Why..?

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OgreMage
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Why..?

Post by OgreMage »

Why is combat so screwy in this game? I'm trying to give this game a chance, I really am, but when I compare it to one of my favorite games, Fantasy General, this one just comes up short. I understand that it's still a work in progress, but some of the things that happen in the game just piss me off, especially when I have to restart 1 scenario in a campaign 13 times to save one of my units from some ridiculous combat situation that was as unavoidable as it was infuriating.

1. Units cannot support each other in battle, so 1 guy in the middle of 3 other allies is almost as vulnerable as one guy alone. What's the point of using strategy when the enemy can just laugh in your face and pick off valuable units one-by-one? (And don't respond "just keep your valuable units in the rear", since what's the point of good units if you are never able to use them?) This also reduces the importance of archers and stresses the importance of infantry units, since infantry are more likely to survive the punishment of a concentrated attack.

2. Why can't healers stack, so that if one unit that is poisoned and damaged be both healed and cured if he has 2 healers next to him? Instead, a unit that is poisoned and injured is out of commission for 2 turns, not 1. Also, since poisoning always does 8 damage the turn after it is delivered, the unit is almost guaranteed to be badly injured.

3. Why was poison given to a class of units that can dodge most attacks, making it almost a given that they will survive long enough to poison their attacker? If anything, it should be made into a melee attack, so that the one unit that has a decent chance to hit them, mages, can do so without being poisoned for their trouble.

4. Why does a charge attack confer an advantage to both the attacker and defender, and why does this always seem to benefit the defender? I understand the rationale behind this, that a charging horseman can be taken out with a single stroke more easily than a horseman who is using more caution, but since the horse units are only given 2 attacks and also cannot receive good defense bonuses, they are not only less likely to hit their target than the target is likely to hit them, they are also unlikely to deal more damage, unless the first stroke hits and kills the enemy before they can respond. Cavalry units aren't just inconvenienced by this, they are CRIPPLED. Especially since the turn after they attack they are usually injured and often exposed, and therefore easily killed (see point 1).

5. Why aren't units allowed to attack then move, if they start their turn in the spot where they are attacking from? I don't understand why as important a strategic feature as this wasn't included, since otherwise there is absolutely no way to strategically withdrawal or flank or refuse flank etc. etc. etc.

6. This, depending on your viewpoint, may not be as good a criticism as previous ones: why does day/night confer such large bonuses? This both deeply disadvantages neutral races as well as provides a large incentive to the attacker, since the attacker is often able to choose what time of day to battle in. The bonus from day/night is so large that I often find my level 2 and 3 units being routed by level 1 units in a single turn, often right after I have severely decimated their health, which bring me to my next point:

7. Why does being injured not impare combat effectiveness? Units that are in the red should no longer be effective combat units and should be withdrawn unless their ZOC is needed, they should not be as strong at 1 HP as they were at 45 HP. A good reason for why this should not be the case is that this increases the importance of luck over strategy in a battle, since one or two missed hits can leave a unit alive enough to help kill one of your completely healthy units. This also reduces the importance of healing, since it encourages all-out attacks over careful coordination (who cares about casualties, they can be thrown back into battle over and over again).


Once again, I want to like this game, I really do. And maybe the problems that I'm coming up with are mostly capaign related (since the campaign AI can throw massive waves of units at you, it exposes some of the combat deficiencies that would not be noticeable in a different arena). I'm not hear to whine: I want to know what you more experienced players think about my problems, and how (if at all) you deal with them.
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Re: Why..?

Post by Dave »

Hi there,

Welcome to the Wesnoth forums. :)
OgreMage wrote:Why is combat so screwy in this game? I'm trying to give this game a chance, I really am, but when I compare it to one of my favorite games, Fantasy General, this one just comes up short.
Lots of people seem to think that Wesnoth is going to be, or should be, a rehash of their favorite 'classic' strategy game.

In fact Wesnoth is an original work, and aims for a unique play style. The only games it does actually borrow mechanics from are fairly obscure and few people would have played them.

For what it's worth, I designed most of the Wesnoth game mechanics, and I have never played Fantasy General (or Panzer General).
OgreMage wrote: I understand that it's still a work in progress,
Actually not really. Wesnoth 1.0 is a completed product.

We are working on a new major version of Wesnoth with the 1.1 branch, but Wesnoth 1.0 is a complete, stable, mature product. We don't stand behind "it's a work in progess" as an excuse for any of its shortcomings.
OgreMage wrote: but some of the things that happen in the game just piss me off, especially when I have to restart 1 scenario in a campaign 13 times to save one of my units from some ridiculous combat situation that was as unavoidable as it was infuriating.
Why do you have to save the unit? Wesnoth is a game about war, and in wars units die. Why not just accept the loss, and move on?

Also it's not really unavoidable. Many people have managed to win most of the campaigns without having to save and reload.
OgreMage wrote: 1. Units cannot support each other in battle, so 1 guy in the middle of 3 other allies is almost as vulnerable as one guy alone.
Units can make formations that cause it so that any single unit can't be attacked by more than two or three enemies. Usually this is enough to stop them from dying.
OgreMage wrote: What's the point of using strategy when the enemy can just laugh in your face and pick off valuable units one-by-one? (And don't respond "just keep your valuable units in the rear", since what's the point of good units if you are never able to use them?)
With units such as mages, you can attack with them on your turn, try to eliminate the enemy they attack, and then move your stronger units in front of the mages before the end of your turn.

Of course, there is risk. That's part of the game. Being skillful at the game involves managing the risks, and deciding what is and is not an acceptable risk.
OgreMage wrote: 2. Why can't healers stack, so that if one unit that is poisoned and damaged be both healed and cured if he has 2 healers next to him?
Many games make healers very powerful. So much so that many strategy games are based around healing, especially in campaigns. These games typically involve a repetitive strategy revolving around constantly exploiting healing abilities to guarantee zero-loss battles while units amass experience.

I specifically did not want this to be the case in Wesnoth. I wanted healing to be available, but rather limited in its power. Healing would be a small aspect of the game, not its central focus.

None of the great battles of history were won by stationing a party of physicians in the middle of the battlefield to repeatedly 'heal' one side's injured units.

Also it just makes sense. If you are sick, do you get better faster if you visit two doctors instead of one?
OgreMage wrote: Instead, a unit that is poisoned and injured is out of commission for 2 turns, not 1. Also, since poisoning always does 8 damage the turn after it is delivered, the unit is almost guaranteed to be badly injured.
Sure, poisoning is a fairly powerful ability. But other sides have abilities which are just as powerful. Healing, for instance.
OgreMage wrote: 3. Why was poison given to a class of units that can dodge most attacks, making it almost a given that they will survive long enough to poison their attacker?
Assassins have low resistances, meaning they will take alot of damage when hit. A determined set of melee attacks can often wipe them out in a single turn.

Sure, they are nasty units. But learning to play against them is part of the game. We actually reduced their number of attacks to two, which gives them less chance of poisoning, at one stage, but it was found to make them too weak, so we reverted the change.
OgreMage wrote: 4. Why does a charge attack confer an advantage to both the attacker and defender, and why does this always seem to benefit the defender?
Charge is a very powerful ability. It has to be used carefully, but it is very powerful.

Charging at an enemy is always going to be a risky business. That's part of the game.

Considering the horseman gets to choose who and when to charge, a player who uses horsemen wisely can be very effective with them. Many players swear by horsemen as their favorite unit.
OgreMage wrote: 5. Why aren't units allowed to attack then move, if they start their turn in the spot where they are attacking from? I don't understand why as important a strategic feature as this wasn't included, since otherwise there is absolutely no way to strategically withdrawal or flank or refuse flank etc. etc. etc.
There has been talk of adding an ability that would allow a few units to do this, but in general I think having it would make the consequences of a failed attack too great. It's also something that would likely greatly benefit the player at the expense of the AI, and Wesnoth is designed to have game rules that place the player and AI on an even footing.
OgreMage wrote: 6. This, depending on your viewpoint, may not be as good a criticism as previous ones: why does day/night confer such large bonuses? This both deeply disadvantages neutral races as well as provides a large incentive to the attacker, since the attacker is often able to choose what time of day to battle in. The bonus from day/night is so large that I often find my level 2 and 3 units being routed by level 1 units in a single turn, often right after I have severely decimated their health, which bring me to my next point:
The day/night benefit isn't that great. 25% added to damage. Lawful units fighting chaotic units during the night will struggle, and vice versa, but we've found it to work out reasonably.

You can also fill your armies with combined forces in most campaigns. For instance, at least some neutral units to be able to fight decently at all time periods.

I don't really think that neutral units are inferior to lawful/chaotic ones. Except that fast units are better off being lawful/chaotic, since they more often dictate when combat will take place. But that's part of the balancing of such units. For instance, gryphon riders would be substantially more powerful if they were lawful, but we choose not to do this because it would overpower them. Likewise, woses would be more powerful if they were neutral, but we don't do this for the same reason.
OgreMage wrote: 7. Why does being injured not impare combat effectiveness?
Because we think it makes the game more fun. Games which do this tend to end up with players becoming fanatical about making their units always have 100% health so they fight as well as possible. We don't want Wesnoth to become like this.
OgreMage wrote: A good reason for why this should not be the case is that this increases the importance of luck over strategy in a battle,
If we wanted to reduce the importance of luck, we could easily enough.

The amount luck plays in Wesnoth is very intentional. Some people don't like games that involve chance, and that's fine, they don't have to play Wesnoth. :)

Some people do like games where there is a substantial element of chance and risk, and risk balancing plays a big part of the game. This is what Wesnoth is.

I'm not going to argue whether games that involve a substantial risk aspect are good or bad games, or whether deterministic games are better. If people don't like games that involve chance, then Wesnoth probably isn't the game for them. Just like if they want games with 3D graphics and aliens that explode into pools of blood as their heads are shot off, then Wesnoth isn't the game for them. :)

Many games have lots of chance -- for instance, Backgammon, Risk, and Monopoly. Wesnoth is such a game.
OgreMage wrote:This also reduces the importance of healing,
Personally I would say this is A Good Thing. :)
OgreMage wrote: since it encourages all-out attacks over careful coordination (who cares about casualties, they can be thrown back into battle over and over again).
But that's part of Wesnoth: often you have to risk an all-out attack. Sometimes that really is the best thing to do. That happens in real battles all the time too. The game is about balancing risk, trying to win at all costs. Not about carefully manicuring troops to always be at full health, and never get anywhere close to dying.
OgreMage wrote: Once again, I want to like this game, I really do.
I really don't mean to sound 'defensive' of the game. It's just a game that will appeal to some people, and won't appeal to others. It's meant to be its own game, with its own rules, different to other games.

Players who always load a saved game whenever they lose a levelled unit in other strategy games or RPGs will probably not like Wesnoth.

Players who always 'must' have their army at maximum power, winning every battle 'perfectly' will probably not like Wesnoth.

Players who hate having some aspects of the game dictated by chance, and managing chance will probably not like Wesnoth.

Players who want to play and original, simple strategy game that involves careful thinking and planning, and who are willing to take some losses on the chin and keep playing, hoping to win inspite of them are much more likely to like Wesnoth.

David
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Re: Why..?

Post by Elvish_Pillager »

OgreMage wrote:1. Units cannot support each other in battle, so 1 guy in the middle of 3 other allies is almost as vulnerable as one guy alone. What's the point of using strategy when the enemy can just laugh in your face and pick off valuable units one-by-one? (And don't respond "just keep your valuable units in the rear", since what's the point of good units if you are never able to use them?)
Units can indeed support each other in a battle. In a straight line of units, for instance, each unit can be attacked by no more than two enemies, and two enemies is much less likely to kill a unit than three. Furthermore, it is quite possible to use your valuable units while keeping them in the rear: Once your Red Mage, say, kills an enemy grunt, you can move your lower level fighters in to fill the grunt's place and stop all attacks against the mage.

I originally didn't see this type of strategy either, and it was only after switching to HARD mode for a real challenge that I forced myself to find it. Since then, I have almost completed the first campaign with no units lost at all! I don't mean to brag; I'm just trying to explain the strategies.
OgreMage wrote:3. Why was poison given to a class of units that can dodge most attacks, making it almost a given that they will survive long enough to poison their attacker? If anything, it should be made into a melee attack, so that the one unit that has a decent chance to hit them, mages, can do so without being poisoned for their trouble.
An army of mages can deal with Orcish Assassins quite well, I find. The Assassins have such low HP that the mages can steamroll over them by killing one, then moving two more mages into the vacated area and attacking more. Sure, they'll get poisoned; a curer can cure a lot of poison...
OgreMage wrote:4. Why does a charge attack confer an advantage to both the attacker and defender, and why does this always seem to benefit the defender?
Charge at archers, because of their low melee; charge at units that can be killed in one hit, because they may not retalitate; charge at units which it is tactically super-important to remove in one turn. Otherwise, don't charge. Don't charge at units that slaughter Horsemen, like Saurians or Spearmen, and don't charge in the Night if you can wait until Day.

Horsemen aren't your common grunts, used for fighting the body of the enemy force. They're special units used for taking out individual targets. The task is to find the right targets.
OgreMage wrote:7. Why does being injured not impare combat effectiveness?
It does! When forming a defensive line, an injured unit is much more likely to fall and let the whole line fail. The damage dealt by a unit is not its only combat statistic, and there is much more to combat than simple attacking.
OgreMage wrote:Once again, I want to like this game, I really do.
The key to liking this game is to see its strategies, not to apply preconcieved notions of strategy to it. Before playing, forget all you know about TBS games and relive the discovery all over again... ;)
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Post by JW »

I was going to share my thoughts, but the two previous posts are pretty much the greatest responses that could have been given. Nicely done Dave and EP.
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Post by Eleazar »

Dave:
some really good answers to questions that have been asked many times. Some form of this should go on the Wiki or a Sticky.
Feel free to PM me if you start a new terrain oriented thread. It's easy for me to miss them among all the other art threads.
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Post by toms »

Eleazar wrote:Dave:
some really good answers to questions that have been asked many times. Some form of this should go on the Wiki or a Sticky.
wiki would be better because it clearly comes out how many people read important topics.
(FPI thread :roll: )
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Re: Why..?

Post by Dave »

Elvish Pillager wrote: The key to liking this game is to see its strategies, not to apply preconcieved notions of strategy to it. Before playing, forget all you know about TBS games and relive the discovery all over again... ;)
Very well said. This is the key to liking Wesnoth.

Of course, some people will just happen to dislike the game mechanics of Wesnoth no matter what, but this is the case with any game. In answer to this, I can really only quote Tolkien:

"Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."

David
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Re: Why..?

Post by Airk »

Dave wrote:
Elvish Pillager wrote: The key to liking this game is to see its strategies, not to apply preconcieved notions of strategy to it. Before playing, forget all you know about TBS games and relive the discovery all over again... ;)
Very well said. This is the key to liking Wesnoth.

Of course, some people will just happen to dislike the game mechanics of Wesnoth no matter what, but this is the case with any game. In answer to this, I can really only quote Tolkien:

"Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."

David
Dave is now officially My Hero for his use of that quote.
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Post by Assasin »

this topic should be pinned and saved for future reference. like the FPI Thread. these are great responses to commonly asked questions of ignorance.
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Re: Why..?

Post by Sapient »

OgreMage wrote:...since the horse units are only given 2 attacks and also cannot receive good defense bonuses, they are not only less likely to hit their target than the target is likely to hit them, they are also unlikely to deal more damage, unless the first stroke hits and kills the enemy before they can respond. Cavalry units aren't just inconvenienced by this, they are CRIPPLED. Especially since the turn after they attack they are usually injured and often exposed, and therefore easily killed
I really sympathize with OgreMage on this one. In HttT, my horsemen always seemed to die RIGHT when they were about to level up. It was so annoying I eventually stopped recruiting them.

I totally agree with EP's brilliant response, but I also see where this guy is coming from.
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Post by Glowing Fish »

When I was first playing HttT, and TRoW, I felt much the same way that Ogre Mage does. Some of the scenarios seemed specially designed to do nothing but infuriate me.

One thing about campaigns is that playing can be difficult because you have to worry about how what you will do will effect you ten scenarios down the road.

One way to get used to the game mechanics without having to risk so much is to play single scenario against the AI. Play with lots of starting gold, and lots of gold per village, and on Age of Heroes, so you can recruit second level units. That way you can learn all the mechanics without having to worry about losing important units.
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Post by OgreMage »

Thank you for your responses, some of them were very interesting to read.

To let you know where I was coming from: I did read the wiki and the mission statement, so I know that Wesnoth isn't trying to be a copy of other games. This is why I did not ask a question like "why can't archers and mages strike over 1 square away". The whole point of this topic was to try to fix whatever strategic errors I was making that seemed to be weakening my gameplay.

Obviously one of the preconceptions that I brought to this game that was wrong was my assumption that if I was playing it right, I could substantially reduce my casualties. I suppose this stems from my experiences in other strategy games, but I stand by the idea of comparing one game to another (if you can't compare a red apple to a green apple, how do you know what are the strong points/weaknesses of either?).

Maybe Wesnoth isn't the game for me, or maybe I'm just not recruiting enough cannon fodder to protect some of my high level units, I'll have to play more to be sure. Obviously the importance of luck means that I'm going to have to risk much higher losses than I would normally consider to be acceptable.

No insult was meant by my assumption that Wesnoth was a "work in progress"... it's just that I assumed that with the introduction of new races some sort of rebalancing would be necessary at times. I suppose that in this way any game that introduces new content occasionally is a "work in progress".
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Post by Dave »

OgreMage wrote: Obviously one of the preconceptions that I brought to this game that was wrong was my assumption that if I was playing it right, I could substantially reduce my casualties.
You can substantially reduce your casualties if you play well, and if that's your aim. Some people have a style that attempts to minimize casualties, and they can often do it very well. Personally I usually prefer to manage risk so that I occasionally lose a unit, but overall my army is growing and improving.

Certainly if you play a campaign well you will typically have a 10-to-1 or better kill/loss ratio.
OgreMage wrote: No insult was meant by my assumption that Wesnoth was a "work in progress"... it's just that I assumed that with the introduction of new races some sort of rebalancing would be necessary at times. I suppose that in this way any game that introduces new content occasionally is a "work in progress".
Well, there are two versions you can get right now: 1.0.2 is a finished, stable version that has what we consider to be balanced rules, and isn't having any races added.

1.1 is a version which some changes are being made to, including the addition of new units. This version you would be correct to call a 'work in progress'.

There's no insult....I just wanted to clarify things, since this is often a point of confusion. :)

David
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Post by Elvish_Pillager »

The key to not losing units is in not putting them where they can be killed. A straight line of undamaged units, for instance, spaced with one hex between them, is a powerful defensive formation that rarely sustains casualties.

Of course, the units do get damaged. When the line is attacked and units are damaged, those units can either retreat or attack the attackers, then be defended as the line reforms one hex ahead around the dead attackers. If you start running out of high-HP units, then it may be a good idea to start destroying the enemies at all costs; agressive strategies that leave all the enemies dead don't leave any enemies to kill your units.
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Post by Darth Fool »

It is important to realize that the AI is pretty brutal about attacking and killing weakened units. It generally considers that killing one unit is a lot more valuable then wounding several. And usually, that is correct.
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