Some feedback

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Some feedback

Post by lujo » September 16th, 2017, 12:01 am


I've playe Wesnoth quite a bit over the years, but I haven't participated with feedback much. So I guess I'll give some now.

1) I've installed, loaded a campaign and uninstalled multiple times over the years, all due to the same thing - the Heir to the throne campaign. Every time I download Wesnoth I feel like re-learning the mechanics and the Heir to the throne campaign comes up first in the campaign selector and I spontaneously think this is the introductory campaign. And it's really terrible as an introductory campaign, for any number of reasons. It does a bad job of teaching the basics of gameplay. Several other campaigns, especially shortest Elf one do the job much better. And for all the nice maps it has, I just get bored of the game as a whole due to slogging through that campaign, and I bet I'm not the only person who had this happen to them. I'm also completely sick of elves due to getting stuck with them every time I install the game, because that campaign is first on the list.

So I would suggest, if I may, that if there's a way to move the Heir to the Throne campaign lower down in the list of campaigns, to do so. As silly as it sounds I would have played a lot more Wesnoth had something shorter and less "heroy" been the thing I load up to refresh on how things work every time I download the game.

Why that campaign is a terrible introductory campaign goes quite deep, begining with the first map being nothing like most of the game, to the fact that elves actually make for a lousy introductory race as they are way too specific for an introductory race.

2) There seems to be too many human and elf campaigns. I know they're called rebels and loyalists in game, but the effect is that there's way too many maps of fighting the orcs and the undead and they are somewhat one dimensional (orcs moreso) and this makes the game feel more boring than it actually is.

3) The "a tale of two brothers" campaign is dissapointing. It seems like something that's in there for sentimental reasons or because someone would get offended if it was cut, but it's just not very good.

4) The other short introductory Loyalist campaign felt rather good (I'm playing it all at the highest difficulty), and the short introductory elf campaign felt really good for an intro campaign (certainly a lot better than Heir to the Throne which has interesting maps but is really better suited to being played by more experienced players). The bandit campaign was also rather nice, and it even featured some saurians which was a complete blessing. I breezed through them and never once felt dissappointed.

5) The Dwarf campaign (sceptre of fire?) had cool ideas story and objective-wise, but at times it's damned near unplayable difficulty-wise. The first scenario can pan out in too many ways without anything you can really do about it (I know because I spend better part of today reloading various things and watching fate just take it out of my hands). The main problem with it is that the allied human boss gets killed by random Elf units when reinforcements start to arrive, and there's very little that can be done about this. It's just one hoop too many to jump through. And that's a big shame because there's too few campaigns that isn't just boring elves and humans.

5a) The other problem with the campaign, and I suppose nothing can be done about this, is that the damned thunderers just give too much incentive to save-reload. Especially if you've wasted a bunch of RL time trying to get through the first level. Getting that hit from a thunderer to land just makes too much difference, and the harder and more unforgiving a level, the more a player will feel like it's jut not worth their RL not getting the thunderers to work. I don't really abuse reload much, it's just that too many things about both dwarves and this campaign push you in that direction.

5b) Which is another thing wrong with Heir to the Throne. HttT is loaded with hero units, loyal units, there's the attack upgrades... quite a number of things push towars reload spam. Just saying.

5c) Level 3 on hard seemed somewhat pointlessly difficult.

6) Now, I'm not much of a multiplayer player, so I'm not sure I should really be talking about unit or ability balance, but I can get my way around quite a number of thing folks complain about at the highest difficulty and I would've probably been fine with multiplayer if the damend HttT didn't have me uninstalling the game before I felt like any multiplayer. BUT, I do have a few observations.

6a) Maybe I'm wrong on this, but some upgrade paths seem kinda lame compared to the other options. But maybe I'm wrong. The one thing I'd really like to see (or at least get clarification on) is units with leadership being able to get to a functional lvl4, even if it costs a lot of XP.

6b) Also, the variety of merman units compared there being only one naga unit always felt kinda lame.

I know it's all critical and stuff because it'm not writing the praise down - I really like the game and (at least try to) come back to it once per year (often times more often than that).

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Re: Some feedback

Post by vultraz » September 16th, 2017, 12:39 am

Funny enough, we've just removed HttT from the top slot in the campaigns list and replaced it with A Tale of Two Brothers, specifically because we no longer felt it a good introductory campaign. This will be in the upcoming 1.13.9 release. :P Really the only reason HttT held that position for so long is it was the original campaign the game was first developed with.

Many of the campaigns have been functionally unchanged for years. Their maps are in need of updating and their mechanics need polish. We've put some effort into that during the 1.13.x dev cycle, but a lot still needs to be done. Something I specifically did (and am still not done with :( ) is massively revamping the map design of Northern Rebirth.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I don't have time to consider or reply to all of it right now (busy morning), but we'll definitely consider it when making changes in the future.

For the record, are you playing on 1.13 or 1.12?
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Re: Some feedback

Post by lujo » September 16th, 2017, 7:09 am

Tank you and this is very nice to hear. I can't check my version right now, but I'll tell you when I do.

And yes, quite a bunch of things feel like it was made when the game had fewer elements to it. I'm looking forward to seeing that change in the future. And I would not really recommend setting A tale of two brothers as an introductory campaign. It's not very good (compared to many others), the scenarios are too specific (the introductory scenario would just confuse and furstrate new players). The closest thing to a good introductory campaign would imo, be the shortest elf campaign. Yeah, you fight a lot of orcs using elves, but it plays pretty close to standard gameplay. I'd follow that up with the short loyalist campaign (The one where you start with peasants. It's the best one I've played this time around and it's a nice introductory campaign for campaign mode, rather than the game in general).

If it were up to me I'd scrape A tale of two brothers alltogether. Or remake it completely.

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Re: Some feedback

Post by Pentarctagon » September 16th, 2017, 7:37 am

For reference, this was the thread where mainline's campaign ordering was discussed.
lujo wrote:If it were up to me I'd scrape A tale of two brothers alltogether. Or remake it completely.
Well, Wesnoth is open source, so you could propose and make those changes, if you felt so inclined :)
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Re: Some feedback

Post by Poison » September 16th, 2017, 8:30 pm

lujo wrote:If it were up to me I'd scrape A tale of two brothers alltogether. Or remake it completely.
Personally, I've found it richer than say, AOI. People have totally different opinions on various BfW scenarios / campaigns.

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Re: Some feedback

Post by doofus-01 » September 17th, 2017, 2:16 am

lujo wrote:6a) Maybe I'm wrong on this, but some upgrade paths seem kinda lame compared to the other options. But maybe I'm wrong. The one thing I'd really like to see (or at least get clarification on) is units with leadership being able to get to a functional lvl4, even if it costs a lot of XP.

6b) Also, the variety of merman units compared there being only one naga unit always felt kinda lame.
I'm going to point out what may be obvious, but you made no mention of the add-ons, which are one of Wesnoth's strengths. There's no rule that you have to get through the all mainline campaigns.

I understand a lot of your points deal with the introduction to campaigns, but if you find the game mechanics (and graphics) fun, and are only turned off by the quality of the mainline campaign stories & design, that could be more motivation to check out what others have done with the provided engine & core assets (and often fantasy setting, though not always). There is no Quality Assurance for add-on campaigns, and the version numbers are almost meaningless, but the unfinished ones almost always admit that up front.
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Re: Some feedback

Post by lujo » September 18th, 2017, 12:57 pm

@doofus-01: Well, my points so far have been about intro campaigns because of two things. One is that every time I reinstall Wesnoth I've by that point forgotten how to play, and want to refresh my memory and get back into the basics. Also I kinda have years of backlog on "misgivings of a returning Wesnoth player" perspective, since I never before contributed feedback. The other thing is that this is one of those times where I didn't uninstall after getting tired of HttT but moved on to the other, shorter campaigns, so that's why I'm posting feedback on them.

I'm also giving feedback on the core package as this is what folks are most likely to play, what with the steam greenlight and everything.

@Poison: ToTB has the unintuitive first scenario of setting the player against undead with Loyalists, where "spam footpads" is the best advice. AOI is blandish but quit functional as an introductory campaign, and the best thing about it is that it doesn't set you up for frustration. In the first scenario of ToTB you're given a massive force... which is mostly useless. In AOI the player simply has to figure out that troop placement is important and not to be agressive, and there's no frustration from that point on, but there's still strategy in figuring out how to place your troops.

There's a rather deep question that's always bothered me about Wesnoth - what's the actual proper starting race for a new player? One to teach mechanics with? Elves are very specific, they have a narrow but powerful terrain bonus, their troops are good at both melee and ranged and they have a different relation to the day-night cycle than most others (neutral). And they have a lot of ranged attacks which they can use to be somewhat agressive even when the other guy's time of day is up. And they have rather powerful and accessible healers. This is quite different from how most other guys play, honestly.

This always made Wesnoth a bit inaccessible for me, as it seemed that Elves were favored as protagonists due to aesthetic bias, but playing them didn't teach enough, but just made other guys feel frustrating to play afterwards.

Having the Undead as such frequent antagonists due to flavor was also always kind of irritating because the Undead are also quite anomalous mechanically in many ways. In theory they have some variety to their units, but in practice you need impact and magical. This is such a big problem that in order to design a merman campaign, the very nice Dead Water which I'm currently playing, the creator felt like they have to give the mermen a rather overly powerful unit in the Merman Citizen/Brawler and an impact dmg Leader.

The undead are also specific in many other ways, so most scenarios in the mainline campaigns feel like - either the enemy is Orcs, and as such incapable of presenting a threat to most factions who just play their regular game, or the enemy is Undead and then whatever a faction's regular game is probably gets thrown out the window and you're basically spamming something that faction deosn't necessarily even have access to in multiplayer.

Just saying.

Onto some more feedback:

I played through the Sceptre of Fire campaign on the hardest difficulty and reported some rather striking flaws in the respective scenario threads. It's a very fun campaign, the writing is way less stiff than anywhere else up to that point, I like most of the characters and the low fantasy feel. It's more humane and relateable, not what everyone's looking for in their fantasy, but I'm quite partial to it.

1) The first scenario asks for too many hoops to be jumped through, and getting rid of at least one would be quite welcome. Namely, making the death of the human commander not be important. It's very frustrating when random elven horsemen can just snipe the guy at any point, and if you try to defend him you just have the elfball roll in that direction and certainly kill him.

2) The second flaw is that the campaign as a whole encourages replaying maps for more efficiency (in ways I detailed elesewhere), and encouraging Dwarves to reload and replay is just inviting Thunderer abuse. Which is a shame because the more fun scenarios (most of them are pretty fun and interesting) are well worth just playing without that.

3) The third level showcases what I call "hero clutter". The map part where your troops dig in is small, the enemies hit hard and you're saddled with many units which must not die or you lose. It's not really difficult, as much as just frustrating, and it'd be way less frustrating if there were fewer heroes to pay attention to.

4) The map where you run from the elven outriders was fun in theory, but in practice it's too easy to just kill the outriders even at a high difficulty, with no reload abuse. Which I did, so yeah... Very cool concept, the chase, nicely done, too, but I fell like it could have been better used in a different campaign. Getting spearmen to help you while being chased by elven riders is obvious overkill.

5) After having played through it all I have to conclude that it would've been a much better campaign without the human cavaleer and the gryphon. There'd be fewer "you lose, now reload" moments when the AI decies to go for your heroes, for one thing. For another, they don't really do much.

The gryphon mostly just gets in the way and isn't useful against anything at any point. His movement underground sucks, using him to grab villages in other situations is actually a bad idea (you need to be inside the cave when you assault it, and there's no point to / time for grabbing villages when you run away from it). Using him to attack things is pointless. Most things in the campaign are much better in melee than the gryphon, attacking things mostly leaves him exposed anyway, enemies kill him effortlessly and in case he dies it's a reload.

The cavaleer is obviously useful (rather powerful ranged attack, rather huge movement), but after the first scenario he's unnecessary. His solo mission would be cool if he wasn't a human (and not getting spearmen vs horses, lol), there's a mission where his part in it is "click him, click egde of map, forget he's there", and he just adds to the clutter otherwise. Yes he and the gryphon have that scene at the end, but it's just not worth the hassle.

So, as a radical proposal - without those two the campaign would be tangibly better. Just saying.


Then I moved on the the Dead Water campaign at the highest (4th) difficulty. This turned into a reload fest, which I don't mind because it's quite difficult and unforgiving (or at least feels that way). The impressions so far:

1) The Brawler is too powerful. Actually, the Citizen is to powerful, and the Brawler is just cheezy.

I love the idea of a level capped unit which can always be affected by a leader, this is great stuff, and I feel like every race should have one. Leadership is powerful, but clunky, and a standard leadership package of one or two units which cap out below max who can never outlevel the guy with leadership is very nice. Also, obviously, the leader who caps out at lvl 4 rather than lvl 3, also rather nice. I wouldn't necessarily fell like that kind of leader would need to advance any stats at lvl 4, as being able to grant leadership to lvl 3 units is rather strong.

However, the Brawler is silly strong and is even more nuts in this campaign, and the first two scenarios look difficult (even impossible) until you realize just how nuts the Brawlers are. They also heal up by leveling very easily, and keep leveling very easily because they seem to be a lvl1 unit capable of massacreing anything vulnerable to impact.

2) Merman hunters kinda suck. Upgrading them into netcasters is difficult due to their really high miss chance. Seriously, every time I have to use a merman hunter I always thing "why isn't this guy simply an initiate, why am I even bothering".

3) Merman warriors just really suck. Or rather, they're very narrow, and their upgrade paths don't do enough for them. This is not just a sentiment from this Undead heavy campaign, it's leftover resentment from HttT where there's enough loyal merment around to keep using them all the time. They start out one-dimensional, and remain one dimensional to the end. Which explains the whole concept of having those lightning rods lying around in campaigns. If a unit needs the lightning rod handy to remain relevant (and it's not there for Initiates or Hunters) then the unit is kinda lacking somewhere.

4) All that makes me wish Mermen were properly developed as their own race. Hunters are too clunky, Warriors are one dimensional and initiates just kick too much ass. The initiates are also way too pushed towards becoming the healer, mind you, and not just in this campaign. Heal, high accuracy magical damage and illuminate in an all-lawful race? While the other option has meh attacks, less health, and doesn't really look like there's a point to it compared to the other one?

4.1) My suggestions, for what they're worth, would be something along the lines of:

- Balance out the Initiate upgrades stat wise and give Illuminate to the other one instead of the one who has it now. Folks will always want the healer, no point giving them Illuminate along with it on the same unit.
- Merman Hunter needs higher accuracy (marksman?). I'm still not sure when exactly not making him a netcaster makes sense, though, as you're probably better off just leveling an initiate instead.
- Warrior just doesn't do much. Big piercing mele damage during the day, big whoop. One final upgrade makes him a bit more capable of going on dry land, one lets him do both blade and pierce. Honestly, I'd just make him a 4 upgrade unit. Lvl 2 he'd get steadfast, lvl 3 a second attack, then at lvl 4 leadership (and nothing else).

I'd try that, possibly even just branch out the hunter and the netcaster into 2 separate units. Having to level a Hunter to get a Netcaster is sucha a pain in the neck because if you want a Netcaster, you very likely don't need a Hunter. In order to push the hunter a bit I'd make his line have a better time on dry land (wether through steadfast, or whatever other means), which along with the tweaks to the warrior line would give mermen a bit of ground game.

If I wanted to make them an actual fully fleshed faction of their own, I'd give them 2 differend bird women (harpy and siren), for village grabbing and some more dry land prowess, and round it out with whatever's necessary for a faction but missing.

5) The bats you get for killing necromancers are very cool, and I love being able to have some on a non-undead campaign. Seeing how there's so many non-undead campaings, having any in a campaign at all is great. The undead one is unbelievably cool (not necessarily the most useful, though). The other two are kinda... overlappy. They're the same thing, one's just fully developed and the other isn't. I suppose there's just not enough bats in the game for a different effect.

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Re: Some feedback

Post by SigurdFireDragon » September 18th, 2017, 5:51 pm

lujo wrote: @Poison: ToTB has the unintuitive first scenario of setting the player against undead with Loyalists, where "spam footpads" is the best advice. AOI is blandish but quit functional as an introductory campaign, and the best thing about it is that it doesn't set you up for frustration. In the first scenario of ToTB you're given a massive force... which is mostly useless. In AOI the player simply has to figure out that troop placement is important and not to be agressive, and there's no frustration from that point on, but there's still strategy in figuring out how to place your troops.
I agree with this, I added
"Undead units have a variety of resistances. Keep this in mind when forming your strategy and choosing recruits."
as a note in objectives for ToTB first scenario on easy for 1.13.9 to help deal with that.

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Re: Some feedback

Post by lujo » September 18th, 2017, 6:25 pm

SigurdFireDragon wrote:
lujo wrote: @Poison: ToTB has the unintuitive first scenario of setting the player against undead with Loyalists, where "spam footpads" is the best advice. AOI is blandish but quit functional as an introductory campaign, and the best thing about it is that it doesn't set you up for frustration. In the first scenario of ToTB you're given a massive force... which is mostly useless. In AOI the player simply has to figure out that troop placement is important and not to be agressive, and there's no frustration from that point on, but there's still strategy in figuring out how to place your troops.
I agree with this, I added
"Undead units have a variety of resistances. Keep this in mind when forming your strategy and choosing recruits."
as a note in objectives for ToTB first scenario on easy for 1.13.9 to help deal with that.
That's great!

Could you also have someone mention at some point that the undead are extremely dangerous at night when your guys are also at their weakest? Time of day is kinda extremely important in this matchup...

Another suggestion would be that if the player is supposed to start with a bunch of troops, and loyalists actually have Heavy Infantry, I'd certainly much rather give the player that than a bunch of piercing stuff. I mean, it's supposed to be the first map a new player sees in their first campaign...

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Re: Some feedback

Post by lujo » September 18th, 2017, 11:49 pm

Finished "Dead water", so to add to the impressions from the longish post before.

I like it quite a bit. In the final map I didn't reload even once, and due to reloading before I had a huge deathball of units with lots of illumination to just roll around the map. Mostly nice writing (has a few stilted lines here and there which seem as if they simply weren't written by a native speaker or are just a bit overly dramatic, but otherwise quite fine).

NOTICED: In the final map, the south-eastern Undead recruited a lot of ghostly types and they all went very far to the west despit my troops all being in the centre of the map fighting the central enemy. I suppose that has something to do with ghost AI being some kind of scout AI? Due to this a largeish cloud of high level ghost-types were faffing about not doing anything useful (grabbing villages I suppose) while they could have been hitting me in the rear for at least a few kills. They were so non-existant that it's funny how I noticed them - I noticed that their leader is completely alone and that I could just wack him with a small group of units. I detached a small group from my main deathball and sure enough I wacked him easily, but this seemed odd as I was sure I didn't actually deal with a large number of ghosts I saw him summon. And then I went looking around the map and found them all the way over west grabbing villages while their boss was getting killed. I think they were too distracted to properly notice even while I swung all my troops over to the north eastern boss, just a few of them showed up.

LOVED: I adored the cuttlefish. Got it late, had nothing else to upgrade so I concentrated on upgrading it to a kraken in the second-to-last scenario (nasty twist at the end with the mage, I had to reload an completely change my strat to buy myself 2 extra turns to deal with that guy). Loved the kraken, it has the funniest animation and a lovely concept behind it's attacks. Very enjoyable.

Again, for those who missed my editing of the longish textwall above, I'm not happy with the mermen. I went and read the guidelines for faction creation and I understand that the very fact that so many units can move on water easily is overpowering for standard maps. I still feel they have design flaws that go beyond balancing for that issue, and I'll restate how I feel about it:

1) The Initiate upgrades are messed up. The healer path is inherently too appealing for it to have illuminate at the end. IMO it should be on the other one, as there's not much reason to ever go for the other one as things stand. In fact, the healer path for the initiate is way above the other mermen, and probably most things in the game, really. It certainly makes other mermen look silly.

2) The Spearman path is messed up in the sense that getting a Netcaster means having to level up a Hunter. The Hunter has a lousy piercing attack and a high miss rate compared to the initiate, and a dmg type overlap with the warrior and this makes him mostly useless. You'd think this would be a part of balancing the Netcaster, but the Initiate healer path is so damned good that it's a good question why anyone should even bother with Netcasters at all. If you want a Netcaster in the board, you probably have no use for a Hunter and as great as they are Netcasters just aren't worth the hassle of having to upgrade a Hunter. Not in a faction with Initiates.

I'd personally just split the Hunter him into 2 units, the Hunter (who I'd possibly make more of a ground-friendly unit or smth to compensate for him not really having a role), and an impact melee guy with no net who gets the net at lvl 2 when he becomes the netcaster.

3) The warrior is bland, one dimensional and boring. This is logical as he's used in other factions as the sea-going unit which is a huge thing in those factions so they need a boring merman. The mermen don't really need a boring only-mele-piercing-during-daytime guy, so what I'd do is divide him into 2 units. A boring Merman Ally guy for factions who get a lot out of just having a boring merman ally, and a proper Merfolk Warrior for when Mermen are their own faction. I'd make him a 4-upgrade feller, with first level having him be a boring piercing guy we all know, the second level giving him more of a solid ground game with steadfast or something, the third level giving him a blade attack, and the 4th level giving him leadership (and only leadership).

4) If I were developing mermen as a faction I'd start there and make their game all about working your way to becoming usable on land throug hard earned upgrades (Iluminate and Leadership, and Hunter and Warrior steadfast upgrades). I'd have to think about how to balance their sea based mobility properly as it is quite gamebreaking on it's own, and I have a few ideas.

5) The bats made me think a merman faction could really use some flying units like Harpies and Sirens from greek mythology for inland village grabbing (and not much more). Even just hawks or some sort of "sea drake" would be quite fine, and play into the whole "low defense unless on water" merman shtick.


Anyway, enjoyed the campaign, but I'd recommend playing it below the 4th level of difficulty. Not much lower becuase the brawlers are quite overpowered, the leader is really good and the initiates' healer path is quite brutal.

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Re: Some feedback

Post by lujo » September 19th, 2017, 10:14 pm

Finished the "Hammer of Thursagan. Incerdibly enjoyable campaign through and through.

The faschism / racism of the bad guys at the end was really well done, I enjoyed beating that Lich up very much. I think that's the first villain so far with a bit of psychology to him, very well done all in all. The hateful masked KKK dwarves hit the spot, I have to say, and it's rather well written too.

The maps flow one into another, it's a good "intro to dwarves" campaign for the first few maps, then some trickshots with a very wellcome and rather epic "run through the jungle" map, and the RPG section in the end was epic. It has a bug though, in that triggering the teleporters or the southern gate prevents you from opening then north gate to the easternmost chamber, which was a big dissapointment.

But still, dayum, that was a good campaign. Since I played on hardest I did a bunch of reloading, but not before the really nasty maps. I'm sure the person who made it knew what they were doing, but I'm also thinking that dwarves are just better designed than other factions (or overpowered but fun to play, I can't decide). Great admiration to whoever made the campaign, it's rather well done (if it's the person who made the sceptre of fire - this one is better executed and I'd be saying the same if there was no final scenario in it).


I tried Under the burning suns on the new 13.X branch. I always loved that campaign, because as a life long very well read/played fantasy fan I'm kind of sick and tired of cliches. That thing felt soooooo refreshing back in the day, and I really, truly enjoyed how a spin on elves made me actually interested in playing them rather than completely sick at the sight of them.

I really didn't like the new graphics for elves. I have to say, I actually preffered the "basically a color swap", because that way it didn't feel too distant from the regular era and this accentuated all other differences and was way more subtle. I'm sure the person who drew up the fine new art, if they're reading, is scowling at the screen now, I'd hate the person who said what I just did, but what can you do? It was cool because the elves were still recognizable elves, but the planet had changed. These new graphics make them feel alien and unrelatable. :(

Dunno about the mechanical rework, though. It's probably for the best, looked sensible.

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Re: Some feedback

Post by lujo » September 21st, 2017, 2:59 pm

I finished "Descent into darkness". I've got mixed feelings about it in multiple ways, and I couldn't ultimately say it's very good. I don't think it's subjective on my part, either. 1.12.6

The writing is... clunky. The final two levels are great flavor wise, that's fine. The initial level, however you finish is is also fine. The middle is kinda ok, occasionally a bit clunky, but the main problem is that the protagonist seems crazy. Which may be so, but really, why did he have to fight the old guy for wanting to go separate ways? In the scenario where they get the book - if you let the old guy walk out it's over so you have to reload, and get out before the old guy in which case you really don't know he would have left you for dead. In which case... he thaught you how to be a necromancer, you helped him get the book, up to that point every motivation the young guy had was rather positive. He wanted to get back at the orcs for killing his father, he wanted to prove himself to his people, and he wanted to help his tutor with a quest... Killing the guard captain guy was in self defense!

I mean, if the talking minion which appears in 2 scenarios (in my case a wraith) was supposed to be something going on in the guys head symbolizing his growing madness or paranoia or something, it didn't work. He's a decent guy and then out of nowhere decides he has to kill his mentor over some book which he doesn't even care about much and which he only got involved with to help his mentor. It doesn't work, it's very much out of character. There IS a sensible foundation for constant rejection causing him to go crazy, which could then culminate with an overreaction to his master wanting to go separate ways but he comes of as suddenly psychotic. Not so much a descent into darkenss as much as a very sudden random plunge into it.

Also, because it's not gradual, the player goes from playing a sad young man, who can be pretty relatable, straight to playing a pyscho and it's not very satsifying at all. The guy is pretty sympathetic, and it's rare that you find an orc hating person in fantasy who doesn't come off as just plain racist but his story pulls it off. You're with that guy for eight or so scenarios, he's quite clearly the good guy, but then very suddenly you're supposed to relate to a psycho? It doesn't work. His master is also a rather good character, he didn't need to suddenly be unconvincigly "evil all along" because "all necromancers are evil". Old guy taught the young guy necromancy, so the young guy can help him get a book on necromancy... It worked fine for me, what's there to resent?

The plot really breaks badly there. Fundamentally it can't decide between whether the kid was betrayed by the last person he thought he could trust, snapped and became the ultimate misanthrope OR if he was crazy and evil all along and basically flipped out on the old guy after being corrupted by necromancy. And neither is what I would've gone with. What I would've gone with is - he helps the old guy get the book, they go separate ways, he's devastated by this, but the old guy gets ambushed by the human asshats. The kid goes to avenge HIM, but then orcs show up, it's the clusterf**k that that map is, and the kid ends up getting away with the book, half dead and becomes the ultimate misanthrope recluse.

Would've worked much better.


What's worse than the plot is how the campaign kinda accentuates the inherent problems of the Undead faction instead of working around them. I'll write it up some other time, but there's a huge overreliance on Ghosts. As fun as the scenarios can be, having most of your XP and recruitement gold faffing about the map in Ghost form while your other troops are inherently incapable of forming a line keeps making the experience worse than it should be. No to mention that it often feels more like a puzzle campaign than a wargame one, which is to say that there's too much incentive to reload. And it sorta spoils the fun of the final two scenarios when you can just keep doing what you've been doing since scenario 3 - send a bunch of ghosts to assassinate someone - it's really the solution to everything...

Overall - I can see the contours and the weight of a great campaign there, but many things about it are clunky and it manages to fail. The good stuff is remarkably good, though.

Posts: 27
Joined: December 10th, 2014, 10:21 pm

Re: Some feedback

Post by lujo » September 22nd, 2017, 8:04 pm

Well, I never played Northern Rebirth before, in all these years. Which means that I just got to experience nightmare difficulty Infested Caves. Well, that's an experience that's not likely to happen any time soon :lol:

Took me several days to figure it out. I tried playing it by blocking corridors and trying to get somewhere that way, but no, that doesn't work. What ended up working was:

1) Run the loyal spearman (I made him a spearman) guy up the corridor towards the archmage, recruit all footpads, hit bat.
2) Run 3 footpads towards the blue force (to help the spearman and the wizard escape), 2 footmen to block up the green force, use a few footpads and leader to polish off the bat and run towards the main room with the rest. Recruit another batch of Footmen, too.
2.1) Make damned sure some of your guys are in the main hall ASAP because you seem to need to get vision on skelletons to make them start coming into the hall, and you absolutely need the white skelletons to peel the brown trolls of you.
3) Run everything towards the main hall, except 3 guys blockign top, and 2 guys blockign bottom. Move the guys blocking top to the patch of green where you found the mage. They will divert some of the blue reinforcements and be rather safe (one enemy at the time, 3 of them + house to heal). This is, it turns out, necessary as without it the trolls seem to overwhelm the skelletons every time and YOU LOSE
4) Run everyone towards the hall and once the Wizard is out of your initial fort and heading ot the hall, run with the two guys blocking the south. You actually need the green trolls in the main hall ASAP.
4-10-ish) Dear god, this is ridiculous and I don't ever want to play it again, except it's also kinda cool and I'd like to play it again if it was just a bit less dependent on luck.

What's supposed to happen, AFAIK nothing else seems to work ever, is that you run in like an idiot, use 1-2 Footpads on the southern hills and cram the rest of them into the complex of forts in the middle. They have to be placed in such a way that the brown trolls AI makes them go for white skeletons instead of your troops. This means prioritizing defenisble spots, and also probably trying to get one or two sacrificial guys to stand in stupid spots to the north-west so they bait trolls over there. You really don't want them fighting orange skelletons, those are tackled by the green and blue trolls who you just unleashed (and are in turn tackled by them). Then while the brown trolls and the white skellies fight, and the other trolls and the other skellies fight, you kind of weasel any troops that you have left towards the south-west, and either gang up on the Brown troll leader and take his keep, or you only manage to barely get there when the brown troll leader is busy fighting the black skellies and you just steal the keep for free.

That's the general idea, but what goes wrong too easily at nightmare is that all the defensible ground in the universe doesn't dissuade the brown trolls from just stickign right to your dudes instead of the white skelletons. They hit hard and they know it, so whether they go for white skellies or not comes down to luck more than is comfortable IMO. I've never ever had it happen, whatever I tried placement wise, that there wasn't at least one big fat brown troll in the central keep by turn 3, and I'm really not sure what actually makes them eventually possibly change their priority to fighting white skelletons. It's always a sandwitch of white - me in the middle - brown and they start fighting only when they really mess me up good.

turn 10-11) If you have enough guys alive, you use the wizard to soften up the brown leader, who might be alone, and you hit him with footpads untill he dies. This never panned out this way for me becaus there was always too many brown trolls stickign ot my guys like mad. What's more likely to happen is black skeletons bursting out of their entrance and brown trolls diverting their attention to them. You then use the wizard to kill one key brown troll who's probably in your way, and get into the keep. Their leader will keep fighting the undead most likely and probably get killed by them (happened to me 2 times)

turns onward) get the brown isolated villages with some footpads and recruit whatever (thugs and footpads), then when you decide the time is right move down the corridor, fight undead all the way down and reach the dwarves. It's not very difficult because the way things play out the brown trolls kill quite a number of black undead for you while you get your bearings.


I went and looked around the forums and it turns out this map is legendary/infamous for difficulty at nightmare. It might have something to do with the fact that the mechanism that's supposed to allow you to get through the main hall braeaks down at nightmare and the AI prioritizes your dudes despite enemy dudes being easier to hit/kill? Does it? Sure seemed that way, and it felt like I was playing something that wasn't working the way it was supposed to be working.

I can't say I enjoyed it. It's a bit too gamey and mechanical at it's core, and it was fun to be reminded of old dos games and tetrises and puzzles I honestly can't say why this is mainline campaign material. It's more like a trickshot, and the neverending swarms of enemies which feel like water currents kind of kill immersion. Eh, Infested Caves... Controversial map, I bet.

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