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A comprehensive criticism of FFH2

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by ProkhorZakharov, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Jul 30, 2009

    Agrarianism: This civic is too powerful in base FFH. The Wild Mana version (+2 :health: in all cities, +10% :food:) is much better.

    Overall: I think that most of the civics are pretty well balanced, and offer interesting effects. I would prefer the civics to be spread a bit more evenly over the tech tree. Having Guilds and Caste System, both specialist civics, be Labor civics means you can't run both at the same time, which seems silly. Starting with Pacifism or especially Religion is a significant disadvantage; you can't benefit from great people or temples at the start of the game. The earliest you want Pacifism is at Mysticism, and you can get Pacifism for free when you switch to Mysticism anyway. Starting with three options in Cultural Values seems odd, anyway, when you only get the default option for all the other categories.

    What I'd change: I'd rearrange the categories and prerequisites of the following civics:
    Caste System: Move to Feudalism (was Taxation). Putting a powerful civic at Feudalism gives people more of an incentive to go for this dead-end tech even if they're not running Aristocracy for Royal Guards. Also, Republic is at Taxation.
    Conquest: Move to Bronze Working (was Warfare): If you're running Conquest, you're probably doing it with axemen, and you might not have the time or the money to research Warfare.
    Guilds: Move to Economy category to allow synergy with Caste System. Change to Low Upkeep because the specialist bonus is kind of redundant with Scholarship, Liberty and Theocracy giving you unlimited numbers of the specialists you most want (for generic specialist economy, cultural victory, and altar victory, respectively).
    Liberty: Move to Drama (was Mercantilism) because it's really based on the cultural tech line rather than the money line, and because Mercantilism already gives its namesake civic.
    Pacifism: Move to Agriculture (was none). I'd like Nationhood to be the only starting Cultural Values civic, which means Pacifism needs a prerequisite. Agriculture makes sense from a flavor perspective, given that agriculture removes the need to fight to survive, and it comes early enough that you'll always have it when you want it.
    Religion: Move to Ancient Chants (was none). Same reason as Pacifism.
  2. Broken Hawk

    Broken Hawk Emperor

    Jan 20, 2006
    On a hill
    Good exchange of ideas if I may say so.
  3. DaveGold

    DaveGold Emperor

    Dec 1, 2009
    I'd actually like to see conquest and the heroic epic separated from bronze working altogether. It's very annoying as the Svartalfar to be arming up with assassins, sinister rangers, arcane mages, satyrs, nyxkin, and foresting priests for world domination only to realise you can't conquer or be heroic without without axemen.
  4. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Jul 30, 2009

    I covered religious and civ-specific unique units in those sections, so I won't cover them here.

    Archer: I think Archers are a little bit too powerful defensively. An unpromoted, fortified archer in a fully-bombarded city on a hill has 10 strength (5 + 25% hills +25% hills bonus + 25% city defense bonus + 25% fortify), plus the first strike and defensive strike. By contrast, a copper axeman has 5.5 strength. Fortunately the AI rarely uses large numbers of archers unless they're Ljosalfar. It's really annoying to build up an army, planning to attack your neighbor, and then rolling the dice on whether they went for archers, axemen, or warriors to determine whether or not you succeed (even if you scout them out first, by the time you get your army up they can get archers). I'd get rid of either the 25% hills bonus or the 25% city defense bonus.

    Catapult/Cannon: Siege weapons slow down your army immensely, considering they can't be hasted and can't get the Mobility or Commando promotions, which means they're simply outclassed by fireballing mages. I'd fix that by removing Bombard from Fireballs (I'll explain that in the spells section).

    Chariot: Why do these units need both Construction and Trade? I rarely find myself using them, as I rarely get both of those technologies before Stirrups, and Horse Archers are generally better than Chariots. I'd make them require only Construction.

    Crossbowman: Crossbowmen rarely seem worth it so late in the game. Maybe they'd be more useful if the AI wasn't still trying to kill you with iron Axemen and the occasional Champion, though. I'd reduce the cost of Machinery a bit to make them easier to get, I'll justify that in the techs section.

    Giant Spider: The AI is really, really bad at dealing with captured Giant Spiders. Spiders can roam freely through enemy territory eating workers, which utterly cripples the AI's economy as they just keep churning out more workers to compensate for the ones they've lost, even if they don't really need any more improvements. I don't think this is a problem with Giant Spiders themselves so much as the AI's inability to realize what's happening and stop sending workers out to die quite so often while investing in some Hunters to track down the Spiders.

    Marksman: Marksmen are not worth the 7800 beakers it costs to research Precision, especially if the AI hasn't attacked you enough for you to get some level 6 Longbowmen. I'd move Marksmen to Machinery and get rid of the Precision; that establishes Machinery as the late-game archery tech and makes it a bit more useful.

    Swordsman: I don't think there should be two units which are exactly the same, but have different names. It's kind of confusing, and it adds to the complexity of the game without adding any meaningful mechanics. I suppose it might be necessary if there's a lack of unit models, though, and it's better than calling a guy holding a sword an Axeman.

    Queen of the Line/Man o' War: The stringent technology, building and resource requirements on these ships is way out of line with their actual usefulness.

    Warrior: Bronze Warriors are a bit too powerful for their cost. Two bronze Warriors, for 50 hammers, are about as powerful as a bronze Axeman, for 60 hammers. I'd get rid of their ability to use bronze weapons; it works well enough in Wild Mana.

    Overall: There's quite a large gap between Rangers / Champions / Mages / Horse Archers / Priests and National Units, which can be kind of dull. I want to be creating cool new things, not just spamming more Champions.

    I think Fall from Heaven is a bit too biased towards giant Stacks of Doom. This is because if I attack a unit in your stack and don't kill it, he's protected by all the other units in the stack, and if I don't kill all of them, he'll be able to heal up in a few turns. Even if I attack your large stack with a small stack and win every fight, you're able to kill all my (now weakened) units next turn with your remaining units, and all those that win in combat will be protected by the rest. There's a very simple fix to this problem, but it could well lead to larger balance problems. Once a unit has been selected as a defender, he has to defend the stack until he dies. This way, even if I lose a battle, I've still killed some units off, and maybe that was worth it.

    It's very hard to adapt your strategy in Fall from Heaven. Let's say that I notice my enemy has archers, and decide to get some mages with Blur to stop them. I have to research Knowledge of the Ether, then build a Mage's Guild (meanwhile researching Necromancy), then build an Adept, then move the Adept to a mana node to create a Shadow Node, then move the adept to my army, then cast Blur. Basically, what this means is that if I wanted Blur, I should have started on that well before I started a war. While encouraging prediction can be a good thing, and allowing too much flexibility makes every strategy into the same strategy, I think FFH goes a bit too far. Once you decide on a strategy you're locked into it for quite a while, and that reduces your strategic options quite a bit, because you can't really adapt to changing situations. I'd make it a little bit easier to get "utility" units. I'd make it so you can build units without the prerequisite buildings (you still need the techs), but at twice the normal cost (similar to the "improvements without techs" feature in Wild Mana and RifE). This means that if I'm having a hard time dealing with Giant Spiders, I can get a Hunter out a bit faster to deal with them. I'd also make it so that anyone who researches Knowledge of the Ether gives a free adept (maybe increasing its beaker cost a bit to compensate), allowing you to use utility spells with your palace or unique feature mana earlier.
  5. DaveGold

    DaveGold Emperor

    Dec 1, 2009
    Chariots can be very strong units, especially when promoted from experienced axemen. They also use weapons which can make them much stronger than horse archers. Putting your research into two core technologies such as trade and construction gives far more development than a similar number of beakers put into stirrups, so it really isn't expensive.

    If you look through the boards you'll see other threads about overpowered bronze warriors being far better in defence than archers for the cost. Some people also see bronze axemen as such good basic units that you never need to develop anything else for attack or defence. I guess this is all a matter of play style.
  6. Jarrema

    Jarrema Master Voter

    Jun 30, 2009
    At home
    Yeah, some people say that You never need archers NOR axemen, because warrior spam is so powerful :)

    Archers would be hard to kill if not a few ways to make Your units immune to first strikes and/or defensive strikes. And without them, archers really need bonuses from city and hills.

    As for huge stacks acting as a protection for wounded units... That is what assasins are for :) For me, killing mages is their secondary duty
  7. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Jul 30, 2009
    Oh yeah, I forgot that Warriors can use Bronze in vanilla FFH. In Wild Mana they can't, and I quite like that change. I'll put that into the post, and I think I also made a miscalculation on archer strength (also added stuff on Giant Spiders and the difficulty of adapting).
  8. Bootsiuv

    Bootsiuv Prince

    Oct 23, 2004
    I've been following this thread from the beginning. I'm enjoying the discussion its creating, and also like many of ProkhorZakharov's ideas....sort of like an FFH Lite or something. Would make an interesting modmod.

    Well, back to lurking...
  9. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Jul 30, 2009

    Blasting Powder: I'd move this to Engineering and Smelting, rather than Engineering and Iron Working. It gives people not going for the melee line a decent mass-produceable unit that's able to take cities.

    Divine Essence: I'd move this to (Mithril Working or Commune with Nature or Strength of Will) and Theology, rather than Mithril Working and Theology. This way it gives players who choose not to go down the already-powerful melee line access to this powerful endgame tech. I'd also put Altar of the Luonnotar (final) here - it makes much more sense at the end of the religious line (where all the other Altars lie) than at the end of the arcane line.

    Drama: I kind of wish this tech went somewhere. At the moment it's pretty much only useful for someone attempting a cultural victory.

    Feral Bond: I'd allow recon units to take the Subdue Beasts promotion here instead of at Animal Mastery. It's a really interesting promotion, but by the time you get Animal Mastery Acheron's pretty much the only useful beast. It wouldn't be imbalanced, either, as Hill Giants are still a bit behind the curve here and Acheron's too hard to kill. Also, I'd change the Iron Working prerequisite to Cartography; it seemed weird to have Cartography be a dead end so early in the game.

    Festivals: I'd allow Spider Pens to be built here, like all the other animal buildings, instead of at Animal Handling.

    Hunting: This and all the other recon line techs are way too expensive for what they give you; Axemen and Champions are simply more effective than Hunters and Rangers for a similar amount of tech, and the melee line offers more other bonuses (mines, Forges, Warfare, jungle clearing) than the recon line. I'd reduce the beaker costs of Hunting, Animal Handling, Feral Bond, and Animal Mastery by around 30%.

    Omniscience: This is a really weird tech. It requires you to complete the arcane and recon tech lines, where very few players need the advantages of both. It costs 9600 beakers. For all that, unless you're the Illians (in which case it lets you commit suicide), or going for an Altar victory, it doesn't even do much. I'd get rid of it, moving the world map reveal to Pass through the Ether, and the Illian rituals and the final Altar to Divine Essence.

    Machinery: By the time you get this, Windmills and Crossbowmen aren't doing much, and a Great Engineer isn't worth 6800 beakers. By the time you get Machinery, production is almost always more important than growth in your cities. Replacing your Mines with Windmills is a slow process that's rarely worth it. I'll cover my proposed changes to windmills later, but I'd reduce the cost of Machinery to around 4000 and have it enable Marksmen.

    Medicine: As a dead-end tech, Medicine is rarely worth the cost to anyone except Runes followers (Arthendain) and the Grigori (Medic). I'd reduce the cost from 1400 to 800-1000.

    Mithril Weapons: 9600 beakers for just Phalanxes is pretty steep. Phalanxes are pretty strong, but for that cost, you think they'd do something interesting or unique. I'd move Phalanxes to Mithril Working and get rid of Mithril Weapons.

    Mithril Working: I don't really like the idea of a 7600 beaker tech that doesn't let you build anything new (except the Mithril Golem in really rare cases). I'd up the cost to 9600 and put Phalanxes here.

    Pass through the Ether: For an 8000 beaker tech that's only an optional prerequisite for one tech, this doesn't give you much. As mentioned above, I'd move the world-map reveal from Omniscience to this technology.

    Precision: As mentioned above, I'd remove this tech, moving Marksmen to Machinery. Alternatively, I could change the prerequisites to Poisons and Bowyers, lower the cost significantly, and give it some other interesting thing, but I can't think of anything at the moment.

    Warfare: I'd make it require Education and (Bronze Working or Archery or Hunting), thus making it available to people going for any of the standard combat units.

    Overall: The FFH tech tree focuses too heavily on the melee line. Almost every other tech line has some prerequisite linking it to the melee line, basically forcing them to take those technologies. This makes it harder for other units to compete with Champions. For example if you want to go for the recon line, you need to get Iron Working anyway in order to get Feral Bond, so what's the point on spending all those beakers to get Rangers? I don't really like having dead ends crop up everywhere in the early-to-midgame (Cartography, Drama, Feudalism, Medicine, etc), but I wouldn't want to dramatically alter the tech tree in order to fix that fairly minor problem.
  10. [to_xp]Gekko

    [to_xp]Gekko QCT junkie

    Dec 16, 2005
    Seyda Neen, Vvardenfell
    yep the tech tree of vanilla ffh2 is pretty terrible as you noticed, Orbis' is waaay better.
  11. seizer

    seizer Warlord

    Sep 20, 2007
    I don't think I've ever bothered researching Mithril Weapons, Precision or Rage in all my FFH games...
  12. Jarrema

    Jarrema Master Voter

    Jun 30, 2009
    At home
    there is a problem with focusing on melee line. there was an interesting discussion about it some time ago. I think, that the best solution is dividing melee line and bronze/iron enabling technologies. And changing prerequisities of a lot of techs, as Prokhor suggest
  13. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

    May 23, 2008
    Crestview FL
    Honestly, I prefer the FfH tree to the Orbis tree (too many superfluous techs, too much like the BtS tree where you have to go column by column instead of specializing), but neither are too good.

    We're going to make our own in RifE. :lol:
  14. Tielby

    Tielby Prince

    Sep 23, 2007
    The sacred and free citadel of mind
    I realize this gets back to the subject of play styles again, but in my view Obsidian Gates and especially The Nexus alone make this tech worth the pricetag.
  15. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Jul 30, 2009

    Gambling House: This gives way too much happiness for its price. I'd implement the Wild Mana change of making it 1 :) per 20% :gold:.

    Infirmary: 300 :hammers: for +3 :health: is way too expensive. I'd move it down to 180 :hammers:. It's still usually worse than Granary / Smokehouse / Harbor but maybe you don't have the resources for them and still need more health.

    Market: Why is it +3 :gold: -1 :science: rather than just +2 :gold:? Gold and science are pretty much interchangeable anyway.

    Palisades: They're really cheap, but they barely do anything. I'd make them 60 hammers for 20% defense.

    Tax Office: This is almost identical to the Money Changer, except for 50 fewer :hammers: and +1 :mad:. I'd make it do something a bit different, like "for every 4 population, +10% :gold:, +1 :mad:".

    Temples: All the different religious temples seem so similar. I'd make them each have a different :) resource: Pagan - incense, Kilmorph - gems, Leaves - Nature mana, Empyrean - gold, Order - copper, Overlords - fish, Veil - reagents.


    Aquae Succellus: For 600 hammers this doesn't really do much. I'd change it to "+2 health in this city, +1 life mana, +1 health in all cities per life mana you have (in addition to the usual bonus from life mana)".

    Altar of the Luonnotar (Final): 4000 hammers is a huge amount. I played a game recently going for the Altar victory. I'd built up an army of disciples easily able to crush my opponents, and waited as I teched all the way to Omnisicence. Finally, I was ready to finish the game, as I ordered my Great Prophet to build the final Altar. Then I realized that's not how it works. Then I realized that it'd take 70 turns, spent mostly just pressing "enter", to finish the final Altar (I was playing the Malakim in RifE, and had built the earlier Altars in my capital, which was mostly focused on cottages and enough hammers from Priests to get a Vicar a turn with both Epics and a Command Post). I could win a conquest victory in that time. Anyway, making it buildable by a Great Prophet would be too powerful, allowing people to win a "surprise victory" with the Altar even without a great military or economy (especially if it's moved to Divine Essence, as I suggested earlier), and there's little more annoying to just finish conquering your continent only to find some random civ on another continent has won the game without ever coming into contact with you. I'd simply allow Great Prophets to add 1000 hammers to the progress of the Altar, in the same way that Engineers can.

    Mokka's Cauldron: This wonder almost never does anything, as it requires the city it's built in to be attacked, and you rarely build wonders in your border cities.

    Pact of the Nilhorn: An early Pact allows you to completely cripple the economy of another civilization without even having to declare war on them. The Hill Giants are pretty hard to take down with warriors or even axemen, especially if they've gained some experience beating down on stray warriors. If they're not killed, though (and it's my experince that the AI is rarely willing or able to kill them), they can kill all the workers. If an AI that started near me knew how to use the Pact well, I wouldn't have a chance in the game. I'd remove this completely; Cartography is still good enough for City States.

    Pillar of Chains: +1 :hammers: per :mad: is basically +1 :hammers: per 2 :food. That's not worth it, and the incidental benefits don't make up for the cost.

    Temple of Temporance: At the moment the Temple is pretty dull. Engineers, Sages and Bards all have a wonder that makes them more useful. Priests don't (except Altar of the Luonnotar, I suppose), so I'd make Temple of Temporance give +1 :hammers: per Priest/Great Priest (Wild Mana does something similar) and one free priest.

    The Dragon's Horde: For something so difficult to acquire, it doesn't offer anything really interesting, just a bunch of minor benefits. I'd replace the +8 :culture: with +5 :culture:, +50% :culture:.

    The Eyes and Ears Network: By the time you get Guilds, 5 Inns, and a 1500 :hammers: wonder, there probably aren't many techs that 3 other people (who all have to like you enough to sign Open Borders) have but you don't. I'd move it to Taxation (Trade is still needed for the inns), 4 Inns, 1000 hammers, and remove the Open Borders restriction. I'd change it from 3 leaders to 2 leaders for duel/tiny, 3 for small/standard, 4 for large/huge map. I don't know if it currently does this, but I'd make it so it'd also apply to techs researched after the Network was built.

    Code of Junil: I think all of the religious shrines should do something interesting. I'd make Code of Junil give +1 Holy strength to all Crusaders, Demagogs, and Order disciple units (Acolyte, Confessor, Prior, Paladin) you own.

    Song of Autumn: I'd make it double the rate at which new forests turn into forests, and forests turn into ancient forests, throughout your territory.

    Tablets of Bambur: I'd make it double the rate at which you discover new resources.

    The Necronomicon: I'd make it give all units you own which are Enraged get +4 Strength.

    Overall: To complete the cycle of "specialist" wonders, I'd add a new wonder. It would give +15 % :commerce: from trade routes in all cities, +1 :gold: from Merchants, and one free Merchant. It would require Currency and three Money Changers, and cost 700 :hammers:.
  16. DaveGold

    DaveGold Emperor

    Dec 1, 2009
    If you build too many early markets you can make an error in losing research, so keep them that way.

    Palisades are meant to be cheap so you can survive the barbarians. At the start of the game maintaining too many warriors can take the edge of your economy so palisades are a good option.

    The temples are really different. I'm not sure why you think the RoK temple is anything like the OO temple at all!

    The Pact of the Nilhorn seems necessary to give a siege option for the elves without catapults. If the AI needs improving for the giants then that's another matter.

    I usually build the pillar of chains for the 'incidental benefits'.

    The Eyes and Ears Network is a game winner for a large undeveloped nation with good diplomacy. The only fix I'd make is getting the AI to build it sometimes.
  17. Breunor

    Breunor Deity

    Jul 2, 2004

    Like many people, I like some of your ideas (maybe 25%), dislike a few more (maybe 50%), and the rest are kind of 'sounds neat, not sure how it works'.

    For some of your comemnts, though, I'm not sure 100% that we have the same idea on just plain mechanics.

    So, for example, the Pillaar of Chains usually gives my capital an extra 25 hammers a turn if I have 25 unhappiness built up in the city! This is an incredible boost for the hammers spent AND it is key in building other wonders. Please note that the hammers are NOT for unhappy citizens, they are for the unhappy score in the city, which is very powerful. I think it is one of the best wonders in the game.

    The Final Altar of Lunnotar can be a 'shock' if you aren't ready, costing you 70 turns - but most people building it buy it with their gold. Set your research to 0, generate a few thousand gold per turn, have 20,000 ready at the time, I've built it is 3 or 4 turns. Making it cheaper would make building it too easy.

    The others are just views about the game itself:

    I find the Pact of the Nilhorn pretty useless, except for the ability to bombard cities (elves especially) which can be important. This may be a function of timing and level - I play on immortal/deity, so I usually find that by the time I have it, the three giants cannot defeat the enemy at all.

    I agree with you on the dragon horde now that Sons of the Inferno have been added to the game.

    I generally agree with you on Mokka's cauldron, but it saved the game for me once. I built it with a great engineer (I think) in a city against the enemy SoD - he had about 300 guys and I had about 120. Saved my bacon, but I admit this kind of thing will happen rarely.

    I agree that Aquae Succelus should be boosted but I think your idea goes too far (especially for larger maps).

    The gambling house is powerful, but I'm not sure I would change it. If you weaken it, I think you need to add another major happiness building.

    I don't think you should weaken the infirmary - It is hard to research the tech so the building ought to be good, I think maybe it should be better.

    Palisades are VERY important early in the game, when the AI is sending stacks of barbarians and you can't afford more warriors (as DaveGold said).

    Also as DaveGold said, the Eyes and Ears Network can be a game changer when you have been behind the AI on tech for hundreds of turns, have had to build troops out the wazoo to hurt your economy, etc. It can be spectacular, once I get something like 8 techs from it.

    Best wishes,

  18. cyther

    cyther Lord of the Dance

    Jun 9, 2008
    Fane of Lessers
    It used to be better. There was at one time another type of civic line that gave more health to infirmaries.

    I agree, it really never can be used. One way to make it useful would be to make it an item and thus movable from city to city. That may also involve giving it to Mokka when/if he spawns. Another way would be to allow units sacrificed at a demon's altar to be raised by the cauldron.

    The Pillar of Chains is one of the best wonders in the game. It gives about one production per population unless you are using Unyielding Order. The thing pays for itself in production faster than almost any other production increasing building/wonder.

    I personally think that this wonder is worth it. It has varying use depending on the game though. If you were to beeline Guilds you could get almost every tech for nothing. If you go through the tech tree getting each level before moving on to the next one it would not be worth it. Mixing between those two routes generally makes the wonder worth building but not too spectacular.

    A good way to increase yields is to get open borders with the best AI and it's vassals. The AI loves to give vassals free techs and you can get all of the best techs right when one AI research them.
  19. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Jul 30, 2009
    If you don't have enough research, you can increase the science slider, and the markets will pay for it. If you've got a lot of markets, it means you've got a lot of cities, which means city maintenance will force you below 100% science anyway.

    Ah, I think I misunderstood the Pillar of Chains. I was under the impression that it gave +1 :hammers: per actual, non-working unhappy citizen in every city in your empire, whereas Governor's Manors had the behavior Bruenor described. I think that may have been the case in an earlier version. In that case, my only criticism of the Pillar is that it's too similar to Governor's Manor. A 180 :hammers: building available at Code of Laws should not be as powerful as a 500 :hammers: wonder available at Taxation.

    Perhaps a replacement Governor's Manor could be "+2 :hammers: for every unhappy citizen (that is, citizen over the happy limit)"? That gives you an incentive to grow your cities as big as possible, even over the happiness limit, and then get rid of the excess once you get Vampires. I'd need some way to clearly distinguish this effect from the subtly different effect of Pillar of Chains, though.

    I wasn't suggesting reducing the cost, I agree that could easily result in imbalance. I was just suggesting allowing Great Prophets to speed up the building, so that a Great Prophet-based Altar strategy can get it in a reasonable amount of time.

    I was saying that its cost should be reduced to 180 :hammers: (buffing it), I'll edit the post to make that more clear.

    I recently played a game on Emperor where I wrecked the AI (I was Clan, they were Hippus) with it, though they'd have stood a much better chance if they'd gone for axemen or archers instead of warriors (I think they were trying to get Horsemen but never made it that far). I think the main purpose of the Pact should be to bombard cities, maybe reducing the giants to 6 :strength: would be fine.
  20. ProkhorZakharov

    ProkhorZakharov Chieftain

    Jul 30, 2009

    Ancient Tower: These are cool, but it often seems silly to have an ancient tower built in the middle of a forest where it's not very useful. I'd make it so Ancient Towers would only appear on hills.

    Fort: These just aren't very useful except in fairly specific circumstances on the Erebus mapscript. I like RifE's idea of having castles and citadels expand your culture, allowing you to access resources you'd otherwise need a suboptimal city to get to, though I think the fort commander idea is a touch too complex. It would also be cool to be able to build forts in enemy territory, giving you a small base from which you can attack the enemy.

    Lumbermill: Building a Lumbermill on a forested plains hill requires Archery, takes 8 turns, gives 4 :hammers: (and +1 :commerce: on river), and gives 0.25 :health: in the city. Chopping down the forest and building a Mine requires Mining, takes 9 turns, gives 4 :hammers: + 1 for Arete, +1 for Blasting Powder (and +1 :commerce: on river), and gives 20 :hammers: for the wood-chop. Basically, Mines are a bit better than Lumbermills on hills, and cottages or farms are usually better on flatlands. A large part of this is because lumbermills require archery, take ages to build, and don't ever upgrade. I'd make Lumbermills take 6 turns, and give an additional +1 :commerce: at Engineering.

    Windmills: As I mentioned earlier, these come too late to have any meaningful impact. I'd make them available at Construction for 1 :food:, 1 :hammers:, 1 :commerce:, then get +1 :food: at Engineering, then +2 :commerce: at Machinery. This way they're a decent alternative to Mines early- to mid-game if you need food, and actually pretty good late-game.


    Fair Winds (Air I): This spell is just too situational, given that you almost never play a game with naval combat due to the AI's crippling hydrophobia.

    Maelstrom (Air II), Wither (Entropy III), Snowfall (Ice III) Ring of Flames (Veil II), Crown of Brilliance (Empyrean III), Tsunami (Overlords II): I think that all of the direct damage spells ,especially Snowfall and Crown, are a bit overpowered. Three Maelstrom mages will take out 30% of a stack's health, and that's usually the difference between a 98% combat win rate and a 75% combat win rate. One Crown of Brilliance caster is usually enough to win the game, 5 just makes it a joke.

    Summon [whatever] (Air III, Body III, Chaos III, Death I, II & III, Earth III, Entropy II & III, Fire III, Ice II, Law II, Metamagic III, Shadow III, Sun III, Water III, Ashen Veil III, Overlords III, Leaves II & III): Although each of these spells has its own subtle variants, they all feel mostly the same in practice. When I get to the archmage-level spells in a school, I want to see something awesome, not just another generic summon.

    Dance of Blades (Chaos I): This spell just seems so minor and uninteresting.

    Blaze: This spell is way more complicated than it needs to be for the simple purpose of destroying a forest.

    Fireball (Fire II): I know there'll be a lot of people who disagree with this, but I don't think Fireballs should be able to bombard city defenses. Fireball mages are able to move three tiles per turn (Mobility + Haste), or six (even nine) with Commando, allowing them to easily keep up with anything but hasted horse units. This allows you to quite easily take half the cities in an empire without your victim having time to react. This isn't usually too much of a problem because the AI has nothing better do to with its armies than have them sit around in their cities, and they don't know how to use fireballs very well. However, it poses a significant potential problem - it forces the AI to hold lots of troops back or risk doom at the hands of a crafty human, and it means you can't really have the AIs use fireballs without it seeming very cheap to their human opponents, which unbalances the playing field. Slow siege units are quite an important part of game balance, and fireballs take that away.

    Blinding Light (Sun II), Charm Person (Mind II): Holding off the AI's attacking stack of doom indefinitely with a handful of Radiant Guards while they slowly bleed to death through upkeep really feels unfair. In principle, I don't like how these spells take control away from their victims, nor do I like their extremely defensive nature. If the AI was smart enough to utilize them, the game would be very boring, and I think that's a good rule of thumb to indicate there's a problem with these spells.

    Loyalty (Law I), Courage (Spirit I), Treetop Defense (Nature I): These are all extremely situational spells which don't do all that much even when they work, which makes them feel rather boring.

    Resurrection (Life III): I'd make it so it only took 1 turn to raise a Champion, and still 7 for a Hero. At the moment it's only worth the effort for Heroes. It could be implemented by splitting it into two spells, Raise Champion and Raise Hero, if necessary.

    Trust (Spirit III): For a tier 3 spell, this does almost nothing.

    Unyielding Order: Priors shouldn't be sitting in cities casting Unyielding Order, they should be out on the battlefield making use of their Command IV.

    Overall: Many spells seem overly narrow, useless, or redundant.

    What I'd change: I'd change the spell system significantly, reducing it from 18 spell spheres to 13. A full description is below:

    Proposed New Spell System


    Raise Skeleton
    Summon Spectre
    Summon Wraith / Lichdom
    Poisoned Blade
    Cloak of Shadows (gives the highest-level non-arcane unit in the stack the Hidden promotion until end of combat)
    Dispel Magic


    Maelstrom (deals 10% damage, to a limit of 20%)
    Cyclone (For each improvement in caster’s and surrounding tiles, 50% chance of destroying that improvement)
    Wall of Stone
    Blaze (Destroys all forests, jungles and lumbermills on caster's tile)
    Fireball (cannot bombard)
    Withering Flame (deals 10% damage to a limit of 30%, withers all units on surrounding tiles)
    Spring (nothing to do with the current Spring. Adds +1 :health:, +2 :food:/turn to the city it's cast in)
    Water Walking


    Loyalty (Prevents fear and desertion, +20% defense strength, 10% chance per turn to wear off)
    Justice (Hope)
    Valor (+100% XP from combat. 25% per turn of wearing off. When it wears off, +1 EXP if under 20 XP)
    Summon Watcher (Creates a permanent, immobile, invisible unit with 1 :strength: and Sentry)
    Destroy Undead (deals 20% holy damage to undead units up to a limit of 80%)
    Resurrection (Takes 1 turn to raise a Champion from a Graveyard)
    Strength of the Wilds (Enchanted Blade)
    Living Armor (Stoneskin)
    Vitalize (transforms snow->tundra->plains->grassland, grassland river->floodplain, desert->plains, marsh->grassland)
    Flaming Arrows
    Searing Blades (Gives all units the Searing Blades promotion (deals collateral damage at 20% strength to up to 4 units), 100% chance of wearing off per turn)

    Snow: This school would be separate from the rest, accessible only via Letum Frigus.
    ??? (I haven't been able to think of a suitable spell to replace the fairly boring Summon Ice Elemental)
    Snowfall (Deals 20% damage to a maximum of 40% and turns surrounding tiles temporarily to snow)


    Mostly the same as now, except:

    Crown of Flames (deals 5% damage to a maximum of 20%)
    Crown of Brilliance (Deals 20% (max 40%) damage to all units in adjacent tiles. Destroys all summoned units in adjacent tiles. Grants all units in adjacent tiles the Silenced promotion (can be resisted, +20%): Cannot cast spells, wears off at the end of the owner's turn)
    Summon Balor (Removed)
    Hellfire (Takes 2 turns to cast, can be cast in enemy territory)
    Summon Treant: I don't really know what to replace this with.

    I'm not too attached to any of my new spells, but I do think something needs to be changed.

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