the defense score when calculating the 50% nominal damage point (e.g. Attack = modified Defense => maximum damage = 0.5*Attack, which with "ignores 50% of the defense" means that this comes at Defense = 2*Attack), as I see no other reasonable point to pick for applying the defense reduction. This means that against a 0% resistant enemy, Yew Longbows are on par with the basic fire or ice staff against anything with 11 defense, and worse against anything with more defense, while Ram's Horn Longbows are on par against 24 defense and worse against anything better. Against a 50% resistance enemy, Yew Longbows are equal against 22 defense and worse against higher defense, while Ram's Horn Longbows are equal at 48 defense and worse at higher (discounting attack bonuses of any kind - if you want to account for them, you can go ahead and do the math, it isn't that difficult).

I meant that the damage bonuses is counted on their own. So Enmity, Bloodthirsty etc. and a +3 Physical attack skill will count against a 50% reduced armor. Not be reduced before the armor reduction. You are only looking at the base attack, not the bonuses, a RHLBowman will get +2 attack from Fortress +3 Attack from a skill (Brute or Finesse), meaning you will have 17 base attack, with full bonuses you can increase that to almost 30. I have done both elite mages and bowmen in real games, RHBows are sick and can compete with mages end game especially in ranged vs ranged fights. Mages are far superior and easier to get early/mid game, but RHB will get better later, and fire faster to boot. If you want to see some really sick ranged, get a Great Wolf to support them and it gets silly

 

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September 18, 2013 7:02:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'll just leave this here.

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September 18, 2013 8:04:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@McBeef:

If you can get a regular unit's physical attack score much over 30 on a per-figure basis, you're either playing a very different game from what I'm playing, or you've researched Refined Attack way too much. And the Attack score used in the damage calculation is per-figure, rather than the combined attack score shown on the unit overview (though it does roll for damage for each figure in the unit). So a five-figure unit with an attack of 100 has 20 attack per figure, and will use 20 attack (+ bonuses) when calculating maximum damage, and each figure in the unit rolls to hit and to deal damage (everyone who hits contributes to the damage dealt by the attack). A better plot would be max damage vs defense at specified levels of attack, unless you also wanted to compare champion damage.

@sjaminei:

I still don't get what you're saying. Are you implying that physical attack bonuses ignore armor? Because that isn't in line with what I've seen.

What I've seen is more along the lines of

max_damage = (Base_Attack + Attack_Bonus)^2/(Base_Attack + Attack_Bonus + Defense*[1 - armor_penetration])

Yes, bows with proper traits can become relatively good, even perhaps better than staves if the AI hasn't boosted its defense up too much. But staves are much more reliable, and if the AI happens to decide to research Refined Defense instead of whatever its favorite Refined Tech of the Month happens to be, bow damage quickly falls off, and even at 30 Attack a bow really isn't that much better than a stave, because if we're looking at relatively end-game armor we're probably looking at 30-60 defense, bringing the 30-attack RHL maximum damage down to 18-14, which isn't terribly better than the 12 base of an end-game staff. Granted, it's better than the maximum damage of the staff, but not terribly much. (I'm also not counting trinket damage, because presumably if you're trying to maximize the attack you'd have damage trinkets on both unit types). If we throw in high-difficulty AI bonuses and it happens to decide to research Refined Defense for its repeatable rather than whatever it chooses currently, it wouldn't be unreasonable to see defense on the order of 300+ at the same time you can field RHL archers, in which case the RHL becomes considerably worse than the Incineration Staff or its cold damage equivalent, even if you're targeting 50% resistant enemies. Certainly, if the defense ratings stay at a reasonable level the RHL can be better than the end-game staves, but if the AI has bonuses that allow it to pull ahead in Refined XXX, who cares about physical attacks.

(Side note - Fortresses can give you up to +4 physical attack. Sacrificial Altar gives you 1, Weaponsmith gives you 2, Great Arena gives you 1. Sadly, Weaponsmiths are 1 per faction, Great Arenas require level 5 Fortresses, and Sacrificial Altars are Empire-only, so it isn't that practical.)

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September 19, 2013 9:37:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting joeball123,

I still don't get what you're saying. Are you implying that physical attack bonuses ignore armor? Because that isn't in line with what I've seen.

No, I was trying to say that the attack or bonuses doesn't get reduced by pre-penetration defense. I probably could have worded it better. I haven't done the math like you probably have, so most of my stuff just comes from my own testing in game. As you say, mages and bows are very similar in damage, I am by no means trying to say that mages are bad and you should go all out archers Mages are safer and easier to get overall, while bows require a lot more setup and a faction trait. 

(Side note - Fortresses can give you up to +4 physical attack. Sacrificial Altar gives you 1, Weaponsmith gives you 2, Great Arena gives you 1. Sadly, Weaponsmiths are 1 per faction, Great Arenas require level 5 Fortresses, and Sacrificial Altars are Empire-only, so it isn't that practical.)

I thought Weaponsmith was only 1, my bad, but 3 is better ^^. Great Arenas aren't that hard to get once you start playing around with consulates, I usually get one of them long before Weaponsmiths

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September 19, 2013 1:24:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thought of a few more questions:

There are a couple city spells that boost the stats of the military units that are produced in the city, like heart of fire or might. In order for a unit to get the stat boost, does the spell already need to be in effect when the unit was first queued or can it at any point prior to finishing the unit? Knowing this has two benefits: if you simply forgot to cast the spell on the city and the unit is already queued or if want to wring out a few more turns of mana production with meditation.

Some bonuses are based on percentages like the bloodthirsty +25% attack or the Ironeers +25% defense. Do bonuses based on percentages round up, or round down, or the nearest integer? For example, if you have a bloodthirsty unit with an attack of 6, and 1.25 * 6 = 7.5, so does the attack round to 7 or 8? What if the attack was 5, 1.25 * 5 = 6.25, so does this go to 6 or 7?

The stealthy trait makes monsters less likely to attack. Is this effect strategic or tactical or both? In other words, does stealthy make monsters less likely to attack a stealthy scout on the strategic map or less likely to attack a stealthy unit in battle?

Another non-combat question, but doesn't really merit its own thread: are there hotkeys for next idle city, next idle unit?

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September 19, 2013 2:09:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

#1 It needs to be active when the unit is created. 

#2 I don't think they are integers at all, but the "pop-up" is. (If you hover over defense with 25% bonus, you will see decimals)

#3 On map, I don't think it does anything in tactical. 

#4 No idea, though doubt it. Suggest it in the UI thread

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September 19, 2013 2:15:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting McBeef,

Another non-combat question, but doesn't really merit its own thread: are there hotkeys for next idle city, next idle unit?

 

Yes, you can use "Tab" for that. It cycles through both inactive units and cities without production. (I can customize a few buttons on my mouse and for LH I use Escape /which is useful in almost all games/ and Tab.)

 

 Anybody know what other hotkeys exist?

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September 19, 2013 2:50:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I think stealthy is worthless or bugged.   I got a bright idea to customize the scout with stealthy!  brilliant eh?  Go scout and not have to worry about monsters attacking!  Well they still attacked them, it just cost more for my scouts so now I don't bother.

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