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KestrelPi

New Rock Paper Shotgun alpha review + comments

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So there's a new Rock Paper Shotgun alpha review which is always good opportunity to see how the game is looking outside of our knowledgeable little bubble in here.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/11/24/massive-chalice-alpha-review/

Here's some key quotes:

While I’m delighted by the idea of fielding a fighting force of stumbling, arthritic dunces, I’m less keen on the fact that my first shot at Massive Chalice’s campaign fails to provide me with a single archer – or Hunter, as they’re called here. Your heroes are randomly generated, you see, and those devil dice have rolled an entire outfit made up of melee units called Caberjacks, who slam things with a giant timber trunk, and grenadiers, dressed up here as Alchemists. There are only these three unit types in the game, and I don’t want to miss out on one during my first playthrough so – call me a coward – I cancel back to the main menu and start again. No Hunters. I start again. All hunters. And again…

It seems like the random start is still working a lot better in theory than in practice. People just tend to restart when they don't get a nice spread, so there definitely needs to at least be a 'balanced' option, I feel.

Massive Chalice leans heavily on its random number generator throughout, and not always to good effect: my ensuing experience with the campaign suggests the first few hours of combat would be pretty monotonous with a homogeneous force. Later on, individuals distinguish themselves with unlockable abilities and weapons, but initially your tactical toolset is a little bare, even with all three classes in play.

Fair, but the latest patch distinguishes the classes a little more, I feel, and hybrids will take that further.

Your efforts to mould a master race are, however, heavily dictated by circumstance: the selection of candidates for this position is pretty thin. I only have a couple of heroes who aren’t revolting degenerates, or simply infertile, and I’m torn between whether I level them up in the field, where they will be more effective than their peers, or preserve their attributes by making them regent. The best candidate is the brainy and hearty Pharlain HayRoss – but she’s only 15. The nearest fertile male is twice her age. That match might seem more acceptable in a game built upon the historical truth of medieval courtships, like Crusader Kings, and I know it’s just a number and not a real person, but, somehow, the prospect of forcing a child to have sex with a much older man feels a little out of keeping in a game with a giant talking chalice.

I always wondered if 15 wasn't juuust on the wrong site of creepy. After all it's not historical accuracy we're going for here.

There’s another thing, too. It’s possible to choose same sex couples – though they aren’t able to breed. I’m sure it sounded like a good idea on paper, and I would normally applaud the representation of non-hetero families. But these pairings are not consensual and the heroes themselves state no sexual preference. So, it’s sort of doubly odd to force people into an arranged marriage for the sole purpose of breeding – and yet ensure that this is impossible. You can adopt a child later in the game, but it comes at a disproportionately large cost to breeding and it won’t inherit the genetic characteristics of its adoptive parents. I don’t know what the game is trying to say here, or even what it’s trying to achieve mechanically, but it feels muddled.

Also fair, I think. Right now adoption is still too punitive, so these options, while they occasionally have strategic value, do so so rarely that some people are reporting this as a bug. I do think this needs addressing, as we've brought up before.

Alchemists are otherwise something of a liability, it seems. Their explosives can easily catch friendlies in their blast, and their to-hit percentages plummet at anything other than close range – which is not the ideal range to use explosives, generally speaking. They only have five flasks to throw anyway, which you rapidly exhaust. Perhaps they unlock wider functions later on, but, in the early game, they seem pretty redundant next to the Hunters.

Alchemists do come into their own (and Hunters become rather weak), but I think some of the new changes will help with this, and further balancing.

I don’t know that the tactical interplay between classes is as rich and deep as it might be, and the Alchemist’s fumbling for purpose suggests there’s a lot to balance still. I’d certainly wish for more options, more quickly – more ways to distinguish units from each other – as even across the course of a single battle, I found my attention beginning to wander.

I think this will come with hybrids and balance etc, again, so it's on the right track.

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Alchemists are otherwise something of a liability, it seems. Their explosives can easily catch friendlies in their blast, and their to-hit percentages plummet at anything other than close range – which is not the ideal range to use explosives, generally speaking. They only have five flasks to throw anyway, which you rapidly exhaust. Perhaps they unlock wider functions later on, but, in the early game, they seem pretty redundant next to the Hunters.

Alchemists do come into their own (and Hunters become rather weak), but I think some of the new changes will help with this, and further balancing.

I have seen a lot of people trying and failing to use the alchemists as a long-range artillery type of unit instead of a mid-range AoE unit. I still have my reservations about Darty Birdy Bang-Bang, but at least those people will finally be able to live out their dreams. :)

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I have seen a lot of people trying and failing to use the alchemists as a long-range artillery type of unit instead of a mid-range AoE unit. I still have my reservations about Darty Birdy Bang-Bang, but at least those people will finally be able to live out their dreams. :)

I'm not sure that's right.

If I want to have extra range and accuracy I have to miss out on the extra item. I usually had Steady Hander along with Wunderpants (most fights have Lapses or Wrinklers in them). Now I have to choose between losing out on Wunderpants protection or losing out on the accuracy needed to hit a long range throw. Unless you chug on Age'n'Rage Draughts regularly, you are going to miss range 9 throws a lot, which is just silly.

I'm assuming they didn't change the range penalties for Alchemists. Need to play more to find out.

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I think the Alchemist changes are great on paper. They really emphasise 2 ways of using them, one maximising their offensive potential, and the other as more of a support character.

Also, that new skill DOES provide a bonus to both accuracy and range, so it's like having a steady hander + extra range, without having to take up an item slot.

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Just checked with a "young" character in my all alchemist game with everyone at level 10. She has Tranquil and a Steady Hander equipped for a total of 120 + 42% accuracy. I gave her Spirit of the Dart Falcon, but it's showing no accuracy change from that. May be a bug with old save game though. I was also able to take extra item since it was still at level 6 on that character.

Throwing 9 tiles away she drops to 81% chance to hit the tile. Assuming I take Wunderpants over Steady Hander (because extra item should be on the same line), that would only be 63%. With no Tranquility either, it would drop to 39%. Very risky.

I need to try and survive long enough into a new game to figure out if that is the correct numbers or if I'm missing some accuracy from Dart Falcon in this old save.

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Re: The random start, I think they'll either need to make it pseudo-random or give you the choice -- since it seems like it is more annoyance than feature at the moment. I like the random start, but I am not sure it as the only option is a good way to showcase everything.

I also wish Hybrids were in the game right now, instead of probably a few patches away, since I think will help stifle some of the early access previews that talk about the 'spareness' of things.

Smiles

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Just checked with a "young" character in my all alchemist game with everyone at level 10. She has Tranquil and a Steady Hander equipped for a total of 120 + 42% accuracy. I gave her Spirit of the Dart Falcon, but it's showing no accuracy change from that. May be a bug with old save game though. I was also able to take extra item since it was still at level 6 on that character.

Throwing 9 tiles away she drops to 81% chance to hit the tile. Assuming I take Wunderpants over Steady Hander (because extra item should be on the same line), that would only be 63%. With no Tranquility either, it would drop to 39%. Very risky.

I need to try and survive long enough into a new game to figure out if that is the correct numbers or if I'm missing some accuracy from Dart Falcon in this old save.

I think they said in the patch notes that the changes will only affect future generations in current saves.

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Re: The random start, I think they'll either need to make it pseudo-random or give you the choice -- since it seems like it is more annoyance than feature at the moment. I like the random start, but I am not sure it as the only option is a good way to showcase everything.

I also wish Hybrids were in the game right now, instead of probably a few patches away, since I think will help stifle some of the early access previews that talk about the 'spareness' of things.

Smiles

Yeah, but I can totally see why. Right now, a change to a caberjack is just a change to a caberjack. The more significant a change, the more likely it would be to affect a hybrid. So a change to a caberjack might also affect hunter-caberjacks, alchemist-caberjacks, caberjack-alchemists and caberjack-hunters. So it pays in the long run to make sure they have things pretty locked down class-wise before they add this layer.

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I think they said in the patch notes that the changes will only affect future generations in current saves.

Just checked in a new game. The bonus accuracy from Spirit of the Dart Falcon (DF) isn't applied directly to your accuracy. Having read the text a bit more closely, it is a range and accuracy boost to your flasks. So unlike Eagle Eye, you don't get it on your melee strikes as well.

Based on the numbers I'm getting from the game for various accuracy values, there seems to be two regions of scaling for range. For an alchemist without DF, accuracy varies from 1.5x at 1 square to 0.97x at 3 squares to 0.5x at 7 squares. With DF, accuracy scales from 0.96x at 4 squares to 0.5x at 9 squares. I can't say anything about 1-3 squares with DF, because the accuracy is too damn high to be below 100% (need a level 4 nervous guy!).

I don't have a perfect formula that can duplicate all the values I'm seeing in the game, but this will do as a rough estimate. My tentative conclusion is that DF lets you throw further with the same accuracy penalty or the same distance with less accuracy penalty. You pick which. Throwing at maximum range always has an element of risk.

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