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Thread: Warlock - a new player's first impressions

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Warlock - a new player's first impressions

    Greetings all,

    When I first read about this game, I was interested for two reasons. 1) Paradox have a very good reputation when it comes to after sales and support, and 2) There are not too many interesting fantasy TBS games out there. Fantasy general has a few clones, Elemental was a tremendous dissapointment to me and Master of MAgic... wel, that's been a while too.

    So, I got it through Steam last week and heve been fiddling around with it over the last weekend.

    There are somethings that cause bewildered amusement or plain confusion.

    First of, I like the game and can see that it isn't close to having reached its full potential. I imagine through DLC that more types of cities are to be released, other unist, spells, whatnot. Love the simplebut effective animations. So, I am really not trying to bash the game or producers, but I do wonder about the following.

    For the next issues, I have been playing on 'normal' difficulty only, assuming that would be par for the course.

    a) So far the AI mages do NOT build any LANDunits. Their cities are defended by enormous amounts of forts and magic towers, but there is no unit there. Ever - and I played three games for 200-300 turns. One game, I captured all but the capital and then waited to see. No land unit built - ships a plenty and summoned wolves too, but nothing else. The neutrals spawn massive amounts, but that's of course a different mechanic. Note - the sea neutrals spawn at a very high rate apparently - there are really dozens and dozens of krakens, sea serpents and leviathans roaming the seas.
    b) I have yet to see the AI mages to use a spell against me in an offenseive manner.
    c) I have experimented with various units, and I feel like the (old) trolls need to be toned down. Once then have three or four levels under their belt and that 20 HP regenerationwith 90 HP make a force of 4-6 trolls overwhelming. I seen single units of L4-5 old trolls hold their own against four greater elementals and defeat them all in 6-7 turns. I always felt like lore/legend describing trolls to be vulnerable to fire - that might be something? I would think that there are more overpowered units. There is an adept unit (forgot which one) that is a killer to, with a powerful melee attack, high movement points and every other turn an extra (magic) attack. Those ancient liches seem way too strong too. Overall I enjoy the enormous variety of units and the different abilities, but some balance issues are choosing which units to build basically a no-brainer. Either tone the stronger units down, or increase their costs.
    d) Diplomacy makes very little sence. There is no decent way of counterproposing, the AI even when it's clearly overpowered and would stand no chance, break alliances and declares war like there is no tomorrow. Well, after that there usually isn't
    e) I would like some better info on the consequences of being in one god's favour. The divine spells are very expensive 'influence' wise, but I am unable to see the downside of having negative influence?
    f) I find that the units gain experience too easy even if they are not in the frontline. Having the experience perk for your mage and the upgrade, nets you 2-3 XP a turn for even those units stiing quiet in some backwater garrison. Maybe there should be some upper limit for XP gained by 'practice' and all other XP nees to be gained 'the hard way'. I would assume the AI's units have the same advantages, but I only see neutral/monster unist and they seem to go no higher than L4-5.
    g) Regeneration is so common through perks, that after 30-40 turns healing is no longer needed. Maybe open up the perk regeneration to L10 or higher units? I would like to see very few units with that lofty grade also, but in my games I have about a dozen L10-12 units and there is no need for anything else really.

    Sorry to appear to be whining - I would like to stress again that I enjoy the game and hope to enjoy it for many games to come, but I feel like there are some issues especially with the AI's behaviour and the balance.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Glad you are enjoying the game! The more that do, the more likely we will be able to see more.

    Re the AI- what difficulty were you playing at? At normal and lower the game gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want- on impossible the AI can create HORDES of units. Others have also posted that the AI can "break" at times over long play sessions. Apparently restarting the game every 10 or so turns is a current workaround while we wait for updates.

    Re spells, the AI has used direct damage spells, curses, global banes, and city banes against me. Maybe you were lucky or maybe they were buffing their cities nonstop.

    The game doesn't appear to be aimed at balance for low level units. The high end units will mop the floor with them. The game seems more a race to a good mix of upper level units or a zerg rush of cheap expendable units. Others probably have more to experience to share.

    Diplomacy does seem under-developed compared to other 4x games. I don't know that it is a problem per-se for the game though. Is there even a penalty for breaking your word with the AI?

    Re the God's favor, if they like you, they allow the use of their spells. If you anger one of them enough (-100) they will send an avatar to fight you eventually. If you can build their temple, you get access to their temple unit as long as the temple exists. You can only build a temple on holy ground while you are above -10 with that god.

    I like the XP mechanic as it allows units that just guard cities to have a better chance at defeating units that have been in combat all game.

    Re regeneration, I agree that it marginalizes the healer class. I had the regeneration spell on over half my units in the last game I played. No healers needed.

    How did you get units over level 10? Once you hit level 10, the XP meter reads 1/-1 and you can't advance anymore. Are you using an un-patched version of the game? Level 10 also takes forever to reach in my experience- how long was your game?
    Feel free to call me App. It's shorter.

  3. #3
    a. AI did not build any land units...
    b. AI did not use offensive spells...
    Those are strange, since in my game AI build land units regularly. They also cast spells, either counterspelling me or bombarding me with Greater Fireballs, Lesser Weakness etc.

    The only (?) problem I notice with AI is that AI tends to build a lot of cheaper units rather than small but powerful expensive units. Monster AI with Chateu de Loup-Garou did not produce Werewolves, with temples did not produce religious units, etc.

    d. Diplomacy...
    Yes, I agree that the diplomacy mechanic requires some polishing. There are many modifiers on AI behaviour, but the diplomacy screen is very simplistic. At the very least, we should be able to reject AI's threat without automatic war.

    e. Falling out of God's favor...
    If you get -99 or -100, an Avatar of the god will spawn and attack your cities. Killing him/her will grant you a victory.

    I also get religious quest which involve capturing another mage's city. I don't know whether this is random, or there are specially-tailored religious quests to capture cities from non-believers (Krypta will ask you to capture cities from non-Krypta believers, etc). Also, I don't know whether the AI gets this quest/not. If yes, then falling out of God's favor might result in the God sent his/her faithful to capture your cities.

  4. #4
    I can confirm that the AI builds lots and lots of units on normal difficulty. The AI also casts spells. In one game the AI repeatedly cast weakness on my units. Over half of my army had debuffs on them. The AI loves to cast firestorm too. I have seen them cast that in every game I played. It is an AoE spell and it can wipe out half your army in the early game. The AI will use it if you cluster up your units and the AI can see your units. As some one else suggested perhaps the AI is broken in your game. *shrug*

    I love this game. Unfortunately, strategy games have fallen out of favor in the U.S. so we don't see too many triple A strategy games any more , especially ones with depth. Even the Civilization series has been radically dumbed down for the American crowd. I am not bashing Americans. I am a Texan myself. I am just pointing out the facts. Most good strategy games are coming out of Eastern Europe now. Unfortunately they don't have the budget of American or Japanese games. For $20 this is a really, really good strategy game. I am so glad the cold war ended because the Russians are keeping strategy gaming alive.

  5. #5
    In my mind "normal" difficulty is basically for beginners who are not familiar with this type of game, when really the level beneath that should be for beginners; in the game's current state I would only play it on "impossible" difficulty. I have yet to loose to the AI though have certainly had stalemates where I have only just hung on and with better AI they would have over-run me. Hopefully with patches every level of difficulty will go up in a level of difficulty so "challenging" is indeed challenging and impossible is seriously hard and definitely losable, and therefore even more fun.

    You should find the higher powered units are not so overpowered once you play the higher difficulties, as I have suggested above don't look to "normal" difficulty if you are wanting a challenge or even a proper reflection of how the game should and can be played.

    I also like the fact soldiers in cities do slowly gain experience in time. I had a far flung border city with lots of swamp land between it and my main empire which very occasionally saw combat over long period of the game so it warranted a soldier in the city, it was nice to see him slowly inch up the levels and when a big invasion did suddenly come from over that side he was able to survive long enough for help to beam in, dying sadly in the process....which reminds me, you really can get attached to units in this game, (an aspect I really like), so it would be nice if you could name them yourself. I never reload games under any circumstances as I like to play it "real-life" so-to-speak, so I do sometimes loose units which I have nurtured for ages, oh it hurts

    Diplomacy is a problem as everyone has noted, just got to be patient on that respect I think. As they might have to do a lot more voice recording for expanded diplomacy - with the extra costs that carries with it - then I would only expect major updates to it in a DLC, while patches will mostly smooth things out and make the current system make come together a bit better.

    The OP does seem to have had a strange experience though, I suggest going up a level in difficulty and hopefully things will be more like you expect.
    It is a fun and addictive game though, has real potential.

  6. #6
    I agree the AI doesn't build enough units on normal difficulty. Whenever I start exploring lands and get in contact with an AI Great Mage, I get a relation penalty due to me being a "military threat". However, they build lots of settlers, even when in war and surrounded by overpowering troops. I don't know how many settlers one of my ranger units one-shotted last game while I took down the capital of that Anna girl. Every 2 turns a new settler appeared just to get killed. Makes no sense.

    And I think this correlates with the problem of the AI declaring war even when completely chanceless. It doesn't build enough units, so it hates you because you're a military threat, and because of that much hate it declares war. A stupid mechanic that needs to be (re)worked.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Conch View Post
    I agree the AI doesn't build enough units on normal difficulty. Whenever I start exploring lands and get in contact with an AI Great Mage, I get a relation penalty due to me being a "military threat".
    <snip>
    And I think this correlates with the problem of the AI declaring war even when completely chanceless. It doesn't build enough units, so it hates you because you're a military threat, and because of that much hate it declares war. A stupid mechanic that needs to be (re)worked.
    From what I have seen, the "military threat" relationship penalty appears to be directly related to how many units you have within sight range of the other Great Mage's border. More specifically, early game I can get a -2 penalty for being a military threat from just having a bat or hunter step up next to someone else's city border, which goes away next turn if I have moved that unit away several hexes.

  8. #8
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    Thanks all for responding and your suggestions.

    Lemme first off answer to Esvath and GrumpyGamert's mention of the AI mages building lots of units and The Apprentice's mention of the AI gettig broken at certain points in the game.
    In my third and current game, I have purposefully reloaded a savegame from before I started conquering the AI mage and deployed a dozen green bats with invisibility and sight range inprovements. I was able to view the empire of 8 cities of the AI. While in the background seven of my L10 Old Trolls were decimating the inhabitants of another plane of existence (once more giving weight to my belief these units are overpowered) I watched the going-ons in the AI's domain for 100+ turns.
    Now, discounting the possibility all the AI's land based units are invisible, I stand by my statement - during those 100+ turns the AI did not build a single land unit. It built 24 ships (give or take - I might have miscounted, just making a point here) that were one by one sunk by a few krakens in the vicinity. Aside from the ships, the AI summoned 14 ghost wolves that just sat there - they hardly ever moved and NEVER moved outside the borders not even when a neutral ogre thrashed a magic tower of the AI.

    Now, I am assuming there is some AI routine where it checks, notices the seas are ripe for exploration, <if then> builds a ship. Ship eaten by kraken, so build another... and another... ad infinitum. I can see how that would be the consequence of the AI being... well, artificial and governed by routines. However, I fail to see why it would not build land units, seeing how the continent was big.

    So, that leaves the possibility it is broken. It has to be. Tomorrow I'll start up a new game and see what happens.

    I am hesitant to move to a higher level of difficulty to sort this. Normal should also have an unbuffed AI with no (say, resource) help but a decent enough grasp of basic city defence and judging from the forum threads I scanned, they do. So, it might be broken in my particular. I am not, however, enjoyig the idea of having to reload every 10 turns or so to prevent this.

    The Assistant asked about my L11-12 units - have to be fair that I don't have a savegame from that game and I am not sure if that actually was the case. I am playing the Steam version of the game, which is patched automatically to the next available version and as such should be the latest.
    Regardless, my game now (I play on the largest maps) is in the turns 200-250 when I own 17 L7-8 old trolls, said green bats to spy on the AI, 8 L4-6 dracoliches roaming the seas and a few L8 archliches. So, on the big maps, I would assume this amount of turns is normal? I could have won by defeating al great mages, I merely am stalling to watch the AI's behaviour.

    As to the level 'normal' being for beginners, I kinda sorta would like tot think that's not the case? Normal should, or so I understand the meaning of the word, the original, balanced way the developers designed the game to be. If you are new to a game or just enjoy something leisurely, go below normal, if you want a challenge, go above. Granted, with the current state of the AI I am partial to moving to 'challenging' difficulty because to me a game needs to be something of a challenge, but normal should,from what I currently see, be a LOT better than this.

    I am moving to the 'broken' argument, because what I see does not hint at a bad AI, it demonstrates a non-functioning AI while since Dark Reign (the RTS game from... well, way back that showed what Command & Conquer should have been) there have been examples of good AI. Someone on the board mentioned M.A.X. that too had a very good AI.

    I will however say this - the game is enjoyable and I like experimenting with different units and tactics and it has cost me the better part of many a night when I should be sleeping. It has the all important 'one-more-turn' attraction. It has a lot of new things to discover - I am now trying to annoy a god to see the avatar I read so much about. Seems like the next dozen games will show me new stuff to find. Just this morning I saw adamantium for the first time.

    I just really would like to see the AI improved and the diplomacy engine better, making just a tad more sence.

  9. #9
    "The Assistant." Hah! I've also gotten called "The Android" before...

    Bummer about the AI in your game- it sounds like you made a pretty comprehensive effort to observe what was happening. Hopefully AI improvements that prevent this will be implemented, because the situation you describe does reduce the enjoyment potential of the game.

    The game manual does say that experienced strategy games should start at challenging- normal I guess refers to the average gamer or something. Nomenclature issues are fun!
    Feel free to call me App. It's shorter.

  10. #10
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    I suppose being a 2nd lieutenant makes you an assistant, but my apologies for getting confused here

  11. #11
    "As to the level 'normal' being for beginners, I kinda sorta would like tot think that's not the case? Normal should, or so I understand the meaning of the word, the original, balanced way the developers designed the game to be. If you are new to a game or just enjoy something leisurely, go below normal, if you want a challenge, go above. Granted, with the current state of the AI I am partial to moving to 'challenging' difficulty because to me a game needs to be something of a challenge, but normal should,from what I currently see, be a LOT better than this."

    Maybe I worded things incorrectly but this was basically what I was trying to say, as the game stands now normal is for beginners but ideally the "casual" difficulty level should be for the beginner and the "normal" be an average difficulty level with a touch of challenge while still working things out.

    I have to say you sound very unlucky with your AI experiences, I have played one game on Challenge and a couple on Impossible and they produce swarms of troops in the latter. Sometimes it is a even a bit daunting when they decide you are their next main target and your screen is just filled with enemy units haha. I stayed up so late playing it last night...haven't done that for a game in years.

    Try Challenging, hopefully it will be a bit more...challenging?
    T.

  12. #12
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    I restarted, playing from scratch (though with all settings equal) and I can indeed confirm that there had to be something wrong with my earlier game, as now the AI builds like mad. Mind you, mad and blind too. I can oversee in this game the AI sitting next to an ogre cabin complete with accompanying ogre. Every few turns a warrior unit shows up, walks to the ogre, get's crushed, rinse and repeat. I reckon thatogre to become high level if the AI keeps feeding him.

    But, at least the AI is building units and (ahem) putting them to good use.

    With that out of the way, I went to start a 'challenging game' as Ticktoc advised. Now a 100 turns going, and it is a tad more of a challenge though I will say that it's not because the AI mages are putting up a challenge to date - it is more that the neutrals and monsters are way more present and exploring/expanding is a lot more challenging. But, I would bet that goes for the AI too. Not met any AI mages yet, but I did meet two free roaming dracoliches close to my second started city. Yeah, the neutrals are definitely more powerful.

  13. #13
    Dracoliches? Not Shadows of Ventreral (sp)? I would say that the AI had triggered a portal nearby, but I've never seen wild Dracoliches before. Interesting.
    Feel free to call me App. It's shorter.

  14. #14
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    Hmm. That actually is a good question. I never looked beyond the icon - I wasn't aware there were creatures using the same animation/picture as Dracoliches. I'll have to check once I am near a puter that has the game.

  15. #15
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    I love this game! Warlock FTW!
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