Khalifate gameplay thread (feedback on balance and bugs)

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Wintermute
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Khalifate gameplay thread (feedback on balance and bugs)

Post by Wintermute » May 7th, 2011, 2:30 pm

EDIT: This faction is now in mainline, as such this topic is locked. Please direct all feedback on the Khalifate in the appropriate subforum (Art, Multiplayer Development, etc.)


This is the thread for feedback on the development of the Khalifate faction. Note: this post has been edited several times to keep it's contents up to date.

The Khalifate are currently being worked on by the development team. They are included in 1.9.6 release in a new era: default+Khalifate. Note that this does NOT change the default era in any way.

The Khalifate are also available for Wesnoth 1.8.x from the addon server as the "Khalifate Era" (same as default+Khalifate era). New updates to the addon will be announced in this thread. Currently, the era is being tweaked for balance mostly using the stable addon. As changes prove effective they will be updated in trunk.

The current version is: 2.0.2

Known issues in current version:
* It's not balanced for high-level multiplayer games.
* Units lack attack animations and portraits.
* Unit descriptions are out of date or missing.
* If you get oos you may have both "default+Kalifa (old, remove it) and "default+Khalifate (new, keep it) installed.

News:

Khalifate + Alternate Era is being tested in the TAF.

Replays involving a Khalifate side will be collected and linked below.
TAF version 2.0.2 replays:
This is VERY MUCH a work in progress! Feedback is welcome - and indeed needed - but please be respectful, this is not in any way intended to look like a finished product.

Here is the unit tree, for reference:
Image
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Velensk
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Velensk » May 7th, 2011, 2:42 pm

I've been playing around with them a little (though not against other humans) and it seems to me that melee oriented factions such as loyalists, northerners, and knalgans have a great deal of trouble against them have a great deal of trouble with them. They have a a lot of highly mobile ranged power that is not particularly weak to melee counter attack. It also seemed like the heavy cavalry unit was a bit overpriced especially compared to loyalist cavalry (which may not be a fair comparison but I'll make it anyway). It is actually less tough than cavalry (especially considering how likely the enemy is to be using their impact units) has two less move and costs more in exchange for dealing impact damage and having a thunderstick style attack.

These are just initial impressions from playing myself though, when I've got a few replays against decent players I'll post them.
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Atz » May 8th, 2011, 1:59 am

The Hakim's description is "Ekim use their knowledge of ancient medicine and herbal concoctions to quickly bring the Kalifa soldiers back to the front lines". Should the first word be "Hakim", or is "Ekim" a plural form or something?

EDIT: Never mind, just noticed that a lot of the other units also appear to have outdated names in their description, or lack descriptions entirely, so that bit's obviously still a WIP. Might be a good idea to add that to the list of known issues in the first post.

EDIT2: The Monawish's attack is named "axe" and has the axe icon, but the unit sprite is wielding a sword.

The Hakim and Tabib's attack is capitalised ("Mace") while no other attacks are.

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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Wintermute » May 8th, 2011, 4:05 am

Thanks for the feedback! Replays are indeed welcome and I hope to see and play games on lots of different maps.

Atz: I made sure that those issues are fixed in trunk. I'll also fix them for the next 1.8 addon release, hopefully in a few days.
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Atz » May 8th, 2011, 5:49 am

Some thoughts on balance after playing bit against the AI:
Velensk wrote:It also seemed like the heavy cavalry unit was a bit overpriced especially compared to loyalist cavalry (which may not be a fair comparison but I'll make it anyway). It is actually less tough than cavalry (especially considering how likely the enemy is to be using their impact units) has two less move and costs more in exchange for dealing impact damage and having a thunderstick style attack.
I disagree. The khaiyal has a better movetype - it gets 60% defence on hills, and 50% in castles, and it's not as weak to pierce as cavs. It's one of only two units in the faction which aren't weak to impact, though it's not terribly resistant to it either. It's also pretty good against cavs, since it's got high blade resist and a good pierce attack. And Drakes, for that matter.
Velensk wrote:I've been playing around with them a little (though not against other humans) and it seems to me that melee oriented factions such as loyalists, northerners, and knalgans have a great deal of trouble against them have a great deal of trouble with them. They have a a lot of highly mobile ranged power that is not particularly weak to melee counter attack.
Loyalists and Northerners, I'd agree with. Between khaiyal and your archers, you can take cavs down without too much trouble (plus all your units are blade resistant anyway); jundis backed with healers can whittle spearmen down with their bows; and arif do a decent job at taking out units in villages. HI are dangerous because of the impact damage, but they're also really slow.

Northerners is a bit of an odd matchup, because the Khalifa's universal weakness to impact and resistance to blade means that trolls actually do more damage than grunts. I found Northies had difficulty doing enough damage... the Hakim can offset the poison from your assassins and heal units up in general, grunts and wolves have lower damage thanks to the blade resists, Northerners didn't have the best damage density to start with, and the Khalifa have a lot of mobile units, which makes it hard to catch them. Trolls do okay if they can get to the fight, but again, they're really slow.

I don't think Knalgans have it quite so bad... it's true that they're slow, but fighters can do good damage, and guardsmen on good terrain are a nuisance to remove because the naffat has trouble hitting, the arif has to deal with 40% resists, and everyone else has both problems. Also, footpads get a bit of extra damage from the impact weakness, though that will be less relevant in 1.9 because their damage got nerfed.

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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Rigor » May 8th, 2011, 12:11 pm

ive tried out to play the ud and i really have to say, the various resists made it really hard for me to trust my skeletons or ghouls to do anything useful. unfortunately my opponent knew i was ud and built many nafta guys from the start, so the regular skel army escort didnt work so well during my first attack. and later, in retaliation a nafta guy sitting in a village was really enough to reconsider if i REALLY want to have it that bad. on the other hand, this lvl0 falcon seems to be more than just paying for himself with his 8 mp and great resists (that is, 0% and being way more cool than the bat). overall my impression was that ud cant win even with a great army of adepts and corpses (which are supposed to be the killers, because they have the impact dmg type - however, daytime and fire melee...not that great to start with). in total all the hard retaliations would be OK if the units had fewer HP. it was just too much to do anything about the whole situation. atm im playing an orcs v khalifa match and ill post the game in here.

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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Scatha » May 8th, 2011, 12:37 pm

My biggest concern is that I don't understand the resistances at all.

Most of the resistances of most of the units in Wesnoth are flavour-driven, and this is one of their strengths. Minor tweaks might be made for balance reasons, but the mechanics are resonant with our expectations: arrows are poor but maces powerful against skeletons; fire is great against woses; spears are a good weapon against cavalry. For the most part I think that if you got someone to make intelligent guesses about the resistances of units based solely on their descriptions, they would be in the right ballpark.

It might just be the lack of unit descriptions, but I don't understand the Khalifate resistances. Are they human? If so I'd expect the resistances to be closer to 0% all around, so I'm guessing not. So I'd like to understand how the flavour of this race leads to blade resistance and impact vulnerability. If there isn't a good flavour reason (and a convincing one cannot be produced), I think it would be better to change the resistances early on, before a lot of balance work occurs.

In short: KISS.

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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Rigor » May 8th, 2011, 1:13 pm

idea: if they r so vulnerable to impact, make them smaller.
other idea: if the horses resist pierce so well, give them a visible chainmail

here goes orcs v khalifa on freelands, we played with the version 0.6
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burp v rigor kh era
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Kolbur » May 8th, 2011, 1:27 pm

Alright, here's my first feedback for the new Khalifate faction.
I will list a number of things that struck me so far, divided into flavour and balance issues.

Flavour
  • The cavalry of the Khalifate is really weird. They don't seem to follow the current "rules" for horse mounted units.
  • The Rami is quite slow with his 7 mp for a light cavalry type especially compared to the Loyalist heavy cavalry. On the other hand it takes only 2 mp to move through forests, mushrooms and cave which is okay I guess. I wonder why he has only -10% pierce resistance as a mostly unarmored unit though instead of the usually -20% for horses.
  • The Khaiyal is extremely slow for a horse based unit. Okay, it's supposed to be heavy cavalry but it just doesn't add up flavour wise in comparison to the Loyalist cavalry units. On the other hand he has only low movement restrictions on terrain similar to the Rami (2 mp hill, 2 mp cave, 3 mp forest, 3 mp water) which doesn't make much sense for the heavy cavalry flavour imo. Basically my question here would be: Why is there a completely different approach to the movement of horse units compared to the Loyalist horses? I know the Khalifate are not supposed to be just another Loyalist faction but these choices seem to add a lot of inconsistency imo. The Khaiyal also has 0% pierce resistance instead of the usual -20%.
  • The Arif seems to be a heavy infantry unit with pretty standard movement type and the standard 5 mp for a foot unit. But it takes him only 2 mp through water and swamp. I don't understand this at all. Especially when I see that all other Khalifate infantry units take the usual 3 mp through water. Though they all take only 2 mp through swamps... What's with the Khalifate and swamps?
  • The falcon has completely neutral physical resistances. Flyers usually have -20% impact resistance. It would even fit to the Khalifate theme since they all are weak to impact damage. I don't understand the 20% arcane resistance here flavour wise. If the bat gets a feral trait the falcon should probably get it too.
Balance
  • The Arif is the destroyer of all evasive units, namely thieves, footpads, fencers and saurians. His marksman ability combined with the blade damage makes recruiting these units vs Khalifate quite unattractive. Since they are all chaotic except the fencer this influences the gameplay dynamic vs Drakes and Knalgans probably a bit too much. He also has a lot of hp + good resistances and defense which make him a combined tank/attacking unit. Possibly overpowered overall though I am aware that the Khalifate need something to break high defense with.
  • The Naffat completely owns half of the undead units, particularly skeletons, skeleton archers and ghosts. Which leaves only adepts, ghouls and corpses (and bats, hehe) as somewhat efficient units for them. Corpses are the only way to exploit the impact weakness for UD but the Khalifate has no problem to deal with them. Adepts can't hide on good defense because Arifs get them no problem and Hakims make the ghoul poison not very efficient. Overall Khalifate seem to dominate this matchup easily.
  • I see huge stalemate potentials in the match up vs Loyalists. It doesn't seem attractive for any of both factions to attack here. They are both completely lawful and the attacker seems to be at disadvantage since he has to expose himself first. I attached a replay where you can see this in action. I have no idea how to solve that though.
  • The match up vs Drakes has similar potential. The first impulse for the Drakes would probably be to go for saurians but the Arif kills them way too easy imo. If they go for drake units we have a mirror like situation again. I can't really see a good way how the Khalifate can deal with clashers. Their 5-3 blade, 5-3 pierce Jundi does only low damage and the Rami is a bit better with 6-3 pierce ranged but gets destroyed by clashers in return. That leaves drakes attacking at day but I could imagine that going bad too, I need to see more games here though.
That's all so far. :lol2:
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Khalifate vs Loyalists on Howling Ghost Badlands, Loyalists attack and get trashed
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Rigor » May 8th, 2011, 2:01 pm

heres part 2, elf v khalifa me vs burp, was very interesting and amusing to watch. the attacks were good and positions likewise. overall, the game was pretty equal until one of my all in attacks didnt work out so well and that was it already :twisted: good summary and good job, kolbur
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Scatha » May 8th, 2011, 7:19 pm

Kolbur, I strongly agree with almost all of the flavour points you make.

The only thing that I believe I can explain is the 20% arcane resist on the falcon: arcane resists seem generally to be related to how 'magical' a race is, with more magical units having lower arcane resists. The 20% arcane resist is the default value for essentially mundane units (humans and other real world animals, excepting the giant scorpion which has bugged resists -- although actually I've just noticed that the 'wolf' unit has 0% arcane resist, which also strikes me as a mistake), so I guess that in this case it's just representing the fact that the falcon is a mundane creature. I entirely agree that it should have the canonical -20% impact resistance of bats and gryphons, though.

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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Rigor » May 8th, 2011, 9:56 pm

khalifa vs dwarves on fallenstar lake: it gives u a good impression how to fight back with healers. imho very good gameplay from my opponent stenen (sometimes i would have done things differently, but overall the careful approach certainly payed off).

note how the big horses and jundis keep dwarves from doing anything significant unless they invest into gunners (because poachers are REALLY crap against them in general). ok but less talking, more acting. here goes the rp...
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Rigor » May 9th, 2011, 12:06 am

here another elf v khalifa match, i tried to attack with my troops in the south which didnt work so well without falcons to grab villages on the way. later i bought those but noticed they die pretty fast when I use them. :lol2: then there was a good chance for a comeback for me, when i leveled two units but instead of attacking i went back and that was a pretty useless upkeep death. usually on a bigger map i think saving wounded lvl2 is worth the effort, but on small ones i should have just continued doing what i was doing all the time. also the fact that i just came from a big map where falcons were infinitely useful i understood too late that in such a narrow location i should use them better, and thats when stenen simply overran me with fighters :mrgreen: one of the longest games ive had with khalifa.

here it goes, silverhead crossing (old map version, i accidently picked the map from the default maps thats why).
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Wintermute » May 9th, 2011, 2:18 am

Thanks very much for the good points and replays everyone! Overall they seem to be playing some interesting games 'out of the box', and I am seeing a good mix of units being recruited so far - though that might be due to wanting to experiment too.

I'd like to wait a bit before making too many changes but I would like to continue to hear about problems that arise. I think the best plan is to identify the biggest problems and make a few changes in that direction, but not too many changes all at one time. The Naffat is going to need a careful eye (and the level 2 needs to be nerfed for sure), but I would like to see and play several games with UD to decide how best to work on that.

One other thing I saw talked about in the games: Falcons. Falcons are better than bats and cheaper, they don't have traits, I trained one for a pet but he bit me, etc. One thing to keep in mind is that these guys don't have anything else that can control water so the falcons need to be able to make some showing there. The other thing is that so far I haven't seen them recruited much, so let's keep an eye on that but it's not like they are out of control or anything. That said, they can surely be changed up a bit but I'd rather wait on them until after more pressing concerns are dealt with.

As for pressing concerns, these are the big things I'm worried about so far:

* The UD matchup, and to some extent the Drake matchup (that's just a big question mark for me right now). The Naffat and Khaiyal seem like they do a good job mashing up UD. I wonder if there are other units that are OP in certain match ups too. The Arif against elusive foot and Saurian as Kolbur pointed out may be a problem.

* The faction resists and defense, are they going to work as is with changes elsewhere in the units? Do some bigger weaknesses need to be added to all the units? Do all factions have a chance to dislodge a line at some ideal ToD? My first reaction is that some small changes will be needed but that it should be playable without drastic changes - but we'll see.

* Are they prone to stalemate against loy and/or drakes? Not really sure if this is a problem yet but the possibility is there.


I think it's also likely that some tactics will evolve as people get a bit more used to the units, which is why I'd like to see some more before making changes. Please do keep the feedback coming though, and as you get used to seeing certain things work of fail regularly please share your thoughts!
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Re: Khalifate feedback thread

Post by Atz » May 9th, 2011, 2:47 am

Wintermute wrote:One other thing I saw talked about in the games: Falcons. Falcons are better than bats and cheaper, they don't have traits, I trained one for a pet but he bit me, etc. One thing to keep in mind is that these guys don't have anything else that can control water so the falcons need to be able to make some showing there. The other thing is that so far I haven't seen them recruited much, so let's keep an eye on that but it's not like they are out of control or anything. That said, they can surely be changed up a bit but I'd rather wait on them until after more pressing concerns are dealt with.
It's mostly an issue on larger maps, I think. On small / narrow maps they can be blocked without too much trouble. On large maps, though, you can force your opponent to move a bunch of L1 units well away from the battle by threatening villages with falcons. Because they're so cheap it doesn't even matter if they get killed - if they grab a village for one turn while distracting some units, they've probably paid for themselves.

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