[In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

General feedback and discussion of the game.

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Balroth
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Joined: September 20th, 2018, 7:14 pm

[In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Balroth » September 27th, 2018, 2:32 pm

Introduction
Hello!

By seeing the title, you may wonder why I haven't posted on the Mainline Campaign Feedback threads. Well, I plan to cover everything that could be improved in the campaign(from my playthrough and point of view), and it is hard to do so, when the threads split the campaign split into scenarios, as if they are 100% modular and seperate.

A note before you read further. I have categorized this post by sections, because this is a wall of text, literally. Writing incoherently and combining 9999 characters and strings in what resemebles a paragraph whose topic isn't even clear, is impossible to be insightful to the developers, or any player interested in reading.(bless BBcode)

A little background about myself as a player: I found this on steam some weeks ago, and played the following campaigns on the free time I had:
A tale of two brothers, An Orcish Incursion, The South Guard, Liberty, Dead Water (my fav of these), all on Challenging difficulty (and 1.14.4)
Aside of these, I have played no add-ons or MP at all. This campaign was finished in 1.14.5 Challenging and I would consider myself a newbie (people finishing Dead Water final scenario on nightmare with ease... I'm definitely a newbie.)

Of course, opinions inbound, but I will do my best to keep them as objective as possible. Covering mostly scenario/campaign design (balance included) and will go subjective on the Dialogues. This is not a review, but feedback and criticism on what can be improved. I will try my best to avoid mentioning what is "good","bad" and "fun".

All in all, this is written/created so when a developer seeks to improve it (I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who thinks it can be improved) he/she will have greater insight, and perhaps use this as a point of reference, maybe as a guide, instead of having criticism/feedback of "it is bad/unbalanced/boring" or "who designed this?!". I see the potential in this campaign, but damn, it is far from there. Although, this post and its content is open to any criticism itself by players alike. I have no idea on what the community or anyone thinks about this campaign so I am interested in others' opinion on the points I will mention.

To explain the [In-depth] Feedback. I will split the suggestions in 2 types.
Minor suggestions, where it is either a nitpick, or something minor or ignoreable/negligible, colored in teal
Major suggestions, where it is something I strongly recommend to improve the campaign experience, regardless how small of a suggestion, colored in Green

Finishing with the introduction, let's begin (apologies again for the post size, trying to compact it didn't work, since there is too much content to mention.)

1 - A Bargain is Struck

Seems like a nice start for a campaign. Not much to suggest/mention here. I attacked normally, and it was even "too easy" at some point, since I was overwhelming the enemy leader, so I tried to bring my leader over for some XP (extreme greed). Reinforcements happened and I realised that the difficulty is just right. Restarted since leader was like 5 turns away from castle, and not enough dwarfs to trade properly with elves.

Suggestion: The reinforcements to be mentioned in-dialogue. At least one more phrase in the likes of: "With the incoming reinforcements, you will surely realise this road is ours!" -> Counter-argument(aka why this is minor): It ruins the surprise of the reinforcements, in a way reducing the difficulty as well.

Restarting the scenario, spent all of my gold on scouts, rushed 100%, surrounded leader and when he got reinforcements, he had no slots. Fast victory, Early Finish bonus, but very little XP. I had no idea this was an alternative victory objective since I was planning to kill him fast, then slowly get the carriages. It skipped the boring (carriage) part, so it was for the best. The "alternative victory objective" will be re-mentioned in its own section.

2 - Closing the Gates


Reading the dialogue, I double-clicked once by mistake. Unlucky one, since I did it on the part that says where the glyphs are. Opening scenario objectives, I am not told of their location. Being punished for not reading the dialogue (one phrase/part, mind you) seems a weird choice. Scenario objectives say:
  • "Place someone on each of the six magic glyphs in order to close the dwarvish gates"
  • "Kill all the elves in the caves, after the gates are closed."
I had no idea if the glyphs were inside the cave, on the sides where fog of war is (outside of cave, but mountains) or to the right of castle (pic below)
And the design isn't made to be a "surprise" or explore to find them, since it is revealed in dialogue. However, punishing players for not reading the dialogue, especially by mistake is... definitely odd. Things like these, are really important, since it changes the "turn 0 planning/strategy", which influences the entire scenario. Dialogue being even misleading is something I will mention in later scenarios as well.

Suggestion:First objective (text) becomes: "Place someone on each of the six magic glyphs - 2 located in the gates, and the rest deeper in the caves - in order to close the dwarvish gates."

Alright, turn 0, completely clueless aside of the dialogue. So I have to keep the gate, and explore the cave. 3 sides. I sent 2 units to the right since it is not clear and not mentioned, but could be a leak/tunnel/flank for enemies. (where wesnoth horseman departed) But it was a dead end. Then I realised this is supposed to be the "entrance" to the capital. Restarted because those 2 units I sent were the most important ones.

Suggestion: Have vision to the right of your castle. Image

Alternative Win Objective -> Defeat all enemy leader(s)

Making a section on this, since this is occuring in every scenario with an enemy leader and I want to explain it once, and refer to it, instead of writing a paragraph everytime this is encountered.

Now, to write in detail about the "Alternative Win Objectives", which is an important suggestion/point. In every scenario with an enemy leader, if you kill all enemy leaders, you automatically win. In first scenario, it wasn't obvious (merely mentioned as one of the objectives, instead of explicitly alternative win objective, like Dead Water does) but on the rest of the scenarios, it is not even mentioned, thinking its not an (alternative) win condition at all, even when is implemented! Now, I won't suggest to "give bonuses" if you kill enemy leaders, since this campaign has more fundamental issues. But for each scenario with enemy leaders, explicitly say on scenario objectives: "Alternative win Objective: Defeat Enemy Leader(s)"
Why is it that important?
Because, knowing about that alternative win objective, you may plan around/towards that, instead of default objectives. While it is not extremely important, it definitely ruined my campaign from the "Hills of the Shorbear Clan", since I could more easily win by playing the long game, than rushing and sacrificing everything and be left with level 1 units for next scenarios. But I got ahead of myself (since we are still in scenario 2). This scenario (2 - Closing the Gates) can be won by killing the enemy leader and knowing that, I would definitely focus on that because it would be more fun to me, but I had no idea it was accepted as an victory objective. I mean, it is implemented in-game (for a good reason), then why hide it from the player? This really brings down the fun, since alternative win objectives are unique and fun, since the player chooses how they win, what way is more fun to them, and the alternative win conditions are already implemented in-game!(aside of scenario: 4 - gathering materials). But you got my point, repeating myself only dillutes it.

Suggestion: Add an explicit alternative win objective (text) in every scenario with enemy leader(s), which is "Defeat all enemy Leader(s)", like Dead Water, example pic: Image)

Bad Dialogue


Like the above, this deserves its own section since I don't want to mention the dialogue "scenarios" after every scenario, so this post is as clean as possible. Also, this is by far the post with the most subjectivity, so you may not agree with what I say here in this section, and that is totally fine. In a way, you could say they are nitpicks, and unlike the rest, they are not strong points of feedback, and I don't want the rest of this post to lose value if you disagree with this, so, emphasis on subjectivity. This section isn't as important as the other sections, above and below this one. Dialogue is important, but not as much as the "actual" gameplay, so feel free to ignore this section. Writing/Dialogue is 100% subjective after all.
Feedback on the dialogue comes in 2 parts
  • The Bad Humor (on some parts, mentioned below)
  • The character of Durstorn (aka the stereotype grumpy dwarf)
So, there is a tight siege, dwarfs barely escape, only because of the magic plot gate saving them. They come back to the "capital" and everyone is confused. Where is the wesnoth rider? Didn't he come over to explain? The dwarf (protagonist) instantly says: "Huh? Didn't a messenger come and tell you?" to a simple reply of "No."
And while they are instantly trying to explain the dire situation, the player (aka me) is thinking: "What happened?", "Did he die on his path?", "Did he betray them?", and even "Did Durstorn kill him?". Meanwhile, in-dialogue the situation is explained and linking with the next scenario (finding the runecrafter), when someone arrives.
It is the wesnoth rider who departed before the siege to inform them! And then the dialogue box:
"What did I miss, eh?"((cue sitcom laugh track))
In other words: "Haha! I'm late again LUL!".... Humor is subjective for sure, and I may even get blasted for this section, but it really kills the mood of the campaign (especially considering its ending.) I'm fine with humor, but this is just trying too hard for the most cliche gag.

Now, let's talk about the character of Durstorn. In pretty much every dialogue he is in, he is distrustful(main trait), annoying and bickering. But these traits are mostly cast aside, since everything he says or does, is just laughed off by other characters, perhaps for humor? Examples: Claiming master of trade deals -> fails deal -> can't deal with it -> goes to war -> everyone laughs it off ("Shut up all of you, attack them!"). Or, dustorn saying "You have to cut the gem? Are you insane?" to a mere reply of "But... we told you that" -> "Oh... right, right. Fine!". But my point is, aside of the bizzare humor, these main traits... the dialogue he is given... where does this all lead? With all the buildup and dialogue he is given? Oh... Going "We should surrender, live like cowards" to be instantly backstabbed, in a worse way than off-screen. The most anti-climactic moment in this game for me, since I expected him to be an enemy leader (or hell, give me the choice to play as him and backstab the rest)
I know this is subjective, especially when most reading this are like "who the f*ck is Durstorn" or "who cares about dialogue", but its a waste since he was given a lot of dialogue time, and it led nowhere, and his dialogue itself wasn't interesting by itself to be worth. Even ruining the mood, just look at the ending! One of the campaign's strongest points! A dramatic/epic arc, and while the campaign could have more of that mood, it got sometimes humor that is incompatible/questionable with the story.

A final example of bad dialogue is in "The jeweler"(dialogue/scenario), where there is some dialogue spent on finding thenganli, who is some tiles away -> "where is he" -> "on his shop" -> "go summon him here" -> "come out" -> "will be there soon" -> "He doesn't need to come, I will go over"(the 3 tiles difference lul) and then the actual dialogue continues.
Like, why? Why focus on something so mundane as moving/going to someone's house? What does it accomplish? It is such a small thing, but literally 0 reason to not cut this part entirely. Dialogue like this is one of the reasons players skip dialogue chunks.

3 - Searching (for) the Runecrafter

So, by dialogue and objectives, I was heavily hinted to explore/advance to find the one village/house. Alright, time to spam scouts again, just like first scenario.
Turn 1 passes and I see that the map is strangely shaped like a wave survival... no enemies in sight... hmmmmmmmmmmm... Given a gryphon to scout hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Restarted, since wrong recruits/planning. Also, the map shape encourages you to camp/turtle 100%, with no advancing party. Like, when most of the enemies are grinded to death in the "walls", simply sweep through and win.

Suggestion: In the dialogue, which says nothing of defence or camping or survival or waves, mention something along the lines: "It would be wise to defend for sometime, until most of the enemies are dealt with."

I tried not to mention the "good" parts, but I would like to mention the randomised house position, the gryphon character, and the turn extension upon finding the runecrafter. Saying this, because while it wasn't much fun (its just wave survival), this scenario was well polished.

4 - Gathering Materials


Fog of war on the left (a 1-tiled tunnel) and upwards on beginning. To be safe, split in 2. Turn 2~3, find out that the tunnel is a dead-end and it will take 5 turns for half of my army to reach main conflict. Restarted In fact, it is where the characters are supposed to have entered from, but in the cutscene/dialogue they spawned in the castle so I had no idea. While the scenario/map is random, in all 3 random tries the left tunnel appeared for me. (while writing this, I ran through the campaign with debugger to confirm/research/polish my points)

Suggestion: Add vision to the left tunnel.

Restarting, it was very easy, because 2 leaders just spent their all in fighting each other. So it was me with my level 2 army, versus an level 1 army. After that, it took like 5 turns to sweep both enemy leaders who had pretty much nothing. Then... I was confused. I had found/mined the gold, but not the coal. It took me like some turns to find out, after manually inspecting every tile... Then, the boring turns for the miners to bring it to the castle, once identified (no enemies, mind you, just spamming end turn). The thing is, the coal is just a black sprite applied on top of the tile, but it has a weird pattern and it camouflages/hides really good with the cave floor. Finding one of the 2 coal took time, but finding the second took almost as much time. It had mixed with the mushrooms perfectly, and was really hard to spot if you don't know what you are looking for, with the ground being so similar! Gold is a stark contrast with it, but not coal.

Suggestion: Make Coal more obvious. While an "water" animation(to catch the eye, just like gold does with its color contrast) would be ideal, I get its too much effort. Making it full-black would make a player think its a wall, but since its not fully extended to cover a tile, they should notice it because of the corners of the tile. tl;dr: make coal visible to the 100% newbie

Suggestion: Alternative win objective (Defeat all enemy leaders), since after you defeat them, gathering all the resources is a pure waste of time with 0 challenge. (also imagine being of those few people who beat the enemy leaders, but not enough time to bring the miner to the starting castle, and having to restart the scenario...)

No balancing suggestion (it was easy for me since I was only fighting 1 leader instead of 3, and even lost 0 units) since the map is 100% random, and with that nature, I can't suggest anything. However, it is puzzling to see one scenario have a random map, which means more random design(usually worse than hand-crafted and also non-consistent feedback) in order to increase replayability, but the other scenarios are not random which means the campaign has 0 replayability. Hmmmm...

5 - Hills of the Shorbear Clan

Up to this point, the campaign wasn't really fun, but still enjoyable. But this... This scenario is the turning point.

So, in this scenario, you have to kill the enemy leader, then come back. Enemy leader spawns level 1&2 units, and the map is set in his favor. (His base having so many villages to rest, and superior terrain) His HP? 80, with 30% and 40% resistances to everything, except arcane (aka runehammers only)
Which means, you must do more than 100 hp damage to kill him. In other words, you can't rush him, otherwise his units will pick your crumbling formation apart until all ur units are inside (especially when he is camping in a death trap) since objective isn't simply to kill him, but also to kill everything inside.

Alright, then I slowly get the villages around, and by income, slowly grind in.
Elves appear, obviously enemies. Still possible to win. My griffon plays were really perfect to outplay half the elves.
Thing is, over time, I can't recover my units (only 3 villages) while enemy can, and I only broke through the "gate"/death trap, on around turn 15? Admittedly, I played badly, I think it could be done 1~3 turns earlier if I replayed. Meanwhile, he still had armies to cover the "gate" if he so wished, but not many, and my army was half-bleeding and didn't have the manpower to storm inside with ease. Elves werent such a problem, surprisingly. Thing is, turn limit means that if I played safely so not a lot of units die, I would lose by turn limit. The more I waited, the weaker my army. Especially when I falsely thought I also had to kill him and run back to the starting caves... Hence, ignored every threat and stormed in. Wait. Scenario Objectives: 5 loyal units must not die. All of them vital, otherwise its impossible to win... Also with a godlike/tanky enemy leader. Seems balanced.

Now, you see, the whole point here, is that I HAD to storm in, all-in style. There was no other objective. If I knew I could win by killing the elves as well (who had 3 units by the point I decided to storm in) as an alternative win objective, I could spend a few more turns to proceed safely and win, still with pressure, but plausible without many sacrifices. Slowly inflitrating inside the villages and fortress. But nope, I had no idea you could win by killing the enemy leaders, and turn limit was the limit here.(no pun intended) I would probably try to grind in, if I understood the scenario objectives better aka going to enemy cave after enemy boss, not starting cave, which in my mind meant -5 turns to run back, and hence I had no turns to act - a false assumption that cost me the campaign. In other words, I confused the scenario objectives and thought: "Kill enemy leader and run back to the start, ignoring everything", instead of "Kill all enemy dwarfs inside the cave" which costed me.

I could win with far less sacrifices, but I almost killed everyone and their grandmother ancestor to kill boss/leader, meatshield for loyal units, and reach cave. And from that point, I was left with loyal units and level 1 units.

Generally, regardless of what dialogue says, I look into scenario objectives so as to confirm what I have to plan around.
Scenario objectives:
  • "Defeat Glonoin, the Shorbear clan leader" -> crystal clear
  • "Have all heroes in the Shorbear caves while no enemies are in the caves" -> what are shorbear caves? Why are they not the ones we started in, since this is shorbear territory. This is confusing. I originally thought it was my own caves, but I also suspected it could be a mistake and it meant the enemy leader's.
And while you may be thinking: "How stupid must you be to not understand blabla", the objectives, same with rules in a game, must be crystal clear to everyone. Even if they change, they must be 100% explicit. Not everyone leaves feedback, not everyone has the same chain of thoughts and not every player posts to these forums, and I suspect a lot have had issues with the objectives but they had no idea since they either won or lost, not looking into details like this.

Spoiler tags, because on the discussion/feedback below, an even better suggestion appeared (to make it 100% clear)
Spoiler:
Suggestion: Rename second objective to: "Have all heroes in the Great Shorbear Cave while no enemies are inside"


Upon killing the leader, the dialogue is more or less: "Now, with the tools, lets go back to our own caves" -> "How do you plan to do that? Elves are swarming these hills." -> "We will break out eventually" (next dialogue says every1 to go to the shorbear caves, but it doesnt mean much).

Suggestion: Change the "How do you plan to do that? Elves are swarming these hills" -> "How do you plan to do that? We cannot go back to the caves we started! Elves are swarming these hills!" so as to make it crystal clear on which caves this refers to.

Suggestion: Alternative win Objective: "Defeat all enemy leaders"

Suggestion: Killing the enemy dwarf leader, you gain an turn extension of 2 turns

Suggestion: In-dialogue somewhere, hint/nod the use of 1 or more gryphon riders.(to capture villages)

The above suggestions remedy this broken scenario a lot. Broken how? Leader is tanky+dmg(really really strong/good leader, especially on good terrain with that 30% to hit), with turn limit being super tight. But on top of that, you cannot lose any of 5 units?! While I was doing almost perfectly on Challenging Difficulty, it feels like the difficulty curve formed an sharp cliff, which is even worse when it is artificial - made of not giving explicit objectives/goals to the player. The suggestions above should help this scenario's design.(especially when this scenario the breaking point of this campaign)

Not feedback, but on the potential: Imagine if you could spend 300 gold to buy the tools(and skip this scenario, or dwarfs become neutral and u have to run to the caves with many elves spawning). Since a great part of dialogue in this campaign is about bargaining... One can hope.

6 - Towards the Caves


So, after the trainwreck that was scenario 5 - Hills of the Shorbear Clan, having lost all the units I cared for (except loyal units) I'm left with level 1 and loyals.
Horrible dialogue happens *Referring the backstab of Durstorn, look into Dialogue section*
Having no chance to win this, with only gold at my side, and nothing else, since the difficulty seems to continue the trend of previous scenario, I gave it a full try with level 1 units, but it was almost a chore to play this through.
However, I really wanted to see how it continues, so, since the design is broken (previous scenario, leading to this, what a combo) I decided to break the game as well, and use the debugger. Not much to suggest here, I didn't play properly to suggest anything of value, except these.

Suggestion: Alternative win condition: "Defeat all enemy leaders" (for the very few that are so good, and instead of escaping can kill the 3 leaders within 12 turns.)

Suggestion:(minor since it tweaks the design goal of this scenario, from an "must quickly escape" to "let's slowly grind and win") For each enemy leader killed, you get 5 turns to the limit added.

Suggestion: In-dialogue, suggest for the wesnoth rider to go alone, since that is the optimal way to finish the scenario. Instead of opposing it saying it is suicide, which is an false hint on not getting him alone.

7 - Outriding the Outriders

Discussing this point/feedback below, it seems like this is partially invalid, and not explained properly. Hence, the original is included in spoiler tags. It's still worth reading, but this is not as valid as the rest of the points presented on this post.
It's impossible to cut the discussion below that lead to this great suggestion, in a single paragraph, so if you want to see why this suggestion is so "valuable", do look at the excellent replies :eng:

Suggestion:
When Alanin dies, he says (dialogue):
"If... I planned more carefully... the outriders could never reach me..." *death sound effect*

Suggestion: Alternative Win condition -> Kill the Outriders. However, this definitely needs to be hidden (unlike the above mentioned alternative win objectives, aka hide it in scenario objectives). Otherwise, players will try not to run and test their ZoC, but fight from the 2nd/3rd village, and savescum until RnG favors them, which is horrible. This is a puzzle scenario where you must run away after all. Even so, I guess it is a controversial suggestion, since it takes away the "puzzle scenario where you can only run", but since that part still stays true, and killing them is only mixed with it instead of replacing it, I still strongly suggest this. Obviously, the "spawn 3 outriders when 1 dies" part, should be removed for this to work, but ultimately, I think this is design-wise better

With the Alanin quote and this, this scenario will definitely be much improved.
Spoiler:

8 - The Dragon


Before I present the suggestions, I would like to say that the fun instantly climbed, perfect contrast from the chores of before scenarios, also acknowledging the stakes up to here, and generally the level and scenario design is really good. (Also dat dragon sprite!)

So, I start, going to the right with an "fastest traversal formation". Sudden enemies from the left destroy my fail formation. Restart.

Suggestion: In the dialogue, take the turn 1 dialogue of mercenary dwarfs, and somehow implement it into turn 0. So as you can plan properly and make an "fodder wall" by knowing that. I would suggest not, but to do it more smartly, by giving vision of them from turn 0, and letting the rest of the dialogue as is. It's all about the clear turn 0 objectives.(player objectives, not game objectives)

In the dialogue, at one point, it says: "Then we shall run. I suggest calling to arms every last dwarf we possibly can here. This ->might<- be the last chance we'll get to do so." while I had almost no one to recall because of scenario 5, I wasn't sure about the recalling. Especially if it was the last scenario or not.(even if it didn't say Note: "This is the final scenario")

Suggestion: Take this quote: "Then we shall run. I suggest calling to arms every last dwarf we possibly can here. This might be the last chance we'll get to do so." and tweak it to this:
"Then we shall run. I suggest calling to arms every last dwarf we possibly can here. This is definitely the last chance we'll get to do so on our travels. This is not the end, but no more troops will be joining us" (which also confirms/communicates to the player that this isn't final scenario for sure, especially with these dwarfs)

There is a wall to the right, pic: Image, which makes you question if there are 2 roads instead of a linear one (downwards), both "possible paths" shown in the pic actually lead to a wall. There is no need for this thought/confusion and wasting a turn or units for that. Making it fully walled should make the level design even better. After all, if there is nothing to explore, no need to make it a possible point of interest

Suggestion: Replace the shown walkable terrain with wall there (or lava?)

9 - Caverns of Flame

Excellent scenario, continues the buildup of the previous one.

Aside of feedback, I also have a bug to report, if the units stay at the beginning, the elves "spawn over" them ,pic: Image

Only 2 "points" to mention here. Both related to activating the eruption.

When you activate it, the dialogue says: "Look, it has knocked down some of the walls ((which walls?)) Those orcs have a way out now!" with the camera doing a very fast focus and out of there. I had no idea what the camera did, since I barely noticed any wall fell.(re-loaded to confirm for this post)

Suggestion: Tweak this dialogue: "Look, it has knocked down some of the walls. Those orcs have a way out now!" to "Look, it has knocked down the walls those orcs were residing! They will attack the elves now!" -> "And us." and camera staying for a little more time to showcase the falling.

After the "orcs + walls" dialogue is mentioned, the dialogue says: "Now we must fight orcs until we die, it's our only option." and then you get scenario objective: "Kill all elves before one of them escapes from the caves". That is one hell of a design conflict.

Suggestion: (since the elves don't escape or try to, not even one of them)Change scenario objective text: "Kill all elves before one of them escapes from the caves" to -> "Kill all the trapped elves"

Suggestion: convert the dialogue of "Now we must fight orcs until we die, it's our only option." to something along the lines of "Fighting orcs until we die, it's our only option. But killing the elves that got us here would be a fine revenge!" (makes the ending even better ;) )

Nothing else to add on the gameplay feedback. The effort/time on this post would be enough to finish a full campaign. Although, perhaps a mention to the great warriors, the strugglers between the lava cracks... full of cowardice and the passion to survive, before falling deep into Mount Doom the realm of Death.
Image rip forgettable dwarfs

10 - Epilogue


Took all the hype of the previous part, and when you thought it reached the climax, the epilogue took it even higher than the gryphons.
Neutral on the part that the "proof" was some gryphon (in my opinion, best character in the entire campaign, which means the other characters weren't good enough), but it was so good a conclusion that I instantly forgave it, it's excellent really. Even in all of the horrible moments, the campaign still shines through. The potential is there. Scenarios 8~10 are an perfect showcase of that.

Wall of Text's Epilogue

29K characters up to this point, oof. I hope by categorizing on sections, you aren't confused and the points were explained perfectly, I tried my best to make them crystal clear. If you reached here without scrolling straight here, you are a damn hero. Reading this must have taken similar effort to writing this, just because it is so huge. Now, to finish up all the misc stuff and slay this behemoth of a post.

I covered a LOT of stuff in one post, it must be too much info to swallow at once, but I wanted to have it all concentrated in one place, so the devs have it all gathered in one place. Even if some are not agreed or ignored, it doesn't matter as long this post helps make the campaign better!

Some of the points above may not apply (or be agreed) by players here, because of the skill difference and could easily ignore these unintentionally. I did cover a lot however that is difficulty-unrelated and I hope are agreed on. Especially the balancing/difficulty related, are probably unrelateable to most, since most newbie-level players don't have forum accounts, and they don't bother voice their opinions so I tried to be as objective as possible, to not side with anyone, but help the developers in finding the fundamental design flaws, regardless of difficulty. However, I would like to note that Expert Difficulty doesn't mean it's an excuse for broken design, although it is appropriate for scenarios like "Outriding the Outriders" (feelsbadman)

Dropping an "alternative ending" idea, cuz it can work and it's just an idea:
Wesnoth rider dying isn't a defeat condition, but if it happens, it triggers an alternative ending, where the King is never notified (replacing his dialogue with monologue, something along the lines of : "Stupid Dwarves, elves hate them for a reason, I spent so much silver on a hollow deal.") and disables the "Outriding the Outriders" scenario. Makes the campaign better, more forgiving (with same difficulty), less savescumming, and alternative ending.

While this post is open to criticism like the campaign, if you disagree with some of the points mentioned above, please don't link them with the rest. Example: "I don't agree with these 2 points" -> Conclusion: "This whole post's feedback is just newbie trash" but still, do reply, criticism is constructive, even if negative.

Some of the points may be controversial, some may not, but if any developer finds this useful, I will try to do this again for other campaigns that I will play in the future (hopefully not as unpolished as this, this took so much time to write!) I have played so little BoW and doing this is definitely new, but I love deconstructing games!

also no tl;dr if you scrolled here, this post is so huge for a reason. (inb4 "too stupid to understand scenario objectives haha!")

Thank you for reading this, hope you enjoyed it :mrgreen:
Last edited by Balroth on October 2nd, 2018, 1:38 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Pentarctagon
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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Pentarctagon » September 28th, 2018, 12:20 am

I would nonetheless suggest posting feedback in the respective scenario threads for a campaign, otherwise a few months or more from now this thread will likely be buried and lost as opposed to what you took the time to post still being available with the rest of the scenario feedback in a single location.
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take one down, patch it around
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otzenpunk
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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by otzenpunk » September 28th, 2018, 1:39 am

Balroth wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 2:32 pm
You may trash me for being newbie or bad, do so freely, but difficulty shouldn't sway so much(it goes back to what I was used to, after this scenario)
It felt frustrating so I just opened the debugger to see how the campaign resumes.
Well, I wouldn't "trash" anybody for being unexperienced, but I strongly guess, that this campaign on this difficulty level was just a little bit too much for you. (Rather than assuming that a long-time mainline campaign like this is somehow greatly unbalanced without anybody noticing.)

Campaign play in Wesnoth centers around your army improving. That means, later scenarios aren't neccessarily meant to be solved with minimum starting gold and unexperienced troops, otherwise they would be boring to those players who perform better, save money and improve their army. There is always a type of corridor regarding recalls and gold, where the campaign is going to be fun. If you grossly outperform this expectation, amass lots of gold and always have the best units at hand, later scenarios in a campaign turn to a cakewalk and aren't much fun. Then it's probably time to play a harder difficulty level. On the other hand, if you almost lose your whole army in a scenario, like you described happened in the "Hills of Shorbear Clan" scenario, it's probably because you played the scenario wrong, and/or you got there with an insufficient army in the first place. In this case, it's probably better to restart the campaign or at least go several scenarios back, where you think you might have entered the slippery slope. You didn't mention how many starting gold you had, or what level your troops were, but that your leader in your last screenshot is still level 2 is a strong hint for me, that the latter might be what was the case. That also explains, why you describe the Shorbear Clan leader as some kind of uber warrior. ("Effectively 100 hp", etc.)

Notice also, that the Sceptre of Fire campaign is described as "expert level", unlike the other campaigns you said you already managed to beat. This means, "challenging" in this campaign is not necessarily on the same skill level than "challenging" on an intermediate or beginner level campaign.
7 - Outriding the Outriders

The main issue with this scenario is that it is really broken. Like, unlike the rest where strategy/planning is what determines the game, and RnG is just playing out, RnG is the main force here. You can do really good and still lose, many times. Any strategy you pick, RnG is the main enemy here, not anything else, which is super weird.
I don't agree with this. I mean, I played this campaign a while ago, but I don't think the scenario has changed much since. And when I played it, Alanin did not have to engage in a single fight. First thing is: Leave the first village aside and ride directly to the second, which is—surprise—9 hexes away from your starting point. Use the village people to form a ZoC line to prevent the Elves from reaching your hero, but try to use as good defensive terrain as possible. (Ctrl-V is your friend.) Of course, there may be cases, where the RNG totally screws you and the Elves succeed with every hit on your 60% defense spearman, but under normal circumstances this scenario ist quite manageable .

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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Balroth » September 28th, 2018, 1:28 pm

Pentarctagon wrote:I would nonetheless suggest posting feedback in the respective scenario threads for a campaign, otherwise a few months or more from now this thread will likely be buried and lost as opposed to what you took the time to post still being available with the rest of the scenario feedback in a single location.
Even if I take the scenario parts and post them, a lot of my points will be lost. e.g. unclear scenario objectives, bizzare dialogue or my experience flow from one scenario to the next(see spiral from 5 onwards)
Leaving feedback on 6 - Towards the Caves being horrible, is unconstructive, when I decimated my army in scenario 5. It's inconsistent/bad feedback and not helpful because you will think 6 - Towards the Caves is super-hard in my point of view, while it is not. It's only confusing for everyone, hence this post to link everything together from my playthrough experience
otzenpunk wrote:
Balroth wrote:You may trash me for being newbie or bad, do so freely, but difficulty shouldn't sway so much(it goes back to what I was used to, after this scenario)
It felt frustrating so I just opened the debugger to see how the campaign resumes.
Well, I wouldn't "trash" anybody for being unexperienced, but I strongly guess, that this campaign on this difficulty level was just a little bit too much for you. (Rather than assuming that a long-time mainline campaign like this is somehow greatly unbalanced without anybody noticing.)

Campaign play in Wesnoth centers around your army improving. That means, later scenarios aren't neccessarily meant to be solved with minimum starting gold and unexperienced troops, otherwise they would be boring to those players who perform better, save money and improve their army. There is always a type of corridor regarding recalls and gold, where the campaign is going to be fun. If you grossly outperform this expectation, amass lots of gold and always have the best units at hand, later scenarios in a campaign turn to a cakewalk and aren't much fun. Then it's probably time to play a harder difficulty level. On the other hand, if you almost lose your whole army in a scenario, like you described happened in the "Hills of Shorbear Clan" scenario, it's probably because you played the scenario wrong, and/or you got there with an insufficient army in the first place. In this case, it's probably better to restart the campaign or at least go several scenarios back, where you think you might have entered the slippery slope. You didn't mention how many starting gold you had, or what level your troops were, but that your leader in your last screenshot is still level 2 is a strong hint for me, that the latter might be what was the case. That also explains, why you describe the Shorbear Clan leader as some kind of uber warrior. ("Effectively 100 hp", etc.)
First of all, thank you very much for the feedback, it more or less confirms some of my points on difficulty and my skill.

I agree on the campaign play, and up to scenario 5 - Hills of the Shorbear Clan, I barely lost anyone (although on scenario 2 I lost some) and even on 4 - Gathering Materials I lost not a single unit, and levelled so many. In other words, 4 - Gathering Materials, was by far the easiest for me and I stomped through everything with ease (related to how the random map was laid out), and 5 was an really sharp difficulty curve.

On scenario 5, I didn't lose my whole army like that in an instant or throughout the scenario, I was slowly winning/killing enemy units but my units were mostly half hp and swapping the front lines often to keep the momentum (and lose no one). The whole massacre happened while (and after) I was trying to kill the dwarf leader when I forced my way inside the fortress because I misunderstood the objectives. Before that (turn 15?) I had lost only 3 units if I recall right. In your words, I played the scenario wrong, and you are correct, indeed!(mentioned more in below paragraph) I definitely didn't play optimally until that turn, but I didn't have any major difficulty or challenge aside of killing those 30% dwarfs over time (bless runemasters) Also, for the leader, giving emphasis on his stats, since I'm used to sniping/killing leaders in a singular/maximum 2 turns, and this is the first time it took 3 turns with heavy counter-attack damage, atop with that 30%, hence the emphasis on his hp+resistances. (especially when his army is punishing/killing heavily my snipe/reformation)

To emphasize/clear my point here, if I knew that I could simply kill the elf leader and dwarf leader, this would be almost as easy as scenario 3/4, and I wouldn't have such a spiral thereafter. Alternatively, if I knew I had to kill the enemy leader and stay inside that cave (my mistake of misunderstanding, but the scenario objective wasn't crystal clear so I'm definitely not alone on this) I wouldn't have ran to my caves and back to the enemy's (knowing the objectives, and seeing how I played, you would rightly call extremely stupid or trying to intentionally lose)

Quoting myself on what I wrote above:
While I was doing almost perfectly on Challenging Difficulty, it feels like the difficulty curve formed an sharp cliff, which is even worse when it is **artificial** - made of not giving explicit objectives/goals to the player.
Artificial difficulty, because the scenario was not badly balanced, but I misunderstood the objectives and proceeded to do something that was by far the worst strategy/plan for me, hence the (fake) difficulty curve. And I can already see people going like "how can you fail understanding 1 line" but I have spammed the "crystal clear objective" argument so many times now, and I don't want to write 2 more paragraphs on it (so many walls of text already~)
But I'm definitely not alone, and thinking about it now, I should simply restart the scenario. But isn't it a waste of time to waste 10+ turns and reload, because of not explicitly phrasing the objective?
otzenpunk wrote: Notice also, that the Sceptre of Fire campaign is described as "expert level", unlike the other campaigns you said you already managed to beat. This means, "challenging" in this campaign is not necessarily on the same skill level than "challenging" on an intermediate or beginner level campaign.
True indeed, but I had improved from that campaign, and I was breezing through this campaign, so the difficulty up to Scenario 5 (4 scenarios) was proper for me. And excluding " 7- Outriding the outriders", having not misunderstood the scenario objectives - especially when the "Defeat the enemy leaders" was hidden! - I'm certain I would breeze through every scenario, like I did even on the last 2 , where I had only 2 lvl 3 units aside of loyal units, instead of my Scenario 5 army
Off-topic, Dead Water(Intermediate-Challenging) was harder than SoF(Expert-Challenging)(for me), so while I agree with the quote, it is not always the case

otzenpunk wrote:
Balroth wrote: 7 - Outriding the Outriders

The main issue with this scenario is that it is really broken. Like, unlike the rest where strategy/planning is what determines the game, and RnG is just playing out, RnG is the main force here. You can do really good and still lose, many times. Any strategy you pick, RnG is the main enemy here, not anything else, which is super weird.
I don't agree with this. I mean, I played this campaign a while ago, but I don't think the scenario has changed much since. And when I played it, Alanin did not have to engage in a single fight. First thing is: Leave the first village aside and ride directly to the second, which is—surprise—9 hexes away from your starting point. Use the village people to form a ZoC line to prevent the Elves from reaching your hero, but try to use as good defensive terrain as possible. (Ctrl-V is your friend.) Of course, there may be cases, where the RNG totally screws you and the Elves succeed with every hit on your 60% defense spearman, but under normal circumstances this scenario ist quite manageable .
I mostly agree with you on this, but I want to explain something. The difficulty of this scenario is wildly different than the rest of the campaign. It's more of a puzzle (including RnG) where if you don't optimally (terrain) use ZoC, you are lost. Even if you breeze through the rest of the campaign, this is a complete different experience since this scenario focuses on a exclusive set of skill: ZoC and abusing A.I. , something that is not focused in the rest of the scenarios. It's manageable if you are good on these, and I have to admit, I suck at these. And I did really good up to here without them. Also, I did go to the second village every time, since it seemed to me at least, that the first village almost seals the defeat (can't confirm since I haven't replayed it without debugger, but if so, why is it there?)

So, my main point here: This scenario's difficulty and design is different from the rest, since the next 2 scenarios go back to "normal" difficulty and are accomplishable. Without debugger, I would simply be stuck there and drop campaign. (or cheat in an alternative way, by seeing walkthrough, which I did see after the debugger to see how it is properly completed)
Perhaps its a reason I blame the RnG, because I was frustrated at this scenario, trying to complete it with bad strategy, thinking its the scenario's RnG design that is broken, not my strategy. (well, at least now I know about the ctrl+V and optimal ZoC)

Up until scenario 5, my feedback is more or less accurate, as in, players of similar skills or understanding may more or less be in my position, but after it, having no armies for scenario 6, using debugger for 6+7, my feedback for 6/7 and onwards is just from my personal (and rare) experience, but it still holds merit, hence why no suggestion on 7 - Outriding the Outriders and 6's is more or less scenario objectives text oriented

Ultimately, it more or less proves my point that difficulty/skill played a huge role, even if I did breeze through, mostly because of the outriders scenario. After all, this is feedback from a "newbie" and may not be agreed fully (e.g. your argument on outriders where you are correct, but some of my points still stand)

Once again, thanks for the feedback, it was insightful to hear other players' experience through the same scenarios :mrgreen:
(also makes me wish I had saved the replays :doh: )

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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Tad_Carlucci » September 28th, 2018, 5:10 pm

The best way to get changes looked at is to make them and put up a Github Pull Request for review and approval. As a PR you can include any number of changes, so you could handle all your points in one place.

The next-best way is create GitHub Issues for each point. While it's entirely possible to create an Issue with a lot of points, it's unlikely such an issue would be acted upon. Brief, single-subject issues work best since they can be categorized, prioritized, and handled, separately.

Following that, adding your thoughts on each scenario to the existing topic for that scenario will eventually be reviewed by someone.

Creating an omnibus review like this one, however, will fairly quickly be lost. While some might remember it exists, few, if any, of us are likely to go searching through all the topics in all the forums to locate it again. You might get comments, but you're setting yourself up for feeling you've been ignored if you don't work with us.
I forked real life and now I'm getting merge conflicts.

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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Balroth » September 28th, 2018, 8:45 pm

Tad_Carlucci wrote:
September 28th, 2018, 5:10 pm
The best way to get changes looked at is to make them and put up a Github Pull Request for review and approval. As a PR you can include any number of changes, so you could handle all your points in one place.

The next-best way is create GitHub Issues for each point. While it's entirely possible to create an Issue with a lot of points, it's unlikely such an issue would be acted upon. Brief, single-subject issues work best since they can be categorized, prioritized, and handled, separately.

Following that, adding your thoughts on each scenario to the existing topic for that scenario will eventually be reviewed by someone.

Creating an omnibus review like this one, however, will fairly quickly be lost. While some might remember it exists, few, if any, of us are likely to go searching through all the topics in all the forums to locate it again. You might get comments, but you're setting yourself up for feeling you've been ignored if you don't work with us.
Well I had no idea how suggestions work, like, what is the process to get in-game and thanks for explaining me the process. I sadly don't have enough time to edit myself, hence this is in the hopes someone else will be interested, and I do get your points, there must be so many pull requests by now haha

You are right on the omnibus review argument, and this may be lost over time, since there definitely isn't an abundance of developers, so perhaps in some months from now I will have plenty of free time to try and implement the above, or at least the dialogue and victory objective text, although I'm kinda sad that it will be in quite sometime from now, since this month I'm very busy (made the above post and played the campaign in all of the free time I had)

Even if its unrelated on the campaign feedback, thanks for filling me in on how features/changes are implemented :mrgreen:

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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by zookeeper » September 29th, 2018, 7:08 am

For what it's worth, I think the thread is fine; you've posted a link to the first scenario's feedback thread, so it's not like this can get magically lost in a few months.

Anyway, one point in particular sounded odd:
Balroth wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 2:32 pm
The main issue with this scenario is that it is really broken. Like, unlike the rest where strategy/planning is what determines the game, and RnG is just playing out, RnG is the main force here. You can do really good and still lose, many times. Any strategy you pick, RnG is the main enemy here, not anything else, which is super weird. I mean, this game has some hardcore RnG but it is balanced by hardcore strategy/planning, but focusing mostly on RnG is just.... bad. The moment I (falsely?) realised this, I just opened the debugger once more.

Going from one village to the next? 1 tile away. Meaning your unit will die. 2 (out)riders attacking your unit means you will likely die and lose. Villages are more of a meatshield and movementshield (since they spawn 3 units) Thing is, there are 2 villages, that are 10 tiles away, when rider has 9 Movement Points. Aka vulnerable for 1 whole turn with no fodder, by 5+ riders. At some point I realised that instead of forming a wall over the main unit, I should use them as mere road-blocks. But still, RnG can destroy the same succesful strategy, but not as easily as using them merely as bodyshields. Most players won't notice that and will try and be puzzled (like me) why the village is 10 tiles away but unit moves only for 9. It didn't make me experiment, just save-scum (*cough open debugger after some tries cough*) since I thought that was the solution and I was doing something wrong I couldn't grasp, I literally hit a wall. (especially when killing outriders, more spawn with no explanation)
I tried this myself, and even on challenging, I was able to consistently avoid Alanin being in mortal danger. And there are no outriders spawning when you kill them, either. It would be interesting to see a replay where it's the RNG that leads to defeat despite good play, because I couldn't reproduce that.

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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Balroth » September 30th, 2018, 12:58 pm

zookeeper wrote:
Balroth wrote:The main issue with this scenario is that it is really broken. Like, unlike the rest where strategy/planning is what determines the game, and RnG is just playing out, RnG is the main force here. You can do really good and still lose, many times. Any strategy you pick, RnG is the main enemy here, not anything else, which is super weird. I mean, this game has some hardcore RnG but it is balanced by hardcore strategy/planning, but focusing mostly on RnG is just.... bad. The moment I (falsely?) realised this, I just opened the debugger once more.

Going from one village to the next? 1 tile away. Meaning your unit will die. 2 (out)riders attacking your unit means you will likely die and lose. Villages are more of a meatshield and movementshield (since they spawn 3 units) Thing is, there are 2 villages, that are 10 tiles away, when rider has 9 Movement Points. Aka vulnerable for 1 whole turn with no fodder, by 5+ riders. At some point I realised that instead of forming a wall over the main unit, I should use them as mere road-blocks. But still, RnG can destroy the same succesful strategy, but not as easily as using them merely as bodyshields. Most players won't notice that and will try and be puzzled (like me) why the village is 10 tiles away but unit moves only for 9. It didn't make me experiment, just save-scum (*cough open debugger after some tries cough*) since I thought that was the solution and I was doing something wrong I couldn't grasp, I literally hit a wall. (especially when killing outriders, more spawn with no explanation)
I tried this myself, and even on challenging, I was able to consistently avoid Alanin being in mortal danger. And there are no outriders spawning when you kill them, either. It would be interesting to see a replay where it's the RNG that leads to defeat despite good play, because I couldn't reproduce that.
You are correct, it's more or less what otzenpunk above mentioned. To quote myself
Perhaps its a reason I blame the RnG, because I was frustrated at this scenario, trying to complete it with bad strategy, thinking its the scenario's RnG design that is broken, not my strategy. (well, at least now I know about the ctrl+V and optimal ZoC)
My skill level (at least on ZoC and recognizing A.I. priority moves) is really bad, and I played horribly on that point. I insisted on the same strategy (more or less, move them like 1/2 tiles away so they cannot hit Alanin) not thinking there is a better one. In other words, the outriders "are pure RnG" point of mine, is completely invalid, indeed. But some of my points on that scenario still stand, like, I can beat every scenario except this, why is the difficulty so "different" than the rest?(not difficult, but it requires good ZoC understanding and ctrl+v that I never used, literally testing 1/2 skills exclusively and suddenly mandatory that aren't required anywhere else in the campaign, or you have to cheat(debugger/walkthrough) or just drop the campaign of frustration)
Not opening the debugger or seeing a walkthrough, I would be stuck there, and generally, the fun/enjoyment was ruined. Also, the scenario doesn't "hint" on the strategy to use and win, and that "1 tile away" village definitely made me certain that I was on good path and something on the game was wrong, not my strategy.

Also, on the outriders, when there are 3 and you kill one, 3 more spawn adjacently, it doesn't need debugger, but ofc its easier with that. (1.14.5 version)

Lastly, take a look into my reply to otzenpunk on the Outriders, but thinking about it now, do you think I should edit/fix the main post's "7 - Outriding the Outriders"? (so as the readers won't have to read this whole post and for the main post to be more organized, especially when an invalid point, devalues the rest)

Thanks for the feedback :mrgreen:

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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by zookeeper » September 30th, 2018, 9:17 pm

Balroth wrote:
September 30th, 2018, 12:58 pm
You are correct, it's more or less what otzenpunk above mentioned. To quote myself
Perhaps its a reason I blame the RnG, because I was frustrated at this scenario, trying to complete it with bad strategy, thinking its the scenario's RnG design that is broken, not my strategy. (well, at least now I know about the ctrl+V and optimal ZoC)
My skill level (at least on ZoC and recognizing A.I. priority moves) is really bad, and I played horribly on that point. I insisted on the same strategy (more or less, move them like 1/2 tiles away so they cannot hit Alanin) not thinking there is a better one. In other words, the outriders "are pure RnG" point of mine, is completely invalid, indeed. But some of my points on that scenario still stand, like, I can beat every scenario except this, why is the difficulty so "different" than the rest?(not difficult, but it requires good ZoC understanding and ctrl+v that I never used, literally testing 1/2 skills exclusively and suddenly mandatory that aren't required anywhere else in the campaign, or you have to cheat(debugger/walkthrough) or just drop the campaign of frustration)
Not opening the debugger or seeing a walkthrough, I would be stuck there, and generally, the fun/enjoyment was ruined. Also, the scenario doesn't "hint" on the strategy to use and win, and that "1 tile away" village definitely made me certain that I was on good path and something on the game was wrong, not my strategy.
Sure, it's definitely a scenario which requires the player to optimize their moves and to micromanage ZoC, and there's basically not much leeway in how you can play it; you can't wing it by gut feeling the way you can in most normal battle scenarios (on easier difficulties and/or easier campaigns, anyway) but have to make a few very precisely calculated moves, so it probably feels very different. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with puzzle scenarios like that, but it's true that regardless of difficulty level, they require a solid grasp of concepts like ZoC which not all newbies yet have.

Still, fact is that you are playing a campaign that's designated as expert level (it's possible that the first 4 scenarios are too easy to warrant that label, though), so for me it's hard to see it as an unfair jump in difficulty if a late scenario requires the player to carefully utilize the basic ZoC/movement rules to their advantage to keep a hero unit safe from a handful of quick enemies. However, I do agree it wouldn't hurt to have clearer hints at what sort of strategy one needs to employ, because the scenario does require a mindset that most others don't. Any good ideas? What sort of hints do you think would have worked for you?

I'd be tempted to add in a note saying something to the effect of "it's possible to avoid the outriders ever reaching Alanin, if you plan your moves wisely" so that you could tell whether you're on the right track or not, but currently it's hard to say whether that statement would strictly be true or not (because of the not-100%-predictable AI, and the RNG). And maybe it could even be a too specific hint, almost a spoiler by which you could assess each and every turn whether your latest move was objectively right or wrong.
Balroth wrote:
September 30th, 2018, 12:58 pm
Also, on the outriders, when there are 3 and you kill one, 3 more spawn adjacently, it doesn't need debugger, but ofc its easier with that. (1.14.5 version)
Oh, right, it was such a new addition that I had missed it.
Balroth wrote:
September 30th, 2018, 12:58 pm
Lastly, take a look into my reply to otzenpunk on the Outriders, but thinking about it now, do you think I should edit/fix the main post's "7 - Outriding the Outriders"? (so as the readers won't have to read this whole post and for the main post to be more organized, especially when an invalid point, devalues the rest)
If you feel like it detracts from the rest, sure, you can add a note or an extra spoiler tag or something.

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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Konrad2 » October 1st, 2018, 6:44 am

Balroth wrote:
September 30th, 2018, 12:58 pm

Also, on the outriders, when there are 3 and you kill one, 3 more spawn adjacently, it doesn't need debugger, but ofc its easier with that. (1.14.5 version)
This is a new (but lets say not perfectly implemented) feature, that was added because of me killing all enemy outriders and wondering why I can't win that way.
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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by otzenpunk » October 1st, 2018, 2:35 pm

Balroth wrote:
September 28th, 2018, 1:28 pm
First of all, thank you very much for the feedback,
You're welcome.
the scenario was not badly balanced, but I misunderstood the objectives and proceeded to do something that was by far the worst strategy/plan for me, hence the (fake) difficulty curve. And I can already see people going like "how can you fail understanding 1 line" but I have spammed the "crystal clear objective" argument so many times now, and I don't want to write 2 more paragraphs on it (so many walls of text already~)
But I'm definitely not alone, and thinking about it now, I should simply restart the scenario. But isn't it a waste of time to waste 10+ turns and reload, because of not explicitly phrasing the objective?
That's definitely what I would have done. Replaying 10 turns is imho way better than basically having to cheat myself through the upcoming scenarios because I don't have a competitive army any longer. In fact I regularly replay scenarios, when I've got the feeling I grossly underperformed, lost too much high-level, loyal or otherwise important units or wasted too much time (= money) to pass the upcoming scenarios.
To emphasize/clear my point here, if I knew that I could simply kill the elf leader and dwarf leader, this would be almost as easy as scenario 3/4, and I wouldn't have such a spiral thereafter.
Maybe, but having looked back at my old replays, I found one, where I ran out of time, because I spent too much time chasing elves. ;) I also think, this would contradict the story of the campaign. Why would you stay in the cave instead of just taking the tools and go back where you came from, when you just cleared the whole map? That would be my criticism to this scenario. There shouldn't be a possibility not to end up entrapped in the cave.

Regarding your misunderstandig of the objectives, I can't really say much about it, because I understood it as intended. Maybe the problem ist, that it's called the "Shorbear caves" in plural form, when in fact it's just one single big cave. That would be the easiest solution imho as well, just change the objective to "have all heroes in the great Shorbear cave" or something like that.
The difficulty of this [Outriding the Outriders] scenario is wildly different than the rest of the campaign. It's more of a puzzle (including RnG) where if you don't optimally (terrain) use ZoC, you are lost.
Yes, it is. It is a different challenge, but I like it. Gives a little bit of variety to the campaign. But it's not totally unique in the Wesnoth universe either. "Hide and seek" in Liberty for example is kind of similar, isn't it?

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Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Balroth » October 1st, 2018, 8:11 pm

zookeeper wrote:
Balroth wrote: You are correct, it's more or less what otzenpunk above mentioned. To quote myself
Perhaps its a reason I blame the RnG, because I was frustrated at this scenario, trying to complete it with bad strategy, thinking its the scenario's RnG design that is broken, not my strategy. (well, at least now I know about the ctrl+V and optimal ZoC)
My skill level (at least on ZoC and recognizing A.I. priority moves) is really bad, and I played horribly on that point. I insisted on the same strategy (more or less, move them like 1/2 tiles away so they cannot hit Alanin) not thinking there is a better one. In other words, the outriders "are pure RnG" point of mine, is completely invalid, indeed. But some of my points on that scenario still stand, like, I can beat every scenario except this, why is the difficulty so "different" than the rest?(not difficult, but it requires good ZoC understanding and ctrl+v that I never used, literally testing 1/2 skills exclusively and suddenly mandatory that aren't required anywhere else in the campaign, or you have to cheat(debugger/walkthrough) or just drop the campaign of frustration)
Not opening the debugger or seeing a walkthrough, I would be stuck there, and generally, the fun/enjoyment was ruined. Also, the scenario doesn't "hint" on the strategy to use and win, and that "1 tile away" village definitely made me certain that I was on good path and something on the game was wrong, not my strategy.
Sure, it's definitely a scenario which requires the player to optimize their moves and to micromanage ZoC, and there's basically not much leeway in how you can play it; you can't wing it by gut feeling the way you can in most normal battle scenarios (on easier difficulties and/or easier campaigns, anyway) but have to make a few very precisely calculated moves, so it probably feels very different. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with puzzle scenarios like that, but it's true that regardless of difficulty level, they require a solid grasp of concepts like ZoC which not all newbies yet have.

Still, fact is that you are playing a campaign that's designated as expert level (it's possible that the first 4 scenarios are too easy to warrant that label, though), so for me it's hard to see it as an unfair jump in difficulty if a late scenario requires the player to carefully utilize the basic ZoC/movement rules to their advantage to keep a hero unit safe from a handful of quick enemies. However, I do agree it wouldn't hurt to have clearer hints at what sort of strategy one needs to employ, because the scenario does require a mindset that most others don't. Any good ideas? What sort of hints do you think would have worked for you?

I'd be tempted to add in a note saying something to the effect of "it's possible to avoid the outriders ever reaching Alanin, if you plan your moves wisely" so that you could tell whether you're on the right track or not, but currently it's hard to say whether that statement would strictly be true or not (because of the not-100%-predictable AI, and the RNG). And maybe it could even be a too specific hint, almost a spoiler by which you could assess each and every turn whether your latest move was objectively right or wrong.
I agree with everything you said. And to be honest, I didn't expect such constructive feedback on my first forum post
On the hints/notes, I think what you said is on the right path. After all, I was stuck because I thought my strategy is correct.
I think this quote
"it's possible to avoid the outriders ever reaching Alanin, if you plan your moves wisely"
solves the problem, since in a singular phrase, you make players think twice on their strategy. Subtle and short. It is a spoiler though, you are correct in that too. But here is the ultimate suggestion to that scenario. Instead of giving it out-of-game, or using it as meta-knowledge, it happens when you lose.

After all, when Alanin dies, you get a cold defeat screen. Not even a quote of "Ugh, my message to the King...".

Suggestion: When Alanin dies, he says (dialogue):
"If... I planned more carefully... the outriders could never reach me..." *death sound effect*

otzenpunk wrote:
the scenario was not badly balanced, but I misunderstood the objectives and proceeded to do something that was by far the worst strategy/plan for me, hence the (fake) difficulty curve. And I can already see people going like "how can you fail understanding 1 line" but I have spammed the "crystal clear objective" argument so many times now, and I don't want to write 2 more paragraphs on it (so many walls of text already~)
But I'm definitely not alone, and thinking about it now, I should simply restart the scenario. But isn't it a waste of time to waste 10+ turns and reload, because of not explicitly phrasing the objective?
That's definitely what I would have done. Replaying 10 turns is imho way better than basically having to cheat myself through the upcoming scenarios because I don't have a competitive army any longer. In fact I regularly replay scenarios, when I've got the feeling I grossly underperformed, lost too much high-level, loyal or otherwise important units or wasted too much time (= money) to pass the upcoming scenarios.
Well, restarting the scenario after very bad plays, is more of an afterthought. Like, the damage is done (since misunderstood objectives), so it is obviously better to restart (even if I preferred not to, to save time) but this could not happen at all, at least for me if the objectives were more clear :eng:
Aside of that, I do get what you are saying on replaying the scenarios, and that playstyle depends from player to player, but it seems like I'm also about to go that route instead of opening debugger for sure
otzenpunk wrote: Maybe, but having looked back at my old replays, I found one, where I ran out of time, because I spent too much time chasing elves. ;) I also think, this would contradict the story of the campaign. Why would you stay in the cave instead of just taking the tools and go back where you came from, when you just cleared the whole map? That would be my criticism to this scenario. There shouldn't be a possibility not to end up entrapped in the cave.

Regarding your misunderstandig of the objectives, I can't really say much about it, because I understood it as intended. Maybe the problem ist, that it's called the "Shorbear caves" in plural form, when in fact it's just one single big cave. That would be the easiest solution imho as well, just change the objective to "have all heroes in the great Shorbear cave" or something like that.
Well, BfW campaigns/scenarios have completely linear conclusions, regardless of objectives. Example, in scenario "2 - Closing the Gates", you can defeat the elfs outside, and instantly win. It doesn't mean that you beat the elf invasion. In-story if you had to somehow interpret it, there are more on the way, and you safely closed the gates. This happens in pretty much every scenario with alternative objective I have played, since its always expected to win by default objective. In Dead Water (spoilers) there is an undead invasion where you have to escape in 2nd scenario (see pic above in the section of alternative win objectives), and the undead forces are the exact same you fight on the last scenario. However, you can beat them, all 3 enemy leaders with underleveled units (since its start of campaign). You don't magically win the campaign (although it would be funny). But its more of a gameplay mechanic, since in-story, you still lose and escape, to fight them in last scenario. Kinda like old JRPGs where you win the boss in the game, and lose in the cutscene :lol:
Even if you kill the elves&dwarfs, related to the next scenario's, far more arrive, then you go back to the caves, nothing changes, just the gameplay becomes better cuz of alternative win objective. It is in-game after all. Just a text change is needed in the win objectives.

My point being, that this mechanic is already implemented, but hidden from the player, for no reason. It doesn't affect the story whatsoever. Also, the elves on that scenario were within range of my units, and the 3 griffons could snipe the enemy leader within 2 turns, hence the "I could win far easier"
otzenpunk wrote: Regarding your misunderstanding of the objectives, I can't really say much about it, because I understood it as intended. Maybe the problem ist, that it's called the "Shorbear caves" in plural form, when in fact it's just one single big cave. That would be the easiest solution imho as well, just change the objective to "have all heroes in the great Shorbear cave" or something like that.
Didn't think of that! The objective "have all heroes in the great Shorbear Cave" is far better (and simpler) than mine! :eng:
otzenpunk wrote:
The difficulty of this [Outriding the Outriders] scenario is wildly different than the rest of the campaign. It's more of a puzzle (including RnG) where if you don't optimally (terrain) use ZoC, you are lost.
Yes, it is. It is a different challenge, but I like it. Gives a little bit of variety to the campaign. But it's not totally unique in the Wesnoth universe either. "Hide and seek" in Liberty for example is kind of similar, isn't it?
I don't know if I am misunderstood, but I am not against puzzle scenarios or different challenges. Although, I have specified on that above

"5 - Hide and Seek" in Liberty, is similar only in being a puzzle scenario. I didn't have to know about optimal ZoC or ctrl+V to predict A.I. movement, just occasionally avoid line of sight and kill/attack when I failed to do so. A nice scenario for being different but also challenging without requiring mandatory skills
I would say that the first scenario, "1 - The Raid" is very similar, yes, but its far easier. I am confident that now, knowing about ctrl+v and optimal ZoC I could do it optimally, and its funny because to win that scenario, I just restarted the scenario until I won (dat RnG) :whistle:
And the best part - it was at the start of the campaign, so it was a good "test" for if the difficulty is proper (I didn't proceed to continue it, until I finished one more campaign because I was certain I would fail) unlike Outriding the Outriders, where I was 2 scenarios away from the end to get an approximation of the highest difficulty.

But yeah, mentioning an other campaign is kinda off-topic, apologies
zookeeper wrote:
Balroth wrote:Lastly, take a look into my reply to otzenpunk on the Outriders, but thinking about it now, do you think I should edit/fix the main post's "7 - Outriding the Outriders"? (so as the readers won't have to read this whole post and for the main post to be more organized, especially when an invalid point, devalues the rest)
If you feel like it detracts from the rest, sure, you can add a note or an extra spoiler tag or something.
Will do then, along with the suggestions above :mrgreen:

Balroth
Posts: 14
Joined: September 20th, 2018, 7:14 pm

Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Balroth » October 2nd, 2018, 1:34 pm

Konrad2 wrote:
Balroth wrote: Also, on the outriders, when there are 3 and you kill one, 3 more spawn adjacently, it doesn't need debugger, but ofc its easier with that. (1.14.5 version)
This is a new (but lets say not perfectly implemented) feature, that was added because of me killing all enemy outriders and wondering why I can't win that way.
Thinking about it now, it's hard to kill the outriders.
Like, you must survive for a few turns to slowly invest in that strategy, which means that to do it, you have optimal ZoC knowledge, which is the requirement for winning. Killing them is more of an "optional" victory, for the very few (pro) players that will turn back Alanin to attack the (weakened/few) outriders or for the players that place the units perfectly for optimal trades. To kill them, you must still run away and ZoC until 1~2 die from trading with your units, while you are at least at 5th+ village, so the scenario plays exactly the same, design-wise.

My point being, why isn't this an alternative win condition? Outriders are really really hard to kill, but possible, and they are many. Outriding the Outriders by killing them should be an viable strategy, it only makes sense. After all, it's not like you can cheese them, since if you can kill them, you can definitely outrun them. It's an interesting alternative win condition, since it rewards you with time if you are good, and ofc, to plan differently if you wish to, and ofc, more satisfaction for beating the scenario "the hard way"
Spoiler:

otzenpunk
Posts: 11
Joined: February 11th, 2018, 5:32 pm
Location: Hamburg / Germany

Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by otzenpunk » October 3rd, 2018, 1:04 am

zookeeper wrote: I'd be tempted to add in a note saying something to the effect of "it's possible to avoid the outriders ever reaching Alanin, if you plan your moves wisely" so that you could tell whether you're on the right track or not, but currently it's hard to say whether that statement would strictly be true or not (because of the not-100%-predictable AI, and the RNG). And maybe it could even be a too specific hint, almost a spoiler by which you could assess each and every turn whether your latest move was objectively right or wrong.
I'd say, this would spoil too much. I mean, Alanin already says "My only hope is to convince the peasants to stop the elves from passing through their land, so I can get ahead of them." I'd think, this is advice enough. Otherwise you could right have the units from the villages say on which hexes they are to be placed best.
Balroth wrote:
October 1st, 2018, 8:11 pm
otzenpunk wrote: Maybe, but having looked back at my old replays, I found one, where I ran out of time, because I spent too much time chasing elves. ;) I also think, this would contradict the story of the campaign. Why would you stay in the cave instead of just taking the tools and go back where you came from, when you just cleared the whole map? That would be my criticism to this scenario. There shouldn't be a possibility not to end up entrapped in the cave.
Well, BfW campaigns/scenarios have completely linear conclusions, regardless of objectives. Example, in scenario "2 - Closing the Gates", you can defeat the elfs outside, and instantly win. It doesn't mean that you beat the elf invasion. In-story if you had to somehow interpret it, there are more on the way, and you safely closed the gates. This happens in pretty much every scenario with alternative objective I have played, since its always expected to win by default objective.
Sure, but imho it's different in this scenario. In "Closing the gates", you can of course say, that more elves are coming, and so you have to close the gates anyway. But in "Hills of Shorbear Clan", your starting cave is the exit of a cave system, where you came to this scenario. And if you beat all the elves, and probably have got enough time left to get back to where you started, you could just steal the tools and take the same way back you went before. You wouldn't get entrapped in the Shorbear Cave and didn't have to flee to this tunnel which leads to the volcano. That's what I mean, there's a hole in the story. Instead there should probably appear an elvish army as soon as you manage to kill Glonoin, so you're forced to stay in the cave as intended. Don't see a problem with that.
I would say that the first scenario, "1 - The Raid" is very similar, yes, but its far easier. I am confident that now, knowing about ctrl+v and optimal ZoC I could do it optimally, and its funny because to win that scenario, I just restarted the scenario until I won (dat RnG) :whistle:
Of course it's easier, because it's the first scenario of a campaign on a lower difficulty level. :mrgreen:

Ctrl-V is btw not some kind of hidden secret. It has it's own menu entry in the Action menu and is documented in the help system under Gameplay->Movement. So I think, it's perfectly resonable for a campaign designer to expect players to know about this on expert level. And additionally Ctrl-V isn't really necessary at all, because it's just a convenient summary of hovering over all your opponent's units looking where they could reach next turn.
Thinking about it now, it's hard to kill the outriders.
Actually it's not that hard. At least it wasn't, before this respawning thing was added. In my replay, the spearmen and bowmen from the villages just killed all the 6 outriders in 10 turns, while losing 8 units themselves, without Alanin having to do a single strike. The RNG was quite a lot in my favor, though, about +6%/-12%.

Balroth
Posts: 14
Joined: September 20th, 2018, 7:14 pm

Re: [In-depth Feedback] Sceptre Of Fire

Post by Balroth » October 3rd, 2018, 2:49 pm

otzenpunk wrote:
zookeeper wrote: I'd be tempted to add in a note saying something to the effect of "it's possible to avoid the outriders ever reaching Alanin, if you plan your moves wisely" so that you could tell whether you're on the right track or not, but currently it's hard to say whether that statement would strictly be true or not (because of the not-100%-predictable AI, and the RNG). And maybe it could even be a too specific hint, almost a spoiler by which you could assess each and every turn whether your latest move was objectively right or wrong.
I'd say, this would spoil too much. I mean, Alanin already says "My only hope is to convince the peasants to stop the elves from passing through their land, so I can get ahead of them." I'd think, this is advice enough. Otherwise you could right have the units from the villages say on which hexes they are to be placed best.
That (currently implemented) advice is not enough, as evident by my walkthrough (to the point I thought my strategy works and RnG is to blame) :roll:
And I'm definitely not the only one that was stuck in that scenario, and there could be many reasons for that.
What zookeeper suggested is spoiler-ish, but its on the right track, so, do take a look below (also above in this post)
===================
Balroth wrote:
October 1st, 2018, 8:11 pm
zookeeper wrote:
Balroth wrote: You are correct, it's more or less what otzenpunk above mentioned. To quote myself
Perhaps its a reason I blame the RnG, because I was frustrated at this scenario, trying to complete it with bad strategy, thinking its the scenario's RnG design that is broken, not my strategy. (well, at least now I know about the ctrl+V and optimal ZoC)
My skill level (at least on ZoC and recognizing A.I. priority moves) is really bad, and I played horribly on that point. I insisted on the same strategy (more or less, move them like 1/2 tiles away so they cannot hit Alanin) not thinking there is a better one. In other words, the outriders "are pure RnG" point of mine, is completely invalid, indeed. But some of my points on that scenario still stand, like, I can beat every scenario except this, why is the difficulty so "different" than the rest?(not difficult, but it requires good ZoC understanding and ctrl+v that I never used, literally testing 1/2 skills exclusively and suddenly mandatory that aren't required anywhere else in the campaign, or you have to cheat(debugger/walkthrough) or just drop the campaign of frustration)
Not opening the debugger or seeing a walkthrough, I would be stuck there, and generally, the fun/enjoyment was ruined. Also, the scenario doesn't "hint" on the strategy to use and win, and that "1 tile away" village definitely made me certain that I was on good path and something on the game was wrong, not my strategy.
Sure, it's definitely a scenario which requires the player to optimize their moves and to micromanage ZoC, and there's basically not much leeway in how you can play it; you can't wing it by gut feeling the way you can in most normal battle scenarios (on easier difficulties and/or easier campaigns, anyway) but have to make a few very precisely calculated moves, so it probably feels very different. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with puzzle scenarios like that, but it's true that regardless of difficulty level, they require a solid grasp of concepts like ZoC which not all newbies yet have.

Still, fact is that you are playing a campaign that's designated as expert level (it's possible that the first 4 scenarios are too easy to warrant that label, though), so for me it's hard to see it as an unfair jump in difficulty if a late scenario requires the player to carefully utilize the basic ZoC/movement rules to their advantage to keep a hero unit safe from a handful of quick enemies. However, I do agree it wouldn't hurt to have clearer hints at what sort of strategy one needs to employ, because the scenario does require a mindset that most others don't. Any good ideas? What sort of hints do you think would have worked for you?

I'd be tempted to add in a note saying something to the effect of "it's possible to avoid the outriders ever reaching Alanin, if you plan your moves wisely" so that you could tell whether you're on the right track or not, but currently it's hard to say whether that statement would strictly be true or not (because of the not-100%-predictable AI, and the RNG). And maybe it could even be a too specific hint, almost a spoiler by which you could assess each and every turn whether your latest move was objectively right or wrong.
I agree with everything you said. And to be honest, I didn't expect such constructive feedback on my first forum post
On the hints/notes, I think what you said is on the right path. After all, I was stuck because I thought my strategy is correct.
I think this quote
"it's possible to avoid the outriders ever reaching Alanin, if you plan your moves wisely"
solves the problem, since in a singular phrase, you make players think twice on their strategy. Subtle and short. It is a spoiler though, you are correct in that too. But here is the ultimate suggestion to that scenario. Instead of giving it out-of-game, or using it as meta-knowledge, it happens when you lose.

After all, when Alanin dies, you get a cold defeat screen. Not even a quote of "Ugh, my message to the King...".

Suggestion: When Alanin dies, he says (dialogue):
"If... I planned more carefully... the outriders could never reach me..." *death sound effect*
===================
otzenpunk wrote:
Balroth wrote:
otzenpunk wrote: Maybe, but having looked back at my old replays, I found one, where I ran out of time, because I spent too much time chasing elves. ;) I also think, this would contradict the story of the campaign. Why would you stay in the cave instead of just taking the tools and go back where you came from, when you just cleared the whole map? That would be my criticism to this scenario. There shouldn't be a possibility not to end up entrapped in the cave.
Well, BfW campaigns/scenarios have completely linear conclusions, regardless of objectives. Example, in scenario "2 - Closing the Gates", you can defeat the elfs outside, and instantly win. It doesn't mean that you beat the elf invasion. In-story if you had to somehow interpret it, there are more on the way, and you safely closed the gates. This happens in pretty much every scenario with alternative objective I have played, since its always expected to win by default objective.
Sure, but imho it's different in this scenario. In "Closing the gates", you can of course say, that more elves are coming, and so you have to close the gates anyway. But in "Hills of Shorbear Clan", your starting cave is the exit of a cave system, where you came to this scenario. And if you beat all the elves, and probably have got enough time left to get back to where you started, you could just steal the tools and take the same way back you went before. You wouldn't get entrapped in the Shorbear Cave and didn't have to flee to this tunnel which leads to the volcano. That's what I mean, there's a hole in the story.
I think you misunderstood my points. This is already implemented. Defeats and alternative victories always feel not "natural" anyway (usually cold screen with no dialogue lel). If you beat the elves and dwarf leader, its automatically an victory in the scenario. Excusing it is a detail, but if you would like to do so, in dialogue/cutscene elf army arrives and all dwarfs run to the cave, works. Alternatively, you suggested something better:
otzenpunk wrote: Instead there should probably appear an elvish army as soon as you manage to kill Glonoin, so you're forced to stay in the cave as intended. Don't see a problem with that.
I really really like this suggestion, and its the one that feels more natural. But it's a lot of effort and my main issue isn't to "make the story make sense", but to have more clear objectives for the player. Of course, if this was possible/made, it would be even better :mrgreen:

After all, the alternative win condition is really nice, because instead of killing dwarf leader + dwarfs in the cave, aka wipe out every dwarf, you have to "snipe" 2 enemy leaders, which is a great benefit in making the scenario more unique (it also sucks that you don't know about the alternative win condition, because it is hidden) and you can choose your own strategy to follow, usually depending on your army composition
otzenpunk wrote: Ctrl-V is btw not some kind of hidden secret. It has it's own menu entry in the Action menu and is documented in the help system under Gameplay->Movement. So I think, it's perfectly resonable for a campaign designer to expect players to know about this on expert level. And additionally Ctrl-V isn't really necessary at all, because it's just a convenient summary of hovering over all your opponent's units looking where they could reach next turn.
I would like to one day make an off-topic post about no mention/teaching of Ctrl+V and other features, or the add-ons being not even explained/suggested, but its really off-topic and I don't have much experience to talk about them yet

However, I never found out about Ctrl+V until mentioned here. Damn, I didn't know about Back to Turn X, until I watched the playthrough of this campaign :doh: I also may have opened the action menu twice, and I guess a lot of newbies must have similar knowledge to that. I had opened it once or twice, but nothing is really explained how it works in detail so I didn't bother. Just today I figured out planning mode, and its still kinda confusing to use, because once you deactivate it, you are kinda stuck so idk

I do agree that Ctrl+V isn't necessary at all, since ZoC alone can win the Outriders, but ofc, it helps in making it far easier/better instead of watching every unit's range
otzenpunk wrote:
Balroth wrote: Thinking about it now, it's hard to kill the outriders.
Actually it's not that hard. At least it wasn't, before this respawning thing was added. In my replay, the spearmen and bowmen from the villages just killed all the 6 outriders in 10 turns, while losing 8 units themselves, without Alanin having to do a single strike. The RNG was quite a lot in my favor, though, about +6%/-12%.
My point with killing outriders, is that if Alanin has survived for over 3~4 turns (he can die by simply 2 outriders) you have essentially won the scenario since you know what to do/how to win. Killing them, happens one-by-one, on the meatshieldvillage units by trading hits. Killing all the outriders in 7+ turns, also means you could easily escape as well by default objective, so why not have it as an actual alternative objective, instead of respawning to prevent/supress alternative strategies?

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