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Thread: Unit Theory

  1. #31
    Acolyte
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    You stated that you want the races to have unique flavor. I have to admit that I don't see that yet in the proposed races. Having man's swordsmen have slightly better attack and slightly worse defense, and another race having the exact opposite doesn't give much flavor. So far they all seem like TV aliens: just humans with make-up and costumes. That may be a result of limitations with D20, making it difficult to add a race of giants or centaurs.

    While I could never get into Dominions, the races did seem to have quite different playing styles and flavor. Even among "plain humans", the legionnaire race seemed satisfactorily different from the jungle race with witch doctors and giant spider cavalry. The giant races certainly played differently, since units were powerful, but expensive and hard to provide logistics for, and were vulnerable to smaller races. The preferred climates, which changed over time once a province fell into your dominion, also added flavor. Unfortunately, many of those differences depended on aspects of that game system, which couldn't easily be added to WoM.

    I'd like to see the racial differences force strategic differences in gameplay. If High Men are the baseline, elven units might be more powerful per unit, but expensive and slower to build, encouraging a a more "keep units from dying" strategy. Orc units might be weaker, but disposable, encouraging players to keep throwing units against a target until it falls. One race might have units that are great against large, powerful opponents (ex: stag beetles) but do poorly against multi-figure units (damage doesn't overflow to multiple figures). I'm not sure what can be easily done along those lines with D20.

    I see a problem with having a race with "disposable" units: experience. Players won't consider experienced units to be disposable, regardless of production costs. Maybe some races would be limited in unit experience in return for much lower costs? Maybe there would be a cost each time units gained a level? That would be another option for flavor and strategy. I don't want to add micromanagement, so this would be in the background, and if you didn't have enough gold at the end of the turn, units wouldn't increase their level until the gold was available.

    Perhaps you could make a list of the options for differentiating units and races, and then come up with a list of suitable "different flavors", and _then_ you could choose known fictional profiles (elves, orcs, trolls) that fit those flavors.


    Just a further comment on Dominions: the advertising bragged about the huge number of units and spells, but in gameplay, it seemed that each race only had half a dozen or so units that would ever get used, and likewise for spells.
    Last edited by BlackDeath; 05-10-2013 at 08:06 PM.

  2. #32
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDeath View Post
    You stated that you want the races to have unique flavor. I have to admit that I don't see that yet in the proposed races. Having man's swordsmen have slightly better attack and slightly worse defense, and another race having the exact opposite doesn't give much flavor. So far they all seem like TV aliens: just humans with make-up and costumes. That may be a result of limitations with D20, making it difficult to add a race of giants or centaurs.
    Have you seen the undead faction. It doesn't use food and works based off of a completely different mechanic. One proposed orc race has a similar unique mechanic with the moving cities, lack of gold income/upkeep, etc. Perhaps you don't see these as having as much "unique flavor" as you would like but it does have more than the combat units in MoM at least. In MoM almost every race had a spearmen, a swordsmen, a halberdier, etc. with just a unit added or dropped here and there. The bulk of the racial diffrences (for units) was just little racial bonuses like higher resistance, forest move bonus, etc. So maybe you'd like to see it go further but it does have more unique flavor then the game it's intended to be a "spiritual successor" of. If you have ideas for even more "unique flavor" by all means post them.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDeath View Post
    While I could never get into Dominions, the races did seem to have quite different playing styles and flavor. Even among "plain humans", the legionnaire race seemed satisfactorily different from the jungle race with witch doctors and giant spider cavalry. The giant races certainly played differently, since units were powerful, but expensive and hard to provide logistics for, and were vulnerable to smaller races. The preferred climates, which changed over time once a province fell into your dominion, also added flavor. Unfortunately, many of those differences depended on aspects of that game system, which couldn't easily be added to WoM.
    I'm not sure what you mean by this. Units in MoM had different costs to produce and upkeep between races (I spearmen from one race could cost more than a spearmen from another), different races had different growth rates for their cities, etc. and I'm almost certain that will be the same in WoM. You don't see a lot of discussion on this because most discussion centers around combat units and unit cost, upkeep, and growth rates really have nothing to do with combat. There's no reason we can't discuss those things though, it's just not what people seem to focus on right now. Again if you have ideas by all means put them forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDeath View Post
    I'd like to see the racial differences force strategic differences in gameplay. If High Men are the baseline, elven units might be more powerful per unit, but expensive and slower to build, encouraging a a more "keep units from dying" strategy. Orc units might be weaker, but disposable, encouraging players to keep throwing units against a target until it falls. One race might have units that are great against large, powerful opponents (ex: stag beetles) but do poorly against multi-figure units (damage doesn't overflow to multiple figures). I'm not sure what can be easily done along those lines with D20.
    D20 has nothing to do with that. Units power can easily be adjusted by raising and lowering their stats, levels, changing equipment, etc. I suspect Elves WILL have a slower growth rate in their cities and their units may very well cost more making them slower to produce and more valuable to the player. Orc city growth rate will probably be higher, they'll have cheaper lower end units that are quicker to produce. None of this stuff even touches D20 as that's just for the combat system and growth rates, maintenance cost, unit price, etc. have nothing to do with combat.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDeath View Post
    I see a problem with having a race with "disposable" units: experience. Players won't consider experienced units to be disposable, regardless of production costs. Maybe some races would be limited in unit experience in return for much lower costs? Maybe there would be a cost each time units gained a level? That would be another option for flavor and strategy. I don't want to add micromanagement, so this would be in the background, and if you didn't have enough gold at the end of the turn, units wouldn't increase their level until the gold was available.
    I'm not sure how this will work out either. If orcs are pumping out cheap but weaker units and elves are pumping out more expensive units that have higher survivability then sure, the elves will be able to level up their units easier which will give them an edge. I'm of the opinion that making the tweaks to balance that out is something that will happen during playtesting but again if you have a specific idea of how to resolve that issue then by all means put it forward.

  3. #33
    Acolyte
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    When I sit down to start a game of MoM or whatever, my first decison is what sort of strategy I want to follow: turtling researcher, hyperexpansionist, rapid aggressive warleader, etc. Sometimes I might have some specific combination I'd want to try, such as "using that race with cheap, weak units, and really pushing my wizard's casting ability with mentalist spells".

    That really old game Stars! had races with very little flavor aside from their unique strategic gameplay styles. Hyperexpansionists had to keep expanding. The stargate race found few planets they could colonize, but they grew each one into powerhouses and linked them with those stargates. Another race also had fewer, but powerful planets, and built their strategy on defending them with spacemines and messing up other races by laying mines all over the galaxy. There was a stealthy race going around stealing resources and doing sneak attacks. Another race could terraform planets from orbit, and were successful in multiplayer by selling those terraforming services to other players. Even though all races used the same ships and I think the same costs, they had unique playing styles. That is what I'd like to see in WoM.

    MoM seemed to have several races that were humans with minor differences (high me, elves, orcs, draconians, beastmen, nomads, barbarians) and several races that were "only a few buildings, with one or two powerful units" (dwarves, trolls, lizardmen, gnolls, klackons). Gnolls could have had a unique strategy (cheap fast-moving early troops to quickly grab other cities). Klackons could have had a unique strategy (spread out relentlessly, razing all cities and getting huge boosts from that).

    I'll give some examples of what I'd like to see in WoM's races. Humans are standard baseline.

    Undead: the wizard had a magical accident and channeled twisted necromantic energies. He awoke to find his city filled with dead, and some undead that he could control. He can't form new cities. His troops can kill everyone in other cities, and use those to create new undead troops, the power of which depends on that city's previous population level. If his troops (or spells) kill other units, he gains those as undead versions of those units. The undead faction's success depends on converting other race's troops and cities. Diplomacy might not be viable. Heroes will not join; instead, the wizard can allot resources to raising other players' heroes that fall in combat, as undead versions. Other players will want to modify their strategies to avoid strengthening the undead faction.

    Orcs: they'd be somewhat similar to the undead faction in that they depend more on capturing cities than on building their own. Their units depend on frequent combat, decreasing in experience if they go too long without combat. Diplomacy isn't impossible.

    Sylvan elves: they love forests. Forest squares provide more food for them than grassland. Their forester units can plant forests (adjacent to existing forests? Possibly on mountains?). Forest squares in their city limits slow intruders and trigger tactical combat with forest monsters and generate random monsters (that don't bother elves). They build few cities, but ones much more powerful than High Men's, and well-protected. Captured cities can't build nasty polluting buildings (production enhancing buildings).

    Klackons: don't recognize any other intelligent life. Their gatherers simply find strangely convenient sources of food and building materials. Harvesting one of these gives a large boost to klackon city growth and building production, and is important for klackon success. Perhaps klackon settlers can only go x squares from an existing klackon city before settling down.


    I'd like to see races that depend on trade or diplomacy for success, perhaps one that depends on other players' mana use (sucks off a fraction).

    Having written all that, I'm now wondering if there's a problem with having races with very different inherent strategies. Would their be certain combinations or race, magic, wizard retorts (or whatever it's called in WoM) that would be blatantly superior or inferior, thus reducing the overall valid choices? I'd like to hear what others think about the concept of races having unique inherent strategies.

  4. #34
    Mage’s Assistant Belgariad87's Avatar
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    In response to the bit about Undead and Orcs playing completely different than everyone else, i say nay. The Undead i understand, its one race and it works for their evil playstyle, but i don't want every other race having some drastically different ruleset cuz that just will get annoying. Wanna play as the orcs with orc cities and units, but don't want to have to move around constantly? Too bad.
    Malleus the Magician + Fang the Draconian = OP

  5. #35
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    I believe all of your examples are already where these factions are heading:

    Undead uses some negative energy resource as I understand it, like I said they work completely differently from the baseline. They absolutely make new units from fallen foes. If you take death magic with your wizard you'll have access to likely many spells that raise forces from killed enemies. Even if you don't the undead spell casters produced in the undead cities will almost certainly have some of these spells. Many of the higher end units will also have a "create spawn" ability that makes enemies they kill turn into things like them. Diplomacy will likely be very restricted (you might be able to befriend an lich, independent undead cities but most living will shun you.) I think you'll be happy with how the undead faction ends up.

    Orcs, I'm not really sure... right now they are supposed to be North American Indian inspired but that another point of discussion in here. Honestly I'm not even really sure what that means because many ideas have been thrown out and I'm not sure what, if anything, has been settled on. That said the one I suggested depended heavily on high population growth and conquering and subjugating other cities. They didn't generate money on their own so that forced them to conquer races that did in order to get income to hire heroes, for diplomacy, etc. Also while they had a high level flying unit that made their stack fly they didn't have early access to ships so they'd want to conquer rivals and use their ships. All these type things again have nothing to do with D20 but I totally agree having these interesting sorts of mechanics (if those specific ones make it or not) make the game better. I try my best to help come up with them and I encourage you to do the same.

    Sylvan Elves get a move bonus in forest which means by extension their enemies effectively have a move penalty when compared to them, their populations grow slower meaning they have fewer cities and their armies are more expensive so they take longer to produce. I agree the food they get from forest should be enough for them to thrive completely surrounded by forests whereas other races may not. Also as I understand it there should be wandering monsters (including forest creatures) and sylvan elves should be friendly with them so they don't attack the elves while they may attack other factions (depending on that other races relations to those forest creatures)

    An insect race has been discussed and nothing has really been settled on for them but I think everyone seems to agree that the mechanics for them should likewise be different. I don't think anyone is suggesting high men that look like bugs.

    I'm not sure you'll be able to have a race that depends solely on trade and diplomacy. MoM was more combat focused than the Civ series but they do want enhanced diplomacy so you may not have to fight EVERYONE to win and there will be non-combat win conditions like researching and casting the spell of mastery.

    As for a faction that runs on Mana I think the golems might be what you are looking for. It is my understanding that the golems won't use food but will require mana upkeep. That's true (as I understand it) with the current Golem in the Dwarf army list and I suspect it will be true with most, if not all, of the units in a Golem faction list. Also the undead's dependence on "negative energy" is very much akin to being dependent on mana. Wizards that focus on summoning who build their armies from summoned units instead of just summoning temp units each battle will almost certainly have to maintain those permanently summoned units via mana as well.

    I guess I'm just confused by you initial post. You seem to imply that the races in WoM didn't seem to be very different and yet a lot of your examples are already the way various factions are heading. It seems to me that what you suggest is largely how it is being made so why do you feel they don't have unique flavor? Also most of your suggestions have to do with growth rates, maintenance costs, etc. which have nothing at all to do with D20 so I'm not sure why you even mentioned it.

  6. #36
    Mage’s Assistant Belgariad87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asmodai View Post
    Many of the higher end units will also have a "create spawn" ability that makes enemies they kill turn into things like them.
    This got me to thinking... what if wizards who choose undead get a beginning death spell similar to the MoM Magic Spirit spell, but this new spell is cast tactically, and it curses the unit, unless it resists. This curse makes it so that if the unit is killed in a certain number of turns, the unit becomes some sort of low to mid level undead unit. it will work the same as the Create Spawn ability of higher end undead, but the Create Spawn ability just curses the enemy unit every time they hit them, meaning that, no matter what, if the high level undead kills the enemy, then that enemy is turned.
    Malleus the Magician + Fang the Draconian = OP

  7. #37
    Archmage of the Outer Ring jamoecw's Avatar
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    i like asymmetrical warfare, i can see dwarves lacking fodder units, which puts them at a disadvantage strategically and to a lesser extent tactically. they would feel like a stronger race, but in actuality be weaker if you used the same tactics. if elves were more fragile, and all of them had a ranged attack, then it would be important to try and skirmish against stronger foes. if men's units specialized, then a mixed army would be of vital importance, an army made from fodder units and archers would do well against say dwarves, but get shredded against elves, an army of knights would cream elves, but get creamed by dwarves. on the one hand humans would look overpowered with their ability to adapt so easily, but because they specialize if the elves build their tougher units, then stick to favorable terrain, the humans would have to build a whole different army to fight them, which means they wouldn't be very efficient strategically.

    undead could be like a steamroller even though they have weaker units overall, the fact that every victory makes them stronger, means that hitting the weaker units and cities would make them able to crush an opponent, so to combat them you have to turtle up and not let them claim easy victories.

    they have an open source game called 'battle for wesnoth' and people make their own factions all of the time, lessons learned from them is that you don't have to balance every unit to have a balanced race. you can have an efficient super unit, as long as the race is diminished in other areas you create asymmetry, resulting counter play of even the strongest of units.

  8. #38
    Archmage of the Inner Ring ampoliros's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamoecw View Post
    you don't have to balance every unit to have a balanced race
    Exactly, I've suggested similar here as well as other places. To balance a faction you have to take a few steps back so you can look at the entire picture.
    In general I agree with everything jamoecw is saying here. I know differing playstyles is a goal for at least some of the races.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Happerry View Post
    Sounds to complicated and civilization like for me. Forests take a long time to grow in real life. If you want to change the landscape enough that it is noticeable on a strategic scale, that's whatmagic is for.

    Traps just sound annoying, honestly, and observation towers sounds like something that should be built into forts, not separate from them.
    Well, like it or not, but if you look at it objectively, you simply don't have a choice but to admit that MoM indeed was Civilization in a fantasy setting, with magic. And that's good, at least IMO.

    Indeed, forests take long but not that long. 3 or 5 decades (30 or 50 turns) are generally more than enough to produce fully usable trees.

    Considering your point about using magic for this, that is of course true to a degree, but as I've also mentioned, this is much more an alternative to magic, not a replacement for it. So if you are fighting a huge battle, for example, that needs all your Mana, then you won't waste it on growing trees. But if you still want to do some land development as well in the meantime, then you can use your engineers and save your Mana. (Not to mention the case if you don't even have access to such spells at all in the first place, since you went for other spheres of magic; then, again, engineers are still an option.)

  10. #40
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nephryte View Post
    Well, like it or not, but if you look at it objectively, you simply don't have a choice but to admit that MoM indeed was Civilization in a fantasy setting, with magic. And that's good, at least IMO.
    While that is true to a degree MoM was more combat focused and streamlined/simplified the other aspects of the game. In civ you have "workers" upgrading like every single tile in your city range (irrigate, mine, roads on every tile, etc.) and in MoM you didn't do that. That simplification is what Happerry was referring to as it not being Civ and I agree, I also do not want WoM to become more Civ-like in the level of tile upgrades engineers can do. I'm all for adding a few here and there (like engineers building forts) but I don't want to be improving every tile in my empire.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nephryte View Post
    Indeed, forests take long but not that long. 3 or 5 decades (30 or 50 turns) are generally more than enough to produce fully usable trees.
    I guess it depends on how long you consider a turn to be. Personally I think of a turn as being closer to a week while your statement above implies it's more than a month (10 turns in a year). At a week a turn 3 to 5 decades would 150-250 turns which is a bit much for a mechanic. I'm with Happerry in preferring that this sort of terrain modification be the domain of the magic system. I'm totally fine with there being a nature spell that you cast on a tile and boom, fully grown trees. Heck even 30 to 50 turns is a LONG time and a lot could happen in that tile while the forest "grows".

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