[A16] Inept Clerics!

So I’ve made it pretty clear in the past that I’m not a big fan of how Stonehearth does micro, but in some of my hardmode games it’s been an unfortunate necessity. However, one major gameplay element which can’t be managed is who the cleric is healing, or who they should provide a priority to.
And the way they work right now is just painfully inept. Running into combat, past other units, and trying to hit the biggest enemies they can find, while ignoring injured party members, is hard to watch and even harder to play with. Furthermore, when the cleric finally does decide that one of their party is worth healing, they will frequently ignore the lowest health hearthling in favor of a squishier friend. It seems like right now they’re preferring the raw health values over a percentage (e.g., a knight at 10% health with 100 HP is ignored, while an archer at 50% health with 50 health is healed). I would love to see some kind of controllable priority system, by name or by role, or baring that, an “assist” button, so that I can tie a cleric to a knight and have them prefer healing them over anyone else.
Lastly, if stonehearth really is going to encourage the kind of micro management of the units, rather than whole party directions, then we need to have the ability to demand that a cleric stop what they’re doing and heal a unit with an assist/heal command. Leaving it to the AI means that no matter who they are close to, who is going to take damage, or who needs the most healing, we can’t get them to do what they’re supposed to: heal.

… I can see that I’m getting a little more into this than other people are, so this may just stem from my high standards for healers, and my experience with them in MMOs, but it is just excruciating to see how awful these guys work right now when they’re left to their own devices.


Sounds pretty good to me. +1 for a “heal” command.

“Heal” command seems more like a direct control, and that I believe is something that wasn’t planned to be so.
Priority system seems more like it. If we would have, say, “aggressive” stance (fighting and healing) and “supporting” stance (staying at the back sticking to heals), that would nail it. I think.


I agree that a direct command does seem to be counter-intuitive to the game’s design, but that seems to be the direction combat is going right now, with hard mode (in my eyes/experience) demanding micromanagement of who attacks what. Given that we have this level of control already, being able to do something similar with the cleric seems like it isn’t much of a stretch.

However, from a design perspective I really prefer the idea of a toggle like that, between “JUST HEAL!” and “Attack but heal if you need to”, and I think it fits in better overall with the idea of stonehearth’s level of control.

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why should direct control be unintended? You have direct control over the enemies your hearthlings attack as well, so why shouldn’t we have control over the people getting healed? I don’t see an issue with that.

Stonehearth, up until these combat changes, has never permitted for direct hearthling controls. To an extent, I’m actually against being able to directly assign hearthlings to specific targets in combat. In my eyes, it’s an exception to the game’s design rule, which is that the player can’t ever specifically give directions to a hearthling. It would make a lot more sense to me if these features were removed, but in order to allow for that a lot more AI tuning has to be done: targeting clerics effectively, attacking kobolds differently, actually having the knights try to take aggro (and have them actually take aggro), alongside the clerics actually being able to figure out how to heal more effectively.

Id say that we should be able to self program tactics into the Hearthlings. For example, the clerics have a priority system and can have a custom tactic system. We can set what the hearthings do at certain times. Like for example, if someone, who is a knight, is below 50% health, heal that Hearthling. That way the system can be the same as always but we have a bit of control on how our Hearthlings battle.

Now, admittedly, I’m more of a strategist than of a builder, so this might be why, but I think you cannot have any kind of in-depth combat system if it is the way you suggest it. By that I mean, that I feel like the player has too little influence on combat already, and if you take this limited influence away, there is no skill involved in the game anymore, and the outcome of a fight will ONLY be determined by the number of soldiers and equipment you have. That would be very bad to me. Furthermore, this would rely entirely on an AI that is not always good, with pathfinding issues etc.

For me, we need more control, not less. I don’t play a game to watch it play itself, but to have some actual influence.

Funny thing, the current system works well for me (But I played games like Majesty The Fantasy kingdom sim (which this game strongly resembles) so I can set up my parties well enough . I think they should probbably prioritize injured footmen over knights though.,

I don’t feel like there should be that much micro management in the game at all. I don’t wish for this game to become something like starcraft with an added designing feature.

To be able to manually heal certain units with the clerics “sounds” like a nice solution. but I can already find some annoyances to this.

  • Hard to target the correct footman.
  • Hard to quickly select the correct cleric that needs to do the healing.
  • Cleric isn’t instantly healing the footman when you so desire it.

Rather than manually healing the footmen, I’d say it’d be better to have clerics in a supporting stance where they will always follow the footmen that are going into battle. And then allow to set prioritization such as these:

  • Prioritize by % health lost
  • Prioritize by lowest health left
  • Prioritize by most health lost

If you have these 3 prioritizations, I feel like the cleric should easily be able to handle anything at all. Even without allowing the player to choose these prioritizations, I’d like the cleric to prioritize by % health lost.

Just remember. More control does not always mean better gameplay. With stonehearth I want to be able to focus on the strategizing and build orders. I don’t want to always check up on my warriors to see if they are doing their job properly. I’m not a babysitter!

That being said. It’s be nice if all warriors grouped up before they started attacking an enemy, having your warriors attack a large enemy one by one is annoying and comes close to babysitting. If we were allowed to set a “rally location” where warriors group up before attacking, that’d be very nice. (overruled by any manual attacking option of-course)


I like the priortization idea.

Prioritize by % health lost
Prioritize by lowest health left
Prioritize by most health lost

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What I’ve found, after this most recent pass of tuning, is that in order for combat to go smoothly I’ve got to pause and unpause my game to manually issue commands. If I don’t, left to their own devices, it’s just a mess.

Originally, I hated having time control on 1-4. Now I understand why they bound them to the most useful keys on the keyboard.

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I agree that it is tedious. I play hard mode quite often, but every time I do, I’m forced to rally my forces for every single attack that is made against me. I don’t need to go as far as pausing it, but it’s true that more than half the time I had to call back a lone footman who tried to solo a large varanus on his own.

It may not be a large action that I need to do each time, however it’s annoying and tedious. Especially in a game where you get 2~4 attack each day/night.

Hense, my suggestion in the last paragraph in my previous post. :slight_smile: It’s a very small adjustment that could solve a seriously large amount of problems.

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Someone pointed out in another post that stoneheart’s playerbase consists of two groups: minecraft players and warcraft player. And that’s exactly what i’m seeing here. Some people want to build without being challenged, others want extra combat control.

What i don’t understand though, is why the minecraft players play hardmode. If you want your guys to win withot moving a finger to help them, why do you choose a gamemode that’s all about combat?

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I think your categorizations are a little too narrow, because frankly I’m both. I like to build structures that serve a purpose, like actually being defensible, and needing to be defended. However, I’ve also been playing stonehearth for a while, so I’m used to the previous playstyle of minimal hearthling control.

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Hm, but being used to something is not a super valid argument, when playing an alpha. Alpha means change (and that’s kind of the beauty of it)

You haven’t really respondet to my main point though, what is the point in having combat, when the outcome is predetermined by your equipment and you have no influence on it?

Player action can still have plenty of influence on combat without the need for micromanagement. Building and encounter design, being able to control your environment, that’s huge. Overlooking the ability to construct the world to work in your favor is (relatively) unique to stonehearth, and can help close the gap between well and poor armor on troops. Besides, combat can be relatively complex without the need for unit-specific targeting commands: assigning members to parties intelligently, providing whole groups with instructions, and making sure that you’re able to raise the power of your military, though gear, in line with the rising power of the opposition allows for plenty of depth.

Even beyond that, players are already allowed to increase the difficulty with the gong mechanic, meaning that gear can be progressively phased out in the interest of building better encounters that will favor your troops.

Fundamentally, Stonehearth has been presented as a world building game with a side of combat, and I see those priorities being reversed with more and more micro being added to the game.


Look at it in another way. In Stonehearth you are the settlement manager, not an almighty telepathically keen creature able to control every step of your underlings. Strategically, you can’t control each and every unit manually (it’s tactics), and that’s the beauty of it. Instead you decide how you want your groups organized. Whom to include. What to prioritize. You can have seasoned city guard and outer patrols comprised of soldiers-in-training, taking the most blows and getting the most xp. You can have defensive structures narrowing the paths enemies come at you and making defence controllable. So while I’m not entirely opposed to micro, I believe it’s not exactly something Stonehearth is about in the first place.
You’ve said before we want “to win without moving a finger to help”. That’s not true. Not being required to perform micromanagement doesn’t mean we do nothing. It means we make decisions on another level. Grouping soldiers. Equipping. Making sure they are well fed and rested. Ideally - setting priorities. Placing infirmaries in the right places. Maintaining the flow of medicine resources.
As for “minecraft” and “warcraft” players, I formerly belonged to both. I would say it’s not “Minecraft” but “SimCity”: you decide where you want your fire stations placed but don’t tell every man in the fire brigade how to do their job. Or even not SimCity but Dungeon Keeper (which was one of my favourites at the time). It’s a strategy, but a strategy of a different kind. A kind where you can’t just send any lone footman on a suicide mission against an enemy base but can make every preparation to ensure your forces’ wellbeing and morale, throw them in a fight and hope for the best, while still retaining some control over the course of it. Limited as it may be.


What both you and Aethrios refer to is preparation before combat. Thanks for clearing things up, i understand now why you don’t want to play in peaceful mode, you enjoy having to prepare for attacks, laying out terrain and units+ equipment to then watch the preparation pay of. Is that correct?

To me, the issue remains. This has little to do with skill. You can tell yourself that you are super smart when building a labyrinth to enter you city or something like that, but in reality that’s about all you can influence. Your other points, like “keeping up supplies and equipment” has nothing to do with strategy, it has to do with setting up a herbalist to keep producong potions and a blacksmith with producing the best gear. Those are things you do no matter what.

What’s still missing here, for me, is a way to vary the pre-determined, otherwise inevitable outcome of any given combat. Micromanagement to me is a way to pull off fights which might not have looked good to start off with and gaining a sense of achievement in return. Again, this is my personal preference, I understand that you guys might get this sense of achievement from seeing your prepararion pay off, but for me, having the best preparation possible is the only logical choice anyway, where the real difference maker is HOW you use this preparation.

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Getting back on topic, take a look at this lovely screenshot I snagged earlier. No less than SIX people in this screen have taken damage, either a little or a lot, and two clerics are standing right in the middle of it all. What are they doing? The highlighted one in the foreground just landed a killing blow on an orc, while the one in the background is trying her damnedest to tank another one. Neither one is actually healing, and the inability to command them is leaving a lot of valuable troops lower than they should be (the lowest health unit in this whole image is a knight)!