Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

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anakayub
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by anakayub »

I think most of us understand (or understand now) about the realism aspect of lance using units. But again, WINR. The gameplay of using horsemen as it is now is already good and unique and balanced; there's no need to change it. It's like backstab (nobody complains that every unit should get an attack bonus when they outflank any troop.), high discrepancy between blade-pierce resistances (e.g. swordman line), etc.; gameplay overrules reality where reality does not make compelling gameplay.

I suggest that those who don't like the WINR aspects of Wesnothian battles make a WInR (Wesnoth is now real) era, where all units and gameplay follow real life.
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TheArchitect
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by TheArchitect »

I like the idea of impact and blade attacks being made less effective against cavalry. I think it would even make playing with cavalry more interesting. The major problem that I can see is that it would also make cavalry overpowered. One way to change this could be to make pierce attacks even more powerful. Ever seen "Braveheart"? The hedgehog tactic is more than just effective, its devastating against a cavalry charge. Arrows are too. A change like this would switch the focus of horsemen from picking off lvl 1's to riding right through enemy lines. It would also increase the importance of spearmen as the one tool that can prevent this strategy. Although I realize WINR, I feel the realistic concept islandranger thought up would enhance gameplay, not take away from it.

p.s. In anticipation of rebuttals by more experienced players, I would like to acknowledge the following wesnoth principals. 8) :

1. WINR
2. Do it yourself (I would if I knew how :cry: )
3. Faction balance

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anakayub
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by anakayub »

TheArchitect wrote:I like the idea of impact and blade attacks being made less effective against cavalry. I think it would even make playing with cavalry more interesting...
Are you sure? :roll: :wink:
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TheArchitect
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by TheArchitect »

anakayub wrote:
TheArchitect wrote:I like the idea of impact and blade attacks being made less effective against cavalry. I think it would even make playing with cavalry more interesting...
Are you sure? :roll: :wink:
:oops: oops, I meant horsemen

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anakayub
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by anakayub »

Actually it applies to horsemen as well, both have positive blade and impact resistance and negative pierce resistance. See the word "sure" in that post. :)
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TheArchitect
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by TheArchitect »

I know they have resistances, but islandranger's idea was that "charge" should decrease blade and impact damage even more instead of doubling it.

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anakayub
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by anakayub »

Ah, my wrong then.

Anyways, at this stage of Wesnoth development, where gameplay features are all already fine-tuned after years of balancing, major change is probably not going to happen unless a major issue needs fixing, e.g. the change of holy to arcane. Charge is not broken in Wesnoth gameplay terms and horsemen are just like mages, specialist, powerful and fragile when not taken care of properly. There's nothing wrong with it other than being against real world principles. The same can be said about so many things of the game, but gameplay is more important than following real life as long as it's compelling and allows proper balanced. Rebalancing horsemen to suit real life requires work for little gain. The current charge system is simple for all players to understand and already balanced.
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islandranger
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by islandranger »

Anakayub raises a good point when comparing mages to horsemen. Are they similar in their balance of strengths and weaknesses? I wish that were. True, they are both vulnerable but its possible, through careful manuevering, to have a mage strike with the full force of their attack while taking little or no damage in return. There are many powerful units with weak or no ranged attacks.

The horseman's strongest attack comes at the price of increasing the damage they take during the round. Unfortunately, there are very few cases when a horseman can attack a unit with weak or no melee attacks. Yes, a goblin archer or a dark adept makes a good target but most other units involve the horseman sacrificing hit points in proportion to the damage they do. That doesn't represent a real advantage unless there is a good probability of hitting more often than being hit. With the horseman's weak defence that only happens if your lucky enough to catch a unit in the water while the horseman is attacking from the bank.

Ultimately, the question is not related to realism at all but to the fun of playing a strategy game. The horseman's charge is more frustrating than fun because there is far too much luck involved in the unit's survival. If you play the horseman cautiously enough to guarantee its survival you almost never use the charge attack. The horse unit then becomes nothing more than a slightly more mobile swordsman which has poor defences, and is unusable in most combat terrains. This doesn't represent a very good tradeoff of strengths and weaknesses in a unit.

The point about the horseman being balanced within the faction is true though. Since the charge attack has little strategic value it also has little affect on gameplay. What I'm suggesting is that it should have both.

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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by Nebiros »

First of all, I think you should be clear about whether your problem is with MP or with a campaign, and if so, which campaign. The rest of this post is mainly about MP, because it's the part of the game that relies most on unit/faction balance (there are other ways to make campaigns unbalanced to the correct degree).

Second, if you are using horsemen's speed to attack before the rest of your army arrives, you are splitting your own forces and defeating yourself in detail. Don't do that. Speed is useful for running off to grab an out-of-the-way village and still making it back to join your main force in time for a fight, or for picking off enemies far from the enemy main body, or outflanking, or running away, or chasing down retreating enemies, or avoiding a fight at a bad time of day and forcing an enemy to fight at a good one (for you), or many other things, but it's not a good idea to pick a fight with an army by yourself.

Third, there are lots of units with weak melee attacks; the chaotic ones have *really* weak melee at day.
Loyalist: mage, bowman (it's better to wound the bowman with a spearman first, then finish him off with the horse; if he survives, he might shoot the horse, which will hurt)
Rebel: mage, shaman, archer (see bowman; if the archer is in forest you have about 50/50 to hit him once, so make sure once is enough *and* that you have a backup plan)
Drake: augur, burner (the burner's melee is not *that* weak, but you resist it, and he has pierce weakness and bad defense; you'll get hurt but the burner will get REALLY hurt. Have other units nearby to support or protect your horseman if necessary. Wounding the burner first is also a good idea.)
Knalgan: poacher, footpad, thief (in day); thunderer if it's wounded enough; ulf in the right conditions (rare if the knalgan player is any good).
Northerner: archer, assassin
Undead: adept (the skel archer also has bad melee attack, but resists you, so it's kind of a wash.) This might make it seem that horsemen are weaker against undead, but since undead typically recruit a lot of adepts and few pierce units *and* horsemen can easily stay away at night and only fight them in favorable ToD, they're really not bad.

In all cases you need to use horsemen in combination with other units for them to be most effective. If horsemen were able to stand up to (or run over) basic melee units as you suggest, what would stop an all-horsemen army? That might be fun for you, but it wouldn't be so much fun for your opponent.

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TL
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by TL »

islandranger wrote:The horseman's strongest attack comes at the price of increasing the damage they take during the round. [...] That doesn't represent a real advantage unless there is a good probability of hitting more often than being hit.
Sorry, you lose. Please try again.

Charge is very much to the attacker's advantage. It is not an all-purpose attack, no, but even if horsemen are relegated to a niche role it is a fantastically powerful and useful one.

Trau
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by Trau »

Anakayub raises a good point when comparing mages to horsemen. Are they similar in their balance of strengths and weaknesses? I wish that were. True, they are both vulnerable but its possible, through careful manuevering, to have a mage strike with the full force of their attack while taking little or no damage in return. There are many powerful units with weak or no ranged attacks.
There are many powerful units with weak or no melee attacks either, as a poster above me said.
The horseman's strongest attack comes at the price of increasing the damage they take during the round. Unfortunately, there are very few cases when a horseman can attack a unit with weak or no melee attacks. Yes, a goblin archer or a dark adept makes a good target but most other units involve the horseman sacrificing hit points in proportion to the damage they do. That doesn't represent a real advantage unless there is a good probability of hitting more often than being hit. With the horseman's weak defence that only happens if your lucky enough to catch a unit in the water while the horseman is attacking from the bank.
Ranged units are an important element in nearly any army you can raise. There are are always targets for the horseman to run down. Remember, also, that the Horseman is guaranteed to attack first when charging against anyone without First Strike (which comes down to spearmen and Goblin impalers), so there is always a sizable chance of getting a kill without taking damage in return. There is also the fact that horsemen give a powerful advantage in the ability to choose where this doubled damage comes into play. When you're dealing with grunts or fighters of any race, you could always choose not to have your horsemen charge anything, and when you're dealing with a lot of ranged units, you could choose to have your horsemen charge damn well near everything. Your opponent does not have that luxury of choice.
Ultimately, the question is not related to realism at all but to the fun of playing a strategy game. The horseman's charge is more frustrating than fun because there is far too much luck involved in the unit's survival. If you play the horseman cautiously enough to guarantee its survival you almost never use the charge attack. The horse unit then becomes nothing more than a slightly more mobile swordsman which has poor defences, and is unusable in most combat terrains. This doesn't represent a very good tradeoff of strengths and weaknesses in a unit.
The way I've always seen it, Horsemen are a great way to ensure that luck doesn't screw you over in a game. This is because the horseman is a terribly good way to threaten the enemy. By making the enemy squeamish about moving his ranged units or pricy mages to where horsemen have a good shot at them, you can use horsemen to gain a tactical advantage without even charging anyone, if you really hate charging.
The point about the horseman being balanced within the faction is true though. Since the charge attack has little strategic value it also has little affect on gameplay. What I'm suggesting is that it should have both.
Being able to choose where double damage is applied is a great strategic value and so is being able to threaten enemy ranged units and restrict their movement.

TheArchitect
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by TheArchitect »

If horsemen were able to stand up to (or run over) basic melee units as you suggest, what would stop an all-horsemen army? That might be fun for you, but it wouldn't be so much fun for your opponent.
As I stated earlier, bigger pierce weaknesses could be added to horsemen to allow spearmen and archers to decimate an all-horseman charge. Horsemen would not be overpowered because they could be countered easily with common and inexpensive
units

Also, I understand that the current cavalry units and the "charge" ability are far from useless. I just think islandranger's idea would give a player more tactics and options when dealing with horsemen, making the game more interesting.

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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by turin »

I can't comment on the balance of the Horseman unit in MP, since I rarely play that, but -
islandranger wrote:Ultimately, the question is not related to realism at all but to the fun of playing a strategy game. The horseman's charge is more frustrating than fun because there is far too much luck involved in the unit's survival.
Um, no. Units with charge are some of the most fun to play with, IMO. What other unit has the ability to swoop in and take down a unit with 20+ HP remaining in a single blow, emerging completely unscathed?

I can't prove that no one thinks horsemen are "more frustrating than fun", since obviously you do, but that is clearly the fault more of your play style than of the game itself, and I don't see any reason why what many, nay, most consider a balanced and fun unit should be changed just because you don't like it.
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anakayub
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by anakayub »

I really can't believe that my post was misunderstood so well. If anything, mages are even more vulnerable than horsemen when exposed. With horsemen, you need pierce, and better with range (9/10-2 retaliation at day isn't nice); however, range units are not the commonest unit in most reasonable recruits. You need melee with mages, and damage type doesn't matter. Heck, mages can generally be consistently killed really comfortably with 2 units at good conditions. Unless you're talking about spearman/clashers, there aren't many really powerful spear melee attackers either, and horsemen have blade resistances making non-pierce damage not really useful.

Why don't any of those saying that horses are useless at their current state bring forth replays for crying out loud? Show us how useless they are. And those who support this idea haven't really commented about the use of horsemen as shown in the replay I posted, and it's a Loy vs Loy to boot, a nice ideally random game.
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Caphriel
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Re: Re-balancing the horse unit to increase survivability

Post by Caphriel »

Anecdotal evidence, but I leveled a horseman in a recent game by using him as a finisher against wounded units to reduce counter-attack damage taken by my front line. It required being careful not to expose him to attack by many units by covering him with spearmen. Also, charging horsemen get a lot of bonus damage from leadership. I keep them alive by only exposing them to a minimum of enemy units at a time, and by usually only charging with them when they can kill their target in one hit.

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