The Underpowered Khaiyal?

Discussion of all aspects of multiplayer development: unit balancing, map development, server development, and so forth.

Moderators: Forum Moderators, Developers

Post Reply
User avatar
CalculusKing
Posts: 42
Joined: April 5th, 2016, 9:20 am

The Underpowered Khaiyal?

Post by CalculusKing » April 30th, 2017, 11:42 pm

This is a balancing complaint regarding the Khaiyal. My experiences are informed by single player campaign design and testing (yes, I am making my own Khalifate campaign) I apologize if my decision to post here was in error, but I see no other place to discuss unit balance. The results below are the result of testing (version 1.13.7) both against single player AI and between two sides controlled by me.

The Khaiyal seems to me to be a unit that does nothing particularly well - a jack of all trades that is exceeded in every possible role by another, cheaper and more cost-efficient unit.

The Khaiyal is durable, but less so than the cheaper Arif. It is less damaging per gold than the Rami, or Arif, and barely more so than the Naffat. Per hex, it is scarcely more damaging than any of them, and less so than the Arif whenever the enemy has a defense rating of 60% or above. Damage-type-wise, the only thing unique to the Khaiyal within its faction is a good impact attack (weak impact attacks being available to two other units in this faction). But the usual impact-countered suspects (skeletons, ghouls, and heavy infantry) are countered effectively by the cheaper Naffat. The less-usual suspects (saurians, bats, gryphon riders, trolls) are also countered better by one of the above units than by the Khaiyal.

The Khaiyal also seems thematically 'wrong' to me. He is a cavalry unit simultaneously slower than and less durable than the cheaper loyalist Cavalryman. So long as he is intended to represent a ponderous (remember that he is the slowest cavalry unit in the game) heavy cavalry unit, he should receive the strongest defenses to represent the armor weighing down his horse. This is represented correctly in his heavier advancements, who receive better resistances than the Horseman line.

I think this leads to a balanced and thematically correct solution. The Khaiyal should receive the same resistances as the Faris currently has from the start. His upgrades should remain unchanged. The Khaiyal should also either get +1 damage to his impact attack or be reduced in cost to 19 gold (to those complaining that the undead faction is underpowered vs Khalifate and that this would make things worse, I would say that this is because of an out-of-control Naffat - give the Naffat a strong weakness to arcane (say it ignites his fuel) and things are mostly fixed there).

User avatar
Gyra_Solune
Posts: 263
Joined: July 29th, 2015, 5:23 am

Re: The Underpowered Khaiyal?

Post by Gyra_Solune » May 1st, 2017, 12:31 am

Well primarily, the reason you don't just spam Naffats against the Undead and other such things is that they're fairly flimsy - a milder example of why you don't just spam Mages against the undead, you back them up with Heavy Infantry or Woses. And despite initial appearances I think that's a better comparison - the Khaiyal isn't 'a slow Horseman' so much as it is 'a faster Heavy Infantry'. It's not as resistant to normal attacks but it's a lot more mobile and gets nice things like relatively fast movement/more defense through Hills. I tend to use it a lot like Heavy Infantry that can reinforce a line fast, whereas the Arif tends to be just a tiny bit too slow to do defensive reinforcement as well. It does the same general thing though, heavily punishing melee attackers. There's not that much that resists both pierce and impact, the Wose is the only thing I can think of, and well, the Naffat is stupendously effective at countering those (and the Khaiyal isn't good in that matchup anyway, against the Elves it's all about the Arif).

User avatar
Elder2
Posts: 358
Joined: July 11th, 2015, 2:13 pm

Re: The Underpowered Khaiyal?

Post by Elder2 » May 1st, 2017, 2:08 am

You are right, it is a bit underpowered and hence rarely used. Rami, jundi, arif and naffat, maybe hakim is everything you need to counter any unit combination, and overpriced khaiyal is just not worth it.

User avatar
CalculusKing
Posts: 42
Joined: April 5th, 2016, 9:20 am

Re: The Underpowered Khaiyal?

Post by CalculusKing » May 1st, 2017, 1:21 pm

Gyra_Solune wrote:Well primarily, the reason you don't just spam Naffats against the Undead and other such things is that they're fairly flimsy - a milder example of why you don't just spam Mages against the undead, you back them up with Heavy Infantry or Woses. And despite initial appearances I think that's a better comparison - the Khaiyal isn't 'a slow Horseman' so much as it is 'a faster Heavy Infantry'. It's not as resistant to normal attacks but it's a lot more mobile and gets nice things like relatively fast movement/more defense through Hills. I tend to use it a lot like Heavy Infantry that can reinforce a line fast, whereas the Arif tends to be just a tiny bit too slow to do defensive reinforcement as well. It does the same general thing though, heavily punishing melee attackers. There's not that much that resists both pierce and impact, the Wose is the only thing I can think of, and well, the Naffat is stupendously effective at countering those (and the Khaiyal isn't good in that matchup anyway, against the Elves it's all about the Arif).
Yes, the Khaiyal really does fulfill a fast heavy infantry role...poorly. He gets neither the damage (20-1 melee pierce and 6-3 melee impact - vs 11-2 melee impact) nor the durability of the heavy infantry (4 less hitpoints and much worse resistances) and is nevertheless pricier. This means that he cannot perform the role of tanking skeletons effectively, and certainly is in no position to go toe to toe with heavy infantry unless a large terrain advantage is in the cards (in which case the cheaper, deadlier, and only slightly slower Naffat is better because its flimsiness is then less important). The comparison with the Cavalryman is instructive here. The Cavalryman is essentially a mounted infantry that sacrifices shock value for durability and competence in wars of attrition (decent cost, high resistances, good HP). But the Khaiyal is less durable, far more expensive, far slower, and only slightly more damaging. The hills/desert defense is not enough to fix this - especially given that he will be competing with the rest of your army for those prized defensive positions (I find the Rami far more cost effective for holding advanced positions on hills/deserts and far likelier to make it there on time than the Khaiyal).

I'm also unsure of how well he punishes melee attackers. He is an extremely juicy target given his price, and a human player (or an AI not derping out) will gladly take the chance to force the retreat of (or kill) such an expensive unit (costlier even than a mage).

User avatar
Krogen
Posts: 151
Joined: January 1st, 2013, 3:43 pm

Re: The Underpowered Khaiyal?

Post by Krogen » May 1st, 2017, 1:31 pm

I'm not a big fan of the whole Khalifate-thing, and i have little experience with it. But i had the same impression about the Khaiyal when i played the era a few times, it's underwhelming. (I would probably only recruit it against Undead, but even there, rarely.)
"A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of the sheep." - Tywin Lannister

Post Reply