If I don't respond to a specific section it means I agree with it, more or less. Well, there's plenty in your review to complain about.
1.2.1 Too few number of spells: During sovereign selection, I was wondering why they were each controling all the elements of spell book. The reason why is because each element only have 6 spells ... SIX spells!? Master of magic had 40 spells per sphere for a total exceeding 200. What is the problem, you lack of imagination? You could have copy-pasted the MOM spells and no body would have complained. By the way, MOM and "Age of Wonders" are 2 good source of spell inspirations.
Six per book sounds like a pretty low figure. I swear you get access to more than that as you research up through the spell levels. I could be wrong but I don't think it matters too much anyway. AOW spellbooks were bloated with too much useless crap. Admittedly the problem was exacerbated by the random factor in how quickly you could research the spells or in the case of high level ones even research them at all, but even with a more linear elemental style system it would have been frustrating.
Elemental's spells are pretty unbalanced right now. The solution is to buff the crappy spells and have lean spellbooks which have mostly useful spells, not to add even more useless filler spells
1.2.2 Spell spheres are chaotic and non-organized: First, I thought that there were the 4 basic elements (earth, fire, water wind) and you could either control life (good) and death(evil). But no, it's much more complex and chaotic than that. I looked at the XML files and there are other books like "enchantment", "restoration", "ruin" spell book. This completely unstructure the magic system and it create the syndrome where in the end, everybody will control the same spells. You want actually the opposite to happen, you want each player to have a different spell book with different ways to achieve what they can do.
I think there's a magic tech which gives you access to those extra books, for both kingdom and empire. I like the idea of needing to do research to access some of the more powerful spells. I'm not sure how good those extra spells are though. Summons in this game are generally very very good, but you get some without the summoning spellbook and if the ones in the summoning spellbook are even better than the elemental ones, well, that's a problem.
1.2.3 Spells are weak: The spells currently in the game are very weak. This is due to a global phenomena among people who design video game, roleplaying games and board games: They fear magic user. They fear that they will unbalance their game. So instead, they weaken their power or limit their powers ("You can cast fireball, but only twice a day"). There are only 2 games up to now that break these limits 1) Mage the ascension RPG: The only drawback is that spells could fail 2) Master of Magic: The only problem was that some spells were cool on paper but innefficient in the game (ex: death wish, warp node, etc) while other spell were too powerful (ex: flame strike, pestilence, etc.).
So don't tell me that there is no munchkin player craving for magical power in the whole development team. I am the only one who dreams of creating meteor showers and splitting continents in half. According to the last survey, it seems so.
Eh... mostly true, but it's only the direct damage spells that are COMPLETELY crap. 1dx dice rolls just ruin them. There are useful support, summon, and enchant spells.
Some nice strategic map spells which mangle armies without having to even engage them in direct combat would be nice, I agree.
1.2.4 Casting spell is annoying because it's hero specific: Personally, I don't like the fact that the sovereign appears as a unit in the game. I would have not even placed the heroes on the board. Now the spell casting is sovereign specific rather than beign kingdom specific. So it leads to the problem that everytime you want to cast a spell you need to select your sovereign and then go in his spell book and cast the spell.
I always hated the HoMM/King's bounty style of having the hero be a spectator. I really like the idea of a sovereign and his best champions being powerful battlefield presences. Now thanks to slow mana regen + a small variety of useful spells + messed up attack/defense mechanics these units aren't very good in combat right now except for early on, but the answer isn't to remove them, it's to fix the other problems.
And complaining about needing to click your spellbook? Really? That's standard fantasy game stuff and not effort intensive at all.
1.2.6 No casting time: Up to now, most spells seems to be cast in one turn. It's not really a con, but I could barely imagine spending only 1 turn on a world enchantment that is going to have a dramatic effect. In my point of view, it would require a ritual that takes much more time to cast.
As long as you add the caveat that it's okay for tactical spells to instant cast, then we agree here.
2 --- Economy and production ---
2.1.3 Fixed Production time: A fixed production time for everything is another good idea. I prevent ending up in a situation where a settlement with a weak production level needs 50 turns to bulid a simple buildings. Personally, I find the number of turns too long, but this is my taste.
There are minor production boosts you can get from buildings (easier for empire to get), though they're nowhere near on the level of the production increases you can get from population and improvements in say Civ4 or GC2 though. I like it this way. There's a production reward for growing your city but it's not so big that you NEED it to build anything worth noting.
2.2.1 Ressources are too important, it breaks the game: Resources are the only income in the game (except a few basic buildings that gives 1 income). Which means that if there is an area with no special resources, there is no interest to actually build there. You could consider this area dead. So it means that not all the land will be colonized. So the strategy of the game right now is really focused on controlling special ressources and nothing more.
I agree that resources are overpowered right now, but I think the problem it causes is different. Like seanw said, creating dead lands is a good thing. The real problem is how SOL you are if you spawn right in the middle of one of these dead lands. It's not just gold mines that you need... no metal mines? Screwed. No lost libraries? Screwed. You can kind of make do with only your starting farm but everything else you really really need. It's not such a problem on big, spacious map because you have so much space to scout for resources which means so much less chance to get fucked over, but if you like smaller maps where borders clash early, welp.
Solution: Keep the swaths of useless, dead land but make it easier for a city to be useful without a resource. Specifically this means buffing things like merchants and studies. You covered this pretty well in 2.2.4 - those things should scale up with city size.
2.2.3 Too large area of influence: Since the goal of the game is to control resources and any resources in your area of influence could be harvested, there is no interest in building a lot of settlements to cover more area. You just need a few well placed city and you will eventually be able to get all the resources you need.
Infinite city sprawl is one of those really sore spots for elemental's audience. Something like this which nerfs it is going to be considered by most people to be a good thing.
2.2.4 City size does not matter: In the rule book, they said that you should be scared of a player that controls a metropolis. If you think about it, is there really something to be scared about? What is the advantage of metropolis a) You can build level 5 buildings. OK, that could be interesting, but only if your tech level was high enough to unlock these level 5 buildings. b ) You have more soldiers to recruit. well considering the time it takes to train solders, your city will have the time to regenerate these people before their training is over. So if you have 100 or 500 soldiers in your cities before training them, it does not matter. Normally, city size should give more income, but right now only ressources gives income.
Some of the level 5 buildings are really badass (esp. the triple mana regen one) and well worth the teching they require. I agree with you when it comes to sizes 1-4 though. There just isn't enough payoff for city growth until you hit that metropolis barrier and get access to the uber wonders.
2.2.5 Resources block features: I got in a situation where I research magical equiments that I could give to my soldiers. I thought that could be very cool until I realised that I needed a ressource called crystals which I did not have and that I still don't have. So I end in a situation where I cannot actually benefit from the tech upgrade.
I like this when it comes to high end stuff like crystals because getting a resource mine naturally isn't the end all and be all for getting that resource. You can schmooze up to other civs and trade for the resource. You can go to war for a mine. You can try looting dungeons and creatures. Like I said though, for the bare basics like gold I agree with you.
2.2.6 The food system works weird: From what I understand, special resources give food, which allows constructing hut which increase my max pop to be able to change city level. But city level upgrade also increase the max pop. Why not simply have a system where the surrounding of a city determine the maximum population of the city according the the amount of food. Remove the hut building system, since building huts is not fun.
Huts are basically how you determine where all that excess food goes. We agree that the global pooling of resources is good but you need a system like huts to divvy them up. Leaving it all up to the random map generator would be.... bleh.
2.2.7 Too many resource to keep track of: I find it annoying to be able to keep track of gildars, material, metal, food, crystal, etc. And that each building or unit will require 2 or 3 resources to build. So you constantly need to check your various ressource and it becomes harder to calculate planning ahead.
Is it really that tedious to just glance up at the resource display at the top of the screen?
3.2.3 Tech and building tree seems to be the same for Kingdoms and empires: Apparently, Kingdom and empires have a different set of buildings and tech tree. The tech tree seems to be the same and the buildings are different. But if you look closely at the buildings, they perform the same effects but have only different names. Personally, I do not consider that very different since both faction type will have exactly the same game style. I found it even more confusing because you have to relearn all your building names when you change factions.
The difference is in the order you get the buildings. Empire gets upgraded housing much earlier than kingdom does, etc. You can argue that's not good enough, but to say "exactly the same game style" is really pushing it.
4.2.2 There is no way to scroll the screen with the keyboard: When I configured my controller, I was expecting that the arrow would scroll the map. Now the only way to scroll the map is to drag the map or move the mouse to the edge of the screen.
Numpad keys 8, 6, 4, 2
5.2.1 Goodie huts are boring: I repeat it again, looting the map by capturing godie hut is completely boring and non strategic. They should almost be completely removed. See my suggestion below.
While the physical act of looting goodie huts isn't too interesting, as it's just looking at a dialogue box and maybe 1 combat (though some of the later goodie hut combats can be pretty intense and fun), they're pretty important strategically. They give your sovereign and champion another option for something to do, and removing them as a source of income would make resources even more overpowered. The goodie huts that lead to fed-ex quests can suck my nuts, though. Quests shouldn't be that rote and boring.
5.3.1 Making the wilderness more interesting by fusionning the Goddie hut, Monster spawn and quest: You could use a system similar to master of magic. There should be in the wilderness abandoned buildings or monster lairs that offer the following features a) wilderness monsters spawn from these locations, B ) they are a source of quest since characters can visit them to achieve stuff, C) they are goodiee hut because they give rewards.
You could also make sure that it must be explored more than once to be completely erased from the map. It depends on how deep the characters are courageous enough to explore them. Superficial exploration works like a goddie hut and have little danger, but the deeper you go in the lair, the more dangerous are the creature and the better are the reward. Also, to follow the concept that the wilderness get stronger, as civilization expand, these lairs increase in power and gets harder to destroy. I would suggest that these lair can only be explored by character units, no soldiers. It makes the heroes more useful.
A lot of this is how it already works in elemental (and works well.) While locations won't spawn monsters, a lot of the later ones will be guarded by pretty tough groups that you need to fight through before you get your quest or loot. And the power of locations, both in terms of what guards them and what the rewards are, does already scale up as civs tech more and more. Multiple explorations would be a nice touch though, as long as they weren't overused.
6 --- other ---
6.2.3 The pacing is very slow: I set up my game at normal speed and the game play is so slow. At the beginning, it's not so bad because you only have 1 city to manage, but right now I have 3 cities and it's horribly long to make a turn. I can't imagine playing multiplayer and I consider that my game on a tiny map with 2 opponents will take more than 25 hours to complete.
I spend less time microing cities in this game than I do in most 4x titles, I think. I do notice games dragging, but I think that's more of a function of maps being shockingly big. There's just so damn much to explore and fight through and you need so many groups to do it. And if you pick really small maps, well, I already discussed the problem there: Too high a chance to get fucked by the resource system.
6.2.4 Dominant strategy in building construction: I would say that right now there is little strategy in Elemental and that for example, there is no strategy in selecting which building you are going to choose. Because all buildings are useful and there is no limit on the amount you can build. So there are not any good reason for not building them all. Which is going to lead to a dominant strategy where players will determine the optimal order to build the buildings and always do the same thing for every new city. It also means that an AI could to the city building job instead, why make the player work on city construction when there are absolutely no decisions to take.
There is a limit, but if people aren't noticing it's there it's probably too high.
6.2.5 Armor level must be split between various parts: This is a common tabletop PRG design flaw. Units have a attack and defense value that you want in the same proportions to make it easy to identify. For example: attack and defense range from 1-20. So first you design your weapons, each unit can have a weapons, each weapon have a rating from 1 to 20. Everything is good so far.
Now you want to design defensive gear, but you have: the armor, the helmet, the leggings, the boots, the gloves and the shields. Now you cannot range these from 1-20, because you are going to end up with a defense ranging from 6-120. You want from 1 to 20. So you need to split the 20 point in various smaller range which is generally very hard if you do not use decimal values.
My suggestion is that like the weapons, you should have only 1 defense equipment. For example: Chainmail give a defense value of 10. The player will decide which piece will be placed on the unit without affecting their combat rating. So a unit that has the chainmail shirt and hood will have as much defense as the unit that only have the chain gloves. In other words, the armor parts should only be used for cosmetic purpose.
This has the benefit of simplifying many things. First, you are going to be able to place on the unit card that the unit has weapon X and defense Y. You won't have a huge list of items that can be bought, you will not have a huge list of items unlocked every time you upgrade your technology.
For the shields, I suggest that using shields+weapon or 2 weapons/2 handed weapons, should make the difference between having a higher defense value than attack or an higher attack value than defense. In other words, the shield/free-hand system should give a bonus either to attack or defense to change the balance of the unit (offensive or defensive).
But individual armor pieces already have significantly lower values than weapons of the same tech level. And splitting armor up into multiple equip slots is pretty vital to the whole slash/pierce/bludgeon dynamic elemental has.
6.2.6 Character equipment is annoying and expensive: Customizing the look of your character at the beginning of the game is cool and interesting, but customizing it thought out the game is annoying especially if you need to repeat the process for every hero in your kingdoms. It fits well for a game like ogre battle because there is no city management, but for a civ like game, it's too much.
I think the most you should have is again like in master of magic, give special magic items to characters but don't manage basic equipment. Or even make the heroes auto equip themselves with the latest technology. I also just find it stupid that giving a horse and a new axe to a character is more expensive than building a whole squad of 4 axe mens.
I agree that making heroes pay hundreds of gold for something that costs only 30 for a basic footsoldier is retarded, but scrapping the very idea of hero customization would suck. They should just have to pay the same price for equipment that generic units do.
(Which lead to a game like "fall from heaven" which was not very good).
You should have put this part at the beginning, that way I wouldn't have been so surprised at how much Wrong your review has in it.