In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

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revolting_peasant
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In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by revolting_peasant » June 5th, 2016, 4:52 pm

I suppose it is kind of inappropriate for someone who's an academic to consider avoiding intelligent units, but hey - all is fair in war and, um, mainline campaign war.

So, I usually dislike getting units with the 'intelligent' trait. My feeling is that I'd like them better at each level rather than level up faster, as 'frontline' units will level up anyway, by which time I don't care all that much about their traits - while in the mean time, as level 1 units, they could have, say, +4 HP or +1 movement. But then, there's the question of whether I'm "wasting" XP - having fewer units level up over the same number of levels/turns. On the other hand, again, if the campaign is long, or if you're on a higher difficulty level, you'll get enough XP to sustain a few rounds of recalling soon enough; and the "maintenance price per unit oomph" is higher for intelligent units.

I've noticed this thread where people analyze trait desirability more by unit type, which also makes sense I guess, but still - only a couple of units are suggested by some as benefiting from 'intelligent' (e.g. Elvish shamans).

So what would your general recommendations be for deciding whether intelligent units are a fortunate occurrence in campaign level recruitment?

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Inky » June 5th, 2016, 6:04 pm

I'm not a big fan of intelligent in campaigns either. It's nice for units which can reach level 4 but even then I find myself wishing they got a more useful trait instead (e.g. for sylphs I'd much rather have resilient/dextrous than intelligent).

Though one situation where I really want intelligent units is in scenarios where you don't have access to healing and need to heal by leveling up (e.g. Kalian under attack, and Costly revenge from LoW).

For me, the "deciding" trait of whether a unit is useful is resilient; I tend to level up resilient units and cannon fodder the non resilient ones. (Because the worst waste of XP is losing your level 3 veterans, and the resilient trait greatly reduces the chances of this happening.)

Of course, most of the time you can't afford to be picky about traits and just have to work with what you get.

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by zookeeper » June 5th, 2016, 6:10 pm

I suppose the only time I don't detest intelligent units is when they can be used in high-risk roles. For example if I get an intelligent Horseman, then he can level up faster into a semi-disposable Lancer that's both useful and easily replaced. I'd imagine the trait would come in handy in some of the shorter campaigns too, although I can't say whether I remember to ever take that into account.

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Caladbolg » June 5th, 2016, 6:45 pm

I like intelligent on units that have level 4s because it really makes a difference when needed XP is very large. The XP that would go into leveling a non-intelligent unit to level 4 could be used to level an intelligent unit to level 4 while still having enough leftover XP to level (at the very least) 2 level 1 units to level 2.

Other than that, it's good for healers and mages as they are squishy and have high XP requirement so it's considerably harder to level them if they're not intelligent. For healers I couple it with 'quick' so that they can move around and easily reach wounded units (resilient is also good but I mostly keep healers out of harm's way anyways), and for mages with resilient for survivability (though quick is also good).

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Sire » June 5th, 2016, 7:34 pm

I find Intelligent useful on...

- Units with Tier 4 Access (Chances are you want a Tier 4 unit, and getting one early can be extremely useful).
- Healers (It is likely there are more used for healing than offense, so leveling them up is earlier is good, especially if they have no heal or a weaker heal at lower levels,)
- Disposable Units (As one progresses in the campaign and your other "traited" units become leveled up, the ones with the Intelligent trait can be used more for cannon fodder. This is especially the case when playing Ironman instead of saving and loading for desirable results.)
- AMLA Units (Mostly reserved for UMC campaigns, units that have special AMLAs may want the Intelligent trait so they can take advatange of said AMLAs, which are usually more powerful than simple traits.)
- Low EXP Campaigns (Whether it be short campaigns or campaigns that raise the amount of EXP to level up, the Intelligent trait can prove to be more useful here. Of course, as your other units catch up, the Intelligent trait may become less and less desirable.)

Essentially, the Intelligent trait is best used for rushing and tends not to be good for the long haul, such as campaigns. As soon as a normal unit with "proper" traits levels up, the advantage that an Intelligent unit had over the normal unit is lost. The exception may be units with AMLAs, as depending on the campaign, gaining an extra AMLA may be more powerful than a trait.
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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by revolting_peasant » June 5th, 2016, 9:13 pm

[Sire, Caladbolg: When you refer to healers benefiting from being Intelligent, do you mean for leveling up from 1 to 2 quickly, or do you also find the level-up useful after that?

Also, what are AMLA units?

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Caladbolg » June 5th, 2016, 11:14 pm

Imagine a scenario where you have an elvish shaman for example. Intelligent means that less xp is required for a level up. Let's say that it takes 5 turns to level an intelligent shaman and 7 turns for a non-intelligent one.
Level 1 shaman has less hp and weaker healing than a lvl 2. In this situation that means that your intelligent shaman will get hp and healing upgrade 2 turns sooner than a non-intelligent one.
The intelligent one will become a useful asset to your army with its better version of healing 2 turns early. The non-intelligent one will be at high risk of death for those 2 turns due to low hp. The intelligent one will have leveled by then, getting full healing and more hp so it is not in that much of a risk.

Amla stands for 'after maximum level advancement'. After your unit reaches its final level you can still level it but it doesn't become a new type of unit or gain levels. Instead, it is only fully healed and its max hp increase by 3. You normally don't see it in multiplayer or mainline campaigns because they're not long enough to allow you to hoard that much xp on one unit (even if they do, no one goes for amla because the bonus gained from it is not much and xp is better given to lower level units).

However, there are add-ons and some mainline campaigns where units have custom amla bonuses. That is, instead of +3 max hp upon amla you can choose between several options (stronger attack or more hp or better movement for example). In those cases you can level up a lot of times which means that intelligent is especially useful- let's say you get enough xp to amla a non-intelligent unit 5 times. For the same xp you could've levelled an intelligent unit maybe 7 times which means that an intelligent unit would have 2 more special perks for the same xp.

In standard play, intelligent becomes practically useless once you reach highest level.

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by revolting_peasant » June 14th, 2016, 4:30 pm

Caladbolg wrote:Let's say that it takes 5 turns to level an intelligent shaman and 7 turns for a non-intelligent one.
Caladbolg wrote:your shaman will ... upgrade 2 turns sooner ...
These seems like minor considerations for a campaign setting. What are two extra turns? So I'll have to wait a couple more turns. But then I'll have an L2 shaman with an extra trait. And if her trait was 'quick' she might have run from hits during the two extra turns, or if she were resilient she might withstand an extra hit which the feebler shaman might not etc.
Caladbolg wrote:However, there are add-ons and some mainline campaigns where units have custom amla bonuses. That is, instead of +3 max hp upon amla you can choose between several options (stronger attack or more hp or better movement for example).
Ah! Now you're talking. This is something I haven't considered. I didn't even realize there were custom AMLA bonuses... where can I read about the units with custom AMLA?

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Caladbolg » June 14th, 2016, 5:11 pm

These seems like minor considerations for a campaign setting. What are two extra turns?
You'd be surprised how much of a difference 2 turns can make:

-A shaman can heal 8 HP to all surrounding units in 2 turns (2 turns * 4HP heal), while a leveled shaman (druid) can heal 16 to all surrounding units (2 turns * 8 HP heal). If your healer is surrounded by 3 units for example, this 8 HP gap can be a difference between having 3 units at low HP and 3 units which can be useful in battle.

-Druid will remove poison but shaman won't so poisoned units will lose 8 HP per turn (16 in 2 turns)

-If you're fighting undead or other units that are weak to arcane, a shaman probably won't be able to kill them. A level 2 shaman (Sorceress) can spend those 2 turns killing the undead as she has a powerful arcane attack. Those 2 turns may be a difference between having 3 level 2 undead units to deal with and having only 1.

-If you are engaged in battle, your shaman will easily be killed (very low HP) which is a big loss considering that they are healers and can slow down enemies. On the other hand, levelling them in a critical moment can be extremely useful as they get full heal (as all units do), more HP and either stronger heals or powerful arcane attack depending on which advancement you choose.

Yes, if you manage to advance a non-intelligent shaman, she'll have an extra trait. But to level up, she'll have to survive those 2 turns and that's hard considering how weak they are. Either she'll die or some of your other units will be weakened (or even killed) trying to protect her. Not to mention that due to absence of strong heals and good attacks, the rest of your units will be worse off than if they were supported by level 2 shaman for those 2 turns. Sometimes that kind of trade-off is worth it, but rarely in my opinion.
where can I read about the units with custom AMLA?
Not sure if there's a list of such units to be honest. It's not like there are unit types with custom AMLAs, it's mostly individual units in campaigns (most commonly the main character).

These AMLAs are mostly things like getting an additional weapon, or 10% max HP upgrade, or +1 movement point and so on.
Out of mainline campaigns I know that 'Under the burning suns' has custom AMLAs for a few characters. As for the user-made campaigns... 'After the Storm' or 'Invasion from the Unknown' (maybe both, I'm not certain)- they are sequels to UtBS. 'Legend of the Invincibles' has AMLAs for every unit (I think). It also has more RPG elements such as the inventory system and what not and it's really long but check it out if you're into that sort of stuff.
There are certainly more such campaigns but I don't remember which ones.

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Sudipta » June 14th, 2016, 6:27 pm

I don't think intelligent is as bad as some people are making it out to be. -20% xp can make a huge difference in the long run, especially for mages and shamans, i.e. units with level 4 advancements or the the units which require a lot of xp to level. Having intelligent on such units greatly increases the their chance of leveling up, since they need less xp and are very frail to begin with, so getting that 2 or 3 extra kills can turn out to be potentially difficult. Also, since an intelligent units needs less xp to level up, u get to have high level units early in the game, plus that extra bit of xp can be given to your other units.
In mainline campaigns the quantity of your army is more important than quality (that is, having a large number of L3 's is better than fewer but AMLA'd level 3's). Thus choosing to level intelligent units gives you a larger number of advanced units, though they are slightly slower or weaker than their counterparts with quick/strong/resilient.You also gain access to special skills such as healing or leadership faster which can make a difference in the outcome of the scenario.
As for the custom AMLA question, AFAIR UtBS is the only mainline campaign wiht custom AMLA's. It's unofficial sequels, IftU and AtS also have some custom AMLA's for some characters. The Dragon Trilogy however has a lot of custom AMLA's with a large variety of choices. In War of the Jewel, almost all the main characters have large number of custom AMLA's with a branchlike division, i.e. getting an AMLA acts as a prerequisite for another one, choosing carefully can cause you to unlock special skills etc.
Personally, I think intelligent is the best trait :hmm: closely followed by resilient. Dextrous can be useful for elvish marksmen and sorceress lines. Quick is useful only in rare occasions involving slow units or units with high movement costs. Strong and healthy are rarely worthwhile.
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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Sire » June 15th, 2016, 12:00 am

For the most part, the best trait combos vary by unit and personal play-style.

Resilient - The most well-rounded trait that will never do you wrong. Having extra HP is useful, especially in campaigns when you do not want to lose your veterans.
Strong - Best used on units with multiple attacks for best effect. If the unit only hits twice with its melee attack or is not really built for melee, then Strong is a bit useless. However, if the unit has 5 attacks, the +5 damage from this trait is pretty good.
Dexterous - The ranged counterpart to Strong, normally only found on Elves. Considering their ranged effectiveness, Dexterous is a valuable trait unless you are trying to build a more melee-focused unit.
Intelligent - A useful trait all around, but in normal campaigns it does lose its effectiveness over time.
Quick - Perhaps the most underrated trait, even with the HP penalty, the ability to move one extra space is useful for zone control, moving across the map, or simply retreating.

As for examples of AMLAs, I'll pull off a unit from Legend of the Invincible. In addition to the new abilities, they also gain the normal AMLA bonuses (full heal and extra HP). Note that some options require others to have already been learned in order to acquire them.

Celestial Messenger - Promoted from Mage of Light

- Magic 1 (Damage +1)
-- Magic 2 (Attack +1, Damage -1)
--- Magic 3-13 (Attack +1)
- Mace 1 (Attack +1, Damage -1)
-- Mace 2-12 (Damage +1)
- Heal 1 (Heal & Cure 11)
-- Heal 2 (Heal and Cure 14)
--- Heal 3 (Heal and Cure 16)
- Conviction (-15 to adjacent enemy resistances)
-- Conviction 2 (-25 to adjacent enemy resistances)
--- Conviction 3 (-33 to adjacent enemy resistances)
- Burn Aura (Passively deal 16 damage to adjacent enemies)
- Improved Illuminate 1 (Improves Illuminate)
-- Improved Illuminate 2 (Improves Illuminate)
- Move 1-4 (Grants +1 Move)]
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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by kjn » June 15th, 2016, 9:31 pm

What Sire said. Most traits are situational, but Intelligent is different in that its advantage is somewhat fleeting in time and lessens the longer a campaign goes. For MP games, I believe it's very useful. For short campaigns, or early in a campaign, it can be very useful. But then it becomes less valuable except for certain units.

Quick is an oddball here, and I think part of it is that you have to use, and plan your use, of quick units in a different way than other units. A quick elvish fighter behaves differently on the map than the other elvish fighters. It invites to more aggressive play than normal fighters, but one should remember that just because an option is possible doesn't mean one should use it.

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by lipk » June 16th, 2016, 11:16 am

One use case I don't see mentioned is units with leadership. You want to keep those guys one level above the crowd for maximum efficiency, and intelligence helps a lot with that. Of course, leadership eventually loses its usefulness when everyone hits level 3, but it's a great asset in the early game.

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Jozrael » June 16th, 2016, 7:04 pm

There's definitely edge cases where Intelligence is useful (I think Leadership is the primary example), but what if Intelligent had a secondary benefit?

Just brainstorming, maybe...
  • +5% defense
    +10% defense on a handful of terrain types (not very KISS, admittedly)
    Intelligent units refund one gold after purchase.
    Intelligent units have +5% chance to hit (not very KISS, admittedly)
    Intelligent units have +10% chance to hit against certain terrain types (not very KISS, admittedly)
I'd prefer a differently named trait replacing Intelligent as opposed to leaving it as it is, but its existence doesn't really detract from my enjoyment of the game.

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Re: In which cases is it better to get intelligent units?

Post by Tad_Carlucci » June 16th, 2016, 9:38 pm

To my mind, intelligence should be more of a hint for an AI than for players. For example, a 'dumb' unit (opposite of intelligent) would be more apt to simply attack what is next to it without consideration of other factors (such as goals, probability of success or death, etc) while an intelligent unit would be more apt to carefully weigh all factors.

As a player, I generally only consider intelligent units as an aid early on in longer campaigns where the lower XP gets a unit upgraded sooner. However, later in the campaign, I'm more likely to consider an intelligent unit expendable than one with another factor such as resilience or dexterity. That said, however, even early in a long campaign, I'm more likely to want resilience, dexterity or strength before I want intelligence. A resilient/quick scout is a nice thing to have and upgrade but, otherwise, I rarely value quickness either.

Perhaps, if there were more effects on the player-side for intelligence, it would change things. But I'm not sure those suggested fit well with the concept of intelligence.

As a designer, I could see varying the options and conversations of a scenario or campaign based upon intelligence. For example, an intelligent unit captures a village with might hide a loyal thief. The base chance of discovery is 30%; a quick unit has a -10 (net 20% chance), while an intelligent unit has a +20 (net 50% chance). But, that, again, is on the AI/Design side and not the player side of the game.
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