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AoW3: General Discussion & suggestions
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Age of Wonders 2 Heaven » Forums » AoW3: General Discussion & suggestions » How do you play AoW3?
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Topic Subject:How do you play AoW3?
kokemohr
Member
posted 04-11-14 06:27 PM EDT (US)         
I would like to know how you play this game.
Let me tell you how I play it, so you understand what I mean with the question. It will also explain why I am wondering that.

I always assumed that there was one "right" way to play a turn based strategy game: you try to find the best strategy and win the game. I thought that this was what almost everyone does.
Now in the release version of AoW3 there is a broken mechanic that makes it impossible for me to play the way I used to play AoW2, but surprisingly not many people notice or care, which must mean that apparently most people enjoy totally different parts of the game than I do.

My logic is: I want to build an army that is as strong as possible. In order to do so I have three resources that I can use:
1. Gold, which can be used to purchase units and items from the item forge
2. Mana, which can be used to summon units or enchant heroes
3. Experience, which strengthens units and heroes
So in order to build a strong army I need as much of these resources as I can get.

To maximize gold income I need to capture structures on the map and plunder vaults. That's an interesting task because I need to choose which structures are worth a fight and a detour.
To maximize mana income I need to capture structures on the map and build buildings in the cities. Again I need to choose wisely which structures to attack and which buildings to build in which order.

Now here's the problem: in AoW2 you needed to choose which army to attack and which of your units should deal the killing blow. The stronger the enemy the more xp you got, and if you managed to assign the killing blows correctly you could get the most useful units to level up. If you didn't, you would have a whole army of units that almost made a level.
In AoW3 however you get experience points for every action you perform during combat. That means that in order to get more experience points you just need to do more in combat. Now it is completely trivial to find the best strategy: attack the weakest army you can find and keep the fight going on as long as you can while activating as many skills as you can.

Let's say you kill a tier-1-unit with 32 hp in one melee blow. Your hero gets 5 xp from that.
Now let's say that in the next fight you face another tier-1-unit with 32 hp and have two units use entangle on it. While the unit is entangled you shoot it from a distance without a line of sight so you get a -75% damage modifier and deal only 1-3 damage per shot. (That example is not completely fictional, that's how I played the second map of the campaign until I was too frustrated to go on playing.)
Realistically you can entangle the unit 10 times (it only has to work every other round) and shoot it 16 times. Now you get 5xp for the killing blow + 15 times 6xp for the shots + 10 times 6xp for the entangling attempts (you get xp no matter if it worked or not).

So if you finish the fight quickly you get 5xp and if you spend about 12 rounds doing completely useless stuff you get a total of 155xp. That means that you get a bigger reward for fiddling around with a tier-1-unit than quickly killing 6 tier-4-units. That's what I meant when I said that the choice is trivial. The most effective way to get experience is to pick fights with the weakest enemies because they won't disturb you as much while you dance around them.

That leads to the second problem: not only that the search for the best solution is boring, the solution itself is also really annoying. I don't want to spend more time in fights than necessary.

Hopefully that explains why it's impossible to play AoW3 the way I want to: In order to build up the strongest army I have to perform the same tedious tasks over and over again. Getting there is neither a mental challenge nor a challenge of my skill, it's just boring.

So back to my initial question:
How do you play AoW3? Most of you can't play it like me or the forums would be filled with complaints about the xp system.

I assume that there are many casual gamers that mostly read the story and look at the beautiful map, but I expected that to be a tiny minority.
Others use auto-combat on every fight, but again I assumed that most people would want to play the strategy part of the strategy game themselves, not have the ai play it for them.
AuthorReplies:
nyarlathotep
Member
posted 04-11-14 08:00 PM EDT (US)     1 / 14       
Well, as with every game that has such an exploit, and you want it not to be tedious, then don't do it. In SM, there was something similar: the AI doesn't build new cities, so in a long game you could field 10x as many armies as the AI could afford. It's the players choice to either give the AI a chance or not.

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Alex Mars
Member
posted 04-11-14 08:07 PM EDT (US)     2 / 14       
I play the game and enjoy myself. I don't worry about going all munchkin on every fight in an effort to extract every bit of perceived value from it.

The game designers have clearly moved in a direction that removes the need to orchestrate your attacks so that your favourite units gain the small amount of experience awarded by delivering death blows to enemy units and instead reward participation in the battle on a wider scale.
naecO
Member
posted 04-11-14 08:21 PM EDT (US)     3 / 14       
Yes, the topic with the XP system has been brought up somewhere in the forum (Things need to fix, First Impression...). Although I haven't had the chance to experience the game yet, I find this kind of "exploit" that you all have been describing similar to the XP exploits in the previous AOW games. Most vivid example would be killing units with resurgence over and over again. They didn't fix it after all the patches in the past. Their reason? I don't know. Would the same reason prevent them from changing the current XP system in this new game? I hope not. But at the end of the day, I suppose it rests at players' choice to exploit the system or not.

I understand your point and agree (like most others do) that this XP stuff need fixes but if you feel bored doing that to gain XP, why continue doing so really?

For every game, there's always some way or another to exploit the AI or the game itself. It's great if the dev are willing to fix/improve it but if it's not the case then the game can only rely on players' sportsmanship to not exploit it

I might be as disappointed as you are when I get a chance to play but getting my hand on the game is still on my to-do list despite critism. Well another target before the game is getting my hand on a new PC first

edit: typo


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[This message has been edited by naecO (edited 04-11-2014 @ 08:25 PM).]

kokemohr
Member
posted 04-12-14 04:00 AM EDT (US)     4 / 14       
@naecO: I am afraid this is very much different from the exploits in previous AoW titles. Actually I don't think the term exploit applies here, it is just a broken mechanic. Let me explain:

I don't quite remember the resurgence-exploit (I have a vague memory of it being fixed in the community patch?) but as far as I remember it was about killing an enemy that has resurgence, waiting for them to reappear and then killing them again?
The important bit here is that it revolves around units with resurgence. There is a clear distinction when you are exploiting and when you aren't. If you never kill a unit twice you aren't exploiting. If you are killing a unit with resurgence several times you most likely are exploiting.

With the xp mechanic in AoW3 there is no such distinction. The amount of xp you get is mostly not dependent on the strength and number of enemies, it is dependent on the number of actions you perform in a fight.
This applies to anything you do in the game. If your hero kills a tier-1-unit with one blow you get 5xp. If he kills it with two blows he will get 5xp for the killing blow and 6 xp for the second blow.
If you entangle an enemy before killing it you get 6 extra xp for entangling the enemy.
If you let the enemy attack you once and heal your hero up again you get 6 extra xp.
If a hero that is not even close to the enemy uses a meaningless skill like dash or touch of faith they will get 6xp for doing so.
So you see, it is impossible to tell if you are exploiting or if you are just not good at this game.

Getting the most xp out of a fight should be like a clever riddle. In AoW2 it was difficult to find the attack sequence that made you leave the combat unharmed and still give the xp to your weak specialist unit. In AoW3 this challenge is completely gone, and for me that was the central motivation. Is it really possible that I have such a very different focus on this game than pretty much all other players?

Let me try to explain it with a metaphor: If finding the perfect strategy in a fight was like solving a crossword puzzle then the exploit from AoW2 would be like using question marks instead of letters. If you do you won't have any trouble filling in every blank space, but it is one special case that can easily be identified. As soon as you don't use wildcard letters the puzzle is challenging again. You can use the exploit to evade the challenge, but if you want the challenge it's there.
The xp mechanic from AoW3 would be like a crossword puzzle where every line is described as "random combination of letters, the longer the better". There's no challenge involved in getting more xp. It's obvious how to do it and doing it is extremely boring.
And the advice I get most of the time ("Just don't do it") is not helpful at all, because not doing it means not playing the game, because for me playing a strategy game means coming up with the best strategy. I don't see how you can play a strategy game and completely ignore one of the resources of the game.

So this situation is different from the resurgence-exploit, and it is also different from making the ai not build any cities, because in that case you are using an exploit to avoid challenging fights. In AoW3 the xp mechanic is the reason why it can never be challenging to get xp.

[This message has been edited by kokemohr (edited 04-12-2014 @ 04:02 AM).]

Sunicle
Member
posted 04-12-14 04:20 AM EDT (US)     5 / 14       
I don't set out to milk fights, but the question pops up in every battle. Whenever you have a majority of units - it might be against the last one or two units in a battle, but can also be because the first AI unit(s) came rushing out, with the rest initially staying behind - and you have a choice how to deal with them, I'll see how I can get the most units involved in dealing with those one or two units.
But I don't want to start extending the length of the fight in turns, and I don't want to set up a system of fighting that is purpose built for XP milking.

When it comes to exploits, this is one where you'll get tempted every time. Recently I was beta tester for an RPG. Only after release of the game several players noticed that for some quests you could get infinite reward by repeatedly clicking on the same dialogue option, a line like "I've killed all the rats, like you asked me to." None of the beta testers had tried to do this - in hindsight, as beta testers we should have been more on the lookout for exploits like this. It's very easy to avoid being exploitative here, but being able to receive infinite reward for a quest gets universally regarded as a bug. It was patched out in the first patch.

But the XP reward bug in AoW III I don't find very different in principle, and I find it worse, because it's not so easy to avoid as simply not clicking on a specific dialogue line in an RPG.
I haven't seen an XP system like the one in AoW III before, and I think the reason is that it's easy to exploit. Getting a fixed amount of XP for a kill - the common system - is easy to implement, easy to understand and cannot be exploited. I'm not saying I'm finding it the best system, but I see why the majority of developers go for it.

I'm hoping Triumph will do something about the current system. There are ways to share XP without ending up with the total amount being so extremely variable.
It doesn't look like everybody finds a change needed, but also I don't think I've seen anybody say the current system is a good system and needs to stay.
kokemohr
Member
posted 04-12-14 06:18 AM EDT (US)     6 / 14       
"But the XP reward bug in AoW III I don't find very different in principle, and I find it worse, because it's not so easy to avoid as simply not clicking on a specific dialogue line in an RPG."

That's exactly the reason why I would say that it is different in principle, because you can't really avoid it.
With the example from the RPG it is pretty clear that the intended way is to click the line one time and get the reward one time. But in AoW3 are you not doing it the right way if you can't kill an enemy with one shot? Are you supposed to use more than one shot because it gives more xp?
I seriously don't know what the maps were balanced against. The level designers had to assume that the players would have gained a certain amount of strength when they reach the final battle of a map. How was that determined? Did they just test it and rely on the average player without thinking about the extremes?
That's what surprises me, because thinking about the extremes is what I always saw as the main goal of the game.


"I haven't seen an XP system like the one in AoW III before, and I think the reason is that it's easy to exploit. Getting a fixed amount of XP for a kill - the common system - is easy to implement, easy to understand and cannot be exploited."

I think it's not so much about how easy it is to implement. It is about resource conversion. If you award xp for kills you are actually converting enemies into experience points. That means that the game designers know exactly what risks you have to face in order to get a specific amount of experience points. Also it means that there is no easy choice that applies to all situations - there will always be situations where you clearly should attack to get more xp and there will always be situations where you clearly should not attack because you would simply die.

With the current system in AoW3 you are converting combat action points into experience points, and combat action points are hardly limited.
That's why it does not make sense in this game - the resource you are investing in order to get xp is completely meaningless in this type of game.
If there was something like a real time day length and you had to choose whether you spent your day training or fighting more enemies then it would make sense (like it does in real time RPGs), but without some resource being used up while generating xp it's not working. There's no combat situation where from an in-game point of view it does not make sense to perform just any extra action to get more xp.

[This message has been edited by kokemohr (edited 04-12-2014 @ 06:21 AM).]

darkelvesrule
Member
posted 04-12-14 08:52 AM EDT (US)     7 / 14       
I think it's not so much about how easy it is to implement. It is about resource conversion. If you award xp for kills you are actually converting enemies into experience points. That means that the game designers know exactly what risks you have to face in order to get a specific amount of experience points...
It's always at least partly about how easy it is to implement. Especially at this point, they're only doing bug fixing and balancing. And no, the designers don't know exactly what risks you face. Consider how long it took to write decent chess playing programs. AoW's tactical battles are far more complicated in many ways.

That said, I agree the temptation is always there to do something boring to have more powerful armies. Which makes me not want to play games like that in the first place. There are relatively simple fixes which wouldn't be noticeable most of the time. Like putting a cap on the amount of experience you could get for a given unit. But even that would probably be more work than they're going to do at this point: you'd have to assign a number to each unit, and keep track of who hit what (rather than just their total game experience for each unit). So I can't see that happening either.

But they probably already have some kind of power rating for the "probably victory" kinds of advice they give pre-battle. You could use that for a total experience given for the entire battle (for each side). Once that limit is reached, nobody gets any more experience, no matter who they wipe out. It's not perfect, but I'd like to see something like that.
Sunicle
Member
posted 04-12-14 09:18 AM EDT (US)     8 / 14       
That's exactly the reason why I would say that it is different in principle, because you can't really avoid it.
In that sentence I would use the word 'effect' instead of 'principle'. When I said the principle was the same, I meant the principle of getting more reward out of achieving the same thing, which is in both cases wrong in my opinion. But in the RPG it doesn't affect my game, as it's crystal clear I'm not supposed to be payed more than once for the same task. So I just don't do that. But in any game's battle it's normal to use attacks repeatedly, so in AoW III where does normal play turn into exploit?
I hope it's clear to you that I agree with you. You've explained very well in numerous posts what your issue is with the current XP system, I think I've read most of your posts about it and I've never found myself disagreeing with anything you've said.
What a lot of people have said in response to it hasn't been very strong; "There's more in a game than XP", or "It's a trade-off between more XP or saving your hitpoints". The first response is of someone who hardly wants to look into the problem, the second of someone who doesn't see that about every battle has situations where you can perform more actions without compromising your hitpoints total.

At least the developers are taking note. I'll copy-paste the reply of one of them from a thread in Triumph's forum:
With regards to the XP situation, we are aware of it and looking into a solution. It wonít be in the next patch, Iím afraid, but hopefully soon afterwards. There are two ideas:

1) Units only get ďengageĒ xp (the XP you get for using an ability) once per unique target. So, you get XP the first time you hit a piggy, but not the 2nd and 3rd times. This would help reduce the advantage that bowmen have over x-bowmen and things like that. It would also fix exploits like, the one where you attack a mana node can can keep shooting at the phantasm warrior because it keeps getting healed.

2) Units simply cannot get more than a certain fixed amount of XP per battle. This isnít the preferred solution, itís more a sort of ďif all else failsĒ and we canít think of anything better.
ffbj
Member
posted 04-12-14 11:15 AM EDT (US)     9 / 14       
Units don't carry over into other campaigns, so it does not matter so much as to the various xp exploits you may use, like causing the least amount of damage. For heroes of course that is not true, they do carry over. I think I would do something like diminishing returns in regards to damage. So say a unit is worth 10 xp. The first hit against it regardless of damage gets half it's xp, then half again for the next hit. etc...after 1. every hit you get 1 until 10 total xp is reached, then zero even if you kill it.
So the xp readout:
1st hit = 5xp,* 2nd hit = 2xp, 3rd hit = 1xp.
*Plus remaning xp the monster gives if this is the killing blow.

Also I don't consider it a strategy it's more like a way of gaming the rules to get the maximum xp out of every fight.
Sometimes I will think about who to give a kill to, to make them a bit tougher, but to me constantly worrying about who gets the kill detracts from the overall experience of the game, which, if you are playing single player, you are bound to win anyway.
naecO
Member
posted 04-13-14 09:46 PM EDT (US)     10 / 14       
I can see that it's not something that you can completely avoid.

Maybe the dev can reduce the "boring factor" by calculating the number of rounds based on opponents than a fix number of round like currently (i.e: For eliminating a single guard with a full stack, you should get it done in less than 3 rounds).


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Narvek
VIP
posted 04-14-14 08:34 AM EDT (US)     11 / 14       
Hi all,

I have a task on my list to improve how XP works.
Thank you for the feedback here, it's definitely noted.

Look for a patch coming in the near future!


Greetings,
NARVEK
Mac_Biodiesel
Member
posted 04-14-14 11:46 AM EDT (US)     12 / 14       
This reminds me of the AOW1 "Dominate" exploit. Use your hero to dominate a unit, disband it, and rinse-repeat. If you're on a road, you can probably do that 12 times in a turn. If it's a lvl-2 unit, that's 24 xp per turn.
ChowGuy
HG Cherub
posted 04-14-14 02:32 PM EDT (US)     13 / 14       
[grouchy old man mode]
you try to find the best strategy and win the game ... build an army that is as strong as possible.
What makes you assume that's "the best way to win the game"? The best, indeed the only way as a rule to win in AoW2/SM is to defeat the enemy's wizard, and the best strategy for doing that is often an early "assassination" rush. Which most people think is pretty unsatisfactory, if not downright exploitative, because they don't have time then to build the "uber army" you really want. Has it occurred to you that to some people the "best" strategy, in war as in life, is to minimize losses to both your own side and that of "the enemy"?
In AoW2 it was difficult to find the attack sequence that made you leave the combat unharmed and still give the xp to your weak specialist unit.
That's not the point though, and never should have been. The point as they say, is to drain the swamp, not build a better alligator killer.

I realize that that flies in the face of the "eXterminate" in "4X," but hey. The mechanic is broken, yes, but not because it awards XP to "unimportant" units instead of your "killer" heroes; only because it fails to cap the experience gained per unit, not because of how it divides it up. There are as I've noted before, better ways of doing that based perhaps on effectiveness of an attack, and granting experience for non-fatal attacks or using non-lethal abilities is at least an improvement. So might granting XP for merely surviving a battle; how do you think all those "unimportant grunts" lived long enough to be "elites" in the first place?

But the culture of gaming is what it is, and isn't likely to change. As I observed way back when the very first Ultima game came out for the Apple II (yes, I have been doing this for a long time) it teaches us that
The best way to get ahead in life is get a knife, run out and mug someone - doesn't matter who, everyone is an "enemy," use the loot to buy better weapons, and eventually move up to breaking and entering. And isn't that a wonderful thing to be teaching our kids?

Where was I? Oh yeah, looking for my glasses...

Fond them, they were in my hand all along. Duh!
I assume that there are many casual gamers that mostly read the story and look at the beautiful map, but I expected that to be a tiny minority.
Did they just test it and rely on the average player without thinking about the extremes?
You mean their customer base rather then the tiny minority of hard-core gamers who will spend hours and hours re-playing (and re-loading) a fight to figure out the best "clever" strategy? Probably.

Given all the complaints about "lack of story" in some user made maps, and the current oo-ing and ahh-ing about the 3D graphics, not to mention the demands for it the first place, I can't see why you would jump to that expectation. If strategy was all you needed to market something, Triumph would be making chess sets. No wait, GO sets - even chess sets can have elaborate pieces.

Bottom line, if something in the game isn't fun, Don't Do It. Remember, if/when you graduate to multi-player, the more time you spend "milking" a battle for XP, the the more time your opponent has to attack and win it. Which is after all, the point.

[This message has been edited by ChowGuy (edited 04-14-2014 @ 03:15 PM).]

ffbj
Member
posted 04-14-14 05:19 PM EDT (US)     14 / 14       
Good points. I imagine Narvek is getting a bit tired of hearing about xp systems. Anyway the non-lethal skills would also be considered as a hit or attack. So as Chow Guy mentions in regards to how xp can be gotten from each monster, a set amount. Each hit/attack against that monster reduces the overall value of the succeeding hits and eventual death of that creature. If implemented this would also blunt the exploit of attacking healed up creatures, such as at the water node, which heals up creatures every rd.
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