my Outpost hurts Hard

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Soliton
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Soliton »

josteph wrote: August 14th, 2019, 6:12 pm
gnombat wrote: August 14th, 2019, 12:55 am Of course, you can play the game any way you want, but ... I would be surprised if everyone played the game that way. And even if everyone did play the game that way, I wouldn't expect them to all agree on what actions would require foreknowledge.
That's precisely why we should coordinate expectations and agree on whether even difficult scenarios should be winnable on the first attempt or not. I've always been told that SP scenarios are supposed to be winnable on first attempt, so I try to play this way. If I were told that this campaign or that does not attempt to be winnable on the first attempt, or that the hardest difficulty is not meant to be taken on the first playthrough, I'd do that.
How can a scenario be winnable at the 5th attempt but not the first? Of course every scenario must be winnable at the first attempt (given you have sufficient gold/recalls for higher difficulties) or it's not winnable at the 5th attempt either. If the point is that tomato surprises should be avoided then I'm sure everyone agrees.

A scenario being winnable in principle still doesn't mean that an arbitrary player will be able to at the first try or that they will have sufficient gold/recalls to ever win in the current play through.
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octalot
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by octalot »

Soliton wrote: August 14th, 2019, 7:03 pm If the point is that tomato surprises should be avoided then I'm sure everyone agrees.
I'd put an exception to that: if the campaign has a difficulty level that tells the player that it's only for replaying the campaign, then I'd be happy for surprises that need foreknowledge. At lower difficulty levels the same surprise could trigger, but with a lesser number of enemies so that a player who's prepared for general eventualities can handle it.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Soliton »

Sure, every rule has exceptions. If you really think a tomato surprise must be used for whatever reason you need to consider pros and cons and decide what you value more. It seems fairly unlikely to me that there ever is a good reason for a surprise like the Draug appearance that josteph mentioned for example.
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josteph
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by josteph »

Soliton wrote: August 14th, 2019, 7:03 pm How can a scenario be winnable at the 5th attempt but not the first? Of course every scenario must be winnable at the first attempt (given you have sufficient gold/recalls for higher difficulties) or it's not winnable at the 5th attempt either. If the point is that tomato surprises should be avoided then I'm sure everyone agrees.

A scenario being winnable in principle still doesn't mean that an arbitrary player will be able to at the first try or that they will have sufficient gold/recalls to ever win in the current play through.
Of course. "Being winnable" doesn't mean a player should be able to win regardless of carryover and recall list. It means that if the player has enough carryover/recalls and chooses a good strategy based on the information available to them at that point, they would win consistently. (That is, if they played the scenario 100 times from the same reasonable starting point, they'd win most of the times.) The player does need to have enough resources, to choose a good strategy, and to execute it well.

It's fine to have surprises, foreshadowed or not, so long as the player can win even if they hadn't known the surprise was coming up.

At least, that's just what I assume when a campaign doesn't state otherwise.

---

Another example: consider a scenario that has an object that advances the unit that takes it by one level. Someone who plays that scenario for the first time might have to take that item with whatever unit is nearest. Someone who plays that scenario for the second time might prepare a 0XP lvl2 unit to take the item with (that's the best option, unless the player has access to lvl3 units that can advance, in which case a 0XP lvl3 unit would be better). This sort of thing could affect the campaign's difficulty. If the campaign is difficulty "normal" to someone who knows that item will be there and difficulty "challenging" to someone who doesn't, then how should the campaign be listed, "normal" or "challenging"?

The situation is similar when there are forks (such as after The Bay of Pearls, or the eggs in Gryphon Mountain, both in HttT).
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octalot
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by octalot »

I think the general rule should be that scenarios are winnable without foreknowledge, but Eastern Invasion should have a warning at the start that the general rule doesn't apply - it's full of tomato surprises. There have been case-by-case changes to solve specific instances, but...
spoiler-laden rant about Eastern Invasion:
Argothair
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Argothair »

I consider myself to be an intermediate player -- I've played on and off for years, probably sunk 300+ hours into the game and read 30+ pages of strategy guides and walkthroughs. Most people who play regularly are dramatically better than I am, but I'm not a novice in the sense that I'm new the game; I've got the mainline unit stats memorized and I've at least been exposed to most of what Wesnoth has to offer.

I think there ought to be a guiding philosophy on how to label the difficulty levels. You all would know better than I would exactly what term should match up with what difficulty, but there ought to be some attempt at making the words mean something, rather than just shrugging and saying "well, different designers will use the words differently."

If I had to suggest a scale, it would be something like this:
  • Tutorial-- Suitable for players who are still figuring out the rules and mechanics. Can usually be won in a single attempt despite repeated blunders by the player because the player has such a large advantage in gold, unit quality, and/or terrain. Intended as a teaching tool.
  • Beginner -- Suitable for players who understand the rules well, but who have little understanding of strategies like troop rotation, zones of control, kiting, and day/night fighting. Can usually be won in a single attempt by players who are able to identify an appropriate strategy, even if they do not implement that strategy perfectly. The AI likely has roughly as much gold as the player.
  • Intermediate -- Suitable for players who understand the core strategies and are able to exploit the strengths and weaknesses of mainline units. Can usually be won in a single attempt by players who can reliably execute a series of safe, sensible plays. The AI likely has somewhat more gold than the player.
  • Challenging -- Suitable for players who are very experienced or unusually skilled, or for intermediate players who are replaying a campaign that they have already beaten. An expert player can usually find a way to win on the first attempt with no foreknowledge, but without the edge that comes from knowing what will happen next, even slight errors can be enough to doom your campaign. The AI likely has much more gold than the player.
  • Difficult -- Suitable for expert players. Even with flawless play, beating this campaign typically requires several attempts that the player uses to test and refine a series of alternative strategies that the player has designed specifically for this campaign. In addition to lots of extra gold, the AI likely has qualitative advantages such as higher-level units, strict turn limits, and/or the ability to capture or insta-kill large numbers of the player's units.
  • Nightmare -- Suitable for the very best players. Beating this campaign without amazingly good luck requires a detailed study of the exact recruiting and movement patterns of every enemy unit; the player will need to proactively bait the AI into a long series of minor mistakes to slowly accumulate a razor-thin margin of victory. The AI's army massively outclasses the player's army, and the player's units will have to dance from battle to battle in a desperate bid for survival.
On a more specific note, I am having trouble with the Eastern Invasion right now because of the way the first three scenarios relate to each other. In scenario 3, you start off with only your two leaders -- the Lieutenant and the White Mage -- and you have to be able to kill a Dark Adept. If you haven't levelled up either unit, the battle with the Dark Adept is a dicefest; you might win, or you might die and need to restart the campaign. Even if you are badly wounded fighting the Dark Adept, you can still wind up unable to effectively face off against the two armies chasing you down from either side. It's not realistic to level up the White Mage to a Mage of Light before scenario 3 starts, because the White Mage spends most of scenario 1 invisibly hiding, and can't be safely put next to multiple Troll Whelps or Shadows, which are the only available enemies in scenario 2. So, by process of elimination, you have to find a way to level up your Lieutenant. Your Lieutenant won't get much XP in scenario 2, because he can't fight Trolls or Shadows well without the arcane potion in the northwest, and if you send him to get the potion, then you are turn-limited and have to spend the rest of the scenario racing him to the east to end the level. So, by process of elimination, you have to level up the Lieutenant on scenario 1, the Outpost. If you send the Lieutenant to fight at all in scenario 1, he's going to take hits from Skeletons and Skeleton Archers -- you're holding the west bank of the river, which is a line, so it's not practical to try to surround your leader on all sides with cannon fodder. Once your leader takes hits, it's too late to retreat him back into a village, because then he'll be too far away to make it to the trapdoor. So, if your leader takes hits at all, which he will if you're trying to get him some XP, then you've got to heal him by levelling him up to Level 2 during the first scenario.

I can do that pretty reliably -- but if I do, then I can't also guarantee that the bridge will be open. If the bridge isn't open for an immediate run through to the trapdoor, then the White Mage often dies, because he reappears on a hex that's in range of 3-4 Skeletons at night. I tried dropping the difficulty level from "Hard" to "Normal" and I'm still losing repeatedly. I'm 0-5 and feeling increasingly frustrated. I've tried following the advice in the walkthrough and it's not leading to the kind of devastating counter-attacks against the undead that the author seems to expect. I can kill 4-5 undead while they sit in the river, but then there's another 10 undead behind them to fight my 6-7 remaining units, and another 10 undead two turns behind that wave, so it's not like I ever get control of the battlefield. The walkthrough's advice to level up multiple Shock Troopers seems overly optimistic to me -- each Heavy Infantry only gets 2 attacks per turn, and the Skeletons take at least 3 hits to kill, sometimes 4, even in the daytime. Even with skeletons in the river, getting hit 80% of the time, I have to spend two full turns attacking a skeleton to kill it, and you only get 2 turns of daylight combat. Maybe I get one more kill from a counter-attack. That's two kills plus a few battles for ~20 XP, but the Heavy Infantry need 24+ to level up, and at this point they're usually at very low health from archers and bats. I can send mages in to kill the bats, but then the mages die to the skeletons' counter-attacks.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Argothair »

Also, I am not seeing the benefit of the supposed "always-hit-on-first turn" rule for scenario 3 of Eastern Invasion -- attached is a save game file where both my leaders whiffed.
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Argothair
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Argothair »

And here is an example of one of my attempts from scenario 1 of Eastern Invasion -- you can see I've got the Lieutenant levelled up, and I'm holding the west bank of the river reasonably well, but I don't have a way to force the bridge open in one turn that I can see, so the white mage will die when he reappears in the middle of the enemy army.

In other attempts, I paid more attention to keeping the bridge open, but then I couldn't get the Lieutenant levelled up, so I died in scenario 3 when the scrawny leader couldn't kill the Dark Adept.
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octalot
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by octalot »

Argothair wrote: December 10th, 2020, 8:54 am Also, I am not seeing the benefit of the supposed "always-hit-on-first turn" rule for scenario 3 of Eastern Invasion -- attached is a save game file where both my leaders whiffed.
Argh, that's a bug and the patch will be forthcoming. The map was changed to use ruined castles for cosmetics, but the .cfg file still uses terrain code "Ke".
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by gnombat »

Argothair wrote: December 10th, 2020, 8:42 am If I had to suggest a scale...
Most of the difficulties in this scale sound reasonable to me, except this one I'm not sure about:
Argothair wrote: December 10th, 2020, 8:42 am Beginner -- Suitable for players who understand the rules well, but who have little understanding of strategies like troop rotation, zones of control, kiting, and day/night fighting. Can usually be won in a single attempt by players who are able to identify an appropriate strategy, even if they do not implement that strategy perfectly. The AI likely has roughly as much gold as the player.
This seems a bit too difficult for beginners. I've been playing Wesnoth for a while and it is hard to remember what it was like as a beginner, but I suspect that if you give the AI roughly as much gold as a beginning player, the player is likely to get slaughtered. (Of course, an experienced player will probably be able to deal with that without much trouble.)

In mainline campaigns, the two easiest difficulties are named "Beginner" and "Easy", and I think that in both of them the player usually has a significant gold advantage (or some other advantage like terrain or unit strength). I think it's important to keep these for most campaigns so as not to be too hard on novices.
Argothair wrote: December 10th, 2020, 8:42 am On a more specific note, I am having trouble with the Eastern Invasion right now because of the way the first three scenarios relate to each other. In scenario 3, you start off with only your two leaders -- the Lieutenant and the White Mage -- and you have to be able to kill a Dark Adept. If you haven't levelled up either unit, the battle with the Dark Adept is a dicefest; you might win, or you might die and need to restart the campaign.
Do you mean you're restarting the campaign from the very beginning if you die?

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, you're welcome to play the game any way you want; there certainly are a number of players who will restart the campaign from the beginning if they die, but I don't think the mainline campaigns were really designed with that style of play in mind. Probably most players will simply restart from the beginning of the current scenario.
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Argothair »

octalot wrote: December 10th, 2020, 10:23 am
Argothair wrote: December 10th, 2020, 8:54 am Also, I am not seeing the benefit of the supposed "always-hit-on-first turn" rule for scenario 3 of Eastern Invasion -- attached is a save game file where both my leaders whiffed.
Argh, that's a bug and the patch will be forthcoming. The map was changed to use ruined castles for cosmetics, but the .cfg file still uses terrain code "Ke".
No worries, that makes sense. Thanks for working on it! :)
gnombat wrote: Do you mean you're restarting the campaign from the very beginning if you die?

As I mentioned earlier in this thread, you're welcome to play the game any way you want; there certainly are a number of players who will restart the campaign from the beginning if they die, but I don't think the mainline campaigns were really designed with that style of play in mind. Probably most players will simply restart from the beginning of the current scenario.
Oh, yeah, I should have mentioned that. I've already beaten almost all of the mainline campaigns on normal difficulty with extensive save/reloads, so now I'm working on either beating them on hard, or beating them in 'ironman / permadeath' mode on normal. I realize there's all different ways to play, and that's part of what I like about the game. That said, usually I'm able to make some progress on getting better at each campaign, and here I feel stuck and the walkthrough advice isn't helping me much.
Argothair
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Argothair »

gnombat wrote: December 10th, 2020, 3:49 pm
Argothair wrote: December 10th, 2020, 8:42 am If I had to suggest a scale...
Most of the difficulties in this scale sound reasonable to me, except this one I'm not sure about:
Argothair wrote: December 10th, 2020, 8:42 am Beginner -- Suitable for players who understand the rules well, but who have little understanding of strategies like troop rotation, zones of control, kiting, and day/night fighting. Can usually be won in a single attempt by players who are able to identify an appropriate strategy, even if they do not implement that strategy perfectly. The AI likely has roughly as much gold as the player.
This seems a bit too difficult for beginners. I've been playing Wesnoth for a while and it is hard to remember what it was like as a beginner, but I suspect that if you give the AI roughly as much gold as a beginning player, the player is likely to get slaughtered. (Of course, an experienced player will probably be able to deal with that without much trouble.)

In mainline campaigns, the two easiest difficulties are named "Beginner" and "Easy", and I think that in both of them the player usually has a significant gold advantage (or some other advantage like terrain or unit strength). I think it's important to keep these for most campaigns so as not to be too hard on novices.
I stand corrected! I agree. :) I'll modify my proposal accordingly:

If I had to suggest a scale, it would be something like this:
  • Tutorial-- Suitable for players who are still figuring out the rules and mechanics. Can usually be won in a single attempt despite repeated blunders by the player because the player has such a large advantage in gold, unit quality, and/or terrain. Intended as a teaching tool.
  • Novice -- Suitable for players who understand the rules well, but who have not yet seen many of the mainline units and who are unfamiliar with or who misunderstand strategies like troop rotation, zones of control, kiting, and day/night fighting. Can usually be won in a single attempt by players who are able to follow the hints given in the scenarios. The AI likely has significantly less gold than the player. Intended to welcome new players to the game and help them feel more comfortable.
  • Beginner -- Suitable for players who are familiar with most of the mainline units and core strategies, but who are still learning how to put those strategies into practice. Can usually be won in a single attempt by players who are able to identify a reasonable strategy, even if they make some mistakes while executing that strategy. The AI likely has slightly less gold than the player. Intended to provide a relaxing, story-focused experience.
  • Intermediate -- Suitable for players with a solid understanding of the core strategies who are able to exploit the strengths and weaknesses of mainline units. Can usually be won in a single attempt by players who can reliably execute a series of safe, sensible plays. The AI likely has about as much gold as the player. Intended to provide a balanced experience that makes you think but doesn't make you grit your teeth.
  • Challenging -- Suitable for players who are very experienced or unusually skilled, or for intermediate players who are replaying a campaign that they have already beaten. An expert player can usually find a way to win on the first attempt with no foreknowledge, but without the edge that comes from knowing what will happen next, even slight errors can be enough to doom your campaign. The AI likely has somewhat more gold than the player. Intended to stretch your skills and test your abilities.
  • Difficult -- Suitable for expert players. Even with flawless play, beating this campaign typically requires several attempts that the player uses to test and refine a series of alternative strategies that the player has designed specifically for this campaign. In addition to lots of extra gold, the AI likely has qualitative advantages such as higher-level units, strict turn limits, and/or the ability to capture or insta-kill large numbers of the player's units. Intended to provide additional depth of play for dedicated veterans.
  • Nightmare -- Suitable for the very best players. Beating this campaign without amazingly good luck requires a detailed study of the exact recruiting and movement patterns of every enemy unit; the player will need to proactively bait the AI into a long series of minor mistakes to slowly accumulate a razor-thin margin of victory. The AI's army massively outclasses the player's army, and the player's units will have to dance from battle to battle in a desperate bid for survival.
wesnothpoet
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by wesnothpoet »

A bit late, but I played this level A LOT as part of my project of beating entire *campaigns* on hard without reloads:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=52259

[Disclaimer: Since I played version 1.12.6 I don't know how much of this applies to later versions.]

Contrary to most people who shared strategies, I took a much more offensive approach. In addition, in order to beat subsequent levels without reloads, my goal was to (almost) level up *two* mages, which meant that both of them had to survive and kill a lot of units.

Since the early turns are played during the day, I wanted to be as offensive as possible. This was not possible until I realized that I had to recruit a single cavalryman to cover Dacyn, else he invariantly got killed. Otherwise I almost exclusively recruited heavy infantry since they hit hard and have a lot of hitpoints.

As in most levels, the trick is to isolate the enemy in small groups and beat each separately (in this case first the middle wave, then top, then bottom). I sometimes tried to take out one of the leaders but this was too costly and took the units too far from the keep (which you have to eventually return to).

Replay is attached.
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Dreamteam
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by Dreamteam »

wesnothpoet wrote: March 7th, 2021, 3:43 pm A bit late, but I played this level A LOT as part of my project of beating entire *campaigns* on hard without reloads:

Replay is attached.
Couldn't run the replay due to it being recorded in an earlier version :whistle:

Could you redo it in the latest version so we can watch? :)
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MasterCookieShadow
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Re: my Outpost hurts Hard

Post by MasterCookieShadow »

gweddeoran wrote: July 16th, 2019, 12:16 pm By the way, the campaign is now called a novice level campaign for some extremely bizarre reason.
Its funny, because i was trying to beat all novices campaigns, but the first scenario is harder than the Under the Burning Suns.
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