I made a point of not playing the betas, and it was theright decision. The game is fresher than ever and better balanced than before. below are some of my specific standout impression and feedback for SD.
+ Armor is important now. Glass cannon units -those with strong offense and no defense are now vulnerable.
- Armor should not prevent all damage imho - it should mitigate damage. Even if I out tech armor vs other factions, my units should still take damage on being hit even if only 1 point. That way units are not made nearly invulnerable. and the horde of massive numbers can still bring down a mighty armored knight but the knoight will make a good showing.
+ I like the way magic is handled now. Though it does make the magic tech tree heavy. (that is neither good nor bad take it as an observation -nuetral)
- AI plays like a 6 year old, I know I raised two who are now 9 and 10. AI needs improvement. Although it is trying to do semi intelligent things like run from a larger force - kudos for that! But overall the AI is not is not acting as if it is aware when it's capital is being threatened, it is not even trying, maybe it is because it already calculted that it's a lost cause and it might be but that is NO REASON to NOT TRY. Remember the FUN AI vs competitive AIlecture from the CIV devs?
+ the flow through the early to mid game has changed dramatically and the town building is more interesting now. There are real reasons too speciallize town for different types of research.
- As mentioned in other threads, the WAR STAFF specifically and 2 handers in general need further balancing. They are a bit on the too powerful side of the house and they should be more powerful than their contemporary 1 handers, but cmon given the rarity of metal, you are defacto forcing folks to go the route of the war staff w/o metal. Can anyone explain what the differences are between a staff and a war staff that make the war staff justified doing 15 damage and the staff 4 damage while the short sword and mace both do 9 and 11 respectively? The war staff is doing almost 400% damage of the staff... maybe it should be 12 or 13, still generous for no metal and still an upgrade from boar/oak spears both at 9 damage.
- I ran into the load crash-bug, that one seems to be new since 1.09e. I also am still seeing CTD within 100-200 turns using ATI HD4850 latest drivers and Win7 64-bit. Would really mean a lot to the user experience to get rid of those.
+ overall: B- Good work Stardock! It is Fun! Any game that can keep me up all night w/o noticing the time deserves at least a B grade, I'd really like to give a A rating but as noted there are some issues that still need to be ironed out. So far so good!
How do your impressions match up?