Version 1.2 Thoughts on Armies and Resources

Discussion in 'EMPIRE (by Crazy Monkey Studios)' started by keithburgun, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Okay so what I want to do in version 1.2, besides the aforementioned stuff like changing how monsters attack, is change how you build armies. What we're doing right now doesn't make sense really.

    Problems:

    - The resource of Materials has never really made a lot of sense. Between the arbitrary "200" cap and how they're spent, it just feels strange to me.

    - Being able to spend Material just sort of "whenever" doesn't feel right to me. It always feels arbitrary and weird and out of place in the game.

    - Army composition shouldn't be in such direct control by the player.


    My Solutions:

    You always have at least 1 Warrior, 1 Archer and 1 Cavalry. Even if all three die in combat, you gain 3 Strife but still have the three units. There are ways to increase your numbers up to 6, but you can't go below 3.

    You can no longer purchase units on the Armies screen.

    Materials themselves now work more like a food-bar. They fill up to 200, and then you get to do an "upgrade". That upgrade could be "Research a Card", "build a new settler", "Build a Statue (+10 VP)", or Train a Warrior.

    The aforementioned "Research a Card" option lets you take any card you want in the entire game (spell cards still cost 1 gem).

    The other two military buildings allow you to Train an Archer or Train a Cavalry when you build the building (you get one of these units right when you build it, no discount). The Watch Towers can cost a Gem so that archers still cost a gem.
     
  2. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    I think that makes less sense than how resources currently work.
     
  3. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Care to elaborate?
     
  4. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    I think it would be cool, IF there is an incentive to really get more than 3 units. At the moment one of each is arguably better than 6 units in total. Maybe players would stick to one of each, plus maybe a cavalry, for the whole game and that's it. Well, then you'd still have the choice between "research" and "statue", but the army building would be out of the game basically.
     
  5. alastair

    alastair Well-Known Member

    Kind of makes sense to me, if you're maxing out on resources you'd want to spend the excess in some way (or upgrade, whatever).

    It does sound good though, always having unit variety is nice.
     
  6. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    I mean I might also say, fuck it, you have 3 units always no matter what. Material upgrades are the only way you can get settlers / vps / trash / research?
     
  7. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    What is the reasoning behind the "never drop below 3 units" rule? It seems to me that this will really draw out the endgame, so that essentially the way you lose will be by slowly fill your deck so full of Strife that you basically can't move at all in combat. But how will that affect really good players who can avoid losing units more often than not?
     
  8. mgeiger9

    mgeiger9 New Member

    What's the rationale behind restricting the user's ability to build the army he or she wants? I'd prefer to see design changes that compel you to try different unit combinations, rather than one that forces you to stick with a particular base setup. That approach seems to imply (to me, anyway) that there isn't a good way of, say, discouraging people from sticking with a strictly cavalry army. (I say that as a guy who doesn't use warriors or archers in v1.0, once my initial units die off, for reasons I think many have pointed out elsewhere.) I don't think it's fair to justify those units' existence by forcing people to use them.
     
  9. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    I mean, this is what rules do. You could say that we justify materials existence by forcing people to use them, for example. I think we need to forget about the sort of external desire to "want to be able to configure your army", which to me is similar to wanting to be able to configure opening placement of units. A lot of people feel like they'd want that but I think it's similar to the people who have said that it's a good thing if we allow people to get their Strife completely under control.

    My reasoning though is like this:

    This is a game about managing dwindling resources. Those resources are represented on the overmap in resource tiles (which are generally dwindling) and in cards (the value of which should perpetually be dwindling, assuming your deck is always getting bigger). I just don't see how increasing and decreasing the size of your army really fits into this concept. Your army size is a resource that goes up and down throughout the game, but I feel like materials, gems and cities themselves have that kind of a resource already covered.

    More importantly though, is this problem that the game has had since day 1: it's better to have 3 units than it is to have 6. It might be even optimal to have 2 or 3 units, always. This is why part of me is like, "ok, let's just drop the army composing element completely, and just make it that in the game Empire, you have 3 units, one of each, and work around that".
     
  10. mgeiger9

    mgeiger9 New Member

    I might feel differently if players had never had the ability to choose units. The ability to choose army placement was never part of the game, and while I get why some people want that "feature," adding it would give the user a significant advantage over AI armies with randomly placed units and detract from the overall game.

    Forcing a particular army composition feels different, perhaps because I think it would subtract something significant from the original game. The ability to compose different armies allows us to try different approaches to the game, thus adding a layer of replayability beyond what already exists. I know the emperors will add flexibility to v1.1, but it seems like, from reading the beta testers forum, that emperors haven't fixed the fundamental problems with army composition.

    I do get your points about the necessity of the constraints rules impose, as well as the concept of managing dwindling resources and how army composition doesn't fit. I don't particularly see how this change makes armies fit into the overall concept, though. Maybe doing that is impossible unless you have some way of forcing the armies themselves to decay over time--lessen unit strength, or hit points, or something of that nature.

    I don't think I articulated my original point well, out of a desire to be brief, overly polite, or both. The sense I've gotten reading these forums is that something needs to be done to address two major points about armies:

    * As you said, it's probably optimal to always have 2 or 3 units.
    * Many players, myself included, have found cavalry to be vastly preferable to warriors and archers.

    The second point is where I'm having a problem. There's been, if I remember correctly, a lot of talk about finding ways to make warriors and archers more desirable and cavalry less so, in order to nerf the cavalry-only strategy. What you've proposed sounds to me like you've given up on that idea and said, "We can't find a way to make warriors and archers better, so screw it--you're going to have to use them whether you want to or not." Forcing a particular army composition purposely saddles the player with lesser units, as opposed to better balancing the units.
     
  11. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    The reason there are "army composition problems" that aren't going away is that it's a feature that the game never actually needed to begin with, IMO. It's not a "giving up", it's a looking at what's been happening and realizing that there is a more "big picture" answer for it.

    The argument that "people will miss it now that they've been introduced to it" is valid, but I will always choose to make the game better if I can even if it pisses some people off.

    Here's a good way of answering it, too: The game simply doesn't need army composition, therefore it should be removed.
     
  12. alastair

    alastair Well-Known Member

    I agree, for new players (like me) the game felt like army composition was the main thing. I was pretty much focusing 70% on building and keeping units alive, and if I lost an army it didn't feel like I should continue the game, so I'd just restart.
     
  13. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Again, how are you going to ever get the damn game over with if the player can never drop below three units?

    I think the game has major problems, but none of what's being proposed here goes toward fixing them, nor does it look like 1.1 is moving toward real fixes either (could be wrong about that, though, maybe things are happening behind the scenes?). Most important problems:

    1) Game goes on too long and the difficulty ramps up way too slowly. I'm tired of the game by the time I've reached about 100 points. No way I'm ever going to play long enough to get to 200. Rebalance so that the game ends at 100 points and I have to work way harder to earn those 100.
    2) Even after gems, the overmap is still mostly just a way to break up the combats; it's not very fun or interesting on its own. Why then focus on tweaking armies and combat? That's never where the game's problems have been.
     
  14. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    1) Yep, 100 is now the goal, and it should be much harder now too (we've gotten rid of those damned 2-monster nests!)

    2) Well, version 1.2 will change this a lot with the new monsters setup. But I generally agree.
     
  15. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    1) Huh. I'm excited to see these changes then. 2-monster nests always seemed like total no-brainers to me.

    2) Yeah, the wandering monsters are probably a necessary component in making the overworld really interesting. Gems already help, because we've gone from (semi-)random exploration to a more positively guided process, but bringing in some sort of threat will balance it out.
     
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  16. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Great news about #1. I'm excited to try the newly balanced 1.1.

    Nacht, while the wandering monsters will involve a minor tweak to the mechanics of the overworld, I see them as primarily a (very welcome!) UI improvement, not as a new source of interesting decisions or of new threat dynamics (the threat and the travel times are already there). And while gems have definitely added a new sense of goal-seeking to settlements and exploration, I still don't feel like the overmap is rich in interesting decisions, nor that the wandering monsters alone will fix it.

    This is why this proposal (i.e., the original topic of the thread) doesn't sit well with me. I think it actually reduces the number of interesting decisions to be made in the overworld, and also reduces the connections between combat and overworld that exist currently. For me, the most dramatic and fraught decisions in the overworld are the ones that come from materials shortages tied to replacing lost units and city upgrades: "I'm down to one unit and have under 100 materials. Should I add another unit now, or should I replace the mine I lost when Murgatroid was destroyed? I need to get more resources fast, but I could also need to fight at any moment and I'm not likely to survive any battle with just one archer..." Those are exactly the decisions that will no longer exist if this proposal is adopted, and I don't see anything that would replace them.
     
  17. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Then I haven't explained them properly. They are way more than a UI improvement, they dramatically change how monster attacks work. Here are just some ways that that's the case.

    - Monsters now will be found in clusters in some areas of the map, which will be "dangerous" to settle near.
    - Monsters can attack your same city with far more frequency, pounding away at one city that's near the edges of your territory. This means that building defensive buildings actually matters.
    - There is now an interesting choice between "going after the monster cities" or just clearing out threatening monsters themselves. We could make this even more interesting if marauding monsters could destroy mines.

    With all that said I think you make a pretty decent point with your 2nd paragraph.
     
  18. Senator

    Senator Moderator

    Yeah, I guess my guideline for overmap changes would be: does the change mean more or less turns where the player's action is to tap "Next Week"?Any change where the answer is "more" is not a good one.

    Anyway, cool on the marauders, and sorry that I misunderstood how marauding monsters would work. All of those points sounds like significant improvements. This means that you could at least potentially profitably explore with more purpose (cutting transect lines across the map, for example, to seek clusters), which you've never had any reason to do before. I like the idea of monsters destroying mines--it might be interesting enough that you could consider allowing mining to happen outside of cities, at an additional cost of course. Unlike mines near cities, independent mines would have no defense--if a monster goes after it, there is no chance to defend. (Building these could thus also mean creating decoys to buy a city more time to prepare a defense.)
     
  19. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Less, and also more overmap decisions will have to get made.

    BTW just had another idea that might be huge. My "Reach 200 and get a Materials Upgrade" - this allows you to purchase a new resource. This resource is called "An Army". Losing a unit in combat costs you 1 Army, and it refills your army. If you have no Armies and lose a unit, it doesn't return until you build another Army.
     
  20. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    Sounds way better than always jumping to three units!
     

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