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Design: The Svartalfar

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by Kael, Dec 13, 2007.

  1. Kael

    Kael Chieftain

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    [TAB]The winter court is more like their summer brothers than they would like to admit. Like the Ljosalfar they can build improvements on forest tiles, and that grants then the synergies with the Fellowship of Leaves should they opt to return to their former religion. They also gain the same double movement in forest tiles, which is more dangerous in the Svartalfars hands.

    [TAB]As for differences let’s start with Faeryl, she is an Arcane/Raider leader that starts with Shadow, Nature and Mind mana. They have a unique hunting lodge that boosts the strength of all of their recon units. Along with their increased movement in forests this makes them the games most effective civ for capturing animals. Hunter rush has never been more effective, and their assassins can pick apart stacks of enemies.

    [TAB]Veil of Night allows them to make all of their combat units Hidden Nationality, as you can imagine this doesn’t make the Svartalfar good neighbors. Add in Faeryl’s preference for the Council of Esus and its ability to not have the units bounced out of your borders when they declare war and you have a civ made for betrayal.

    [TAB]They are one of the only civs to start with Shadow mana (along with the Calabim) which grants access to the following spells:

    Blur (rank 1, sorcery)- protects units in the casters stack from first strikes (sadly for the Ljosalfar archers)
    Hide (rank 2, sorcery)- Makes the caster invisible until they attack or cast a spell
    Shadowwalk (rank 3, sorcery)- grants units in the casters stack the ability to ignore terrain and building defense

    Summon Mistform (rank 2, summoning)- hidden nationality summon
    Summon Phantasm (rank 3, summoning)- invisible summon with fear

    [TAB]But my favorite aspect of the Svartalfar is their hero, Alazkan the Assassin. He is a powerful elven assassin with the mirror ability. Mirror allows Alazkan to create an illusionary version of himself, it is identical in every way. Any promotions Alazkan has earned are shared by his duplicate. Every assassin needs a powerful summon to send in to warm up enemy stacks or scout into dangerous areas.

    [TAB]The weakness of the Svartalfar is they have a hard time operating as a builder. To be successful they need to get out and start causing chaos, maximizing the use of their raider trait and keeping their neighbors down. This is largely because of their second weakness, poor defense. Where the Ljosalfar have archer bonuses and the amazing March of the Trees world spell the Svartalfar have few tricks for defending their lands. I expect them to be extremely powerful in the right hands, and a favorite of players that like sniping at and betraying their enemies, but some players may have to adapt their play style to keep from being crushed as them.
     

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  2. grumpylad

    grumpylad Chieftain

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    Interesting design and emphasis very "to the depths". Nothing on if Shadow mana has an impact on divine spells?
     
  3. Kael

    Kael Chieftain

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    There is no such thing as disciples or priests of Esus, so there are no divine shadow spells. Instead it is the only religion that grants spells to units that follow it instead of just the priest types. For example all recon units that worship Esus gain access to the Mask spell, which gives them hidden nationality.
     
  4. xienwolf

    xienwolf Chieftain

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    Does the Mirror Alazkan count as a summon (1 turn limit), and if not, can it gain experience? Does that experience also go to the real Alazkan?

    On another line of possibilities: Can even the Svalt player tell the difference between the "Real" and "Mirror" hero? If the "real" one dies, can the "Mirror" summon up a Mirror of itself and keep on going, or does loss of the wrong one actually mean you lose the Hero?
     
  5. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    Looks good. Is there any particular reason why the Svartalfar would be any worse on the defense than the average civ? I understand them not being great at it, but is there some real disadvantage?


    The Traits seem quite fitting to me. They are what I had already added (before I got greedy and decided to give every civ at least 3 traits. Basium has 7 and Hyborem 8). It makes me kinda wish that Sureshot's unit had won the design contest though (although I didn't vote for it), just so I could have Arcane Assassins.

    No mention of Unique units? I believe you had already said they would have Elven Flurries instead of crossbowmen. (hmm, I guess that could make their defenses a little weaker)

    The Hero looks very nice, but his name seems, I don't know, somehow to made up. His ability seems awesome. May we however assume that there is at least 1 difference between him and his summoned double: that the double can't summon a double? If he could, this would be very unbalanced (and quite possibly lead to infinite loops when the AI is using it.)

    The summons look very nice, but the sorcery spells seem like they might be slightly weak. It would be nice if blur limited the line of sight of nearby units (but that might make it too string, unless the positions of Blur and Hide were switched). Hide would be much better if you could hide other units (but a whole stack seems like too much, and you probably don't want to re-implement the targeting mechanism since the AI can't understand it.) I would like it if shadow walk would also let you move through tiles occupied by the enemy, but allowing both that and still having the ability to attack could be tricky. (It would be nice if moving to a tile and attacking a tile used different commands, but I'm not sure you could implement that.)

    I'm guessing that Shadow mana won't have any divine spells; since it doesn't have any disciple units, there will probably never be a unit that has the divine promotion and and of the shadow sphere promotions (without cheating).

    I could have sworn you'd said that the Sidar would have Shadow mana, back when you were justifying the removal of the Hidden trait. It would probably make sense for them too, but I couldn't decide which one of their current mana types should be removed to make roon for it; they all seemed to fit so well, better than most civs' (probably because several palace manas were just placeholders for types not added yet). I assume that Shadow mana will replace earth for the Calabim, since that never made sense for them and body/law seem essential. I had thought mind mana should replace earth for them; thematically it fits very well, but the actual spells don't fit so well as the shadow spells, and the shadow sphere fits them thematically even better (plus, their Hero is always talking about shadows). Good choice.


    Last but not least: what about the passive effects of Shadow mana? I recall reading one (when you were justifying the removal of the Hidden trait) that it would make rival maps of your lands "decay" and/or spread more fog of war. Is that the case?


    p.s. I think you meant "design", not "desing".
     
  6. xienwolf

    xienwolf Chieftain

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    You cannot let Hide move into the Rank 1 spell slot, or Conjurers could be invisible on your borders, swarming you with HN summoned units.

    Hadn't thought about it at first, but I now LOVE shadow mana. Can't wait to play with the Summoner Trait all over again :) I'll conquer the world without declaring war any longer than the 2 or 3 turns it takes to swipe the undefended cities!

    Oh, and if the Hero's Mirror image cannot be told apart from the "real" hero, I imagine that there is a check to not allow you to cast Mirror unless that is the only copy remaining alive.
     
  7. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    It could only take 1 turn: if you follow Esus and can get open borders, then you can take out the defenders with HN units with you real army 1 tile away from each city. If you time it right, the war won't even last 1 turn.
     
  8. Civkid1991

    Civkid1991 in shade of poison trees

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    so there's no way to hide cities?
     
  9. Wintermist

    Wintermist Chieftain

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    Hidden cities should only be possible for races building underground. Finding the entrance to those cities would prove harder, but once found te secret is in the open.
     
  10. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    I'm surprised you never mentioned the Mask spell in the Council of Esus Article. You did mention the Steal ability. What other kinds of abilities will Esus offer, and to what other kinds of units?

    I think I'm going to like Shadow.
     
  11. wilboman

    wilboman Hibernorse Frost Giant

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    I suppose you've noticed the design team's penchant for naming heroes after themselves? :D
     
  12. it-ogo

    it-ogo Hedgehog

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    Impressive! But main trick - open borders-betrayal-mirror will work ony with AI as no one human will ever open borders with them. :) Good logic is to make AI also no open borders with swartalfar and no-kicking-out ability will become useless. :( Unless those units will be able also to explore rival territory.

    And what about culture defense bonus, wall of stone spell, city and terrain defense promotions and natural tile defense abilities?
     
  13. zxcvbnm

    zxcvbnm The Nobody

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    So there will be a white rabbit?:lol:
     
  14. it-ogo

    it-ogo Hedgehog

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    Perhaps Sidar hero name will be Tibbar Etihw.
     
  15. Calavente

    Calavente Richard's voice

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    is blur a permanent spell or a 1turn buffer ?

    isn't it possible to make it reduce X 1st strikes instead of negating it ?? (it is in itself a negation of a whole promo line, it seems powerful for a lvl1 spell)

    won't the combinaison of shadow mana, esus and betrayal ability, combined with summoning chaos marauders (to take the city for the barbs so you can steal them back) make the svartalfar player a bit overpowered on any AI ??? because moving hidden 'hidden nationality' units combine the no attack on you units plus the can attack friend into a powerful combo

    or moving hidden units near friendly cities before betraying... evil

    whereas agains a real player, there will be no open border agreements, and many hawks in the sky is svart are a neighbour, thus damaging the growth of the svart player.
     
  16. Jie

    Jie The Jie

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    I guess this is more of an Esus question than Svartalfar, but since it was mentioned here.....so with no disciples or priest, does this mean that they don't have any units with the medic promotion unless they pick another religion?
     
  17. Nikis-Knight

    Nikis-Knight Chieftain

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    The open borders trick is not svartalfar specific, it is for everyone following the council of Esus--which is conviently hidden from enemies. It won't work more than once, probably, but just being svartalfar isn't reason to keep someone out.
    Also, even if they never sign open borders... Veil of Night and you don't need it.
     
  18. Calavente

    Calavente Richard's voice

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    yes but against a human player, veil of night is a declaration of war....
    those elve looking barb ranger can't come form an esus dwarf...

    maybe it is more a esus issue, but
    esus + shadow mana goes for AI annihilation without breaking a sweat

    the synergy of svart+esus will always tell the player to never open borders to svart, in case they are esus. (for others it is maybe easier to betray)

    (oh : how does esus work : the apartenance to esus is hidden so what appears instead??? no state religion ? 2nd religion present in the civ? )
     
  19. Ekolite

    Ekolite The Mighty Jungle

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    What exactly makes the Illusionist different from ordinary conjurers? I know their summons get the illusion promotion but what does that actually do?
     
  20. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    When the Illusion promotion was first added it was stated that in Shadow Illusions would only effect living units; they can walk right through stacks of golems, catapults, demon, and the undead, but aren't able to hurt these units.
     

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