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Acheron

Newbies to level 10 by year 150

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Using this strategy, all trainees coming of age by year 150 or so (probably sooner) will be level 10, even if their parents are both level 1. This strategy is based on building 7 crucibles and turning the highest level heroes into standards. Regents and partners should be selected based on traits, their level is virtually irrelevant. Full disclosure, all this is theoretical at this point but I'm being fairly conservative with the numbers. I will explain my reasoning here and I'll start a new playthrough and update once it's tested (hopefully I get a break this weekend).

OK, so on to the strategy. During the first battle, farm as much XP as you can onto one hero. He/she will be your first standard. After the battle, your first 9 research projects are buildings (1 keep, 2 crucible, 3 keep, 4-9 crucibles). Select regents who are as young and inexperienced as possible (that's right, the lowest XP heroes), special shout out to the bountiful trait so you don't run into baby drought problems. Each time you build a crucible, retire the highest XP hero. For battles, try and keep the same strategy and farm as much XP onto one hero as possible so that he/she can be your next Standard. This should take you to around year 75.

Let's assume that your 7 standards average roughly 1800 XP by this point. This is fairly conservative: With the farming technique above, your very first standard should be able to get close to 1500. Standards give roughly 1/3 of their experience to trainees over the course of 15 years. This observation is based on me looking at the XP/day from Standards at a few different points during my last playthrough (XP/day multiplied by 365 multiplied by 15, divided by the Standard's XP). I think it's fairly constant, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Based on that, each standard gives roughly 600 XP to all newborns, and so the whole gang gives 4200 to each trainee born after around year 75, so by year 90 you'll start getting level 6ish newbies.

By year 125 (50 years after all crucibles have been built), there should be a complete turnover of your Standards. At this point, the average should be around 6000 XP if you've continued to farm a core group of future Standards. Now each standard gives roughly 2,000 XP to all newborns and the whole gang gives 14,000, which as it happens is the XP requirement to get to level 10. Give yourself 15-25 years to train a new batch of youngsters and by year 150 you should have a full retinue of young maxed out heroes.

Epilogue: I hear you asking: Are 3 keeps going to give me sufficient heroes? What happened to the Sagewright's Guild? Why should I even want to get to level 10 by year 150? A few points. First, I think 3 keeps is sufficient to be self sustaining, you only need about 2 babies per keep per 15-year-generation to keep everything fully staffed (7 standards, 6 parents, 5 active = 18 heroes, so 6 babies every 15 years should be more than enough to keep up with deaths, plus you only need 3 level 10 Standards to create level 10 newbies, so you only really need 14 heroes). Plus, after year 75 you can research whatever your heart desires, so adoption and recruit heroes can be used if you find yourself in baby trouble. Remember: level 1 parents still crank out level 10 kids, so it's most important to focus on bountiful parents. And speaking of research, I personally don't do much of it, so the lack of a Guild doesn't cause me too much grief. If you really want one, this strategy works pretty much the same with 6 crucibles. Finally, why bother with the race to level 10? I think it's a good thing because once you can reliably crank out level 10 trainees, you can focus exclusively on marrying and retiring Standards based on traits for the next 150 years, so you can create the perfect bloodlines without distraction. Second, as I've said you only need 3 level 10 Standards to keep this going, so that's 4 Crucible areas you can afford to let become completely corrupted, giving you plenty of wiggle room and also letting you choose defense missions based on the rewards you want. Third, in the tactical layer you can now focus exclusively on farming your heroes for relics (pretty sure this involves giving one hero all the kills until they get a nickname, then letting them get killed) and leveling said relics. If executed correctly, you will have 5 level 10 heroes with level 10 relics and excellent traits. What's not to like?

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I think that ultimately this sort of thing is a strategy they'd do better to balance out of the game. I don't agree that getting level 10 heroes halfway through the timeline is a good thing, mainly because the difficulty curve of the monsters is designed to assume that you're not pumping out level 10 heroes at year 150. So while it may well be true that you can concentrate on traits after year 150, the heroes will be so far ahead of the curve that you're guaranteed some pretty uninspiring battles for the majority of the game.

I think it's more interesting to balance XP with your desire to breed in good traits, with all of the other considerations, across the 300 year time period.

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I agree with you. I think we've just stumbled upon a dominant strategy in the game which should get plugged up. Others have mentioned the crucible effect, I just wanted to point out how extreme it can get. The easiest solution is to limit the number of crucibles to 3 or something. It would be nice if the absolute optimal play style still wouldn't result in level 10 until year 250 or so.

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Having given this strategy a try, I can confirm that it does cause pretty quick leveling, but the trade-off is that the first two generations are REALLY difficult. Limited heroes to choose from, all research time is put towards buildings and then towards adoption and finding heroes to fill out positions and keep bloodlines from dying off. At one point, I had so few heroes left in my retinue to keep the Crucibles and the Keeps stocked that at one point I had to go into a battle with only one hero in my retinue, and I needed to save-scum in order to keep them alive.

So I'd say this strategy's biggest weakness is the number of heroes. When your strategy is to rush out Crucibles as quickly as possible if your Keeps can't supply enough heroes in the meantime, your numbers thin out really quickly. Once you've managed to build the Crucibles, you then have to get very creative and spend all of your time managing your Keeps. Once you manage to stabilize your bloodlines, you'll probably find that most of your heroes, while high level, have pretty awful traits because you were matchmaking purely out of necessity and prioritizing fertility, and also because you were promoting Standards based on level rather than on personality, so you have to spend the next few generations doing some clever breeding to iron out some of those problems.

I would still say this is a dominant strategy. I don't think it's possible to do without a lot of save-scumming, so I don't think it's TOO bad, but I don't think it's quite broken enough to ruin the fun, and I certainly don't think it's easy to do if you haven't played the game before, but even if you don't take it to THIS extreme, rushing Crucibles early on is currently too easy not to nerf a little. I'd say increasing the building time for the third Crucible onward would be plenty.

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OK, so I tested the theory out this weekend. I screwed up a bunch and as ddrussianinja stated, it's tough to pull off during generation 2 and requires plenty of adoption/recruit heroes research in between crucibles. However, I got through it without much scum saving and got my first level 10 hero at Year 111, Day 79, and my first level 10 trainee (13 year old) at Year 122, Day 95, with plenty more soon afterwards. Brad, I have the saves if you are interested in them. I ended up using only 4 crucibles instead of 7. I think if you were lucky with fertility, it might actually be possible to get trainees to level 10 before year 100 (probably not without save scumming/perfect luck). I certainly had level 9 trainees by that point.

The really important thing to this strategy, and the biggest hole in the XP curve right now, is XP farming for one hero. Combined with hunter stealth, the reward XP/kill, and the region bonus Local Crucible XP bonus, it's possible to create incredibly high Standards without save scumming, who in turn pass on that farmed XP to all future trainees.

I don't think this would be possible without Hunter stealth, at least not without save scumming. This is because stealth allows one hero to basically walk slowly over the map and pick off pawns one by one. The bonus XP/kill allowed me to bring a barely level 4 hero to mid-level 6 in one level. The Local Crucible XP bonus lets you pass on 1250 XP to trainees with one Standard by year 10.

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Why allow the player to have multiple crucibles in the first place? It seems like it could be counter to the fiction to have multiple anyway.

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One way to balance it out would be to make standards regional, so that then positioning becomes important. So standards will have most influence over adjacent territories, etc, and significantly less further afield, so that that the effect wouldn't be universal across the real, though. So to get the full effect you'd really have to surround a keep with crucibles.

I don't think this would solve the problem on its own, but it would be a way of making the choice more interesting.

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One way to balance it out would be to make standards regional, so that then positioning becomes important. So standards will have most influence over adjacent territories, etc, and significantly less further afield, so that that the effect wouldn't be universal across the real, though. So to get the full effect you'd really have to surround a keep with crucibles.

I don't think this would solve the problem on its own, but it would be a way of making the choice more interesting.

I love this idea, KestrelPi. You can never have more than 3 standards per keep, and only if you forego potentially more satisfying regional bonuses. It works better with the fiction and still means there is some use for filling up every province. Along with a way to curb XP farming, I think this would go a long way to solving some of the problem. Also, we have to remember that there are other difficulties. The hardest can include such an XP nerf for crucibles that you basically have to be perfect to get to level 10s by late game. The other difficulties are for more casual players, so dominant strategies aren't as big a concern.

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I'd rather put a hard cap on Crucibles (max: 3 or 4?) and/or hit the build times than change their zone of influence. The build times in particular seem could be tweaked non-linearly, with something like the first 2 being relatively quick affairs, and Crucible 3+ taking a hefty investment unless you've got a solid Sagewright's Guild backing it up.

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I've disliked positioning importance in X-Com. It basically said to play, you need to do it this way. I'm fine with the positioning importance MC already has (inner vs outer regions), but I am not sure I'd want to add much more.

Smiles

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Another option would be to have each Crucible give diminishing returns. 1 crucible gives 100% experience, with two each gives 90% each, etc.

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Another way might be give more xp at the end for participating with a kill on top of the scenario xp. Or that morale is lowered if for the team players if they didn't contribute to the fight, for e.g. didn't give any damage.

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What if more standards provided training for different periods in a heros life rather than all training happening in the first 15 years?

The first standard helps for years 0-15 and has the normal effect on a heros personality traits.

The second helps with years 16-30 and has no effect on personality traits.

The third helps with years 31-45 and has no effect on personality traits.

The fourth helps with years 46-60 and has no effect on personality traits.

The first standard would still be super important, but further standards would naturally be reduced in importance as they benefit less of a heros lifetime.

Additionally, a regent would get no benefit from any standard while they are installed in a keep. So regents that are installed at a later age will have more experience to impart to their children than super young baby machines.

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