INCOMING: Version 1.1 - Balance, Gems, Goals, Asymmetry and MORE

Discussion in 'EMPIRE (by Crazy Monkey Studios)' started by keithburgun, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know about this blog post laying out a lot of details for the game:

    Let me know your thoughts there if you like, or here, either's cool.
  2. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Where did you get the 200 victory points number from?


    I see the Elder didn't make the cut. Also, that gems are still gems rather than people.
  3. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Both your ideas were considered, Bucky, and Elder is definitely on the to-do list for future Emperors.

    200 VPs is somewhat arbitrary, but it's also generally in the right score range. The best players seem to get like 300+ scores, whereas new players get between 50 and 100. So it seems like 200 is in a good middle-ground area. Also it's easy to remember.

    But don't worry we'll also have a hard mode that asks you to get more. Keep in mind, scoring is a little different in this next version too, and balance is totally different.
  4. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    The emperors will definitely provide variety and flavor. Which aren't the first things I personally look for in games, but I know many other people do. And it won't hurt my enjoyment either. Plus, it provides an easy way to add more "content" (i.e. variants) later. So, very cool thing!

    The missing victory condition has been a complaint ever since. Attaching it to a score threshold is kind of a "dodge" as it does not actually provide a "real ending" (I guess that will be left to the possible "story mode" in the future), but it should alleviate some concerns by explicitly giving you something to aim for (and improve upon that afterwards to still keep the "highscore hunt" in). The 200 probably comes from looking at the highscore list and seeing 27 of 800 players having "beat" the game right now, which seems reasonable for a solitaire game. This number will probably get smaller with the coming balancing changes and then bigger again over time (and with more players hopefully), so I think it's a fine value for now.

    Gems sound great. The semi-random exploration is one of my biggest concerns with the game (along with the weird monster attacks which will get addressed in 1.2) and gems along with the changed unit balancing (from what I read, I think archers will get a it stronger at least while cavalry stays very strong but costs a lot?) will make up for that, allowing you to really pursue something on the overmap.

    And finally, "whacking" the exploits is probably the most important thing to keep this game alive really long-term, which I think it totally has the potential for.

    All in all, I'm already more than excited for the update notification! :D
    keithburgun likes this.
  5. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    200 also isn't final. We have a good amount of playtesting to do on 1.1 before we release it. Hopefully we can get some beta builds out to you guys, actually.
  6. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    Just a question. The words 'Unique' seem to appear in front of the Meteor and Copy cards in the Emperor descriptions. What does this mean exactly? That there's now only 1 allowed of each card or that only those leaders can obtain those cards?
  7. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Yeah, it's no longer in the "pool" of cards that you can obtain during the game. It can only be obtained by those emperors at the start of the game.
  8. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    I'm not convinced that's a good change. If you are going to start limiting card availability based on the Emperor then you're narrowing choice. I think the total card pool as it stands is too limited and needs to be expanded (although I do appreciate the game is still relatively new and this takes time).

    But the change you've made here runs counter to expanding the card pool which means more work for you guys in coming up with even more cards to increase the card pool to keep the game fresh and interesting.

    Even worse if Meteor and Copy are only available to those Emperors at the start and cannot be collected during the course of the game. I think Copy is a very good card from a design point of view because it's flexible and opens up so many possibilities in that it can be used to support many different strategies. To only allow 1 Copy card to one particular Emperor makes no sense to me as it really restricts choice. What's the rationale behind this change?

    The other issue is from a thematic consistency sense. You've only allowed Meteor to be available to Johan, the Wizard and yet still allowed the other Emperors access to other offensive spells. Why? What's so special about Meteor from a thematic sense compared with the other offensive spells? It seems a rather arbitrary design choice which isn't good and opens up a potential can of worms.

    I think it would have been enough to give Emperors certain cards to start the game with as part of their asymmetrical advantage but still make all cards available to any Emperor from that point onwards. Once you've got a large enough card pool you could start to think about making some cards unique but only if there's a good reason to do so.

    In my opinion there's enough other ways to make the Emperors feel distinctly different without narrowing choice.
  9. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Well, Meteor is one of the only cards that's getting Uniqued... that and Copy, and they're being Uniqued because I think the game can go without them.

    Already have 3 new cards planned for 1.2. Another thing we gotta do with cards - particularly basic action cards - is just improve them... which we're also doing, in 1.1. I actually don't think this game needs a ton of cards if all of the cards that are there are really good and interesting.

    If that's the case, the emperors get less asymmetrical as the game goes on. I guess you could say that about the different starting armies, but honestly I've been considering scrapping that part of the asymmetry for that very reason.

    Anyway, your opinion is definitely noted, but I disagree. I think it makes the asymmetrical heroes way more interesting if some of them have really unique powers.
  10. pjft

    pjft Active Member

    I guess my concern, which is still not clear to me, is: will we still have a "clean-slate" symmetrical mode like it currently is today, where you have the current stats, and can get all cards during the regular game?

    I like the choice we currently get, like "building your own character", and added to the Emperors which are pre-set choices. Even though, in fairness, this ends up being just another preset choice, just with the possibility of more customization in the card deck. If you want to force the player to choose an Emperor at all times, then please consider adding the current set up as an emperor - maybe a prince (no, not Auro :) ), but something like that.

    Thanks for the game and for following up on this!
  11. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    No. Although if that's highly requested we could probably add it for a future patch. Or if it's highly enough requested we could even add it to 1.1, but I don't know. I think that having that option actually makes the asymmetrical heroes less cool in general. Also the Senator is pretty close to the base game as it is, he just doesn't have Meteor (which might be an improvement overall).

    You can still "build your own character" out of the asymmetrical characters.
  12. vivafringe

    vivafringe Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Meteor as a class specific spell is a good idea IMO. As fun and iconic as it is, it... just clearly dominates a good chunk of the available spells. Zap is a fine spell in its own right, but it in particular had a tough time competing... are you ever really taking Zap over Meteor?

    OTOH Copy seems like a really crappy class-specific card. The main issue is that the copy leaves your deck as soon as you use it, so it doesn't work as an iconic spell. An analogy Keith will probably appreciate is we would never print a character chip that you trash first cycle in Puzzle Strike, because the character chips are iconic and need to stay with the player for the entire game. The one character chip that you can trash is still designed to stay in your deck for most of the game. If you want Copy to be class specific, I think it should be able to duplicate multiple cards over the course of the game rather than becoming a copy of a card.
    Nachtfischer likes this.
  13. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Yeah, agreed there viva 100%. We'll make it play itself, and then place the copy in your hand, but discard rather than purge itself.
  14. pjft

    pjft Active Member

    Sounds good, thanks for the reply. Ultimately, I trust your decisions in balancing out the game, and if you do feel it detracts from the game, I'm happy to try it out. I guess it'll really only be a problem to people who played the game before 1.1 :)

    Looking forward to it!
  15. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    The simple solution there is to tone Meteor down or give Zap a slight buff. By making it a unique card it's still overpowered but now we'll hardly ever see it and that limits choice. Like I said, when you have a game in it's infancy I don't think it's good to start removing choice from players.

    I'm not asking for a ton of cards but after about 20 hours of play you tend to see the same cards over and over again and it gets a bit repetitive. Removing 2 of the existing cards is going to make matters worse.

    I'm afraid I disagree. Even the slightest difference has a big impact in the long term. For example Johan, the Wizard's 25 cost penalty for Cav will have a dramatic impact such that it really pushes Wizard players down the Warrior / Archer route. Sure they can still build Cav but it makes Cav far less cost effective for Wizard's. As a result Wizard players are likely to build their decks around Warriors / Archers.

    By comparison making the Meteor card unique to the Wizard and only having 1 of them in a deck that could be 50 cards large is almost inconsequential. It's going to have very little effect on how players approach Wizard play and will give very little feeling that I'm playing a very different character.

    Another example is the 2 max redraw penalty. That again will dramatically change how Wizard's are played. The +3 redraw card will be far less effective and I would presume Wizard's will greatly favour Improvisation instead.

    That's just 2 examples of non-card based changes that will make a large difference throughout the game.

    I know you disagree with me on this point and that's fine, it's your show after all and I appreciate you taking the time out to respond with your views. But I would suggest the Meteor change will have very little effect in making the Wizard feel different compared with the other types of changes. All you've really done is take a useful and fun card out of the game.

    Same argument with the Copy card which is even more fun because it can be used in so many different ways to support a load of different strategies. Whoever thought up the Copy card had a stroke of genius because it's one of the most interesting cards.

    Limiting the card to just one of the Emperors is a real shame because I would have loved to see how the other Emperors and future ones would employ Copy to support their specific strategies.

    As a side note, giving The Senator a 'permanent' Copy card is totally overpowered.
  16. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Yeah... but at the same time I think that a big reason why the cards that are there now get repetitive is that really, only half of them you'd actually want to use. If more of the existing cards come into a state of balance - and more of the existing unit types come into a state of balance, there will be a net increase in interestingness. I basically promise a net increase in interestingness for 1.1, despite the removal of 2 cards (Or 1, depending on who you're playing as!)

    BTW, here's the MOST CURRENT patch notes for the Emperors. Note that Copy is not removed.

    - After starting game, there’s a “Select your Emperor” screen.
    - Remove “Bounty” and “Meteor” from the pool of cards that you can find during the game - they are now special cards just for asymmetrical characters.
    - Remove Move Any from the pool. It’s good if this is limited to just 1 per deck.

    - Markus, The Senator
    1 of each unit

    Valor 2
    Grit 3
    Strife 5
    Move Any
    All Halt
    Warrior Reposition
    Cav Move
    Bounty (Unique)

    Max Redraw: 8
    Max Command: 4
    Worked forests last for 4-8 more turns
    +1 VP for Feasts

    - Johan, The Wizard
    1 Warrior, 2 Archers

    Valor 1
    Grit 1
    Strife 8
    Move Any
    All Halt
    Warrior Reposition
    Meteor (Unique)

    Max Redraw: 2
    Max Command: 4
    Cavalry cost 25 more materials to produce
    Starts with +1 Command.

    - Shirin, the War Chief
    2 Warriors, 2 Cavalry

    Valor 4
    Grit 4
    Strife 5
    Move Any
    All Halt
    Warrior Reposition
    Cav Move
    All Advance
    Savage Blows

    Max Redraw: 6
    Max Command: 2
    Killing a unit gives Shirin 1 Command and 1 Redraw
    Max Materials is 300
    Spell cards cost 2 Gems
  17. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    Fair enough and I'm really happy that Copy stays as is!

    Just one slight point on the most current patch notes. Shirin, the War Chief Max Command: 2. I appreciate Killing a unit gives Shirin 1 Command and 1 Redraw but I don't see the need to limit Max Command to 2. Because Spells are more expensive for The War Chief I would have thought Shirin would have to rely more on her troops to win battles and as such still needs a reasonable amount of Command points to manoeuvre, bless, etc. Is it really necessary to limit Max Command this severely?

    Also from a thematic sense it might be worth Warriors being slightly cheaper for The War Chief and return Max Materials to 200.

    Additionally I think a Senator trait should be lowering the levels of waste for additional cities, the politician that he is! To compensate remove the 'Worked forests last for 4-8 more turns' trait as this could be good one for a future resource production themed Emperor along with Max Materials to 300.
  18. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Only one Move Friendly in the game? That's a pretty big nerf to the player's army. Are there going to be changes to the unit movement cards to compensate?
  19. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    I agree with Senator.

    It's mentioned "It’s good if this is limited to just 1 per deck." What's the rationale behind limiting the card to just 1 per deck as I don't see any major issues with it?
  20. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    You guys don't think Move Any is kind of flat and direct? Almost every other card requires a bit more compromised thought. Stuff like, okay, I can't do exactly what I want, so the best thing I can do is X. Cards like Swap, or warrior reposition, or cavalry move all force you to make hard choices. Move any is "do anything you want" too much IMO. Honestly part of me wants to remove it from the game completely. But I think having one of them greases the wheels just enough.

    We might bring it up as high as 3 before launch. But I do think a harsh restriction here is important.

    There are some, yeah. Like Archer Retreat, puts an archer behind one of your units, for example.

    Great call. Doing it.

    Reducing waste for additional cities is a cool idea but I think it's too... much of a foundational rule that probably shouldn't be tinkered with?

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