Middle Ages Era v0.77.1 Feedback

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KingJohnVI
Posts: 30
Joined: July 18th, 2011, 2:02 am

Middle Ages Era v0.77.1 Feedback

Post by KingJohnVI »

Although it is still early in its development, I am creating this thread because I would really like some feedback on my new era, the Middle Ages, which is currently available on the ad-ons server. The era is intended for maps with multiple castles such as the one included in the era. Please let me know what you think of everything so far, especially balance within and between the two factions, and the balance of the map that is included. Feel free to comment on unit graphics, but know that I am not anything even close to an artist, so most of the unit images have come from other eras or the core game. If you find any bugs, (and I am sure there are plenty to be found) please don't hesitate to let me know. Finally, thanks to everyone who has helped me develop the era so far, especially the forum community for teaching me the basics of WML, and those who have helped me play test. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Features:
- Ability to build additional leaders! Civilian leaders can recruit from villages, and military officers can recruit units from castles to expand your empire quickly.
- Two factions, Europeans and Arabs. The Europeans have strong, expensive units, and a versatile army able to fight in both the day and night. The Arabs have very inexpensive and fast units, a variety of cavalry that can hit and run, and they have very strong spearmen as well as a few specialized desert units.
- The map Weldyn Channel has been modified with new castles and villages to fit this era, and should provide a balanced combat field for shorter games. Additional maps will be available soon.
- Ships have been implemented, but more may be created or substantial changes made for better balance. Eventually, I plan to implement either transportation or recruitment from certain ships.

Thanks again for your help!
- KingJohnVI

v0.77.1
Edit: Updated to fix a few minor text errors, and removed zoc from level 0 units.

Velensk
Multiplayer Contributor
Posts: 3988
Joined: January 24th, 2007, 12:56 am

Re: Middle Ages Era v0.77.1 Feedback

Post by Velensk »

After looking this through and playing around with it.

Personally, I'm not all that fond of having a AoH set-up where you can just recruit the level 2 versions of their recruitable units (also if you're doing to do that you might want to consider lvl 3 leaders). Aside from overloading players with options, except on very large maps it frequently does not change the optimum approach. In your case, it is particuarly confusing as some units that don't look like they have any reason to be lvl 2 are.

I have not played this (and to be honest, it doesn't look fun enough for me to want to try to play it) enough to comment on balance but I will comment on a few other things).

Things I found trublesome in terms of unit design.
Europeans:
---In general I am having the problem that so many things look exactly like the mainline loyalists but ar'nt quite and it makes my built in memories work against me. That spearman says spearman, and looks just like a spearman, but for some reason it has five more hitpoints (as if they weren't already one of the most efficient infantry in the game). That bowman looks just like a bowman but its actually neutral and has again five more hitpoints)
---Not one of your lvl 1/0 cavalry types has a consistent move-type with any of the others. I would rather not have to try to remember the nuances of four almost but not quite identical movetypes. If you want to distinguish how tough your units are from each other and not force your players to remember as many little details then have at most two movetypes (one for light and one for heavy cavalry) and then distinguish the degrees of toughness with hitpoints (32 hitpoints for a lvl 0 scout is incredibly good even if it is an 11 gold lvl 0).
---I find your siege weapon movetype a bit misrepresentative. The thing about the catapult is that it is a huge contraption that is impossible to miss, not that it is particularly susceptible to impact or blade attacks. I would think that representing it with low defenses and good resistances (particularly to pierce) would be both more interesting and more accurate.
---What exactly is a night archer and why is it a level 2? If it is merely an archer trained to fight at night I can't help but believe that it would still be more accurate/deadly at day but even ignoring that that doesn't explain why this unit justifies costing double upkeep and giving double experience. If it is some kind of elite then it doesn't really show all that clearly by the stats which in every area except hitpoints are very low for a lvl 2. It looks more like an elite lvl 1 that had an additional fifteen hitpoints dumped on him for a slight increase in price.
---In general I am not certain what you are basing your hitpoints off of. I'm going to asssume for a moment (perhaps foolishly) that the arabs use the same damage scale as mainline if so then it looks like you took one of the most efficient cost for hitpoint factions in mainline and boosted them to be even tougher that the toughest other mainline faction for no increase in price or decrease in damage. Tougher units without fewer units will result in harder to break lines which in general can become stalematish.
---The slinger feels out of place, both thematically and in terms of stats.

Arabs
---The fact that the recruitable lvl 1 'veteran' axeman cannot advance seems a bit odd.
---Both the level 0 scouts in this era are asking for trouble on larger maps but they should balance each other out mostly.
---The Maceman and the swordsman feel just a bit too similar. Perhaps you could make some minor tweak like make the swordsman 6-3 to at least vary the distribution somewhat (no change to total damage).
---The Royal spearman is a paltry step up from the normal spearman. You can pay 8 extra gold, double the upkeep, and double the experience points, for an extra point of damage, a dozen more hitpoints, a slight increase to resistances. While granted the extra toughness is nice, its probably rarely worth the cost especially as there is no corresponding improvement to offense.
--- Your claim that one of the europeans advantages is the versatility of being able to recruit both alignments seems odd when the arabs have that exact same advantage as well.
--- Hit and run is one of those near impossible to balance specials. One of the largest factors in Wesnoths dynamics is that, in general, a unit can only be attacked by as units as there are accessible hexsides and thus, even if an overwhelming horde is attacking you, it is possible to hold the line and limit the amount of firepower that is coming at you, but hit and run makes that no longer apply. At critical mass, it will become impossible to hold any point in a line. This fact, in addition to the other dynamics we're working with will be incredibly hard to balance in any sane way without giving the euros the ability as well (and even then, the way this ability changes things completely throws the balance off offense and defense). In addition, hit/run is a bit of a ZoC breaker, horsearchers cannot even be pinned by two units in the standard fashion. This combined with the very high movement you've given them will make them unparalleled village stealers and otherwise far too strong for their price. [Bug/programming note: you can use the horsearchers ability to attack the enemy to extend their movement to an even more ridicules length of 15. Instead of having the hit/run ability give a set number of extra movement, you might want to program it so that it remembers the amount of movement you've used this turn and gives you that amount. I may be wrong, but I think Zookeepers version of this ability does that already].
Now, on the flip side, it is possible that you could use archers as your front line at which point said tactic would hurt a ton, but at that point you also have a front line made up of archers who tend to not stand up to well to the infantry support that will likely be accompanying the horse archers very well, alternatively you could make the hit/run units either so weak or pricy that any attempt to use lots of them will result in your enemy being able to simply overpower. In any case, hit/run is broken in the form you currently have it.
-Why do the arab slingers have marksman when the euros slingers do not? Aside from the unevenness in units that otherwise look the same, although it is possible to get quite accurate with a sling, it's pretty much impossible to get more accurate over a good distance than someone who practices the same amount with a bow.
-Your spear cavalry have better resistances than your armored spear cavalry.

Overall:
---The factions feel very similar to each other.
---For the incredibly large number of units there are to recruit, there feel like there are very few special abilities. Aside from leadership/recruit I can recall seeing skirmisher and hit/run and desert ambush (something that won't be of much use on most mainline maps), and marksman on a fairly weak archer, but nothing else.
---In general, the hitpoints of units in this era is very very high but although there are a few units you've added which do considerably more damage than mainline units typically do you also have plenty of units which use the mainline scale and I suspect that these units will not be as practical when you need all that damage just to be able to kill basic 14 gold enemy infantry from 3 hexsides.
---As an extension of the last two, this era seems very lacking in 'fort buster' type units. The euros have the catapult and the arabs have the horse archer and to a lesser extent the slinger.
-The catapult works, but the problem is that it is very expensive/'vulnerable in the open'/slow and I imagine that between those it'll be something even harder to work around than the mainline mage is. Aside, it's not so much that it's reliable against high defense enemies as that it does so much damage that it doesn't matter which actually makes it more ideal for open field battles. I am definitely not sure that I would want to be reliant on catapults to break enemies standing on good terrain though, this especially as the enemy has lawful impact infantry whose counter attack will likely be quite devastating to these fragile machines.
-The horse arches will also work, but I"m not sure that it makes sense to have the prefect counter to castles/mountains/walled villages and other fortifications be horse archers. The slinger would work if everyone in this era didn't have tons of hitpoints.
-I cannot figure out why in both factions, the swordsmen are resistant to pierce and weak to impact? If they are supposed to be wearing plate then they ought to have substantially better resistance to blade than to pierce, ditto for mail, and if they're wearing leather or harbruk then why would they be weak to impact?

Anyway, that's all I have, hope it helps some.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."

KingJohnVI
Posts: 30
Joined: July 18th, 2011, 2:02 am

Re: Middle Ages Era v0.77.1 Feedback

Post by KingJohnVI »

Wow, that is quite a lot to respond to. First, let me say that I very much appreciate your feedback, although I am disappointed you didn't get a chance to actually play it. I will be making a number of changes that you suggested. I would also like to respond to a few points you make to explain my thinking and reasons for making things the way they are.

Factions seem similar - Ok, noted. I think I can work on that. The cavalry archers were an attempt to differentiate them, but I see the problems with that as well (I think that reducing the additional movement substantially will help with that)

More special abilities - Ok. That makes sense, so long as I can adequately balance them, this will also help with the differentiation some as well.

Too many units to recruit - I am acutely aware of this problem. I had planned to only allow leaders to recruit other leaders ships, and maybe a handful of mercenaries. The problem I ran into is that then the help won't be populated with the units that you can recruit from you officers, and so no one will have any idea what they should recruit. Is there a way to populate the help menu without people being required to "discover" the unit by building them? I don't know how else to solve the problem without eliminating the essence of the era, the ability to build units from additional officers. I would rather have too many units to recruit than destroy the purpose of the era, or force people to not know what they are recruiting.

Both factions have units available for night - Well... yeah ok I guess you are right on that. I'll have to think about if I should simply eliminate that claim from the Europeans or redo some of the alignments.

Images. European and Arab slingers look the same, and many images are stock images, units don't look like they should be level 2, etc. - Yep. I know. I am nothing anywhere near an artist. I hope to change that eventually, but frankly on my own I just can't. My best art comes in the form of a stick figure... And I think someone already made that era? Unless someone wants to help me create custom art (which I doubt) I am stuck using core images or scrounging from other eras. Either way that presents problems, but there isn't a lot I can do there.

High HP - Yes. This is actually intentional. The reason is that without the high HP a single unit would die to a non-counter in a single round with only two attacking units. Again, I understand why, having played the original, you dislike the fact that the units are similar but not-quite-the-same, and I will try to find new images for them. However, having play tested this a bit, I feel that the HP to damage ratios are actually pretty close to correct. If you care to try it, and after you have played the era multiplayer you still feel the HP is to high, please feel free to let me know. However, I think that at the moment it is fairly close.

The Catapult - Actually this is going to be substantially rebalanced. I will either give both sides the option to use it (and buff its HP) or give the arabs something like a ballista.

Spear cavalry have better resistances armored spear cavalry - Oops. That's a bug. Thanks for noticing that. I'll fix that in the next update.

Swordsmen are resistant to pierce and weak to impact - This was so that every unit had a counter. I found spearmen were too dominant, especially with the cavalry commanders, and swordsmen weren't really used. So I made swordsmen resistant to pierce. But then swordsmen were a bit too dominant, so I made them weak to impact. Then I gave macemen a little less HP so that they would hit hard but die fast to first-strike and ranged, an viola I had something more or less balanced. So that has nothing to do with realism, all to do with balance. Are there other ways it could have been balanced? Probably. Might that change? Of course. But that is the way I chose to do it.

Maps - The era clearly needs more maps, and will not work well with most stock maps. I am aware of this, which is why I have included 1 map with the era, and will include more as time goes on.

Finally, again, I really do appreciate your comments, and I hope you get a chance to try it in a multiplayer game.

Velensk
Multiplayer Contributor
Posts: 3988
Joined: January 24th, 2007, 12:56 am

Re: Middle Ages Era v0.77.1 Feedback

Post by Velensk »

Let me clarify something: I did get a chance to play it, I played it against myself a couple times. What I have not done is play it enough that I feel I have certain balancing feedback.

People can discover all units in the era by entering debug mode while the era is active and looking through the help file. The chances of them actually doing this are unlikely.

When I said units don't look like they ought to be level two I was mostly talking that I don't see why they should be a level 2 gameplaywise.

My conclusion on the hp was based off playing it 'solo multiplayer'.

I would suggest finding some other way to make swordsmen useful as your current method is unintuitive. Many such methods do exist. Depending on if you're going for simplicity, realism, or other things I could suggest a few options. I think in general you're running into the problem that you have role overlap.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."

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