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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February 8, 2014 5:42:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting csac1979,
Why are you worrying about death shards? You can make your own death shards with a trait! Just use it.

That specific trait isn't included on the default Empire of the Dead, and not everyone wants to create custom factions for any given game. Nor will all custom factions making use of the Undead race necessarily include that specific trait.

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February 14, 2014 11:12:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting csac1979,


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

 

The motivation for my suggested changes were to keep the Dead from becoming too powerful. It has been widely suggested that one might create an 'OP' custom Dead faction by selecting the 'Death Worship' trait like you suggest. My findings have been, however, that a such faction actually isn't that powerful: The Dead still suffer from the problem of mana starvation, even with 'Corruption' costing just 50 mana instead of my proposed 200. Moreover, a such Dead faction with access to incredible growth rates from a large number of corrupted shards (10+ growth in all cities) in fact isn't that useful simply because you can't develop city infrastructure fast enough to keep up with such growth - both the Catacomb and especially the Necropolis are very expensive structures. so if you focus on building them first in cities to support the massive growth rate you'll miss out on all the more basic improvements which makes a such strategy less powerful than it might seem at first.

 

That the Dead aren't badly overpowered but in fact still tend towards the slightly weak side even when given the ability to corrupt shards just goes to show how poorly they're balanced currently. So yes, as a temporary personal fix I've replaced the default Dead faction with one that also has Death Worship. That still doesn't mean the DLC faction - which should be playable out of the box - shouldn't be changed, however.

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February 14, 2014 1:33:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


With SD rumoring 2 new factions coming in the next DLC package, I am wondering if they'll include dynamic changes to how factions work in similar ways as to how the undead have been designed....

If so, I wonder aloud if SD will be revisiting the undead DLC and taking a stab at rebalancing it as per some of the suggestions in this thread or in mods released. Especially when it comes to the AI using them as a faction.

Thanks.

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February 15, 2014 10:42:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree.  Stardock has said that they do update DLC, and the Dead World DLC could use some tweaks as suggested here to really make it shine (er... or really moldy as the Dead like it ).

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February 15, 2014 11:22:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would rather not see the Undead become more like other factions and get a spell like corruption or scrying pools. The entire point of them is that they are supposed to be fueled by kills and those fixes would change that. Instead I would rather see a system where the undead get a resource like Souls or something from kills instead of directly getting population and then they would use Souls to build special growth improvements or spells. That way they they are still powered by kills but they won't stall and would have more control over where their growth happens.

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February 15, 2014 2:57:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The problem with that is it still doesn't make them playable on large maps. The Dead's problem is they currently [barely] work only when placed in close proximity to other factions where they can start warring immediately. If you want to introduce a concept like souls they'd at least have to also gain souls from [some] monsters kills. I agree that it would be a shame to have them become similar to the other factions; my solution was simply in trying to find a working system that would require minimal development time from StarDock's side.

 

Still, even when the Dead can convert shards they still have to play differently than the other factions because even if they can potentially build up an enormous growth rate it can't happen until lots of turns have elapsed. Even with Corruption, they're still a highly aggressive faction that thrives on war.

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February 17, 2014 8:04:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What about making something for the Dead like the quest generation that the Altarians have?

 

They could constantly just quest endlessly and gain xp that way. Then make the quests give the rewards that they get from going to war?

 

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February 17, 2014 9:44:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,
The problem with that is it still doesn't make them playable on large maps. The Dead's problem is they currently [barely] work only when placed in close proximity to other factions where they can start warring immediately. If you want to introduce a concept like souls they'd at least have to also gain souls from [some] monsters kills. I agree that it would be a shame to have them become similar to the other factions; my solution was simply in trying to find a working system that would require minimal development time from StarDock's side.

Since they already get some pop from killing human monsters I was thinking that they would get Souls for that too. Indeed this is not possible to add in by modding, and thus would require more work from Stardock then they usually put into DLC.  [e digicons]:'([/e]

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February 20, 2014 1:32:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Another option is to give the Dead a massive buff to their mana so that they are not always mana bottlenecked?

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February 20, 2014 9:36:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting UnleashedElf,
Another option is to give the Dead a massive buff to their mana so that they are not always mana bottlenecked?

They could have another line of buildings that are unique to their faction that provides mana at easier rates....

 

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February 26, 2014 6:29:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

IDK I tried the dead for the first time, playing the Wildlands map for the first time as well. I left in on challenging because I hadn't used them before and people said they were tough to play.

It took a while to get the hang of it, but once I did I steam rolled the ai. That was without the ai being that close to me. Really the wildlands themselves and some of the quests were much more challenging than the ai. 

I will try the Dead on a harder level on a random map, perhaps then I can get what some are saying about it being too hard. 

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February 28, 2014 6:16:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Even a simple A_CoreManaRegeneration buff could do the job for the dead.

 

Quoting Blaze of Glory,

IDK I tried the dead for the first time, playing the Wildlands map for the first time as well. I left in on challenging because I hadn't used them before and people said they were tough to play.

It took a while to get the hang of it, but once I did I steam rolled the ai. That was without the ai being that close to me. Really the wildlands themselves and some of the quests were much more challenging than the ai. 

I will try the Dead on a harder level on a random map, perhaps then I can get what some are saying about it being too hard. 

 

The issue is not human players - it's more an issue of the AI not playing the Dead well.

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March 2, 2014 12:28:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

While using modding you can't make kills or city conquering automatically produce a resource like Souls you could do several other cool things.

-Replace the tower of Dominion with a unique improvement called the Vault of Souls which slowly generates them.

-Have a spell that called Soul Rip that damages a unit and if it kills it produces a Soul.

-Have a spell called Black Death that reduces the population of a enemy city and grants Souls.

Then if you could use Souls to create population improvements or cast population spells you would have a faction which was truly unique.

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March 2, 2014 11:39:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

having all of the extra pop go to your capitol, means that when it gets full you stop getting any advantage from being aggressive.  having extra pop (growth beyond what the city has room for) go to the rest of your cities would open up more options for playing them.

 

having the undead settlers cost the same pop as they provide in a new city (3) might help with early expansion (at least for land grabbing), it would also make it easier to use consulates to boost the growth of a town.

 

having the viable town locations not take into account the presence of food can allow you to colonize a wasteland.  while the enemy can still sack your cities, he can't use them against you (and hopefully has to use resources to take them).  that should help save mana on terraforming spells as well.

 

having them retain their undead specific assets (such as not using food, or wageless units) when using them for a custom faction would allow you to make a kingdom custom undead (for the life spell that boosts growth).  didn't notice new scroll bar in unit traits window, maybe 2 points is a bit high for the ability though.

 

if these things were implemented it would make them easier to play, and the under the hood stuff to make these work would make it easier to implement other unique DLC factions.

 

edit:  well i missed the scroll bar, so the only suggestions left are ones that help the AI as much or more than the player.

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March 3, 2014 8:30:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, if the real problem is the AI and not humans, I don't see how adding more things for humans to use will help as now the human player is OP even more.

Also, I think kills go to the closest city. I do agree if a city reached its limit then the "souls" should go to the next closest city. If that is full, then the next, etc.

Really the dead AI is just a more extreme example of all faction AIs not really understanding the game that well. So far only the Yithril seem dangerous, but once you knock them back and kill all their heavy armor, they are pushovers too.

There is something fundamentally wrong when your biggest challenge as a player are the wildlands and a few quests.

 

 

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March 4, 2014 8:48:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I've made a thread on the AI too. Yithril, the Gilden, and sometimes the Altar are generally the best performing factions.

 

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March 21, 2014 12:16:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Apheirox,

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.

 

its the most OP faction in the game.

make 4 female warriors (the males are useless since they lack the physical resist) with undying, kill some low lvl monsters until all 4 units have 6 figthers in them, then go on a rampage. You are essentially unstoppable at that point, and will probably kill 2-3 factions before they get chainmail / light plate, which will force you to research some better weapons. even if you still have leather when they have midgame weapons, you're still unstoppable

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April 15, 2014 12:24:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GFireflyE,

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

 

<--- THAT!

 

doing cheap consulate tricks is a) REALLY boring and constrains your initial tactics, the AI can't do this trick so the dead can be swallowed quite easily. 

the big frustration part of this is that the dead race is a DLC (!!!) which means you have paid extra cash for ONE faction which seems early to mid severely underpowered or severely linear to play and the AI can't handle it, which is a real shame. i hope stardock does some work on that or i will restrain myself from buying future dlc / addons from them if all i get are some features which don't actually work.

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April 16, 2014 7:12:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting SorcererFailure,


Quoting Apheirox, reply 5

 

its the most OP faction in the game.

make 4 female warriors (the males are useless since they lack the physical resist) with undying, kill some low lvl monsters until all 4 units have 6 figthers in them, then go on a rampage. You are essentially unstoppable at that point, and will probably kill 2-3 factions before they get chainmail / light plate, which will force you to research some better weapons. even if you still have leather when they have midgame weapons, you're still unstoppable

 

Yeah that about sums up my experience with the dead. You have no upkeep, and once you have leather armor and a spear, you just find some stuff to pick on and can build neigh indestructible armies at incredible rates... leather armor, half damage from physical sources and undying curse turn you into a serious adversary, just crank out the spearmen coupled with a hero as stacks, and attack anything that's killable. I had a few fights where my army almost doubled in size.

The only downside is that later on, the " undying curse"  units are a tad underpowered, because they have a trait that is no longer useful after they reach six unit members. But hey, they don't cost any upkeep... so its a bit of a "meh"  issue. If you couple the undead as a custom faction with life magic ( a kingdom undead faction) you're neigh on unstoppable. Healing + undying curse  + lightning bolt = instawin. 

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