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Selke

Strategy Layer in v0.86

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Update v0.86 introduced some major changes to the strategy layer. I'll let Brad do the honors.

We’ve also made some big adjustments to the amount of time that it takes to create buildings on the map. We’re trying to make tactical tech more attractive as opposed to just rushing to build the map out. This is a work in progress and there’s more balancing to be done, but this should put the game into a state where the difficulty is more consistent throughout!

The patch notes (LINK) have a full rundown, but the short version is that "adjustments" means everything takes longer to build, time ramps up faster, and Sagewrights provide a smaller research bonus.

Discussion questions to kick us off:

- Does this feel like it has affected your overall success rate?

- What is the first Weapon/Item/Armor you research? When are you researching it?

- When are you building your first Crucible? Your first Sagewright's Guild?

- Are you following a strict early-game build order? At what point do you feel like you can proactively explore your options rather than reactively following a standard script?

I haven't played the new patch yet, but just by reading the notes I'm not getting the impression that this doesn't address the issue of buildings trumping items at all. In my eyes, Massive Chalice is fundamentally an engine building game, and you will fail when the 50 year crunch happens if your engine isn't churning out enough heroes. In essence, hitting 3-4 Keeps is still essential, it just takes longer now, which ends up pushing out tactical research even farther on the timeline.

My go-to build has been Keep 2 > Crucible 1 > Keep 3 > Guild 1, then branching out into tactical items and "luxury" buildings. Usually I'll need to Recruit heroes once or twice in order to fill out Regents and Partners. All in all, that's about 40 years of base building before touching any tech.

In light of the changes, the Crucible rush (funneling all kills onto one of your starting heroes to install a ~level 4 Standard early on) looks less viable due to age. Going Keep 2 > Crucible now takes us to year 23 on the timeline alone, compared to year 12. That means that (1) the Standard will older, meaning less time to contribute his experience to Trainees, (2) I'm a Keep short of where I'd normally be at year 23, meaning he's contributing experience to fewer Trainees, and (3) I'm a Keep behind "schedule", which means the 50 Year Crunch is going to suuuuuuck. So my initial thought is to go Keep 2 > Keep 3 > Crucible 1, ending around year 35, and loading XP into Regents-to-be rather than a Standard-to-be.

At that point, I'm not sure a Sagewright's Guild is worth it - by the time it's done, my roster will be bottoming out - especially in light of its reduced contribution. So maybe the net result is slightly earlier Steady Handers? I'm probably leaning towards a fourth Keep though.

My overall take is that we're going to lose a lot more games, but the actual flow of tech won't change unless the hero economy is addressed by way of something dramatic, like giving us a second Keep to start the game.

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My main worry, is that it has made the already sometimes tricky early game harder without actually making anything else easier to compensate.

It might be the case that I'm more tempted to research than build in the early-mid game (years 60-100) when the numbers make more sense, but I still feel like during the first 60 years I'm going to be struggling purely for survival, at the expense of any other frivolities, so fertility/XP will always win over research during that time.

Lowering the birthrate on the top end and raising the birthrate on the bottom end may go some way to alleviating this, and then the choice between whether to build or research in the early game might be more interesting. I think it would help also to make the research of some of the items cheaper, and improve their stats a bit, to sweeten the deal.

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My main worry, is that it has made the already sometimes tricky early game harder without actually making anything else easier to compensate.
This is an incredibly succinct version of what I was laboriously trying to get to. High five.

It probably doesn't help matters that tech is more of a pool than a tree. Not having prerequisites to be concerned about, I just pluck out the items I care about (for me, it's Steady Handers first, Haste Hooch second) and ignore items for the rest of the game. Armor research has an element of progress to it, but the benefits feel comparatively modest, turning it into something of a luxury item.

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That's true; I always upgrade armour as it 'feels' like I should, but I rarely actually notice the difference when I go into battle. It doesn't really 'feel' like an upgrade, except visually.

Radical thought: what if in order to unlock level 4/6 skills you need refined armor, and in order to unlock 8/10 skills you need advanced armour? I don't know, maybe this is horrid, but it makes some sort of sense that you need to be kitted out as well as leveled up.

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Started a new game. I'm about 80 years in. Here's what I picked:

-Keep (7)

-Keep (17)

-Guild (25)

-Pre-emptive adoption somewhere around here (28)

-Recruitment somewhere around here (32)

-Crucible (I had the one keep with Bountiful churning out lvl 1 alchemists) (41)

-And FINALLY Health vials (46)

...And then an adoption some armor and Steady handers after that. (12+8+14+46+3=83, but I'm literally just approximating the times...)

I would say that building more keeps is always the first step, especially now that construction takes longer. I also tend to put out a guild as soon as I have the population for it. However, I really don't feel like I have a lot of time to start researching items in the early game. This wouldn't be so bad, but potions are practically mandatory when fighting Bulwarks and Wrinklers, and there is just not enough time to get buildings, heroes AND Items ready for them.

The beginning definetly became more forbidding. My heroes are staying below the lvl 4 line way longer than usual, because I'm not in a hurry to build again before I've got my armors sorted out. Nearing year 90 I've just reached lvl 5 with 2 heroes, which I guess is still a pretty slick pace. The first few fights against Bulwarks were especially hard, since I was low on able-bodied people and had no Potions yet, but I got by with minimal casualties and lots and lots of stunlocking. I wonder how new players to this patch are going to fare...

The upsides are huge though. Even If I have stabilized here, I'm going to have a steady proggression of building stuff in the midgame, and each building definately carries more weight! The battles in the early game are more challenging, but hopefully the midgame will keep up that challenge as a result. My kingdom's at a point where it can even handle a massive Defeat or two (but not three).

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That's true; I always upgrade armour as it 'feels' like I should, but I rarely actually notice the difference when I go into battle. It doesn't really 'feel' like an upgrade, except visually.

Radical thought: what if in order to unlock level 4/6 skills you need refined armor, and in order to unlock 8/10 skills you need advanced armour? I don't know, maybe this is horrid, but it makes some sort of sense that you need to be kitted out as well as leveled up.

PLAYER:"Oh boy! A new Skill!"

GAME:"Stop right there! You must be at least This blinged out in order to use that!"

PLAYER:"Bu-bu-but researching armor takes decades! And this skill could be the thing I need to win the next battle/this battle!"

GAME:"TOO BAD SO SAD! NO USING GOOD SKILLS WITHOUT ARMOR! Final Fantasy VII LINKED SKILLS TO GEAR AND IT WAS THE BEST RPG EEEEEEEEEVAAAAAARR!!"

*and the gamer turns off the computer in confusion*

Please understand I'm not making fun of you, I'm just having fun.

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That's true; I always upgrade armour as it 'feels' like I should, but I rarely actually notice the difference when I go into battle. It doesn't really 'feel' like an upgrade, except visually.

Radical thought: what if in order to unlock level 4/6 skills you need refined armor, and in order to unlock 8/10 skills you need advanced armour? I don't know, maybe this is horrid, but it makes some sort of sense that you need to be kitted out as well as leveled up.

PLAYER:"Oh boy! A new Skill!"

GAME:"Stop right there! You must be at least This blinged out in order to use that!"

PLAYER:"Bu-bu-but researching armor takes decades! And this skill could be the thing I need to win the next battle/this battle!"

GAME:"TOO BAD SO SAD! NO USING GOOD SKILLS WITHOUT ARMOR! Final Fantasy VII LINKED SKILLS TO GEAR AND IT WAS THE BEST RPG EEEEEEEEEVAAAAAARR!!"

*and the gamer turns off the computer in confusion*

Please understand I'm not making fun of you, I'm just having fun.

No way man this is serious business. (This isn't nearly petty enough.) I damn near got into a fist fight in highschool because I "talked shit" about FF VII.

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Radical thought: what if in order to unlock level 4/6 skills you need refined armor, and in order to unlock 8/10 skills you need advanced armour? I don't know, maybe this is horrid, but it makes some sort of sense that you need to be kitted out as well as leveled up.

EDIT : I misread your post (french-speaking person here). I though you were talking about unlocking more research (like the dodging socks) by researching armor first.

I finished my all-alchemist game right before the patch, and there were many Caberjacks/Hunter upgrades that I did not have time to research in 300 years.

By reading the numbers, I fear that my next "normal" game (with all classes) will have even less research done, and all the useless items will become more than useless, they will become "Research traps" for newcomers : if you research the wrong item, you will die (not enough time for truly useful items).

I fear the new patch will make the game much harder and less forgiving. I will give it a try as well soon enough.

EDIT : About the idea of "KestrelPi" : I would like if the Advanced/Refined Hunter armor would be useful in any ways, but right now, it is a waste of time, and a danger. Same for the caberjack armor. On the otherhand, the alchemist's explosive armor had a bug with the bees (heh) that made them useless for me : I prefered the alchemist's refined armor.

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Heheh. It was only a thought, that armour thing - but it wouldn't really work anyway, because there are more types of armour than simply the basic types.

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That's true; I always upgrade armour as it 'feels' like I should, but I rarely actually notice the difference when I go into battle. It doesn't really 'feel' like an upgrade, except visually.

Radical thought: what if in order to unlock level 4/6 skills you need refined armor, and in order to unlock 8/10 skills you need advanced armour? I don't know, maybe this is horrid, but it makes some sort of sense that you need to be kitted out as well as leveled up.

PLAYER:"Oh boy! A new Skill!"

GAME:"Stop right there! You must be at least This blinged out in order to use that!"

PLAYER:"Bu-bu-but researching armor takes decades! And this skill could be the thing I need to win the next battle/this battle!"

GAME:"TOO BAD SO SAD! NO USING GOOD SKILLS WITHOUT ARMOR! Final Fantasy VII LINKED SKILLS TO GEAR AND IT WAS THE BEST RPG EEEEEEEEEVAAAAAARR!!"

*and the gamer turns off the computer in confusion*

Please understand I'm not making fun of you, I'm just having fun.

No way man this is serious business. (This isn't nearly petty enough.) I damn near got into a fist fight in highschool because I "talked shit" about FF VII.

Have you even PLAYED Chrono Trigger? The fact is from my -92 perspective, having played neither game as a kid, FFVII on my steam account feels dated, but Chrono Trigger on my DS doesn't.

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In light of the changes, the Crucible rush (funneling all kills onto one of your starting heroes to install a ~level 4 Standard early on) looks less viable due to age.

I don't know if you've seen my post on what I think is the new dominant strategy, funneling all kills to future regents (instead of crucibles). This is an exploit of the current system (I don't think it got patched) where all kids get to the XP of their highest-XP parent. This potentially funnels WAY more XP to kids than using Standards (1/1 of XP vs. 1/3 of XP). I think the patch, nerfing crucibles much more than keeps, just makes this strategy even more viable until XP from parents is nerfed.

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I can say this much: I played three games on 0.85 and never felt the "year 50 crunch" that other people ran into. My first game on 0.86 saw me faceplant on year 51. Slower keep building meant I was slower to get new trainees which meant I had fewer fresh heroes ready to go. I was also interspersing more recruit hero actions because by the time my second, third, and fourth keeps were going up, whatever heroes I had at the start had already aged into low fertility and I only had so many newly-come-of-age trainees to go around. I had barely even started item research when I crashed and burned on a Bulwark/Lapse attack. And this was with putting my first keep on the (nerfed) building time reduction region.

I think this version might push me into actually getting and using Health Vials. In 0.85 I easily did without by prioritizing Steady Handers (to put down enemies more reliably) and Reinforced Armor (which makes a huge difference against Bulwarks). Without those, my heroes were feeling the pain much more than I'm used to, and you just aren't going to get them in a hurry with the slower research and the necessity of getting several keeps up.

My gut feeling is that the slower overall research is going to make the end game feel better. The early game, however, is going to be more touch and go, especially if you can't get your hands on plenty of bountiful heroes to kick start your bloodlines.

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I haven't seen your post, but yeah, that's pretty much the logic. Rushing XP on a Standard still has a few positives in its favor. (1) Your Standard will be in multiple battles before the building is ready for him, whereas Regents often get hustled off to make babies after 1 or 0 fights. (2) Your first Crucible is frequently going to be on the "Bonus Crucible XP" tile, improving the ratio. And (3) even with a quick Crucible, you're still building Keeps ASAP, which makes the single Standard's XP more far-reaching than disparate Regents'. Best case is still probably the Regent XP route, but Standard has (or just had?) its perks.

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I feel like this change is preparatory for other changes that will happen that will swing the early game back around to more manageable and the difficulty curve better. I think birth rate will come into it, among other things.

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I haven't seen your post, but yeah, that's pretty much the logic. Rushing XP on a Standard still has a few positives in its favor. (1) Your Standard will be in multiple battles before the building is ready for him, whereas Regents often get hustled off to make babies after 1 or 0 fights. (2) Your first Crucible is frequently going to be on the "Bonus Crucible XP" tile, improving the ratio. And (3) even with a quick Crucible, you're still building Keeps ASAP, which makes the single Standard's XP more far-reaching than disparate Regents'. Best case is still probably the Regent XP route, but Standard has (or just had?) its perks.

The interesting thing about the regent XP exploit is that it actually makes adoption a viable strategy, because you keep focusing on XP farming one hero until their keep is fully ready, and use adoption to give them guaranteed (and perfectly timed) kids when they are already in middle age. You keep leapfrogging heroes until you wind up with a Level 10 keep, after which you can populate the rest of your keeps with those children and perpetuate the line. Even with the patch, you can still get to level 10 trainees before year 150 and the advanced cadence, no problem.

I agree that Standards had/have their perks. I'm not sure if they continue to do so, however, particularly if parent XP is not nerfed. Leapfrogging regents and spamming adoption until you get all your keeps to level 10 is fairly quick, and after that all your keeps are locked to level 10 trainees without any crucibles at all.

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I agree with the viewpoint that Fertility and work-arounds like adoption and recruiting heros is going to matter more than ever before now. With a drawn out building phase, you are going to have to work hard just to maintain your basic force of populated Keeps and 5 vanguard members. If natural births are not high enough, you will have to use adoptions and recruit hero to keep up.

I'm also not convinced that you can reach certain level break points in a timely manner without funneling kills heavily to 1 or 2 future standards or regents in each fight.

If you do manage to achieve those targets, I'm not convinced that you'll be able to do so with a reasonable set of researched gear at the same time.

One thing is particularly clear though. With the massively increased research times for buildings and decreased efficiency in end-game sagewrights and increased need to spam adoptions and recruit heros, it's going to be less possible than ever to research everything in one campaign. You are going to have to be really choosy and only get what you absolutely need.

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I'm at year 218 of a 0.86 playthrough. Thoughts thus far:

I actually did not have a tough time getting Keeps up; I put my second Keep on the "reduced building time" bonus, and I got a battle with -25% current research time right after starting my third. (Side note - it kinda sucks that this battle reward takes anywhere from a couple days to a bunch of years off depending on where you happen to be in the research process.) This is basically a best case scenario, but it was enough to get 3 Keeps and a Crucible up in the very start of the game.

What the changes have done is led me to not fill up my entire country. I still have 2 open regions (5 Keeps + 2 Crucibles + 1 Guild), which was unheard of in previous runs. The escalating times are brutal though - I don't want to spend 30 years on another Crucible.

Sagewrights don't feel terribly helpful. Basically all of the decent research is listed as "Slow" despite a pretty decent guild, and building a second Guild feels prohibitively time-consuming for such a small benefit.

Items remain the least attractive research option. Steady Handers and Haste Hooch are still my core, and Veil Armor is a nice cherry on top. I've been sloooowly advancing through Alchemist and Caberjack armor, but the research times are brutal. Not sure I'll max both before endgame - might just go for Nation research instead.

The deadliest part of the game is the Core Bloodline selector. I shepherded along the terrible nitwits bearing my name, which hamstrung my early game and ensured I'd be dealing with terrible genetics for the rest of the game. After I got them established, my Hunter keep with two 35 year old partners naturally decided to bear no children, leading to a hail-mary adoption in their 60s, meaning I had no hunters at all for something like 60 years. It was annoying, and having these happen in sequence led to a lot of roster issues. (And more deviously, Partner issues. Nothing like appointing a new regent and realizing that he's too closely related to all dozen of your available heroes.)

Game definitely feels harder, but at least this run is indicating that the patch may have missed the mark.

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That's true; I always upgrade armour as it 'feels' like I should, but I rarely actually notice the difference when I go into battle. It doesn't really 'feel' like an upgrade, except visually.

Radical thought: what if in order to unlock level 4/6 skills you need refined armor, and in order to unlock 8/10 skills you need advanced armour? I don't know, maybe this is horrid, but it makes some sort of sense that you need to be kitted out as well as leveled up.

PLAYER:"Oh boy! A new Skill!"

GAME:"Stop right there! You must be at least This blinged out in order to use that!"

PLAYER:"Bu-bu-but researching armor takes decades! And this skill could be the thing I need to win the next battle/this battle!"

GAME:"TOO BAD SO SAD! NO USING GOOD SKILLS WITHOUT ARMOR! Final Fantasy VII LINKED SKILLS TO GEAR AND IT WAS THE BEST RPG EEEEEEEEEVAAAAAARR!!"

*and the gamer turns off the computer in confusion*

Please understand I'm not making fun of you, I'm just having fun.

No way man this is serious business. (This isn't nearly petty enough.) I damn near got into a fist fight in highschool because I "talked shit" about FF VII.

Have you even PLAYED Chrono Trigger? The fact is from my -92 perspective, having played neither game as a kid, FFVII on my steam account feels dated, but Chrono Trigger on my DS doesn't.

That's because Chorno Trigger is what separates the strong woman, from the boys. This is off topic though. Very different systems with combination attacks and a much wider and beautiful diversity of skills/characters.

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One other note re: research attractiveness. Veil Armor still seems like a bit of an outlier, even assuming (possibly incorrectly?) that the numbers on the Tier 3 Hunter Armor is better. My thought process has been that (1) I want members of all 3 classes, and (2) that I cannot complete Tier 3 armor research for all three classes due to time constraints and research competition. Therefore, funnel one class into Cadence armor, and research regular armor for the other two. Thus, Veil Armor isn't competing with Hunter armor, it's competing with the Rupture & Bulwark-based armors. Right now, that doesn't strike me as a very competitive choice given the risk involved in the former and the conditionality of the latter.

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One other note re: research attractiveness. Veil Armor still seems like a bit of an outlier, even assuming (possibly incorrectly?) that the numbers on the Tier 3 Hunter Armor is better. My thought process has been that (1) I want members of all 3 classes, and (2) that I cannot complete Tier 3 armor research for all three classes due to time constraints and research competition. Therefore, funnel one class into Cadence armor, and research regular armor for the other two. Thus, Veil Armor isn't competing with Hunter armor, it's competing with the Rupture & Bulwark-based armors. Right now, that doesn't strike me as a very competitive choice given the risk involved in the former and the conditionality of the latter.

Actually I kind of like the Veil armor. It could be a little... better, maybe it's just not working quite right yet.

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That's kind of my point - the Veil armor is pretty much undeniably better than the other Cadence armors, which makes Hunter Armor the de-facto choice to not research. Amping up the other Cadence armors may be the answer, or providing non-numerical bonuses to Tier 3 armors may be the right approach. But right now, I expect to need at least 1 Cadence armor, and Veil is always the top candidate.

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That's kind of my point - the Veil armor is pretty much undeniably better than the other Cadence armors, which makes Hunter Armor the de-facto choice to not research. Amping up the other Cadence armors may be the answer, or providing non-numerical bonuses to Tier 3 armors may be the right approach. But right now, I expect to need at least 1 Cadence armor, and Veil is always the top candidate.

I could agree with these items.

Smiles

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That's kind of my point - the Veil armor is pretty much undeniably better than the other Cadence armors, which makes Hunter Armor the de-facto choice to not research. Amping up the other Cadence armors may be the answer, or providing non-numerical bonuses to Tier 3 armors may be the right approach. But right now, I expect to need at least 1 Cadence armor, and Veil is always the top candidate.

Bulkwark armor seems like it could be more useful now with the changes to the Caberjack's taunt ability. Still not as good as Veil armor though.

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For me it was, I think... 2 keeps, Reinforced Caberjack Armor (never would have beat any bulwark stages without it), Recruitment Boost, Recruit some heroes, Health Vials...

And probably a fancy weapon now. I really want the flask cabers but I'm also curious about this pillar launcher... or maybe the reactive armor?

What exactly does the Veil armor do, anyhow? It's probably crazy that I haven't researched that yet, right? :-P

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For me it was, I think... 2 keeps, Reinforced Caberjack Armor (never would have beat any bulwark stages without it), Recruitment Boost, Recruit some heroes, Health Vials...

And probably a fancy weapon now. I really want the flask cabers but I'm also curious about this pillar launcher... or maybe the reactive armor?

What exactly does the Veil armor do, anyhow? It's probably crazy that I haven't researched that yet, right? :-P

[spoilers]

- Explosive Cabers : best weapon in the game

- Pillar launcher : it's a trap, don't research

- Reactive armor : it's not bad, but I prefer refined alchemist armor

- Veil Armor : Hunters can hide anywhere

[/spoilers]

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