Rock Paper Shotgun preview

Uberfrog

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A nicely written, generally positive preview from RPS’s Nate Crowley: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/humankind-preview-hands-on

It sounds like each culture’s bonus is nicely impactful, leading to some meaningful decisions about when to era up. But as I suppose is inevitable in a game with 10⁶ possible culture combinations, the snowball effect (particularly versus the AI) can be extremely powerful. Obviously the game isn’t finished yet and balance patches will continue for some time after release. I wonder how this chimes with people’s experience of the OpenDevs?

This preview build also doesn’t include the end game, on which I think a lot is riding in terms of bringing the game and its familiar 4X ever-increasing numbers to a satisfying conclusion.

Some quotes from the article:

Rock Paper Shotgun said:
By forcing you to assess risk and rewards situationally, and constantly shaking up the context you're working in, Humankind does a great job of avoiding no-brainer choices. There are no obvious beelines, and you're often incentivised to take picks which you haven't tried before, because some new factor in play makes them a better deal.

But I can't help but wonder if I'd keep feeling this way after a few more weeks with Humankind, and the chance to discover some truly broken synergies. Already, I've found one tactic that I can honestly never bring myself to shy away from, since it's never done anything less than turned me into a god: the self-replicating caveman swarm.

Rock Paper Shotgun said:
...even in Humankind's more circumstantial decisions, there are often options whose outcomes just put you too far ahead in the numbers game not to consider. To whit, I rarely chose the culture picks I actually fancied the look of during my playthroughs, since there was almost always one culture offering such a towering synergy that I couldn't turn it down. Equally, mass-producing holy sites on some godforsaken tundra purely for stability bonuses didn't feel convincingly... religious. My civic picks, meanwhile, were decided entirely by what would move me towards the greatest bonus stacks, with nothing to do with what I actually wanted my culture to be like.

This doesn't make Humankind a bad strategy game. But it's a shame, as it completely undermines the "tell the story of your own civilisation" premise which is so wonderfully supported by artistic and narrative direction. You're not really telling any story - you're trying to increase a score by any means necessary, because that's how you get the most happy-brain-feel.
 

FinalDoomsday

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As someone who is competent at strategy games but not so astute at number crunching or optimising to blast through the highest difficulties I'm somewhat lucky as I generally don't notice the exploits and over powered synergies unless they become very obvious. Nate seemed rather focused on trying to break the game which in some ways is a good trait for someone playing a preview. Hopefully the Neolithic horde can be adjusted.
 
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As someone who is competent at strategy games but not so astute at number crunching or optimising to blast through the highest difficulties I'm somewhat lucky as I generally don't notice the exploits and over powered synergies unless they become very obvious. Nate seemed rather focused on trying to break the game which in some ways is a good trait for someone playing a preview. Hopefully the Neolithic horde can be adjusted.

Like you, I don't "crunch numbers" generally, and usually play with personal goals in mind as much as the Game Victory Conditions. In the Humankind Open Devs I found myself trying to build historically pretty cities rather than 'optimal' ones, and I suspect I will keep on doing that after Release - it's often what I do in Civ VI, after all.

As for the Neolithic Horde, that's been discussed quite a bit, so it's a well-known "gimmick". It stands alongside the Harappan Runner Rush as an early game exploit: The Harappa Scout-equivalent is noticeably stronger than regular scouts, and if you chose Harappans for the Ancient Era, all your Neolithic 'tribes' automatically convert/upgrade to Runners - giving you, potentially, a nearly unstoppable army against other Factions' Scouts. You can easily eliminate 1 - 2 neighbors before they get a third of the way through the Ancient Age, if they are close enough to you.

But it's not absolutely unstoppable: if you stay in the Neolithic long enough to accumulate 15 - 20 Tribes (or three-four times as many as is needed to advance to the Ancient Age) there's an absolute certainty that one or more other Factions will advance before you, and Harappans are almost always one of the first 1 - 3 Factions chosen. That means your horde of ordinary Scouts will face 5 or more Harappan Runners, which is a much closer fight, and one you could easily lose.

I notice that he didn't mention the other Gimmick in the game at the moment (or at least, as of the Victor Open Dev last month - if RPS got to play into the Fifth Age of the game, he had access to a special version: I'm greenly jealous): The Horse Archer Horde. Huns in the Classical and Mongols in the Medieval Ages are 'special' Factions: they build Outposts that can spawn horse archers from population and Influence, not needing to be built using multiple turns of Production. Those Outposts, unlike everybody else's, cannot be built into cities, but the Horse Archers come in groups of 4 (so Instant Army) and are disturbingly good on the tactical battlefield. If your neighbor picks Huns, guard yourself, build walls, buy every Spearman you can, and Pray. If he then goes Mongols, either make friends or Kiss Your A** Goodbye, because your normal Classical Armies of Horsemen and Archers, Chariots and Swordsmen, will be shot to pieces. Since both of these Factions get their Emblematic horse archers from the very beginning of the Age, regardless of Tech Level, they will also have armies of units way ahead of your own. It's a romp if you are playing them, and a nightmare if you are playing against them.

BUT all these comments are over two months away from Release, and I am certain that lots of tweaking and changing of numbers (which is really easy to do with computers) is taking place and will take place before the game is let loose on a foaming mob of gamers.
 

KrikkitTwo

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As for the Neolithic Horde, that's been discussed quite a bit, so it's a well-known "gimmick". It stands alongside the Harappan Runner Rush as an early game exploit: The Harappa Scout-equivalent is noticeably stronger than regular scouts, and if you chose Harappans for the Ancient Era, all your Neolithic 'tribes' automatically convert/upgrade to Runners - giving you, potentially, a nearly unstoppable army against other Factions' Scouts. You can easily eliminate 1 - 2 neighbors before they get a third of the way through the Ancient Age, if they are close enough to you.

But it's not absolutely unstoppable: if you stay in the Neolithic long enough to accumulate 15 - 20 Tribes (or three-four times as many as is needed to advance to the Ancient Age) there's an absolute certainty that one or more other Factions will advance before you, and Harappans are almost always one of the first 1 - 3 Factions chosen. That means your horde of ordinary Scouts will face 5 or more Harappan Runners, which is a much closer fight, and one you could easily lose.

The Neolithic horde is a very solvable problem.. same way as city spam is solvable... put a population cap with penalties over the cap (you can't control that big a population, eventually they start deserting and becoming their own tribes)
(same solvability as Harrapan scout rush... have Nomads not upgrade into Scouts... they can wait to upgrade into settlers)
 
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The Neolithic horde is a very solvable problem.. same way as city spam is solvable... put a population cap with penalties over the cap (you can't control that big a population, eventually they start deserting and becoming their own tribes)
(same solvability as Harrapan scout rush... have Nomads not upgrade into Scouts... they can wait to upgrade into settlers)

Unfortunately, the "Settler" unit in Humankind doesn't appear until the Early Modern (Renaissance) Age - most Outposts that become cities are formed by regular military units early in the game. But you are correct in principle: it is not hard to find limiting factors for the wholesale conversion of Hunter-Gatherer Tribes into regular military units of any kind at the transition from Neolithic to "civilized".
 

mitsho

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The Harrappan exploit is adressed easily as it is quite clear that it isn‘t supposed to play like that. The Harrappans aren‘t supposed to be those early rushers, but rather peaceful builders. They are supposed to be the victims of the Assyrians and Mycaeneans. So it it‘s the other way around, something went wrong.

The neolithic boom on the other hand might just vanish on higher difficulty levels. Or they may need to make the wildlife more threatening. Again, it seems like a balancing issues, I‘m not as worried about that. It‘s balance and if it takes them half a year after release to get it balanced, I‘m okay with it. I will not use the exploits, as I will try to experience a story rather than finding the optimal combination and strategy.

I however really want them to include a train graphic for moving between two train stations. That‘s something that really bugs me, not because it‘s unrealistic, but because it is silly and memeable, and I want Humankind to be the serious game, not the funny one. We had that.
 

FinalDoomsday

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I however really want them to include a train graphic for moving between two train stations. That‘s something that really bugs me, not because it‘s unrealistic, but because it is silly and memeable, and I want Humankind to be the serious game, not the funny one. We had that.

What happens at the moment? Do the railways have trains going across them because thats really nice if they do.
 

Uberfrog

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The Units run really fast. It looks quite silly. It'd be really cool, if they'd board a train (or later: plane).


(Can't i post to a specific minute? If not, the bit about the rails start at 14 minute 0 seconds)
It’s not that bad... from the way you were describing it I was expecting something more Benny Hill! :lol:

I agree that a train animation would be cool, although I imagine tricky to do right. You don’t want these animations to take too long, and making the train too fast also has potential for silliness...
 

FinalDoomsday

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The Units run really fast. It looks quite silly. It'd be really cool, if they'd board a train (or later: plane).


(Can't i post to a specific minute? If not, the bit about the rails start at 14 minute 0 seconds)

Thanks for posting I understand what you mean now. I seem to remember in another video I saw little trains going across the tracks, not corresponding to any unit movement but just as a visual which is still nice. The final era has cars that travel around your cities that I'm looking forward to.
 

KrikkitTwo

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Unfortunately, the "Settler" unit in Humankind doesn't appear until the Early Modern (Renaissance) Age - most Outposts that become cities are formed by regular military units early in the game. But you are correct in principle: it is not hard to find limiting factors for the wholesale conversion of Hunter-Gatherer Tribes into regular military units of any kind at the transition from Neolithic to "civilized".
Exactly... your nomads should be useless for anything besides populating cities...unless you hold onto them for 3 eras (they can continue to act like scouts, just not actually be scouts)
 

mitsho

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Benny Hill would be funny. I agree though that it's a very minor gripe :) and the small trains are okay, but they are more graphical busywork, few will notice. :)

Exactly... your nomads should be useless for anything besides populating cities...unless you hold onto them for 3 eras (they can continue to act like scouts, just not actually be scouts)

Ah now I get what you were trying to say. I do agree that nomads turning into military units (which scouts are) is bad. Scouts imho should be 0-population units, but also have no fighting power. They can flee a few times, but else they are toast when encountering someone else. Unlike the tribes in the neolithic. Again, the goal shouls be to make the militaristic cultures the badasses, and they mostly rely on other units which they have to build first.
 
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Benny Hill would be funny. I agree though that it's a very minor gripe :) and the small trains are okay, but they are more graphical busywork, few will notice. :)



Ah now I get what you were trying to say. I do agree that nomads turning into military units (which scouts are) is bad. Scouts imho should be 0-population units, but also have no fighting power. They can flee a few times, but else they are toast when encountering someone else. Unlike the tribes in the neolithic. Again, the goal shouls be to make the militaristic cultures the badasses, and they mostly rely on other units which they have to build first.

This depends on what, exactly, "scouts" are supposed to represent in the Ancient/Classical Ages. They are really, in both Humankind and Civ, 'artificial' units, because no military that I know of actually fielded 'scout' units. Instead, they sent out light troops, usually unarmored open formation infantry with maybe javelins, slings, spears, who could spot the enemy and then were light enough to run away before they got caught and slaughtered. In the Classical Age (at least around the Mediterranean, whose military forces I'm most familiar with) they kept getting better armed until they became Peltasts (Greek/Macedonian) or Auxilia (Roman) with regular shields, swords, spears, and the ability to operate as flank guards, battle infantry in rough country, or light skirmishers.

I think for the game, the Scout has to remain a very weak military unit: doesn't require population because they represent a much smaller group than a regular unit, have better speed (especially over rough country - they aren't normally in any kind of formation) but, I would propose, lower combat factor than they have now but the ability to retreat before combat (in Civ). If they are caught by cavalry or anybody else while retreating, there would be a brief massacre, but normally it should be near-suicidal to use them in combat except (as IRL) against severely damaged and/or retreating units.

It would be really nice to have a potential Upgrade of the initial Scout into something like Peltasts (which were used by groups as different as classical Greeks, Thracians, Spanish, and Persians) with more combat ability but some of the Scout mobility in rough country. As said, it would be 'really nice' but probably 'way too late for such an additional combat unit to be added to Humankind before release and certainly it would have to wait on either a Mod or Civ VII in Civ.
 

Elhoim

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and the small trains are okay, but they are more graphical busywork, few will notice.

Oh, they are very noticeable. I love seeing them strolling through the plains. If there's something I love about HK is that attention to detail, that feeling of looking at humanity from above.
 
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Oh, they are very noticeable. I love seeing them strolling through the plains. If there's something I love about HK is that attention to detail, that feeling of looking at humanity from above.

The Humankind game map is so mesmerizing that I I sometimes stop playing just to watch everything that is going on - birds in the air, wild animals trotting across the plains, carts and people wandering the streets of the cities - The last time any game looked this good was Settlers 6, which had people bargaining in the marketplace of my little medieval town and rabbits cavorting in the fields around: no game between then and Humankind now has been so visually captivating.
 

mitsho

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Oh, they are very noticeable. I love seeing them strolling through the plains. If there's something I love about HK is that attention to detail, that feeling of looking at humanity from above.

Maybe I'm just not like that. :) Or maybe I should get a bigger screen to play.
 
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