Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep

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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by beetlenaut » September 7th, 2010, 7:40 pm

The leader of "The Law" has a different name and no recruitment pattern. It seems like the game is trying to use some code from the previous scenario, which wouldu be a bug in Wesnoth and not the campaign. I don't have the same problem when I play, so there is something different in your game. If you saved during linger mode, it is known to cause problems. Otherwise, this seems to be a new bug. You should submit a bug report on gna.org, and post your savegame and error messages. (I would do it, but I'm not seeing the same bug.)
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by lostnumber » September 10th, 2010, 8:46 pm

This campaign is extremely challenging, I personally found the level "trolls" to be all but impossible on the medium difficulty and I'm probably going to have to resort to cheating if I want to progress further. Also, I think the ghosts are a really cool element to the campaign, but I echo the sentiment of a previous poster that they are completely essential to have any hope of progressing. In particular the level before "trolls" was only beatable for me because I had enough high level ghosts to battle the elves. Ghosts have 50% defense on snow versus elfs 30%, and will drain more damage at night then they are dealt, making them unstoppable death machines as long as you dont get them surrounded by too many bows.

Even your mighty level 3 orc warlords will be cut to shreds by the 20% defense on snow and elvish bows, so this level would be almost unplayable to anyone not having a sufficient stockpile of ghosts

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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by beetlenaut » September 10th, 2010, 9:58 pm

I may have made the campaign a bit too hard. The easiest difficulty is balanced and won't be changed, but I haven't worked as much on the others. I've been playing through on medium this week, and have made one scenario a bit easier so far (The Law). I haven't gotten to the trolls yet because I can't seem to get by the elf guards without losing half my units, which I know is going to make the trolls impossible. I may decrease the number of archers in that one. I also think you might be right about the ghosts being essential for that level, but you should have some left at that point. I don't think you could make it through the first elf level without having five or six do you? (I don't want to make ghosts recruitable, because that would make the rest of the campaign too easy.)

Edit: One elf had sharpshooters on his recruit list. I took them out, and it made the scenario less painful. I'm still working on balancing the trolls, which will have to be on hold until next weekend. I may just take shamans out of green's recruit list (side 3). Try that if you want and tell me if you think it's enough.
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by lostnumber » September 12th, 2010, 6:14 pm

The shamans are part of what make that level so impossible so that might help quite a bit. Against normal trolls your Wraiths and Specters will clean up on them pretty good due to their weakness to arcane, low defense, and the drain abilty of the ghosts attacks. But since one shaman can nuke a full hp ghost if it gets lucky enough...

Of course while that would make the level more beatable, it would still reinforce the problem of ghosts being absolutely indispensable. I have many of them because I played the necromancer scenario with only level 1 units to try and stock up on as many as I could, but I think many other players might not be in the same boat.

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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by Anonymissimus » September 15th, 2010, 7:54 pm

Beetlenaut, being a campaign author, you can savely assume that you're an expert player. You should balance the hardest difficulty so that you can hardly beat it. Honestly, I can play HttT on hard without losing almost any non-cannonfodder unit, without saveloading at any time during a scenario even just to change strategy. This campaign is on the easiest difficulty about as hard as mainline "HARD", taking into consideration that I play it for the first time, since I definitely take more losses than in HttT on HARD. I need to restart lots of scenarios several times to get through them with acceptable losses, in particular the 06_Guarded_Door.cfg. Couldn't yet get past the troll level. The only easier scenario was 04_The_Law.cfg because there is enough space to retreat, and the enemy tends to separate his units so that they can be finished off in groups whith the next group being out of reach. I'm somehow interested in a replay showing how you beat e.g. Guarded Door. (Attack only elves with at max 40% defense :P.)
Needing to replay scenarios takes the fun away that's why I personally aim for easier difficulties when playing and making. (Where do you get all that time for playing and balancing ? It's the most work-intensive part :P)

EDIT
After ~10 restarts (most of them stopped immediately since my 2 spectres didn't kill the middle leader in a single turn so he continued to recruit) and massive use of "you must stay out of the shamans' reach with your spectres or finish those who can reach you during your turn" I got past the trolls level by losing 2 valuable units (a direwolf and a witch doctor). Certainly not a result that the easiest difficulty should (used to) have (when I play against ai), though both losses originated from small mistakes on my side.
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by beetlenaut » September 16th, 2010, 12:35 am

I don't have a lot of time for balancing which is why only the easiest level is more or less balanced. The difference between this and HttT is that it is an "expert" level campaign. HttT is listed as "novice", so even the hardest difficulty is pretty easy. If you compare this to Northern Rebirth, or Son of the Black Eye, the levels should match better. Being an author and a good player are not the same thing. I don't think I am an expert player because I have never been able to beat SotBE on the hardest level, or NR on either of the two hardest.

The troll scenario seems to be the one giving everyone fits (myself included), so I will nerf that one at least a little on every difficulty level. I don't have time at the moment, but I hope to get to it this weekend.
Anonymissimus wrote:I'm somehow interested in a replay showing how you beat e.g. Guarded Door. (Attack only elves with at max 40% defense.)
Actually, yes. Force them to stand in the snow if they want to shoot you, then hit them with warlords or specters the next turn. You will take some losses, but they will take more.
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by Velensk » September 16th, 2010, 12:40 pm

I have beaten your campaign on normal and here is my take on the the troll level: It is very dependent on having the right ghosts. You can sit at the bridges and hold indefinitely but you can't kill them quick enough that way however with very careful use of Nightgaunt you can assassinate an enemy leader and draw enough trolls away that you can push through if you have a couple specter/wraith. The problem is that if you don't have enough high level ghosts or enough ghosts of the right type to pull off either operation you run out of turns. You are also likely to lose at least a single night gaunt this way. The first time through this campaign I got stuck on this level because of that (I finished the campaign on the second try).

My take on campaign balancing is that you should balance normal for whatever difficulty you want your campaign to be and then just make sure that hard/easy are harder/easier than that for those who are looking for an easier/harder experience.
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by Anonymissimus » September 16th, 2010, 1:50 pm

beetlenaut wrote:Being an author and a good player are not the same thing. I don't think I am an expert player because I have never been able to beat SotBE on the hardest level, or NR on either of the two hardest.
It's just so that as an author you've played such a lot of wesnoth campaigns that you must be an expert. I somehow doubt that said difficulties are actually beatable by honest standards, that is, without any saveloading or cheating. Does someone who balances these campaigns actually ever play through them on hard ? That takes way too much time. Show me a replay with +-0 or negative luck, otherwise I consider it unbeatable. (There are still ways to cheat.) SotBE's easiest difficulty still feels way easier than yours btw.
Anonymissimus wrote:I'm somehow interested in a replay showing how you beat e.g. Guarded Door. (Attack only elves with at max 40% defense.)
Actually, yes. Force them to stand in the snow if they want to shoot you, then hit them with warlords or specters the next turn. You will take some losses, but they will take more.
Two of their units, a ranger and a marksman or so, are already enough to finish a wraith if you let them reach him. Does this happen one time more or so you're doomed, that's why I needed to replay that one several times too until I got through with keeping all my ghost-levelups.
projects (BfW 1.12):
A Simple Campaign: campaign draft for wml startersPlan Your Advancements: mp mod
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by Velensk » September 16th, 2010, 2:09 pm

SotBE on hard is beatable without any save-loading though I did have to retry a few of the early scenarios a couple times. I don't have the replays but if you'll take my word then you'll have confirmation. I don't like NR enough to have been willing to go through it again since I beat it on normal.
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by Max » September 16th, 2010, 2:39 pm

Anonymissimus wrote:It's just so that as an author you've played such a lot of wesnoth campaigns that you must be an expert.
i've played lots of campaigns too and would be able to create a technically challenging campaign, and still i'm far from being an expert (i wouldn't even think about trying these challenges).

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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by beetlenaut » September 16th, 2010, 9:22 pm

Here's what I will do: I'll make the current "Normal" the middle level of difficulty, and make a new, easier level to be called "Normal". I'll either keep the current hardest as a fourth difficulty level or drop it entirely. This will not be until after I balance the current medium level though.
Velensk wrote:SotBE on hard is beatable without any save-loading though I did have to retry a few of the early scenarios a couple times.
I'm sure it's possible. I just run out of time on many scenarios. I got stuck on Civil War because of the turn limit.
Anonymissimus wrote:Two of their units, a ranger and a marksman or so, are already enough to finish a wraith if you let them reach him.
For the most part, you can keep the ghosts out of reach of the archers, but someone is going to die. My last time through (on medium) I lost a nightguant, a specter, a warlord and a slurbow.
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by beetlenaut » September 20th, 2010, 2:35 am

Whew! That was much more work than I thought it would be. The new version, 1.1.0, has four difficulty levels: I added a new, easier one. The easiest one is still called "Normal", and what used to be called "Difficult" is now "Nightmare". (That's the only one I can't get though.) I'll still take balancing suggestions, but it should be better all around. I adjusted many scenarios to make them slightly easier, and nerfed "Trolls" a lot. Also, getting ghosts is much more elegant, using {ADVANCE_UNIT} like boru suggested. I hope no bugs crept in, but I changed a lot in two different versions, so it could have happened.
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by bvanevery » October 13th, 2010, 7:30 pm

I find the 1st level rather frustrating. I am playing on "Normal" easiest difficulty. I can beat the campaign if I want to, that's not the problem. The problem is, I don't have time to level up 4 goblins to Level 1, so that I can get the benefit of 4 Level 2 wolf riders. There's really no point in getting 4 Level 1 wolf riders, I can just buy those. Goblins are rather fragile so it's a challenge to get them to have 18 or 22 XP. Then when they've gained it, they have to walk rather slowly to a distant place on the map. That's difficult because they almost always level in a combat zone and you can't necessarily just walk away from the zone. Also, levels with single width caves often result in situations where units are log jammed for many turns. This uses up more time and makes it even more unlikely that I'm going to be able to get 4 goblins to Level 1, then move them to wolves to make them Level 2 wolf riders. I start to think that perhaps it's pointless, that I should just buy wolves and level those up the usual way.

Another frustration is the flow of combat. One is not rewarded for recruiting units early. If, for instance, you want to get a head start on leveling up your goblins, and you send them out exploring, they will just die when the wolves and assassins enter the main area. Pretty much you've wasted your money and it doesn't feel good to just waste your money. Also, the wolves can randomly decide to fixate on you instead of the assassins. If you recruit anything they can attack, and leave it anywhere in range such as the established defensive positions, the wolves will come and jam up the tunnels trying to get at you. This isn't satisfying as again you feel you've spent money for nothing.

The tunnel is irritating because of honest vs. dishonest ways of discovering it. I don't feel that I should move my units with a priori knowledge of the level, unless I'm totally sick of the level and just want to get past it. Moving units with a priori knowledge is what design advice docs refer to as a "Tomato Surprise." That is, you completely change your opening strategy based on a twist that the level gives you later, which you as a player have no right to know about the 1st time. The honest way to discover the passage is to send units out into the middle, see the entrance to the southern passages, find the bow, keep going, and notice that you're coming right next to the starting recruitment area. The dishonest way is to discover the opening on Turn 1.

The logistical issues of the level are pretty steep if you want those 4 Level 2 wolves. It takes a pretty specific force mix to level up goblins, especially with choke tunnels in the way. I am thinking probably the only way to do it, is to take over the center and allow the enemy to pour units in from the side passages, so that they can be killed in the open with a lot of units. At some level it's good to have a challenge in Wesnoth to overcome, as I'm a very experienced player and have played large numbers of campaigns. On the other hand, these problems are picky enough that I wonder what kind of AI it would take to analyze and solve these problems. I've played the level a lot of times now, maybe as many as 10 times? and have always ended up quitting in frustration. It starts to make me think that it's a PITA and that I just shouldn't bother.

There was some other futuristic campaign which had some rather difficult formal problems of strategy. The unit types were all new, with mostly "the humans have ranged weapons, the aliens have melee weapons." It made for a dynamic where each side takes turns slaughtering large numbers of units from the other side. The humans got a ridiculous number of units, the aliens got a really easy zombifying ability. It made the scenario rather unstable and difficult to get through. You really couldn't be sure if you were succeeding by your own efforts or luck, and frankly I never did beat it. I played dozens of times and eventually said, you know what, it's nice to have formal problems but this is driving me nuts, this isn't fun. So I put the campaign down and did not lose sleep over it anymore.

My suggestions for improving your 1st level:
  • make the secret passage only discoverable from the tunnel side, not the throne room side. Then, plan the level with the assumption that the player will have to walk past the charging wolves. Don't make it trivial for the wolves to just kill the scout you send out.
  • don't require 4 Level 1 goblins to get 4 Level 2 wolves. Offer 1 free Level 2 wolf when discovering the wolf pen, and no other free wolves. That way, it's neat to get something, and you have the challenge of using your powerful wolf without getting it killed. You don't have to spend all this time jumping through logistical hoops to get the wolf bonuses.
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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by tr0ll » October 14th, 2010, 3:00 am

dang! i completely missed finding any secret passages :(
as far as beating the 1st scenario, the strategy i used was to rush an orc and 4 goblins down to the wolves but otherwise get out of the way to let the other two factions fight it out, and jump in to level some units when the enemy are weak.

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Re: Orcish Campaign: The Founding of Borstep (For 1.9 too!)

Post by bvanevery » October 17th, 2010, 6:21 pm

bvanevery wrote: My suggestions for improving your 1st level:
  • make the secret passage only discoverable from the tunnel side, not the throne room side. Then, plan the level with the assumption that the player will have to walk past the charging wolves. Don't make it trivial for the wolves to just kill the scout you send out.
  • don't require 4 Level 1 goblins to get 4 Level 2 wolves. Offer 1 free Level 2 wolf when discovering the wolf pen, and no other free wolves. That way, it's neat to get something, and you have the challenge of using your powerful wolf without getting it killed. You don't have to spend all this time jumping through logistical hoops to get the wolf bonuses.
Another option is to just dispense with the Level 1 goblin = Level 2 wolf bonus. Then there is no temptation to kill oneself trying to get Level 2 wolves. Just get your 4 discount wolves, cost of 1 goblin = 9 gold apiece, and be happy. I've beaten the campaign on Normal difficulty and in the scheme of things, getting Level 2 wolves at the beginning is definitely not worth the torture.

I didn't have any problem with the rest of the campaign. It was pretty well done, and I appreciate the variety of tasks, such as killing boars to get meat to heal the tribe. I am an aggressive leveler and so by the time I got to the "ghost" level, I had lots of high level guys I could kill to get Wraiths, Specters, and Nightmares. I ended up with more Specters than Nightgaunts, because Specters are less fragile and can serve as front line blockers if the enemy doesn't have arcane or fire weapons. My undead airforce made it pretty darned easy to get through various levels, until I got to the rat infested level, at which time I lost 4 Specters to Level 3 spiders. Yes a Specter can't be poisoned, but it can be slowed, and I didn't think about that when I sent them in. Well, someone had to take all those Spiders out, and I sensed that the end of the campaign was probably near, so might as well be the Specters. I did beat the level in one try, and I still had 2 Specters and 2 Nightgaunts for the final level, so no big deal. I had a pile of Level 3 Orc Warlords I could have used for the last level, but I also had lots of cash, and I didn't realize it was the last level, so I didn't deploy the Warlords and instead bought lots of grunts and archers. They died a lot but they did their job of breaking the enemy offensive, and my undead assassinated the enemy dragon king from behind. Then it was just mopping up.

BTW regarding the troll level, Specters make killing trolls trivial. Trolls are weak to Arcane attacks, Specters are strong against impact attacks, and really the only thing dangerous to them are the Troll Magi. These can be killed by swooping in and whacking them to death, so long as there isn't a 2nd Troll Magi to back up the 1st Troll Magi. If he's got backup, then I just pull back and wait until he isolates himself. At the start of the level I didn't even bother to summon a full army, I just recalled 6 guys and walked my Warlord towards the center castle. This made it a little more challenging than it needed to be, because I wasn't expecting 5 Trolls to show up. Lost a loyal Shaman in the shuffle, which was a bit sloppy and unnecessary. Wasn't expecting to be attacked from all sides, but my Specters really didn't have any problem fending things off. I would deploy 2 grunts per turn, which would absorb the blows from the Trolls, possibly dying but who cares. Eventually I had enough of a perimeter that I was able to deploy archers and assassins, which I wanted to level up because I didn't have many of those in my inventory. Too fragile, they eventually get killed.
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