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Humankind review by bc1

Discussion in 'Humankind - General Discussions' started by bc1, Aug 27, 2021.

  1. bc1

    bc1

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    Hello,

    please find below my take on humankind.

    First, I want to compliment amplitude staff for the work done : this game feels like tremendous love has been poured into it, crafted by passionate people - I really appreciate that. The game map is gorgeous !

    Second, I did spend serious time playing and analyzing the game ( I won the highest HK level as my first game on T220 without optimizing, save game available on request ).

    In spite of this, my overall feeling is mixed, so I decided to spend some time explaining why, so maybe fixes can be found to make the game more enjoyable.
    1. the victory star system needs a rework
      • It makes the game feel like the player's goal is to fill corresponding buckets.
      • Example : I need to kill military units ? shop for the weakest units on the map.
      • Since there are a fixed amount of stars for each era, furthermore with increasing value in each category, the easy path to win at higher levels is to delay entry into the next era to optimize bucket filling : that's unfun.
    2. the neolithic era is a good idea, but is unbalanced and too easy to abuse
      • The player needs to leave sanctuaries alone so they spawn large amounts of wild life to kill (especially mammoth).
      • The player can thus accumulate obsene quantities of self healing tribe units (20+ in ~20 turns) which can be used to kill the closest AI, count for population stars, are maintenance free and can be significantly upgraded later in the game as needed.
      • Furthermore, player also gets massive amounts of influence doing this, to spend on building outposts out crowding the remaining AIs on your continent, and to get second city right away after leaving neolithic age.
    3. it's overly difficult to predict what in game actions will lead to what results, for example:
      • when I merge cities or outposts, what will be the consequences in terms of stability, population vs max, production etc. ? am I expected to just try different combinations and reload ?
      • what is the usefulness of e.g. this woodwork infrastructure building ? am I expected to go count woodland tiles on the map by reading the mouseover on each tile ?
      • the predictions for districts is better, but I need to select and go find out on the map for each one: why not display the end result on the building list itself ?
      • Also prediction is missing for wonders with "exploitation" effect (although present for hamlets) or when purchasing a district with influence for an outpost (e.g. harbor).
    4. game rules are too removed from the real world, overly complex yet easy to abuse
      • The main issues are the stacking of bonuses, especially adjacency and wondrous effects.
      • It took me some time to figure out (>100 turns !), but basically the only worthwhile buildings (there are sooo many of them !) are those which allow to stack and snowball bonuses.
      • It becomes possible to breeze through the tech tree one tech every turn or couple of turns.
    5. the AI civilizations are not fighting hard enough to win
      • They should try to disrupt (i.e. attack) a leading (human) player.
      • Above all AI should not let themselves stay allied with a militarily anemic rival, letting that player focus on bucket filling (victory stars) and dispense with expensive unit building...
      • AI should build more military units and use them.
    6. the UI could use some polish, here's my wish list main items:
      • I really like the tactical combat concept, but it is too slow: there needs to be an option to speed animations (edit: there is :mischief:), or skip them altogether. Clicking on units needs to become more reliable, and not lead to leave the combat screen without clear player intent. Notifications please shut up during combat.
      • Tidy up notifications: when the condition is met or no longer applies, delete the notification automatically. Do not require user to click when there is no choice (e.g. some osmosis events). Allow user to remove notification rather than acknowledge (put a recall all button if needed).
      • Improve unit list and city lists: city list to the left and unit list to the right of screen, dispense with need to switch between both. Extend list downwards as much as possible. Display only synthetic & useful info on each item (ideally user-configurable), and without need to click on each one for details (mouseover).
    7. miscellaneous issues
      • Osmosis can yield insane amounts of free tech, and require insane clicking by player --> unfun + broken --> please remove from game.
      • When an independent city spawns, it has zero citizens, and player army can just walk in an capture it for free.
      • When an independent city with zero citizens is captured, you can purchase districts very cheap (using cash).
      • Carthaginians can build Cothon in addition to harbor (expected Cothon to replace harbor).
      • Independent city resources can be milked for cash without independent army response.
    8. player can upgrade outposts to cities without influence
      • Create outpost (using influence)
      • Liberate outpost, and wait next turn until outpost upgrades to city by itself, and even improve a resource for free...
      • Capture city without combat, since it has zero citizens !
    9. the battle field is too easy for the player to manipulate
      • Before attacking, break your stack(s) and surround enemy stack : you can then pick off each unit of enemy stack one at a time, all in the same turn since adjacent units can attack without moves left. This also generates much more war support.
      • Choosing the plot from which to attack allows player to manipulate battlefield shape, visible during preview.
      • Place a unit on enemy reinforcement spot to prevent reinforcements from spawning.
    10. very early AI genocide yields endless supply of easy to kill units (tested on HK level)
      • Milk mammoths to raise large tribe armies.
      • Simultaneously, explore to locate closest AI before it has time to create 1st city.
      • Pillage all AI outposts, earning 2 additional tribes per pillaged outpost, and slaughter all AI tribes.
      • Game will now cheat and create endless supply of 4-tribe and later 4-scout armies for player to kill and farm for stars.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
  2. V. Soma

    V. Soma long time civ fan

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    Nice post - I hope the devs red it - maybe post it also at the game's G2G forum?
     
  3. Elhoim

    Elhoim Iron Tower Studio Dev

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    Small note: It's there on the options screen, can be increased up to 3x.

    I agree in general with the rest =)
     
  4. bc1

    bc1

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    where's that ?
    thanks, & my bad ! (op edited)
     
    Elhoim likes this.
  5. V. Soma

    V. Soma long time civ fan

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  6. bc1

    bc1

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    Hello,

    2 more major (IMHO) items :
    1. when an independent city spawns, it has zero citizens, and player army can just walk in an capture it for free
    2. when an independent city with zero citizens is captured, you can purchase districts very cheap (using cash)
     
  7. Taefin

    Taefin Prince

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    I agree with the unfun of holding back era to get ahead of AI on fame, but mostly only when it works too well. When the AI applies pressure, so that you will pay for postponing next-era tech or missing a culture choice you need to get ahead in the non-fame game, then the trade off becomes interesting. This mostly happens in games when early AI aggression slows me down, and the catch up process that ensures is where most of the fun of the game comes in for me. I consider it a win if/when I catch up to the AI on fame and so usually intentionally stay 1-2k fame behind (not intentionally staying behind, but I’d usually rather grab a culture that will be fun for the current game than aggressively camp an era when the action feels stale). Usually a good opportunity for a long era comes up that doesn’t feel stale, in which I take the lead.

    Because of this, one of the main things I look forward to in modding is to more finely tune the difficulty to keep games in this window of fun.
     
    Elhoim likes this.
  8. fortydayweekend

    fortydayweekend Warlord

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    I've only played one game through Contemporary but it seemed very easy to catch up a 2K Fame deficit by building all the space projects (plus agra, builder, science stars).

    I like the idea that the winner doesn't necessarily have to be the biggest.
     
  9. bc1

    bc1

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    on HK level the game goes by too fast to build wonders (ok, maybe one) or space projects
     
  10. fortydayweekend

    fortydayweekend Warlord

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    I posted my T208 science game (it was moved into the Strategy & Tips forum), I don't think I built many wonders (maybe a late one??) but I build every space program up to Mars (because only 2 oil). I finished 1.4K fame ahead which I think was pretty much the same as what I would have got from the space projects.

    I started with a major industry focus (Egypt/Celts/Khmer) so had a ton of industry and nothing better to do in the cities which had no room for more Research Quarters, and I was catching up on Fame.

    They were taking around 2-3 turns to build each and I had some un-developable islands and a couple of peninsulas left so there was a bit of room for them all.
     
  11. bc1

    bc1

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    big issue : player can upgrade outposts to cities without influence
    • create outpost
    • liberate
    • wait next turn until outpost upgrades to city by itself, and capture
     
  12. Siptah

    Siptah Eternal Chieftain

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    Big issue indeed. This is exploited all around.
    Often discussed Solution: captured cities stay in the occupied status until you integrate them by paying some influence equal or similar to creating a new city.
     
    Tigranes likes this.
  13. bc1

    bc1

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    I would rather suggest that independent cities be granted a strong 4-unit army at spawn that are permanently assigned to the city plot, that would also take care of the overall independent city weakness especially early in the game
     
    fortydayweekend likes this.
  14. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

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    Very true ... but this is the player's goal. The victory star system makes this more overt than it needs to be, but it's a structural issue with the game rather than just something that can be fixed by tweaking the victory conditions. The entire structure of the gameplay is based around building things that generate cumulative bonuses, with the decision points only revolving around which bonuses to go for at a given time. At the most fundamental level, this is true of any 4x - but most either disguise it better with more actions that allow the player to feel their agency extends beyond filling buckets, or genuinely give you more to do while buckets slowly fill.
     
    Haig likes this.
  15. bc1

    bc1

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    • the battle field is too easy for the player to manipulate
      • before attacking, break your stack(s) and surround enemy stack : you can then pick off each unit of enemy stack one at a time, all in the same turn since adjacent units can attack without moves left
      • choosing the plot from which to attack allows player to manipulate battlefield shape, visible during preview
      • place a unit on enemy reinforcement spot to prevent reinforcements from spawning
    • killing an AI vey early yields endless supply of easy to kill units (HK level)
      • milk mammoths to raise large tribe armies
      • simultaneously, explore to locate closest AI before it has time to create 1st city
      • pillage all AI outposts, earning 2 additional tribes per pillaged outpost, and slaughter all AI tribes
      • game will now cheat and create endless supply of 4-tribe and later 4-scout armies for player to kill and farm for stars
     
  16. Taefin

    Taefin Prince

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    All very true, I’d focus the first major patch on cleaning up exploits.

    For blocking reinforcements, I think that there needs to be something to give all possible reinforcements a chance to deploy before being blocked. Some limitations on attacker first turn movement might help, for example if space was reserved for reinforcements and blocked from movement on turn 1. Currently you take a small amount of damage for camping a reinforcement point, but surrounding and killing one at a time works well, and often the damage is not much of a concern. Or they could rework the deployment stage so they reinforcements can be added then.
     
  17. bc1

    bc1

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    anyone knows whether Amplitude is working to fix the exploits ? They ruin the game for players looking for a strategic challenge...
     
  18. Cherenkov

    Cherenkov Warlord

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    Good post, bc1. I'm sure these issues will get fixed eventually. However if you avoid the exploits you can still have a fun and challenging game on HK difficulty.

    Things to make the game challenging:

    - Don't linger in the neolithic era, pick a civ as soon as you qualify.
    - Don't pick Egypt, Khmer or France. Ok not picking France is going to be rough for me but I'm going to try it next game :) Italians here we come!
    - Set elevation to flatter so you don't have so many hilly chokepoints to turtle and avoid calvary who get confused below cliffs. I haven't tried this yet but it is on my todo list.

    Sure, you'll still catch up in fame eventually but at least you won't roll over the AI with that 20 tribes, 260 culture at T9 exploit. For anyone going ancient era asap the game will take a while, you won't finish anywhere near 75 turns. I've gone as soon as T6 with only 2 tribes because I got unlucky and gathered 10 sci.
     
    fortydayweekend likes this.
  19. Taefin

    Taefin Prince

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    I’ve been enjoying few cliffs, steep elevation. Enough to use gunners at range occasionally and get some interesting battles, but few cartoonish choke points.
     
  20. reddishrecue

    reddishrecue Deity

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    There are some bugs like when you achieve stars>1 in one turn, that the turn won't keep going and the loading for the next turn won't work. I tried to reload and reload to automatic several turns before and couldn't get that turn 245 to keep going. It would just stay there on turn 245 no matter how long you waited and wouldn't get to turn 246 already. I've gone back to turn 240 or 238 and the problem still persists.
     

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