Some First Impressions

Discussion in 'EMPIRE (by Crazy Monkey Studios)' started by mercviper, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. vivafringe

    vivafringe Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I scored 190 first run, and second run... I got stuck in an infinite loop, where my deck was slowly growing, but the ratio of Strife to good cards was actually shrinking. I died to boredom, basically, finishing at 695.

    Battles go like this:
    1) Redraws are super important. swift action, Archers Hold, All Hold, Improvisation are the best ones.
    2) At the beginning of the game, dig for Swift Actions and Fireballs. All Halt is important to buy lots of time to cast lots of fireballs.
    3) I can't stall any longer, so I do the best I can with my 6 cavalry army. Usually I lose... IDK, like 0-4.
    4) Kill everyone but 1 guy, who slowly marches towards my base. Use All Halt and Zap to stall while I resurrect all my guys, get 30-90 materials off Magical Bounty, and play any Purges I have.

    My city build is pretty standard, I think.
    2x Cavalry Dens
    1x Shaman Hut
    3x Keep
    3x Farm

    When they're maxed out, just spam Influence over and over unless for some reason you have 0 strife, then I guess feast is okay.

    - I don't think new unit models are in the budget, but monster HP might need to raise over time. It seems too easy to clear max camps, which is the main thing that's getting these m-m-m-MONSTER scores.

    - Okay, sure, Cavalry > Warriors > Archers. But a larger problem than unit balance is the fact that you're so heavily rewarded for going only one type of unit due to the specialized cards for each unit and the fact that you can skip a tech building (HINT: farms are good!). So even with almost perfect balance, people are going to find the unit that's +1% better and then mass that as the only viable strategy. Keith is tinkering with a cool solution that makes Archers clearly the best unit, but hard to build. I wonder if he might also want to do a similar thing to Warriors: make them the worst unit, but you get them for FREE somehow.

    - Redraw needs to be nerfed. Like, maybe just -1 redraw on every single card in the game, ha.
    Nachtfischer, keithburgun and Kdansky like this.
  2. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    So this did happen in the release version?
  3. vivafringe

    vivafringe Well-Known Member Staff Member

  4. vivafringe

    vivafringe Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Also! I realized my last post was pretty negative. I'm really happy to see how far the game has come along since I played it last. Great tutorial, love the resource collection animation, really like the "action points" mechanic over the old Dominion/PS "1 action per turn" system. The game is pretty sweet; it just needs a better endgame.
  5. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    That's very much how my games are playing out with no real end in sight.

    I'm an Unreal player from a long time ago so I appreciate what you did there.

    That's why I'm suggesting a RPS counter system, general discount structures rather than unit specific or replace them with structures that offer higher Tier Units* and allow initial setup. All of this is to encourage a diversity of units rather than specialising in whichever happens to be the best at the time.

    * - Think of the basic troop types as Foot, Mounted and Missile:

    Foot: Warriors -> Heavy Infantry
    Mounted: Cavalry -> Knights
    Missile: Archers -> Longbows or Crossbows

    At Tier 2 you can also start introducing variations of the basic types such as Ogre/Troll/Giant which could be the Foot heavy hitters. Or perhaps units that are hybrids: Horse Archers (Mounted/Missile), Gunpowder Infantry (Foot/Missile), etc.

    I don't think that will fix the issue as the player will simply specialise in the best unit they can afford at that time. A player may start with just building solely Warriors or Cav and then once they reach a certain point, switch over to just producing Archers and never build Warriors / Cav again. I think we're reaching a conclusion that in terms of numbers of units, less is more. Currently fielding 6 Cav just makes it more difficult to keep them all alive at the same time which means greater chance of Strife cards. With only 3 Cav (which I agree with other posters is a sweet spot) you have a much better chance of minimising casualties and the Resurrects allow you to 'recycle' those 3 units if need be.

    I'm probably labouring the point but I really would like to see some changes that encourage more use of combined arms so players have to think about their army composition. Cards and buildings offering a benefit to just 1 troop type and not being able to set your initial deployment are big disincentives to mix your troop types.

    To balance that there needs to be more incentives to use a mixture of troop types. Apart from those I've already suggested another could be cards that offer considerable benefit but requires certain troops to be present.

    For example 'Pincer Movement' which allows all Foot and Mounted to move up to 1 non-diagonal space but it requires at least 1 Foot and 1 Mounted unit to be on the board. These types of cards would also encourage players to field more units because they would gain greater benefit with 6 rather than just 3 and also encourage the use of hybrid units because having just one could help to meet any card requirements by representing either troop type and naturally they would benefit from cards that provide an advantage to either of their basic types.

    eg. A Horse Archer could get the extra movement from 'Pincer Movement' because it's a Mounted troop type but would also qualify for the benefit of any Missile based cards.
  6. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    I agree with everything everyone has said (with one exception - we're not going to give players control over starting configurations of units). Viva, you discovered basically the same exploit that the 559 guy found, and we're working on version 1.1 which should do away with that problem.

    We are reducing the cost of Warriors to 60. That, plus a bunch of other system wide changes I think should help things. If it doesn't work then we'll try more drastic changes like you're suggesting, Viva.
  7. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    Fair enough.

    In which case please consider introducing more movement cards that will allow troops of differing types to move for the cost of that one card. Currently it takes too much effort to reorganise your mixed troop formations into something that will be effective and as such it's just easier to build only 1 type of unit and not really worry about where they happen to start in relation to one another.
  8. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    Warriors could easily be free without breaking the game, I think. After all, the Strife cards you get for dead units are by far the biggest long-term cost.

    Only having one type of units means that all your movement cards work all the time. Which gets pretty powerful if you have enough of those cards. If you mix your units, it's much harder to move them around. I would also appreciate it if I could play more movement cards in general. That would also help alleviate the unlucky setups.
  9. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Just came up with another possibility for Cavalry i'd like your guys opinion on:

    They're exactly the same, except from the FRONT directly, they deal 1 damage instead of 2.
    Yojimbo252 likes this.
  10. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    Still best unit, just a bit less so.

    I suggest we use fighting game notation / numpad for the attack directions. In your case, the unit would do 2 damage on 14739, but only 1 damage on 6.
    Yojimbo252 likes this.
  11. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    I really like that idea as it would encourage more 'flank' attacks by Cav rather than the current steamroller tactics and it would indirectly make Warriors more desirable.

    But I think you need to consider coupling this with a slight change to the 2 movement Cavalry card in allowing the Cav to move up to 2 spaces in any direction and not necessarily in a 'straight line'. This would allow a player to position the Cav to greater flank attack effect.

    Good idea!
  12. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    One thing that's bugging me is the disincentive to field as many units as possible for fear of Strife cards and the late battle stalling tactics to cycle through your deck as many times as possible which is a bit of a 'lame duck' period in my opinion that creates a sense of anti climax. It's better to have as much tension as possible throughout the battle.

    What if you link Strife cards to some other measure as losses should be punishing enough just through the cost of replace them?

    For example, make the Resurrection card actually temporary. It will bring back the unit from the dead with just 1 HP but only for the remainder of the battle. Once the battle is over it's lost and the player will need to pay for it to be replaced.

    Then link Strife to overall performance not losses.

    So for example:

    0 Strife - Player wins and zero damage to player's base
    +1 Strife - Player wins but some damage to player's base
    +2 Strife - Player looses through base elimination
    +3 Strife - Player looses through unit elimination

    The player then has no disincentive to field as many units as possible as this will increase their chances of a successful outcome without having to worry about losses from a Strife point of view, although loss minimisation will still be important due to resource constraints.
    keithburgun and Kdansky like this.
  13. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    Totally agree.

    Perhaps consider lessening the cost of playing them by giving more of them a +1 Redraw and/or make them free of Command Cost. Also as mentioned previously allow some to move more than 1 type of unit.

    For example if you have a card that allowed the player to move 1 Cav and 1 Warrior and 1 Archer unit up to 1 non-diagonal space each, a player will get more from that card if they have a mixture of troops rather than just all Cav.
    Kdansky likes this.
  14. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    There's one issue: Currently, having many units is good, because you win battles. Having few units is also good, because you gain less Strife.

    With your variant, more units is always better. That's much more slippery slope and less comeback. Is it better? I think so, but it's not quite as clear-cut as I thought at first.

    In this spirit: Instead of having a Cavalry-only card, have it affect any unit, but only if you have a Cavalry (or make it free of command costs if you have the fitting unit on the board). Then correlate movement patterns with the card. Playing Cavalry cards allows you to charge forward with any units, but it's especially good with warriors. Playing Warriors allows you to move your stuff back, which is probably best with Archers. And so on. Basically make cards good if you have unit A, but result in some sort of synergy if you have unit B.

    The battle took 10 turns or longer: +1 Strife (blame morale)
    The enemy was completely eliminated: -1 Strife
    The enemy's base was destroyed, but some survived: +0 Strife
  15. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    Personally I think it's better because a player should gain an advantage by having more troops. Having the resources to field more troops but opting not to because it makes it harder not to lose one is counter intuitive. This is a symptom of the design decision to allow a unit to attack every unit that happens to be in its attack zone. Most other games don't operate in this way (unless the unit has a multi attack ability or something to that effect).

    As a result I think you need to remove the Strife penalty for losing units and link it to something else.

    I agree it creates more slippery slope and less comeback but in a 'survival' based game I think that's perfectly acceptable. What you don't really want in a survival game is comeback mechanics that makes it hard for the player to lose and games end up going for a very long time which become repetitious. If we were talking about a Euro boardgame with a finite game length I'd be more in favour of comeback.

    I hear what you're saying but I think that may be over complicating things if a card does 'A' with one type of unit but 'B' if you happen to have another.

    I think the main things are certain cards need to be cheaper if players are to be expected to reorganise a mixed army into an effective formation and there needs to be a greater number of cards that offer a greater benefit where you have a mix of troop types. Where you don't have the mix of troop types then you either can't play the card period or you're selling yourself short because if you had units of the other troop type(s) they could have benefited as well.

    Just restating my previous examples:

    1) 'Pincer Movement' Card - Allows all Foot and Mounted to move up to 1 non-diagonal space but it requires at least 1 Foot and 1 Mounted unit to be on the board. These types of cards could be really powerful if they show up early in a battle but dead cards if drawn later on where the player has taken casualties and may not have the minimum requirement.

    2) 'Combined Arms Movement' Card - Allows the player to move 1 Cav and 1 Warrior and 1 Archer unit up to 1 non-diagonal space each. There's no minimum requirement but a player will get more from the card if they have a mixture of troops rather than just all of one troop type.

    These types of cards force players to think more tactically about their Resurrections and which losses must be replaced at the end of battles.
  16. vivafringe

    vivafringe Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hmm, I got my high score through 6 Cavalry all the time. The fact that you're capped at 2 losses, 2 strife makes 6 Cavalry the low-variance option, which... is what you want, when you're playing a game that takes like 8 hours to die. I think 3 Cavalry gives you too big a risk of getting a bad draw a few times and getting wiped.
    Kdansky likes this.
  17. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    This game is great value! 8 hours for the low price of 3 bucks!

    I'll see myself out.
  18. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    I definitely want the double-edged sword thing that Yojimbo described - the "more units = more risk & more reward". But Viva also accurately pointed out that the 2-strife limit puts a real hamper on that.

    For awhile I've kind of wanted something other than losses to bring in strife cards, but I'm just really not sure what. Abandoning a city, but that doesnt happen frequently enough. Upgrading a city?

    Or maybe some just hard counter, like every 10 turns you get a strife. Something like that to represent the old age of your city. Then you can also get 3 strife for abandoning a city, 1 for losing one or more units in a battle you won, and 3 for losing a battle.

    What do you think of that?

    Also the "max number" of units is 6 right now - is that where it should be? Maybe the game would be better if it was 4?
  19. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    6 units max is fine.

    I think it might be a good idea to tie the extra strife to corruption around your cities; they start producing Strife after completely depleting a certain fraction of the surrounding squares. Although the fraction should be more than 2 or 3 out of 8 so that settling a partly-healed area is not suicidal.
  20. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    I generally like that idea a lot Bucky. The fraction idea is kinda messy though, especially if you consider Farms... how would we really make all this clear to the player and not gross and chunky and annoying?

    A simpler rule would be nice if possible, something like "each time your city upgrades, you gain 1 strife per adjacent corruption". That would be harsh but maybe we could do other things to reduce them. Also I like the idea of making some extra motivator to keep moving.

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