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TheOnlyRew

Change Request - Start games with a second keep

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Alternate title: Does Anyone *not* Immediately Research their Second Keep?

I've started a fair few games in the .86 and .90 betas, and every single time my research progression has gone:

** Year 1 - Second Keep

** Year 8 - Health Vial

** Year 14 - Third Keep

** Year 25 - Recruit New Heroes

** Year 29 - First Actual Choice

Getting a fast second keep lets you found bloodlines using your initial pool of heroes while giving them enough time to have kids. The early health vials makes combat more fun (I suddenly have another potential action I can perform with each of my heroes) and have amazing mechanical usefulness (seriously, they're so good). The third keep and first wave of new heroes to fill it... Those are admittedly my personal play style.

The fact remains, though, I'm not making any interesting research choices for the first 30 years of the game. 10% of each run is autopilot now.

I really think I would have more fun if new games were rebalanced to obviate those first 15 years of research.

Here's my idea. Start the game with:

** The first empty keep -- as it currently stands, filled as part of the tutorial

** The second empty keep -- placed by the player in case they want the edge-territory bonuses (and risks), and not part of the tutorial so the player can hold off filling it (until after additional research, a cadence encounter, etc.)

** A weak Health Vial -- only heals 4hp (maybe the progression goes Health Vial(4hp)->Megalixer(10hp)->Ultralixer(25hp))

** A weak Perilous Core -- AoE enough to hit multiple enemies (thrown?), but only deals 3-6 damage so it can't one-shot Seeds

The benefits I see in this modified start are pretty numerous: (I like lists, don't judge)

** It takes my early game off autopilot

** It gives players more actions to play with in the first fight (in the form of randomly distributed healing and damaging items)

** It gives players another interesting itemization choice in the early matches (do I want burst heal, or burst AoE?)

** It (potentially) motivates players to upgrade their Mildly-Dangerous Cores into Perilous Cores (an item that I've only seen mocked on these forums)

The drawback is that this would make the first maybe three to five cadence fights significantly easier than they are now. There has been some rumblings of the early game being much harder in .90 than in .86 though. Then again I sorta think those first couple encounters could do with a few more Seeds, so... I guess I can't really help there.

Thoughts?

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Hi.

Same research planining for me ^^

(I prefer Vitaband to health potion).

I like the fact to have more battle choice.

More heroes at the beginning would allow to avoid the mandatory recruting.

Thus, we can decide if we prefer to add or not add new blood at the beginning.

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We only "need" 5 heroes for combat, and 4 for the first 2 keeps, so 9 total.

We discussed in another thread other starting options. I suggested less heroes at the beginning, but one free "young" hero every X years, like every 20... 25 years, gradually increasing in level.

Another thing : the early game needs to be really well played in order to succeed. There is no "easy part" where players are free to make mistakes and learn, then are gradually forced to make better decisions or perish, as the difficulty increases. New players are "likely" to fail, for example, if they research the wrong things early on (explosive core, advanced hunter armor, recruit baby).

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I agree that the number of starting heroes is fine right now. I think it really is my own preference to rush that first wave of new heroes, and only then because I want to get that third keep active quickly, and I've already put in the 25 years of research to get there, etc., etc..

The new hero every 20-30 years sounds like a great early-but-expensive (base 30 years, maybe?) research that could change the way players approach the mid-game.

And... I'm not sure that I agree with the difficulty of the early game being a particular problem. I see your point, JFarceur, about it being very unforgiving and very easy for new players to get into an inescapable rut. That said, I think this game -- along with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and of course Dwarf Fortress -- have a streak of Rougelike that all but necessitates a bit of up-front difficulty. Maybe my enjoyment there has been an acquired taste, though... Regardless, I think DF Brad has said the difficulty curve is going to be a target for the coming patches.

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And... I'm not sure that I agree with the difficulty of the early game being a particular problem. I see your point, JFarceur, about it being very unforgiving and very easy for new players to get into an inescapable rut. That said, I think this game -- along with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and of course Dwarf Fortress -- have a streak of Rougelike that all but necessitates a bit of up-front difficulty. Maybe my enjoyment there has been an acquired taste, though... Regardless, I think DF Brad has said the difficulty curve is going to be a target for the coming patches.

Well, my new game was just about the same as yours. Since I know what's useful to research and what's not, and since I rarely lose heroes on the battlefield, I get around the game easily, but I feel this is the "only/best/most efficient way" to win... feels like there is no real strategy, only one thing to do.

Also, I don't like the too-long times for researches (especially for buildings), that prevent from recruiting new heroes at any moment. When the recruit options are not available (and needs to be), it always come as a surprise, and dealing with the situation can cause great problem to the game. It rarely is a problem for me, as I tend to win battles with 3 or 4 misfit heroes, but I assume otherwise for new players.

Ideas/suggestions to allow more opportunities to start recruiting :

- Always have the recruiting options available, working on a different timeline. Does not interfere with research at all, but maybe the penalty for recruiting should increase dramatically with each use, or having a cooldown of 50 years, making it important to choose the right moment to recruit.

- "Cancelling a research" to be replaced with "Pausing a research"

- Allowing two simultaneous researches at 50% speed (usually a plain bad idea, unless you REALLY need recruiting now).

- Since the research times for buildings are very long, split them in two parts. "Preparing the land" that would progressively increase in research time, and "Building" that would have a fixed duration. Between the 2 researches, if the player ever needs hero quickly, he can start recruiting.

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Not sure of the years, but:

Research 1 - Second keep

Research 2 - Sagewrights

Research 3/4 - Third keep or Crucible

Research wild card - dependent on birth rate I may adopt or recruit people

Research 5 - Health Vial

Research 6 - Sponge stone ----- Although! I think this has been nerfed to reduce your health by 30% :( It is no longer the ultimate item T_T

Research 7 - Fourth Keep

Research 8 - Either Caberjack or Alchemist Armour

Research 9 - Health flask upgrade

Research 10+ - At this stage I'm not hugely fussed, i'll research whatever :)

Thought process:

1 - more babies

2 - faster research = faster building construction = more babies

3/4 - more babies / Stronger babies

Wild card - stable baby supply

5 - less likely of losing heroes in battle

6 - less likely of losing heroes in battle, although now i'll only give this to heroes with a lot of health to begin with and are likely to be at the front line, so take a lot of damage, but can get some back. The caberjacks are an obvious choice as they can get knockback which made them excellent for dealing with seeds. They'd hit for 1/2 get knocked back and the caberjack would recover the knockback damage as health. Although now there is a 30% debuff to their overall health I feel less inclined to use this and may just go back to health flasks for all.

7 - more babies

8 - more health for front line heroes

9 - Better health flask means more health recovery for heroes

10 - not overly important at this stage for me, I may experiment with something I haven't used, but I got burnt with the periless core... I thought it was a grenade, but it seems to be a suicide bomb :\

I've pretty much nailed down my strategy, but it doesn't mean I won't try and mix it up every now and again. I tried a few of the weapons, but found they weren't really worth the time spent researching, but this was a while ago, so maybe its time to try again.

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Specifics of the research progression aside, I think my point stands that there are very few choices to make in the very-early game. 'Cuz seriously, does anyone not immediately build their second keep?

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...Since we're comparing notes, My usual start is to build two keeps first, then recruitment, health vials and then branch out to different buildings depending on my mood.

In my current game I specifically researched Vitalibands instead of Steady handers or Health vials, and survived. I think you can stray from the typical research orders, but experimentation isn't really rewarded before the mid-game, when you can start combining sponge stones, cadence armor, haste hooch, throws etc. or just start snowballing from building effects.

I do find the idea of seperating the hero searching and adoption from the research system intriguing, but I would have to see the specific answer before froming an opinion. At this stage, "fixing the problem" is precariously close to "breaking the game". (I'm actually referencing an idea from a different thread)

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my build strat is

2nd keep.

sage guild

leech stone

keep

armour of some kind

bossadome!

hooch or vitaband

keep

armnour for a diff hero

... make it up at this point

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Ideas/suggestions to allow more opportunities to start recruiting :

- Always have the recruiting options available, working on a different timeline. Does not interfere with research at all, but maybe the penalty for recruiting should increase dramatically with each use, or having a cooldown of 50 years, making it important to choose the right moment to recruit.

Yes. Cooldown should be the same as it is now, but I'd make it have fewer returning benefits. Say you can research it and get 2 more heroes than you do presently, but for each land you've lost you recruitment one less Hero. You still have to research improved Heroes normally. Basically when you choose to Muster, you're calling on the people, not the sage-wrights. But eventually there will be fewer people in the land to call on.

- "Cancelling a research" to be replaced with "Pausing a research"

If they have the time to do 2nd wave type options when you start a game, this would be a change many would welcome and some would do without - like me, the all or nothing feels kind of distinct.

- Allowing two simultaneous researches at 50% speed (usually a plain bad idea, unless you REALLY need recruiting now).

I'm not sure I follow how this is a gain. If your researching mustering and need it right now, but it takes 150% of the time to research it, you've delayed the research on purpose. I liked the earlier idea better. I could see this maybe being a strategy for the late game, armors or upgraded items.

- Since the research times for buildings are very long, split them in two parts. "Preparing the land" that would progressively increase in research time, and "Building" that would have a fixed duration. Between the 2 researches, if the player ever needs hero quickly, he can start recruiting.

I like this idea.

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Yeah, this has strayed pretty far from what I wanted to suggest...

I don't think the recruitment needs to be separated from research, especially at this point in development. I think it works mechanically and thematically. I think if there's a sequel that brought in city building and management (a la Heroes of Might and Magic or Civ?) that could be really interesting to explore, but not right now.

My issue is that the early years of research are just route and uninteresting. Experimentation isn't rewarded beyond novelty. While I can see a case for Health Vials not being the numerically superior second research choice, I'm never going to stray (unless I'm looking for novelty) because I think having Health Vials is just more fun than not having Health Vials. And when someone shows Vitalibands or Steady Handers to be numerically superior to Health Vials, that's just going to further strengthen my point because I'm going to be sacrificing a mechanical advantage not for a challenge, but for the opportunity to get the most out of my tactical encounters.

And all of us will still never not immediately build that second keep.

[EDIT]: Except Magerious, whose post I initially misread and might disprove my central assertion.

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Hmm, yeah maybe I posted my idea at the wrong place.

I personally don't experience much difficulty with the game, but the only "dangerous" points I always see are concerning :

- a lack of heroes created by building keeps, early in the game, which I think might be fatal for new players.

- research traps (not building a second keep early on)

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Yeah, this has strayed pretty far from what I wanted to suggest...

I don't think the recruitment needs to be separated from research, especially at this point in development. I think it works mechanically and thematically. I think if there's a sequel that brought in city building and management (a la Heroes of Might and Magic or Civ?) that could be really interesting to explore, but not right now.

My issue is that the early years of research are just route and uninteresting. Experimentation isn't rewarded beyond novelty. While I can see a case for Health Vials not being the numerically superior second research choice, I'm never going to stray (unless I'm looking for novelty) because I think having Health Vials is just more fun than not having Health Vials. And when someone shows Vitalibands or Steady Handers to be numerically superior to Health Vials, that's just going to further strengthen my point because I'm going to be sacrificing a mechanical advantage not for a challenge, but for the opportunity to get the most out of my tactical encounters.

And all of us will still never not immediately build that second keep.

[EDIT]: Except Magerious, whose post I initially misread and might disprove my central assertion.

Well I think you have a point. I do think the greater difficulty of patch .9 may help to diversify early tactics (I for one built keeps very aggressively early on as a total change from previous attempts where I'd mix rotate through Armor and keeps for the first 100 years).

My most successful game, and so far, the only one I finished (for the last major patch) actually started with recruitment I'm pretty sure. I had what seemed like quite a few infertile heroes to start with and compensated by getting new heroes. (small pause while he thinks what he just said over) To be fair... based on my experience so far you're probably right that it probably wasn't my first research. But I think it was my 2nd. I remember kind of being pissed at starting with infertile heroes.

I wonder if this is because we have more research available to us, in the Beta. Does anyone know if the opening researches will become fewer in option. This won't really address you're point, but it might tamper down the feeling that you're loosing out on better options or not seeing some sort of alternate build path.

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@JFarceur -- I don't mean to shut down conversation, and I'm sorry if that's what my last post did. I was just seeing a lot of note-comparing about mid-game research, which I think is in a fine state and tangential to what I wanted to approach in this thread. There are definitely other ways research could have been done for this game and I really like the idea of separating general research and bloodline-specific tasks, but I feel it's out of scope for the current progression of Massive Chalice. In a different game, an expansion, or a mod? I would love to see that kind of thing.

I also think you have a really good point regarding research traps, and I think that's one of the things that bugs me about early research (though I didn't know how to articulate that facet till you brought it up). Among my first couple games, I was researching in an exploratory way -- I wanted to know what better armors did, what Perilous Cores were -- and I feel like I was punished for it. I'm not sure that's a terrible thing because losing is fun and exploration is fun, but I feel like it could be mediated by putting players in a more forgiving starting place.

@Potato Shaven -- Oh, I never did anything but early keeps. Maybe that's why I didn't feel the .90 difficulty bump as much as some others?

I think you touched on why I only felt comfortable recommending skipping the first ~15 years of research. Sure, I always do the same thing for 30 years, but that doesn't mean there aren't other viable paths through the early game. It's mostly because it takes 15 years before I keep the second keep and my first item that I feel the need to stay on my one particular path.

Now that you bring it up, limiting the early research more than it already is might be a really good way to remove the feeling of an overly-punishing early research tree, even if it doesn't remove the necessity of it. The feel *is* what's bothering me after all.... I'm going to have to mull that one over.

EDIT -- man I'm good at typos. So good.

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@TheOnlyRew : No problem! The only game I never finished and win was my very first one. I stopped at year 41, thinking "I should have 3 keeps by now. Let's start over."

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I don't start with a second keep. I usually adopt and then grab a crucible. My strategy involves XP dumping onto a few heroes, trying to keep all my XP within a few heroes until I have several high level heroes who can be made parents and Standards. I keep my hero population down to very low levels until then, at which point I appoint all the heroes to their jobs and start adopting and recruiting to build the population back up.

It's a different kind of strategy but it ends up getting you higher level heroes faster, although there are maybe 50 years where you only have like 4-7 heroes total. By mid-game I think you are OP compared to the standard strategy, however.

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I don't start with a second keep. I usually adopt and then grab a crucible. My strategy involves XP dumping onto a few heroes, trying to keep all my XP within a few heroes until I have several high level heroes who can be made parents and Standards. I keep my hero population down to very low levels until then, at which point I appoint all the heroes to their jobs and start adopting and recruiting to build the population back up.

It's a different kind of strategy but it ends up getting you higher level heroes faster, although there are maybe 50 years where you only have like 4-7 heroes total. By mid-game I think you are OP compared to the standard strategy, however.

This is more in line with what I was attempting previous to the .9 patch where I've been focusing on early Keep spam (I stabilized at 4 with only 2 recruiting researches... but I've gotten lucky with a few attacks coming down to a majority of Hunters and Bulwark only battle maps.

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@Potato Shaven -- Oh, I never did anything but early keeps. Maybe that's why I didn't feel the .90 difficulty bump as much as some others?

I think you touched on why I only felt comfortable recommending skipping the first ~15 years of research. Sure, I always do the same thing for 30 years, but that doesn't mean there aren't other viable paths through the early game. It's mostly because it takes 15 years before I keep the second keep and my first item that I feel the need to stay on my one particular path.

Now that you bring it up, limiting the early research more than it already is might be a really good way to remove the feeling of an overly-punishing early research tree, even if it doesn't remove the necessity of it. The feel *is* what's bothering me after all.... I'm going to have to mull that one over.

EDIT -- man I'm good at typos. So good.

*nod* We could have a Typo Tournament, rawr! I'm not sure what specifically to suggest in this vein, maybe the # of keeps widens base item research, or simply time. Every 30 years a new base item type is revealed in addition to fewer starting items?

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Two of the most important goals are to have lots of heroes and lots of XP in those heroes. The way I see it there are at least two viable broad starting strategies: (1) begin cultivating bloodlines to get a self sustaining factory of heroes; (2) attempt to concentrate and maintain lots of XP into your heroes so that you can get to a self sustaining training program that churns out high level heroes.

Strategy (1) is the standard "build second keep" and let XP grow naturally through the progression of the game.

Strategy (2) involves XP farming and crucible building, trying to avoid "wasting" your XP through hero death. Once you get a few crucibles and high level heroes to staff them, you build out your keeps and grow your bloodlines with recruited heroes (who will have high level kids because of the Standards)

I personally prefer strategy 2 because it lets me customize my bloodlines and focus on the class/traits I want, rather than strategy 1 which as many people have noted requires you to ride the roller coaster a bit more and simply make choices without actually feeling like you have many options.

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In so many way you're right, but I'm having to disagree on philosophical grounds.

What if you proposed the same for StarCraft II: why don't you auto-set the drones on minerals, cue the first drone, etc. etc. Heck, maybe if you input "MMM" the engine might work through the entire first tier...

"It's just not how things work", right?

Another thing, still taking clues from StarCraft, is the "what if..." catch. Crazy builds are discovered by the community that developers never thought of.

Finally it's a bad philosophy to take the ugly choices away from players while substituting a few "known to work" build orders. Players need to master the first one, two or three moves as well as the exciting mid- to late-game.

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The flip side is, the first few minutes of the average SC2 game tends to involve Tasteless and Artosis discussing their favorite Muppets while the players build up their basic economy. This take is a few years out of date though, because I stopped watching profession SC2 years ago because there's a ton of uninteresting filler space between the interesting parts.

Chalk me up in the "Start with 2 keeps" camp.

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