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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Hiliadan

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Jun 17, 2018
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This is the continuation of this thread on the old forum: http://aow.triumph.net/forums/topic/balancing-flying-and-floating-units/

lying and Floating units (and to a lesser extent Swimming) units have a big mobility and versatility advantage, especially on Continent (in particular with rapids) or Island maps.

Players who can get a Floating or Flying stack will gain a huge advantage vs players without such stacks, and be able to harass their opponents without much risk.

There are several ways to counter this. One way is to nerf Flying and Floating units (less defense, resistance or HP for instance, because the energy they spend Flying or Floating weakens them). Another is to boost potential counters.

The following proposals were identified as having some support (I'll update it later based on feedback received after 29 September):
FN1. Flying units get -1 def and/or -5 HP.
For: Fluksen, Zaskow, Henrysix, gladis (-1 attack, -5 HP), Hiliadan (-5 HP)

FN2. Floating units do not have Cave Crawling any more (need 4 MP to move on Subterranean climate).
For: gladis, Hiliadan

FB1. Pike Square does more damage vs Flying units (and maybe vs Floating units?).
For: Fluksen, ddnation22, Hiliadan

FB2. Pillar of the Stylite and Solar Spire give additional bonus vs Flying units.
For: Fluksen, Hiliadan

FB3. Units with Throw Net get an additional ability to stick Flying and Floating units to the ground (like Double Gravity).
For: Fluksen, Hiliadan

FB4. Add some specific counter to Floating (what?).
For: Fluksen, Hiliadan

FA1. Swimming and Embarked now uses 4 MP/hex on the strategic map. Sea Creatures get Natural Swimming and still uses 3 MP/hex. Flying and Floating units get a “Flying over water” penalty of -1 defense, -1 resistance when flying over water.
For: Fluksen, Hiliadan
 

xlnt

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FN1 - how does that solve the issue of having a stack the opponent can't touch? We don't use the flyers in combat to gain xp or as core units - we use them to harass (against)
FN2 - this is fine
FB1 - same as FN1 but even more dangerous as this makes some starting army far better vs the indies (against)
FB2 - too situational to be solving anything but a way to make those buildings interesting (never build any of those for 2 000 hours of multiplayer games)
FB3 - the worst idea of all, TN is way too good and available as is, only SOME races/classes have it and helping vs the indies is really a disaster (against)
FB4 - Counter is something all race/classes have OR at least all who don't already have the same unit.... so maybe add a spell that governs/defends towns at 5/10 mana upkeep and kills 1 fly/float unit per battle turn
FA1 - seems fine, can't see it be balance breaking but i don't believe it solves much

my proposals: add a spell to defend classes that don't already have summon flying units, make the ships cheaper and easier to get so embarked units are able to stop flying stacks, maybe add a spell that gives MP to embarked units. Maybe add something useful to Air that can be cast on fly-ing stacks to drain MP for 1-2-3 turns?
 

Rodmar18

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FB3 - Remember that there is a contact attack and a ranged attack. Which one would you target? Also, if you go this way, what about web attacks?
FB4 - What about making range impairing spells also affect floating/flying units, like reducing the MP pool, or behaving the opposite as the Athletic traits (more MP per hex)? Likewise, shouldn't a strategic air spell protect against flying stacks? Perhaps even an existing one?
FA1 - And what about flying above lava for units not immune to fire? Perhaps, to simulate the lack of resources, any non marine unit (embarked, swimming, flying, floating) could have a halved natural regeneration rate (+3 instead of +6) (except those who don't rely on feeding like incorporeal units?); this wouldn't help embarked units against flying units, but could force flying units to reach for land from time to time.
 

Hiliadan

Major
Jun 17, 2018
522
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From Phirpo on the old forum:
I think the problem with flying units is alone, that they are too fast. Although it is realistic to make them weaker, i dont think that’s a good idea.
I disagree with that. For me the issue is not speed in itself. That's the strategic point of flying units, to be able to move fast and have very good mobility above difficult terrains. It's a bit like saying that Archers' issue was that they do ranged damage, so we should remove it in order for Infantry units to be able to compete vs them. In the end, we would end up with a game with only units with 10 damage, 8 def, 8 res, 32 HP and 28 walking MP....
I believe in asymetric balancing and I believe it is much more fun and interesting to have asymetric balancing than bland mirror units.

Most of the time (basically everywhere except above lava), all units can reach where flyers are, you just need to anticipate and build your strategy around it. One issue is if your opponent can very easily get Flying units very early. But then the issue is not really Flying units in themselves but access to them. Maybe we should increase their price in Inns, slow down mind-control further, or make them less accessible in Dragon Dwelling?

FN1 - how does that solve the issue of having a stack the opponent can't touch?
The issue is not to have a stack you can't touch. You can touch them in most cases and if you face Flying units, you should not settle in areas vulnerable to them (and I know your focus is only on the 1vs1 settings but we don't balance for that only).
The issue is that Flying units are both very mobile and quite strong. Imagine a Scout or a Cherub: do you think it's an issue that you can deal with because it has high mobility? No, you can counter it. Dragons or Draconian Flyers are different. Weakers, you could more easily deal with them.

Likewise, shouldn't a strategic air spell protect against flying stacks?
Balance mod:
Air Master gets Heavy Winds instead of Wind Ward. Heavy Winds is a strategic spell which gives -2 vision range to all Flying enemy units (on the strategic map) and prevent them from Flying in tactical combat. It costs 800 RP and 150 CP, is tier V, its disjunction cost is 170 CP and its upkeep 60 mana/turn.


New proposals based on recent feedback:

FN3. Flying over Mountains cost 6 MP (was 5 MP).

Also some precisions for old proposals which didn't have values.
FB1. Polearm gives +5 damage against Flying units (was +4) and also apply to Floating units (was no bonus).

FB2. Pillar of the Stylite gives an additional +1 spirit damage against Flying units.
Solar Spire gives +1 fire melee damage against Flying units.
 

Travel69

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I think we all realize flying/floating units rule this game. Almost every one of the most powerful units in the game (Eldritch/Horned Gods/SmiteBox/DreadReaper/Manticore/etc) have floating or flying or extremely fast movement. If we look at it from a somewhat historical military viewpoint all fast flying units in history are fragile. Biplanes to fighter jets to hover craft to drones to jetpacks don't have armor because armor is too heavy. They rely on speed, surprise and fast attack to survive. Why not just decrease the armor and HP of flying/floating units? It is a simple change that solves all problems. Maybe increase the ability of certain units to damage flying units, I am not sure about that one. Maybe increase the ability of all armored units to damage flying units. KISS program is almost always best
 

Jolly Joker

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All very well, but too much of a simplification. In reality they ARE vulnerable, but because of their speed and height very difficult to hit at all. With every shot a hit, lower defense and HPs (but not Resistance) would make Flyers an easy target for regular ranged units, which would have to be penalized against flyers.

Also, flying/floating creatures do so not because of physics, but because of magic. So not even a physical Weakness makes sense.

What I simply don't see, is flying/floating reflected in the unit PRICES. It should cost more to research them, and it should cost a ton (additional mana) to build them.
 

El_Lobo1986

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FN1. Against. Like others said before it's the mobility which is the problem, not the fighting skills.

FN2. For

FB1. For against flying units, against against floating units. (this sentence sounds really weird ^^)

FB2. Against, I don't think this will prevent anyone from using flying units. Races with strong pike man will use it anyways.

FB3. Against, only a few races have access to units with that ability. Humans can spam (cheap) civil guards with the RG upgrade and will get an advantage compared to all other races.

FB4. For, but what exactly should it be?

FA1. For


I like the idea of implementing a new spell like heavy winds. I thought about that before reading it here in the thread. :)
Also I like the idea removing the armored ablitiy from most of the flying units but I think there are not that much, right?
 

Jolly Joker

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You may just want to add spells for Earth (Landbridge), Air, (Cloudbridge) and Fire (Volcanic Islands) that do basically the same then Freeze Water to allow traversing of water with more specs. Later on roads reduce movement for non-flyers to 2, which means flyers may be at a disadvantage in range.

You might additionally add an ability that give floaters +25% more upkeep and flyers +50% more ...
 

dan2V

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add a rule so that a flying/floating unit without swimming that finishes the turn over water without a boat or embarked units will not heal damage normally and will take 5-10 damage.
 

Rodmar18

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I had the same idea for units floating over lava, or floating/flying over lava underground (if the game can cop with the difference). All these units should at least suffer from a Scorched Heat status. Furthermore, instead of losing health (akin to an Immolated status), I'd be for a Can't Regenerate status. Of course, Fire Resistance would apply, and units immune to fire woulnd't be affected at all.
 

Jolly Joker

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While I myself said, you might have gone for simply losing non-swimmers ending a turn on water (or lava) as the simplest solution, on closer look it makes as much sense as allowing unlimited time over water, as in none.

For one thing, floaters do not need to land; floating is their natural status and they CANNOT even walk - just look at a phantom warrior, for example, a magical property.

For another, most flying creatures are not flying by natural/physical means, but by magic. A Manticore Rider, for example, doesn't fly because they have such a mighty wing beat, they are airborne due to magic, and the wings just propel them forward.

So the logical solution would be to give both flyers and floaters an increased upkeep in the form of additional mana consumption (keeping them over ground, no matter the terrain).

I also think that swimmers should have movement cost increased to 6 in water...
 

Calm

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The "cleanest" solutions would be production rollover and removal of the six unit/hex limit---both of which would let pikemen take better advantage of their low cost---and small bunkers that archers/mages could take shelter in.
 

Hiliadan

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Jun 17, 2018
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Feedback of phirpo:
GC61a
Swimming now uses 4 MP/hex on the strategic map. Sea Creatures get Natural Swimming and still uses 3 MP/hex. Sea Creatures do not take attack of opportunity when moving near other units (like Flyers near walking units).
- No, I support only the change for the attacks of opportunity. I think it would distort the game too much if swimming used 4mp/hex. Instead there are better ways to buff sea creatures. One is the second part of the proposal above. Others are my own proposals such as: baby kraken gets Fast Healing; ships receive a little bit of repair in harbors (~5hp).

GC61b
Flying and Floating units get a "Flying over water" penalty of -1 defense, -1 resistance when flying over water. Mariner cancels that malus.
- No. Definitely not floating units. But I have been thinking now quite a while about whether flying units should get that debuff. And I tend to „no“. Because it would be an advantage for swimming and human units against them in fights without hero support. I think we shouldnt eliminate the supremacy of flying units on water, but we should reduce the scope in which this can be totally exploited.

That’s why I propose the following: 1) Advanced Seafaring gives +3 additional mp to embarked units, making it 30mp, hence 10hex. This will boost embarked units in combat a little. It’s also easier for them to catch up on the strategic map. 2) Advanced Seafaring give +1 defense to embarked units how do not have „Mariner“ (if possible). 3) Flying units receive „cannot heal“ on water. Or at least sth like „less healing“ which means -6 healing-hp per turn, so +-0 without heros and support. This will mean that they keep their tactical advantage, but it will force the player to seek land more often to heal his/her units.
 

Hiliadan

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Jun 17, 2018
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These two are likely to be implemented in v1.29 of the balance mod. Any last comments?

GC61a
Swimming now uses 4 MP/hex on the strategic map. Sea Creatures get Natural Swimming and still uses 3 MP/hex.
Sea Creatures do not take attack of opportunity when moving near other units (like Flyers near walking units).

GC61b
Flying and Floating units get a "Flying over water" penalty of -1 defense, -1 resistance when flying over water. Mariner cancels that malus.


The Swimming change is going to impact AD pretty significantly so I'd like to make sure we're making the decision fully informed.
 

El_Lobo1986

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Give it a try but I think Sorcerer is also pretty much affected regarding 61b. Additionally I think there should also be a malus for flying/floating over lava.
 

Highway Hoss

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Regarding this topic, I have a couple of ideas:
  • Flying and floating units do not get bonuses when they defend; only "grounded" units get defense bonuses.
  • Archers get a new ability I call "Volley"; +4 Physical Atk vs Flying, Lesser Flying, mounted (Cavalry) and Floating units.
 

Jolly Joker

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Guys, let me repeat this: floating units CANNOT be grounded. To float is their natural state, which is an innate consequence of their magical nature. For a floater it makes no difference what surface there is under them (including roads) - they are NEVER grounded. So you can't give them penalties for floating.

That's different with flyers, whether it's "natural" ones (like Grimbeaks) or "magical" ones (like Dragons). You could argue that the power of a flyer to be airborn will eventually wane, whether natural or magical, and the flyer has to land (to rest and feed).

An interesting mechanism to mirror that would be this: A flyer can end the turn over "deadly" terrain (water, lava); if it does it gets a specific mark. If a flyer with that mark ends its turn over deadly terrain it loses one third of its MPs for the next turn and one third of its damage and defense stats and gets a second mark. If a flyer with that second mak ends the turn over deadly terrain, they lose another third and get another mark. Ending again over deadly terrain means death.

This would not in any way inhibit a flyer's ability to cross water, if it's not an ocean, but would make them vulnerable as watchers. However, there is also no good reason to inhibit flyers, just because they can cross water, since that's the advantage of flying. As I said, you can of course increase the amount of mana necessary to build flyers. For example, a Drac Flyer costs 150/20. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't cost 150/75. Gryphon Rider costs 140/30 and could cost 140/85 as well. Because their ability to fly is a magically fuelled ability. Their upkeep should include mana as well.
 

Jolly Joker

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Which food for them is over, say, desert, that's not over water?
What is Wisp food? Or Phantom Warrior food?
Movement speed is a different problem.
 

Rodmar18

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they move more slowly on Mountain, faster on Water, etc.
Looking at the wiki again, floating units go faster on even, flat ground. Both floating and flying units go slower in mountains and that majes sense snce there's more vertical motion. Also, fliers get 3 MP/hex, that is the same speed as ground and floating units on a road. I translate this as including the necessary landings during a long journey.

That's different with flyers, whether it's "natural" ones (like Grimbeaks) or "magical" ones (like Dragons).
(...)
An interesting mechanism to mirror that would be this: A flyer can end the turn over "deadly" terrain (water, lava); if it does it gets a specific mark. If a flyer with that mark ends its turn over deadly terrain it loses one third of its MPs for the next turn and one third of its damage and defense stats and gets a second mark. If a flyer with that second mak ends the turn over deadly terrain, they lose another third and get another mark. Ending again over deadly terrain means death.
I'd say the same for floating units, at least over lava. Even if they could float at several meters above ground, there's no way that they could such a heat. Moreover, whatever the origin of the flight capability, why not introducing a Good Flier ability, like you introduced a Natural Swimmer ability? Those few units would be able to fly long distances over hostile terrain: Zephyr, Dragons, Phoenix (?).


More about floating units (if they need nerfing):
- Uncorporeal floating units would have the current movement costs (4 MP/hex, 3 MP/hex over water and roads (2 MP with Advanced Logistics), 6 MP/hex in mountains). They move as fast as ground units with Forestry/Wetlands Walking/Mountaineering over respective terrains.
- Corporeal floating units would suffer a -1 MP/hex penalty over Marsh and Dense Vegetation (i.e. 5 MP/hex as compared to 6 MP/hex for walking units), because of the rough terrain (you can easily float over a low edge, not so through a canopy). Why not a penalty in mountains too (7 MP/hex as compared to
- The wiki states that floating units benefit from most movement abilities. I don't know wich ones precisely, but it would make sense that a floating elven unit in dense vegetation is faster than a non floating elven unit in dense vegetation: from 4/4/6 over Forest/Marsh/Mountains, we'd have 5/5/7 for Corporeal floating units, and 3/3/5 for wood runner/wetlands walker/mountaineer floating units, although 4/4/6 would be fine too (if the Movement ability could be halved in effect).