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Thread: Spell Research Mechanics

  1. #81
    Lintking, at this point "Playtesting... Playtesting..." is my mantra. You and I don't agree here. Once we can both get in game we'll find out which of us was right and to what extent (I wouldn't bet on either of us getting 100%, lol). The main point of my post was that if there is a problem we'll address it. If we have to completely rework the system then we'll have to. At the end of the day we're really talking about spell sorting and power levels.

    Everyone else, I'm not addressing you each in turn because it's Saturday and I wasn't planning to post at all really. I just saw this post and decided to respond
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  2. #82
    Quote Originally Posted by jamoecw View Post
    ya, it is totally unrealistic scenario. after all we were comparing two specific spells against each other. my point was that a dracolich alone isn't insta win vs. 20 skellies if the 20 skellies avoid battle and aim to use their one advantage, resource denial (20 skellies can deny 20 resources, 1 draco lich only 1). a dual user would be able to give his stack of elite troops +1d6 of one element, and +1d6 of another for the same price roughly of roughly one dracolich. if things keep escalating the high tier person could get a whole stack of dracoliches with +1d6, which is better than any one stack the dual user could get. if the high tier user doesn't hold back some resources for when things go bad, he will most likely lose to a resource denial strategy, even if he can sack cities. of course if the game goes on long enough for a person to get a full stack of dracoliches with enough resources to operate the stack without income for the time it takes him to all key cities of the dual user, then the dual user pretty much handed the game over to the high tier user by not either A. making use of his advantage while he had it, or B. not crushing the high tier user when he had the chance (which would probably happen when the dual user can stick a full stack of troops with 2 +1d6 enchantments on them, as then he would have the resources to use both circles fully).

    Even in a vacuum, which is incredible unrealistic, just the Dracolich vs 20 Skellies, you,as the Skellie player would face a ton more problems than those you mentioned:

    -While the 20 skeletons can be split into several smaller stacks the single Dracolich will most likely have more movement points and may have flying on top of this. This means :

    + the skellies cant completely avoid to get into a fight with him, since he is much more mobile
    + the dracolich will be able to attack the capital city with the wizard fortress ultra fast,conquer it and win the war, before the skellies werent even able to conquer half of the cities of the draco player, which just needs some mana reserve in the pocket to keep it from deserting.

    Again, I would be really happy if you would at least address the main point at least 1 time in one of your posts, that there will be only one capital city(which is the single key city almost always!) and maybe a few other cities that have grown to a huge size, where losing them might mean as much as losing 20 minor cities or even might mean: losing the game. So,resource denial is certainly a strategy but would only be equal to the abiltiy of sacking cities,if all cities would matter about the same...which just isnt the case ever.

    So ,even in an unrealistic vacuum scenario,which totally is an advantage to the skellies,the draco is more useful.

    (Btw,stackable unit enchantments can just be dispelled. I wont count on them vs Human players)
    Last edited by Mardagg; 03-22-2014 at 07:02 PM.

  3. #83
    Archmage of the Outer Ring jamoecw's Avatar
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    resource denial is mainly stuff that doesn't involve sacking cities. resource denial is used when you can't just simply brute force your way (such as sacking cities).

    as for just simply dispelling the +1d6 stuff, it is definitely an option. if you would remember i argued that spell lock should be either a high tier spell, or an arcane spell due to making stacked low tier spells able to be just as useful as high tier ones (if it was low tier in some spell circle, then you would almost be required to grab that circle if you wanted to use any unit enchantments from mid-early game on).

    of course simply dispelling effects can be done even against an augmentation or a protection specialist, so that is just a general counter to things like that. now if the dual caster picked a race with a unit with the banish ability then a full stack of those without any magic to back them up can beat a dracolich. of course i don't think any races have such an ability, so the question becomes how do you beat a dracolich when you have picked augmentation or protection to specialize in (whichever one lacks spell lock)?

    again i say this has more to due with spell balance than research issues.

  4. #84
    Quote Originally Posted by jamoecw View Post
    of course i don't think any races have such an ability, so the question becomes how do you beat a dracolich when you have picked augmentation or protection to specialize in (whichever one lacks spell lock)?
    Its just a matter of planning. And I am sure a true specialist in augmtation or Protection will have lots of chances to beat Dracoliches. Its about Quantity vs Quality and race synergy with your magic circles. As an augmentation specialist you can for example choose a race with lots of cheap,low quality units and just buff them like crazy right from the start so that your opponents would have to face 50 different buffed units everywhere with no chance to dispel them all.
    You can as well go for a race with lots of quality units and start concentrating the high level buffs on the high level units.
    Those high level buffs as a specialist should be tough to dispel.
    I really think this is the area where playtesting will show us all and it will be easy to tweak.
    By "area" i mean making the different specialist builds balanced vs other specialist builds and making the different hybrid builds balanced among other hybrid builds.
    But the fact that a hybrid early game build will be better in Early game and worse in Late game vs any Specialist build is a given anyways and not that easy to balance for any game as a whole with sole playtesting since it does depend on so many things, starting with map size and settings. Typically its like Endless Rain said, small and fast paced games favor early game builds and huge and slow paced games favor late game builds.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamoecw View Post
    again i say this has more to due with spell balance than research issues.
    To me, an integral part of spell balance IS the research system.I will leave it at that.

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron
    Lintking, at this point "Playtesting... Playtesting..." is my mantra. You and I don't agree here. Once we can both get in game we'll find out which of us was right and to what extent (I wouldn't bet on either of us getting 100%, lol).
    That's totally fair. My last post had actually started with a frustrated paragraph about how there was no point in going on with this discussion when nobody was open to re-examining this in the first place, and... even feeling frustrated, I took it all back, because you've been awesomely open to input through this whole process. So, please understand that, well, I understand that you've listened, and I honestly believe you've thought about it as objectively as possible, and... I'm worried because this feels like a really big thing to me and between playtesting tending to focus on early-game issues and the already-given response of "We can fix pieces of this (much) later"... I'm not actually sure how much attention it's really going to get in playtesting.

    But, I'm a long way from unhappy about your responsiveness; generally, of course, but on this specifically, also. Given the number of people who have chimed in to say they don't even care if this is broken, maybe it really is just me. (And Mardagg! Hi, Mardagg!)

    And if you ask me to go sit down, of course I will... but right now I feel like this whole Skeleton Vs Dracolich thing, while awesome, has also become a major sidetrack, and that leaves me wondering if I've actually even managed to say what I'm trying to say here. So I'm going to take another stab at getting to the real point.

    --------------------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Endless Rain
    Now that I think about it, I think it's fine the way it is. Sure, a specialist will be powerful in the late game, but she'll have to survive being defeated early on first
    You seem to be operating under the assumption that specialists only get High Tier spells, and will have to struggle, magic-free, while their generalist opponents are swarming them with their more easily learned magic. That's not the case. Specialists get to start with their own low-Tier effects, too; in fact, they'll be learning them just as fast. They then build up to the powerful stuff, while the generalist just.. plateaus, and then... stops. It's probably also worth noting that even after the Specialist starts learning the Good Stuff, they can go right on casting their own low-level magicsas needed. If a Summoning Specialist finds they don't have time to call up a Dracolich right now, they still have the same option the Generalist has of spitting out a stack of Skeletons instead; it's just that when they do have time to cast the Dracolich, the Generalist still can't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamoecw
    again i say this has more to due with spell balance than research issues.
    It does. I agree with Mardagg that research issues are an integral piece of spell balance, but really, yes! This is about spell balance. What's more, it's really about the balance for Build Points in Sorcerer Lord Creation. Every point, whether put into Spell Circles or Disciplines, should have the feeling of yielding a comparable benefit; otherwise, as we've all agreed dozens of times in dozens of other perspectives, certain Builds become inevitable while others become prohibitively crippled, and we've all agreed that that's bad.

    So, I'm sorry; I like examples because I always feel like... I'm not sure I'm expressing what I mean, without them. But the examples here seem to be getting us wrapped up in a very specific discussion that isn't really all that relevant. Is it possible to build a viable strategy out of hoards of skeletons? Yeah. Sure. And I've really enjoyed reading your plans around it.

    But it's totally besides the point. I know I started it, and the discussion has been pretty cool and I'd be glad to carry on with some of that on the side, later, if you want to; but if I may set aside, for the moment, the specific example of One Dracolich versus Twenty Skeletons -- the issue, as you say, is about spell balance.

    Top-Tier things are, I believe, supposed to be better. The often-stated case that "Low Tier spells are more efficient! It's an Effenciency vs Power tradeoff!" is, I think (and certainly in MoM), a fallacy. The High Tier spells that I remember from MoM and see us shaping are just outright superior spells; stronger, more efficient, totally doing things the low-Tier effects can't even dream about -- the specifics vary as appropriate. The only thing they're not is "available from turn 1", because you want that feeling of improvement. But to have that feeling of improvement, it has to be actually improving, doesn't it?

    That's why you jump through the hoops you have to to get them. If they're not, then I'm afraid there's something inherent in the whole Tier concept that I am apparently just not getting.

    So, if I may ask again: Is it our goal to make a game in which the Tier 7 and 8 spells are only "just as good" as the Tier 1 and 2 spells? Is that the balance we're looking for?

  6. #86
    Archmage of the Outer Ring jamoecw's Avatar
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    good post lintking.

    i think the last question is the one that cuts to the heart of the matter:

    So, if I may ask again: Is it our goal to make a game in which the Tier 7 and 8 spells are only "just as good" as the Tier 1 and 2 spells? Is that the balance we're looking for?
    if we want hybrid builds to be viable, then yes. maybe harder to achieve the same success, narrower margins for error, more dependant on situations, etc., but it would have to be yes for hybrids to be viable.

    it also brings up another thing i barely mentioned, a discipline specialist. any of the bonuses from disciplines can be gained in part and without linear progression (for the most part), but somehow spending all your points will have to just as good as spending all your points on spells. as disciplines don't let you create units regardless of race, or destroy things to support any unit you chose to use, the use of units is going to have to be comparable with spells even in the late game. again maybe not in direct power, but somehow (efficiency, terrain/specials use, special abilities, etc.).

    in MoM the most expensive spells generally felt incredibly powerful, earth shattering is often the term used. units shouldn't be earth shattering imo, so high tier spells should be highly inefficient at doing what they do in actual results (cities taken, armies destroyed, etc.), and thus be either blockable (hopefully not in general), or do such in a round about way (that is impressive somehow). a good example of this is the MoM spell armageddon, it raises volcanoes randomly, increases unrest in 2 different ways, and increases the power you earn per turn. all of which is possible with lower level spells, but it feels earth shattering. any single effect comes about less efficiently than the lower level spells, but it all comes together in a really nice package. but a high level spell doesn't need to do many things, take crusade for instance. it gives 1 level to all units, which is equal to +1 to some of its attributes (it also opens up a higher level which gives +1 most or all attributes). you can get more than those bonuses from low level spells, but given individually, thus the low level spells are more efficient at making any one unit better at fighting (but it makes all your units better at fighting to a lesser degree, and can't be dispelled in the middle of battle, which are very important differences). now cracks call, that is an example of a bad spell, not just it was too low of a tier, but because their was literally no counter for most builds, and the results of the spell if used correctly will result in a huge loss to the enemy. it is unblockable except by a narrow selection of SLs, and even then with only heroes for certain, combined that it is more efficient against hard targets than lower tier spells, more powerful than low tier spells, and (if used intelligently) will cost the enemy far more than the cost of the spell. it is better than any spell like it, but making it high tier and calling it a day would be a mistake, almost as much of a mistake as to make it counterable/blockable by only high level spells.

    --------------------------------------------------


    as for dracolich vs. skellies as written on the wiki, the dracolich costs 10 times skellies, which is the same as pretty much all summons at this point (so the cost will probably go up, and skellies might go down). often times the advantage stated for a hybrid build is the increased chance of having exactly what you need for a given situation. so using a anti dracolich skellie would be the appropriate comparison (you'd still need a lot of them), at which point i'd say that the low level stuff (which is designed to kill dracoliches) should be at least as good if both sides start pumping out stuff (of course a hybrid can't have both life and death, so you can't actually deal with a specialist of death if you have death as one of your options).

    a hybrid build will come into power (be fully able to use all counters he has) after early game, when both sides are researching basic spells. during the end of mid game he will have all of his spells researched most likely and be able to contend with the specialist during this phase due to the specialist lacking high level spells, but having (hopefully) spells that counter his spells. a good example of the dynamic would be a protection/destruction mage vs. a destruction specialist. both research destruction spells during the early game, being equal. during mid game the destruction specialist brings out mid tier spells, but the hybrid brings out low level protection spells that at the very least turn those mid tier spells into low level spells, keeping them on even footing for a fraction of the mana, allowing the hybrid to gain ground. during late game, either the hybrid has enough of a lead to deal with the losses from the specialist, or the specialist pushes back and wins the game.

  7. #87
    Mage’s Assistant baenre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamoecw View Post
    good post lintking.

    i think the last question is the one that cuts to the heart of the matter:



    if we want hybrid builds to be viable, then yes. maybe harder to achieve the same success, narrower margins for error, more dependant on situations, etc., but it would have to be yes for hybrids to be viable.

    I don't quite agree with this statement. I think tier 7/8 spells can be "better" as in stronger, more efficient etc while still allowing hybrids to be viable. The "hybrid" gives up access to these higher tier spells for more diversity in the early/mid game, and then tries to use this diversity to carve out an advantage to win in some way. This is true for hybrids that mix spell circles, or mix circles/disciplines.

    At least, this is how I see it. I think there can be a balance between higher tier spells being stronger than lower tier, while also not making hybrids obsolete.

  8. #88
    I love passionate debate. For the moment I've said what I have to say, but that doesn't mean I'm ignoring the thread
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  9. #89
    Archmage of the Outer Ring jamoecw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baenre View Post
    I don't quite agree with this statement. I think tier 7/8 spells can be "better" as in stronger, more efficient etc while still allowing hybrids to be viable. The "hybrid" gives up access to these higher tier spells for more diversity in the early/mid game, and then tries to use this diversity to carve out an advantage to win in some way. This is true for hybrids that mix spell circles, or mix circles/disciplines.

    At least, this is how I see it. I think there can be a balance between higher tier spells being stronger than lower tier, while also not making hybrids obsolete.
    it can only be an edge though, not an absolute.

    if a hybrid has the full gambit of tier 2 spells, and his opponent is a specialist that just researched his first tier 7 spell, the hybrid shouldn't be completely helpless despite any gains he has made during mid game.

    the debate of dracolich vs. skellies kinda highlights this issue, on the one hand the dracolich can sack any city it wants, while the skellies can't. so should it be that the moment someone summons a dracolich that anyone without high tier spells becomes helpless? or should the skellies be able to do something to fight back, however inefficient/situational/risky the method?

    if we use the protection/destruction vs. destruction specialist scenario, then what i think should happen is that in early game both sides have destruction low tier, which can kill 1 unit each casting. at mid game, the hybrid has protection low tier which cuts the death toll in half, and the destruction specialist has mid tier spells that kill twice as much in a casting, but cost 3 times as much. during this time the hybrid has an advantage due to mana usage, and can gain ground. at late game the hybrid has same basic level of spells, but the specialist has high tier spells that kill 4 times what the low tier spells do, for 6 times the cost. the hybrid cuts that 4 units down to 2, but can only kill 1. so the hybrid would be hemorrhaging units twice as fast as the specialist, and thus needed to have made enough gains during mid game to accommodate as much. the lower mana cost (2 units of mana vs. 6) means that he could have skimped on mana production to get the double production values in his empires that he needs just to match the specialist. the specialist can win any one single battle, but not necessarily 2 in one turn, while the hybrid to ensure he wins against a stack needs to commit 3 stacks. so the hybrid to win in late game needs to have double production, and 3 times the forces that the specialist has, not to mention that the hybrid needs to keep a supply chain going to keep bringing fresh troops to the front as he presses further into enemy territory, making a capitol strike (hitting just the capitol, bypassing less important cities along the way) unviable. all of this gives a serious advantage to the specialist in late game, and at no time is it auto win for wither side.

    summons are a little less linear, due to the limit of units in a stack, but ultimately the same relative balance needs to be retained. since summons only use mana (and other spells ultimately use production, food, and gold costs in addition to the mana), there can be a steeper cost with low vs. high tier summons. each of the effect circles have its own quirk with achieving this level of balance, so it shouldn't be quite as cut and dry as i've made it seem.

  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    I love passionate debate. For the moment I've said what I have to say, but that doesn't mean I'm ignoring the thread
    And that is why you're getting so much free development work out of us. <grin> I've only gotten involved in an in-development project like this a few times so far, but I've never had the same feeling of being.. actually invited into the process, like I have here. It's pretty awesome.

    Quote Originally Posted by baenre
    The "hybrid" gives up access to these higher tier spells for more diversity in the early/mid game, and then tries to use this diversity to carve out an advantage to win in some way. This is true for hybrids that mix spell circles, or mix circles/disciplines.
    "Hybrid" is a good term - thank you. "Specialist" versus "Generalist" is a classic choice in games and gaming, but it's not really what we've got. What we've been calling a "Specialist" has lots of diversity - an Element Specialist has more diverse Effects than an Element/Effect hybrid does, and an Effect Specialist will have more diverse Elements. We were talking earlier about how the Lord with Fire8 can only give his units Fire Weapons, which won't always be the best choice, while the "generalist" who puts 2 points in each Element can spend 10 Build Points and give his Units whichever kind of Weapon Effect they want. We ignored the fact that the Lord with Augmentation 8 can do that, too, for fewer build points, and better (because they'll have both Holy and Unholy Weapon available, as is currently banned to the Element-side build), and will still have high-Tier spells, too. So call them Hybrid and Purist, maybe.

    And remember that they both start with their Low-Tier spells -- the Hybrid Mage has a window of advantage for.. twenty? Maybe thirty turns? It'll be the difference of however many turns it takes for them to have at least a couple of extra spells over their Pure opponent, before the Pure opponent starts bringing in their more-powerful effects. It's a small window, and not much of an advantage: we're talking about couple of additional, Low-Tier spells, before you just start sliding inexorably backwards. What we have right now isn't, "Early Game: Equal, Mid Game: Hybrid, Late Game: Pure"; we have, "Early Game: Equal, Mid Game: Hy---oh, dang."

    If we leave the Tiers scaling as we have been, where Low Tier Magic is simple, utility stuff, and High Tier Magic gets massive effects that start at battle-turning and climb quickly to game-changing. It's probably worth re-clarifying that the conflict really starts at the early Mid-Tier range - Tiers 4 and 5, where Pure Mages have more spells than their Hybrid counterparts, for equal numbers of Build Points.

    Unless, as Jamoecw says, we level the playing field between the Tiers. Make sure that if you can summon 20 Skeletons in the same time as 1 Dracolich -- then 20 Skeletons must be, one way or another, a functional challenge to 1 Dracolich. And if playtesting shows us that they're not, we bring down the Dracolich, or up the Skeletons, or adjust the costs so that you can do enough Skeletons, until they are. We make sure that casting Holy Arms (imbuing your entire army with Holy Weapon), is balanced, through casting and maintenance cost, with casting Holy Weapon on each individual unit in your army; maybe Holy Arms' costs are actually based on the number of Units it's covering, and if you Imbue Holy Weapon enough you can cover a whole Stack at once. Whatever it takes to get them... OK, not perfectly balanced, but close enough that they can still totally make a real fight of it.

    My next question to Jamoecw is:

    Why does anybody still care to reach for Tier 8, if we do this?

    Why should I spend two thirds of my starting Build Points getting to Level 8 in Death or Summoning, when I can get Skeletons, that are strategically just as good, for only one point? I could have Skeletons, plus Summoner and Master Summoner, and Lucky, Pillager, Blood Mage, maybe Pious.. A point in Augmentation so I can make my Skeletons even a little bit better -- using spells that will be strategically balanced to be just as good as Holy Arms, as noted. Same eight points, only now my Skeletons are actually better, because I've had points left over to make them cheaper to Summon and cheaper to Maintain; to lay some other easy spells to boost their performance a bit; and a couple of ways to get myself extra power to do this faster.

    Your example is a fantastic system for balancing out the Tiers, but once we've done it, why are the High Tiers still a viable Build? If we balance out our spells against each other, then they are, by definition, not balanced against the Disciplines.

    Tier 9 spells suddenly become an issue at this point, also: Do they fall into the same balancing? If not, why not, and how does that not bring us back to the original problem? If so, why bother?

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