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KestrelPi

Phew, I really feel the next patch has to be a return to difficulty balancing

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I took a break over the last patch because I wanted to wait for hybrids. Now I've played 70 years into 0.90, I have some thoughts.

The hybrids seem really cool and interesting so far, although I think it really ought to be made clearer exactly where these new classes are coming from. I feel like the only reason I know the logic of the hybrids is because I've read about it here on the forums. I suspect someone coming in fresh might be rather confused about how the trainee classes are being figured out. Also it doesn't explain anywhere that the new classes are actually subclasses of caberjack/alchemist/hunters, which I think adds a further confusion.

So there's definitely work to be done there (and many of the same thoughts we've had on the early tutorial stuff and interface bits and pieces still stand) but the thing that stuck out to me most was...

...eeesh, the early game is punishing now. As some people fed back on the last patch, the early game has always been the hardest part of it. Now it feels like it's even harder because things take so long to build and crucibles/guilds are less effective, and nothing really compensates for that. I'm 70 years in and facing a situation where my heroes just aren't levelling fast enough to keep pace, and I feel like there's nothing I can really do about it except watch them get further and further from where they need to be. Part of that was some bad luck, and part of that was a bit of poor planning, but it just feels too hopeless and impossible to come back from.

The early game feels like the place where I should be able to experiment a little and make my mistakes, where later I will need my strategy more locked down to succeed. Right now, though, it feels like if you get a bit of bad RNG luck and a make even a couple of small mistakes, it quickly becomes a slow death spiral. And this is despite the fact that up until this point, I've managed to keep every single hero alive in battle. I can't imagine where I'd be right now if I didn't already have 40 hours of experience under my belt helping me deal with bulwarks and so forth!

All of which makes me think the next patch needs to be the one that takes a big step towards the big-picture balancing of the game, making it feel experimental at the start, and gradually tightening the screws, rather than the current mode which seems to be punishing you heavily early, and then letting up if you manage to make it through the early game gauntlet.

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Nice to see someone else had the same thoughts about the tutorialization. The current game is so hard and explains so little that people are mistaking this for a roguelike.

I've actually adjusted to the current rough early game (You just need to be really careful in the first Bulwark fight) but was actually stomped in the late game of my previous run. Played one fight badly, which led to a wipe, which led to being just a few levels behind on encounters, and that didn't go well at all. Bad luck and a bad build.

Where was I? Oh yeah, balance. Is the beta version supposed to be the game's "normal" difficulty in the end? Is it possible they might just start work on different difficulties, instead of making the current beta just right?

What I do like though, is that the patch really blurs the line on what the "best-class" is, although I'm sure there will be strong opinions. They're really pushing the alchemists with this, and they certainly do seem more fun to play in all forms. Regular alchemist almost seems bland compared to it's two cousins. It also "fixes" a lot of problems with some skills feeling under- or overpowered by shaking up the skilltrees. Skills like Fury and Shoot n' Scoot certainly seem more appealing in the hybrids.

I had been approaching this patch as the game being "almost done", but yeah, it's still not quite there yet.

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I will concede that they also did balancing to make the late game harder, and so it's possible that it gets hard towards the end.

But I think the issue is not so much the difficulty itself - right now the early game seems like it's maybe somewhere between normal and hard - but it's more the progression. I feel like it should gradually up the pressure, while right now it feels like it is very tough going for too long.

That said, XCOM had a similar thing where the first few missions felt rather difficult. But it didn't feel quite so punishing. The bloodline aspect means that decisions you made on the map and in marriages and in deploying heroes come back to bite you 20 years later, while the worst XCOM threw at you is that you might lose a few rookies early on before your team stabilises.

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I will concede that they also did balancing to make the late game harder, and so it's possible that it gets hard towards the end.

But I think the issue is not so much the difficulty itself - right now the early game seems like it's maybe somewhere between normal and hard - but it's more the progression. I feel like it should gradually up the pressure, while right now it feels like it is very tough going for too long.

That said, XCOM had a similar thing where the first few missions felt rather difficult. But it didn't feel quite so punishing. The bloodline aspect means that decisions you made on the map and in marriages and in deploying heroes come back to bite you 20 years later, while the worst XCOM threw at you is that you might lose a few rookies early on before your team stabilises.

Depending on your foolishness and which version of XCOM you're talking about... you could permanently loose some diverse / special equipment.

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Update: I might have been premature about the death spiral - I seem to be pulling it together a little, although there's no room for being precious about traits at this stage, I'm in a pure XP-grab. Most of the research seems well out of my reach right now too, and I was forced to get a low-fertility hunter regent, so I'm far from out of the woods, but Year 90 is looking more hopeful than year 70.

But I stand by what I said before, it just felt too gruelling for the early game now. If I hadn't played this twice through already, I'd have been doomed by year 50.

My 3 wishes for things to be in the game before spring aside from the required minor features now are:

1) More difficulty balancing across the 300 years

2) Better tutorialisation during the first 50 years of play for both the battle map and the world map

3) Interface improvements to convey more useful information.

They get those things right, and I think it'll elevate the game by so much.

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I know it's a bit unfair to say this, but I do think having one or two more enemies would improve the game. If they had more enemy "slots", they would have the opportunity to curve up the difficulty more evenly. No idea what kind of enemy exactly would be good, but... well, I saw a post a while ago about how the "corruption" type of cadence only has one enemy type, so we could do with some sort of relative of a rupture.

The three early game minions in the game cover the beginning of the game quite well, but I do think there would be room for another type of enemy in the place were Bulwarks are right now, the early-mid game. The new enemy would take the place of the first "challenging" enemy, and Bulwarks and Twitchers would have the opportunity to be buffed slightly and moved back 20-30 years.

There's room for another "Huge threat" enemy as well, above the Twitcher, but that's much more work, and a lot less important than what the game currently needs.

*sigh* Expansion piiiile...

Oh, of course, the most probable way they'll even out the beginning is by tweaking the early strategy layer. Problems like the first generation unexpectedly dying out are still present as well.

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Update: I might have been premature about the death spiral - I seem to be pulling it together a little, although there's no room for being precious about traits at this stage, I'm in a pure XP-grab. Most of the research seems well out of my reach right now too, and I was forced to get a low-fertility hunter regent, so I'm far from out of the woods, but Year 90 is looking more hopeful than year 70.

But I stand by what I said before, it just felt too gruelling for the early game now. If I hadn't played this twice through already, I'd have been doomed by year 50.

My 3 wishes for things to be in the game before spring aside from the required minor features now are:

1) More difficulty balancing across the 300 years

2) Better tutorialisation during the first 50 years of play for both the battle map and the world map

3) Interface improvements to convey more useful information.

They get those things right, and I think it'll elevate the game by so much.

If you don't mind, KestrelPi, what level are your heroes at Year 90? As I do whenever a new patch comes out, I'm trying to min/max to see how fast I can hit the level cap (trying to do it before Year 100). You're an experienced player who doesn't try to "get cute" with the game, so I'm curious to see the difference between "technically possible" and "plausible." I'll make a big post explaining my run and thoughts after I'm finished.

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I know it's a bit unfair to say this, but I do think having one or two more enemies would improve the game. If they had more enemy "slots", they would have the opportunity to curve up the difficulty more evenly. No idea what kind of enemy exactly would be good, but... well, I saw a post a while ago about how the "corruption" type of cadence only has one enemy type, so we could do with some sort of relateive of a rupture.

The three early game minions in the game cover the beginning of the game quite well, but I do think there would be room for another type of enemy in the place were Bulwarks are right now, the early-mid game. The new enemy would take the place of the first "challenging" enemy, and Bulwarks and Twitchers would have the opportunity to be buffed slightly and moved back 20-30 years.

There's room for another "Huge threat" enemy as well, above the Twitcher, but that's much more work, and a lot less important than what the game currently needs.

*sigh* Expansion piiiile...

Oh course, the most probable way they'll even out the beginning is by tweaking the early strategy layer. Problems like the first generation unexpectedly dying out are still present as well.

Yeah my biggest wish has been for more enemies. That would extend the lifespan of the game so much.

I haven't played in a while, I found the difficulty entirely manageable back when I did play, akin to XCOM Normal or maybe Classic. Once the difficulty is smoothed out, I hope we get Iron Mode and higher difficulty levels. What we currently have really seems like there should be a level below it for people new to tactics games like this, and one or two (or three) levels above it for the tactics veterans. The higher difficulties are what kept me coming back to XCOM, and that's what will keep me coming back to this. If you don't wipe multiple times on the first tactics mission on the highest difficulty, its not hard enough. >:)

oh and the reverse difficulty curve, where the first few missions are the hardest and make or break your entire run? very X-COM esque. Not to say it shouldn't be changed necessarily in MC, but that sort of difficulty curve is definitely a valid design choice imo. I know I spent ages attempting ironman/impossible in the latest xcom trying the first mission again and again and loving it every time.

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Agreed on most counts.

Although in terms of difficulty it doesn't feel like X-com to me so much as UFO Afterlight, where for those first few missions not only are you vastly threatened by everything, you find yourself trying to come to grips with a definite sense that most of your choices, are mistakes, and you're probably going to regret them. But if you're like me you figure, that's what surviving an invasion which corrupts is probably like.

Definitely like the changes to the Classes, I think that coming to grips with the different abilities is part of the new difficulty. Shadowjacks are by far my favorite, as stealthy crowd control is hard to screw up. But the variations on the Hunters ... whoof. There's one with PUT EM DOWN as one of the two 8th level skill choices. You can't just expect certain things out of that "level" stat anymore, it's not familiar. But at the same time it really shines some light on your confusion.

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What if we started with more buildings? As it is now it's pretty clear that you have to another couple keeps very early on. New players might fall into the trap of researching some armor or items, then realize they are all out of heroes when it's too late to do anything about it. It could also maybe be determined by difficulty. Easy starts with three keeps, normal with two, hard with just one.

Maybe you could start with a sage guild or crucible too, or maybe you get your first on through an early mission similar to the first mission, and then after you've liberated one you can build more.

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What if we started with more buildings? As it is now it's pretty clear that you have to another couple keeps very early on. New players might fall into the trap of researching some armor or items, then realize they are all out of heroes when it's too late to do anything about it. It could also maybe be determined by difficulty. Easy starts with three keeps, normal with two, hard with just one.

Maybe you could start with a sage guild or crucible too, or maybe you get your first on through an early mission similar to the first mission, and then after you've liberated one you can build more.

I think this is something coming down the pipes. Not sure but I'm imagining a ... cycle of buildings you might be able to choose to start with after multiple plays through, possibly based on past victories/patterns. >.>

Edit. That could come down the pipes as an expansion. I think it's a good idea.

Sorry. In my continued efforts to not ramble I'm now becoming incoherent.

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I think this is something coming down the pipes. Not sure but I'm imagining a ... cycle of buildings you might be able to choose to start with after multiple plays through, possibly based on past victories/patterns. >.>

I haven't seen anything that would indicate anything like that to be coming up.

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Aaaaand this just in: The next patch will be a return to difficulty balancing:

MrMooEar on steam:

We're looking at the difficulty right now! We'll tune it up in the next patch along with the difficulty modes that we promised!

Sorry it's so hard right now! We thought it would be better to make the challenge stiff rather than have super flabby at launch. :D!

Personally, I think there should be a an especially tough enemy a little bit after the early game, to limit the player from slacking off on combat research. Think Chrysallids from X-com. I just think that bulwarks are a little bit bad for that job, since they require the player to have learned how to effectively use their skills by the time that you meet them. It's not really their health or ability that's the problem, it's that the ways to take them down are relatively complex, and require both good skill use and careful positioning.

As a side note, I'm very much in favour of making the existing enemies pretty complex, to make up for the fact that there are only 7 of them. I think the current Bulwarks and Seeds are good examples of complexity improving gameplay. Twitchers and Lapses could maybe use a little twist to them, especially in the advanced forms.

...Ooooh-wee does it smell like entitlement in here. 'Scuse me.

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There's been no indication that we'd start with more than one keep, but it's been talked about on the forums a fair amount in the past. Last word I remember Brad offering on it was that he didn't like taking any more building placement out of the player's hands. Especially because some of the extra keeps would need to be pre-staffed with regents and partners as well so that the player wasn't immediately prompted to marry their entire team off.

Re: enemies, I agree that they could benefit from a little more complexity. But specifically regarding the Seed, am I correct in thinking that only Advanced Seeds can combine, and they only ever create a non-advanced Cradle? That seems like a potentially bad tradeoff for them. The Seeds are 3x31 = 69 HP, have the benefit of Slippery, and (barring explosions) require at least 3 attacks to eliminate by virtue of there being 3 of them. While the Cradle has a dangerous attack, it's still a single 58 HP enemy that doesn't have great defenses. I'm wondering if that interaction requires some tweaking. Maybe not all of the Seeds get consumed in the transformation, maybe Cradles provide some ongoing aura or Mind Meld-y benefit to nearby Seeds, and/or maybe Cradles are just scripted to move after Seeds so that the newly transformed one can attack immediately? I dunno.

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I've actually been thinking that the seed missions in the midgame are too easy. I had this idea about all seed types having some sort of "swarming" ability besides the Cradle formation. I hadn't really though of it before, but what if, say, every seed attack would also cause adjecent seeds to get an extra attack? (without infinite looping, of course) That way,they could actually machine-gun people down in large groups, but they would still me weak enough in the early game. ...Upon further introspection, this idea would work for the current basic seeds, but the advanced seeds would be nightmareish.

As for cradle forming itself, maybe giving the cradle to spawn a seed(s) right away would be the best option? I think letting them attack right away on in the harder difficulties would be OK as well.

I think it was this patch that introduced advanced cradles firing advanced seeds, and that's a welcome upgrade (I mean, it just makes sense, right?) but they could do with an even more buffing than that. Low priority though. Better get the Bulwark problem (by which I mean, the 30-80 year difficulty spike) and hunter balance sorted out first. (not to mention the 0.9 bugs... boy, you guys have it tough even now)

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I actually made it through the early game just fine, but at roughly year 100, I got a random event: Sageright or sagewrong? involving some magical box. I apparently chose wrong because my sagewright's guild was blown up. The kicker is that to build another (i.e. a second one) would take FIFTY years. I basically quit my game right there because no point. The slow research times would have a compounding effect that would really tell by year 200. A real jab in the nuts to get completely screwed on an otherwise excellent run because of a single instance of RNG bullscheiss.

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Maybe i got really luck or maybe my playing preveous patches has made me a massive chalice savant but i am at year 150 and was thinking that the combat had gotten easyer.

i agree the slower reasurch makes the campaign map harder (i have 4 castles a crucible alch armour and leech stones but that is all the reasurch i have managed)

BUT

hybrids make the combat much easyer in my opinion

now i started with an alch house that had bear strength and was tranquil so i bred it with my hunters and caberjacks giveing me trick shots, alch-jacks and brewtalists.

all of that high damage aoe + int resistance to ruptures made the early game a breeze.

hordes of seeds would die all at once to exlposions, my bretalists could safely melle down ruptures and caber-alchemists can still charge and so can still stun relyably.

by the time bulwarks and cradels showed up i had leech stones and suddenly all that aoe damage was healing my heroes like crazy they just wouldn't die.

by the time wrinklers arrived on the scene my caberjacks had transitioned into shadow jacks and nothing survived.

i just had a single lvl 7 blastcapper and a lvl 5 shadowjack solo two maps together becuase my breeding fell of a bit. no problems. they ended the matches at nearly full hp due to sponge stones

maybe i stumbled into a magic formula for victory but it didnt seem harder than it used to be

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by the time bulwarks and cradels showed up i had leech stones and suddenly all that aoe damage was healing my heroes like crazy they just wouldn't die.

That's working on ranged attacks? My experience has been that it was melee only. Thanks for being so detailed in your response.

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I've actually been thinking that the seed missions in the midgame are too easy. I had this idea about all seed types having some sort of "swarming" ability besides the Cradle formation. I hadn't really though of it before, but what if, say, every seed attack would also cause adjecent seeds to get an extra attack? (without infinite looping, of course) That way,they could actually machine-gun people down in large groups, but they would still me weak enough in the early game. ...Upon further introspection, this idea would work for the current basic seeds, but the advanced seeds would be nightmareish.

As for cradle forming itself, maybe giving the cradle to spawn a seed(s) right away would be the best option? I think letting them attack right away on in the harder difficulties would be OK as well.

I think it was this patch that introduced advanced cradles firing advanced seeds, and that's a welcome upgrade (I mean, it just makes sense, right?) but they could do with an even more buffing than that. Low priority though. Better get the Bulwark problem (by which I mean, the 30-80 year difficulty spike) and hunter balance sorted out first. (not to mention the 0.9 bugs... boy, you guys have it tough even now)

I'm not sure where it is on the forums now but I had one big request for the Cradle in the past, and that's that an exploding attack is shown as 'loaded' on a Cradle at the start of their turn because the blue head turns red. Red = bad = exploding color.

I like you're seed suggestion. So rather than an "extra" attack as an action point, I would have it work in one of two ways.

"combined attack" multiple cradles move up to a target, no single Seed attacks until all seed movement and single seed attacks happen, when the attack happens, all of the seeds adjacent to a single target attack at once gaining a large bonus, but less impressive health gain p/damaged seed.

"chain attack" If a seed attacks a target previously attacked by a seed, and that previously attacking seed is still adjacent to that target, it makes an attack against that target again. So you could have a succession of attacks. 1st seed = 1 attack. 2nd seed = 2 attacks. 3rd seed = 3 attacks. This also emphasis the use of bulwark armor earlier in the game, as well as ... the push away Caberjack skill and the exploding armor.

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by the time bulwarks and cradels showed up i had leech stones and suddenly all that aoe damage was healing my heroes like crazy they just wouldn't die.

That's working on ranged attacks? My experience has been that it was melee only. Thanks for being so detailed in your response.

Can confirm my brewtalists heal themselves while stunning everything same for blastcappers. My only complaint about class balance is how weak the hunter and hunter-sub classes feel.

Besides that the fact I always end up with a team full of blastcappers or alchemists by the end of the game kinda bothers me. Hunters always seem incapable of reproduction for some reason. I dunno maybe it's due to caberjacks being much more useful early and late game and I subconsciously breed them out of existence.

As for enemy balance, lapse... the only creature that needs to be modified... heavily. The xp loss before wunderpants is annoying but fine but the damage done by advanced lapse is a bit extreme.

Bullwarks and cradles both are easy to take out(stunlock or straight one hit kills with brewtalists double attack, blastcapper/caberjack normal never ending attack when lvl 10). Granted advanced cradles can dish a bit of damage. However they are usually in less supply than lapse.

Oh sidenote... do not equip two spongestones. Your characters max health will be reduced by 30% and then another 30%, which will basically make you a one shot kill for the amazingly accurate advanced lapse.

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What I was thinking of was the "chain attack" variety, sorry if I was being unclear. It's just easier to understand, and easier to implement. I wasn't even thinking of how it played with the existing equipment. Hmm...

Yeah, I remember that cradle idea. Personally, I'm not so sure I like it, since cradles are rather easy to stunlock and usually only get in one shot anyway. Cradles are a relatively simple enemy, right now, but they feel like a pretty complete design. They are a scary enemy, to be sure, but they also show up at an appropriate time right around when you start to have enough corpses and breathing room to research equipment against them and have gotten the hang of the game's basics. If you wanted to complicate them, you could, say, give them a +50% against blast damage or something, but I don't think anything needs to be done to cradles specifically.

The devs have said they aren't going for a "rock paper scissors" approach in enemy types, so blast resistance thing is probably not going to happen. Juuust spitballing here.

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Mostly, my thoughts are about player experience, not so much complications. It'll feel slightly less ridiculous if you have a turn to try and react to it. A more appreciable change I think, would be that Cradles have initiative over seeds, always, and never launch and attack which targets a hero AND a seed. A sort of parental/motherly... "Save the creep spawn egg seed ... things." that might be a little too subtle (or hard to code) but gives them a finishing touch I think everyone could appreciate that isn't as heavy handed as "Red, you're dead."

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cradles around year ~60 of the new patch, plus starting the map in vision of all the fuckin enemies in the world is not fun :(

feels like the graveyard map on xcom. such close quarters and you spawn surrounded by fuckin enemies.

ive restarted 3-4 times already. and I love it <3

ok year ~70 battle had no cradles and a reasonable spawn point and went much more smoothly. the initial spawn on that year 60 battle was brutal. you start in a little U shaped mountain thing with lapses and cradles shooting in at you from all sides, and your caberjacks have to circle around to engage and none of your hunters can stealth cause they start spotted and its just a nightmare. tons of fun :D

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