Some First Impressions

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

  1. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    I just realized something about this: This makes Warriors even worse than now, because the only thing that can deal with the new weak spot is an Archer in the right spot, or a Cavalry. Which means all-Cavalry is pretty much just as good as now, but Warriors are complete crap tier. I would highly advice against this.

    I like the idea of having Strife not come from combats, though I'm not sure about having it come from upgrades. Upgrades are good, and if you make them worse, people might pick spots in mountains for their cities, to slow down the pace of upgrades. As long as you can somehow keep your army running (e.g. resurrection and stalling), the lack of materials isn't a deal-breaker. It could be a third "resource", that is collected from depleted fields (1 per turn per depleted), and whenever you accumulate 20 in a single city, you gain a strife.

    Currently the overworld feels a bit shallow, because literally everything of relevance (destroying hives, defending cities, gaining cards) happens in combat. Also Feast is crap, why would I ever want more Strife instead of 60 resources? If it offered a card instead, it might be useful.
  2. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Feast's VP value can be increased a bit.

    I think I'm gonna have to really just re-tool the units and cards over the next couple of days. Right now they've been through a long shredder of tweaky tweaky tweaks... there comes a time though when you gotta make some CHARTS and such and just be like, "okay, what is the essential ROLE of this thing, vs. that thing, etc".

    For 1.2, we'll be making big changes to the monsters and also doing this retooling. Love to hear more thoughts along the way.
    vivafringe, Nachtfischer and Kdansky like this.
  3. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    I'm not in favour of linking Strife to something that the player has very little control over as I think it should be performance related so the mechanism doesn't feel arbitrary.

    I'll refer back to my earlier post which is to link Strife to the overall battle outcome...

    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

    Can anyone see a problem with this?

    You're going to have to explain that further to me because I can't see why reducing the attack of Cavalry makes Warriors worse.

    I know we're touching on a lot of subjects but I still think the biggest issue is that there's no real benefit in mixing troop types. We can tweak the units all we like to get them balanced but even if we reach that point, a player will still build just one type and optimise their cards around it.

    Tweaking your army composition is usually a big draw to a lot of games such as this as well as coming up with new and interesting tactics based on the various combinations of units. But with no RPS mechanism nor combined arms advantages there's simply no reason to do so, in fact it's suboptimal play.

    I see this as currently the largest limitation of the game.
  4. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    If the Cavalry gets a weak spot directly in front, then you need to cover for that. The issue is that to cover that dead angle, Warriors are useless. A warrior cannot cover a spot directly in front of a Cavalry, but a second Cavalry can, by being on the neighbour square. So can an Archer, but I find it much harder to get Archers to survive. Cavalry with a Grit can at least take a single melee hit. That means that nerfing the Cavalry in this specific way means that you want more Cavalry to cover for the new weak spot, because the more of them you have, the less the weak spot matters.

    I completely agree that there is no reason to build more than one unit type right now. The cards all refer to only one type, the buildings only refer to one type, and the units do not counter each other enough to warrant building more than one kind. My preferred solution would be more powerful movement cards, by way of affecting more than one type at a time. That would also solve the issue of feeling helpless to bad positioning, because you could move your stuff around a bit. Right now, I rarely use a movement card, because Meteor and Resurrection are just better.

    [Cavalry Movement]: Move a Cavalry two squares. Then you may move a Warrior one square.
    [Warrior Movement]: Move a Warrior to the base line. Then you may move an Archer one square.
    Six variants of that, basically, in all variations. I still think the Warrior movement card is utter crap.

    [Reposition]: You may move one unit of every kind one square non-diagonally.
    Cards like this reward you for having multiple types.

    [Charge ahead]: Move a Cavalry two squares forward, then move all your Warriors one square forward, or diagonally forward.
    Makes thematical sense, and rewards you for having multiple types, and is specific to the point where it might be crap, even if it moves up to 6 units.

    [Defend]: For every Archer you have, you may move a Warrior directly in front of them.
    Again, "if type A, do stuff with type B", and it's still okay if you only have one of each.

    I would also make the Warrior much cheaper, and disconnect Strife from Unit loss (your suggestion seems perfectly fine), you can throw warriors into the meat grinder and not worry about it.
    vivafringe and keithburgun like this.
  5. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    I should note that having a 1 damage attack in front of a cavalry isnt necessarily a dead-angle. Get them facing an archer, and they can kill it, and any adjacent cavalry. Or head on against a cavalry when they have Valor.

    Map resources are going to dictate this more in the future. Materials? Build cavalry (~120 material). Gems? Build archers (1 gem, 20 Material). Not enough of either? Warriors (~50 material).

    Cavalry need to be thought about, I think, as the real T3 unit - the "best unit" that's also hardest to create and maintain.
    Kdansky likes this.
  6. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    @Kdansky: I like the sorts of movement cards you're laying out. But if we did those alongside some of the other ideas, I think we're looking at a game that takes much longer to play than it currently does, because the battles would be too easy.

    @Yojimbo: I don't like the idea of dividing up Strife in the way you suggest because it implies that one way of winning a battle is better than another, i.e. that it's better to kill all the enemy's units than it is to destroy his base. But to my mind, those should be two separate but equal tactical approaches. Actually, they should even be separate but equal strategic approaches--i.e., that you can build your deck to favor base races rather than massacres.

    I'm not sure I agree that punishing lost units with Strife is too much (i.e., due to the concomitant material cost), but maybe we can mitigate another problem I'm noticing by changing that. If you play for very long now, the chance that you have valor and/or grit in any given hand gets smaller and smaller. So maybe award a valor OR a grit card (at random) when a unit dies. It's sort of a punishment--because having duplicates in a hand gives no added value--but it also ensures a relatively steady stream of those cards into increasingly larger decks (thematically, unit losses provoke revenge or harden the hearts of those left behind).

    Resurrection should certainly bring Strife to your deck, though--the card is too good otherwise.

    The deck is pretty hard to clean up for any given strategic purpose, since it has so many different sorts of cards in it from the beginning (including Strife for some reason); you're basically struggling just to get rid of most/all of your strife. Maybe the cost of Purge should be reduced? (But maybe that's too good in a deck with a lot of +command and +redraw).

    Finally, just tossing an idea out there: What if redraws were changed to plain draws? I.e., you can only use them when you have empty slots in your hand from cards that you've actually played?
  7. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    If it isn't now, it certainly will for the next version.

    I love it. Writing it down for version 1.2.
  8. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Yeah, that resurrection note was for a future world where unit losses don't give strife anymore. Resurrection now entails strife, because losses are counted the moment the unit died, not at the end of the round.
  9. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    I was throwing those numbers out there as just an example. The main purpose is to tie in Strife with overall performance rather than simply losses. Your requirement can easily be accommodated as follows:

    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
    +2 Strife - Player looses through unit elimination

    Gaining a valor or grit isn't really that much of a punishment as they are useful cards in that they offer a benefit and help dilute the proportion of Strife cards.

    The idea behind removing any additional punishment for unit losses is to remove the disincentive to field more units. It's very rare you come across strategy games such as these where fielding a stronger army is a bad thing.

    As far as I'm aware, Resurrection does not influence Strife in any way currently. If you take a loss you'll get a Strife card (up to 2 max) whether you subsequently resurrect the unit or not.

    I don't think this change is necessary. Maintaining a 'clean' deck should get harder and harder otherwise the game will go on forever and the game becomes tedious.

    What's the rationale behind the suggestion? Is there currently an issue with the Redraw mechanism that needs to be fixed?
  10. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Currently, there is no way to gain valor or grit in the course of the game (at least, not that I've seen). But during the beta you gained them a lot, according to various schemes depending on the build, and believe me, they can really gum up your deck. Only one of each does your hand any good at all, so any additional cards are just taking up space--exactly like Strife, or movement cards for units you don't own. They are also completely useless in the run-up to the fight, so every valor/grit in your hand in the first few rounds is a lost opportunity to play a command card. Valor/grit are thus a limited benefit and subject to a law not only of diminishing returns, but actually of diminishing utility.

    Again, I think that the game would be stronger if these are strategic decisions, rather than "there is a best army and it is the biggest one". That still needs some tweaks--I never bother to field more than four units--but I'm not sure what the proper balance looks like. Maybe it does involve lowering the Strife cost of lost units, maybe it looks more like your revised "performance-based" suggestion, I don't know. But it will need other stuff too.

    Actually, it does, but not directly. During the first stage of the beta, Strife cards weren't allotted until the battle was over, which meant that if you lost and resurrected any during the battle, then you took on no Strife. I pointed out that this made Resurrection too powerful, and things were changed so that you take Strife for those losses even if you resurrected the units.

    The solution I offered wasn't necessarily the right one, of course. But I think you misunderstood my point, which was not related to clean decks (i.e. decks without Strife). I'm talking about strategic decks, where I remove things that actually provide benefit in order to make my deck more predictable. Maybe I want to trash all the Spell cards I got at the beginning of the game, or I want to specialize in a Warrior army so I'd like to zap all of the other unit movement cards. It's currently pretty rare that you can do any of this kind of pruning since it always makes more sense to purge your strife.

    I think that the new asymmetric character builds that are coming with the next update are intended to address this concern, allowing you to choose different starting decks, so maybe nothing much is needed at all. I haven't looked at the proposed starting decks in detail, though; ideally, they would be as minimal as possible.

    A few people have mentioned it, I think, in this thread or maybe in another one. I was just responding to the concerns they raised.

    Apropos of nothing else here: Someone mentioned the Warrior Reposition card being totally useless. I think that's just wrong. I use it quite often in the second half of a fight--especially combined with Blessing or Invulnerable, it can help put an end to base races. It's also good in the first two rounds of a combat to put your Warrior on exactly the rank where you want him. But it is rather useless in the period between about round 2 and the clash of the armies, and if that's deemed to be a problems, maybe it could allow players to choose either to reposition, or to shift left or right one space (not up or down).
  11. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Potential solution: the Purge spell cannot hit Strife.
  12. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    There are instances where they won't be useful but other occasions where they will be. Strife cards are always useless. I don't see the need to replace Strife as a punishment with Booster cards.

    I don't think anyone is suggesting the game be dumbed down such that there is a 'best army'. I would hate it if one particular unit type was better than all the others and having 6 of them is the 'right' choice. Ideally there should be some trade offs between quantity and quality.

    3 of unit 'A' being better than 5 of unit 'B' because 'A' is a higher quality troop type is perfectly acceptable. But what I don't like seeing is 3 of unit 'A' being better than 5 of unit 'A'. That's just counter intuitive for any strategy game and it stems from the fact that a unit can attack every unit in it's attack zone at full damage. This sets up 'fork' opportunities (to use a chess term) and the more units you have on the field, the greater the threat of forks.

    Ok I'm talking in terms of the current 'retail' version where Resurrection has no effect on Strife, and you were right to ask for that change during the beta.

    Yes, I get your point but I think the player needs to really work hard in order to maintain a level of 'cleanliness' for a strategic deck as the game goes on. At a point I keep a Purge card that I can use my Copy cards on to increase my Purges. I also lean more towards Strife removing actions like the Keep and Recon (can't remember what it's called exactly). So I'm not sure whether Purge needs to be made more powerful or abundant just yet, I guess it depends on how long games are expected to last and the impact other changes that we're discussing have.

    Fair enough, I don't see it as a major issue. There's an inherent limitation as to how far your can recycle a deck which I quite like and prevents it from getting out of hand. But if someone wants to detail the exact issue I'll keep an open mind.

    I can understand your point about using it to place the Warrior on the right rank in the first couple of turns but I don't see how it can put an end to base rushes as presumably the enemy unit you are moving back to attack would have had to move passed your Warrior at some point? Unless you're talking about using it in conjunction with a Resurrect perhaps?

    Which I think is why people don't regard the card as good as the move 1 non diagonal space action card which can be used on any troop type and offers more choice of movement.
  13. Yojimbo252

    Yojimbo252 New Member

    I don't really see why we need to limit the card's use in this way. What's the issue with using a Purge to cleans a Strife card if the player so chooses?
  14. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Keeping Purge from hitting Strife means it's reasonable to use it to tune the strategic parts of your deck.
  15. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Explanation by example: If I have an army of 3 warriors (probably my most common build) against a huge force, in most cases I am not going to be able to destroy the whole enemy army when we clash: and so the base race begins. The enemies that are left are probably located in just two to three ranks. I Reposition 1 or 2 of my warriors back to those ranks to prevent the monsters from reaching my base. If I can bless my guys first or make them Invulnerable, all the better--I can handle more enemies without risking my units. My warriors kill some or all of the enemies; if the latter, the battle is over and I've won. If I couldn't get them all, then I still have a warrior or two carrying on toward the enemy's base, and hopefully I've been able to speed them along with Move Friendly, so that they should just be wrapping up the defeat of the enemy base by the time the enemies really light into mine.
  16. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    The fact that you draw it randomly with other random cards which already might not be strife already does this, in a more elegant way I think. Like sometimes I'll get Purge, Strife, Grit, Warrior Repo. I might purge the whole hand in this case, or may keep Warrior Repo, depending.
  17. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Heh, you should do a poll on how often folks can actually get all the stars to align to be able to do this when Purge (a rare card) costs 2 command. I can count the number of times it's worked for me on one finger.
  18. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Ok, so is the argument that the Purge card is too powerful or not powerful enough? If it's not powerful enough, I'd rather err on that side being as how thin-decking tends to be degenerate in almost every deckbuilder.
  19. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    That it's not powerful enough for some things. The concern about thin-decking doesn't really make sense to me--thin-decking is impossible in Empire because you have to take cards from a small random selection at every possible juncture. Games where you can thin-deck allow you to choose whether or not to take a card. Empire'sPurge card is so heavily limited by random chance on so many levels that it will certainly be underpowered even if its cost were halved.
  20. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Ok. Well maybe Purge could just be an action card (1 Command)? Or would it still not be worth it?

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