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Two
03-06-2013, 08:06 AM
Hey guys,

Relevantly new guy here, I've played around 50 matches already and I am starting to really question this mechanic. Let me start by trying to actually express the problem.

If I understand it correctly, the combat sequence (initiative line) works as follows:
1) You and your opponent, have set your units in your preferred order.
2) By some criterion, unknown to me, the game decides which player has the first move, and his first unit takes an action.
3) From then on, the combat sequence goes on by a simple shuffling of the two player's preferred order.

Up to this point all is well, and more or less natural, though I would really prefer to see an initiative rating on the units, and the combat sequence depending solely on that. But this is a completely different story.

So, the problems begin when a unit dies and as such is removed from the combat sequence. As you all have probably noticed, when this occurs, the unit is not just simply removed from the sequence giving the opponent player two subsequent unit moves, instead it is replaced by the next-in-line unit of that player, hence keeping the turns again 1-to-1 for each player.

I am not really certain why the game developers choose to include this mechanic but it is frustrating. And it gets a lot more frustrating when the unit counts for each player change from X / X-1 to something like X / X-2.

In this situation, you might have 4 units for example and your opponent 2 and yet you play one after the other still! Besides from being completely unrealistic (suddenly the archer realizes "Oh crap all my allies are dead I should attack faster" or on the other hand your unit says "Meh we got dit, let me smoke a joint till we end this"), it works as a significant buffer to the combat advantage granted to you by killing a unit. It's as if the developers want each combat to be prolonged and always "forgiving" mistakes, which I am not certain I agree to in a strategy game.

So, what are your thoughts on this? Pardon me if it has been addressed already, I did not search thoroughly, if it has please direct me to that post and I will continue my brainstorming there.

Cheers,
Two

BrainFreeze
03-06-2013, 08:28 AM
It was discussed few times already. Basically, if this mechanic is not implemented the game turns into a "spiral of doom" for the first player to lose a unit. This has a number of bad consequences:
First - many games will lose tension even before the midgame, as with 1-2 losses game will already be decided.
Second - Many builds are unbelievably good for racking 1-2 kills early, if you want it, so this will bring balance issues, which are not easily removed.

As to the current situation - i can advice you to maim enemy units (leave them in 1-3 HPs), not to kill them. Maiming vs killing is another dilemma, which deepens tactical possibilities, because some units are dangerous even when maimed(thrashers, for example), while others are relatively safe.

eduran
03-06-2013, 08:45 AM
A lot of board games, most notably chess, work in a similar way. It is probably counterintuitive for new players (it was for me) and makes the game less accessible. You have to get used to the idea that killing a unit is not always the best course of action. Sometimes it's better to just maim it, i.e. take down its strength to a level where it poses only little threat to your units. That way you can force your opponent to waste a turn on an ineffective unit.



It's as if the developers want each combat to be prolonged and always "forgiving" mistakes, which I am not certain I agree to in a strategy game.

I have to disagree here. The game is not forgiving of mistakes at all. Between equally skilled opponents one misstep is all it takes to decide a game. It's just that allowing a unit to get killed is not necessarily a mistake. What's more important than number of units left standing is the amount of armor and strength a team has left.

Two
03-06-2013, 09:17 AM
Yeah It seems like it. In the end the most important factor to measure a win from a loss is the sum of your armor and strength over all units on the field, compared to your opponents sum.

You make a valid point though, especially the chess example is somewhat eye-opening.

Regarding your comment on forgiving mistakes, you are right, I will take that back and actually enhance your point by saying that the win/lose chance is very very linear. A mistake anywhere along the way, will haunt you throughout the match and if your opponent doesn't do one of equal impact, then you are most probably going to lose the match. I have seen only very few abilities that seem to impact the game to such a factor that can tilt a game back to your advantage. One being the AOE whirlwind attack of the warrior upgrade (can't recall his precise title) and the second one being the leap through two targets and backstab from the Thrasher alternative (who's name I cannot recall either! :P).

Flickerdart
03-06-2013, 09:46 AM
One being the AOE whirlwind attack of the warrior upgrade (can't recall his precise title) and the second one being the leap through two targets and backstab from the Thrasher alternative (who's name I cannot recall either! :P).
Warhawk and Backbiter.

A few other abilities are pretty game-changing as well - nothing ruins your opponent's plans quite like running their armour-broken Warhawk straight into a Rain of Arrows that has puncture riding on it, or showing it out of position and behind its allied archers (so it can't just walk back to where it was) using a Strongarm.

davemo
03-06-2013, 09:47 AM
The shuffle in the initiative order is a tactical consideration you'll have to deal with when choosing whether to kill or maim a unit. This is one of many "little" tactical considerations that add up to a game with a surprising amount of depth; it's a great design decision.