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Age of Wonders 2 Heaven » Forums » AoW3: General Discussion & suggestions » High tier unit dominance.
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Topic Subject:High tier unit dominance.
Picard
Member
posted 02-14-13 11:06 PM EDT (US)         
I'm just curious what the devs' philosophy is on this.

Personally I prefer it when really powerful units are centerpieces of an army rather than the army itself. Don't like stacks of 8 titans, 8 reapers, 8 dragons, etc.

Even though AoW2/SM improved upon the original in this respect with limited retaliations and such I still felt t4 units made 90% of lower tier units obsolete.

I hope to see some limiting factors that would prevent high tier units from overpowering almost everything that's beneath them on the unit pyramid. Ideally these factors would be something that doesn't feel entirely artificial like "you can only have one t4 unit in a single stack".

It's a very tricky thing to balance. You can't simply make these units insanely expensive because if they're cost ineffective there's no use is making them.

One thing that comes to mind is the time resource. Make 'em take a really long time to train. If a t3 unit is twice as powerful than a t2 unit it should take 3 times as long to create and so on.

The idea is that focusing too much on high tier units makes your production really slow and you end up overrun. Instead you need to balance your gold and time resources to get the right mix of quantity and quality. Even so there'd probably be some critical mass of towns where train time ceases to be a factor and high tier units start dominating again.

This is why I liked limited town sizes in AoW1, it really added to the strategic importance of large cities.

In any case I was just wondering if any thoughts (and what kind) are being given to this.
AuthorReplies:
vicbrother
Member
posted 02-15-13 03:46 AM EDT (US)     1 / 27       
Some of the AoW-Mods are cool, because the tier 1 have a authority to be there (like vision II as ability) and the tier 1+x have more cons and weaks.

To prevent tier 1+x-stacks, it needs a leadership-variabel for each unit: A dragon needs a lot of attention and want be the lead-unit in the stack. So you can't mix tier 4/5-units together.
PawelS
Member
posted 02-15-13 09:19 AM EDT (US)     2 / 27       
I think the best solution is slow city growth, and make lvl4 units require the biggest city size. So in early game you'll have to produce lower level units, and higher level ones will come later.

Also, I'm not opposed to the idea of limiting the number of slots depending on unit level, something like it's done in Eador. AoW1-like city sizes are a good idea too, I don't like when all cities are the same in terms of buildings you can build there (you can put some limits to them in the SM editor, I hope it will be also possible in AoW3).

A proud member of the Unofficial Patch team.
Creator of the AoW1 Mod.

[This message has been edited by PawelS (edited 02-15-2013 @ 09:23 AM).]

Beren V
Member
posted 02-15-13 09:24 AM EDT (US)     3 / 27       
I couldn't agree more - I have always felt that low-level units should be the bread-and-butter and high-level units should be occasional.

I've liked how historical versions of the Warlords series have done it (W1-W3, not W4). There, not only were the mythic units (their equivalent of high-level) very difficult to come by, but they also produced bonus, large bonuses, that affected every other unit they were grouped with - but these bonuses did not stack, so it was most economical to have only one of them per stack. Warlords also buffed out heroes the same way in that they also gave bonuses, which did stack with the bonuses of mythic creatures.

-Heir to Beleriand, Heir to the Silmaril, Chosen of Illuvatar-

GM of the Glory of the Past Middle Earth Roleplay Thread

Creator of the New Keepers Campaign

[This message has been edited by Beren V (edited 02-15-2013 @ 09:32 AM).]

Arnout
VIP
posted 02-15-13 09:26 AM EDT (US)     4 / 27       
In Age of Wonders III each unit belongs to an unit-type (for example: Infantry, Irregular, Pikeman, Archer, Caster, Machine, and Monster) which all have their merits & flaws. Each has tactical advantages and disadvantages, like:

* Pikeman are very good vs. Cavalry
* Infantry (good defense) vs. Archers
* Cavalry vs. Infantry and Archers
* Swarm high tier units with low tier units (# retaliate is limited in combat)
* etc..

We're going to support the game with DLC and patches allowing us to balance the game to perfection (with input from the community of course!)
you3
Member
posted 02-15-13 10:30 AM EDT (US)     5 / 27       
Sort of the classic rock paper scissors ? Didn't AOW2 have this but i guess in a less rigorous fashion ?
Picard
Member
posted 02-15-13 10:43 AM EDT (US)     6 / 27       
Thanks Arnout, nice bit of info. We already had polearms and block in SM so this is a natural extension of that and having the right counter would help in bringing down stronger foes.

I also found this post by Lennart:
The attack system has been changed to avoid the - in dev team’s opinion – abundant misses for regular attacks in the previous games. It also makes more sense with entire regiments clashing now, its not an old school D&D game where a guy takes a single swing. Added benefit is that it makes lower level units more useful, but there’s still a healthy damage fall off curve. Of course we still have damage protections and immunities.
Link: http://www.ageofwonders.com/aow3live/topic/enviroment-effect-on-combat/#post-1556

More frequent hits certainly benefits low tier units more though I expect not everyone will be fond of this. Flanking will will aid swarm tactics even more.

@Beren

Yeah, Warlords was nice in that regard. I do prefer it when high tier units are more like generals that help the army rather than big bashers (not that those aren't fun). It's why I liked units like the Steam Tank or the Forceship. They weren't "generals" but they had a logistical/support role. The Leprechaun is also a good example being more of a utility, "swiss knife" type of unit.
ArkhanTheBlack
Member
posted 02-15-13 11:44 AM EDT (US)     7 / 27       
I agree completely. T4 units in AOW2 always felt more like T3 units in MoM.
They were too spammable and too easy to get. In one of my last games I got the Ice dragon spell in round 15. That was a new low. However, for a real T4 unit they were quite weak compared to a MoM summon. I think the top summons should be powerful, but very hard to get and with high maintenance costs, so they can't be spammed so easily. MoM, FFH2 and Dominions3 were quite good in this part. I also think they shouldn't be able to build like in AOW2. They should be either powerfull magic summons, or VERY expensive builds with special conditions involved like the dragons in FFH2.
Actually, AOW2 often felt more like a turn based RTS game since the top units were so easy to get. I'd love something like the summoning chains in Dom3, where unit X summons more powerful unit Y which summons even more powerful unit Z, etc.

And please, no ice dragon spell in round 15 anymore.

[This message has been edited by ArkhanTheBlack (edited 02-15-2013 @ 11:46 AM).]

Narvek
VIP
posted 02-15-13 01:24 PM EDT (US)     8 / 27       
You're right Picard, flanking helps swarm tactics a lot!

We'll have to see how it all pans out and like Arnout said will keep balancing and rebalancing with community input, but I think we're in a good position to getting it right


Greetings,
NARVEK

[This message has been edited by Narvek (edited 02-15-2013 @ 01:24 PM).]

Noin
Member
posted 02-15-13 02:58 PM EDT (US)     9 / 27       
In Age of Wonders III each unit belongs to an unit-type (for example: Infantry, Irregular, Pikeman, Archer, Caster, Machine, and Monster)
Well, in AoW2 it was pretty much the same, but stacks of Irregulars or Monsters were usually the best strategy since unlike infantry or archers etc they have no real flaws. I think it would be good if pikemen were effective not only against cavalry, but also against monsters (long pikes are good against big and heavy creatures), and cavalry maybe at sabotaging machines?
Also, in AoW2 it was too easy to destroy any amount of first levels with battle spells like confusion, hellfire, divine wrath, or strategical like storms and forests, since most 1st and 2nd levels had very low res.
Draxynnic
Member
posted 02-15-13 10:31 PM EDT (US)     10 / 27       
Personally, I've always seen a large part of the problem being the way upkeep scales. The system in previous installments is that low-level units have cheap up-front costs but exorbitant upkeep for their power level, while top-level units are expensive to build but cheap to maintain. On average, though, it only takes about ten turns for a top-level unit to become cheaper than five level 1s... and I'd dare say a level four is worth more than five level 1s even before you consider that level 4s are less subject to various forms of attrition.

The end result is pretty much what we see - with the exception of some ranged units (since ranged attacks don't scale much) players are encouraged to regard low-level units as expendable stopgaps on the way to getting as many top-tier units as they can.

The best way to fix this, I think, is to rebalance purchase and upkeep costs so that they're roughly proportional to the value of the unit in each tier (so if, say, a tier 4 was regarded as eight times as valuable as a tier 1, it would have eight times the building and upkeep costs). There would still be benefits to teching up to stronger units (force concentration, attrition resistance, special abilities and/or movement modes not available at lower tiers) but in situations where having multiple weaker units might be more advantageous, you wouldn't be shooting yourself in the foot economically by doing so.
The_Stranger
Member
posted 02-16-13 03:10 AM EDT (US)     11 / 27       
One ability that might contribute to helping this scenario is the "heavy" one suggested in the abilities thread. If more expensive, bigger units are more difficult to transport, it would grant some advantage to small, lighter troops that can be ferried around with ease.
ArkhanTheBlack
Member
posted 02-16-13 04:34 AM EDT (US)     12 / 27       
@Draxynnic
Agreed! The upkeep scaling was just a joke. Low tier units should have very low upkeep costs while high tier units should really hurt your purse.
I think armies should look like a 'pyramid'. One or two high power units supported by few elites and lots of cannon fodder units.
vicbrother
Member
posted 02-16-13 05:47 AM EDT (US)     13 / 27       
If tier 4 and 5 units should have a magic resistance as a weakness, so you can upgrade tier 1-3 units easily with magic but not tier 4 and 5. The value of the tier 1-3 units would be increased greatly.
Acheron
Member
posted 02-16-13 10:19 AM EDT (US)     14 / 27       
@Draxynnic +1 Agreed. I wanted zombie armies, but zombie armies did not want me.

Low tier units are also made obsolete by the limitation of stack size. If you only have 8 slots in a stack (6 in AoW III) and only 7 hexes per combat, the only logical thing to do is fill these slots with the strongest units possible. To do otherwise can feed your enemy experience, cost you pivotal battles, and ultimately cost you the game.

I am in favor of weighting stacks according to unit tier. If one stack can contain 6 tier 4 units, another stack should allow 12(or more) tier 1 units. A stack with 3 tier 4 units should allow for and additional 6(or more) tier 1 units etc.

The flanking rules sound cool. But if you can only have 6 units of any tier in a stack, does it really do much to keep tier 4 units in check? Can you not flank a tier 4 with another tier 4?

If you want to swarm, you need to be able to bring your swarm with you.
ArkhanTheBlack
Member
posted 02-16-13 07:29 PM EDT (US)     15 / 27       
I'd like something like a leadership value for heroes leading stacks of troops. Heroes with high leadership would be able to command more high tier units than low leadership heroes. Maybe even something like mage heroes required for controlling summons and commander heroes for conventional elite troops.
Draxynnic
Member
posted 02-16-13 09:03 PM EDT (US)     16 / 27       
I've considered the approach of reducing the number of high-level units that could be in a stack, but my feeling is that force concentration is a fair benefit for climbing the tech tree. Using low-level units, by contrast, provides the ability for force dispersion - conducting a guerrilla war by striking in areas someone who concentrates on high-level units would be forced to leave undefended, or garrisoning cities and structures sufficiently to drive off such a campaign.

That said, this is a spot where the balance between upkeep costs and income might need to be adjusted - since in AoW2, income structures on the world map generally don't provide enough income to be worth garrisoning (when you're only getting ten from a structure, even a single level 1 guarding the structure means you're spending more than half the income from the structure in upkeep for the garrison). If such structures started being worth assigning a small protecting force, that provides incentive to build the units that would best serve as the protecting force.
D4rken
Member
posted 02-17-13 06:19 AM EDT (US)     17 / 27       
Try look at the Brave new world mod from author Kirky Picardo. He made that each race unit (built units in town) on level 0, 1, and 2 can be morphed in gold experience to higher tier units. There is the meaning to build also weaker units and upgrade them. Maintains a balance of level of units.

[This message has been edited by D4rken (edited 02-17-2013 @ 08:21 AM).]

Edgrant
Member
posted 02-17-13 08:54 AM EDT (US)     18 / 27       
The problem that leads to high-tier unit dominance is that combat strength od a party is very additive. That is, combat tends to consist of a lot of small battles between individual units. Just about the only way that multiple units of different types synergize together well is by getting one or two units to consume the retaliation strikes of an enemy, and then swarming it with everything else. This does make multi-tier stacks possible, but it also means that you have to have at least one units that is on par with the target.

In order to make multi-tier stacks more relevant, one needs to make formations (for lack of a better term) a mechanic. There needs to be more effects for units working together.

An example of how to do this would be if there were a mechanic where each unit got -1 from all stats for each surrounding enemy and +1 to all stats for each surrounding ally. Consider the example of a titan (15/12/15/12/32) against eight peasants (4/4/4/10/8). Under SM mechanics, the titan would destroy the peasants easily. Under the new mechanics, the peasants could easily surround the titan, reducing it to 9/6/9/6/32 and boosting themselves to 5/5/5/11/8, a much more even fight.

Another methods would be to severely the role of tiers, so the majority of the frontline units would be tier 1 and 2s, and the higher tiers would play a support role only.
Acheron
Member
posted 02-17-13 12:05 PM EDT (US)     19 / 27       
@Draxynnic : Understood. There are advantages to having more, cheap, mobile units. But low tier units would still be phased out of the more pivotal battles. Because of that I feel that we are missing out on some exciting elements of combat.

Regarding formations:

When the combat screenshots were first released I thought the Multi figure units were designed to deal with this very issue.

My assumption was:

-Each figure in a multi figure unit is a single tier 1 unit.

-they are produced individually in a similar fashion to AoWSM, possibly allowing for more than one individual to be produced per turn like in MP evolution.

-they combine to form a "sub stack" (or regiment) allowing up 3-8 units (depending on their tier) to occupy a single combat tile, as well as a single stack slot.

-when a unit dies in a regiment (sub-stack) it can be replaced by building another unit and adding it to a regiment.

-when you move a single unit onto a stack containing a regiment of the same type, you are given the option to add that unit to the regiment if there is still room.

If this were the case regiments would be a force to be reckoned with and would inevitably have a place in the late game.

The trade offs

-regiments would have to be built up individually

-they would be vulnerable to attrition and area-of-effect spells/abilities.

-regiment size could be limited by leader skills or city upgrades.
darkelvesrule
Member
posted 02-23-13 04:46 PM EDT (US)     20 / 27       
If leadership ability only applied to tier 1 and 2 units, that would help some, and it would encourage more diverse amries. And it makes sense too that infantry grunts would be more inspired by a leader than a dragon or titan would be.
Dmitrii1986
Member
posted 02-24-13 01:16 PM EDT (US)     21 / 27       
Acheron,great idea. I really hope that the developers will see it.
Draxynnic
Member
posted 02-24-13 05:46 PM EDT (US)     22 / 27       
Considering DER's idea:

A more elegant possibility would be for leadership to apply to creatures of lower level than the leader - so while a dragon may not listen to a halfling sheriff, say, it may listen to a mid-level hero, and a level 4 creature with leadership could inspire level 3s. A silver medal might boost a creature's level by 1 for this purpose, and a gold by 2.

Alternatively, it could be based on the level of Leadership. Leadership 1 might provide its benefits to level 1 and 2 creatures, and Leadership 2 providing full benefits to level 1-2 creatures, and the benefits of leadership 1 to level 3 creatures - then scaling up with further leadership until you are able to inspire the bigger creatures.
ffbj
Member
posted 03-13-13 06:05 PM EDT (US)     23 / 27       
Nice idea. Although does not leadership already do something along those lines?
Regarding flanking: Not all units should be able to flank.
Catapults for example. Maybe a skill like charge or first strike. So melee units would have it.
darkelvesrule
Member
posted 04-04-13 01:39 PM EDT (US)     24 / 27       
Thanks Draxynnic. I agree you could have leadership 1,2,3. That would fit in with the way other abilities work (at least did work in shadow magic), and would be given to monsters or heroes on a case by case basis with silver/gold medals or hero levels. I wouldn't want an entirely new system, that just complicates things. Simple is better.
Moosers
Member
posted 04-11-13 04:24 AM EDT (US)     25 / 27       
I've been playing AoW2SM again lately since it was on sale a couple weeks ago on GOG. I think one of the main problems with high tier dominance is it just isn't as fun. A stack of dragons is really powerful, and honestly seems to be better than anything else I can manage, at least on offense. However, when all the units are the same, there's just not much depth or interest. So perhaps part of the problem is that the highest tier for a race only has ONE unit, rather than a three or more units.

I don't like the idea of giving higher tier units arbitrary weaknessess or low tier units super special snowflake abilities just so that you'll use a larger variety of units. Only giving vision or the like to low tier units would be rather bizarre and unnatural.

I don't think leadership needs to be limited to only work on low tier units either. That also seems a bit arbitrary to me. Sure, a great leader might inspire a group of archers more than a dragon, but a little inspiration for the dragon goes a long way. Seems a static bonus works fine here.

I think something that should be avoided is any solution that might lead to a single best way of doing things.

I'd rather see some or all of the following:

Stack Size is Logistics Supply. Maybe limit this to 12 supply per square. Tier 1 units are two supply, 2 are three supply, 3 are four supply, and 4 are five supply. So you could have six tier 1 units in a stack, or four tier 2, and three tier 3, or two tier 5 plus a tier 1, or various combinations that add up to 12 supply total. This means that if you really focus on big units then you'll get flanked more easily, but with the right combination or circumstance it could be worth it.

Upgrades for low tier units. If you can research upgrades that make low level units better (and probably cost more to make), then the tier wouldn't be so big of a deal. If eventually all units could be similar in power and differing in what they are good at, that would encourage a lot of variety in troop builds.

Enchantment sharing. Someone suggested allowing high tier units to share enchantments with lower tier units. That is kind of like allowing upgrades for low tier units so it is another way to tackle this problem.

I do think the maintenance differences between different tier needs to make sense and be proportional to how good the unit is. Another thing that has caused problems is the fact a tier 3 unit costs twice as much to maintain as a tier 1 unit, but it is far more than twice as powerful (and it is cheaper to enchant than two tier 1s).
jwj442
Member
posted 04-11-13 07:08 AM EDT (US)     26 / 27       
Well, part of the problem was that most tier 1/2 units were pretty boring. So many races have the medium-light cavalry at level 2, swordsman and archer at level 1, polearm at level 0, etc. Sure they had racial abilities, but there was too much overlap. With some exceptions, the interesting units that really define how you'll play a race didn't come until level 3.

Dwigmod and Brave New World took different approaches to fixing this. Dwigmod made low-level units much more unique and distinctive, slowed city growth, and added building limits for small cities so you couldn't produce so many level 3/4s (only tier 1 buildings for the second-smallest city size, for example). Brave New World made most low-level units turn into much powerful units with gold medals.
camelotcrusade
Member
posted 04-22-13 03:25 PM EDT (US)     27 / 27       
Interesting discussion. Part of the problem may also be that (at least in AoW SM) the tier-4 phase of the game lasts for a long time, sometimes longer than the other tiers. This makes you increasingly aware that most of your resources aren't important now, so you focus on a narrow set of your best options. Once you've settled on an optimal build you don't normally have much reason to mix it up (that's because it's optimal ).

Therefore, I would recommend more developer attention to making the last phase of the game interesting and dynamic... especially because it can last a long time. It shouldn't feel like an overly long victory lap, or so be so static that only one optimal build can accomplish all ends.

You could also balance out the phases of resource acquisition so no particular phase lasts too long and becomes boring, but that is challenging because everyone has a different idea of how long that should be. And since this is the internet, everyone will surely let you know you screwed it up.
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