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Thread: Balance at Different Progression Levels

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Shiri's Avatar
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    Dec 2012

    Balance at Different Progression Levels

    Asked by Raven to post about the discussion we had in site chat, so here's my take.

    Coming off the discussion about the Skystriker upgrade (formerly "trap multiple tiles", but potentially now "trap the same tile multiple times due to brokenness"), it seems like because of the limited numbers involved in the banner saga, it'll be extremely difficult to balance the game at multiple levels at once.

    Consider the Skystriker again. At level 1 she has her uses - she's not played a whole lot but I think that's just a trend, her ability can be pretty backbreaking and on top of that it's pretty fun to play with. At level 3 though, trapping 3 tiles seems incredibly busted in a lot of situations, but trapping the same tile multiple times is pretty dubious because you'd be spending 3 willpower to MAYBE hit someone for extra damage. If they just don't move, you've achieved one goal, but you could have done the same thing with level 1, so whiffing it is going to feel like a disaster. Not very compelling.

    That ability hasn't been set in stone yet, but we can already see Bowmaster making a big difference, and Backbiter was nerfed because of his higher rank ability to dive archers out of nowhere. BB seems really strong at higher ranks, and BM IS really strong at higher ranks, principally because there's no direct analogue to increased range that your opponent can use to deal with it.

    Conversely, other abilities like the Warhawk level like crap (seriously, when is that perfect lineup going to happen?) You can also see this with the Warleader, who had global range in beta but was deemed too strong at that level and now is barely played because his ability at level 1 puts him in harms' way. Even then, levelling abilities in an interesting way (increasing range on movement/artillery skills, spread on aoes, etc.) is fun. For classes like the thrasher, just getting extra damage out of the skill with no other nuance is BORING - and relatedly, you get 1 extra stat per higher rank to deal with in customisation balance too.

    What this tells us is that it's going to be impractical to balance every unit at level 1, 2 and 3. In some games this isn't really a problem but stoic's balance has actually been really great so far and it would be a shame if some units were pathetic at level 1 but great at level 3 and you felt like your units were only viable in one tier of play or another.

    What I would like to suggest is a unified competitive format at team power 6, permanently, so all units can be balanced around that level. That way if Warleader is underpowered at this level (or Backbiter for that matter) he can be brought into line, and then it's less important if he's overpowered at higher tiers (or has a more generic/boring ability upgrade stratification.) Then you can just have the "casual tier" where you continue to level your units and so on, because some players just love progression, but people who just want to play one balanced game don't have to worry about running multiple armies for each tier (or worse, grinding all the units up to tier 3 so they can participate with the full variety.) However, this solution is probably not the best from Stoic's point of view since they actually made rank 1 really reasonably priced as far as buying everything goes now, so emphasising it at the expense of the higher tiers is likely unpalatable - it's fine to expect people to pay if they want everything to play the full game competitively, but don't want to grind. So maybe someone else can come up with something that will keep both parts of the playerbase and stoic's wallet happy.

    EDIT: Getting feedback that my post is unclear, so let's try a TL;DR version.

    1. Abilities that present different options to make more interesting decisions as you level up, like the warleader with his positioning requirement, or backbiter, are more fun than abilities that just add more damage/willpower like exertion.
    2. Unfortunately, a side effect of 1. is that some abilities are bound to scale better or worse than others just because of the dimensions along which they operate.
    3. Therefore, it becomes very difficult to make all units practical to use at all tiers.
    4. Having units NOT be practical to use at all tiers is a completely miserable experience for players that should be avoided.
    5. Therefore, the best thing to do is to pick one tier for serious competition where balance can be prioritised heavily.
    6. Right now this would be best at rank 1 because of the accessibility of the higher ranks, but that has the problematic effect of locking out an entire subsystem of the game that grind-style players really enjoy, so some compromise is needed.
    Last edited by Shiri; 03-24-2013 at 02:33 PM.

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