Something that Needs to be Addressed

By on November 6, 2014 10:33:26 PM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums


Join Date 02/2006

I know that you don't want a combat simulator, but for the LOVE OF GOD, can we please get some sort of flanking bonus? Even if it's just a 15% buff to the attack or a greater likelihood that we hit. Please?

Also, the new snapshot is looking even better. Why did the mounted hero go away? I loved her...

I think the drain crystal spell isn't working as intended. I got the mana, the crystal remained, and then eventually gained all of its life back. Not much of a sacrifice...(besides the doomsday counter being added to).




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November 7, 2014 9:23:39 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

Look here my good chap.  Frog doesn't like tactical combat, so I don't think it matters what you want. You will get what you are darn-well given and like it

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November 7, 2014 9:34:55 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

I lament the poor tactical combat too. I'd compare it to a kitchen that never uses any herbs or spices for fear of being labelled 'a restaurant'. Tactical combat without tactics... is just combat.

Consider this quote from the wikipedia article on military tactics and ask how many actually apply to tactical battles in SK.

"Military tactics are both a science and an art. They answer the questions of how best to deploy and employ forces on a small scale.[2] Some practices have not changed since the dawn of warfare: ambushes, seeking and turning flanks, maintaining reconnaissance, creating and using obstacles and defences, etc. Using ground to best advantage has not changed much either. Heights, rivers, swamps, passes, choke points, and natural cover, can all be used in multiple ways. Before the nineteenth century, many military tactics were confined to battlefield concerns: how to maneuver units during combat in open terrain. Nowadays, specialized tactics exist for many situations, for example for securing a room in a building."

I'd say none... or maybe 1 or 2 if you're being generous. (some maps have a choke point, sometimes you can swarm the enemy)


Going further:

General tactics

  • Night combat - combat that takes place at night. It often requires more preparation than combat during daylight and can provide significant tactical advantages and disadvantages to both the attacker and defender[3]
  • Reconnaissance - a mission to obtain information by visual observation or other detection methods, about the activities and resources of the enemy or potential enemy, or about the meteorologic, hydrographic, or geographic characteristics of a particular area.[4]
  • Fire Attacks: Reconnaissance by fire is used by apprehensive soldiers when they suspect the enemy is lurking nearby. Basically, fire into likely enemy positions and see if anyone returns fire, or otherwise reveal themselves.

Small unit tactics

The use of suppressive fire is a key part of modern small unit tactics

Offensive tactics

The cavalry charge is a quintessential offensive military tactic

Defensive tactics

Defensive trenches were used commonly during World War I


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November 7, 2014 9:56:47 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

I am seriously concerned for this game. 

I think it is caught in a kind of dilemma. The problem is that Frog, as it was said, does not want to put focus on the tactical battle. Yet this game is all about fighting! There is no empire to build, no trading, no real research - it is focused so heavily on the military. At the same time they do not want the battles to be really epic. Some of my games are like this: 

- i go around with my hero and auto-resolve battles so i can have more equip and skills to resolve it even better (with no health loss), so I do not have to use any health potions between (bother). Then after hours of work finally I have cool final quick battle ......

This game by stressing the RPG aspect and by promoting "the bead death stock ever" in fact becomes more like RPG game than strategy. It is like Buldur Gate just that instead of characters you have units you carefully find and equip. But Buldur has great battles, whereas those of SK are intended to be quick and insignificant. 


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November 7, 2014 10:15:12 AM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

I certainly agree with everything you say ditoLoco. The thing that annoys me most is that the engine supports all the tactics stuff... it's a design decision not to include it. (Or spend the required time prototyping, testing and researching what to add).

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November 8, 2014 5:19:07 PM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

The real question regarding tactical combat is that what exactly is the purpose of it?

In my view, the purpose is to put to the test the collection of units you have versus the enemy.  Matching your use of special abilities, spells, etc. versus the Sorcerer King or other enemies.

I actually had put in special tiles where yu got a bonus (I had put it in for LH's DLC too) and we ultimately took them out.  It sounds like great fun on paper. In fact, it sounded like fun enough that we spent a lot of engineering hours on it.  And it turned out not to be fun at all because no one wants to feel coerced into placing a unit in a certain place in practice.  

I mean, in theory, yea, take the high ground, etc. That sounds fun. But in a game where tactical battles are so common it's just tedious.


Flanking is a different story. I have a lot more interest in the concept of flanking. The problem with that is, again, what exactly is being measured in tactical combat.  

I just don't see it being fun to get some damage bonus because I happen to be behind the other guy.  I would really want to see some use scenario that sounds like fun before investigating it further.

Now, that said, given how much Franknfurter has persuaded me on other issues with his posts I'll definitely be looking at it.

It should be noted, btw, that Kael, who designed FE and FE:LH came to the same conclusion on flanking as I did.

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November 8, 2014 6:00:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The argument to include terrain bonuses is that it is fun in other very similar games, and feels like a shortcoming in the Elemental series. This means that it can be done well, and, speaking bluntly, you just haven't managed it. Go and play Eador - Masters of a Broken World if you want to see it well done. 

Instead of putting in some bonus tiles, each tile should have properties. Thusly you force the player and the AI into a choice, and it also directs the battle. What ground do I want to hold on to because it is valuable, and what ground do I want to deny the enemy from controlling because it will be difficult to dig him out? It provides HUGE gameplay value to spells with knockback and spells that alter tiles, not to mention AOE spells. 

It also provides important strategic differentiation. A unit might be able to pass through a forest tile without losing movement, and a woodelf ranger might be able to ignore the penalty for hitting units in forests. Furthermore, the importance of different ground changes depending on your own units and the enemy's units. This means I have to be careful about where I fight and who I fight.




First, you want tactical battles to be very short. But if we want short battles we autoresolve them. What is more important is if the battles are fun to play, and if they offer meaningful choices. They aren't, and they don't, even in Sorcerer King. Forcing them to be short contradicts those goals.

Second, you want tactical battles to be determined largely by what units go into the fight. This means the fight itself mostly doesn't matter. We want them to matter more. We don't want ONLY tactical to matter, just a tweaked balance towards it mattering more.


PS. Screw flanking.

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November 8, 2014 6:20:55 PM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

What one person considers fun may be different for someone else.   I have played Eador and do not like their tactical battles because they require me to spend more time in them.

It's the classic question of what the game is about. If you think of Elemental games as being tactical battle games surrounded by a strategic layer then that isn't what we're trying to have.

As a player, I simply don't want to have to concentrate very much on the terrain in tactical battles. 

That isn't to say that I am against tile modifiers broadly speaking.  For example, I would love to see tile modifiers that affect movement an I would love to have strategic terrain differences that affect the overall unit (i.e. shadow terrain gives a big bonus to shadow units). 

But what I am getting as it that I don't want to have, for example, a hill and that if I take the hill I gain some + advantage over other units.

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November 8, 2014 6:32:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If you attack Gibbai from the mod Children of Storm they take you into a nightmare dimension where they get +50% damage. If they attack you, you get a normal battlefield. That sort of thing would be neat to have as well.

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November 8, 2014 6:37:40 PM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

But here is our concern Frogboy:

in FE you could do many things and battles were, let's say - 40-50% of game. Now you are making game where trade is gone, research is gone, you don't build epic cities (the only reason i build cities is to get logistics to build outposts for shards; i rely now on one army of quest units and hero), quests are linked to battles (as reward you get craft materials for weapons or units), so I would dare to say that battles are 80-90% of SK.

That's why if you do not like complex tactical battle maybe you should re-think your entire idea behind the game. 

PS Flanking sucks. 

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November 8, 2014 7:04:24 PM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

Well that's not really the case is it?

You have research in the form of your sovereign skills. That's the tech tree. 

But that's all besides the point, I agree that warfare is more important. This is a post regarding flanking specifically and the nature of how tactical battles should be fought.

My view is that it's about what skills, abilities, and powers you bring into the battle and how you use them.  

But I also feel that we're not doing all we can to make tactical battles be what they could be.  

The question is, specifically, what are some things we could do that do NOT result in tactical battles taking substantially longer to play out.

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November 8, 2014 7:20:39 PM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

So let's talk about some things that we could do that might be interesting (in no particular order):

  1. We have the ability to have time of day (day/night) with corresponding visual effects.
  2. We know what type of terrain we are in as well as the "parent" terrain.
  3. We know who is attacking who and thus could have consequences for that.
  4. We could (with work) have the in tactical battle terrain affect movement.

There are a few things are are in the process of adding:

1. Charge times (some of the new spells and ablities we are working on require a charge up time, they don't have a cast time but they aren't available for X turns).

2. The SK will be able to cast spells into battle.

 At this stage, most of you are very familiar with the Elemental style tactical battles.  We have an opportunity to make them more interesting based on your feedback. The only criteria is that we dn't want the battles to get bogged down or tedious.

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November 8, 2014 8:36:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have always thought a lot of depth and fun could be added to tactical combat simply through better unit role design. Have different enemies require different tactical strategies. Force players to innovate and experiment instead of repeating the same rush to gang beat enemies every single time. Repetitive AI is a large problem as well. 

Here are some interesting enemies...

-Units that can sit back and stall melee units using movement restricting spells or waves of disposable summons. This only works if the AI actually targets your most dangerous melee units and keeps them out of the battle instead of webbing your archers and then rushing to die at the hands of your melee units. 

-Units that can teleport in and attack vulnerable units while being smart enough to avoid strong melee units. Or at least wait to attack in concert with other units if that isn't possible. 

-Powerful casters that use high speed or teleportation to keep away from your melee units while attacking from a range.  A high cooldown could keep it fair.

-Powerful melee blockers that knockback your units back or just cut them off from reaching their more vulnerable allies. Again they can't just exist and flail around they have to actually block your units from advancing using ZoC. Would also not attack first in order to keep their defensive stance bonus. 

-Healers that target weakened allies, and units smart enough to retreat to get healed when damaged if a healer is present. 

-Fragile high damage melee units that hang back and engage only after their tanks have absorbed your first attacks and left you vulnerable. Could also have cleaving attacks and be smart enough to position themselves for maximum effect. 

-Suicidal bomb units that explode on death. 

-Anti magic units that can protect allies from spells. 

-Units that can set up smoke clouds or barriers against ranged attacks, if they are present. 

-Powerful casters who sit back ,while their allies hang back to protect them, and charge up big nasty spells with large casting times. 

Adding things like terrain and flanking won't matter at all if the answer to every single situation is still the same, and it will be if the AI isn't more adaptive. In every single tactical battle in LH the tactics were always the same, the AI would run at me and I would run at him and then I killed everything with powerful melee units. I would pick out his more vulnerable units as they rushed to attack me leaving huge holes in their line and exposing themselves.  Why would you ever need tactics to deal with a mob of suicidal individualists? 

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November 9, 2014 1:59:58 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

Time of day could be cool. Day fights and night fights. Especially every 30 days or so when the werewolves come out!

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November 9, 2014 3:00:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would rather also have weather effects than just day/night in tactical.


Blizzard - snow fall effect. Everyone gets -20 cold resistance and +20 fire resistance.

Heatwave - everything looks washed out, lighted up. +20 cold resistance, -20 fire resistance

Rainstorm - random lightning strikes, rainfall. -20 lightning resistance for everyone, +20 ranged dodge

Blackest night - everything turns dark. -10 dodge for everyone. Bonus for shadow creatures?

Daylight - normal, no benefits.



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November 9, 2014 3:20:19 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

@Heavenfall Yeah, that sounds really good. Especially is the Druid-like Guardian could manipulate weather and/or be able to craft weather altering items.


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November 9, 2014 4:35:11 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

I'm finding myself agreeing with lots that has been said. Weather, interesting terrain, interesting units, good tactical AI are all missing and would add to the tactical 'fun' of the game.

But going back to the start I disagree with this quote:

"In my view, the purpose is to put to the test the collection of units you have versus the enemy."

I think, as you dislike tactical battles you are misunderstanding the entire purpose and fun of tactical battles for other people. I don't think people enjoy tactical battles to 'test' things. I think people enjoy fighting a seemingly unwinnable fight (your collection of units is technically inferior) and, by clever use of terrain, weather, cover, synergistic bonuses and special manoeuvres turning the tide of battle and earning a win. Something clever and amusing enough to put into song and be sung in the halls of Valhalla. There is no sense of... triumph, of achievement given by tactical battles where your army of strength 20 beats an army of strength 10. Autoresove should deal with those fights, not with the fun ones. (It's like how much enjoyment I got out of forcing a draw in chess in one of my first ever games, I was losing badly, only through tactics could I hope for a pyrrhic victory.)

My recommendation: If you do not enjoy the tactical battles then find someone (on the team) who really does, and then trust them to deal with them as they deserve to be dealt with.
(I wouldn't take on another's geography project because I hate geography (not because I'm bad at it, but the two are often tied together), and could never do it justice.)

Or, personally put in the time and enthusiasm it deserves.

Or, try to think of battles not as a chore or test. (words that really indicate a dislike of the thing), but as an engaging, enjoyable, immersive diversion. A chance to prove your skills or be surprised by enemy tactics. A chance to experience the world intimately and viscerally, to see the beautiful horror of battle, to feel your units hope and despair, take pride in their accomplishments and feel sorrow for their loss. (Especially if that unit was key to your strategy, had personally turned the tide of a dozen heroic battles against superior foes.)

I think first we need to prove to you that battles matter to people, before we start listing the whole range of tactical elements that could be added... there are lots and lots and lots. Adding a few to appease people isn't the same as changing your entire approach from 'battles are an optional test' to 'battles are a core, fun and challenging part of the game'.

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November 9, 2014 4:50:30 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

On terrain and height for inspiration I'd look to old games like the 2001 game Tactics Ogre: Knights of Lodis. Some example tactical maps:

Things to note: Lava, Water, Height, Grass can be burned, items can be hidden under tiles, Difficult fights have the enemy start with the high-ground. Range of weapons/abilities is affected by terrain height, criticals/shield bashes cause knockback and falls can hurt you. Movement type matters (flying over obstacles, taking a different path), the tactical maps are large and interesting. There are more enemies present than in any SK battle (16 stacks involved in one fight, ignoring neutrals and third parties). You can talk to enemies in battle and try to convert neutrals. Unit facing affects counterattacks and damage allowing for flanking, swarming and defensive positions. Allies or enemy reinforcements can join the battle. Units can be revived, ninjas can walk on water, fairys float...
...and these all matter and are important considerations that can make a seemingly impossible fight possible.

Conclusion: This is how it's done well... you don't have to make it up from scratch. Use good ideas from good games and the ideas won't be at fault, only your implementation of them.


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November 9, 2014 5:04:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy, I am not sure I can agree with your reasoning.

I think it is only normal that a tactical battle takes time to resolve.

I don't understand why they should be called tactical battles if they are perceived as a bother that should be resolved quickly.

In the case of spells for example, you added a different layer of strategy by adding terrain morphing spells you previously could not exactly because this is a different game from LH.Their implications and consequences is something that needs to be considered and takes time as well, but it's part of the fun in a strategy game.

The same holds true for tactical battles. Deciding where and when to move the units is part of the fun, if they last longer but they are fun, I don't see where is the problem. The real problem would be if they lasted longer but they were not fun. Then yes, we would have a problem.

I think that things like weather and day/night cycles can be cool, but they need to be more than a simple switch like "-1 chance to hit", they would need to affect things the game does not have, like line of sight, range of the ranged weapons.

Different types of terrains and bonuses would help, even terrains that give penalties (or bonuses, maybe if the fight starts on a tile with roads?) to the movements of units.

Mostly though, I am afraid that the game would need different dynamics that by now are impossible to implement because they would take too much time to be worked on, like the above mentioned line of sight, morale... they would make battles more complicated of course, but in a good way.


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November 9, 2014 5:19:21 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

On the argument about the scope of the game and the proportion of it relating to combat:
(using in-game help and counting)

Techs in LH: 68
Improvements in LH: 161
Spells/abilities in LH: 207

Techs (Sovereign Skills) in SK: 20
Improvements: 43
Spells/abilities in SK: 129

(available in one playthrough... (you'll still see empire techs/units/spells/improvements when playing as Kingdom) counting repeatable techs and continuous improvements as 1. For SK it's 20x6 skills or 120 total planned for the final game... so much more unique, but 1/3 as deep a tech tree)

Basic mathematical comparison:

SK/LH Techs:
20/68 = .2941... or 29.4% The depth of LH's tech tree
120/68 = 1.7647... or 76.5% More unique techs (planned) for SK than LH

SK/LH Improvements:
43/161 = .2670... or 26.7% The number of improvements as LH

SK/LH Spells/abilities:
129/207 = .6231... or 62% The number of spells/abilities as LH.


Using those figures then. Techs are <1/3 as large a part of any game as LH. Improvements are also <1/3 of LH. Spells as <2/3 of LH Which surely means that, if you spent the time 1:1:1:1 Building, researching, on spells and on fighting then the values would now be 1/3:1/3:2/3:1 OR battles are now ~3x what they were in LH (concerning time spent dealing with them). Also the increased unique techs makes (for techs at least) for increased uniqueness of Sovereigns and enhanced replayability over LH techs. But less depth in almost every category.

You could mention elements reduced to 0. Unit design was 1, now 0. Sovereign design was 1 currently 0. Diplomacy was 1 now 0 and trade was 1 now 0. If anything it only exacerbates things.

But from playing I think it's fairly accurate to say I'm spending 3x as much time fighting than I used to be in LH and less time doing fun things (as battles aren't done well). So really the battles should have 3x the allocation of funds and 3x as much 'stuff' as LH. Currently they are about equal, less if you count the battle maps shrinking.

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November 9, 2014 6:07:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You make some very good points here Dr. Franknfurter.  I wholeheartedly agree.

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November 9, 2014 6:22:58 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

Thanks StevenAus, I'm still editing them and adding bits for clarity. e.g. adding spell-count figures to the maths, updating things possible in Tactics Ogre. A game that, if nothing else had to do tactics well... if it's in the title it better be good.


Talking about titles SK feels like such a bland and generic title. The S doesn't even stand for Sovereign... it's a bland description of the enemy that lacks any real description or emotion. Dark Sovereign would tell you he's evil and maintain the use of the word 'Sovereign' over Kings and Queens, which seems to be an elemental theme (Sovereign used in place of Royalty, Aristocracy, Mageocracy, Necrocracy, Ruler, Leader and a dozen other more specific and common words). Abhorrent Sovereign would tell you his unnatural intentions. Or a name that mirrors fallen (and hint about fall from heaven), so Rising Evil. e.g. Elemental: Rising Evil. Or Elemental: Dark Sovereignty... anyway I looked at Worms Armageddon yesterday and was reminded that when care and attention is put into one aspect (like the title screen music, see 2:14) it's a sign of care and attention elsewhere. Careless execution of one aspect hints at careless execution of other aspects too.

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November 9, 2014 7:46:30 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

Wow, have read all the posts in this thread and an interesting discussion.

Surprisingly I should be agreeing but I find I am not. Over the last 30 odd years I have played a lot of turn-based games everything from Panzar General, Tthe Operational Art of War, SSG's series of games (Korsun Pocket, Battle of Normandy, etc), John Tiller's Civil War and WWII games, and Gary Grigsby's games, most recently his War in the East (which just got another new big beta patch) and very much looking forward to his soon War in the West, the other week the lighter Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front (only about 3 hours so far). Mention this list purely so as people do not think I am talking out of my hat and get an impression of the depth and battle time length I like in turn based strategy games.

I find the quickness of the tactical battles refreshing, (yes I also have 80+ hours logged in Eador), and the example above of games in the ilk of Tactics Ogre (love this game) Final Fantasy Tactics, those tactical battles can last at times 20 + minutes. I can not see a way to introduce flanking without removing or limiting to a point, where it should be removed, the swarm tactic.

I am obviously in the minority but as I said I find the quick battles with the combination of spells/attacking/swarming refreshing, to let me get on with the exploring/questing/rpg side of it. I suppose the problem is though, if the majority disagree will they look elsewhere eg: Age of Wonder 3, which I consider a relatively simplistic (although enjoyable) tactics system but with battles still sometimes taking 20 - 30+ minutes, and that is a simplistic tactics system. I have no impression of how to implement more meaningful tactics without adding significant play time to the tactical battles. I would still be perfectly happy playing such a game as I do very much enjoy that, but I already have that option in so many other games, this quick tactical battle system is a nice pace for a change in my opinion.

Interesting discussion though. 


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November 9, 2014 8:16:41 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

to obsoletenexus, I wouldn't say you were in the minority. Not without having two final products to pick from with simple or more developed tactical battles. It's hard to put people into groups about their potential future enjoyment of two different imaginary products where each person is imagining something different.

I certainly think there's a future spectrum for how long battles will last going from 1 hit kills and 6 enemies 6x3s = <30s battles.
To trading blows, with each doing 10% damage, healing, thinking time and spells increasing battles to 16 units (8 enemies, effectively 2x health from healing/resistances etc.) x 10(%health change per action) x 3s (action time) = 480s, say 8 minutes plus thinking time. Not too arduous for rare battles. Extremely arduous if you fight 3-5 battles a turn. (Easily possible with 2+ fast-moving armies with a map-move of 6+ as well as defensive battles. But here you could reduce enemy stack count (group them better) and use autoresolve more liberally to reduce total battle count)

On autoresolve I'd like it to give the following warning (if autoresolve would kill your men):

"Without your leadership your men may die. Are you sure you wish to concede manual control?"

That would encourage using autoresolve and so cut out all but the interesting/important battles. SK and Lieutenant battles shouldn't be able to kill the enemy in autoresolve to prevent cheese tactics and abusing autoresolve bugs.

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November 9, 2014 8:29:02 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

Regarding Frog's comment about flanking "just being a bonus for being behind another unit". It's not like that. It requires that the player use the fact that enemies face our units when we attack them to our advantage by drawing their attention and then placing subsequent units to reap a moderate benefit. Flanking in AoW3 DOES NOT TAKE SIGNIFICANT TIME, but adds a great deal to the tactical strategy of it all. 


Weather effects sound great. At the end of the day, I feel like a game with such a strong focus on battling needs a bit more in the way of tactical variance. Perhaps weather, minor flanking bonuses and the Sorcerer King slinging spells would be enough. 

Again, I agree with most of what FF says. His idea for the name of the game makes a lot of sense. Too bad it's probably too late. 

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November 9, 2014 8:39:59 AM from Sorcerer King Forums Sorcerer King Forums

On naming:
The game is early access. How much work would it really take to rename it? Changed title screens, changed steam stuff, some forum changes, a dev-journal explaining the change and maybe a few interviews with curious gaming sites. It'd certainly make people stop and look again at the game. Perhaps it may even be too early to rebrand the game like that. There have been little game changes in the recent builds and it's still some distance from being feature-complete. Renaming during an Alpha isn't too unheard of. It's just that the early access is so public and seems so final... because it's sold along-side full, finished games.
I'm not suggesting it should be done, just that it'd be a mixed bag and not all bad. And that I dislike the name for the above reasons.

(p.s. I bought it when it was called E2015. It's already changed once so it's not impossible)

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