So, it'll probably be a bit before we see the next iteration of Elemental, and I've been (like others here) noting the numerous comments about things that Elemental could do better.
I think that an Expanded Combat DLC makes a lot of sense. Some aspects of improved Combat options actually shouldn't be all that hard to implement, and I'm sure there are a number of ideas for new combat abilities and such that could be incorporated into such a DLC.
So let's talk about some things that I think could be implemented fairly easily on the design end.
1) Formations and Stack Order.
I've posted about this before. One complaint about Elemental is that you can't influence how units are ranked (from 1 to 9) in a stack. The game has an algorithm that decides in which order units will be 'ranked'. This becomes important because on various tactial maps, the initial placement squares are essentially 'numbered', with units being placed in the order they appear in their stack, into those numbered placement squares (i.e. first unit goes in square 1, second sqare 2, etc.).
If a player could simply 'drag and drop' units into a new order ranking, then you could influence placement more directly. Different tactical maps have different configurations for their start squares, so this still mixes things up a bit, but at least you'd have a little more direct control over this situation.
Here's the graphic I've previously used to illustrate this:
Picking stack formations could perhaps be accomplished with a widget to the right of the stack display:
To expand on this, imagine that maps were each designed with 15 placement squares, which correspond to the 'formation option widget'. The formation would assign the (up to 9) unit slots to 9 of the 15 placement squares, based on the formation config. Ignore the Line Abreast above for the purposes of this discussion.
Imagine the following Grid being used as the template for a typical map placement. Row 3 (A-E) is aligned towards the middle of the map, and Row 3 (L-P) is oriented towards one edge/side of the map
A B C D E
F G H J K
L M N P Q
In the case of a Reverse Wedge, positions 1 through 9 would be assigned to/placed as follows: 1-N, 2-H, 3-G, 4-J, 5-C, 6-B, 7-D, 8-A, 9-E. Or...
8A 6B 5C 7D 9E
-- 3G 2H 4J --
-- -- 1N -- --
2 Lines would be assigned to/placed as follows: 1-H, 2-C, 3-G, 4-B, 5-J, 6-D, 7-F, 8-A, 9-E
However, on a map with terrain restrictions, for the sake of argument let's assume that, due to blocked terrain on either side, the starting squares are actually oriented as follows:
A B C
D E F G
H J K L
So said Reverse Wedge would thus be initially placed as follows:
8A 6B 5C
7D 9E -- 3G
2H 4J -- --
Essentially, in this case the flanks are 'pushed back' from the front row into the second row, and the formation is disrupted.
To keep players on their toes a bit, map files could have multiple instances, with the same terrain but different initial placements...
City Maps would of course have more placement squares (R-Z), with the city defenders being assigned to placement squares R-Z. Map designers would of course have decided in advance where squares R-Z should be situated.
Hopefully I've illustrated how this could be done adequately.
2) More battlefield maps!
We can always use new and interesting tactical maps, so an Expanded Combat DLC is the perfect place to introduce more maps.
3) New Combat Abilities
As above, new cool attacks/abilities/spells could be introduced here. New talents, new combat options to pick from, unique weapons with special combat options, etc. As an example: Catapults might gain some new ordinance options, such as burning barrels that splash on impact, hitting the adjacent squares with a fiery attack. Trojan Horses to lob at the Sovereign (couldn't resist). Lots of ideas can be introduced here!
4) Siege Mechanics
Essentially, this would introduce walls to tactical city maps and such, with a gate or some such included in the map. Attackers would normally appear outside the walls (unless they pulled a Trojan Horse or some such), with Defenders inside the city walls. Some wall sections, and certainly the gate, could be attackable/damaged/destroyed with Siege Weapons and Spells, as well as perhaps more blunt methods (beating the gate down with a giant club). Attackers will need to breach or scale the walls to attack the city. A 'scale the walls' mechanic of some sort would need to be introduced. Fliers would essentially ignore/fly over walls, hence making flight more useful in tactical combat.
Defense towers could be incorporated into the walls as well. Someone recently made a cool tower model for their mod, imagine a couple of those incorporated into the city wall.
Walls could be easily scaleable from the rear (think stairs), so defenders could stand on the walls, behind the battlements (battlements would provide a defensive bonus to those standing on the wall squares, from one direction of course!)
Walls might also have other 'active defense' options, such as a tub of boiling oil sitting atop the gate square. Defenders stacked in the gate square could dump oil every so many turns or some such.
Moats could be fun... see terrain types below.
5) Line of sight mechanics for ranged attacks, range and LOS impairment modifiers.
This would be a little more involved to implement coding wise, but certainly would be an appropriate addition to such a DLC.
6) More terrain types in tactical combat, with terrain modifiers.
Imagine a unit using a group of trees as cover against ranged and other attacks. Units wading through shallow fords, slowing their movement across the battlefield. Lots of cool ideas here that could be included.
7) A mechanic to allow additional attackers to participate in city sieges.
With the addition of city walls giving defenders an added advantage, some mechanic would need to be worked out to allow more units to attack cities. This could be as simple as 'up to two stacks may attack a city simultaneously', with a dialogue appearing when the first stack 'moves' on the city noting additional stacks next to the city, where you pick a second stack to join in. I.E.: if 3 or more stacks are adjacent, you'd be given a list of the stacks you have to choose from in the popup dialogue box, and pick one.
8) New creatures/units.
New and interesting creatures are always welcome, so some combat-oriented ones, perhaps with cool new combat abilities to boot, would be very appropriate for this.
9) Facings (Front/Flank/Rear), diagonal attack modifiers.
Units would attack other units directly in the square in front of them as usual. Attacking one of your adjacent (FL/FR) front squares might carry a 'to hit' penalty (-4 to hit?). Flanks are a little easier to hit (+2 to hit?), rear squares more easily hit (+4 to hit?). The swarm mechanic would of course have to be tweaked/nerfed appropriately if flank/rear attacks have attack bonuses already.
Units could stand facing a square edge, or perhaps a square corner. Front, Front Left/Right, Side and Rear would be situated as follows:
FL F FR
R R R
Facing would be determined at the end of movement (normally the direction you were travelling, or facing the square you attack at the end of the move), with perhaps some keystroke to assign a different facing (i.e. turn my unit Left or Right 45 degrees, with the facing rotating 45 degrees with each keystroke).
There are a lot of cool ideas that could be incorporated into such a DLC, and if it had enough 'meat', would certainly be something a lot of Elemental players would be excited to purchase.
Well, there are some of my suggestions for a cool DLC to tide us Elemental players over for a bit, should Stardock wish to do something along these lines in the coming months. Feel free to add your own suggestions!