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My humble criticism

Discussion in 'Wildmana Modmod' started by Covr, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. Covr

    Covr Chieftain

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    (Sorry for long post, boring day at work)
    Don’t get me wrong, I love the game and the mod. The level of complexity and addictions to original FF2 are just stunning. I believe that 90% of everything added is a top-notch quality, which is rarely a thing at any modding scene. What is more, those remaining 10% of content isn’t mostly bad, sometime of the art is amateurish, some music is cringe worthy and some civilizations need more love and balancing. These are things that everyone can handle and just enjoy the game.
    Although among those 10% stuff, there are also hidden some small but crucial design flaws that have made some aspects of the gameplay severely broken, taking away a lot of fun that could possibly this mod give. They are all connected with themselves, so basically I am going to list them in only two points (as the whole mod is like one body with every organ influencing other body parts).
    Of course you can disagree with everything below, as I am not going to post any bugs or technical issues, just stating my subjective opinion as the ‘new’ person, who played Wildmana few years back. My opinion is based on two 5.3 and a few 5.4 gameplays, all monarch to immortal difficulty, maps from small to medium (Erabus continent mostly), always different civs, normal gamespeed, half of my games were finished with eliminating all enemies. Oh, and I was frequently studying AI with worldbuilder to see how it copes with changing gameworld.
    1.) Lack of resources. I was wondering how the AI is coping with relatively small amount of wood and stone. So quite often I checked worldbuilder and AI was mostly just producing more military units, as they does not require any wood or stone. Obviously a player is kind of forced to do the same, as you can’t build anything new in your cities or improve your tiles. And I know that I can build lumber mills and quarries, these are my most common improvements. All of my cities have at least one lbmill and quarry, bigger=more. And I know about buildings which increased those resources. And I know about spells to conjure some wood/stone. But IMO it’s still not enough even for small, developing civilization, pushing cities into idle stasis. Player is too often forced to do the same as the AI, which is pumping military to the limits+garnisonning some of them, and then, if still we can’t afford any new building, setting cities to research or gain wealth. It seems reasonable, taking into consideration how aggressive and strong are barbarians and how easily opponents are declaring wars (see point 2), especially on higher difficulties, but this absurdly slows down whole gameplay. A slow gameplay is not always a bad thing, but this clip wings of the whole game. Just answer a simple question: how technically advanced was your civ (and AI civs) when you finished your last games. Because mine were not even at the half of the techtree when I conquered all enemies. It’s like I haven’t discovered almost half of the game features. And it’s a huge waste. Obviously pumping military makes some victory conditions even harder to complete. So most of the time we are forced to fight with barbarians and then other AIs. And you, as the player, conquers some of the AIs underdevelopment cities (see lack of wood), and still cannot build anything on them in the next X turns (or just prefers to build sth in your old cities). So we are back into pumping the military to the limits. And AI is facing the same problems when they fight each other. And their solutions are similar.

    2.) Strong barbarians/beasts/undead, etc. If I am not wrong goblins start in their forts since turn 1, numbered in 3 per fort. They are having a defense bonus and it’s practically impossible to destroy those forts at early turns, making exploration difficult. Also, they are breeding in forces, spreading small armies to nearest cities. A player should quickly recognize them as early but deadly danger, making all early cities fortified with palisades and a few defending units. It nicely fits with point one, making sense to defend your cities with warriors/archers because it is convenient to create then as you are limited in wood/stone. Finding new cities is more difficult as you have to create a small horde of units to cover the settler and defend your new city. On higher difficulties exploration is really pain in the ass, and you are forced to limit your early and even mid game expansion to minimum. If you are surrounded by other civilization you may consider yourself lucky, as you won’t be having waves of goblins, orcs and skeletons every third turn. Just look around turn 300 into the worldbuilder how enemy AIs are struggling to create new cities and how their civilizations are being plundered by overpowered barbarians. Of course the easiest way is to destroy the forts/lairs etc. But this requires an effort just not worthy for most of the time. But if you miss a right moment to destroy those lairs you are ****ed as those units are going to quickly grow in power and in numbers. And then hits you that event in which you can sacrifice some units/gold or just face extra wave of units. This all requires from player another sacrifice – to stop develop your cities and invest in army and walls. So your cities have even more reasons to be idle (research/wealth) or build military stuff. And it’s not interesting enough, especially when you know, that you won’t be able to reach ¾ of the tech tree before turn 500. Oh, and one more thought connected to military and AI – look how it copes with barbarian invasion – it’s just free exp for enemy units, which are (believe me) going to attack you soon. Because why not – when you have a lot of units+some of them are levelled, you just attack the weakest. So if you are going for cultural, altar or science victory - you are screwed.

    SUMMARY
    I think that this mod can be vastly improved by changing two simple things: increasing the amount of wood+stone and decreasing the number of forts+starting units in them. I would love to try this mod with +40% of wood, +30% of stone, and -30% amount of enemy lairs+they start with one unit, slowly growing in numbers. This could enable early exploration, then some problems with barbarians and dealing with them, then reasonable development through whole game and what players like most – dealing with other civilizations in order to be victorious. This could speed up the gameplay to actually see and experience much more during one gameplay, while still being challenging and difficult. Because let’s be honest, conquering a rival city is much more rewarding that conquering a fort with 8+goblin archers. And the conquered city should be (preferably) a developed one, not only a ******** created to born new warriors to feed the war machine.
    Two simple changes that affect so many aspects of the gameplay, it’s even hard to imagine.
     
    esvath likes this.
  2. Psychodad

    Psychodad Chieftain

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    Try building a Warehouse District in your Capital to double the resource income from your palace and try to get a nother one in a wooded area or near stone, then you are good to go. Aditionally try pillaging improved recources. You can also cut woods for lumber especially Ancient forests are worthwile for FOS. None the less you have to make decisions where to spend your recources. Thats part of the game and part of the fun.

    Most people don't see wood as a problem, but stone, by the way.

    I would not mind if they were a little less agressive/fewer, too. But there are ways to deal with them. Never give them Population or Money, that makes them stronger! Don't waste your recources on palisades/walls, kill them in the field to get XP to get some super units with 100% chance. Equip them and group with Archer and use Adepts to get the edge in combat.

    This game is all about specialisation and synergies. Its intendet to focus on some tech/magic branches and don't research the whole tree.

    Sure you need an Army even when you don't go for Domination ore Conquest to not get crushed. But all victory conditions are viable for the right Leader/Startegie.


    Keep on playing (trying other maps) and keep your feedback coming.
     
    esvath likes this.
  3. esvath

    esvath Apprentice of Erebus

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    Hi, thanks for the thoughtful post! I really happy that you like the game. I'll try to address your concern point by point.

    Are you sure about this? Whenever I want to check some changes, I always run all AI game by giving AI command over my civ using game.aiplay numberofturns and I always see AI uses up their wood/ore/metal resources.
    In fact, I think the not-so-stellar performance of Bannor, Malakim and Sheaim are due to their main units are using resources and they can't provide the necessary resources. Sheaim makes up this with their demonic units. Bannor, I increased metal income from their palace. Malakim, let them be rather weak in the hand of AI.

    If you are interested in observing the AI, I suggest you do the following step:
    - set cheat on using Chipotle in CivilizationIV.ini
    - use cheat mode which clears fog of war (press Ctrl+Z in game)
    - open console using ~ then type game.aiplay numberofturns
    That way, you can see AI dynamics, especially the one running your civ.

    Could you elaborate more on your opening strategies (the first 50 turns or so) along with your choice of civ?
    As Psychodad has said, players usually found stones as lacking (that was why I increased stone productions on 5.4 but not with lumber, leather or metal.

    Quick tips on lumber:

    1. Build several lumbermills in one of your city, adopt Hunter's Guild, build Woodcutter and Sawmills building in that city. Most buildings increase yield by percentage, thus it's better to have one city with plenty improvements producing the lumber rather than several cities producing bits of lumbers.

    2. Specialise your cities. Do not build all buildings available because that will deplete your lumber and stone fastly.

    You can't unlock everything in one game. Xtended forces you to choose and choices will open one part of the game but close another. Usually, your choice of civ gives you incentives to focus on certain areas of the game and ignore others.

    Before releasing 5.4, I finished a game as Dain of the Amurites, won by building the Tower of Mastery. In that game, I completely ignored military techs. I relied on Phantom Warriors and then completed Phantasmagoria to buff them with Mind affininty. I used all Great Sage I got to spawn mana nodes and turned these nodes into Mind Nodes for stronger Phantom Warriors. I researched magic heavily, building Sage Districts and Schola Arcana in most cities, only leaving two as Noble Districts -> Warrior Districts to boost my unit supply. I got Wizards early and their spells help me against stronger foes. I build lots of mana vaults to get other types of mana for building the towers and to get bits of their spells, such as Life magic's Altar of Battle to increase unit supply in each city. I totally ignored trade and religion. I converted to Octopus Overlords for extra culture but did not care on accumulating Faith or building disciple units at all.

    That game was quite different than another game playing Tethira of Bannor. At this game, I focused heavily on military techs and religion, building bigger army than my game as Dain. My cities were Noble Districts (mostly upgraded to Warrior District with two Temple Districts to gain Faith). I did not progress far on arcane research because Order discouraged it and completely ignored magic techs after Arcane Lore. Instead of using arcane units, I used priests to support my military units. I required lots of metal for my army, thus I have mines everywhere and unlocked the Artisan's Guild. I won military victory on that one.

    Yes, the barbarians are stronger in this modmodmod. Lairs can even respawn on wild lands. That is an intended feature of this modmodmod.

    Tips on dealing with the Barbarians, adding to Psychodad's suggestions:

    - try to expand your culture. Barbarian lairs won't spawn inside your territory.
    - always spend units with less xp to soften the barbarians then kill the barbarians with levelled up units, making the veterans stronger. I usually sacrifice summoned units to soften the barbs.
    - give weapons, armors, trinkets, potions etc to your levelled up units. Do not spend precious resources to equip newly build units!
    - plan your unit promotions. I usually play bit of RPG, building parties with several tanks, one mage and one priest.
    - use adepts and their spells or priests and their spells to soften the barbarians.
    - archers can support attacking and defending units just by being on the same tile with them! Promote your archers in Archery discipline for more range support.
    - Priests or any other units with Medic promotions help reducing time to heal your units. Priest can also be promoted to heal your units instantly with their spell.
    - if you rely on military unit, researching various military techs will increase their strength automatically.
    - if you rely on arcane/summon/magical units, build mana nodes to take advantage of their magic affinity.
    - after few games, players usually changed their perspective from seeing "barbarians as menace" into "barbarians as xp farms".
    - with regard to defence, as Psychodad has said: do not build Walls and Palisades. Build them on your most precious cities but for other cities, use enchantments to strengthen your cities. Nature, Air, Fire, Water schools have these kind of enchantments.

    Destroying lairs is always beneficial for players. You will find extra yield (lumbers/metals/etc). You might find Great Person. You might inspire your people, which will trigger a golden age, make nearest city complete its production, make nearest city complete a random building. You might discover xp, armor or weapon for your unit. Last game, one of Perpentach's Harlequin was lucky to get Blood of Dragon while exploring Tower of Eyes, giving Perpentach a Red Drake as early as Turn 60. That game did not end well for me, though...

    While you can ignore everything else, you can't ignore your military. You need military units to defend against Barbarians. You also need decent military units to gain some diplomatic standing against other civs. This modmodmod has tweaked leaders diplomatic behaviour; most of them will dogpile and gang up against weaker civ. Only the most noblest civ like the Elohim will leave you alone when you are weak (Bannor? Who say that they are noble?).

    So, to have (relatively) peaceful life in Erebus:
    - have decent military units. This is the most important factor.
    - have the same alignment as your neighbours.
    - have the same religion with your neighbours. Some civs will take religion heavily in their diplomatic attitudes, some will think less but all will consider this.
    - make a route connecting your civ with the neighbour and do some trade with them.
    - have a shared war (so it might be beneficial to declare war against random civ that your neighbour is in war with, even when you are not attacking this random civ).
    - use magic! Mind magic can give you rituals which increase your relations with various civs. The Empyrean also has one for Good civs.

    Remember that some leaders are noble and will honour your friendship while some are just bastards trying to take on you even when they are Pleased with you. But unless they are really douche bags (Hippus, Doviello), you are safe when they are Friendly.

    +1 on this!
     
  4. Vital Brasil

    Vital Brasil Chieftain

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    Hello Covr, i think that's a nice balance discussion you brought here and i'd like to give my 2 cents.

    About the resource scarcity, i think it's important to consider that each civilization has its own strength and weakness, and i think thats a good thing. For example, when playing as Ljosalfar i don't go for artisan's guild, so i don't need to build mines (if i need metal the create metal spell is enough for me) and i also don't build lumbermills due to the religion civic (actually i do build a few in early game before unlocking the religion civic, but that's all), so i end up building quarries in all my hills and get ****loads of stones when playing with this civ.

    On the other hand, when playing as Khazad, i find myself building mines in all my hills (due to massive bonuses this improvement gets from artisan's guild and RoK religion) and i only build quarries in flat plains and deserts. Building quarries in hills when playing as Khazad feels like you are crippling the development of your civ due to how superior mines are. So when i play with the Khazad i often have problems gathering stones, which is bad, since the religion that fits better this civilization allows them to rush production with stones, but i simply never use it because i never have enough stones to rush anything.

    Again, i think this resource shortage based on the civilization a good thing, but it gets annoying when you cannot harvest enough of those "basic resources" (i consider lumber and stone basic resources because without them your civilization just stops building anything), and i think that this is your point, which i totally agree.

    In my games i've done a few things to fix it and i am happy with the results so far. Those small changes are:

    - Made the Arete tech increase the stone production of quarries by 2;
    - Made warehouse district requires the Currency tech, so you don't need merchan'ts guild to be able to accumulate some basic resources. The large warehouse remained unchanged though;
    - Made Valoels Grand Sawmill requires Natures Bounty tech, because i think it makes sense and i was tired of civilizations that has barely any sawmill, like Luchuirps building it.

    Tip: Build a warehouse disctric city in a hilly and forested place, and abuse of quarries and lumbermills; build trade posts on non forested plains and in deserts and voi lá, your troubles with basic resources are gone.

    Regarding the barbarians, i already got used to them and i like the way it works. But again, the hardship you will have with barbarians will depends of your civilizations. For example, those goblins will be a nightmare for any elven civilization due to their poison weakness, but they will be no challenge at all for Sheaim's undead army. Also, civilizations that already begin the game with a hero, or can build its hero in early game have a much easier time cleaning the lairs.

    But after i research the warrior caste tech, which gives me 2 experienced warriors, allows me to equip my units with rudimentary armors and build my local legend i can clean the barbarians lairs without much trouble even without a civilization hero (things only get better after this point).

    The lairs also don't disable early exploration, just make it more strategic (also, its not a good thing to reveal most of the map in the early game). If you play with a dwarven civ, use the hills to get the double movement bonus to avoid ending the turn right next to a barbarian lair, if you play with the elves, use the forests. If you have mind mana, search awareness I to get the floating eyes spell and send a adept with your exploration party (the downside of this is that the adept has only 1 movement point and its pretty weak to be left alone, but the eyes have a huge range) and lastly, you can get the rangers guild to be able to train hawks, which helps immensely the exploration in the game.

    Also, don't play with raging barbarians on. This option makes you keep all your focus protecting your borders from barbarians, so you will not even have time to go to war with other civilizations, and settling news lands will be a nightmare.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
    esvath likes this.
  5. esvath

    esvath Apprentice of Erebus

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    This is good idea. I'll see to this.
     
  6. Covr

    Covr Chieftain

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    Thank you all for discussion! Sorry for not quoting your exact words, as I am going to wrote a general response to my message.

    Esvath - thx for observing AI tips, I am going to use them.

    You are all MoM eXtended veterans, which is good. Your dedication and knowledge about FFH and mod is clearly seen, it obviously also a good thing. Unfortunately sometimes this could be also a major drawback, as you don't have the 'fresh eye' look, and you tend to have one proper-winning strategy for your gameplays, based purely on cold calculations. What I loved about FFH2 and Wildmana is that although horribly balanced, it gave an enormous opportunity for the player to customize it's way during the game. You could win with Bannor using cultural victory+slavery, you could win with Clans not only by military, etc. Each gameplay was not streamlined, the game just suggested some better ways of playing, and some choices were obviously wrong, but nothing was necessary. You could try your own way of winning and loosing. With the amount of content/civics/technologies and civilizations it gave something like freedom never seen at any game.

    Right now the amount of content is much larger, mechanics are better, even the balance is better, but in someway along we have lost that freedom of choice. I've read your advise and it seems that game will be extremely difficult without meta managing resources by building warehouse district and specializing cities. To do that you have to pick merchants guild. But what if I want to play with different guilds (a good point by Vital Brasil)? It's killing your choice. To have convenient amount of wood you have to invest not only in merchants guild but also on Rangers Guild, just to build city improvements for that resource. And what if I want to play small, few cities large, defensive and alienated civilization? There would be no way to specialize your cities, as there is a low number of them. So we have less ways to customize our gameplay while paradoxically game has more content to offer.

    You have asked me of my early civ development, opening strategies - on Immortal and level below it is always about survival: 3 improvements (food, wood, stone) by worker+construction site+warrior caste research+monument and legend/hero and some warriors. Then some elementary buildings and more warriors to defend a settler (I tend to found second city before 40th turn). And then again survival, trying to destroy some lairs and maybe explore map with a group of 3 units (as sending 1 is always a suicide). Of course, this is streamlined. During my old FFH2 gameplays you could do much more at the beginning despite the fact that game offered less content at that time.
    There is one thing that Civ6 has done really good - at almost every turn something is happening. Exploring is rewarding, doing different stuff also gives you something. With the amount of content that Extended already have, I believe that we are missing an opportunity to create something similar, maybe even much better, but right now we are loosing the dynamics of the game.

    As for the lack of resources: I believe it is mostly affecting my early to mid game, as some crucial and base buildings are being made of wood. Then stone comes up, however up to this time my games are either finished or my domination over AIs is so significant that further gameplay is not needed.
    I am aware of the warehouse district and I have never been fond of ultra-specializing cities(e.g. one for wood, one for stone, etc), my every city should have it's own source of resources, obviously some cities are going to have more lbmills, some less. Choosing some locations tailored specifically for wood/stone+warehouse district is a luxury hardly seen at higher difficulty levels. On Immortal most often you just have to settle where there is a barbarian-free spot, taking into consideration that a city must have been close to capital.

    Oh, and the barbarians, you have all probably get used to them, but lowering their initial number is going to give new life to early game. It's not strategic to postpone your whole development until you get huge army to destroy some ******* lair - it's just wasting your time.The rewards are not that good, especially if you are not interested in having lairs as XP farms. I suppose it always looks a bit the same: get a hero/legend+2 experienced units, feel safe, sacrifice some units and attack nearest lair. That create 2 new units, sacrifice them again and attack another lair. Defend the city, etc, etc. It makes game repetitive and slow. Also, the longer way to get an archer is not helping at all. This unit should have been available earlier, really.

    Funny thing is that you actually discourage building palisades and walls, except maybe most crucial cities. My problem with early game is that every city is crucial, and every city is going to be attacked soon (early game+immortal). So magically improving defense is not possible, as it takes time to research that spell or get right mana.

    About not having every tech researched - I understand that concept, it was also a base of vanilla Civ series and other turn base games. And during my last games I have not even reached half of tech tree of my most developed technologies! Some of other were really underdeveloped. You have all finished some games with 5.3. and 5.4. - which turn+difficulty was it at your last turn? And how does your techtree looked like? Have you reached any of the 'end' technologies? If not, we are having another waste.

    Again, to sum it up - right now not only picking a bad strategy ****s up your game, even the smallest choices made not by the book (e.g. not investing in merchants/rangers guilds, not recruiting lots of one-shot military units during first 50 turns) is going to screw your gameplay. And I believe that you are used to some bad habits reg barbarians, accepting the fact that high amount of them is in some way killing the fun and vastly slowing early to mid game.
     
  7. Vital Brasil

    Vital Brasil Chieftain

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    I see your point Covr, but i need to disagree at some extent. MoM Extended is not streamlined. Sure its more streamlined than in FFH, but still there are many paths to win the game with any civilization. I think things makes more sense in MoM Extended (lorewise) than in vanilla FFH and also choices have a deeper impact, both i consider a good thing.

    I'll just give a few examples. Esvath said he won a game with Amurites neglecting science, religion and focusing only on mind mana and spellresearch and his army was mostly made of phantom warriors. In 5.3 i've won a time victory game with the same civilization (an epic game which took more than 1 month to finish btw) and i went for a totally different strategy. Since i went for the time victory i tried to be decent at everything, so i finished my game with 3 noble districts (1 bard, 1 religion and 1 military), 4 sage districts (2 for science and 2 for spellresearch) and 3 merchants district to give me gold to maintain all that. On top of that i focused heavily on empyrean and managed to make my empire a place where a great person would born every few turns. I even bought the philosopher trait. My army was composed mostly of battlemages, archmages and firebows. See, a totally different way of playing the same civilization, but that can be viable if the right choices are taken.

    Another example: Lsojalfar are traditionally a defensive civilizations and their military strenght relies on their archers, but i decided to try a different approach. I managed to win a military victory with them and to achiev this I got the Magi Circle guild and started hoarding nature mana, so my animals summons could be numerous and strong. Also my recon units had the beast king class to boost my animals and my high priests had powerful auras to boost them as well.

    Another example: The way you play the Calabim civ can be totally influenced by the vampire court you want to focus. If you go for the black court you may want to focus on death mana and on magi circle; if you go for red court you may want to focus on chaos mana and on military techs. You can be a culture powerhouse with the right guilds, mana, civics, districts, classes (bards or gladiators), traits, religion if you feel like so. You just need to plan ahead and that's whats so great about Xtended.

    I am pretty sure you can even win a Cultural Victory with the Clan of Embers if feel like you want some challenge. Just make the right choices and do it. Sure, that's not the optimal way to play them, but nothing forbids you from doing so.

    The new 5.4 version brought us new was to play the Austrin and the Aos Si civilizations.

    In a nutshell, there are many ways to play with all the civilizations (yeah, some are more "versatile" than others), but MoM Extended requires much more creativity and planning than any other FFH mod i've played (including FFH itself). Leader choice, tech priority, districts choice, improvement priority, mana hoard priority, units disciplines and classes, spellresearch priority, guilds of choice, religion, the way you spend culture points (improving guilds or purchasing traits) and the way you decide to spend your scarce resources (will you want to equip your army or to improve your cities ?)... All of those things allow you to play the way you want with only a few limitations and make your choices really really matter.

    Now, answering your question. I only play on deity difficulty and on marathon speed. I only finish the tech tree when i go for the time victory, otherwise there are always a few techs i don't research...
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  8. Alexej

    Alexej Prince

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    Playing without rangers guild, lumber problems might be bit hard to swallow but its manageable if you really want those lumber buildings/units. Even culture gathering is easier using rangers guild because of animal cages. So civs with good recon units like Austrin, Svarts, Balseraphs need to take that guild. You can manage without but only if you are masochist xD Civs with focus on melee like Khazad, Bannor are harder to play without apprentice guild. Every civ has its own guild preferences but you can make your own way of playing if you wish and sometimes its very interesting. I do not like sacrifice of new recruits to clear barbarian lairs on start, but its mod setting and I do rarely sacrifice more than 10-15 units. By that time local legend should be able to farm barbarians with some strong support troops and adept and thats the point where you start to feel your military might growing.
    Every game I have played feels like great fantasy story around turn 800. My path to victory is allways set by that time, yet interest in continuig is not decreasing there and I love finishing my fantasy stories in this awesome mod ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017

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