Quoting razor436, reply 61
Speaking of balance and tech, there is one thing that always nagged me about TBS games: large factions have a large advantage at producing tech, leaving small factions lagging far behind. In Civilization terms, I'm thinking tanks and helicopters vs. musketeers. In FE, how does the little guy remain relevant in a game with large superpowers. Are small factions fighting a lost cause because they cannot build as many... libraries as the larger factions?
Since this has been brought up three times, it deserves an answer.
The best ways I can think to counter this is with A-symmetric warfare or better design dynamics. A small example of A-symmetric warfare in tbs is the Civilization 4 Revolutions mod. Here you turn your opponents chief strengths into weaknesses by transforming them into empire wide instability. Another point is how those powerful special bonuses obsolete far too quickly if you choose to advance your tech fast. A more primitive civ would still be able to take full advantage of them when he *cough* acquires your city. Also don't forget diplomacy and cooperation.
Why not? If you are overpowered and can do nothing about it then you have been out played; therefore I see no reason for there to be any way out other than playing even better (individually or in alliance with other powers)... and hoping they screw up (or have over extended themselves, in which case they were not playing better and are not more powerful).
I suppose my original intent was to find a balance between large and small factions so that a large empire will have a technological advantage over a small one, but not to the point where the small faction cannot win any more tactical battles because their troops are hopelessly outmatched. A solution to this could be to ensure that large empires building many tech producing structures (lets call them libraries) provide diminishing returns. For examples, first library produces 4 tech, the second provides three, the third two, and every subsequent library just one tech.Those numbers as just for a numerical example.
Like I said, that was my initial intent. What really irks me though, is that when a faction becomes weak, it becomes like a race horse with a broken leg: it has lost it's usefulness and, so, is shot and killed. Honestly, who wants to be friends with the weak faction? They have nothing to trade, an insignificant military, and since every other faction wants them dead, befriending them could damage your relationship with the others. Essentially, a weak civilization is insignificant in a world of sprawling empires, and it cannot make a comeback. I do not think it should be that way.
One way to address this is with diplomacy. In a world with a weak faction, everyone just wants to kill it. Although it may be realistic to a gamer's perspective with a goal of winning, I dislike it. Perhaps I should tell you more about myself so you understand my perspective. When I play empire building games with diplomacy (Civilization), I don't play to win; rather, I play to watch civilizations grow and the relationships that develop between them. The immersion breaks, however, when civilizations make diplomatic decisions that just are not human. Well, I'm sure we would mostly be backstabbing SOBs when opportunity presents itself, but I think we would also have friends. What happened to the unbreakable bonds of friendship?
That is the weakness of the + and - system to diplomatic relationships: they give numerical values to various things that result in the AI making odd and aggressive decisions.
Here is an exaggerated example of how a large empire views a small faction:
- +2 : you are very close friends
- +1 : they have placed many gifts at your feet
- +1 : trade agreements have been fair
- -1 : close borders spark tension
- -100 : their military is much weaker
It is even worse when the weak civilization hates the strong one also for their difference in military strength, when instead the weak should be ingratiating the strong.
What I propose is to strengthen bonds of friendship between factions so that A faction will want to go out of his way to help a friend. Even if that friend is the weakest faction. Even if the enemy is the strongest faction. Because friendship is forever, right? As it is now, I have the impression that the only way to get another faction to help you out in a war is to bribe them and they'll accept only if they hate the enemy and have a stronger military than them.
I think this can be made possible in FE by making dynasties matter greatly. I mean, you would help out the faction that your daughter married into, right? You do know that if you let that faction be destroyed, your daughter will die, right?
Also, instead of obeying the + - system to the number, I would also like to see something else governing the decisions of the AI. Yes that other faction is much weaker, but I really want to be friends with him and, in time, I think he'll show his appreciation.
In addition, it would also be nice to give the AI, as well as the player, a reason why they would rather have the weakest faction alive than dead.
Another way to make a weak faction relevant is to make sovereigns overpowered so that while a weak faction is defending it's last city, the Sovereign can dish out lots of damage to invading armies. I suggest a way to grant sovereigns short-term gains (e.g. in spell power) for long-term sacrifices. E.g.:
- sacrificing a power node
- sacrificing population
- sacrificing essence (or spell power)
- sacrifice mana
To put these examples into practice:
- Sacrificing a power node will grant you an army of elementals of that node type, but long-term you lose the benefits of that node (strengthening spells of that node type, mana production)
- Sacrificing essence or spell power will grant your sovereign a +100% (or more) damage/effectiveness of spells for the next 50 turns, but will detract 30% permanently thereafter.
- Sacrificing mana
- Spend three time the mana cost of a spell to double its effectiveness.
- Spend five times the mana cost to summon a level 10 version of a something.
I just made those numbers up so let's forget about balance for now. The idea is to give a very desperate Sovereign a means to avoid imminent defeat. It would also be in the well-to-do Sovereign's best interest not to employ these desperate measures because it would weaken him in the long run.
Rare Events and Quests
Should a faction fall in dire need of aid, something unexpected occurring once every few games, could save them. Something like
- a Titan granting aid in exchange for something
- happening upon a large supply of metal
- finding a powerful weapon
- citizens want to defend their homeland. Training soldiers cost 0 gold and halved training time for the next 100 turns.
I am uncertain about a quest with a considerable reward, because quests require an army to travel around the map, where a weak civilization would rather have them defending.
Sorry for taking this thread way off track. Basically my goal was to offer a way for a weak faction, who has no means to compete with large factions at a technological level, to make a comeback, or to have yet an important role to play in the world stage.