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Difficulty of Massive Chalice Right Now (.86)

Which statement below do you think most accurately represents the current difficulty of Massive Chalice?  

39 members have voted

  1. 1. Which statement below do you think most accurately represents the current difficulty of Massive Chalice?

    • Kingdom management too hard/Battles too hard
      3
    • Kingdom management too hard/Battles just right
      8
    • Kingdon management too hard/Battles too easy
      3
    • Kingdom management just right/Battles too hard
      4
    • Kingdom management just right/Battles just right
      3
    • Kingdom management just right/Battles too easy
      11
    • Kingdom management too easy/Battles too hard
      0
    • Kingdom management too easy/Battles just right
      2
    • Kingdom management too easy/Battles too easy
      5


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I thought it might be useful to get a survey of how everyone feels about the difficulty of the game right now.

Please note that this poll asks for your opinion on the difficulty of Kingdom Management and Tactical Battles as distinct aspects.

I personally think the battles are too easy, but that Kingdom Management is about tight. I am terrible at X-Com, but I can do very well in the tactical battles. On the other hand, Kingdom management--difficulty-wise--feels about right, although I could certainly see a lot of changes happening to change where the difficulty sits.

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Kingdom management seems alright indeed.

I think the enemies are too easy to outsmart. The battles become easy once you understand how the AI thinks.

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I'm generally on the side of things being a bit too easy, but with a caveat: the early game is a meatgrinder. There's very little margin for error in solidifying your bloodlines, and the introduction of Bulwarks and Cradles are big spikes in particular. But if you can squeak by and hit the mid-game without putting yourself too far in the hole, it feels like a smooth coast to the finish. Very XCOM-like in that respect.

At the same time, it occurs to me that losing at the final battle (or really anywhere in the latter third of the game) is sort of its own kind of problem. Dying at the end of Binding of Isaac or FTL kinda sucks, but a run of those takes something like 30 minutes or 2 hours, respectively. The idea of playing Massive Chalice for 8-10 hours, then losing and having to start from scratch seems significantly suckier.

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I won't vote, since I last played 0.85, but I tend to agree with Selke's sentiments. Generally speaking the game is too easy in the mid-late game, but the early game can be hell.

Also regarding the last battle, it's an interesting balance problem. You want it hard enough so that players see all that the end battle has to offer, but easy enough that it plays out like a victory lap rather than something that's going to put a hard stop on 15-18 hours of play.

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I too, find this poll too inaccurate to answer. The game isn't too hard for me, since I familiarized myself with it pretty thoroughly, but obviously, people going into the game blind are having problems, and they need to be smoothed out.

And I agree with the comments about battle difficulty pretty much resting on the understanding of the AI. Kingdom management pretty much only matters in the first half of the game anyway, since the game sort of sifts into an auto-pilot of "research-appoint-battle" after the building period. It's not really, boring, per-se, but it is a string of similar situations and decisions.

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It's hard to choose an option as none fit. For me first two battles are fine as an introduction, but third and until you get heroes level 3/4 is a an exaggerated difficulty step. Now are they too difficult for me as I beat them? :-) This part is roughly Classic difficulty in XCOM.

After the battles aren't difficult but they could be fine for a normal difficulty that don't want be too much challenging, one exception are the defend the keep battles. This part is roughly Normal difficulty in XCOM, eventually a bit lower difficulty, because XCOM has more special maps with special challenges.

Then the next difficulty step is around end of second century. And it's a sort of normal challenging difficulty level. This part is roughly between Normal difficulty and Classic difficulty in XCOM.

I don't comment the final yet as I'm in the last 50 years.

For sure if you screw up the global management and cumulate wrong choices and/or bad luck, the combats difficulty can change. I think, the most important factor are the level reach for child and some key items.

For the global managment, it is too unclear, too many obscure rules, the game should explain better some of these rules. It is a bit deeper than in XCOM, but players shouldn't expect a deep strategy game on that part, the combats are the fun core of the game even if the global management is important too.

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I'm not hard / easy is an accurate descriptor. Wonky comes to mind.

This seems a bit more accurate in my mind.

Personally I think the battles are just about right for a "normal" difficulty. I do think the AI is a bit easy to outsmart once you learn what tactics work for each enemy, but I'm not sure that's really anything that could be changed. Bottom line, this feels about right for "normal."

Now, that being said, I do think that there are a couple of big spikes that need to be smoothed out. The first time Bulwarks appear can be a really hard battle unless you've got a few Caberjacks. And unlike other folks, I found a lot of the Defend the Keep battles to be really rough if you want to come out of it with your Regent intact. My biggest problem is that the Regents tend to be under-leveled compared to the enemies. And if you forgot to equip armor on them, it can be really rough.

Domain management feels about right, with a few caveats:

After 6-7 games (and finally a success!) I found that the Sagewrights Guild just wasn't worth building. Ideally you'd want to build it early, but I kept putting it off in favor of things that helped me survive. But I guess it used to be too powerful. To me it feels like they went too far in the other direction.

The big difficulty in domain management is really down to the RNG. If you start with too many infertile heroes, you're just screwed from the get go. You can also get screwed if your first generation is too far in one direction gender-wise. I had one game where the only suitable partners I had for my keeps were all kingmakers. About 30 years down the line I was royally screwed (no pun intended) because I had almost no women (save the ones I emergency recruited).

I will state that as it is now the difficulty is MASSIVE if you're a new player or not used to this sort of game. Even coming from XCom it took asking for help here to really start finding some success. But I'm not sure if that's a difficulty thing or just a lack of useful tutorial information thing.

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Yeah not too sure why they did that to the sagewrights. Never felt they were too powerful myself, especially considering they also changed the build times to be much longer.

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I had also the feeling that the sages wasn't that influent. But they also allow use unused heroes either too old either not worthing it in comparison of other of the same generation. It's also a way to remove the relics from a hero too old and force transmit it to another hero.

From posts or patch comments or I don't remember, seems the dev try make more tactical the global management, that's why the changed multiple elements in last patch (I never played older versions). I don't think it can be a deep strategy game nor that it would be better that it is. The global management is more a management game than a strategy game. The first point for me is rules aren't enough explained. Otherwise the player need have really alternate strategies, that's what make deeper a management game, have multiple options but know select the best in the current context.

I don't know enough the game to be sure but I don't think there's that much ways to manage the kingdom.

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I generally agree with what everyone's saying. The battles for me are too easy because being cautious is a strategy that generally works--I don't have to worry about being rushed. Basically the different enemies give me different kinds of damage and attacks to deal with, but not different behaviors. I guess the Twitchers and the Ruptures come closest.

In Kingdom management, the most interesting decisions comes from managing heroes, but this primarily happens every once in a while (waiting for death) and after the initial period, the build up takes away the other choices that exist. And as I've said elsewhere, Sagewrights generally aren't an interesting choice and don't feel necessary. I haven't been a fan of demolishing buildings before, but thinking through what everyone is saying, it almost feels like being able to focus more firmly of bloodlines earlier with lots of keeps and then changing direction and switching more towards standards and sagewrights later in the game might be an interesting strategy. And one way to do this would be with demolishing existing keeps.

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...I don't have to worry about being rushed....

Woo I would add my counter vote, for me the artificial rush in XCOM is something I didn't like at all, and at reverse in MC be able take my time is something I enjoyed a lot.

If it's slow for you it's perhaps you abuse of hunters, try something else, and perhaps Hunters need be nerfed.

For me one detail is rather bad it's the heroes have the ability to attack hidden monster by moving on the position. It defeats the good obstacle management of the AI. Remove that ability would add a bit of depth to combats. Sure Alchemist could do it anyway with flasks but flasks are limited in number so it's different.

I also think that Hunter need some tuning to avoid make work some long tedious tactics.

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...I don't have to worry about being rushed....

Woo I would add my counter vote, for me the artificial rush in XCOM is something I didn't like at all, and at reverse in MC be able take my time is something I enjoyed a lot.

If it's slow for you it's perhaps you abuse of hunters, try something else, and perhaps Hunters need be nerfed.

For me one detail is rather bad it's the heroes have the ability to attack hidden monster by moving on the position. It defeats the good obstacle management of the AI. Remove that ability would add a bit of depth to combats. Sure Alchemist could do it anyway with flasks but flasks are limited in number so it's different.

I also think that Hunter need some tuning to avoid make work some long tedious tactics.

Nah. I'm primarily a caberjack and alchemist player, the problem is more related to heroes with good eyesight

That's an interesting point you make about the melee attack into the fog.

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...I don't have to worry about being rushed....
[...]

If it's slow for you it's perhaps you abuse of hunters, try something else, and perhaps Hunters need be nerfed.

[...]

It's not abuse if it's available :-)

Even with an all-alchemist team, I would take my time and dispatch enemies group-by-group without difficulty. The hardest combat I had was my first encounter with Bulwarks in a map with very few walls to hide behind. I lost almost everybody, but I managed to kill them.

Hunters do allow to kill most of the enemies from very far : I could almost solo-hunter any battle.

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Nah. I'm primarily a caberjack and alchemist player, the problem is more related to heroes with good eyesight.

Woo totally agree with you on that, the sight ranges are too long. The game should manage spot range and view range. View range is longer and allows shoot, but view range doesn't allow to stop enemies. Eventually the game needs manage it with a variation if the enemy spot you, but not sure if an enemy could sneak too close to you than you would want, it would be because of good use of obstacle and spot range.

I don't think the combats would benefit of a full enemy stealth/invisibility. It works very well in XCOM just because there's oversight but oversight has its negative points.

But for view range/spot range that would be mainly to make a little bit deeper the Hunter management, no much and a Hunter team won't really have troubles with that by using sneaking to spot. But still I think it would be a little better. And would avoid have too long spot range and still allow some length for view range.

That's an interesting point you make about the melee attack into the fog.

Would be mainly for Caberjacks but sometime I exploit it too with Alchemist mainly because of the special weapon building an obstacle when with Caberjacks it was breaking the AI maneuvering by using obstacles.

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...I don't have to worry about being rushed....
[...]

If it's slow for you it's perhaps you abuse of hunters, try something else, and perhaps Hunters need be nerfed.

[...]

It's not abuse if it's available :-)

Even with an all-alchemist team, I would take my time and dispatch enemies group-by-group without difficulty. The hardest combat I had was my first encounter with Bulwarks in a map with very few walls to hide behind. I lost almost everybody, but I managed to kill them.

Hunters do allow to kill most of the enemies from very far : I could almost solo-hunter any battle.

Not a surprise you find the combats boring. Clearly Hunters need be nerfed to disable such approach. But I don't see how, the solution could be worst than the problem.

That said the ability to shoot at enemy and they don't move should be fixed but it won't change that most monsters won't have the range hence some long repetitive sniping will be possible. In term of number of turns it's not efficient but for the risk level it's probably lower. And anyway it's in the principle simple (in practice perhaps a little less) so tempting.

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In Kingdom management, the most interesting decisions comes from managing heroes, but this primarily happens every once in a while (waiting for death) and after the initial period, the build up takes away the other choices that exist.

Agreed. Traits and personality are as much a part of ones environment as their genetics. However, environment affecting the next generation is seen primarily in XP bonuses and a little in the parts of themselves that trainers pass down.

If levels had less of an impact and research or training was more about establishing the culture and technology your heroes were raised in it would add depth to the kingdom management and make the progression curve less punishing to the unlucky/less skilled and less rewarding for the lucky/more skilled.

This would be a fairly significant amount of work though.

--------

As for general difficulty I found the game to be incredibly easy with some class options and annoying but still easy with others. My first play through I just ran 5 hunters, fights were trivial and the lack of variance in enemy behavior in regard to hunter behavior made it somewhat boring as well.

I've read that flarrow is getting some attention, which is good, however they still offer the most versatility, the safest fighting, the most mobility and the highest damage output (due to follow up and pit it down). As JFarceur mentioned I could take a single hunter into many battles and win, which I did a few times, and a few other times I took multiple but only used one so he got all the kill XP, do this to a young hero with good traits and he gets a level or two above the rest of your group and is wonderful to place as a trainer.

If I had the opportunity I'd move a lot of their abilities more toward support as the basic rules of the game already give them so much power.

So a lot of the difficulty now is just player recognition of the lack of balance in the game currently.

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IMHO, and I see I'm not alone in this, I'd say:

-Combat-wise it starts out good, and then gets way too easy until the final battle.

-Kingdom management is pretty good in terms of difficulty.

-In concert, both aspects are a bit death spiral-y in the early game.

My main point of reference on overall difficulty here is that I won my second campaign, despite:

-I spent the first 150 years or so with an all-hunter loadout due to inexperience, and even at the end was still fielding 3-4 hunters most battles. This made the last battle somewhat... exciting... but for the most part it was easy street to the point that I only lost heroes in battles if I dared to take something that wasn't a hunter along for the ride, and even then only rarely.

-I was really light on the relic power, since I didn't realize that I usually needed to equip them to use and level them up.

-After the first 75-ish years, I got a bit sloppy about picking regents and mates since scrolling through all my heroes was a pain. Mostly, I'd scroll until I found a decent pick, and then look at the next half-dozen or so options and take the best one I'd seen so far.

-Excluding the last battle, which took me three tries, no restarting of battles or save scumming. I only reloaded due to bugs, mis-clicks, or when I was trying something to learn how a mechanic worked. Never lost a battle, except for that last one.

I'm undoubtedly way more wargamer-y than many players will be but given all of these restrictions on my second playthrough, the fact that I got from year 75-ish to year 300 with very few hero losses and zero battle losses, that seems a bit easy.

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If levels had less of an impact and research or training was more about establishing the culture and technology your heroes were raised in it would add depth to the kingdom management and make the progression curve less punishing to the unlucky/less skilled and less rewarding for the lucky/more skilled.

Yeah, I was thinking about things as I've been playing. My initial thought was "heroes should inherit less XP, but level up faster," but I really like your idea of tying it into the economy more.

Currently, XP is mostly parental with some Standard. After reading your suggestion, I'm wondering if it should be more of a mix like:

-Inherit 100% of your parent's XP up to level 3, then 33% of the XP beyond that.*

-Your Standard passes on 1.65% of their XP to all heroes with less XP than them each year.**

-Each Sage passes on 0.75% of thier XP to all heroes with less XP than them each year.***

This way, parenting, training, and research all play important roles in what level of heroes you have available to you. This would also even out kingdom XP progression a bit, making it a bit easier to start new bloodlines while also making it harder to hard rush a batch of max level heroes with a single powerful XP concentration.

Hmm. Well, more stuff to mull over.

*Early levels not reduced so that the first few generations aren't too stunted while you're getting your infrastructure in place.

**Value chosen so that a Standard passes on about 1/3 of their XP over the first 20 years of a character's life.

***Same line of thinking as the Standard, but scaled down for each sagewright having 3 sages and then bumped a bit since three high-level sages is a significant commitment earlier on.

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After to have finished my first play, I started various parallel plays. For sure reply change the perspective.

The first point is about the first Bulwark combat, it can be a too huge difficulty step if it's done with level 1+2 heroes. At this point two shots means a death if the player hadn't build an item and it shouldn't have the time to do so. So I quoted huge variations on that, from first Bulwark combat forced at 3th combats to first Bulwark combat that could be delayed up to 70+ year.

For the Hunters I agree they need be nerfed. I need first finish a play with a team with Hunters only to get a direct comparison, but it seems some bugs in AI or design flaws allow some lame tactics destroying the meaning of difficulty.

The second point is instead of an abstract difficulty evaluation, I compare to XCOM difficulty. So overall the random can generate a difficulty step too high in first phases and it's related to first Bulwark combats and heroes levels. If that happens it generates a difficulty like XCOM Classic difficulty, and if not the difficulty is about XCOM Normal difficulty.

Then follow a long line that could be more or less difficulty depending of your success to level up heroes and research some key items according to classes choices you do. This part is about between year 50/70 to year 170/200 where appear the first advanced monsters and they start cumulate more and more in a same mission. This part has also difficulty variations depending of you management and research, it's more or less XCOM Normal difficulty.

Then there's a part about between 170/200 and 250+270 where there's almost only advanced enemies. If you get an advance in previous parts this is already started combat with some level 8 heroes then this part is a bit more easy than XCOM Normal difficulty, if not a bit more difficult but not up to XCOM classic difficulty.

Then there's the last part which is both more tense but also allow tune you preparation for final. It's more or less XCOM Normal difficulty if you don't use much level 10 heroes and lost XP or just for training Relics.

And the final, which should be with only level 10 heroes and its difficulty is a bit lower than XCOM Normal difficulty. That said myself I don't complain and feel it fine for a Normal difficulty.

That's a temporary feeling, so overall XCOM Normal difficulty expect a point relative to first Bulwarks combats, I hardly lost any combat anymore (happened few time in my first play) and it's very rare I lost a character. But I can't say I find it too easy because I can't do the combats in automatic mode nor even just by applying 2/3 tricks.

For me the best class (difficulty design point of view) from far is Alchemist, even from a one class team they are the most fun and from far. Hunters need be nerfed a bit or at least some AI flaws need be fixed. And Caberjack are cool but lack of diversity, that said design a close combat character in a game almost only long range isn't an easier task. That's also why Hunters need be nerfed they don't have to combat serious close range monsters that would exploit their weaknesses.

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I thought it might be useful to get a survey of how everyone feels about the difficulty of the game right now.

I've been through three playthroughs by now and I'll say the difficulty is just about right. Forget the first, let's just chalk that one up for the learning curve ...

I found the final fight to be impossible on my second playthrough, but I had crap kingdom management and thus had crap heroes - it's really hard to separate the two. Last mission was impossible. Just couldn't put down the baddies fast enough and soon found myself surrounded by 13 adv. wrinklers, 7 adv. lapses, 2 adv. bulwarks and 2 adv. ruptures ... with only 2 heroes left :)

Third one was good and I was able to complete the quest. Had a very decent alchemist and hunter bloodline working for me with great traits and personalities. Finally got caberjacks back on the roster after recruiting the final batch of heroes and damn ... those lvl 10 kill rage caberjacks are a joy to run around the battlefield with - it's like Wolverine, but with a log :) What a rush!

The only thing I'd mention is this: since the difficulty is "just right" ... if not "tight" ... it's hard to experiment with all the wonderful items, weapons and armor (and tactics) that's theoretically available. Make one or two bad choices and you could be screwed, and that doesn't encourage experimentation. Also, if you find yourself a bit in the hole right a the end there's NO "grinding option", and if you go into the last battle with level 5-6-7's only I'm not sure that'll go well. But fine, choices matter. It's better than irrelevant choices.

I'd say: don't make it easier, rather let the players enjoy the learning curve. I have developed several fun strategies and tactics over just the three games and it gets easier once you understand the strengths and weaknesses of the classes and weapons.

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Kingdom management is fine on the whole.

The first game it is a bit of a struggle, but once you understand it becomes very controllable.

There are only 2 real issues with kingdom management:

- it is toughest in the first 50-100 turns.

- generally speaking, the random events don't matter

A single hero getting a special skill (or useless skill) doesn't really matter since it's not the hero, but the houses that matter. Although there are some overly punishing ones (e.g. exiled hero with a relic).

It might be different if the skill applied to the whole house or generation or whatnot.

Battles:

Battles are no issue at all because... well... there's no time limit, and the AI doesn't really act outside of their view range. Thus, very easy to exploit.

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