Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Faello » April 17th, 2011, 10:39 pm

Perhaps Rigor, but we need a "gentle" nerf here.

With cavalry hp range lowered from 36 to 44 to 32 - 40 (or even 31 - 39 with -5hp nerf) every unit which will retaliate in melee will deal more % of it's full hp damage to it, poison will be more efficient and will be slightly easier to kill, yet it will maintain it's combat abilities (so players will have the possibility to use it as they're doing it atm) it will be also easier to finish it off with pierce dmg.

Changing cavalry combat abilities (resistances, damage it deals, defences etc.) will probably open a balancing Pandora Box - cavalry is a tank/scout unit - take some hitpoints from it to bring it a little bit closer to the scout section, pump Northies archers a bit with that dextrous trait and you'll get the desired result.

If you will mess with resistances, damage, defence values per terrain type, suddenly you may realize that the results are different than the assumed targets of the change. I've no idea why anybody would like to do that, when the easiest way to deal with all the "why cavalry is so strong while being scout?" "why cavalry is so hard to kill?" "why this unit can do so much while it costs only 17gp?" is to limit it's hitpoints number, thus touching the heart of the problem which is cavalry ability to eat large quantity of different type damage/not having to retreat when every other unit has to.

Considering price and all the attributes this unit has, it's 44 max hp is preposterous - it's the obvious change, it touches the heart of the problem.

On the contrary, I could bring up several reasons why lowering resistances/defences is not such a good idea. The main would be that this unit is designed to do what it does now - to be a tank/medium damage dealer - damage sucker. The problem is that it is a little bit too good at it now BUT it doesn't mean that it requires some major attributes changes. Please notice, that with previous nerfs (footpad, loyalists bowman) shortest route (limiting footpad retaliation damage, doing the same with bowman melee) was the right one.

Regarding orcish archers - dextrous archer would do 9-3 damage during the night instead of 7-3 so actually it's a significant change, that's why only some of the archers should be dextrous to "water" this change a bit via limited number of archers dealing that amount of damage BUT:
- it would bring at least SOME boost to the Northeners pierce damage section that would help with dealing vs. cavs.
- it would partially deal with Northeners "two hit trauma" (meaning that players could rely in some situations on dextrous archer dealing 7-3 instead of a strong grunt dealing 12-2) and it would be a significant boost to this faction attractiveness
- it would make archers slightly more desirable/give this faction a bit more flexibility which it lacks

Dextrous archer would be for Northeners something like strong, res elvish fighter is for Rebels now. Nice cookie in the arsenal, yet slightly more difficult to obtain which would suit the "gentle change" idea and would limit the chance of affecting faction vs faction balance too much.
Last edited by Faello on April 18th, 2011, 10:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Wintermute » April 18th, 2011, 12:55 am

A big question for me here is about what the problem really is - people are quick to talk about "OP cavs" but the only complaints I am seeing are against northerners. Is the problem that orcs are a bit weak? Cavalry are great, but are they being recruited in high numbers against other factions (besides northerners) with any success?
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Velensk » April 18th, 2011, 1:03 am

In my experiance, cavalry in large numbers can be pretty effective against most enemies that are not loyalists or drakes. Undead can respond better to them than northerners but at day skeleton archers get trampled, skeletons do less damage to cavalry than they take and have fewer hitpoints (not to mention succeptability to the mage support that will likely be present), and poison is less effective against them than less mobile foes. Knalgans are also fairly suceptable until they get a sufficent quantity of guardsmen/thunderers everywhere (just a few scattered about arn't good enough against an enemy as mobile as cavalry, poachers are great but not at day). Rebels can also have trouble if the loyalists gain the initative but I reguard this as not too much of a problem.
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Faello » April 18th, 2011, 8:11 am

Wintermute wrote:Is the problem that orcs are a bit weak? Cavalry are great, but are they being recruited in high numbers against other factions (besides northerners) with any success?


Northeners have the weakest pierce damage units of all wesnoth factions and they retaliate low amount of damage to cavalry during the day (high blade and impact resistances + large amount od damage took from grunts considering their attack power is spread on only 2 attacks) poison also doesn't help a lot because cavalry is usually fast enough to reach the villages quicker than infrantry units and loyalists attacking force is often strong enough to punish the assasin. Basically, recruiting this unit vs. Northeners is almost always a good idea.

I wrote it more precisely here.

I second what Velensk wrote.

Problem with other factions is also connected with cavalry but more with it's mobility and (again) high amount of hitpoints/amount of damage it can take on thanks to the resistances and less with the ability to kill it (since pierce damage units in other factions are stronger).

What's noticeable is that Drakes (with lawful drake clashers and chaotic saurian skirmishers) and Rebels (with elvish fighter being neutral and having ability to deal the damage with bow without receiving damage & with neutral elvish archers) have less troubles with cavalry.

Rest of the factions have more visible problem when dealing with this unit - with knalgans it's mostly about mobility of cavalry which robs knalgans from initiative. Cavalry can also easily go in melee combat vs. every knalgan unit and is much faster than most of them - pierce damage section of Knalgan army is also a bit less reliable than pierce damage of drakes or elves, but knalgan army can retaliate with decent amount of damage so it's mostly about cav mobility and high amount of hitpoints.

With Undeads it's cav ability to go vs skeleton archers and anything else without worrying much about retaliation damage (ud archer impact melee dmg during the day is a source of laugh vs. cav, ghoul's poison again can be healed quite easily and even if not, wearing down so resilient unit will take some time). But most significant problem is probably cavalry ability to resist the adepts attacks at any time of day
- during chaotic powerphase adept does 10-2 cold damage to cavalry unit so every +40hp cavalry unit is safe as a "line defender" (with 2 hex attack vs it). 2 ud archers need 5 out of 6 possible hits to kill such cavalry unit, so what we have here is actually a lesser version of the problem Northeners have with cavalry.

All in all, what I see here is a "too much hitpoints" problem - generally, the weaker pierce section in the faction is, the stronger cavalry gets.

I'd like to discuss other possibilites to nerf the loys a bit later (like what's the point of boosting the most powerful powerphase damage output faction with Lieutenant leader when Northeners, Knalgans and Undeads are forbidden to use any leadership at all etc.)
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Scatha » April 18th, 2011, 5:11 pm

Faello, you say that cavalry are too resilient, and:

Northeners have the weakest pierce damage units of all wesnoth factions and they retaliate low amount of damage to cavalry during the day

[...]

All in all, what I see here is a "too much hitpoints" problem - generally, the weaker pierce section in the faction is, the stronger cavalry gets.


But you argue for reducing its hitpoints rather than dropping its resistances:
If you will mess with resistances, damage, defence values per terrain type, suddenly you may realize that the results are different than the assumed targets of the change.


This seems odd to me. If you drop the blade and impact resists by 10% each (to 20% and 30%, horseman levels), this is worth a little over 10% of their health when up against foes dealing those types of damage -- so it corresponds to a drop in HP by about 4 or 5 (which is what you're advocating).

But let's compare the effect of the two changes against factions which tend to kill cavalry with pierce damage, which you claim are the times when cavalry aren't too good:

If you drop the resistances, relatively little effect. If you drop the hitpoints, they become just as nerfed in these match-ups as in the ones you were worrying about.

I'm taking your observations about current balance to be basically accurate -- you seem to have put some good thought into this -- but I think you're drawing the wrong conclusions.

Changing the resistances allows a targeted balance change; changing hit points is the blunt implement here, which is likely to have more knock-on effects on other match-ups.
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Faello » April 18th, 2011, 7:13 pm

Scatha wrote:But let's compare the effect of the two changes against factions which tend to kill cavalry with pierce damage, which you claim are the times when cavalry aren't too good:

If you drop the resistances, relatively little effect. If you drop the hitpoints, they become just as nerfed in these match-ups as in the ones you were worrying about.


I support the idea of balancing via hitpoints because it's easier and more precise than balance via resistances, even if the result may be similar at some level.

Balance via resistances will bring the following type of results: For faction X cavalry will have -5hp, for faction Y -3hp, for faction Z -4hp etc.

Changing only the blade resistance will require to think how it affects grunts vs cavalry, elvish fighters vs. cavalry, dwarven warriors vs cavalry, drake fighters vs cavalry etc. etc... Simultaneusly, if you won't change cavalry hitpoints, and leave pierce resistance intact, northeners archers vs cavalry problem will remain present - simple blade and impact nerf by 10% won't repair this matchup because it's about Northeners pierce vs. cavalry too.

I'm pretty sure too that nerfing cavalry pierce resistance might be actually an inferior idea to simple cut of it's hp.
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Wintermute » April 18th, 2011, 8:22 pm

I guess what I'm getting at here is that I'd like to see orcs get a buff (which I think is warranted) more than any changes to the cav. Perhaps a small nerf to the cav is also in order, but no small nerf is going to fix the loy/orc matchup.

What about orc archer's pierce attack is changed to 9-2 and the fire attack becomes 5-3?

Does this just shift complaints to another faction? Are cavalry that good that they are just dominating against all others? In talking to players so far I have contradicting statements so I'm looking for more detail.
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Scatha » April 18th, 2011, 8:42 pm

Faello wrote:Balance via resistances will bring the following type of results: For faction X cavalry will have -5hp, for faction Y -3hp, for faction Z -4hp etc.


I agree (at least this works as an approximation). I just thought that that was a good thing, since cavalry were regarded as more problematic in some match-ups than in others, and this would have bigger effects precisely on those problematic match-ups. Bear in mind that Cavalry currently have particularly unusual resistances. Changing them to match the horseman/knight line would be a simplification, not a complication.

That said, this would be a pretty small nerf, and it sounds like it may be that simply putting the cavalry resistances in line with horsemen would not do enough alone to help the northerner/loyalist match-up.

Edit:

Wintermute wrote:What about orc archer's pierce attack is changed to 9-2 and the fire attack becomes 5-3?


Not a balance comment, but in terms of tying the mechanics to flavour (Wesnoth is generally very good at this while keeping its clean simple mechanics) it's nice that the flaming arrow does more damage and is slower than the regular arrow. So if boosting the archer, perhaps 6-3 pierce and the current 7-2 fire would be appropriate?
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby The Black Sword » April 18th, 2011, 9:43 pm

Hey guys, when considering upgrading the archer, also try consider the Orc vs UD matchup too where the archer is a very important unit. Dextrous archers would do 12-2 to skels at night I think which is a bit powerful IMO. On the other hand, maybe a hp boost would make them a little bit more useable vs loys without breaking them elsewhere.
IMO the problem is mostly on the cav side though.

Anyway, after the talk about switching the ladder to 1.9 and this debate etc., I had a suggestion;

What if for the next development release the cavs could have one of the proposed nerfs occur. Then we agree to have a 1.9 ladder tournament*. After the tournament you can feel free to leave the cavs the way they are or change them back, upgrade them whatever.
Everyone should benefit from this, the 1.9 server will get a fair popularity boost and the games themselves should do a lot of testing and bug searching. It will also test the other balance changes and maybe the Kalifa too(?) and give everyone a lot more data to study both these issues and the cav one.
I realise replays are needed to back up balance changes but surely replays from the other side of the issue with cavs being (potentially) underpowered should also be useful to see if this throws up any other unseen issues. As this is the dev version you can just change it back next release anyway.

At the moment I'm fairly tournamented out and I suspect some others might feel the same so it should probably wait a while before happening(and I understand there are probably a lot of other things that need to happen before the next dev release) but in the event it does, I'm prepared to do all the organising if necessary.

*The tournament should be open to everyone IMO but I'd suggest making any match between two ladder players official so as to encourage ladder players to 1. play in the tournament and 2.use 1.9.
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Velensk » April 18th, 2011, 9:47 pm

I really don't think that northerners as a whole need a buff but I wouldn't mind seeing the archer specifically be buffed, however I think it fitting that they be weaker than other factions archers. I would be all over the proposal to allow them the dexterous trait if it made sense to me (gameplaywise I think it would be good but orcs getting an elf specific ability seems a little strange). If it weren't for the undead match-up I'd suggest dropping their price to 13 as they can hardly justify costing more than grunts let alone more than trolls.

Maybe 8-2 for the arrows pierce would work, it would still be weaker than other factions archers but it would make them a bit more of a threat to cavalry. It would however increase the amount of northerner 2 strike units even further and having to rely on two strike units is a bit annoying (for me at least).
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Faello » April 18th, 2011, 10:21 pm

Wintermute wrote:I guess what I'm getting at here is that I'd like to see orcs get a buff (which I think is warranted) more than any changes to the cav. Perhaps a small nerf to the cav is also in order, but no small nerf is going to fix the loy/orc matchup.


Yes, that's correct and hip hip hurray for the boost for the Northeners.

I'd support Velensk opinion about changing orcish archer 5-3 pierce dmg to 9-2. It would raise it's lethality vs. cavalry but boost the "2 hit trauma" this faction already suffers from (it's harder to predict how the damage will be spread with a 2-hit units).

I don't want to force this idea, so I'm posting ths for the last time :D but actualy I think that giving orcish archers dextrous ability is reasonable (from the lore point of view they would be just exceptionally skillful with bow orcs, when rest is sloppy with it, so an exception from the rule that confirms the rule :D ).

It would fix the 2hit trauma problem a bit and allow them to deal decent dmg vs cavs (that is if cav will get nerfed a bit simultaneusly).

Velensk idea to drop their price to 13 seems to be reasonable too.

Scatha wrote: So if boosting the archer, perhaps 6-3 pierce and the current 7-2 fire would be appropriate?


I thought about it, but it could be a too powerful boost vs. everyone.

The Black Sword wrote:Hey guys, when considering upgrading the archer, also try consider the Orc vs UD matchup too where the archer is a very important unit. Dextrous archers would do 12-2 to skels at night I think which is a bit powerful IMO.


TBS is right here. Actually "perfect" change would be dextrous trait affecting only the pierce damage, leaving the amount of fire damage intact (so maybe some spread of fire damage should be done as Wintermute proposed).
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby tom030890 » April 18th, 2011, 10:23 pm

The Black Sword wrote:Hey guys, when considering upgrading the archer, also try consider the Orc vs UD matchup too where the archer is a very important unit. Dextrous archers would do 12-2 to skels at night I think which is a bit powerful IMO. On the other hand, maybe a hp boost would make them a little bit more useable vs loys without breaking them elsewhere.
IMO the problem is mostly on the cav side though.


Not sure this is such a problem as in my experience UD tend to be on the offensive against orcs at night, rather than the reverse, as the northerners like the lower damage during the day which favours the troll regeneration and grunt resilience, over the adepts blasting everything.

Could the dextrous trait be explained by the age to which orcs live?
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Faello » April 18th, 2011, 11:00 pm

Hmm, what about a new type of trait made espescially for orcish archers?

(Let's call it poor aim)

Orcish archer damage could be set to 6-3 pierce 7-2 fire base damage and with this new trait some of the archers would do 5-3 pierce 7-2 fire damage (no change in fire damage because less hits means they have a bit more time for aiming too)

This would suit the balance change I think.
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Scatha » April 18th, 2011, 11:19 pm

Faello wrote:
Scatha wrote: So if boosting the archer, perhaps 6-3 pierce and the current 7-2 fire would be appropriate?


I thought about it, but it could be a too powerful boost vs. everyone.


Really? Versus a 9-2 pierce with 5-3 fire, it's less total damage (9-2 = 18 = 6-3, and 5-3 beats 7-2), and it gets less of a boost at night (7-3 for 21 damage instead of 11-2 for 22). How would this be more of a boost?
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Re: Balance Ideas (Unit Changes)

Postby Velensk » April 18th, 2011, 11:27 pm

I would be against adding negative traits to a unit, unless all of that units traits are negative. It would still seem strange to me to have orcish archers have a unique trait or trait set from all other orcs.

Making it so that all orcs are stronger but get negitive traits rather than positive is an idea I'm not overly fond of.

I personally agree that 9-2 would be too strong which was why I mentioned 8-2 as a compromise, I think TBS either mistyped or misread me. I think it makes little sense for fire arrows to have more strikes than regular arrows so I was thinking that keeping the fire arrows the same as they are now would be best.
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