The game has a lot of rough edges and the ai is pretty bad, but even in this beta state it is a fun game to play.
I haven’t played all the factions or even any of the death magic factions, yet. So far I’ve played maybe 4 small map games and am part way through 1 large map game. I did not play the original game, but I have played a lot of strategy games in general including the original Masters of Magic and galCiv series. The monster toughness seems about right, it is a dangerous world and it feels that way from the beginning, err well danger from monsters not so much from ai opponents even on 2 bumps above normal. It slows expansion and makes you build in suboptimal places if you don’t want to wake the monsters (not that I really know all the actions that wake them, I'm probably over paranoid about them at this point), I try to make sure my borders never even touch them.
* HUGE BUG factions should have different colors and their empire flag should always be visible!!!!
<edit: impinc points out that this was due to smart faction coloring, which can be turned off>
This really needs to get fixed from the map I can't tell one faction from the next w/o zooming in to every thing and clicking.... really bad
* The magic victory path is too hard to achieve relative to any of the other victory conditions.
* When the AI sees it is overwhelmingly losing a war it shood try to convince you to a peace treaty or failing that it should offer to surrender.
* the map generator should try harder to balance the random sovereign factions- a good number of games have been horribly lopsided.
* the game crashes a lot, yes its a beta (edit: version 0.913), but this is an expansion beta, and crashes should really have been banished in the patches to the original...
* The game really isn’t playable from the cloth map, try the option out after having played normally and you’ll quickly be irritated by a lot of loss of information. (galCiv series was much better in this respect)
* quests should show you what you are going to fight when you make the decision to fight. It is very frustrating to get killed because the quest was much harder than you anticipated. Yeah maybe this takes a bit of the suspense away, but then again if you play the game more than 2 times you are going to start remembering what monsters in which quests, this would also give the computer an excuse to be better about selecting quests and not getting killed on them.
* I expected the quests would open up specialized “dungeon mini-maps” that I’d have to take my heros through. The current quests are much simpler, but
* when acquiring an item, it should show the pic and stats + 4 buttons, ok, char equip, char trade, instant sell.
* spider silk, wolf pets, ect annoy me. They are only good for money, and not much at that. It is a chore to sell them, not fun. Just give me the extra money already.
* there seems to be no incentive not to spam cities and outposts making the game more tedious than necessary.
* the computer is very persistent about demanding my scouts leave his territory… there should be an auto-demand option in the diplomacy section so I can do the same thing.
* monster groups that will spawn roaming groups should be clearly labeled so ppl can plan accordingly.
* When building a custom unit traits need to be grouped somehow, as it is now it is mystery meat navigation forcing me to mouse over everything to find a trait I’m interested in.
* Once you get horses every new unit type should be exclusively horses or have a horse variant as they are in abundant supply, free and useful.
Game concepts I haven’t figured out
* I have very little idea what trading for tech points really does. Looked in help couldn’t find any hint in there either. Sometimes it appears to do absolutely nothing. Sometimes it appears to get applied to some research goals, but I no idea how it decides which particular techs to apply it to other than mil, magic, civ ect.
* I am not sure how to read the armor/weapon stats
e.g. damage 9, 9 cutting is that 18 damage 9 of which is typed cutting the other 9 of which is untyped brute damage? Or is it 9 damage all of which is cutting? In general I think it is 9 damage all of which is cutting, but then on defense it seems the reverse is true… 2 defense 2 blunt seems to mean 4 defense 2 of which only applies to cutting typed damage… talk about confusing, it would be far more clear to list the stats 4 def: 2 all, 2 cutting (edit: I have since figured this out... reading the stats on the weapon is a hopeless exercise, but if you hover over the attach or defense stat on the character it is very helpful)
* I’m not sure what magic(or was it spell) power does.
I get the sense that it affect the success rate of casting spells, maybe even an accuracy for spells, but that doesn't seem to carry over to direct damage spells… does it have any effect on them? If so I have no idea what. It also doesn’t carry over for summon or unit buff spells… if I’m not a fire or water mage do I really care about spell power? Which traits besides mana reducing ones do I care about then? Also chaos doesn’t seem to be resistible does it matter for that spell?
* It is unclear to me what will wake sleeping monsters. I’ve seen the computer build settlements right next to a strong monster set and have it just sit there, while strong monster sets have just decided to roam bc my border is next to them. It would be nice if you could see %chance to wake sleeping monster /wake per turn, do you really want to build this city/outpost here…
* at which difficulty is the computer playing its best but not cheating?
bug: the AI is a gets its heroes killed way too often attacking monsters with forces it can’t possibly hope to win with, it should be a much better judge about if it can win a certain battle with monsters, as it doesn’t have to contend with human intelligence, hell even letting it sun x number of battle simulations and only proceed with the battle if the expected losses are acceptable would be an improvement.
Actually this would be useful for noob players as well. I have a decent sense after playing a couple games of what I can take w/o losses, and it make a huge difference in my play, obviously experienced players would be able to beat the expected outcomes, as they are better tacticians than the computer
bug: the AI builds settlements in areas with roaming monsters that can destroy it, but doesn’t kill the roaming monsters
bug: the AI builds settlements on monster lairs awakening the beasts and losing their settlements.
bug: if the AI decides it needs crystal/metal it doesn’t consider how much it needs, so you can trade it a boatload more than it needs for actually useful stuff. (though to its credit this is a 1 shot exploit, after the trade it values subsequent trades at 0)
bug: in tactical combat the computer doesn’t withdraw forces which will die if they stay in melee. This is a bug bc there is at least a subset where victory w/o loss is assured even w/o the weakened unit such that the computer pointlessly gets units killed in auto combat.
bug: I’ve never seen the computer cast an overland combat spell.
bug: certain important quests locations shouldn’t go away just because you flee from one stage. I’m looking at you game ending dragon quest.
*This above bug feeds into a complaint of mine, the resource system is broken. For the most part I am never in want of resources, except in very early game and then everyone has more resources than they know what to do with, I can’t even trade me excess to anyone, the game almost may as well not have them.
* note that I like that money and mana are always useful, very useful, I can never get enough of them in any game I’ve played so far. Even when I seem to have plenty spending on 1 thing means not spending on another, they seem to be on the right track.
bug: in battle the enemy never waits for me to come to them, this almost always lets me get the 1st set of attacks in which is a huge advantage.
bug: unit pathfinding doesn't make proper use of roads. If you are on a road and you click further down the road sure it works. But if you are off the road and click to go somewhere that would be quicker if you too the less direct road route you'll take the more direct slower route.
<edit: these comments were about v913. v914 seems to make for faster leveling which changes some dynamics, single schooling magic not as useful due to more options to max out your desired schools, and melee warrior path becomes more powerful with all the variety of useful applicable skills, (even with crushing blow nerfed, and double strike MIA)>
Pet peeve often having a hero know more than 1 school of magic is counter productive even when they come for free e.g. finding /buying a book that teaches you a basic level of a school… let me explain:
1. It is usually better to get a few skills at high levels vs lots of low level skills
2. The options you get are random, but not completely random
3. There appears to be at least some bias towards improving skills you have already learned.
4. So far my games normally end around hero levels 9-11
5. This doesn’t allow enough time to get very many skills high level so the effect of adding a skill usually dilutes the pool.
* The only school of magic that gets any real & reliable benefit from the more damage traits is fire, but the combo is very effective.
* When selecting a trait is would be nice to be able to see what the subsequent traits in the tree provide. For instance for a while I ignored the quick until I figured out it was actually a tree. Also it should show all the spells you get from selecting a magic skill, e.g. muti-domain spells
* The administrator path needs to be rethought a little, it is no fun for me to plant heroes in cities and not have them off fighting and adventuring. Even ignoring the fun factor it isn’t profitable either since they won’t level.. yeah there is the adventurers guild, but that is too late in the game and expensive to be much use… I’ve beaten games before I’ve got one of those things built before…. Yeah hopefully AI improvements will make for longer games but still.
Thoughts on hero and faction creation
* The crown which lets you enchant your sovereign for no upkeep is a powerful pick, easily worth more than 2 mana a day very quickly. It also applies to summon costs.. is that a bug?
* -20 spell resist is a pretty weak penalty given that most battles are against monsters which typically don’t have spells let alone resistible ones, and your spell resist is hard to get up to a significant number.
* No movement penalty through forests and swamps is very powerful considering xp == power, and movement is essentially the most limiting factor on accumulating xp.
* Hero hiring cost pick is quite fun to play with, I like having lots of heroes.
* In general factions and races seem very much not balanced with each other.
* I don’t like the beast lord trait profession, seems like it will always either be over or under powered. The bandit lord trait is one of the most underpowered. 2 low damage 7hp melee units… seriously, that’s it?
* no ranged trained units doesn't seem like much of a penalty to me, I've hardly ever used them. Leveling seems to only increase hitpoints (useless for ranged units) ranged units do small amounts of damage and require special research to even get... good riddance, the only real use I see for them is for slaughtering units that have had strategic freeze cast one them (1 move even in tactical == 1 weak ranged unit can kill it if it is melee no matter how powerful.) which I admit sounds pretty powerful, maybe too powerful... but I've never actually tried it.
bug: if I allocate all my points I can still choose a profession ending up with -1 points and it lets me create the sovereign.
Thoughts on spells
List of spells combat I use a lot:
Haste, slow, burning hands, fire dart, pandemonium, occasionally chaos.
Slowing spells are a little too powerful against single targets.
Attack list: slow, chaos until slow effect (it stacks with slow) at this point mid game almost any single target will effectively never get a turn and I can kill it with lots of very low damage attacks from my army. More tough monsters should probably have more spell resistance to make this tactics less universal.
Combat spell descriptions, should not just display their formula but the actual effect e.g. damage, speed boost ect. Chaos/pandemonium should list the set of ‘random’ effects is can cause.
*Arcane monolith seems very powerful, I would pay a little more mana to cast it and still consider it a good deal. It’s power lies not just in its resource acquisition/stealing abilities, but it is a very effective combat spell. How? Well big badass stack over there far outside my territory so I can’t use any of my map spells, oh… now it suddenly is in my territory for only 30 mana…
*Tireless march spell seems a bit of a game ender for my hero clump style of play, they just gobble up experience and stomp everything at an incredible speed after that spell.
*raise/lower earth are spells I think should go away. You aren’t going to be able to teach the computer how to use them, the one time I did try to use them I found it was absorbitantly expensive to lower a mountain enough that I could get through, so maybe that isn’t an issue bc they are cost-prohibitively useless to players.
* The spell books that you can research I normally ignore- their spells just aren’t very useful/cost effective.
* I don’t see the point of the steal spirit spell, it seems like the reward never is worth the cost.
* Paragon seems like it could be very powerful, esp mid/late game I haven’t experimented with it though, it seems like the cost should somewhat scale with the level being granted to keep its power in check.
*Other spells seems like a decent balance, though I probably just haven’t played with them enough. Mantle of water (40% no upkeep combat spell mana cost reduction) seems like a pretty powerful spell, though I’m not sure it has ended up saving me any mana yet.
Thoughts on doc
* there should be an option to see spells in various overlapping groupings e.g.
Combat spells / Summons / strategic
Life / death / fire / water / air / earth spells
Hybrid multi-school spells
Researched spells vs always granted spells
Do spells have rarity levels? If so it should be listed in the doc
* the video/voice explanations were kinda cool, but I had no idea when I was going to get one
*game mechanics could do with more explanation as there are a number of mechanics I still can’t figure out…
* it would be cool if the in game help linked to questions & answers / online discussion forums / official wiki when available.
* it should be clear that a caster can only have 1 summon of a type active at a time…