Too many unbalanced campaigns

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WesnothNewbie
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Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by WesnothNewbie » August 23rd, 2012, 8:31 pm

I apologize if this sounds like a bit of a rant, but bear with me.
I think that many mainline campaigns, including AOI and to some degree HttT, are somewhat unbalanced in favour of the AI. The enemy usually has more gold and more leveled units than the player- I can understand this, it makes campaigns somewhat challenging. What I don't understand is why so many battles have you fight against a faction that has many troops that you can't even counter! For example, in AOI, you fight a battle against the undead- you're fighting as rebels, except you don't have Woses, and the only mages you have are Linaera and any of the three mages that survived the previous scenario, which is easier said than done, since the previous scenario doesn't tell you that you should try and keep your mages alive for the next one. Secondly, in many campaigns, you fight against chaotic factions of Northeners and Undead. Except you always start at dawn and the map usually means that your enemy ALWAYS ends up fighting you at their best ToD! If multiplayer matches had you fighting with an underpowered faction with less gold and a biased ToD, you'd be pretty annoyed wouldn't you?
Also, I would like more faction variety among some campaigns. You often don't have all the available units of one faction, let alone the units of different factions. HttT seems to be the only one that negates this.
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Kanzil
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by Kanzil » August 23rd, 2012, 9:26 pm

I apologize if this sounds like a bit of a rant, but bear with me.
I think that many mainline campaigns, including AOI and to some degree HttT, are somewhat unbalanced in favour of the AI. The enemy usually has more gold and more leveled units than the player- I can understand this, it makes campaigns somewhat challenging. What I don't understand is why so many battles have you fight against a faction that has many troops that you can't even counter! For example, in AOI, you fight a battle against the undead- you're fighting as rebels, except you don't have Woses, and the only mages you have are Linaera and any of the three mages that survived the previous scenario, which is easier said than done, since the previous scenario doesn't tell you that you should try and keep your mages alive for the next one. Secondly, in many campaigns, you fight against chaotic factions of Northeners and Undead. Except you always start at dawn and the map usually means that your enemy ALWAYS ends up fighting you at their best ToD! If multiplayer matches had you fighting with an underpowered faction with less gold and a biased ToD, you'd be pretty annoyed wouldn't you?
Also, I would like more faction variety among some campaigns. You often don't have all the available units of one faction, let alone the units of different factions. HttT seems to be the only one that negates this.
That's because the human mind is able to invent and innovate, to adapt to new scenarios and inject a flair and individuality into their thinking. The human mind is a better player than the AI, as the AI runs on a set of rules that do not cover every possibility, and it has many stupid faults in it(though it's still very good). To negate this, campaign designers give it more gold and better units, to present a challenge to the player. The limiting of recruits, the time of day and many other factors mean the human is presented with an interesting match-up, and a challenging scenario. This gives each scenario a character and depth missing in mp.
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by TheScribe » August 23rd, 2012, 9:50 pm

And not all campaigns start you at dawn every scenario. Not sure about the mainline ones though...
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by Groggy_Dice » August 24th, 2012, 10:47 am

Given that you are a self-proclaimed "WesnothNewbie", I expect most of your frustrations to go away with experience. As Kanzil noted, as you gain experience, you will become more adept, while the AI will remain the same.
WesnothNewbie wrote:What I don't understand is why so many battles have you fight against a faction that has many troops that you can't even counter! For example, in AOI, you fight a battle against the undead- you're fighting as rebels, except you don't have Woses, and the only mages you have are Linaera and any of the three mages that survived the previous scenario, which is easier said than done, since the previous scenario doesn't tell you that you should try and keep your mages alive for the next one.
You should always try to keep mages alive, they're an expensive and valuable unit. As you play Wesnoth, you'll probably learn to protect your mages better.

Also, if you promoted some of your shamans to sorceresses, you would have another undead fighter. When I first started, I always promoted shamans to druids. South Guard showed me the value of healing, and the +8 healing of the druid seemed obviously more valuable than the slightly better blasting power of the sorceress (which loses the +4 healing of the shaman). This is partly a consequence of hiding the full unit tree; if you knew where the sorceress line was headed, you'd promote some shamans, particularly dextrous ones, to them.
Secondly, in many campaigns, you fight against chaotic factions of Northeners and Undead. Except you always start at dawn and the map usually means that your enemy ALWAYS ends up fighting you at their best ToD! If multiplayer matches had you fighting with an underpowered faction with less gold and a biased ToD, you'd be pretty annoyed wouldn't you?
Also, I would like more faction variety among some campaigns. You often don't have all the available units of one faction, let alone the units of different factions. HttT seems to be the only one that negates this.
Part of the challenge of the game is fighting with the recruits you have (though it can be cool to play with a variety of units). The factions are designed for multiplayer balance. They are not always necessary for single-player balance (after all, your opponents aren't working from a full faction recruit list, either), and they don't always fit a campaign storyline. For instance, it wouldn't make sense to have the full "Rebel" line in AOI, which is set before the time of Asheviere and the rebellion against her "Loyalists." Other times, it makes sense to be able to draw from units across faction lines, as in Rise of Wesnoth, where you have both loyalist and outlaw units.
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Aelaris
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by Aelaris » August 26th, 2012, 1:51 am

Campaigns are materially unfair because the AI is stupid. Until wesnoth developers can get a good enough API that people can actually enjoy writing AI, and then (after that point) someone offers up a prize to a computer that can beat them in multiplayer 3/5, the AI is going to be pretty sucky.

This is why I prefer multiplayer. Single-player just feels like abusing the mistakes of the AI, rather than doing anything particularly clever on my end.
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by doofus-01 » August 26th, 2012, 6:54 am

Aelaris wrote:This is why I prefer multiplayer. Single-player just feels like abusing the mistakes of the AI, rather than doing anything particularly clever on my end.
Then that is just badly written Single-Player. Single-Player shouldn't need the AI to do the heavy lifting.
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by WesnothNewbie » August 26th, 2012, 1:02 pm

Aelaris wrote:Campaigns are materially unfair because the AI is stupid. Until wesnoth developers can get a good enough API that people can actually enjoy writing AI, and then (after that point) someone offers up a prize to a computer that can beat them in multiplayer 3/5, the AI is going to be pretty sucky.

This is why I prefer multiplayer. Single-player just feels like abusing the mistakes of the AI, rather than doing anything particularly clever on my end.
I agree with this. Too many times have I sent scouts or other cavalry type units ahead to act as a distraction for the AI and slow them down while I run away or deal with another enemy leader. Every time, the AI falls for it. It's actually rather boring. And I definitely agree with you on preferring multiplayer mode.
I'm using 1.8.6 at the moment, so I don't know how many people can play with me on the server, I thought it was the latest version in the repositories, but apparently 1.10 is (no idea why 1.10 is newer than 1.8.6).

Anyway, thanks for the replies, I'll try and reply to more of you later. Just to show how much nicer a battle is when you have a fair fight against the AI, I uploaded a replay of my battle with Rebels and Knalgans fighting against undead AIs. You'll notice how even with my ally making terrible recruits such as poachers, I was still able to win out against the two undead leaders alone when I had woses and mages available (and wasn't horrendously outnumbered!).
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taptap
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by taptap » August 26th, 2012, 1:52 pm

Well playing MP maps against the AI on even will remain disappointing for a while until better AI is available try a little handicap. Like giving the AI some additional base income and starting gold - still on a MP map - and suddenly it won't feel so different from a campaign. And some campaigns have a bit of handicap implemented in only giving you units you wouldn't usually recruit for the task. (Like defending an elven princess far from home only with elvish scouts and unicorns :)) But isn't that the fun of it? If you play the AI on even without any handicap on a balanced map there usually is no challenge at all.
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by WesnothNewbie » August 26th, 2012, 4:03 pm

taptap wrote:Well playing MP maps against the AI on even will remain disappointing for a while until better AI is available try a little handicap. Like giving the AI some additional base income and starting gold - still on a MP map - and suddenly it won't feel so different from a campaign. And some campaigns have a bit of handicap implemented in only giving you units you wouldn't usually recruit for the task. (Like defending an elven princess far from home only with elvish scouts and unicorns :)) But isn't that the fun of it? If you play the AI on even without any handicap on a balanced map there usually is no challenge at all.
I think the point I am gaining from this is that the reason campaigns are often so unbalanced is because the AI is dumb. I commented on another thread about defence strategies for the AI- I think the AI should make more random decisions (the RCA AI is somewhat better in this regard, but I find it actually slightly weaker than the default one) and additionally, maybe the developers should try to observe skilled Wesnoth players (not like me) and try to emulate that. Now I understand creating a true artificial intelligence is extremely difficult, but I think intelligent tactics combined with more random gives a more realistic match.
I still don't think campaigns should give you handicapped units. Gold and higher level units I understand, but not giving you the appropriate tools for the job is just making fun of the player.
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by beetlenaut » August 26th, 2012, 4:17 pm

Read this: http://wiki.wesnoth.org/WhyWritingAWesnothAIIsHard. It's not that the developers don't know how the AI should behave, it's just that telling it how is very, very hard.
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by taptap » August 26th, 2012, 5:25 pm

Look at the size of a Wesnoth map, the number of units etc. etc. and then consider that skilled amateurs still beat the best AI available for a game like Go that features a 19x19 board, 1 unit type, 1 move per turn and there are many, many programmers busy to write a good Go programs :) Also, a lesson learned from Go software is that a knowledge based approach will never make a computer play good enough to beat a human. It is a praiseworthy effort when the AI learns to beat new players in even games, but when it becomes really strong we will watch AI vs. AI games to get a grasp of advanced strategies :)

Personally I think the AI already is pretty decent btw. In comparison to the hidden advantages other games give to their AIs to make games challenging.
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by WesnothNewbie » August 26th, 2012, 6:27 pm

beetlenaut wrote:Read this: http://wiki.wesnoth.org/WhyWritingAWesnothAIIsHard. It's not that the developers don't know how the AI should behave, it's just that telling it how is very, very hard.
Hmm... Well that was an interesting link, thank you for posting. I can certainly understand the difficulty of programming an AI, but I still think the campaigns are somewhat unfair to the player. Even if they AI isn't very clever, if they have larger numbers, larger amounts of levelled unit, AND you don't have many units that can effectively counteract them, you start to get trouble.
Actually, most scenarios aren't terribly difficult. I think my irritation derives specifically from the scenarios where you face undead. The skeleton's resistances to pierce and blade and your lack of magical and impact units makes them ridiculously overpowered. I also think there are too many campaigns where the easier difficulty levels are actually harder. And I don't like sudden increases and decreases in the difficulty level that some campaigns have (think troll valley or undead valley).
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by nuorc » August 26th, 2012, 6:31 pm

WesnothNewbie wrote: I'm using 1.8.6 at the moment, so I don't know how many people can play with me on the server, I thought it was the latest version in the repositories, but apparently 1.10 is (no idea why 1.10 is newer than 1.8.6).
It goes like 8, 9, 10...
So 1.10.3 is newer than 1.8.6
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by Celtic_Minstrel » August 26th, 2012, 6:48 pm

WesnothNewbie wrote:I'm using 1.8.6 at the moment, so I don't know how many people can play with me on the server, I thought it was the latest version in the repositories, but apparently 1.10 is (no idea why 1.10 is newer than 1.8.6).
I'm guessing you're making the mistake of taking the '.' in the 1.8 as a decimal point. It's not a decimal point; it's a place separator. This makes its function more comparable to the ':' often used in time notation (like 8:30 PM). As such, each '.'-separated component is a separate number and 1.1 is not the same as 1.10.
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Re: Too many unbalanced campaigns

Post by WesnothNewbie » August 26th, 2012, 7:35 pm

nuorc wrote:
WesnothNewbie wrote: I'm using 1.8.6 at the moment, so I don't know how many people can play with me on the server, I thought it was the latest version in the repositories, but apparently 1.10 is (no idea why 1.10 is newer than 1.8.6).
It goes like 8, 9, 10...
So 1.10.3 is newer than 1.8.6
Ah thank you for that, both of you.
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