Please rate the 15 default era matchups

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Horus2
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Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by Horus2 » January 30th, 2015, 8:48 pm

Okkkay, so all of us had that moment during playing Wesnoth, at least once, so you do not have to be shy about it. Most things are not perfect, but the sudden realisation that the balance of this game is not either still saddened us. Oddly enough, noone was interested in listening to these, best case the opinion has been swept under the carpet, because it is considered mostly balanced, years of fine-tuning, improve a lot, etecera. Not even the Ladder Council did it, rest in pepperoni, my beloved bunker. It is timely to abandon this most comfortable high horse together, face the cold facts, do something productive, and in a hurry.

I have an ongoing project of experimenting with the default era and would like to reach a consensus in the balance state of individual matchups, so i can use it as a compass. Not like i do not have a solid opinion on things after more than seven years in the game (of which five are actually meaningful), but i know myself and i tend to see differently than others. I greatly enjoy crafting theories, destroying metagames and pushing strategies to their limit, so i might be biased here and there, i might be wearing tinted glasses. But if twenty or thirty acclaimed players openly agree on it, that is a sign. And that sign can lead us to changes, and not necessarily just in a downloadable add-on. So, there are long-term goals, too.

I would like to ask you to rate all the fifteen non-mirror matchups on an easy to grasp three-degree scale. "Balanced" if you cannot put a finger on it, "slightly imbalanced" when between even players one has the edge in certain situations, but this advantage is not that defined, and "imbalanced" in case the role of an underdog is very well defined and is generally very hard to turn the tide and win against the odds. All i require is to make a short paragraph for each rating, describing what is usually happening in these matches, and why is it so. You can do it!


Here is a rough guideline for those descriptions:

Put your emotions into it! Be bitter if it happens all too often, rant if it is wrong on more than one level, and fear not to exaggerate if you want to put some extra emphasis on it if you must. That is called love-hate relationship, and it is understandable. I trust the "feels" of high-ranked players and i believe it is a more important factor in balancing decisions than some might think, because in contrast, to do something on a purely logical base really needs hundreds of replay evidence. I do not think i need that many at this point.

Focus on the cause of the problems, not on the ways to solve it! Theoretically there are numerous ways to get balance issues right, and people tend to have vastly different approaches. Discussing these options is currently beyond the goal of this thread; please save them for another place.

Keep it compact! Summarise matchups in a maximum of 4-5 sentences, because after multiplying 5 by 15, then by the number of rating; we will have a lot of lines to read.

I suggest to keep a strict order of the paragraphs, so they will be at the same height in everyone's comment to keep it clear-cut:
Loyalists - Rebels
Loyalists - Knalga
Loyalists - Northerners
Loyalists - Undead
Loyalists - Drakes
Rebels - Knalga
Rebels - Northerners
Rebels - Undead
Rebels - Drakes
Knalga - Northerners
Knalga - Undead
Knalga - Drakes
Northerners - Undead
Northerners - Drakes
Undead - Drakes


Consider the following aspects when rating a matchup:
  • Diversity: How many of the recruitable units are actually useful and desired out of the total, from the moment you see your opponent's faction? How badly you are punished for bringing suboptimal units in against a random opponent? How spammy the general gameplay is?
  • Strategy: Which are the key units that set the flow of the game? Are there different viable playstyles? Are the moves overly trivial or they require thinking? Is one of the sides easier to play (even if the matchup itself is even)? Does the picking of faction affects your performance significantly?
  • Maps: Are there maps where the matchup is especially one-sided? Can it be one-sided in both directions on different maps? Are there vulnerabilities to rushes at specific regions?
  • Pace: Is is stalemate-ish? Or is it the opposite, with one player not being able to counteract soon enough? Can anyone suddenly devastate the opponent in a single turn?
  • Entertainment value: Is it fun for you? Can you overlook the flaws, if such are there?


Under here i sum the votes of ladder players to show the general mood toward these matchups. Evaluation is simple: for every "balanced" vote it goes down on the chart, and for every "imbalanced" vote it goes up. Chart will be updated on a regular basis.


Thanks for your honest criticism in advance!

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Xudo
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by Xudo » January 30th, 2015, 8:55 pm

You could use Google tools to create a extensive poll for this.

Ask players: "What side will more likely to win: left or right?" with textbox "Why do you think so?".

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tekelili
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by tekelili » January 30th, 2015, 10:21 pm

Horus2 wrote:Focus on the cause of the problems
My sicere opinion about cause of all possible imbalances: BfW 1v1 balance is built under wrong asumptions and reach "desired balanced" under such asumptions is probably as easy as get an "universal Turing machine".
Just pointing some of those asumptions:
- Balancie should be built taking into account both players start with same gold.
- Starting gold must be same in one map for every match up.
- Balancie should be built taking into account a map is only valid if it is balanced for every match up.
- Time of day can not be adapted for different match ups.
- Players picked random faction and dont know oponent one at turn 1.
- There is no turn limit and both sides have same victory conditions related to it
- There is a large group (subgroup of all possible maps) that accompplish all above conditions (and other ones i missed to point).
Be aware English is not my first language and I could have explained bad myself using wrong or just invented words.
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Horus2
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by Horus2 » January 31st, 2015, 1:34 pm

@Xudo: For certain reasons i prefer to keep it here. Partly to allow us to see the others' thoughts (this feedback is not necessarily only for me), and because some activity up here would not hurt the community.

@tekelili: It is fairly evident this survey is about 1v1 with recommended settings on core maps, nothing else.

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tekelili
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by tekelili » January 31st, 2015, 1:50 pm

Horus2 wrote:@tekelili: It is fairly evident this survey is about 1v1 with recommended settings on core maps, nothing else.
I get it, and thats why I didnt "directly answered". If I dislike being Rebels facing Loyalists and my sincere analysis is that an Elvish commandder should never fight such battle in such terrain... what can I answer to your poll as cause of imbalance? My point of view is that both factions are well designed and unit stats are ok, it is just they should fight other kind of battle to become match fun and balanced, imho :|
Be aware English is not my first language and I could have explained bad myself using wrong or just invented words.
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Velensk
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by Velensk » January 31st, 2015, 4:06 pm

You know, if I had more time and energy I'd like to try my hand at this but I simply don't right now.

@Tekelili: I'm curious, what kind of balance do you think the game ought be aiming for? I'd add one point, according to a number of the older developers (most of whom don't seem to be around) the game is actually balanced for 2vs2 play. I personally think that not as much effort has gone into the 2vs2 maps (which was the reason for my tournament which I've been neglecting to close properly until I have more time) and as such in some ways the 1vs1 is better balanced but I can see how 2vs2 helps duel dynamics). You could do scenarios ala older hex war-games with wesnoth and balance them but the duel style has a number of advantages and if you balance for duel style, you make it possible to balance a scenario setup.

I have no problem claiming that wesnoth is a balanced game. This is not because the things you list are easy to achieve nor because what wesnoth has matches them perfectly but because it takes a very long time to get to the point where you cannot learn or play your way past whatever inherent advantages or disadvantages each side has in any match-up. The only exception I'd make is undead vs knalgan where the knalgan player knows how use footpads and ulfserkers, at which point I find that the undead player generally has to make a ton of better calls and not get unlucky to win. Even then, it takes a bit of experience to get the nuances of how to do footpads and ulfserkers in a way that does't have any weaknesses a skilled undead player could exploit. It's also worth noting that even among experts, in many ways knowledge of a match-up can be somewhat reset just by playing on a new map. You may have played loyalists vs rebels to death on the Freelands to the point where both sides have figured everything out that can be before the dice roll but if you play again on Sulla's Ruins for the first time, although you still know generally how to play the match-up you still have to figure out many of the things that show the difference of a good player and an expert all over again.
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tekelili
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by tekelili » January 31st, 2015, 7:48 pm

Velensk wrote:@Tekelili: I'm curious, what kind of balance do you think the game ought be aiming for?
I think the game ought be aiming for a "dinamic balance"
Velensk wrote:I have no problem claiming that wesnoth is a balanced game.
I agree with you. But under current "static balance", cost payed in diversity and fun was too high in order to achive it, imo.

...and I guess I step back here, sorry for inavanding thread :oops:
Be aware English is not my first language and I could have explained bad myself using wrong or just invented words.
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watbesh
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by watbesh » February 6th, 2015, 5:46 pm

I'm not sure about some of aspects; Strategy, Maps, and Entertainment (mostly because they usually depend on Diversity and Pace). How to Play Series can be useful even when it's outdated (honestly, I want this sort of guides up-to-date). I point out bad things I see from How-to, a Guide in my MP community, and my little experience. This is just an opinion reliant on outdated/unsure sources, and I'm no expert, so it can be very wrong. Also, I'm not rating all the matchups because it's difficult to explain why a good matchup is good.
Diversity:
Pace:
Possibly Unbalanced Matchups:
Another Bunch of Notes on Maps:
edited for (hopefully) better readability
My MP Eras and Mods with core units and unusual gameplay (version 1.3.1 for Wesnoth 1.12)

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Krogen
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by Krogen » February 10th, 2015, 10:32 pm

My opinion about the matchups:
Loyalists - Rebels: Balanced
Good matchup, I think everything is alright with it. Both sides are evenly matched, Rebels have Woses against Spearmen, Loys have Cavalry and Mages against Woses, but Rebels can beat them with Archers and Fighters, while the Loys still have Horseman. Both sides have answer to everything, balanced.

Loyalists - Knalga: Imbalanced
Bad matchup I think, but there is worse. The Loyalists have a big advantage, Knalgans don't have a real answer against HI. 2 HIs with some Spearmen and Cavalry to help them is nearly unbeatable for the Knalgans. Horseman is useful too. Footpad can make trouble at night, but Loyalists can destroy them easily during the day with anything. Knalgans may stand a real chance with HODOR, but still, the matchup is imbalanced in my opinion.

Loyalists - Northerners: Balanced
Nothing special, Lawful vs Chaotic, survive the bad daytime and attack when your army is stronger. Horses can be devastating here, but Northerners are cheaper. It's likely that one attack from any side will decide the match, whether successful or unsuccesful.

Loyalists - Undead: Slightly Imbalanced
Loyalists have the advantage here, but it's not so bad. (Still the best matchup 4 UD after UD vs Drake XD) Loyalists have 4 really useful units, Spearmen to defend and against Adepts, Cavalryman, which is good, because it has positive resistance against every UD unit expect Skel Archer, and of course HI and Mage. Loys can be devastating here, but UD with good Adept and WC use, Archers and maybe 1-2 Ghosts and Skeletons can match them. Ghoul is not too useful here in my opinion. However, Loys have an advantage here, but it's bearable.

Loyalists - Drakes: Balanced
Many people think that its imbalanced and Loys have the advantage, but im not one of them. With Clashers, Augurs and some Skirmishers Drakes can handle anything. With saurians, Drakes can force the enemy to buy units with impact or slash. Maybe Cavalryman is the best option against the lizards, but Clashers absolutely massacre them. One burner may be useful too, but it's not so important in my opinion. The Loys take a high risk if they try to break through the Clasher wall during the day, and if they fail, they'll be destroyed by the saurians at night. So I think it's balanced.

Rebels - Knalga: Slightly Imbalanced
Knalgan advantage here, but it's winnable for the Rebels too. One wose may be useful, but no more because of many slash attacks, and expect wose, the Fighter is the only unit that can kill an Ulfserker. That's why the Knalgans have the advantage. Thunderers, Gripphons and Dwarvish Fighters can break through the Elvish Fighters, and open the way for the Ulfs to kill poor Mages and Shamans. Thieves can be great too. The dwarves have good resistances, and thunderers have a relatively strong melee attack. The Rebels with a good defense still have a chance, but it's nearly impossible to attack with them properly in this matchup.

Rebels - Northerners: Balanced
Another good match. Poison can be useful, but shamans can handle it, Grunts can be brutal, but its risky to attack a Fighter with them even at night. Wose is not a good buy here, because of many slash attacks and fire. Usually the Rebels will defend at first, while Northerners will try to smash them. I played a lot with both sides in this matchup, and I think its fun with any of them. Northerners attack with Grunts and/or Trolls, Assassins, Wolves and 1-2 Archers, while Rebels stay in the forest, slow the attackers and counter with Archers and Fighters.

Rebels - Undead: Imbalanced
What can I say...? In my opinion the WORST matchup, even worse than Knalgans vs Undead. which is another terrible match. 2-3 Woses are simply OP here, they can win the match easily. If Shamans, Fighters and Mages follow them and they attack at day, the Undead can't do anything. But if the Undead strikes at night, Rebels can easily fend off the attack with good unit placement. Magic is useless against woses, and they resist to cold. Skeletons does a good damage against them, but they get back 12-2... at night. A Skeleton have 34 hp. The only way for the Undead to win against a strong Rebel player is first night rush, They need luck with Adepts and Skeletons, use WCs and Ghouls, and stole villages with bats. It's likely that Rebels will still beat them, but I think it's their only chance.

Rebels - Drakes: Balanced
Many people think that it's imbalanced and Drakes have advantage, but I disagree with them. I like to play with both Rebels and Drakes in this matchup. Good use of Shamans, Fighters and Archers can match any Drake tactic. Even Scouts are useful here. However, it's important for the Rebels to have dextrous Archer, because they deal 7-4 instead of 5-4. Drakes have to bring Burners, Clashers and Fighters with some Augurs behind them. I've seen may Drakes vs Rebels fight, and I have to say Drakes wins just as often as Rebels.

Knalga - Northerners: Imbalanced
Norherner advantage here, because of Whelps and Poison. The Northerners needs only 3 units: Whelps, Assassins and 1-2 Grunts (and maybe a Wolf). The Knalgans still have a chance but not much. With some lucky strikes they can kill the Assassins off, and after that deal with the trolls somehow. However, in my opinion the matchup is imbalanced, but its not even close to Rebel vs UD or Knalgan vs UD.

Knalga - Undead: Imbalanced
Accepted fact that its the most imbalanced matchup, but I think its only second after Rebel-UD. The well-known Footpad-Ulf combo is simply deadly here. I think UD needs Ghosts, Skeletons and Adepts here, and maybe there is a chance to win if ghosts can eat the Ulfs at night. Not much ofc, but its still a chance.
the
Knalga - Drakes: Slightly imbalanced
Drake advantage here. If the Knalgans use classic dwarf units, they are doomed. They need HODOR, but even if they recruit only outlaws, my money is on the Drakes. There is another alternative strategy for the Knalgans, Gripphon+Thunderer combo. Drake is my first race, but Horus beaten me with this tactic last year several times. All things considered, I think the Knalgan player have 2 options: HODOR or Gripphon+Thunderer.

Northerners - Undead: Slightly imbalanced
Northerner advantage here, smaller than Knalgans against UD, but bigger than Loys against UD. Trolls, Archers and Grunts can own the Undead, and if the orcs can level a wolf, skeletons are doomed. UD have to use WCs and Ghouls properly, and have enough Adepts and Skeletons for high damage. Ghosts are useful here too. Im with the Northerners, but it's not that bad. 60-40 maybe.

Northerners - Drakes: Slightly imbalanced
Drake advantage, but not much. Orcs can win with Grunts, Archers and 1-2 Assassins. However, its still possible for the Drakes to repel a good Northerner attack. But if the Drakes make a focused attack at day with Clashers and Burners, and the orcs don't have extreme luck, the match is over. I think the key for the Northerners is that they can't let the Drakes attack, they have to rush, and do not let the Drakes gather themselves.

Undead - Drakes: Slightly imbalanced
The only matchup where Undeads don't have a disadvantage lol. And in my opinion they possibly have a small advantage, but many players who are better than me thinks the opposite. However, a good night attack with lucky enough Adepts kill the Drakes. But true, they can outmaneuver them with Fighters and catch them during the day. I've seen many Undead vs Drakes matches, and I have to say Undead wins more often. But even if they have advantage (which im not sure), its not big.
"A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of the sheep." - Tywin Lannister

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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by iceiceice » February 13th, 2015, 4:24 pm

+1 Krogen

I think Krogen probably has more experience than me in MP. Anyways I give my 2 cents. Almost everything he wrote I agree with, the ones I disagree with are:
  • I think UD has advantage vs loyalist, based on what games I have played and what high level games I have watched. Skeleton archers and adepts are very good in general vs the loyalists. With a handful of skeletons, maybe a ghoul, to hurt mages and give some cover to adepts, it is definitely possible to make a composition which the loyalists have a very difficult time to dispatch. The issue for you is that it's hard to take initiative because you are so slow. So on a map like fallenstar lake for instance, you have to be almost as aggressive as you reasonably can be on the first night without giving away significant material. Walking corpses are also extremely useful in an actual slugfest with loyalists, the importance of getting just raw hitpoints for free, on the battlefield, cannot be overstated, as your main factional disadvantage is that your units are low hp and slow.
  • I think UD has the advantage vs Northerners, the main issue is that you don't want to make too many grunts because of poison, but if you make trolls, the fact that they have less damage is significant. If UD gets a critical mass of adepts and some WCs, and a ghoul or two, northerners can have a very difficult time. The issue is that trolls are best in a slow siege kind of fight where the regeneration is important. But if you give undead time to blast your trolls and turn them to zombies you are going to have a very difficult time clearing those. Trolls are not ideal for attacking walking corpses, the only unit that is really good for that is the archer, but then you risk getting poisoned.

    I feel like you are right, and Northerners should be able to win in this one. Especially if UD makes mistakes and recruits many skeleton archers, those are fairly useless vs Northerners. But in honesty in most high level matches that I watched, it was more likely for UD to successfully defend against the Northerners attack and come out significantly in the lead.

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Krogen
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by Krogen » February 14th, 2015, 2:06 pm

Thank you for the answer. Well, as u can see I dont really like UD, maybe I just underestimate them. Anyway, Im still with the Northerners or the Loyalists against them, but sure, these matchups can be even and good sometimes.
If you take a look at my list, you can see that every matchup that is "Imbalanced" or "Slightly imbalanced" involves Knalgans or Undead (expect that one Drakes vs Northerners, which is nearly balanced in my opinion), so I think these two alliances have serious problems, the other 4 are alright.
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by Velensk » February 14th, 2015, 3:29 pm

If what Krogen is doing is what is needed then I probably could give a brief summary of my impression. I'll forgo mentioning the match-ups I feel are pretty balanced. Understanding that this is map dependent. The map played on is a fairly large factor by itself.

-Knalgans vs Undead: I already mentioned my opinion on this one.
-Drakes vs Undead(slight): Despite everything the undead have gotten I still feel that in any game where the undead can't get traction early they're looking at a long slow defeat unless they take risks.
-Northerner vs Drakes: This match-up is so map dependent that it's scary how hard it can be to play one or the other depending on the map. I think on the typical multiplayer map a northerner player who knows what he's doing can easily put a drake player in a position where none of his options are good, on the other hand if the map gives the drake player enough room for even one good option the match-up becomes very difficult for northerners at critical mass. That said, this isn't really an issue of the faction lineup so much as how wesnoths dynamics interact with their strengths/weaknesses.
-Knalgans vs Drakes: Another map dependent one but unlike the last one, I don't feel that any generally balanced map will give the knalgans a strong grip on the drakes. The best knalgans can hope for in this match is to have enough good places to fight that they might be able to force a fight where they can take it but it'll be tricky for them regardless.
-Knalgans vs Northeners (slight): Though my problem isn't the trolls. Knalgans can actually deal with trolls and assassins if they know how. The problem is that against a more mobile orc army they can't have all the units they need where they need on a larger map.
-Loyalists vs Drakes (slight): It's actually really hard to play the loyalists in this match-up against a drake player who knows what he's doing. Loyalists do have the tools they need and the drakes aren't quite as mobile as they normally would be but on some maps this one is still difficult.

Matches I hear people complain about but which I don't have any problems:
-Rebels vs undead: I really don't fear a rebel player who uses many woes as undead. What I respect is a rebel player who uses a good number of fighters and shamans with a couple woes/mage but that in and of itself cycles back on itself. Now, undead cannot allow the rebels to grow to critical mass but as undead I rarely have problems putting the rebels on defense and even with woses rebels can't put together a defense that can't be broken on most maps.
-Northerner/Loyalists vs undead: Undead have the tools to deal with both of these but it takes a bit of a deeper understanding than the simple using this damage type vs this weakness thinking.
-Loyalists vs northerners: Since the cavalry nerf, this match has been fine. Before then I'd definitely support anyone who was having trouble playing as the northerners.
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tekelili
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by tekelili » February 14th, 2015, 7:04 pm

Velensk wrote:-Rebels vs undead: I really don't fear a rebel player who uses many woes as undead. What I respect is a rebel player who uses a good number of fighters and shamans with a couple woes/mage but that in and of itself cycles back on itself. Now, undead cannot allow the rebels to grow to critical mass but as undead I rarely have problems putting the rebels on defense and even with woses rebels can't put together a defense that can't be broken on most maps.
I think you are quite wrong here (I usally have high respect for your analysis, so I becomed quite surprised here). I think Krogen was totally acurate claiming this is the most umbalanced match up, in case I lose as Rebels versus UD my feeling will be always same: "I played bad". And I will get A LOT of woses in such match up, because once you reach critical mass, ud simply can not attack your wose line at any tod, so is up to rebel player push carefully and win. (Yes, once I have critical mass I need mages and some fighters, but if I can not lose I have all time in world to hire them)
Understanding that this is map dependent. The map played on is a fairly large factor by itself.
Exactly, and at some point, my BfW understanding made me realize that expect a single map (with static settings) will produce balanced situations for 15 different match ups is just wishfull thinking.
Be aware English is not my first language and I could have explained bad myself using wrong or just invented words.
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by iceiceice » February 15th, 2015, 12:15 am

In Rebels vs UD, two maps that I have seen matches live or replays that showcase the woses include Caves of the Basilisk and Fallenstar Lake. I definitely remember some replays of Kira1 playing UD where he is forced to make some desperate attacks with on woses with skeletons when he does not have enough hexes and has to hope for luck.

I guess that it is likely to be much more pronounced on the "narrower" maps like these, where woses at key points can create a very sturdy defense.

Is it a good idea to exchange replays in this thread, or is that off-topic?

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Horus2
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Re: Please rate the 15 default era matchups

Post by Horus2 » February 27th, 2015, 2:48 pm

iceiceice wrote:Is it a good idea to exchange replays in this thread, or is that off-topic?
Sorry, i'm quite detracted from the game these days. Of course making arguments by posting replays is not off-topic, so go ahead.

I will also post my own views on the matchups when time allows, i just didn't want to prepossess others by ex cathedra declarations in first post. I wanted to hear other voices.

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