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Heroes Community > Heroes 4 - Lands of Axeoth > Thread: Wanna know the future?Multiplayer Trends for H4 (I been doing much hotseat gaming...)
Thread: Wanna know the future?Multiplayer Trends for H4 (I been doing much hotseat gaming...)
ArmageddonUn...
ArmageddonUnlimited

Tavern Dweller
posted May 26, 2002 10:12 AM
Edited By: armageddonunlimited on 26 May 2002

Wanna know the future?Multiplayer Trends for H4 (I been doing much hotseat gaming...)

I've been doing quite a bit of hot-seat gaming with a couple other hard-core Heroes (series) players and a couple trends are emerging that I thought I'd note here for people hanging out for the oppurtunity to play Mplayer (i.e. not vs a complete 'tard ). It is my humble (heh) opinion that the imbalanced strats which follow will unfortunately entirely dominate the expert scene in online multiplaying of H4.

Just to note first-off, we've been playing all maps on Champion setting and mostly playing Zanfas Challenge, Dragons in the Middle, In Laws, 4 Lakes (several others but each of the above at least 2-4 times for full length games that take 6-36 hours to complete).

THE PROBLEM

#1 Trend:   Whoever doesn't get a thief early cannot win regardless. This is seeming to be a complete and unfortunate fact. For those who aren't aware, once you get a thief advanced Stealth, they can quickly gain xp moving adjacent to all the level 1 monsters as well as flag mines and steal resources without losses. However, once that same thief makes expert stealth, this is the critical point. Every map has many level 2 creatures about, and more than enough to quickly make Master stealth from the XP gains (not to mention economic leap by flagging so many mines and stealing bundles of resources). Master stealth snowballs it again as all level 3 monsters provide even larger slices of XP pie followed rapidly by grandmaster stealth and typically grandmaster pathfinding which at +50% movement, rockets the thief into absurdity. HUGE XP gains from every level 4 that they wander past, ease of terrorism campaigns against your human opponents (only someone with Grandmaster Scouting can spot you, and even then, even a gump can ensure that your fast Thief never gets pinned. By this stage, he's so fast and so high level that if if a large group with a GM scout does corner him, they'll never kill him before he can flee (too tough and a pre-taken potion of immortality absolutely seals it). The only exception is lucking out with Shackles of War, unlikely.

The thief strat is actually enhanced by higher difficulty levels due to the much higher XP awards from the larger stacks (and slower military progress by your human opponents - computers of course entirely negligible in H4).

You can of course still continue the most standard format military build up/expansion with or without a thief, although it is much faster and more effective with the thief who is greatly enhancing your income. This point just to say that doing the thief strat is effectively free, yet entirely neccessary to compete.

This has kinda led to some fun games as now, everyone has grandmaster thieves in no time (before end of first month in every single game regardless of map and other factors). However, of course, this has also led to the very negative reality that you have to play an alignment that can hire thief Heroes. We have tried making thieves from other classes and it is quite simply too slow to do it in any competitive sense.

The FUTURE

However, thieves counter thieves and as is the natural progression of expert multi-playing of strategic games, we have naturally began to evolve our thief strats to attempt to gain a further edge over one another. Something I have been doing to great recent success is not stopping at one thief, but adding a new thief at every possible day that I can. I purposely DON'T kill any of the creatures except for the ones blocking access to xp-ups. My thieves form something of a chain as I have discovered that you can continue to get XP from every single monster an unlimited amount of times, once EACH per thief. This provides a bottomless XP well which you can use to exploit every map to it's fullest potential.

I am beginning to abandon all other starting classes altogether as they are negligible in comparison to the these thieves. After making grandmaster stealth (level 13 and only several weeks), you can use universities and the like to set your thieves up to become any of the desired classes fairly easily. I am tending towards making several uber mages with a couple uber fighters and some mixes into the bunch. There is no way in which you can level up as fast (or REMOTELY as cost effectively) as these 'dual classes' which begin as thieves. Continuing around the map, you can power up into the early 20's (and gain a plethora of skil-ups) very very rapidly. You can use them separately to wreak havoc all over your enemies' lands or meet them up every now and then for VICIOUS surgical strikes. 7 level 20+ thief dual-classes with potions of immortality can tear chunks through any ranks with absolute impunity. The only counter is the shackles of war, but the enemy player also needs grandmaster scouting and hell good strategic play to even pose a potential threat.

SOLUTIONS?

While the above may be good strategic play, it spells yet more bad news for H4 as it imbalances the alignments making non-chaos (thief) access unplayable. It is also limiting in that it quickly becomes a required strategy which must be employed to compete, limiting the player's strategic creativity to working within its bounds.

There are solutions. A stupid and impractical solution is to ban thieves. This penalises chaos, limits the game-play, but just results in strats to fast create stealth in other suitable classes (though takes considerably longer so would not neccessarily be the dominant strat anymore).

A better solution is to design maps which much more prudence. This strategy would involve:

a)Designing maps monsters are actually placed in single space choke-points that cannot be side-stepped. Carefully done accross the map at key locations would near solve this 'dilemma' by itself.

b)Carefully placing monster guards in front of power items/major artifacts and gold mines in such a way as the block thieves from just looting/flagging them indiscriminately.

C)Avoiding much easy access xp-ups located near the player's starting positions. This is a very medicore solution, but limiting the early free XP would slightly lower the effectiveness of this strat (by slowing it). Not a great solution because you only need 2 levels (avanced scouting, advanced stealth) to kick it off.

d)Less (or no) level 1 creatures on your map alone. Even if you only put a single level 2 with every level 1 group, this greatly slows the strat by forcing thieves to get to level 6 before they can take off. Putting a single level 3 with the larger portion of your level 2 monster stacks practically shuts this strategy down (slows it to a proportional and prolly acceptable level) without making the map actually harder.

e)Anti-thief events: I don't know enough about what you can do with events, but creative use of events could surely be used to limit this kind of strat to reasonable levels. Even prudent use of ambush events might work.

If you're reading this and you host a site that offers maps or map tutes of some kind, you might want to consider including an article on your site regarding prudent use of thief-limiting strategies for maps.

If you agree, disagree, or have expanded ideas on this 'dilemma', then please post em as I'm interested in your thoughts on this.
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ArmageddonUn...
ArmageddonUnlimited

Tavern Dweller
posted May 26, 2002 10:38 AM
Edited By: armageddonunlimited on 26 May 2002

bah! can't find an 'edit post' function.

Can one of the mods here edit my BB Code mistype? - hit the wrong bracket in the first heading...

EDIT: nevermind - turns out that i can edit posts when I log in as ArmageddonUnlimited as long as I edit them armageddonunlimited (which is how I log in despite original case spelling, lol - HC here has odd case-sensitive effects of log-in).
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Djive
Djive


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Zapper of Toads
posted May 26, 2002 11:00 AM
Edited By: Djive on 26 May 2002

Actually, I believe the problem is that Champion level is a rip-off. Increase the stacksizes by a factor 3, and then reduce the Xp you gain by a factor 3.

While the first one could be tolerable (though it slows down the game to a snail's pace) the second one I simply hate.

So in conclusion, personally I'd NEVER want to play Champion level as long as they have implemented it this way. Just plain boring.

So a fast and easy solution is: Play on Intermediate level instead.

Playing on Intermediate level will solve the problem since:

A) The Thieves gets only a third of the Xp for sneaking pass stacks. (Since the stacks are only a third of the size when compared to Champion). Therefore, they will level up much more slowly.

B) Players who don't have Thieves will be able to take down neutral stacks early in the game. So having a Thief sneaking past a mine is no longer that advantegous since other players will just crush the guards, and get 4x the Xp for doing so. (On Champion you have to wait a long time to get enough creatures to take on the guards, and even then you'd ony get 4/3 more Xp than the thief got for sneaking past them.)

And the Thief Xp gain is likely a bug rather than a feature. And in that case it will likely be corrected with the MP patch.

Also if it's desired to have big neutral stacks I'd guess that you simply design the stacks that way in the Map editor and rate the "Map Difficulty" as high.

So may prediction of Multi-player trends:

Players will play on low player difficulty levels with high difficulty levels on the Map.
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"A brilliant light can either illuminate or blind. How will you know which until you open your eyes?"

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Darkspirit
Darkspirit


Famous Hero
aka Zutus
posted May 26, 2002 11:36 AM

they might either:

-delete the experience bonus for stealth in a patch, or:
-add an experience bonus to other skill aswell,
so whenever someone uses diplomacy, he/she will get experience, same goes for summoning (will give a small amount of xp each day), charming (will give exp when the hero charms other creatures), ressurection, necromancy, magic resistance, leadership (the hero would get 1 xp/per creature in his/her army, after a battle, he would get this because he 'leads' his army with this skill and so gets better and better)and finally sorcery (the hero would get xp for every spell he/she casts)
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Young moles appear to be in full dispersal which means there are more moles per acre than at any other time of the year

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bestanden
bestanden


Adventuring Hero
posted May 26, 2002 12:15 PM
Edited By: bestanden on 26 May 2002

Thief comments

Have played all the maps mentioned by Armageddon with many strategic variations (but not MP).  It is true that the prepackaged maps like Zanfa's and maps like "Dragons in the Middle" are unbalanced toward thieves.  It is also true that Life and Order are disadvantaged at high difficulty levels at the start. But I am not sure it will be a MP game breaker.

Agree with what Djive said in that at low difficulty (what most folks play MP because the games go faster) the thief is not so unbalanced.  In low difficulty MP games on maps without a lot of buffing sites, it would be a mistake to hire chains of thieves and not harvest experience permanently with tactics/magic heroes.  Try Zanfa's on easy sometime and see how hard it is to get the thief up without harvesting lots of experience permanently (and without going to the middle).  My preferred hero build on the average large, map where the game is expected to go 3 months or so is Thief/Lord (if avail.) /Knight/Mage/Mage

For instance, in the blue area of Zanfa's (South of the NW icy player), there are 3 unguarded chests, 1 learning stone, and four chests and three other structures guarded by level ones.  In intermediate or lower difficulty, the thief will get to the expert stealth milestone less than 50% of the time without combat, and that's a very generous map(7 chests and a stone, several level one guards).  Also, Zanfa's goodie island in the middle is highly unrealistic, and we won't be seeing such in MP.  

My predictions for MP:

1)Everyone will want to start with or hire a thief at the beginning, but will develop as much for pathfinding and defense as for stealth (which I believe will be the true MP values of thieves... moving the army and recon).  Scouting is, IMO, the "killer" skill of Homm4.
2)There will be lots of shackles and taverns in toh maps.
3) There will not be guards on the wood and ore mines, nerfing the thief somewhat.
4) There will be many more 3/2 level armies guarding mines (as Djive mentions), nerfing the thief that is below master stealth.
3)There will be few stealable high level artifacts (unlike Zanfa's).  There will be fewer hordes of level four guards to pump the thief.
4) There will be fewer closed maps (Unlike Zanfa's and Dragons in the Middle), which will encourage thieves somewhat, but will force them to be more defensive,  i.e. a thief is really no good on an open map when a Life army of Monks, an Order army of genies, or a Might army of Cyclops backed by a high tactics hero has just taken your castle at the beginning of week 4 or 5.
5) I have read accounts here and other boards claiming that death, order and life will be unbeatable multiplayer.  This, IMO is a good sign that the game is fairly balanced.
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Nernug
Nernug


Adventuring Hero
posted May 26, 2002 02:15 PM

If you really want to turn off the exp bonus for thieves just put all the guards in garrisons. (Thieves don't get any exp if they walk up to a garrison).

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Daikon
Daikon


Adventuring Hero
with great magic powers
posted May 28, 2002 11:50 AM

I think it would be nice if they just eliminate the xp gain from stealth in a future patch. It's ridiculous design every map as a "thief counter" map.
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Sorry for my bad english...

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Daikon
Daikon


Adventuring Hero
with great magic powers
posted May 29, 2002 12:48 AM

I want to apology with you all other guys for my lack of behavior. Sorry for that, I don't want to turn this forum in a warcamp, but that guy deserved it.
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Sorry for my bad english...

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rychenroller
rychenroller


Promising
Supreme Hero
posted May 29, 2002 08:11 AM

Well, Andi is spot on unfortunately. But the biggest prob is getting multi in the first place. do you really think its gonna happen? What I would like to see is 3do cut their losses and start on heroes5.

Coz heroes4 is the biggest piece of sh1t on gods green earth.

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bestanden
bestanden


Adventuring Hero
posted May 29, 2002 02:26 PM

MP

I also have doubts about 3do, but remain optimistic that we will get a MP patch within the next month to six weeks. Everyone seems to be getting ornery like a junkie needing a fix (self included) and if I can't get the MP "patch" LOL soon, it's back to smoking crack in the alley for fun.
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My daddy drives a UFO

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Daikon
Daikon


Adventuring Hero
with great magic powers
posted May 29, 2002 03:30 PM

Yeah, I think the next patches (or the lack of them) will determine the future of Heroes 4. Almost everyone agree that the game has a great potential but it has also many problems that CAN be solved. It's all in 3do's hands...
(sorry for my possibily bad english. I'm not american)
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Sorry for my bad english...

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