Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

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In your opinion, what change(s) should be made in 1.13 development cycle?

7mp cavalryman & horseman
4
6%
17 gold heavy infantryman
20
28%
outlaw (HODOR) buff
11
15%
19 gold ghost
21
29%
wose nerf (0% cold resistance)
10
14%
dwarf fighter & thunderer lines nerf (0% cold resistance)
6
8%
 
Total votes: 72

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ForPeace
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Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by ForPeace » October 31st, 2016, 7:53 pm

Next year Wesnoth 1.14 is supposed to be released. I've seen some very well-done story art and interface changes but I also think the multiplayer side of the game needs improvement. I witnessed many complaints for the game's balance and from my not such a great experience I tend to agree with some of them. So here's my question: are you going to make any balancing changes in 1.13 development cycle?

The goal of this post is not only a simple question but also sharing some proposals of changes. Before writing it I made some research on the ladder forums. There are really many proposals by respected players, most of them written not later than in 2013. You can find them here. I chose some of them and added here to consider with my own and other players' thoughts:
  • 7 mp cavalryman & horseman - on some big maps mass cavalry recruitment is hard to counter for many factions, especially undead and knalgans. Neki wrote on this topic:
    Spoiler:
    I agree with it, also in my opinion the same thing deserve the horsemen for being very strong vs rebels and undead.
  • 17 gold heavy infantryman - I don't see any reason for HIs to be priced 19 gold. In fact, their low mobility often exludes them from the fight and in many situations, even vs knalgans and undead cheaper and faster spearmen are simply better.
  • outlaw (HODOR) buff - HODOR rush is a hard playstyle to perform. Units are dying very easily and dealing any damage without backstab is hard. I also think HODOR units are a bit overpriced compared to orcish units. At night, 12 gold orcish grunt needs only two strikes to kill a thief, while two 13 gold thieves need four strikes to kill a single grunt, still being endangered to a significant retaliation. Poachers deal very little damage for 14 gold (they are almost useless during the day), while footpads remain decent scouts and tanks for their 14 gold. My proposal is: 12 gold thief with slightly raised hitpoints and 13 gold poacher.
  • 19 gold ghost - after nerf of bats undead lack good scouts. Ghosts are missing movement over water and bats have no zone of control.
  • wose nerf (0% cold resistance) - this is as far as I know an ancient Dauntless' idea. High hitpoints & high damage woses are hard to counter in undead vs rebels matchup and are one of the reasons of a big bias towards elven side. The goal is to let adepts deal more damage to woses.
  • dwarf fighter & thunderer lines nerf (0% cold resistance) - same or maybe even worse phenomenon happens in undead vs knalga matchup when knalgans go mass dwarf fighters.
I used to play a lot of 1v1 Wesnoth, especially ladder games - here's my profile.
I am mostly inactive nowadays, returning to Wesnoth from time to time.

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by Velensk » October 31st, 2016, 8:22 pm

Beware what you ask for. But since you are asking, I'll restate things I've said before.

Loyalist Cavalry: You won't be able to make this change without revising most of the maps. The loyalist mobility is really strong but you'd be amazed the number of issues making it so that you can't reliably grab your villages on schedule would cause, even if loyalists weren't lawful.

Heavy infantry: have he price they do, mostly because of the knalgan match. Knalgans still don't have any actually good way of killing them just several passable ones. The critical mass point with heavy infantry helps that match stalemate. I wouldn't mind this change (I think it's a good one) but something should be done for the knalgans.

Hodor: I personally believe that 12 gold thieves with more hp would be a mistake. Either one or the other might be workable but thieves are still very strong at any point where the map hasn't reached minor saturation and can be strong even after. Hodor isn't that hard to do as it is. 13 gold poachers probably wouldn't be a problem.

19 gold ghosts: Probably not too much a problem but knalgans need a good way to kill ghosts.

Wose Nerf: I see no issue here.

Dwarf Cold resistance: I really don't think that this is an ideal way to help things. Mass dwarves fighters isn't what a knowledgable undead fears, it's the footpads and ulfserkers. Fighters can be avoided when it's not night and suppressed with ghosts/ghouls. I like the cold resistance from a thematic perspective.

EDIT: While I'm here, although I have mentioned that I feel the undead could use a new unit, the same may also be true for knalgans. Either way though I believe the skeleton (with an axe) should probably have it's price moved down to 14, especially if the heavy infantry gets cheaper.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by iceiceice » October 31st, 2016, 8:52 pm

ForPeace:

I think this is a pretty interesting list of changes you've proposed.

Has there been any playtesting with these proposed changes?

I think it's worth also to include Cackfiend's longstanding footpad change proposal in your poll -- footpad melee to blade or pierce. That would help undead vs knalgan matchup immensely IMO. IDK maybe no one likes that idea anymore but at one point I think it was pretty popular.

Actually I was thinking recently of making a test era around the following changes:

1. Undead resistance tweaks
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to 0% impact resistance. (This is intended to help undead vs footpads and woses.)
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to -30% fire resistance. (This is intended to counteract the impact resistance improvement.)
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to 50% blade and pierce resistance. (Need to test this more. This is intended to help spearman vs skeletons, while also making elf fighters slightly less effective vs skeletons.)
Ghoul to +10% impact resistance. (A more aggressive change has been tested quite a bit by Horus2, would like to hear his thoughts on that actually.)

2. Loyalists
Horseman removed from loyalist faction.
Bowman to 13gp.
Heavy Infantry to 18gp.

3. Outlaw buffs
Poacher to 6mp
Thief gets a "stealthy" special. At night, he can skirmish. At day or dusk, he cannot. This is carried forward for the level 2 and level 3. The level 2 and level 3 get +1 melee damage.
Velensk wrote: Heavy infantry: have he price they do, mostly because of the knalgan match. Knalgans still don't have any actually good way of killing them just several passable ones.
I don't think this is a good assessment of the matchup right now. I think on most maps, Knalgans are grossly underpowered vs. loyalists, and thunderers just get wrecked by horsemen. Actually heavy infantry are usually very efficiently dispatched with by footpads. There's no way and no terrain on which HI can efficiently fight footpads. They are very slow and get bad defense ratings -- they just can't really control space very well, if you advance with them they sort of become sitting ducks for harrassment by footpads during the off time of day. If you use them to attack a fortified position, they don't actually have as much damage as a spearman or mage, and if you don't get your hits, they might get pounded by a dwarf fighter or something.

I would be really interested to see some high-level replays on the maps that experts currently play in which there are stalemates between loyalists and knalgans, and an HI spam breaks the stalemate. I've never seen a loyalist vs knalgan match that looks like that. Instead, most experienced Knalgan players attempt a hodor rush, and lose unless they get very lucky, or try to make a wall of guards, and basically just get steadily picked apart. Once the thunderers are on the flat they are subject to horseman charge, and there's not really any answer except... putting more thunderers on the flat, or not getting there in the first place.

I think removing the horseman from the mulitplayer era is the best way to improve this matchup -- the horseman just has stupidly high damage per hex, and Loyalists really don't need more breaking power, what with spears and mages already. It's sometimes a problem in other matchups also, but it's most obvious for the dwarves which have 30% def on the flat.

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by Velensk » October 31st, 2016, 10:04 pm

Oh I fully agree that the problems with the loyalist vs knalgan match-up are far more in the cavalry than the heavy infantry. However, I think you'll see in many matches including a few (though not all) high level matches that the loyalists will grab exactly one heavy infantry to stick on a village and make it even harder for the knalgans to attack. For this, making the heavy infantry cost 17 wouldn't really be that big a deal, but it doesn't change the fact that it would be nice for the knalgans to have a better answer to heavy infantry. The 'stalemate' I refer to is the setup you describe where knalgans get slowly picked apart but on that front, I'd say that heavy infantry are a part of the reason knalgans can't attack. In other situations, knalgans can even make suiciding ulfskerers into spearmen work so long as they can hold the village after.

Footpads do actually trade quite efficiently with heavy infantry as you point out, however what they don't do is -kill- heavy infantry unless they're in the open at night.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by iceiceice » October 31st, 2016, 10:16 pm

I see, I think I misread you. I basically agree that sticking an HI on a village is often pretty wise, even at 19gp.

I don't think HI are the reason Knalgan can't attack. I think the main issue is once there are too many units to get backstabs, they can't really attack.

It's really very difficult for Knalgan to kill a 42 hp spearman on a village at night. You can't hope to do it without basically surrounding him. I think the most feasible way is to use thieves. Failing that you can whittle him down with poachers and footpads and then try to ulf him.

I guess the same is true for the northerners, you need to be hitting with a lot of grunts to get the kill, and you can't miss your hits. But the difference for northerners is that grunts are cheap and your goal is to take advantage of early numerical superiority. If you surround some spearman with dwarves for instance that's a huge amount of gold and you aren't going to be able to get them in that position easily -- it's only going to happen if you already destroyed a loyalist army or something.

I've seen some games where the Knalgan player just spams thunderers and hopes for hits. And if they get their hits, these games end up with spearmen on villages surrounded by six thunderers. But even in those cases it doesn't always end in Knalgan's favor. The spearman has some ranged retal on all of them, and not getting 3/6 isn't even particularly bad luck, then he gets healed and your guys get beat up pretty bad on the flat.

Thief is the only really efficient way that Knalgan has to clear a village. This is why levelling the thief to a skirmisher is critical for Knalgan in a real match -- it's one of the only things they can do to improve their breaking power. This is why I proposed the "stealthy" buff. I think it would be too good if the thief always had skirmisher, I mean he would just be stealing your villages constantly. But if at least he can get some backstabs even after the game has progressed a little it makes Hodor a lot more viable.

In an old thread, Tekelili gave his opinion that the thief is the worst unit in default era. I think it's no doubt true. Compare the stats of the thief with that of the grunt or the spearman. His damage is really quite pitiful, it's often worse than a spearman even with the backstab bonus. And his HP is less than half of either of these guys.

The real risk of making thieves is that if you can't use them to get aggressive early on, then once the map starts to fill up with units you will just never get a backstab. So they can just become dead weight in your army. If they have a stealthy special or something like this then at least they can help you to attack even later in the game.

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by Velensk » October 31st, 2016, 10:53 pm

I actually believe thieves are quite good, however their value does diminish immensely once the board starts filling. They are also -only- good in situations where you have initiative or in which your opponent is overextending, the first of which is a real issue for knalgans and the second is an unlikely to happen if your opponent is a high level player.

You are incorrect on a point though, thieves do more damage than a spearman when backstabbing (8-3 vs 7-3). Cost for cost, backstabbing thieves do more damage than any unit in the game other than the goblin spearman (in total, a strong backstabbing thief at night is equal to a strong clasher at day and is only exceeded by horsemen). EDIT: Actually, reading what you said again, I believe you were when you said 'most of the time' referring to his defense. That is definitely a valid point.

In general, I believe that knalgans are usually better off going for the support around the village than the village itself until they can surround it unless they want to suicide an ulfserker. If you're going to go for the village and then attempt to hold it, I find it's actually frequently best to lead with the ulfserker (though it will almost certainly die) so that you can choose how you follow up to give you the best odds and just accept that you'll take a loss on that trade until the village kicks in.

Thieves are highly underestimated IMO. That said, I feel that it would be good for the knalgan faction as a whole to receive some kind of change. If you want that to be temporarily skirmishing thieves, that could be enough. It can be good for a faction to have an overpowered unit if it fixes more problems than it causes.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by iceiceice » November 1st, 2016, 2:56 am

I think it would be interesting to try it and see if we like it.

I will try to make a test era sometime soon.

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by Gyra_Solune » November 1st, 2016, 6:06 am

...Putting back Cavalrymen to 7MP might actually be a reasonable idea. I'd say 'you shouldn't since you need an 8 MP scout', but they would have one, the Horseman, just like the Knalgans have the Gryphon as an 8MP scout but they tend to use the cheaper if slightly slower Footpads more. It's worth some exploration. I don't think the Horseman ought to be brought down though - half of its role is meant to be punishing errant scouts and if it simply cannot keep up with them then they're going to not be all that useful for their sky-high cost, if you can just run away very easily.

I don't think outlaws ought to recieve a buff because HODOR is too difficult to do - of course it ought to be difficult, because you're missing half of the faction they're in. Their weaknesses ought to be covered by the dwarves, and vice versa. They're meant to be scouts, skirmishers, and auxiliaries to the main dwarvish heavy soldiers - sort of like the Saurians are to the Drakes. It is true however that the Knalgans lacking anything outside of the base three damage types is problematic, especially for Heavy Infantry...maybe some unit of theirs ought to get a Fire attack? It'd be incredibly reasonable to justify the Dwarvish Thunderer having some kind of gunpowder explosive.

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by Horus2 » November 1st, 2016, 6:46 am

Hi all, the timing of this topic is a bit unfortunate. I am working on a set of really elegant balance changes with a lot of paragraph to back it, and i planned to release it once the tournament is over. I have high expectations for this and i honestly think i can please every possible parties involved. I just wanted to tell you this before you really go deep into all kind of wild ideas and theory-crafting. :) Sure, i blew the surprise effect, but i can live with it.

Currently i do not have the time and hardware to properly word my opinion on the original post, but in general i agree with the counter-arguments; give me a week or two and i will go into the details on why 7 mp cav is not the way to go, or why the wose change is suboptimal... and more importantly, what to do instead.

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by Caritas » November 1st, 2016, 5:40 pm

I voted for Wose cold resistance, but the trick really is to nerf their arcane res so that adepts and ghosts can do more dmg. I dont really see a point in any other changes.

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by Elder2 » November 1st, 2016, 5:53 pm

17 g HI is a bit too much of a buff, 18 g would be good but I think 17g would be a bit too much, even though HI itself may be a bit underpowered I don't think loyalists as a faction need a buff.

Wose cold res nerf is a good idea I think even though I can deal with woses as ud, but that doesn't change the fact that they are overpowered vs ud, even though cold res nerf would belp I don't really think that would change much, it would still be extremely hard to kill woses with adepts, and actually, as a whole I think it would make ud winrate vs elf even worse because players would spam adepts even more, as a picked ud player I think it would be a sort of noob trap.

I don't play hodor as dwarf and as ud ladder player I wouldn't want to see it buffed xD Though depending on what buffs it would be I am not really against it, just please don't buff footies. I agree that hodor is unplayable vs orc and most factions actually if your opponent has an idea of what he is doing.

Dwarf fighter cold res nerf? Well, if it was possible to do I would be really happy because as for now there is no way ud can attack mass fighter knalga, dwarf fighters are overpowered vs ud and it promotes a campy game.

19 g ghost is the best I think so I voted for it, ghost is just useless vs anything except knalga and orc and even then its high cost makes it a hard choice to recruit it, 19g would help to balance it.

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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by Elder2 » November 1st, 2016, 6:09 pm

iceiceice wrote:ForPeace:

I think this is a pretty interesting list of changes you've proposed.

Has there been any playtesting with these proposed changes?

I think it's worth also to include Cackfiend's longstanding footpad change proposal in your poll -- footpad melee to blade or pierce. That would help undead vs knalgan matchup immensely IMO. IDK maybe no one likes that idea anymore but at one point I think it was pretty popular.

Actually I was thinking recently of making a test era around the following changes:

1. Undead resistance tweaks
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to 0% impact resistance. (This is intended to help undead vs footpads and woses.)
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to -30% fire resistance. (This is intended to counteract the impact resistance improvement.)
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to 50% blade and pierce resistance. (Need to test this more. This is intended to help spearman vs skeletons, while also making elf fighters slightly less effective vs skeletons.)
Ghoul to +10% impact resistance. (A more aggressive change has been tested quite a bit by Horus2, would like to hear his thoughts on that actually.)

2. Loyalists
Horseman removed from loyalist faction.
Bowman to 13gp.
Heavy Infantry to 18gp.

3. Outlaw buffs
Poacher to 6mp
Thief gets a "stealthy" special. At night, he can skirmish. At day or dusk, he cannot. This is carried forward for the level 2 and level 3. The level 2 and level 3 get +1 melee damage.
Velensk wrote: Heavy infantry: have he price they do, mostly because of the knalgan match. Knalgans still don't have any actually good way of killing them just several passable ones.
I don't think this is a good assessment of the matchup right now. I think on most maps, Knalgans are grossly underpowered vs. loyalists, and thunderers just get wrecked by horsemen. Actually heavy infantry are usually very efficiently dispatched with by footpads. There's no way and no terrain on which HI can efficiently fight footpads. They are very slow and get bad defense ratings -- they just can't really control space very well, if you advance with them they sort of become sitting ducks for harrassment by footpads during the off time of day. If you use them to attack a fortified position, they don't actually have as much damage as a spearman or mage, and if you don't get your hits, they might get pounded by a dwarf fighter or something.

I would be really interested to see some high-level replays on the maps that experts currently play in which there are stalemates between loyalists and knalgans, and an HI spam breaks the stalemate. I've never seen a loyalist vs knalgan match that looks like that. Instead, most experienced Knalgan players attempt a hodor rush, and lose unless they get very lucky, or try to make a wall of guards, and basically just get steadily picked apart. Once the thunderers are on the flat they are subject to horseman charge, and there's not really any answer except... putting more thunderers on the flat, or not getting there in the first place.

I think removing the horseman from the mulitplayer era is the best way to improve this matchup -- the horseman just has stupidly high damage per hex, and Loyalists really don't need more breaking power, what with spears and mages already. It's sometimes a problem in other matchups also, but it's most obvious for the dwarves which have 30% def on the flat.
I will give my opinion about this.

1. Ud changes would make skelletons worse. impact resistance bonus is nice but -30% fire res is too crazy and would far offset impact res buff, it would make mages stupidly strong vs skelletons and they already destroy ud pretty hard, loyal vs ud would be unplayable as ud, all loyal would need to do is go mages and it could destroy ud even at night.

2. I think horse is pretty balanced, i am not sure if bowman needs a buff its not like its especially weak as a unit. The fact that it is rarely recruited doesn't make it weak. Though if I was to buff it I would buff its hp by 1 or 2, that would be ok compared to cost nerf. Also its not really true that loyalist has an easy time vs dwarf, it may have only if dwarf recruits hodor which rather points towards hodor's weakness. When dwaf goes mass dwarves then it has a good chance of winning, just that it is extremely campy usually.

3. Poacher buff is ok but thief bonus is pretty crazy, I am not sure if it would make hodor balanced or unbalanced though, it would need to be tested.

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ForPeace
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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by ForPeace » November 1st, 2016, 7:45 pm

Thank you all for quick responses.

Velensk:

Yes, it's true that slowing down cavalry will have an impact on loyalists' village grabbing, but it's still an issue that loyalists cavalry is too strong vs undead and knalga.

You might be right that thieves are underestimated but recruiting these units gives you risk that they might be useless without backstab.

Anyway, I'm happy that you have responded so quickly, thank you for your clarification and please, consider adding some of these proposals to 1.14.

Horus:

Glad to hear it, I'm looking forward to playtest it :)

iceiceice:

Such changes are interesting, but in my opinion they would change the current balance too much, especially undead resistance tweaks and thief skirmishing. However, 6mp poacher would be interesting and maybe a better choice than 13g poacher.
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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by ForestDragon » November 1st, 2016, 8:21 pm

iceiceice wrote: 1. Undead resistance tweaks
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to 0% impact resistance. (This is intended to help undead vs footpads and woses.)
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to -30% fire resistance. (This is intended to counteract the impact resistance improvement.)
Skeleton and skeleton-archer to 50% blade and pierce resistance. (Need to test this more. This is intended to help spearman vs skeletons, while also making elf fighters slightly less effective vs skeletons.)
btw, you seem to be ignoring realism whatsoever with these ideas: look, how can a human skeleton be as resistance to blade weapons as a freaking steel plate armor? :lol: btw, the fire resistance shouldn't be changed, bones don't have almost as much flammability as a tree :eng:
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Re: Balancing changes in 1.13 cycle?

Post by shortcat » November 1st, 2016, 8:42 pm

Voted for HI and ghost, both not worth their actual cost imo.

Also i think poachers can have "dextrous" trait.

Bowman is rarely recruited units, so maybe he need lower cost or hp+.

And cavalry have 1 mp cost only on flat, not good def and res - seems no needed to be nerfed.

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