Rebalance of 'The Dead'

By on January 2, 2014 12:04:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Apheirox

Join Date 04/2006
+3

Not having any growth at all is an interesting idea for a faction - I really like the Dead. That's the theory, at least, because balance-wise this faction leaves something to be desired - there are too many map generations that simply leave this faction with no choice but to... well, die. The Dead faction is extremely dependent upon either having an abundance of death shards or spawning right next to another faction so they have somebody to fight right from the start - both of these conditions are not the norm unless running non-standard world settings and so the Dead are looking at a difficult, uphill game by default.

 

In the luckiest setups, there will be one or two somewhat nearby death shards as well as city sites with at least one essence slot for Morrigan's Call, but even under such lucky conditions the Dead will grow at a snail's pace. The faction is clearly geared 100% towards warfare but that doesn't help if the game wasn't setup to overpopulate the map with players, meaning there are typically no other faction in the immediate vicinity to attack - the clock is ticking for the Dead and if they can't find somebody to assault very quickly to gain some population, they'll fall hopelessly behind.

 

My proposal for buffing the Dead and making them more viable on less populated map generations is to give them an alternative Scrying Pool: a spell version of it. Costing some 100-200 mana and so not being something to cast lightly it will permanently increase the essence yield of a city by one, being castable only once per city. This will help ensure the Dead have at least a slight chance to expand on the worst map generations where there are few or no nearby city sites with essence yields by enabling even cities that initially had no essence to have Morrigan's Call cast on them eventually.

 

Addtionally, I would give the Dead another spell version of something already in the game: The Resoln's 'Corruption' spell. It would essentially be the same spell but would cost much more (~200 mana) and be included as part of the 'Undead' trait package rather than the 'Death Worship' one. You might think this would be overpowering but given the extremely high mana cost of all these spells it should prevent the Dead from snowballing too well - it would still be preferable to war with another faction for population but with this option at least the Dead don't automatically lose when such is not possible. It would also be interesting to further increase the Dead's focus on mana generation in this way.

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January 2, 2014 2:58:56 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

But I never have problems even when I have isolated start or no access to death shards.

 

For starters, Tower of Domination ensures that your capital have +1 growth at minimum.

 

Then, construct those consulates for outposts and set them up next to your cities. I'll show a picture tomorrow.

 

Having no death shards and rushing research to consulates just merely means you'll have slower start.

 

I've gotten level 5 undead cities from consulates alone.... Don't underestimate the power of having at least +1 growth  is worth the time it takes to build the consulate upgrade for the outposts.

 

Additionally.... Towns can be pretty good source of skeletons. Build them even when you're undead, you need gold for upgrades and etc so. I forgot which level but level four or five towns will give you a huge growth boost and if you add in slums, heh. A level 4 town once produced enough pioneers for me to occupy 1/4 of the map with it's pioneers founding new villages + outposts. You don't need that many towns but having a few is helpful.

 

In fact, I was expanding so fast I couldn't handle the clickfest and took a break.

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January 2, 2014 10:29:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yes, but the AI need to be able to play 'the dead' as well.

 

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January 2, 2014 1:07:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GFireflyE,

Yes, but the AI need to be able to play 'the dead' as well.

 

 

I believe the AI hasn't been programmed to use outposts upgrades and thus, its very likely that AI hasn't been programmed to play the dead yet.

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January 2, 2014 1:32:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ericridge,



Quoting GFireflyE,
reply 2

Yes, but the AI need to be able to play 'the dead' as well.

 


 

I believe the AI hasn't been programmed to use outposts upgrades and thus, its very likely that AI hasn't been programmed to play the dead yet.

Agreed. AI needs to be programmed to deal with outposts too.

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January 3, 2014 12:39:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The problem isn't just that the AI can't play the faction. The faction can't be played well by a human player, either. It's a really interesting idea that wasn't executed properly - the faction is too gimped to be able to stand up to the other factions' much higher growth rates. Having practically no growth for the first 100 turns or so of the game is a death sentence - yes, there indeed appears to be a second meaning to why they're called 'The Dead'. The only thing The Dead have got going for them is that the Undying Curse unit ability is very powerful but that isn't enough to outweigh all their drawbacks.

 

None of the points EricRidge raise to try to defend the faction are valid: You can't rely on the growth from the Tower of Dominion and especially not the high-tech, very expensive to build Consulates alone, they cost way too much to be a viable alternative (a Consulate costs just 1/6th less than the Palace). You can't simply rely on a Town's Slums upgrade to keep up, either, since it only affects one city and you have to reach level three to unlock it, first. Overall, while the Dead are looking at a 0-2 point growth rate in their cities, the other factions will have 3-9 at that same time, something the Dead just can't keep up with. Of course you can beat the AI even using the Dead but that doesn't mean the faction is balanced.

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January 3, 2014 12:52:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

Hmmm. A post above gives a viable strategy on playing the dead successfully.

Another post says, "it won't work!"

Guess who I gave Karma to?

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January 3, 2014 3:12:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Okay Apheirox, The Dead guide is obviously necessary. I will attempt to create one tomorrow if my sore throat is gone by tomorrow morning.

And it will have screenshots accompanying the guide. What's more, I will even use Morrigan's faction for it.

 

Simply because the dead is such a blast for me to play.

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January 3, 2014 5:12:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I shall eagerly await your expert guide.

 

I agree the dead are a blast to play, which is why I want to make them more viable.

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January 3, 2014 6:24:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Let a portion of dead human from other factions return to undead as well.

This undead is similar to the 'Infernal' faction from 'Fall from Heaven II'(a Civilization IV modmod), who has the 'Fallow Trait' which make the faction can't grow on food but on the dead evil creatures on the map.

I am not surprised that they invited this 'Undead' faction to FE:LH, since Kael is the creator of the above mentioned modmod. 

AI does not do well with those undead faction in both FE:LH and FfH2, are also expected, since these factions are using completely different rules. So in FfH2, these undead factions are exclusive to human players.

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January 3, 2014 8:29:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In Patchwork mod http://forums.elementalgame.com/450250/page/1/ Undead can survive and expand under AI management. They have additional sources of growth and additional Undead Heroes. All races have +1growth. Undead also have this bonus. Also Undead have growth bonuses +2, +3, +4 from their racial buildings that add graves. Graves are source of growth for Undead now.

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January 3, 2014 11:41:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting webusver,

In Patchwork mod http://forums.elementalgame.com/450250/page/1/ Undead can survive and expand under AI management. They have additional sources of growth and additional Undead Heroes.

Well, at the moment I'm putting together a gameplay with my eye on the dead....will see how the AI handles them.

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January 3, 2014 6:40:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,

I shall eagerly await your expert guide.

 

I agree the dead are a blast to play, which is why I want to make them more viable.

 

I'm going ot postpone the guide for today because RNG keeps on giving me death/life shard starts with Morrigan X.X and I wanted to make one guide without them around! Oh well. Gonna attempt it tomorrow and hope wahtever rng I've been getting resets.

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January 3, 2014 10:32:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I guess to make them more playable by the AI, there could be a way to mod the race to not have the Undead ability. They lose the graves concept and the improvements (plus the undead horse) but they have growth like the other races. Alternatively, you could mod the vanilla Dead faction to have Death Worship so they could use Corruption. While this would be mighty useful for the player, I don't know if the AI is able to prioritise corrupting shards and using Morrigan's Call on its cities.

I notice the Dead doesn't have any AI units though, so they tend to throw armies of scouts at you? At least that's what I'm observing.

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January 4, 2014 4:26:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

They shouldn't change the faction just so the AI can play it, rather fix the AI. All it needs to do is cast Morrigan's Call on cities, only settle city spots with at least one Essence and play extremely aggressively (much like Yithril). It can't be that hard? 

 

As for Eric's guide... sigh. If you can put two and two together you can see that the Dead have a problem with growth. Unless you happen to spawn directly on a death shard you're looking at +1 growth only (from Tower of Dominion) for the first 60+ turns of the game. This is absolutely disastrous as it means the ability to produce Pioneers is severely hampered. This creates what you could call a turn disadvantage for the Dead where they're constantly behind the other living factions who all have the equivalent of a 30ish turn lead in terms of growth during the critically important early game. The 10 or so total population you'll gain from killing local area bandits don't even begin to make up for the growth loss.

 

You can go ahead though, Eric, your Consulate strategy guide should provide for amusing (if tragic) reading. Alternatively, you could do as I would hope: Stop trying to defend a broken concept and instead join me in coming up with good suggestions on how to fix the faction. That would be a much more productive use of your time.

 

@ webusver: Thanks for linking your Patchwork mod, it looks brilliant!

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January 4, 2014 8:05:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

To be serious, I kinda like the idea of The Dead gainig a spell ehich increases the essence of a targeted city (maybe at the price of 1 foodslot?). If you happen to build in a place without essence, that city has like +1 growth and I mean... Come on, you really can't win a game like that (well you can, but it kinda sucks^^). And even with essence, without a death shard, you are screwed... So yeah, I'd really like the idea to give The Dead that spell as a blood ability (normally, the dead grant -2 initiative... -2... hell, you need a very good reason to choose them as the race for a custom faction...), so they are "only" in need of a death shard to work... 

I'll be honest: The only time i managed to win with them was when I had the luck that the Yithril attacked a faction, leaving them at 7 so I could declare war on them and instantly make them surrender... To get the life spell that gives +2 growth. Even then it wasn't that easy to win, as I couldn't use the "sacrifice" spell to it's fullest, having only 650 graves available...

 

 

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January 4, 2014 12:17:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wouldn’t it be cool if they made a low-growth race that had some special advantages to make up for it. For example, this race would be able to win battles others couldn’t tackle. It would be challenging to play as you would have to carefully consider whether to build another pioneer (as opposed to just cranking them out with a normal race). You would have to consider whether and when a new city site is viable rather than settling every spot you find as fast as possible. You would start slower than other races, but managed carefully, pity the other factions once you got your empire rolling. To make this even cooler, make this an undead race. [/sarcasm off]

Of course, some will say this race is too hard to play or that it’s out of balance. At least we can probably agree that the AI needs improved programming to handle this race’s nuances. If that’s not realistic, I’d like to have the option to make the undead a player-only race so I can still select random races when starting a game. I will concede that the undead race is a challenge to play. However, this being a single-player game, I guess I don’t see that as a problem. Furthermore, if needed, you can always lower the game's difficulty while learning to play this race.


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January 4, 2014 2:51:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am not sure about the challenge mentioned here. Recently I came back to play FE:LH just to try undead. I played on ridiculous and my feeling was that the race is rather overpower. You can just produce an army of free upkeep soldiers that with wraith-form and terror are very good. No problems winning, Tarth is way harder to play then this race. 

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January 5, 2014 12:03:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Back, my attempts to create consulate guide has been unsuccessful because I keep on rolling maps rich in LIfe/Death Shards. Ah. Gods of RNG. You never fail to amuse me.

Anyways At least I got one map where it isn't heavy in Death shards. The war, I was forced into it anyways; normally I play passive. But Yithril is hyperaggressive so I had to go and take him out.

Yithril dow'd me. Not me dowing him..

Blessings of the dead upon me.. as I found the Fortress of Calebethon upon a 1 food 5 production forest tile not the 2 essence tile.

At the beginning the production boost is way more important than some silly essence tiles unless its a 4 or 5 essence tile. Thus i settle my first village on 5 production tiles if I can.

Then after it hits level 2 or 3 is when I start to spam alot of skeletons/banshees.



As I start the research on Consulate tech... I got dow'd by yithril on same turn as I started Cooperation tech. I give up on peaceful start, and start sending my skeletons/banshees towards their territory with me capping several outposts on the way!



And with well timed summon of a single skeleton, it pulls whole enemy formation into disarray as they lemming to gank it because it's the weakest unit in my army thereby allowing my fragile skeletons and butcherman enter their territory with little resistance and amass swarm bonuses.

 

Meanwhile I have my Bacco's army level up by slaying monsters and doing quests in the area and kill a random questing hero from Yithril.

 

Then I discover why Yithril is running away with the game....

hahaha

No wonder why he became so hyperaggressive and dow'd me.

 

oops I forgot to take a screenshot of Ahilga before I capped it but, this is the screenshot of my set up.

 

Yes that is correct, I'm still using Basic Spears + skeletons plus a unit of butcherman in my main army. up against tons of militia, several units in chaimail and angry juggernaught in southeast of the screenshot.

 

After three horrific wails from Morrigan in a row, while skeletons held the trog horde back at the positions as shown in the screenshot..

Yithril Troops start to run away from the battleline in attempt to reach safety and a game of chicken began between my skeletons and his juggernaught, The juggernaught made one mistake of staying one tile too close to me after several turns of attack moves and retreats and ended up getting caught by my skeletons and locked down by terror ability.  Until the result is as you see this.

 


Battle was quite close, exciting seesaw fight.

But it was only inevitable that they would fall to the dead..

 

With Capital down, my Bacco raced to other city from Yithril and attacked it..

Enemy attack might as well be at 153 because of my Banshee's -50% physical damage it takes reduction ability.

 

It was very one sided.

 

With this, the claim of dead being helpless and unable to defeat anyone at the beginning of the game is disproven. IN the meanwhile through the war against Yithril, I have razed a city and settled two new towns. With one which is already a conclave due to fall of Ahilga.

 

My Consulate strategy comes into play if you start isolated at minimum. It will allow you to have minimal army for monster slaying/questing while focusing all the production in setting Consulates up and expanding. It doesn't quite happen if you start next to yithril though because you will be forced to make alot of soldiers to defend yourself.

 

Plus it seems like you don't understand how helpful a consulate can be. With one of them attached to a village then it will have 1 growth! Two equals two growth! Three equals three! At minimum every single village without a essence for morrigan's call will get a consulate built and set up. I aim to set at least one up for each village I settle. It's a slow start but can snow ball after enough turns pass.

 

And if you MUST have alot of consulates set up fast, do it in a fortress first because they have the highest production and with about 5 growth after five consulates.. that's alot of skeletons being found from the land and summoned to help you expand.

 

Edit: Might as well add in the latest screenshot of my the dead playthrough.

I rolled through Tarth and Gilden with no problems, even when I was wielding the basic spears. Tarth/Gilden couldn't land a hit on my ghosts to save their lives and they ended up dead. Then blood season happened and thus war against everyone. I'm going amok and ripping magnar apart at the moment, razed three of their villages just now. I have achieved a significant point lead at the moment and is constructing two new armies right now.

 

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January 5, 2014 11:29:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting coyote303,

Wouldn’t it be cool if they made a low-growth race that had some special advantages to make up for it. For example, this race would be able to win battles others couldn’t tackle. It would be challenging to play as you would have to carefully consider whether to build another pioneer (as opposed to just cranking them out with a normal race). You would have to consider whether and when a new city site is viable rather than settling every spot you find as fast as possible. You would start slower than other races, but managed carefully, pity the other factions once you got your empire rolling. To make this even cooler, make this an undead race. [/sarcasm off]

Of course, some will say this race is too hard to play or that it’s out of balance. At least we can probably agree that the AI needs improved programming to handle this race’s nuances. If that’s not realistic, I’d like to have the option to make the undead a player-only race so I can still select random races when starting a game. I will concede that the undead race is a challenge to play. However, this being a single-player game, I guess I don’t see that as a problem. Furthermore, if needed, you can always lower the game's difficulty while learning to play this race.



 

The problem is that the combination of undying curse + no upkeep does not make up for the lack of growth. Being 50+ turns behind the other factions because you can't expand at the same rate as them makes for a hopeless balance even though they get strong later. There's also the issue of the random map generator - I've seen maps where I didn't have a single death shard by turn 100, making for a game neither balanced nor enjoyable.

 

The big question is: Why do you insist on trying to pick my suggestions/thread apart? Would it be so terrible to make a few adjustments so that the RNG can't screw over an Undead game as badly, and so that the faction isn't as terrible overall? Yes, it's a single-player game... but why not make it a good and balanced single-player game? The Undead can be both unique and not broken... so why not make this improvement?

 

You came into this thread looking to destroy it. Now, instead look at the suggestions I made and consider how they would change the Undead game.

 

---

 

@ Eric: The Consulate costs 540 production, therefore it is NOT a viable strategy to use them and does not make them comparable to the other factions. Your strategy does NOT work, period. The only way the Undead can survive is by destroying other factions as quickly as possible which is where their advantage lies. With that said once more I'm done repeating this point for you.

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January 5, 2014 3:09:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just because consulate is expensive to build doesn't mean it isn't a viable strategy. I've had games where I didn't have a single death shard so I relied on consulates and got by just fine.

 

Heck you could make your first city a town so you can have very high growth by the time where slums come online and it would allow alot of pioneers to be sent out. I like the undead the way they are, they're a hoot to play.

 

Also, I suspect 2nd biggest reason why ai tend to fail is because they look at scout and see that it's a banshee unit then went omg -50% physical damage reduction?! I RULE THE WORLD and spam nothing but scouts while forgetting about their crappy staff weapons. I suspect undead ai completely lose their minds at banshee scouts.

 

It will be great if in 1.6 patch that AI has been made to learn taht outpost upgrades exist and I think there might be no custom ai design units created so you have to play as them first and design the units. Because at first morrigan spammed nothing but scouts until I played them and created custom designed spearmen.

 

The most I've seen undead AI factions expand is create three new villages. And then stagnate there because they cannot build the consulates where if they had at least one consulate for each village then it would've let them get a level 2 city in 30ish turns at very least?

 

And since you accuse me of trying to destroy your suggestion, just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I'm a complete monster. You politician you.

 

And looking at your suggestion, i suspect it won't help the dead anyways because AI tend to not always pick the right enchantment for their cities. They might randomly pick scrying pool then randomly pick morrigan's call. Because alll we know the AI could cast scrying pool then cast Oppression spell or Meditation.

 

If stardock inisist on not teaching AI on how to use the outposts, then they need to at least teach the Dead AI to use a new type of building when built, adds +1 growth to their villages. Call it Necromancy Portal or something when built, adds +1 growth, nothing else. It's way more effective that way than making a enchantment that the AI might pick or not pick.

 

There we go, that's' the biggest reason why I disagree with your suggestion. Its too unreliable for the AI to use it.

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January 5, 2014 4:13:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,
The big question is: Why do you insist on trying to pick my suggestions/thread apart? Would it be so terrible to make a few adjustments so that the RNG can't screw over an Undead game as badly, and so that the faction isn't as terrible overall? Yes, it's a single-player game... but why not make it a good and balanced single-player game? The Undead can be both unique and not broken... so why not make this improvement?
(bolding mine)

 

That’s a fair question. You won’t like the answer.

1. If you don’t like something about the game, you proclaim it’s broken.

2. You haven't listened to any logic or explanations that contradict your opinion.

3. You seemingly didn’t even listen to yourself in another thread where your proposed solution would have made your so-called problem worse.

4. Ericridge took hours of his time to first explain and then later demonstrate that the Dead are viable. The man was doing you a favor. Your response was that his strategy does “NOT” work (never mind that it obviously did) and then put him down with a snide remark.

I would like to conclude by thanking Eric and others who have given me ideas how to play the Dead better. Your efforts weren't completely wasted!

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January 6, 2014 8:51:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On a side note, I notice the Undead units tend to play very poorly in auto-resolve (which is where most of the AI-only battles take place I believe), possibly in combat as well but I'm not too sure. Basically, Morrigan once attacked some of my Scouts, and I auto-resolved the combat (which I always do when my auto-explore Scouts get attacked by anything), only to win this time. Looking at the combat log, Morrigan basically kept spamming Terror while my Scouts hit him during turns when they resisted...

I think something about the way Terror is used by the AI might need to be revised. Otherwise, single-unit Undead armies will practically never win any battles

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January 6, 2014 12:12:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Rotlung,

On a side note, I notice the Undead units tend to play very poorly in auto-resolve (which is where most of the AI-only battles take place I believe), possibly in combat as well but I'm not too sure. Basically, Morrigan once attacked some of my Scouts, and I auto-resolved the combat (which I always do when my auto-explore Scouts get attacked by anything), only to win this time. Looking at the combat log, Morrigan basically kept spamming Terror while my Scouts hit him during turns when they resisted...

I think something about the way Terror is used by the AI might need to be revised. Otherwise, single-unit Undead armies will practically never win any battles

 

That would explain how a single giant harriden spider with 20 hp left defeated my whole army once. -.-  Gonna look at some of autoresolves where my whole army mysteriously die to supposedly inferior foe if it happens again that is.

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January 6, 2014 11:33:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


If I'm reading the xml file right (DLC04_Spells.xml), the AI will regard a target as worthy of Terror if the target level exceeds the caster level by at least 3.

That is kind of weird because I don't think my Scouts had a higher level than Morrigan when I won the auto-resolve.

I'll see if reducing AIPriority makes a difference. Result: Need to set AIPriority to 0 to prevent it from being used at all in auto-resolve. This will likely mean the AI won't use it as well in manual combat, but at least the Dead faction won't find itself unable to win many of its battles.

Another observation: Terror always seems to fail in auto-resolve. Instead of "Spearmen casts Terror on Bandit Captain", it'd say "Bandit Captain absorbs Spearmen's Terror" or something like that. Thus, in a situation in which I had Morrigan, 1 unit of Spearmen and 1 unit of Skeletons vs a single Bandit Captain, the rest of the battle consists of Spearmen and Skeletons repeatedly failing to cast Terror on the Bandit Captain, while Morrigan killed him eventually with a ranged attack. Note that this is not the same as resisting Terror - if successfully cast in manual combat, the combat details will reflect that Terror has been resisted, not 'absorbed'.

Web and Beguile seem to have the same issues in auto-resolve as well - they are always 'absorbed'.

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February 8, 2014 2:19:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Why are you worrying about death shards? You can make your own death shards with a trait! Just use it.

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