SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Discussion and development of scenarios and campaigns for the game.

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samiam
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by samiam »

I have just finished this campaign on “easy” last night. I liked the first two maps. The third and fourth maps are not really that enjoyable on “easy”; what happens is that the elves win the maps to me, and since my units have not been upgraded, I can do relatively little but watch the elves defeat the bad guys (with the exception of the Wose, who can self-heal, since I don’t have the money to make a large army, the level one units are soundly defeated by the Orcs; I have to leave it up to the Elves to win the scenario for me). I think this can be improved by, at easy level, reducing the number of experience points a unit needs to level up (since there are fewer fights to gain experience at the easy level).

Also, some grammatical errors in the dialog:

“Young mage Erika has just finished her studies. The academy's walls are too constricting for a talented and ambitious mage, and her desires to continue her research in places all over the world are going to be fulfilled. A life of a great magician awaits her, and maybe one day, she'll return back to the academy as a teacher.” — Should be “Young mage Erika has just finished her studies. The academy's walls are too constricting for a talented and ambitious mage, and her desire is to continue her research while traveling the world. The life of a great magician awaits her, and maybe one day, she'll return back to the academy as a teacher.”

“There are many reasons, why not fight orcish grunts at night. So fight only if you really need to fight, because you can lose a lot of units that you will need during the day to defeat them.” — Should be “There are many reasons to not fight orcish grunts at night. So fight them only if you really need to, because you can lose a lot of units that are better used during the day when defeating them.”

“Keep Johnny alive! This bowman can become powerful very quickly and is recalled for free. He can also recruit units, and this can get really important if you want to see Erika in the hardest battle and still recruiting units.” — Should be “Keep Johnny alive! This bowman can become powerful very quickly and is recalled for free. He can also recruit units, this is really important so that Erika can still recruit units in the hard battles.”

Also, a minor bug in Wesnoth 1.12: It’s possible to recruit Wose in scenario four, even if you never find Tambaddum in the third scenario (this actually improved the game for me, as I described above)

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octalot
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by octalot »

Spoilers, quoting PapaSmurfReloaded's spoiler.
Spoiler:
Currently updating the SurvivalXtreme Collection, and the SXC Pressure scenario. That's about a mermish necromancer, who's just found out that her Tentacles Of The Deep have been nerfed.

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Turuk
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by Turuk »

After seeing some of the comments, I ran through this campaign and have some feedback on each scenario below.

S1: I enjoyed the map design, though the normal TOD start means that the player is most likely to engage the orcs at night. The starting positions encourage the player to choose the left or middle path, so perhaps better incentive for the player to flank to the right as well? The use of bridges as natural funnel points does help educate a new player in how to manage their forces and utilize zone of control effectively. The scenario could benefit from a turn limit as it would be incredibly easy to milk gold given the limited enemy forces.

S2: The map was another great feature here, though a new player may not handle the sheer number of paths well. When combined with potential slow unit movement speed, it is could very easily lead to the player's forces being too spread out as enemies are encountered for them to salvage the scenario. Just my two cents, but always a danger with cave layouts.

S3: This scenario has a basic design flaw that spoiled it for me. The entire scenario is based around the need to heal Jessin. Well.... Erika was already leveled to a White Mage for me so I was done within two turns without having to recruit a single unit or move if I wanted. I did play the scenario out for a bit to test the design and while I liked the map, the need to wait for the bridge and navigating through the cave meant that the elves did all of the actual work so it was not enjoyable to play.

S4: I liked the map layout for the main area, though I did not bother using the cave paths at all in order to win. While this did not impact me, the low number of villages means that if the player was not careful at all with their units, there is a chance that they will not be able to take part in the battle. Given the commentary from other players on having to watch the elves roll over the orcs, this seems to be the case.

Overall: A turn limit imposed on all scenarios to notionally give the player some motivation. I have never been a huge fan of open-ended scenarios unless the gold will not be saved. The last two maps could do with a bit of tightening up to bring the player into action more quickly. The dialogue and story have a simple, good base conceptually, but a bit more backstory could tie everything together thematically. As others have noted, there are a few spelling errors and grammatical inconsistencies that could be cleaned up in order to have it all read more smoothly.
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BTIsaac
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by BTIsaac »

Okay, so here's what I've been meaning to ask. Was this campaign dropped for 1.12, or is it going to be updated?

Anyway, I don't see one major issue being adressed in the changelogs that i've been having, and that ties in with the turn limits: there's no early finish bonus, and the campaign uses the 80% carryover system, which encourages players to drag out each scenario, hoarding gold, otherwise they'll end up starting the final mission with the minimum 100, which is not enough.

Another problem is the third scenario. Leveling up Jessin seems to be a good idea, especially because he recommends using a silver mage for village grabbing in scenario 4. Because of the bridge and the cave however, he's down to 1 hp and the only enemy left to kill is the slurbow by the time he has a chance to get any XP, and healing him with Erika just ends the mission without him getting any XP.

For something that's supposed to be simple, this is the first campaign that I had to start from the beginning, twice. Which is a bit frustrating, because I was hoping to play it as a break between IftU and AtS. :?

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octalot
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by octalot »

I played version 2.7 on Wesnoth 1.13.10, difficulty hard, reading the beginner hints in S1. I've played this campaign before (S3 is very recognisable).

Not having a turn limit is different to many campaigns, but I think that's good. The beginner hints suggest to advance slowly instead of rushing, and not having a turn limit fits with that. I played S1 and S2 like that, and dragged S2 out to milk xp (not to get gold).

On S3, I decided to end it in 2 turns, and return if S4 turned out too hard. I started S3 with 288 gold and Erika as a white mage, and carried 400 gold to S4.

S4 I spread troops out, and was very glad when the mass-slow saved Johnny who I'd placed badly while defending the elves. The spells are interesting, woses are definitely useful for this scenario. I wasted the starting fencer by using him to explore the cave border passage along the north and east.
Currently updating the SurvivalXtreme Collection, and the SXC Pressure scenario. That's about a mermish necromancer, who's just found out that her Tentacles Of The Deep have been nerfed.

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Turuk
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by Turuk »

BTIsaac wrote:Anyway, I don't see one major issue being adressed in the changelogs that i've been having, and that ties in with the turn limits: there's no early finish bonus
octalot wrote:Not having a turn limit is different to many campaigns, but I think that's good. The beginner hints suggest to advance slowly instead of rushing, and not having a turn limit fits with that.
I think both points are valid and the issue lies in that the design is not fully committing to either course. If there is going to be a turn limit then there should be more villages for the player to build up gold before scenario end or if no turn limit then perhaps each scenario has a fixed starting amount of gold to allow a player to build up experience but not a ridiculous amount of gold.
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BTIsaac
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by BTIsaac »

Okay, after having finished it and had sone time to consider a few things, here are a couple of things.
Gold carryover aside, the first two scenarios are more or less okay.
The third is the problematic one. Either it ends in two turns or it's an uneventful drag that lasts way too much time, with nothing really happening, besides waiting for a bridge to finish, fighting a pair of orcs in a one hex tunnel, then taking a trek through a mostly empty landscape because the fight is already over when you reach it.
The layout of fourth one just looks weird. The map is practically framed with an inexplicable cave wall shaped like a near perfect rectangle. The secret tunnel requires someone to spend several turns going the opposite direction before they eventually circumvent half the map and reach the villages down south. It's either that, or leveling Jessin into a silver mage (if he wasn't by some miracle already leveled in the previous scenario and the player didn't turn him into an archmage, because they had no way of knowing they'll need a silver mage later). Regardless of the choice, the player will either have hoarded enough gold for it to be necessary anymore, is way too far in the negative for it to make a difference, or will be potentially steamrolled because they didn't spend enough, trying to avoid going negative.

So, a few recommendations I might have:
For the third scenario, add a couple more villages, including one near the starting point and a secondary objective after Jessin is cured, where Jessin needs to be taken to the elves because he's now sick as a side effect of the poison and becomes slowed and lose 4 hp at the beginning of each turn if he's not on a village or next to a healer (would work similarly to Ras'Taban's illness from SotA or the thirst mechanic in UtBS) - of course this is kinda opposite to the idea of this being a basic campaign. Also, the cave tunnels could be made 2 hexes wide, Erika's keep could be removed and Johnny be placed with a castle and keep on the other side of the cave so he can help fight the orcs with your army. In the meantime, add a couple of low level enemies in the cave and Erika's side of the river for her, Jessin and the wose to fight, just to make things more interesting. Also, make the Wose and the Fencer loyal.

For the fourth one, keep the caves, but make them blend in more. The frame is unnecessary. The entrance to the secret tunnel could be put south-east of the elves instead of directly to the north, while the west tunnel could be replaced with a gorge with impassable mountain tiles instead of cave walls. Also, the secret tunnel could have a couple of stationary enemies guarding it, with a loyal rogue volunteering to run past them and get to the southern region that way (I mean if it's a campaign for newbies, why not take the obvious opportunity for demonstrating how skirmishers work?).
Spoiler:

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Turuk
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by Turuk »

Given that I do not believe that this campaign is still being maintained, I am going to incorporate all of the suggested changes into the scenarios and see how well that plays, as well as fixing the dialogue. I will put up a new version so that others can test it out.
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octalot
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by octalot »

Although the version for Wesnoth 1.12 was last updated in 2014, the version for Wesnoth 1.13 was updated in April 2017, and the feedback started on Dec 4th. I think it's a bit early to assume it's unmaintained. ;)
Currently updating the SurvivalXtreme Collection, and the SXC Pressure scenario. That's about a mermish necromancer, who's just found out that her Tentacles Of The Deep have been nerfed.

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Turuk
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by Turuk »

octalot wrote:Although the version for Wesnoth 1.12 was last updated in 2014, the version for Wesnoth 1.13 was updated in April 2017, and the feedback started on Dec 4th. I think it's a bit early to assume it's unmaintained. ;)
I would normally agree with you, except that the author has not been active on the forum since April 2017 either, so six months felt like a safe bet. :P

Either way, I did send him a PM before my last post to see if he is still floating around somewhere and his thoughts.
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denispir
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by denispir »

[big text ahead!]

I'm a half skilled, half experienced player. I played on medium for a first attempt, but should probably have tried on hard directly. I globally found the campaign a little too easy, but it is probably all right for a beginner campaign. Still, it was a first play. However since nothing is especially challenging or alien, certainly previous attempts are not that helpful compared to other campaigns (even ones supposedly for beginners).

Maps, and thus battles, are well designed in my opinion: nice and playful and interesting. However, I found myself somewhat frustrated by the poor (not rich) story and shallow characters (my opinion). But this is very common; also (especially?) by mainline campaigns; except for Under the Burning Suns, indeed ;-).

Still, I really liked to play this campaign. I find it a very good introduction to Wesnoth, gameplay, tactics... Better than The South Guard or Tale of Two Brothers for instance (both too complex): in my view, it may become mainline, and be recommended to play just after the tutorial. However, I don't know the quality of help texts (disabled). I may have a look at the WML, and help & improve even more if useful or wished. I also like tweaking maps. The text also needs rewriting by an english native speaker, as you probably guess, which I am not ;-).


=== scenario 1 : Village ===

Recruitment: 2 archers + 2 spearmen (balanced ranges).

Obviously, we will battle around the center hills, which are on our side and we must control. I sent 3 units (Erika + spearmen) for a circular movement eastwards. However, the wolf rider ran to us (without attacking), so we just killed it. Thus a spearman rested to heal; the other spearman was then ahead and after crossing the river ended up helping the other group, which was good. I lost an archer around the hill before (just a bad move, and no will to replay). Rather easy kill of orcish leader who stepped onto grass; but bad luck could have killed Erika (28 HP => its 3x10 weapon is enough)! Loyal spearman Johnny is ready to advance.

The AI seemed even more funny ("stupid") than usual on this scenario (eg wolf rider). Why?


=== scenario 2 : Cave ===

Recruitment: all recalls + 1 more archer + given infantrymen. I split into 3 groups : 2 NW, 2 NE, 3 center. Many trolls jump on us all at once without notice. The NE group with help of the center group is not enough to resist: I had to restart (once only). Fortunately, the troll leader runs back to keep after each attack. I finished exploring after finding the book, before taking it. A spearman advanced to swordsman; both heavy infantrymen have 18 XP; no loss.

* simple design with very nice cave map
* Maybe add mushrooms in some areas, a few giant ants...
* In help text, warn about the grouped attack by trolls, and propose to retry when player loses.
* No turn limit? if ok, then tell us about it with story words (eg "we were not in a hurry").
* What about more challenges when all ennemies are dead? a group of 3 wandering trolls, 2 skeletons, a giant scorpion & other "monsters"...


=== scenario 3 : Poison ===

Recruitment : all recalls but the slowest infantry + 1 mage. I initially sent the fastest southwards (water + snow), the rest nothwards; but then, I learnt about bridge construction! I used Johnny to try & lure some ennemies: this worked fine, relieveing much pressure over my elven ally, who half won the battle against one of the two orcs, as I discovered. Poisoners are very dangerous without healers or villages: I used the wose (who has regeneration) against orcish assassins + strong melee (Jessin who is already poisoned would be great, but he is already down to 1HP!). However, beware of orchish bowmen's "fire bow" against woses! This scenario was a little harder, actually what I expected for a novice campaign, medium diff.

The AI is even worse: an elf archer on snow attacked an orcish archer!

* strange story: text mostly about Jessin poisoned; but we are also in a big battle !
* strange map: we can only far north & south (elves must survive until we arrive)
* Erika starts with 29/54 XP: I'd need 3 kills to have her advance to white mage...
* Too bad we cannot choose faster recruits?
* You may draw attention on Johnny, alone far away.
* Well, strange that we don't know about the future bridge before starting.
* help text: inform about fire weapons against woses
* Fog of war should not come without reason; just have a character talk wetness and show others first spreads of fog.
* The win actually only happens one turn after Jessin is cured: maybe the event is new-turn + Jessin-not-poisoned.


=== scenario 4: Lakes ===

About same difficulty, actually only hard because I had only 80 gold for some reason. Had to restart to send more help to my elven ally, and stay on my side of the river longer, at least until the full end of 1st night. Scenario end: it was pretty frustrating to be interrupted in the middle of a battle, without warning (maybe inform in victory conditions). 3 units advanced. 1 loss of new recruit.

The AI always finds new ways of suicide: a shaman attacked a wolf rider standing in a village with full HP!

* invalid WML: unknown conditional [has_unit]
* requires more story
* help text: do you warn about the "veil of unknown"? (black areas on map)

BTIsaac
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by BTIsaac »

So, i take it the campaign didn't change since i last played it.

denispir
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Re: SHORTEST CAMPAIGN EVER: The Final Exam

Post by denispir »

So, i take it the campaign didn't change since i last played it.
Seems you are right. I had not read the thread before writing my comment (it's better to find and keep one's own ideas, thus possibly more interesting for the author), yet several comments are similar. The author "Elven" only posted 2 messages here on the thread, 2 years ago => campaign abandoned. Yet, someone ported it to Wesnoth 1.14!

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