The Winning Strategy

Discussion in 'EMPIRE (by Crazy Monkey Studios)' started by Bucky, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    The strategy:
    1 Tech/1 Production/1 Outpost into 2 Tech/ 1 Outpost into 2 Tech (this last stage breaks the system for the win).

    Agile Cavalry army with Archer support, eventually transitioning into a Cavalry/Archer police force.

    What it means:
    A Tech city is an old city that's totally depleted its surroundings, but is kept for its upgrades. It typically features a Hut, a Watchtower and a Keep, although your second Tech city is more flexible. The secondary purpose of a Tech city is to keep the surrounding wasteland from spawning monsters; abandon one at your own risk.

    A Production city techs up once or twice, produces some units, cards and materials, and gets abandoned before totally exhausting its surroundings.

    An Outpost is a city that's intended to produce at most once before being abandoned. Outposts should rarely if ever leave monsters behind. The main use of an outpost is to reduce travel time to monster camps and kill them before they upgrade, although their materials and single produced unit are valuable because they come monster-free.

    An Agile army is small, containing 3-5 units, with a deck focusing on cards that micro individual units. 3x Cavalry 1x Archer is close to ideal because it makes Cavalry Move and Archers Shift almost as good as the S-tier Move Any. This strategy has little use for Valor and should trash it like Strife. (Due to a bug, it's beneficial to keep 1 Strife in the deck. That 1 Strife is better than Valor)

    A Police army is maximum size. Its purpose is to let Outposts trash more cards. It loses more units but fewer fights than an agile army.

    The transition from Production to 2 Tech happens when a good Materials stockpile is available and the army is stable. At that point, the Outpost hunts down and destroys monster dens while paying for exploration and replacing military losses. The Tech makes sure replacement archers are available and Keeps valor in check so that the army stays agile.
    The transition from small army to police force happens naturally after 2 Tech with good play as losses are replaced faster than they occur.
    The death of the Outpost happens when the entire map is explored and all the monsters are dead. At that point, victory has been achieved and the Tech cities celebrate with monthly feasts. (Keith tells me this last bit is a bug and tapped out cities should not still harvest food)
  2. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Jesus man, you don't fuck around! You asked me in a PM on Fantasystrike, "why did you release such an imbalanced game to beta". The answer is because dudes like you will give me such amazing feedback like this. I know to you it seems like this stuff is super obvious, but it's sort of hard for me in the designing position to also "play optimally". Partially because I just generally suck at strategy games, but also partially because I have an inherent bias in trying to play not necessarily optimally, but in the way that I think the game should be played.

    Just so everyone knows, you don't "win" this game by eliminating the monsters. Like AURO, it's a score attack thing, so the win-state is beating your high score. We will be attempting to balance the game as such so that being this invincible god force is literally impossible.
  3. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Question: Are your old-cities grassland tiles ever turning to waste? At some point, you should be gaining 0 food / mats from a city and yet it's still causing you to be in the 50% tax range.

    Oh btw, do you guys know about taxes? 25% for 2 cities, 50% for 3. Only affects food income.
  4. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    It's not 'super obvious'. It took about 3 hours and 4 screwups to figure out I needed to separate my Production from my Tech and a further 2 hours of trial and error to figure out that Outposts should be used offensively against newly spawned camps. The agile army concept came from repeatedly screwing up and losing half my army, only to discover that half an army is pretty good. And there were several of us looking for this stuff, compared to one of you.

    EDIT: Tax only affects food income? That explains half of why materials are so abundant late-game, the other half being food production wears out faster than materials production on forests and fields.

    Re: Old cities - Yes, the grassland tiles are wasting. The cities eventually end up with 0 materials income and 5 pretax food income.
  5. vivafringe

    vivafringe Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Awesome that another val-u-bot is playing this game so I don’t have to do all the heavy lifting. I’d figured out the “never abandon depleted cities” rule, but hadn’t yet figured out the “build cities to produce once and beat up monsters, then immediately abandon” rule. Also, I thought Keeps were bugged and not doing anything, so I just built Academies and let my decks bloat out of control, haha. I was scoring about 40 points a game. To be clear, the game concept is super fun, but obviously we have quite a ways to go. I’m hoping this game is easier to balance than Auro. Here’s a (probably incomplete) list of mechanics that need fixing:

    - Once you’ve built a settler, cities are free to build, free to abandon, and have instant build times. Probably one of those 3 things need to change, and maybe several of them do.
    - Abandoning a fully depleted city loses you the game, or at least is a huge risk.
    - The only viable unit composition is 100% archers (see below).
    - Units need more hitpoints. The best units in the game have 1 HP, and they in turn instant kill everything.
    - As such, Valor and Grit are useless.
    - It seems questionable that a unit can attack multiple times per turn. I had a quad-kill with an archer yesterday. That was fun!
    - I agree that the unit cap needs to go way down (6 sounds great). Right now the combat map is too big, too.
    - All “mass move” cards are close to useless. All retreat in particular is a funny joke card. One time I played it by accident; that sure sucked.
    - I differ from Bucky in that I never build Calvary. They’re cute, but archers are way better.
    - You get the same amount of VP from farming newly created 2-monster camps as you do from depleted city deathballs.
    - Monster spawning is broken. The player can prevent anything substantial from ever spawning by refusing to abandon depleted cities. Monsters need to get gradually more difficult regardless of player actions. I’m not sure, but I think a crucial mechanics change might be that monsters spawn totally independent of resource depletion.
    - This is true of all 4x games, but there’s a huge slippery slope effect going on here. I rage-quit after even tiny mistakes. Losing your starting archer because you miscounted movement is instant rage-quit, for instance, because it causes you to almost immediately enter death-spiral mode. Contrast this with Auro, where even if you make a bunch of mistakes in the first level, you maybe go in to level 2 with 7 HP and can still easily make up for your bad play with good play. Not sure if you can fix this one, but I thought I’d mention it.
    - It’s unsatisfying to have so many cards self-trash. One necessary consequence is that Tactics is useless, because you never get enough action density to make it worth the deck slot.
    - Already been mentioned, but materials is not working as intended. You explore nearly every turn and still have plenty left for units.

    Basically a Wound:
    - Magical Bounty
    - Tactics
    - Warrior Reposition (the warrior skips his turn even if you move forward, but a bigger issue is that warriors are terrible)
    - Resurrect (bugged)
    - Play-a-move-twice-card (bugged, I think, to only play once)
    - Valor
    - All Retreat
    - Inspire

    Not useless, but on your “to trash” list:
    - Calvary Move
    - Grit

    Marginally useful:
    - Protection
    - Paralyze
    - Archers Move

    - Trash
    - Zap
    - Improvisation
    - Meteor

    - Move Any
    keithburgun and Nachtfischer like this.
  6. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    -Abandoning a Tech city can be done safely. The trick is to abandon it in stages. Abandon it, immediately put an outpost next to it to clean up the mess, then abandon the outpost.
    -I had a quad-kill with a Cavalry yesterday
    -The size of a viable army is directly proportional to the size of the map
    -Rage quit less. Cavalry more.
    -All Retreat is basically a mulligan in the opening stage of the battle that puts you at a disadvantage in a base-race. Not very good, but not totally useless.
    -Cavalry Move is the main reason to go mass Cavalry few Archers over pure Archers. An agile Archer strategy is difficult to pull off early.
    -The main problem with Grit is it's so hard to get. One Grit is weak, two Grit is pretty good if it comes at the right time. But the most powerful possible deck is over 90% Grit.
    Nachtfischer likes this.
  7. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    Oh, wow... yeah, that's actually quite an exploit probably. I don't think this should (and will) survive as a viable "strategy" for too long.

    But I guess that's what you "game breaker" guys do: Find that stuff so it can get addressed. Awesome work, both of you!
  8. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    To clarify:
    "Clean up the mess" means "send armies to attack the monster camps as they spawn", not "remove mess directly".
  9. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    Outposts need to be purged from this game. That's the biggest problem I see right now, besides the super imba troops and cards. The imbalanced troops and cards I saw coming though. Outposts were an exploit-y surprise.

    Edit: Also, having different battles give different amounts of VPs seems like a priority.
  10. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    As far as I can tell, moving a city around to avoid completely depleting the area has always been an intended use of the system. What's the exploit? Shorter travel time for soldiers?
  11. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Viva, amazing post. I particularly like the tier list you have for the cards. I am making up some changes for the next version.

    Can you explain this?

    Well, it's essentially a "delay the action" card. We'll add a +1 Action to it.

    Anyone propose a solution to this? I'm considering just making it take time to abandon AND build cities, like I dunno, 6 turns or something.
  12. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Can you go into more depth about what you mean, and why? I do want "leapfrogging low tier cities" to be a valid strategy, just not the optimal strategy.
  13. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    It already takes 1 turn each, right? And there's an opportunity cost to having the outpost there in the first place.

    I think the root cause of the problem is that engaging nests that are 2-3 turns old (by placing an outpost nearby and then attacking) is so much easier than engaging nests that are 8 turns old (typical distance to an existing city). This could be countered by changing the power curve for nests (they are stronger at low levels and are slower to hit high levels) and/or by reducing travel time for marches over 6 distance.

    tl;dr distant nests are more threatening than close ones, and you know where they'll be in advance.
  14. vivafringe

    vivafringe Well-Known Member Staff Member

    When you abandon a depleted city, it's almost guaranteed that a monster den will spawn that turn. Since this den is surrounded by depleted tiles, it's ridiculously strong immediately. (or am I mistaken here, and it's only a function of time?)

    So rather than ever abandon a depleted city, you should first explore the map, clearing all of the wimpy 2-4 monster camps. Then if you've explored the map and everything is cleared, make a city, deplete *1* square, abandon the city, kill the monster den that spawns, repeat.
  15. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    What I was saying about the outposts was a comment on the ability to plop a city next to some baddies, kill them, and leave with zero consequences. Seems like it's the only really viable strategy, and it's not exactly thrilling.
  16. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Outposts aren't free. They cost you 25% production at your other cities, with no real compensation unless you commit to leaving the Outpost in place for a production cycle. Granted, if you have forests the cycle isn't very long, but that costs you long-term terrain damage.
  17. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    I'm aware of that, but it never seemed like a big deal to me. Maybe it is?

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