Spearmen Balance

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Cackfiend
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Cackfiend »

Gyra_Solune wrote:
That being said, I absolutely think that balance changes for multiplayer should come first beyond all else - because that is where this video game has to be utmost designed as a video game made to be played competitively.
you're preaching to the choir :)

unfortunately certain devs thought the exact opposite for a long time and really stunted Wesnoth's MP potential
"There's no love in fear." - Maynard James Keenan

I'm the guy who's responsible for 40% Gliders in all hexes... I can now die a happy man. =D

name
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by name »

Velensk wrote: The difference between 7 damage and 6 is massive because of the ToD modifiers. 7 has a +/-2 damage swing while 6 only has a +/- 1, on a unit with a decent number of swings (like a spearman or especially a clasher) that translates to a huge amount of damage. Now, there is a corresponding weakness at the weak time of day (a 7 damage unit and a 6 damage unit deal the same damage when ToD isn't on their side) but the boost you get at day pushes your damage across a critical threshold if you are not a neutral unit.
Very interesting, it is like the limited precision of integers is exploited to give more variety to damage results.

What is surprising about this though (from a purely technical standpoint, not balance-wise) is that the jump happens between 6 and 7, rather than between 7 and 8.
ToD = +25%, so 6 * 0.25 = 1.5 and 7 * 0.25 = 1.75, which when cast to an integer should be the same value (i.e. +1 damage). Whereas 8 * 0.25 = 2 which is unaffected by the cast (i.e. 2+ damage).
Velensk wrote: So why do we let loyalists get away with this? It is because this and their cavalry are essentially all they have going for them other than access to a variety of specialists. Loyalists don't have a favored terrain, they can't abuse overwhelming numbers the way northerners can, their main muscle isn't very mobile, they don't have good efficient range damage of any kind, their specialists give them some good utility options but none of them are very efficient (other than the merman but that is very niche). What loyalists have going for them, is being the undisputed king of fighting at day and combat effective (if clumsy) scouts to give them a chance of actually fighting at day.
It is too bad though that over years of balance tweaks, the specialists power of the loyalists has been downplayed in favor of the raw efficiency of one unit (the spearman).

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Gyra_Solune
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Gyra_Solune »

I feel like that's likely a change done entirely on purpose though - the loyalists are meant to be played like one would command an actual medieval army with infantry as the overwhelming core, archers as backup, and a fast and reliable cavalry to rapidly reinforce. The specialists should be just that - units you bring in for a specific job. Heavy Infantry are great at getting in the way but are too expensive and unreliable and slow to be the main force. Duelists are fast and can get out of a sticky situation but lack staying power. Horsemen are useful purely to charge weakened opponents.

Exceptions are present as ever - for example, Heavy Infantry and Mages become easily the core of the Loyalist army against Undead because Spearmen can't do anything against them, but then, that's what the Undead as a faction tend to do, they force their opponents to use the weird and expensive and inefficient units to do much of anything - Northerners have to rely a lot more on the weaker Trolls and finnicky Archers while denying their extremely useful Assassins any utility, Knalgans need to have Ulfserkers out to not just be liquidated by Adepts, Rebels have to use what's normally a sort of landmine defensive unit as their basic fighter which costs a ton of cash, Khalifate is dumping money on the slightly squishy Naffat when they only barely manage to compensate for poor offensive power per gold spent in general, and so on.

Plus in general that's how things were in our own history - a pointy bit on a long stick dominated human warfare ever since humans have existed, and persisted being a major factor even after the invention of the firearm (the bayonet was a major innovation precisely because the spear is just that useful), and has only really phased out in the past century or two on account of simply better guns. It's easy to see in how other units are statted: the Drake Clasher's spear is one of the most devastating melee attacks you can get (even if weirdly it ends up slightly weaker than its blade attacks in both promotions), the Saurian Skirmisher is an incredibly useful, if slightly fragile trooper that does pretty reliable damage at night, the Merman Fighter is hands-down the best aquatic unit in the game, and the Goblin Spearman is hands-down the best level 0 unit in the game and easily one of the top contenders in terms of attack power per gold cost.

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Elder2
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Elder2 »

Spearman is strong but definitely not overpowered, for example if you compare it to elf fighter, then granted, it has 3 hp less but it also gains an substantial ranged damage increase of 3 or 6 of dextrious and gets better forest defense, and the mele damage is roughly the same (Though I would prefer fighter damage since blade is imo superior damage to pierce since it works pretty much against almost any unit).

Also the thing is that spearman can be pretty easily countered, 3 factions out of the 5 which loyalists can face have a counter to spearmen. The undead and elves have hardcounters in form of skelletons and woses, and the drakes have saurians which also counter spearmen pretty hard, though on flat saurians can lose unless its night. Dwarves, well, vs mass dwarf the spearman is just good, not overpowered, they obviously arent supposed to win the trade against 60% dwarves and they will not, most of the work against the dwarves will be done by your cav, riders and mages, maybe HI in some cases, spears are more of a shield for these units.
And if we consider hodor, well, spears wreck hodor pretty hard, but lets not forget that there are better anti-hodor units in the game like elf fighters with their 8-4 vs low res hodor if strong or best of them all - grunts.

And vs orcs, well, vs orcs the spearmen spam works the best out of all the factions you can play against, but bear in mind that the orc grunt is a SUPERIOR unit when it comes to cost-effectiveness compared to spearman, also its blade damage allows it to singleghandedly take on almost anything which imo makes it the best standalone unit in the game (that is one of the reasons why I love orcs and gruntrush).


I think what you meant when you said that spearman is imbalanced is that it is imbalanced vs drakes, well, spearman is a unit just made to counter drakes, I think unless you are way better than your opponent and you are playing drakes you are not expected to win vs spearman spam, clashers are way too weak to counter it, they are too expensive and still die easily to spears. I think you would have the best chance of winning vs loyalist if you switched to spamming saurians (augurs and skirmishers) ASAP if you see loyal, granted that can be hard but unless you spam saurians from the start drake vs loyal is inherently a bit unbalanced, though loyal players can have a tendency to suicide against overwhelming drake forces.

And you shouldn't be surprised that other units can outtrade your drakes, its not just the case with spearmen, elves can do the same if they keep wearing them down with arrows, orcs definitely can do that at night though their blade dmg gets reduced, don't be deceived by their hp, I think the drakes are the most ineffective attrition faction in the game, they die easily and take massive damage, even though their units deal very high damage and probably can win most engangements 1 on 1, they are very expensive and that makes them not cost-effective in trading. You should try to kill as many units as you can when you attack massing as many units as possible in one place utilising your speed, dealing massive burst damage and then retreat. Or alternatively you can use speed to just outmaneuver your opponent and engage in favorable engangements when you can have equal or superior numbers.
But I personally like drakes the least of all default factions and imo they are just a "gotta go fast" faction

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Elder2
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Elder2 »

Cold Steel wrote:
Velensk wrote: The difference between 7 damage and 6 is massive because of the ToD modifiers. 7 has a +/-2 damage swing while 6 only has a +/- 1, on a unit with a decent number of swings (like a spearman or especially a clasher) that translates to a huge amount of damage. Now, there is a corresponding weakness at the weak time of day (a 7 damage unit and a 6 damage unit deal the same damage when ToD isn't on their side) but the boost you get at day pushes your damage across a critical threshold if you are not a neutral unit.
Very interesting, it is like the limited precision of integers is exploited to give more variety to damage results.

What is surprising about this though (from a purely technical standpoint, not balance-wise) is that the jump happens between 6 and 7, rather than between 7 and 8.
ToD = +25%, so 6 * 0.25 = 1.5 and 7 * 0.25 = 1.75, which when cast to an integer should be the same value (i.e. +1 damage). Whereas 8 * 0.25 = 2 which is unaffected by the cast (i.e. 2+ damage).
Velensk wrote: So why do we let loyalists get away with this? It is because this and their cavalry are essentially all they have going for them other than access to a variety of specialists. Loyalists don't have a favored terrain, they can't abuse overwhelming numbers the way northerners can, their main muscle isn't very mobile, they don't have good efficient range damage of any kind, their specialists give them some good utility options but none of them are very efficient (other than the merman but that is very niche). What loyalists have going for them, is being the undisputed king of fighting at day and combat effective (if clumsy) scouts to give them a chance of actually fighting at day.
It is too bad though that over years of balance tweaks, the specialists power of the loyalists has been downplayed in favor of the raw efficiency of one unit (the spearman).
Wesnoth uses 2 different 0,5 fraction rounding mechanisms depending on whether the damage bonus at the end is + or -, if its + its rounded down, if - then up.


Aren't their specialists enough? I think they are, the rider is amazing, it can deal insane damage if used properly, the cav is probably the best scout when it comes to combat power, the mages although considered overpriced by some (at least compared to adepts, which are just the best mage in the game and a tool used to balance ud, I think comparing mages to them isn't fair, especially if you realize that they aren't the standard but exception, basing on comparison to them, the third mage in the game, augur isn't any better than the mage) can deal insane damage at day, loyal is king during the day and I would argue that with its speacialists has damage dealing potential unmatched even by drakes, it has everything, charger, mage, fencer, even HI if you feel a need to hardcounter blade units or smash a few skelleton archers. |
That is the reason why many people consider loyal so strong, it just has so many good units, even the merman is an exceptional fish.

And I also think that Velensk forgot about one very important thing - their leaders. The lieutenant is amazing and so are the mages, pretty much every one of their leaders is good though the rest of them isn't as good as mages or lieutenant. The pikeman or swordsman are good, even the longbowman is good because of its good mele damage, hp and ranged. And though I have never seen anybody pick loyalist and chose shock trooper in ladder (except me once when I tried recruiting only HI vs dwarves XD) it is underrated, and thanks to its 5 mp as a leader and amazing 18-2 damage probably would be able to do really well.

Calm
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Calm »

You know how it is. Someone is wrong on the internet.

Spearmens' crappy mobility can't be left out of the discussion. Yes, there are a lot of things they will faceroll if you fight them head on. They have a spear pointed in that direction! Why would you walk into the pointy end?

This will focus on drakes, because everyone else either has a braindead counter (skeletons, heavy infantry), a terrain affinity to fall back on (elves, dwarves), or is not terribly hard to grasp (if you understand what the Northerner units do at a basic level, you'll be able to figure something out, between regen, poison, and cheap grunts).

So how do you fight spearmen as drakes?

Burners, clashers, augurs, running away, denying or avoiding cover, and thinking critically about day/night.

Mass saurian anything is always going to be a limited answer. It's the hodor of drakes:yeah, it can be fun, but it will struggle against someone who knows how to beat it. You end up feeding saurians to your opponent and then they get a bunch of level 2s. It's gimmicky.

I know it's tempting to mass augurs if the enemy is sticking to cover, but they just don't do the kind of damage you need. Burners are the real answer, even at night (vs Loyalists). 40% chance to hit is still 2/3 of normal damage, and "normal damage" for burners translates to "a [censored]-ton."

The trick is all the babysitting you have to do to keep them alive: descend out of nowhere and fry something, then move clashers/saurians in place to shield the burners. Saurian skirmishers are particularly awesome at this because you can put them wherever you want to ZoC shield for your burners, even if the enemy ZoC would normally prevent that.

Adjustments for day/night: The initial barbecue will be weaker/require more burners at night, but their attempt to break through your clasher/skirmisher shield will be weaker as well. At day, it's easier to fry stuff, but also harder to keep your burners alive. Adjust accordingly.

Clashers should be thought of as a necessary evil in the matchup. You get clashers because you have to, not because you want to. When burners work right, you do a ton of uncontested damage. When clashers work right, you do a ton of damage, and take a ton of damage, because 0% pierce resistance is better than -10% weakness, but it's still 0%, fighting spearmen. On the other hand: when burners work wrong, you just die immediately. When clashers get attacked...I mean it's a clasher, it's gonna wreck stuff.

Honestly spearmen are beat by just drake 101: fry stuff that's not in cover, deny them cover by putting saurians (or even drakes, for a moment, if the situation allows) in it, retreat liberally/choose your battles, don't get surrounded, shield your burners with clashers or saurian ZoC, keep that augur healing up, laugh with glee as your burners fry stuff.

Yeah, I know, why am I writing about spearmen at 3 in the morning. We all have our faults.

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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by name »

ElderofZion wrote: I think what you meant when you said that spearman is imbalanced is that it is imbalanced vs drakes,
My personal sentiments are:

1. Drakes have a somewhat harder time against loyalists than they do against any other faction.
2. This match involves fewer viable unit choices for both sides than any other match.
3. Reductions to the power of other loyalist units relative to the spearman has made loyalists not any more imbalanced, but less diverse and interesting to play with or against in general.
ElderofZion wrote: Wesnoth uses 2 different 0,5 fraction rounding mechanisms depending on whether the damage bonus at the end is + or -, if its + its rounded down, if - then up.
Thanks, that makes sense now.
ElderofZion wrote: Aren't their specialists enough?
They are, but I wouldn't mind seeing the spearman nerfed slightly in favor of buffing the weakest / least used specialist(s).
I don't feel that loyalists are too strong or too weak, but that they are not as interesting to play with or against as they were when specialists played a larger part of them.
Calm wrote: Burners, clashers, augurs, running away, denying or avoiding cover, and thinking critically about day/night.
Your somewhat burner focused counter to spearmen is a surprising one to me. Burners are so vulnerable to reprisal and so cost ineffective at damage. Spearmen are so cost effective in absorbing damage and also dealing it to break through a defender and access the burner... and they even have a small but piercing ranged counter attack.

Calm
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Calm »

Cold Steel wrote: Your somewhat burner focused counter to spearmen is a surprising one to me. Burners are so vulnerable to reprisal and so cost ineffective at damage. Spearmen are so cost effective in absorbing damage and also dealing it to break through a defender and access the burner... and they even have a small but piercing ranged counter attack.
It's not so much burner-focused as it includes burners. Every time you shoot flames at a spearman, that's "free" damage, in that you did damage w/o retaliation.

To make that happen without losing the burner immediately afterward...well, that's the trick.

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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Sapient »

Wow, this is an old thread. Speaking of Drakes problem with Spearmen, it reminds me of an old match I played on 4p - Clash.

My opponent was southeast (Loyalist) and I was southwest (Drakes), but due to fog I had already recruited several Drake Fighters. Nevertheless, after we met each others' armies, I was winning, and was pushing him back to his keep after he had some casualties. Then my opponent sneaked one of his Spearmen straight past my front line and camped out on a single village surrounded by flat.

The map may have changed since then, but looking at 12,17 the village does have one hill beside it now. My entire army was decimated by trying to remove that one spearman from that one village. I tried recruiting some saurians but at that point I didn't have much gold left, so I only got one, and a few turns later another one. Looking back, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what my mistake was.

Should I have prevented him from taking the village at any cost? But I thought Drakes' power was their maneuverability... if you can't abandon then retake villages, then maneuverability means nothing.

Should I have just let him keep the village? It was pretty unthinkable at the time, considering it was at a crucial position where he could disrupt my retreating, reinforcing, and healing.

Now, when I brought up this example to some more experienced players, they pointed out... rightly so... that many factions can put somebody on a village who is very troublesome for another faction to remove. However, I cannot think of a more troublesome example for such a bargain than Spearmen vs. Drakes.
http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/User:Sapient... "Looks like your skills saved us again. Uh, well at least, they saved Soarin's apple pie."

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Elder2
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Elder2 »

Lets necro the thread some more!

@Sapient

And that is another argument for getting the saurians, but it is about the degree of cheesing... you need to get a critical mass of saurians, in order to do that I think you should give up defending first day and use the drakes you have to protect saurians from any cavalry or horsemen, best if you have clashers but I guess even fighters would do, then you may have somewhat decent chance.

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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by name »

Calm wrote: It's not so much burner-focused as it includes burners. Every time you shoot flames at a spearman, that's "free" damage, in that you did damage w/o retaliation.

To make that happen without losing the burner immediately afterward...well, that's the trick.
Sapient wrote: My entire army was decimated by trying to remove that one spearman from that one village. I tried recruiting some saurians but at that point I didn't have much gold left, so I only got one, and a few turns later another one.
. . .
Now, when I brought up this example to some more experienced players, they pointed out... rightly so... that many factions can put somebody on a village who is very troublesome for another faction to remove. However, I cannot think of a more troublesome example for such a bargain than Spearmen vs. Drakes.
So what if the drake burner line was given zero pierce resistance (up from -10%)?

Maybe the issue (if it exists) is that the drake's primary ranged fighter is a little too poor at handling the primary loyalist melee fighter?

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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Sapient »

After thinking about it some more, probably my mistake was buying too many Drake Fighters before knowing my opponent. I'm not saying the matchup is imbalanced. Probably, I don't have enough MP experience to comment on balance, but just wanted to share that anecdote. :)
http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/User:Sapient... "Looks like your skills saved us again. Uh, well at least, they saved Soarin's apple pie."

Calm
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Re: Spearmen Balance

Post by Calm »

The Drake answer to the isolated-spearman-on-a-village problem is some portion or combination of:

a)ignore it
I mean, it's one village, and 60% defence and 8/hp a turn makes it hard to kill. You might have more important ways to spend your time. Loyalists' daytime damage boost means that if you don't kill it in one turn you're gonna take some nasty damage.

b)ranged attacks
During the day, oddly, Burners will probably work better than augurs, despite the lack of magical attacks. Yeah, you only have the 40% chance to hit of terrain, but burners at day just do so much damage that each hit you get counts for a lot. The Glider's marksman ability is helpful here too, but even during the day it probably doesn't do enough damage to justify putting it in reach of a daytime spearman.

During the night, Burners are still good because they do so much damage, but augurs will feel much more cost-efficient.

I wouldn't recommend attacking it in melee, but if it's low a Clasher or Skirmisher can finish it off.

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