Khalifate Era

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 12th, 2014, 9:10 pm

zookeper wrote: No, I'm really not intentionally trying to miss a point, I really just don't see it (or how anyone can not see mine).
Okay, sorry for suggesting this then.
zookeeper wrote: Germany is real, a fantasy world is not.
Okay, but if I give you one thing and tell you it's the other, you will make an effort to see through it, won't you? If it I give you something that looks like historical Nazi Germany, walks like such, and talks like such, but I brand it as "pure fantasy", you'll consider that I might be intentionally making political statements as well, while ostensibly pretending not to.

For me, I won't know if it's really historical fiction or pure fantasy or allegory until I've read a good chunk of it, regardless of what is claimed on the cover.
zookeeper wrote: The former you can mentally compartmentalize away and disassociate it from the real world entirely and pretend like the real world doesn't exist while you're happily hacking at weremammoths or whatever, but in the latter you can't, as the connection and associations to the real world are too strong and indeed unavoidable.
Let me also clarify that I'm not trying to say "the wesnoth universe is set in medieval europe", I'm just saying that many of the human characters appear to be strongly inspired from this. And when the developers don't explicitly state something, I generally tend to fill in the blanks using medieval europe as a template. Surely we can agree that that's reasonable? For instance the humans in wesnoth don't explicitly have "blacksmiths" afaik but when I see suits of armor and chainmail, I generally assume that's where they are coming from, even if it isn't depicted. There are other in universe explanations possible, like "magic", but for me the default for wesnoth humans is "pretty much like medieval europe," since that's by far the strongest association I have for them. I don't know what they feed their horses, or what they eat for breakfast, but I can easily fill in the blanks myself this way, so I don't complain. The same goes for the humans in Skyrim etc., although Skyrim is much more detailed but still somethings are left unsaid.

Presumably all that is good, but now you're telling me that I'm not supposed to fill in the blanks regarding religion, because
Sapient wrote: ... we don't want are real world religions (or shallow alterations thereof) to end up in official Wesnoth content.
What happens when we start to refer to historical groups of people that are well-known to have some religion. Does that count as a "shallow alteration", or is it a loop hole where we permit ostensibly political groups that end up being obvious proxies for religious groups. I'm not saying this is really a problem, but if we are going to have a policy like this I just think it should be clear. I think it is at least tangentially related to "Khalifate".

I don't really see an easy answer, which is one reason why I suggest to reword things a bit.
zookeeper wrote: No one's ever gonna believe that I purely accidentally named a character Hitler and rightly so, but if I wrote a story about a wizard, a troll and a knight, I certainly wouldn't appreciate if people kept insisting that I'm making references to medieval Europe, because that would not be my intent at all.
I think it depends on the context and the specifics. If you make enough references to something else or some other story, I may be forced to interpret it as an allegory, even if you ostensibly insist otherwise. For instance the Wizard of Oz is ostensibly about wizards and witches in a fantasy setting but if you insist that's all it is you just aren't interpreting it correctly. I think I'm basically obligated as a reader to keep an open mind to this sort of thing and read between the lines, and I'm obligated as a writer to think that my reader will do this, or I'm just failing to communicate effectively.
zookeeper wrote: Certainly, I don't think the ankh is a good idea, because it is a real-world symbol. Why I personally don't mind it is because I never remember what symbol it is and because I first encountered it in fantasy games. I'm not familiar with it, I basically never see it in a real-world context, and I've mentally primarily associated it with "generic holy priestly stuff".
How do you feel about "holy water"? It may appear in a little bottle with an ankh on it instead of a cross, but I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and I always thought it was an explicit reference, even if it's a small detail.

Reading now, I guess "holy water" appears in all Christian religions (I did know that...), and also Hinduism and Sikhism. Still, it seems like it's a reference to real-life religions regardless.

Thinking about it again, I think maybe we could say something like this?


5. Religious References

In a high fantasy setting it is basically unavoidable that we will use words that may carry some real-world religious connection ("shaman"), and employ some religious themes and symbolism ("battle of light vs. darkness"). This is considered acceptable in mainline content but we won't allow explicit references to real-world instances of:
  • religious officials or practicioners
  • religious buildings or monuments
  • religious rituals or practices
  • religious artifacts or items
We make an exception for "holy water", which is grandfathered in. The use of religious symbols is acceptable as long as it doesn't add up to breaking one of the above rules -- for instance it's acceptable to use generic religious symbols like the ankh if it doesn't add up to a real world reference when taken in context, but we don't allow the depiction of soldiers with crosses on their shields and armor, or similar.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by zookeeper » November 12th, 2014, 10:49 pm

iceiceice wrote:
zookeeper wrote: Germany is real, a fantasy world is not.
Okay, but if I give you one thing and tell you it's the other, you will make an effort to see through it, won't you? If it I give you something that looks like historical Nazi Germany, walks like such, and talks like such, but I brand it as "pure fantasy", you'll consider that I might be intentionally making political statements as well, while ostensibly pretending not to.
I don't know, I've kinda lost touch with the analogue at this point; I don't recall ever having an experience like that so I can't really tell what I'd think. It'd probably just depend on how convincing you are. If I'd see neo-nazis praising your game and it seems like the game is trying to tell me fascism is great and doesn't have much other merits then I probably won't believe you, but I can very well imagine how a game (or other form of fiction) could depict something that superficially very much resembles Nazi Germany but actually does it in a clever and subversive way.

But of course I indeed wouldn't believe that the nazi parallels themselves would be accidental.
iceiceice wrote:
zookeeper wrote: The former you can mentally compartmentalize away and disassociate it from the real world entirely and pretend like the real world doesn't exist while you're happily hacking at weremammoths or whatever, but in the latter you can't, as the connection and associations to the real world are too strong and indeed unavoidable.
Let me also clarify that I'm not trying to say "the wesnoth universe is set in medieval europe", I'm just saying that many of the human characters appear to be strongly inspired from this. And when the developers don't explicitly state something, I generally tend to fill in the blanks using medieval europe as a template. Surely we can agree that that's reasonable? For instance the humans in wesnoth don't explicitly have "blacksmiths" afaik but when I see suits of armor and chainmail, I generally assume that's where they are coming from, even if it isn't depicted. There are other in universe explanations possible, like "magic", but for me the default for wesnoth humans is "pretty much like medieval europe," since that's by far the strongest association I have for them. I don't know what they feed their horses, or what they eat for breakfast, but I can easily fill in the blanks myself this way, so I don't complain. The same goes for the humans in Skyrim etc., although Skyrim is much more detailed but still somethings are left unsaid.
Sure, agreed. Armor needs to come from someplace, and a blacksmith is an obvious assumption to make. I just think there's plenty of real-life things which are based on singular events or persons (such as pretty much every religion) which therefore should by default be assumed to not exist in the fantasy world.
iceiceice wrote:
zookeeper wrote: No one's ever gonna believe that I purely accidentally named a character Hitler and rightly so, but if I wrote a story about a wizard, a troll and a knight, I certainly wouldn't appreciate if people kept insisting that I'm making references to medieval Europe, because that would not be my intent at all.
I think it depends on the context and the specifics. If you make enough references to something else or some other story, I may be forced to interpret it as an allegory, even if you ostensibly insist otherwise. For instance the Wizard of Oz is ostensibly about wizards and witches in a fantasy setting but if you insist that's all it is you just aren't interpreting it correctly. I think I'm basically obligated as a reader to keep an open mind to this sort of thing and read between the lines, and I'm obligated as a writer to think that my reader will do this, or I'm just failing to communicate effectively.
Well, maybe I should mention that I've never understood what people find interesting about allegories and parallels and meanings between the lines. I might be able to pick on what some fictional thing parallels in the real world, but it's simply a completely uninteresting detail to me. At best, I don't get anything out of identifying such things, and at worst it interferes with my enjoyment of the work.

I'm only vaguely familiar with Wizard of Oz, but I doubt I'd really see much more in it than wizards and witches in a fantasy setting. I can't really name any fictional work which I find to have deeper meaning due to its parallels with history or the real world in general in a way that I get anything out of or makes me appreciate the work more.
iceiceice wrote:
zookeeper wrote: Certainly, I don't think the ankh is a good idea, because it is a real-world symbol. Why I personally don't mind it is because I never remember what symbol it is and because I first encountered it in fantasy games. I'm not familiar with it, I basically never see it in a real-world context, and I've mentally primarily associated it with "generic holy priestly stuff".
How do you feel about "holy water"? It may appear in a little bottle with an ankh on it instead of a cross, but I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and I always thought it was an explicit reference, even if it's a small detail.

Reading now, I guess "holy water" appears in all Christian religions (I did know that...), and also Hinduism and Sikhism. Still, it seems like it's a reference to real-life religions regardless.
Well, similarly to ankhs, I'm reasonably sure that I first encountered the concept of holy water in Castlevania 2. :lol: If holy water is used to disintegrate undead or heal wounds, I by default assume it's pretty much just a magical potion, religiously affiliated in-world but with the actual power causing the effects left unexplained. Of course it brings to mind its real-world religious connotations and I certainly wouldn't choose to use the term "holy water" seriously in any fiction of my own, but it doesn't bother me when it's in the context of undead and vampires and whatnot.

As for guidelines for religious/political/etc content, I don't really care to get into that myself. It's too much of a fuzzy area, and I don't think mainline content should or needs to be moderated by strict rules anyway.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 12th, 2014, 11:49 pm

Ok, fair enough.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Alarantalara » November 16th, 2014, 2:07 pm

shadowm wrote:
Paulomat4 wrote:Btw wouldn't it be a good idea to make the kaliphate appear in utbs? The scenarios play mostly in the desert and one could explain the lack of magic with the loss of knowledge because of the cataclysm.
I don’t really see any room for the Khalifate in UtBS, mostly for story reasons.
UtBS spoilers:
Finally, it’s such a long time after the mainline epoch, I rather doubt the Khalifate still exist as a faction by then.
This is probably the best reason I have seen to change something. If a collection of units that fits well mechanically needs to be rejected because it creates the wrong impression, then there is a problem.
Personally, I'd rather see the elves replaced with the Khalifate if they were added to UtBS. Apart from conflicting horribly with UMC, it actually works pretty well since little of the backstory depends on the characters being elves. That's probably best discussed somewhere other than this thread, though.
Edit:Or, if we really want elves in UtBS, declare the Khalifate to be elves. Poof! They're now fantastical and we now have mechanically distinct elves for UtBS, something that at least a few people have been talking about for years.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 16th, 2014, 2:52 pm

Someone should make a campaign about how thousands of years later, the Khalifate were forced to live in the forests... :D

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Xudo » November 16th, 2014, 3:05 pm

I think that no changes should be made now. The decision was taken. Any change will create unwated precedent of "mainline was changed because someone was too loud".
To get out of this tight situation, we need draft of campaign for khalifate. This campaign should show their culture as "misterious arabic and neutral to the rest of the world". I propose to keep further discussion in this way.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by pyrophorus » November 17th, 2014, 9:40 am

This campaign already exists: A new Order, by szopen. It's not the official version of the faction because he wrote stats of his own, but the way these people are described is very positive.

BTW, it is one of the best addons campaign and really worth to be played.

Friendly,
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Horus2 » November 23rd, 2014, 12:03 pm

Is it over, then? Good.
Horus2 wrote:Currently, khals cannot beat a 400 elo points weaker loy player.

Discuss.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Wintermute » November 23rd, 2014, 4:13 pm

Horus2 wrote:Is it over, then? Good.
Horus2 wrote:Currently, khals cannot beat a 400 elo points weaker loy player.

Discuss.
There is nothing to "discuss" following that. The last major testing came from the Alternate Era 1v1 tournament and the consensus, such as there was one, was that they were *too* good. In fact, I was persuaded to nerf the Jundi because several of the more vocal testers had been clamoring for that for quite some time. So we are trying that. If you're saying they are wrong and in fact the faction is too weak then you need to point me toward something to make that case (or PM me like a number of other people have done with feedback).

You could easily be right, I'm just saying that if you *want* a discussion you have to put forward in more detail what you are hoping to discuss. For example, why do you make this claim, and do you have a suggestion?

EDIT: Fixed typo.
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Velensk » November 23rd, 2014, 7:54 pm

For what it's worth, since balance is now he topic:

My experience with the Khalifa is that the army as a whole is generally pretty inefficient however the Jundi are very efficient when used well. As a result, jundi end up being most of the force with the other units being specialized auxiliaries. Loyalists are a bit tricky a match-up because they don't have a greatway of breaking spearmen in a drawn out engagement. On the other hand, they do have capabilities that shut down some of the more annoying aspects of the loyalists. It's been to long since I played to give a definitive opinion on how well those balanced each other out.

I will say, that I remember thinking it would be good for the faction as a whole if it weren't quite so focused on the Jundi. That said, the Jundi are definitely a fun unit to work with and they alone make the Khalifa distinct to play from any other faction.
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Wintermute » November 23rd, 2014, 9:11 pm

Velensk wrote:For what it's worth, since balance is now he topic:b

My experience with the Khalifa is that the army as a whole is generally pretty inefficient however the Jundi are very efficient when used well. As a result, jundi end up being most of the force with the other units being specialized auxiliaries. Loyalists are a bit tricky a match-up because they don't have a greatway of breaking spearmen in a drawn out engagement. On the other hand, they do have capabilities that shut down some of the more annoying aspects of the loyalists. It's been to long since I played to give a definitive opinion on how well those balanced each other out.

I will say, that I remember thinking it would be good for the faction as a whole if it weren't quite so focused on the Jundi. That said, the Jundi are definitely a fun unit to work with and they alone make the Khalifa distinct to play from any other faction.
The original faction concept was exactly what you are talking about - lots of Jundi with support units as needed. In theory the mounted units would always play a role and the healers as well. In practice, one of the problems that I believe to be still at large is that Jundi are great at many things, but punching through when needed is not one of them. I think this is what is leading to some of the challenges, as the balance between making support units attractive enough to want while not being good enough to replace the Jundi is still a work in progress. This doesn't bother me - I know it can be improved on, but I need more feedback (since the Jundi nerf) about which matchups are working and which are not - and why. Also if certain maps are great/terrible/fine. Now that we're into the stable release I would *love* to see a default+khalifate tournament (1v1 or 2v2 or both..) get launched, but I am too busy to handle it myself just now. I would happily bless another experienced tournament organizer (Hourus2...?). Such a thing could provide just what we need to start tweaking things in the development branch whenever it gets open for business. Back when I took over the Khalifate from Becephalus I was playing more and so it was easier to test. Now I have 4 boys at home and have much less time to actually play. As such I rely heavily on input from people who are telling me things. If anyone wants to be one of those people (and some people already are), then please start telling me things! ;)
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Horus2 » November 24th, 2014, 6:44 am

Wintermute wrote:You could easily be right, I'm just saying that if you *want* a discussion you have to put forward in more detail what you are hoping to discuss. For example, why do you make this claim, and do you have a suggestion?

EDIT: Fixed typo.
Sorry for all these reaction times. I wanted to send you a pm right after this bump, but no luck, i had to abandon writing the message.
Hopefully this evening i can dive into the details. Maybe somewhere else where Godwin's Law hasn't prevailed yet.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Wintermute » November 24th, 2014, 2:45 pm

Horus2 wrote:
Wintermute wrote:You could easily be right, I'm just saying that if you *want* a discussion you have to put forward in more detail what you are hoping to discuss. For example, why do you make this claim, and do you have a suggestion?

EDIT: Fixed typo.
Sorry for all these reaction times. I wanted to send you a pm right after this bump, but no luck, i had to abandon writing the message.
Hopefully this evening i can dive into the details. Maybe somewhere else where Godwin's Law hasn't prevailed yet.
No problem. Since any changes would have to go into the development branch we have some time. Hence why having some testing and talk now would be great, so we can hit the ground running with changes for the next development cycle.
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Horus2 » November 25th, 2014, 6:53 pm

Hmmm... the one and only Khalifate balance feedback thread got locked, so i have no options but to post here, unless it can be reopened. BTW does the #wesnoth-khalifate irc channel still exist?

I can, at your convenience, elaborate what is wrong with current khal vs loy matchup.
I had the honour to participate in a hungarian default+khal tournament not long ago, in which i, casting away common sense, entered as chosen khalifate. Went well until i met the chosen loy.

Even during previous testings with Oook and some other player, i had to realise khals don't have the slightest chance now against them by design. It turns out OP Jundis were the only thing capable of holding it together, but now they are clueless. It's not that complex to understand, but resolving it is an entirely different animal.
I'm planning a write an essay about the current state of multiplayer, covering this and many other issues (yes i'm planning to vandalise the system a bit), but until that is done, here is the brief version.

So, Jundi got nerfed by decreasing their melee instead of other options, which means the official standpoint of playing them, the Jundi blockade with Hakim support, is less formidable against factions where the main dmg output is melee (loys, northies, drakes). That decision was a really big relief for the supressed drakes, but also exactly what the king of melee & breach, aka the loyalists desired (but didn't need). Now the whole ball of khalifate units around the Hakim have to be more creative and diverse to withstand Horsemen charges, cost effective core fighters and other kind of close quarter combat situations... except that they have nothing to be creative with. Let's check the list:
  • Hakim - that is the guy we want to defend
  • Jundi - we are seeking for a better option
  • Falcon - it is a squishy scout
  • Rami - not comfortable with melee
  • Naffat - mixed fighter with barely more melee, but it is terribly overpriced for its situational attack type we don't need here, also lacks strong trait, so absolutely unfitted
  • Khaiyal - looks more promising, but again, severely overpriced, cannot hold villages and other advantageous grounds, and lacks the pierce resistance we need the most against a loyalist
  • Arif - he has sweet resistances and high health, but we are paying a premium for his marksman ability, so on defense, he is an overpayed Orcish Grunt with a bit of armour
That was one side of the coin. Soon we will find that the other side is even worse: our troops cannot repel the invaders! If loyalists took a village, you will not be able to take it back. The reason is simple: all the khalifate units associated with pushing are lawful. This is not an issue against chaotic and neutral factions, because there the margin of the attack and retal is sufficient for aggression. Not an issue against drakes, because they cannot hold ground and they can be pressured with Jundis well enough. But at day on 60%, loyalists are in element. Let's check the list again!
  • Hakim - is a support
  • Jundi - is a mixed fighter, low DPH
  • Falcon - is a squishy scout, only for finishing, not for weakening
  • Rami - is capable to deal good DPH if fates allow, but pierce sensitive and as such, erased by Spearmen and Horsemen from existence after one trial.
  • Naffat - is another mixed fighter, even though lawful, the price wrecks the option
  • Khaiyal - is like Dwarvish Thunderer, capable of loosening defense by trial and error, but not melee defense lines, definitely not lawful melee lines, and absolutely not Spearmen lines
  • Arif - is our best bet, but in contrary with other breaching units like Dark Adepts of Dwarvish Ulfserkers, it is not really cost effective either, and must work when loyalists are also in top shape
If it weren't bad enough, loyalists can sprinke the setup with some Heavy Infantrymen. While it is one of the worst units in whole default, here it forces you to also buy overpriced units (Naffat, Khaiyal) to be able to counter it. Some may claim here that if both sides invest extra gold into really situational units, then there is no gold advantage gained in the end. Indeed, there is no gold advantage, however the Naffat is only really worth it against the HI, while the HI counters your whole army. Sad to be you, khalifate.

Okay, so we are the underdogs, the most we can do is a watered-down Jundi-Hakim, playing perfect defense, bring in Naffat and Khaiyal and Arif and Rami and sometimes even Falcon exactly in the moment it is necessary, and if we hold it long enough, the match goes in our way, because of the continuous healing. Well, wrong. Never forget that loys are not just the master of melee, but as i stated above, breaching and initiating fights. They have Fencers to catch your retreating rotated woundeds, they have Horsemen to nullify the efforts of anything non-melee in a blink and punish you for the slightest exposition of your Hakim, they have aggressive armoured guys who are always favoured in attack-retal margin, and if they are really, really feel it necessary, they can also bring in an overpriced Mage to end your misery quickly.

It is easily the most one-sided matchup of all. Even more so than rebels vs undead, and that tells a lot.

So, how to fix it, and why i have not tell about it earlier? Because there is no easy way for it... the problems here are quite a bit ensued from the way default is balanced; they are all there, but in an exaggerated fashion. These will be detailed pages long in my upcoming post. So, i strongly suggest to remedy these aspects of default before committing too much energy into balancing khalifate as an individual. If there is interest for such, i will gladly continue my train of thought.

Meanwhile i'm also accepting challenges in versus khalifate matches on request, so don't hesitate to argue with me either here or on the battlefield.


(footnote: the writer of this article has nothing better to do in his workhours than to philosophise about Wesnoth balance)

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Wintermute » November 25th, 2014, 9:11 pm

That is a fantastic post Horus2, and I can't thank you enough for it! I can see and agree with several parts in particular, and I think we should talk more. The reason the other thread was locked was not to squash debate, but because it was in "faction and era" rather than the mp forum, and I didn't start another one, for several reasons but mostly just because I didn't really want to haggle and feel the need to respond until the development branch is available so that I could actually *make* the changes talked about and test them. Since the stable freeze has lasted many months this has dragged on...

But anyway, I think you have a keen eye on this and I really look forward to reading your state of mp post. I had also hoped to post something a bit like it with some thoughts about the direction we should be taking to improve the mp game, but more from a "what features should be be looking at" angle. I have been wanting to mess with leaders for a long time, and perhaps introduce a new game type for faster play that can't turn into a 40 turn stalemate where someone just cracks and makes a risky attack. but how to do that exactly... is a topic for a different thread anyway. So to return to your post I want to respond to a few things and I will think on the rest.
Horus2 wrote:Hmmm... the one and only Khalifate balance feedback thread got locked, so i have no options but to post here, unless it can be reopened. BTW does the #wesnoth-khalifate irc channel still exist?
Yes, the IRC channel still exists, though I am on IRC less now that i used to be due to my desktop sitting idle (needs some parts) and using a laptop. Chatting about it in #wesnoth-mp is also fine, but perhaps making a time to be on there would work for a more in depth conversation? I'll PM you about that (and of course anyone is welcome to lurk there!)
Horus2 wrote:So, how to fix it, and why i have not tell about it earlier? Because there is no easy way for it... the problems here are quite a bit ensued from the way default is balanced; they are all there, but in an exaggerated fashion. These will be detailed pages long in my upcoming post. So, i strongly suggest to remedy these aspects of default before committing too much energy into balancing khalifate as an individual.
Yes, absolutely! Partly this whole issue has stemmed, as I see it, from the fact that it took almost 3 years between stable releases. It doesn't make sense to work a lot on default without the Khalifate and it doesn't make sense to work on the Khalifate without also fixing the issues with default. I took a bit of a Wesbreak after the last stable release, and when the Khalifate were put back in was too late in the cycle IMO to try this kind of thing for 1.12 so we got them "pretty good" (interesting matchups and suck vs loys is overall success for what I was hoping for) and I am optimistic that we can improve on both default and default+Khalifate together in the development branch. And if I had my way we'd also get something like the Alternate Era leaders, but that may be a bridge too far... ;)
Horus2 wrote: I had the honour to participate in a hungarian default+khal tournament not long ago, in which i, casting away common sense, entered as chosen khalifate. Went well until i met the chosen loy.
This was after the Jundi nerf? Please elaborate as bluntly as you like in a PM, I would love to hear as much detail as you have. :D I know sometimes it's harder to talk real balance on the forums. I think you you have a good opinion about the current state of Khal vs Loy. Other good feedback has come from tekelili about his testing Khaliafte in WC II, where they are not doing too well. We are brainstorming some ideas still and I would love to pick your brain on IRC or the server about it.
Horus2 wrote:Meanwhile i'm also accepting challenges in versus khalifate matches on request, so don't hesitate to argue with me either here or on the battlefield.
This would also be good, though I'm rusty enough in 1v1 that I have little doubt you'd mop the floor with me. :D Still I think it would be quite useful to chat over a game or three. And I would welcome other posters who have thought about this or have some testing experience to chime in here with an overview of their thoughts, even if it isn't quite as polished as Horus2's. ;)
"I just started playing this game a few days ago, and I already see some balance issues."

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