Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Feedback for the mainline campaign Eastern Invasion.

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by line » May 7th, 2012, 8:03 pm

You're welcome. I'm quite happy it helped someone. :)

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by Maiklas3000 » March 31st, 2014, 7:39 am

(1) What difficulty levels have you played the scenario on?
challenging (hardest); 1.10.7; 112 starting gold

(2) How difficult did you find the scenario? (1-10)
9

(3) How clear did you find the scenario objectives?
Clear.

(4) How clear and interesting did you find the dialog and storyline of the scenario?
Weak. Killing a hostage for each unit you lose doesn't seem like a game that undead would play.

(5) What were your major challenges in meeting the objectives of the scenario?
With little starting gold, I recruited/recalled just:

* 1 quick cavalry to go with Gweddry to save the Paladin
* 2 quick Shock Troopers, one for each of the 2 Knights north of the Paladin
* 2 fearless Shock Troopers to hold off the NW leader with Dacyn.
* 1 Spearman (sent with Dacyn)

Gweddry with a quick cavalry can save the Paladin, but they are usually so banged up that they have to flee back to the starting area, pursued by Vampire Bats and other forces from the Southwest. That's just as well, since sending Gweddry up the middle could lead to his death.

I learned the hard way that freeing more than two Knights plus the Paladin could wind up costing all their lives. The problem is the impending arrival of many Wraiths, supported by a Shadow, so on the highest difficulty level it's best to run like hell once you have those three units. As a bonus for your cowardess, you will have a formidable mounted force to take down the northwest leader at daybreak. I consider it a victory that I lost only 1 of the 2 quick Shock Troopers sent to free Knights. On the western front, I deliberately did not level one ready-to-level Shock Trooper, since a ready-to-level L2 is better than a L3.

Come to think of it, it might work to send Dacyn's task force north to try to free one or two more Knights, but then it would be much harder to kill the northwest leader.

(6) How fun do you think the scenario is? (1-10)
8

(7) What, if any, are changes you would have made to the scenario to make it more fun?
See #4. It might make more sense if the undead kill one Knight hostage for every one of their units you kill (besides the guards themselves.) That might make for some interesting strategy too. And you could shift the dialog from the Paladin to the Lich, to have the Lich explain under what circumstance a hostage will be killed.

Killing even one Wraith at night using mostly mounted units is hard enough, but there are swarms of them. Reduce their numbers, use the normal day/night cycle, and/or move Mal-Ravanal's castle further east.

(8) Was there any event that caused you to lose the game and forced you to reload or restart the scenario?
Just the usual losses. I did not save-reload in this scenario or any previous.

(9) If you know a bit of the Wesnoth Markup Language - do you think that the WML of this scenario is clear and well commented? If not which part would you like to be documented better?
It's fine.
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EI-Mal-Ravanal’s_Capital_replay.gz
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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by taptap » April 25th, 2015, 11:01 pm

The campaign should trap you and kill you for the dumb decision to march into the swamp, not reward you with a loyal unit + veterans (got 1 knight and the paladin, lost a shock trooper).
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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by max_torch » April 27th, 2015, 3:04 am

taptap wrote:The campaign should trap you and kill you for the dumb decision to march into the swamp, not reward you with a loyal unit + veterans (got 1 knight and the paladin, lost a shock trooper).
Agreed. At least you should only manage to escape with a great sacrifice as consequence for the foolish decision, or some sort of trade-off , maybe you get to save the loyal unit but half your army dies.
I think that the decision to be foolish is something that should not be reinforced as a good one.
Or make it in such a way the benefits minus the losses would somewhat be more the same as not going to Mal-Ravanal's capital, so that the campaign balance would be more uniform an experience.

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by bumbadadabum » April 27th, 2015, 6:47 pm

What would you suggest to make it more fun, then? In my last playthrough, I attempted it and found this scenario pretty hard if you plan on saving any of the knights.

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by taptap » April 27th, 2015, 8:48 pm

Aren't the first seven scenarios already changed for 1.13, I played in 1.12.2? Task force rescued the paladin and mainly the paladin another knight within reach, another group was pressing for the exit already, only on the second attempt though. It isn't really the gameplay, that is a problem, but the narrative simply doesn't work for me. I would rewrite the dialog of the earlier scenarios announcing that the paladin (pal of Darcyn) has an important plotitem for defeating the undead menace and meeting up could help and looking for his task force is what drives you eastward (which is otherwise really unmotivated and dumb), while reason reminds you to go westward instead.
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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by max_torch » April 28th, 2015, 1:16 am

This guy who played it on hard difficulty said:
bilu wrote:On hard I think this scenario is basically a paladin + money generator (due to the necessity of finishing very early).
So by the end of the scenario, although it was difficult, you get rewarded with more gold and a loyal paladin (who sometimes even gets automatically recalled at the start of some scenarios without spending). So there is a 'benefit' to having gone through and survived Mal-Ravanal's capital that you otherwise would not have gotten.
Remember how in 'The Duel' Mal-Ravanal 'cheats' by raising the dead that were already there? Well what if Mal-Ravanal is always a cheater, even in this scenario? What if when you finish the scenario objectives he suddenly raises some skeleton riders from the swamps, surrounding all of Gweddry's forces, and then there is a dialog that goes:
Gweddry: What are these abominations?!
Dacyn: I told you the capital was the seat of his power, we must now pay the cost of your decision.
Random unit: AAAH! Run for your lives!
Then the whole screen becomes red to signify spilling of blood.
Story dialog: The men of Gweddry ran with all haste to get out of Mal-Ravanal's Capital, but a significant portion of Gweddry's army was not able to escape the swiftness of the skeleton riders and their blades.
For Easy - a random 15% of the whole recall list is gone
For Medium - a random 30% are killed
For Hard - a random 50% are killed

This is just an idea that could make it more interesting. Or at least to show that Dacyn really is the wise one and you should have listened to him.
For Hard

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by bumbadadabum » April 28th, 2015, 12:49 pm

I'm not a fan of randomly killing off your units, honestly.

I could make it more punishing in other ways, maybe make it permanently night? This will both make the scenario a bit harder, and add to the power of Mal-Ravanal.

I could also make Ravanal raise the killed knights as Bone Knights. This makes the penalty of losing even a single unit even higher.

Tell me if you like this, and which you think would be better.

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by max_torch » April 28th, 2015, 1:00 pm

Could we try out both? I still have my start of scenario save of Mal Ravanal's Capital... could you let me playout the scenario for both of those cases and I'll show you the replay for each (If I survive)? Just send me the necessary modified files, perhaps only the cfg.
Version 1.12.2

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by bumbadadabum » April 28th, 2015, 2:08 pm

Ahh... 1.12.2...

Well, I updated the scenario quite a bit for 1.13. Don't think I changed the balance TOO much, but could you try it out on 1.13? I can only base any changes on the 1.13 version anyway.

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by max_torch » April 28th, 2015, 2:45 pm

^^Sure, okay. It's late now in my timezone so I'll get around it tomorrow. Downloading 1.13 now..
EDIT: I guess I'll just play it again first from the scenario 1 up to mal-ravanal's capital to properly assess the whole balance and difficulty as per the tweaks in 1.13.0. I'll do it on hard

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by max_torch » April 30th, 2015, 5:23 am

I just played all of the scenarios leading to the capital on hardest difficulty. I'm ready to try your modified versions of Mal-Ravanal's capital. I am allowing myself to restart the scenarios at the start of scenario save, but I am not loading in between turns of a scenario (Strictly no load-save abuse). Here are the replays so that you can see how exactly I arrived at my army composition and starting gold:
All the way to the capital.zip
Replays of inital scenarios
(95.91 KiB) Downloaded 91 times
I will point out that the last time I played through this entire campaign was in version 1.12.1 transitioning in the middle to 1.12.2 on hard also.
-In the Scenario 'The Outpost' for some reason there were barely any bats recruited by the enemy and I have no idea why it was so, seeing in the WML that two of the three enemy sides could recruit bats, the odds of the enemy recruiting only one bat, and only at the last turn of the replay must have been astronomically low?
-I didn't notice what the changes were in 'The Escape Tunnel'
-In 'An Unexpected Appearance' the addition of the skeleton riders feels correct for this, especially since majority of the terrain is flat, adding more pressure from the left side should you choose to engage the opponent on the right.
-I didn't notice what the changes were in 'The Undead Border Patrol'

Now here I played through Mal-Ravanal's Capital as it currently is in 1.13.0:
EI-Mal-Ravanal’s_Capital_replay.gz
(37.55 KiB) Downloaded 91 times
I like the changes to the map, it allowed new kinds of strategies for me to employ for liberating the knights and for achieving the objectives. I won but I incurred heavy losses and my strategy was kind of clumsy. So I refined my strategy and played it again from the start of scenario save and here is the result:
EI-Mal-Ravanal’s_Capital_replay_better.gz
(29.74 KiB) Downloaded 88 times
I employed a two-prong attack on the south leader, picking up a knight at the south along the way. A cavalry squad led by a dragoon that picked up the arcane damage item attempted to liberate the paladin. As you can see in the replay, I did not manage to free the paladin. For some strange reason, the paladin was blocking my movement with its ZoC, preventing me from bringing my units around the revenant guard, and I could even attack the paladin in the cage if I wanted to, I suppose this is a bug? I don't see why the paladin would try to block me, and how he even could given he is in a cage. As you can see I got a huge early finish bonus, which affects the balance of the succeeding scenarios.


EDIT: I just noticed this section of the WML:
Spoiler:
It is a very interesting section. I could imagine that if the Gweddry or Dacyn really tries to kill Mal-Ravanal and fails, it would completely cement in place the motivation to travel all the way up north to get knowledge, and the null stone, and will help nullify the comments that some players have expressed in their feedback where they say that this whole campaign doesn't make sense. I know it's very difficult to kill Mal_Ravanal directly but I have an idea:
What if all of Mal-Ravanal's generals, necros, and liches, have some sort of dark energy connection to him and thus they can always feel him and know what he wants. So make such that after reducing the hitpoints to zero of one of the necros we have this dialog:

Code: Select all

Mal-Ravanal: (addressing his necromancer) Fool! You have let Dacyn, my long awaited enemy escape!
Necro: AAAHH I can feel his rage in my mind AAAAAHHHHH!
Dacyn: Wait Gweddry don't slay him yet! This is interesting, now that we are so close to the lich lord himself, perhaps I can tap into the connection Mal-Ravanal has with his generals to allow me to teleport to his location and finish what I should have done years ago!
Gweddry: Then go and get rid of him for the King of Wesnoth!
(Dacyn teleports to Mal-Ravanal's location)
Then at this point the regular dialog of #if Dacyn attacks Mal-Ravanal appears, and it shows them actually fighting (Just trigger some animations) and then the scenario ends.

Then for continuity purposes if the player then proceed to the last scenario Weldyn besieged Mal-Ravanal will say: For this brief period I have severed my link with my generals, you cannot pull any of your fancy tricks here Dacyn!
What do you guys think?

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by bumbadadabum » April 30th, 2015, 5:25 pm

Hmm the early finishing bonus might need some work.

The bug with the Knights/Paladin ZoC'ing the player has been fixed.

The dialogue that happens when Dacyn attacks Ravanal is meant to be an easter egg mostly, and making that always happen kinda defeats the purpose in my opinion.

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by Loci » May 1st, 2015, 9:58 pm

taptap wrote:The campaign should trap you and kill you for the dumb decision to march into the swamp, not reward you with a loyal unit + veterans (got 1 knight and the paladin, lost a shock trooper).
It's intended as an optional "challenge path", but it needs to provide some reward to make the detour worthwhile. If you make the scenario too punishing you might as well just remove it from the campaign. Also, players severely dislike scenarios that forcibly kill off troops (see the feedback for Evacuation as an example).

The loyal paladin is quite useful against the undead, and it's a reward that isn't available anywhere else in the campaign. The bonus gold, however, is rather unbalancing. Perhaps the early finish bonus could be made optional, dependent upon "defeating" Mal-Ravanal?

taptap wrote:It isn't really the gameplay, that is a problem, but the narrative simply doesn't work for me. I would rewrite the dialog of the earlier scenarios announcing that the paladin (pal of Darcyn) has an important plotitem for defeating the undead menace and meeting up could help and looking for his task force is what drives you eastward (which is otherwise really unmotivated and dumb), while reason reminds you to go westward instead.
Regarding the storyline, this scenario introduces some interesting details: Dacyn believes the attempt foolish, but defers leadership to Gweddry (which hints at why Dacyn was chosen--he follows orders he disagrees with). Gweddry's brash decision is rebuked, which helps show him growing from an unseasoned commander to a military leader over the course of the campaign. Meanwhile, the recovery of a valuable ally causes Dacyn to temper his sanctimonious attitude (another theme through the campaign). Finally, it teases the conflict between Dacyn and Mal-Ravanal.

Providing a hand-waved justification for traipsing through the swamp eliminates all the character growth from conflict and makes the story go flat.

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Re: Scenario Review: EI 4c - Mal-Ravanal's Capital

Post by taptap » May 1st, 2015, 11:29 pm

The logic behind a challenge path, that "needs reward", thus effectively makes the rest of the campaign easier, escapes me. The Rise of Wesnoth has a challenge path, that offers a challenge + makes the rest of the campaign more challenging, people play it for, yes, the challenge, not because they feel they need the reward for a playthrough on higher difficulties. Here it is exactly the other way round. Put the paladin in the easier path, but leave the knights in here and you could have a similar effect, maybe add a different loyal here, say one of the outlaw types - not as good as a loyal paladin, but an interesting, otherwise unaccessible special unit for the campaign.
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