Desktop Tuesday: One Marauder

Desktop Tuesday: One Marauder – Stonehearth


Yay! Finally the last stand means something, and will be helpful getting Sorenia maybe back up to where I want it to be. That and I really aught to pay more attention to what I have and place some of the engineer items to help… That is another story. I guess this means when comes A20 I might have a chance again to play my A14 long term save of Sorenia again.

I hope anyway. We will see, or well my hearthlings will while I oversee the initial onslaught I am usually greeted with in an old save that old. :stuck_out_tongue:

Keep it up and continue the nice little additions and tweaks. :smiley:

I didn’t want to start off as the first reply with such a negative tone, so I’ll start off with my “real” point here: it’s great to see this change coming about, and that the mechanic is in place to hopefully prevent this kind of thing happening to new players.

But… wow. I seriously cannot believe that team Radiant hadn’t thought more about “the right hearthling for the right job” when it came to assigning footmen and other defenders for Rayya’s Joy. Even if the focus was a crafting rush, knowing that the enemies were coming should have prompted thoughts about how to defend the town; leaving that decision until the goblins show up is a little too late.

That kind of decision I’d expect from someone who had never played the game; sure – it takes a few goes to figure out the basics of what the Mind, Body and Spirit scores mean – but to play on Normal mode and not have a footman ready to go… there’s no way that was going to end well.

Having a hearthling training as a footman from day 1 probably would have been plenty to overcome that situation, even if they were a low-Body, low-Spirit recruit. Goblins Marauders are not a low-level enemy after all, so you can’t just throw a low-level footman at them and expect it to work out. If the footman had made it to level 3 and unlocked their damage boost, however, that fight would have gone very differently. A level 3 footman also would have had the speed boost, allowing them to get away from the fight safely and regroup back in the town.

Speaking of regrouping back in the town, why send the footman out into the wilderness to fight outnumbered? After a few attacks by goblins, most players have figured out the “pile in” move – set your defenders just past the flag, and once the attackers engage that first line, rush everyone else in to overwhelm the enemies before your civilians get damaged and run away.

Now, I’m not saying all these things to make out that team Radiant are stupid; in fact I suspect they were intentionally avoiding the “experienced” strategies which they must have developed by now. However, the fundamental issue here isn’t that Goblin Marauders are too strong; it’s that in this test the marauders were allowed to walk all over the town’s defences.

This is a building and management game; so building and managing those defences is a pretty key part of stacking the combat in your favour. The truth is that the enemies will eventually become more powerful than your hearthlings ever can; so having a defence plan in place is the only way to keep your town alive.

Now, even though I suspect that these events in Rayya’s Joy were helped along, or even staged, to show what can happen to a player who doesn’t get their defence sorted… frankly, I look at the outcome and think “well, there’s your problem!” If a player can’t figure out how to get the most out of a specific class, then making it to tier 2 is a really really far-flung goal.

Where I’m going with all this is that those two goblin marauders would not have caused anywhere near as much damage if Rayya’s Joy’s resources (particularly its human resources) had been used better; and that’s the key to succeeding in any part of the game. Buffing the hearthlings only helps some of the time – it won’t help against an ogre, or against ranged enemies, or against wolves which are faster than the hearthlings…

What needs a buff here is the player’s knowledge. The Rising Courage buff is cool and characterful, but it’s a band-aid solution. Band-aids don’t help much against ogres.

What I would do, personally, would be to introduce a new event/node where Brom Burlyhands appears and warns you of an approaching goblin scouting party. He provides you with a wooden sword (perhaps only if you don’t have one already), and suggests you pick your strongest and most courageous hearthling to train with it. Something along the lines of “You’ll want to make sure you pick a strong Hearthling as your defender, someone of stout Body and high Spirit who can take blows as well as landing them. When Hearthlings fight together their courage grows, so don’t be afraid to pile everyone in when you’re facing a tough fight. And remember that if you can block your enemies into a narrow opening, they can’t rush your defences.” After a day or so, the scouts appear as a mini invasion, and the player gets some dialogue about how they’ve seen the campfire light last night and want to check it out. That gives the player a feeble enemy to test their new strategy against, and with Brom’s advice still fresh in their mind they should have no trouble beating the scouts back.

Of course, that event can be developed over time; but for now it serves as a fairly complete tutorial on how to avoid being overwhelmed by enemies, and how to turn even an unprepared and untrained group of civilians into a reasonably effective defence.

The thing is, the fall of Rayya’s Joy was not a bug at all – everything was working perfectly from a code perspective. There were some oversights, and some unintentional interactions; but to call this a bug would be the same as saying that hearthlings starving because the player never ordered any farms built or berries harvested was a bug. What’s happened is that you guys built a challenging progression of enemies, and it turned out a little tougher than expected, so that you couldn’t ignore it until they arrived and then expect to beat them back easily… this is all a good thing. The goblins showing up isn’t the kind of thing you can or should be able to deal with in a couple of moves; it should require planning and preparation and an overall defensive strategy – where you will hold the battle, who will fight in it, what equipment can you give them, and so on.

So again, I’m glad to see that our civilians/last-resort militia are getting a buff that works if the player protects them, because that will stack really well with existing strategies based around keeping enemies away from the flag and having it as a final fall-back. However, IMO what the fall of Rayya’s Joy shows is that the real keystone of any defence is the strategy, not the power of the hearthling/s who fight.

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According to the video, they didn’t really increase the power of the militia, just increased the survivability. What I mean is courage, or to be exact temp boost in courage until hit. So kobolds will still wreck them just as much as orcs & ogres. That makes sense.

Sure the Marauders are not the strongest, however a single vs. many gives to chance of little loss if enough are in the militia. From the looks of it if more than one enemy of low caliber makes it to flag, then quite possible for a hearthling to fall, but still manage to defend at moments notice. It takes time for one to upgrade to footman.

Still would be the best choice, being footman or military unit. At least the way I see it. That and it is only a slight increase of chance compared to before by doing what they did. A level one footman alone would not be able to fend off kobolds & ogres… obviously more defense is needed. Experience from an old save does teach me my own failings, and I think that is the point. To have the hearthlings survive long enough to take back the town… maybe depending on the odds & enemy strength.

I am sure there may be some tweaking being done, but it is a good first pass from the looks of it. :slight_smile:

I know not all like myself, where as I learn how I could possibly do better; something I will have to focus on when I boot that old save up again. :stuck_out_tongue:

How about when the hearthlings get to a really low health amount (like into the 1 hit KO zone) have their courage stop increasing or reduce it significantly, so no suicidal Hearthlings.


Replace the goblin marauder with a Red Kiln archer and you know who singlehandedly terminated my entire village yesterday (he was the only survivor of a furious combat beforehand: 5 lvl. 4+ footmen against 5 orcs). I guess, the new militia won’t stand a chance against an archer, too. Worth thinking about such a scenario, IMHO.

BTW: since when do the Red Kiln show up, while you are still in the midst of the goblin campaign? Or do their raids depend on village size/net worth? Where there any changes lately. I never saw them before defeating Ogo.

Nice first pass on the feature!

I think, starting with a footmen in the starting Hearthling pool would be a nice step also. Just makes sense since the world is dangerous and they did just set out on a journey through the wild’s.

Since this is a “Family Game” (at least everything points to it) not everyone is going to be “On the ball” when it comes to setting up town tactics from the get go. I think this will go a long way into nudging them into thinking about that direction without having their settlement wiped with the first couple of encounters and be caught unawares.

Good work!

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At the same time, this is a genre all about learning as you go. Nobody knows all the tricks when they start playing, so of course people are going to get caught out by unexpected attacks. I came to Stonehearth out of other citybuilding/ant farm strategy games, so I had an idea what to expect, and I still got caught out by, well, pretty much every new enemy I encountered. Most of the times I was able to salvage the situation, but more than once I lost a seemingly flourishing town to one or two enemies.

From those experiences, I learned how to more effectively defend my civilians, and what a “safe” defence looks like compared to a defence that still has some holes in it.

That’s the core game of Stonehearth – learning what success looks like, and learning to replicate it. Anyone can do that; in fact it’s how babies learn to navigate the world and start growing up. So yeah, the game definitely needs to give players an opportunity to learn through doing; but really there’s not a lot of safeguards which can be put in place to allow players to learn that way… at least, not without totally trivialising the challenge and thus defeating the purpose of the exercise.

This first pass on the hearthlings’ courage is definitely a good start; but it’s not a cure for the larger issue (the fact that enemies got into combat with civilians). The next layer here, IMO, needs to give the player an explanation about what went wrong; and show them how to prevent the same thing happening again.

The issue with making the hearthlings fight a “last stand” like this is that it makes those last stands seem like a normal part of the game. In the early phases, it might be; but after a few weeks of playing I had reached the point where I never faced that threat of being wiped out by a single attacker. I might lose my town to a long-term siege; but because I knew how to organise my civilians and soldiers to assist each other I was able to keep my hearthlings fighting right down to the last one – nobody running away and getting hunted down, but everyone falling in combat.

My point here is that fixing the issue with hearthlings running away when they’re still fit to fight doesn’t actually add anything to the larger combat strategy. The hearthlings who used to be running away really shouldn’t have been fighting most of the time anyway; so while this was a serious problem it shouldn’t have been such a big deal, or such a common occurrence. To me, what this experience shows isn’t a problem with the hearthlings’ morale, but a disconnection between the way that the attacking and defending methods are designed.

But, that’s the point of this alpha process – issues like this will be turned up and fixed. The only reason I’m yakking on and on about it is that I want to see this become an opportunity for the town defence mechanics to be improved and expanded; so that we get some extra options in between “let the soldiers deal with it while everyone else carries on business as usual” and “ring the bell and prepare for the apocalypse”, heheh!


With all due respect… i think you’re on the wrong point?
(Not thay you didn’t put up a good argument about the system)

Rayya’s joy is a save for the devs to test out how fast they could build up to the T2 level, and not really for the blalance it seems, thing is, they wern’t ill prepared, they just missed a hole in the mountain, as the plan goes, the ditch surrounding the town should prevent all enemy attacks all together, letting them focus on the main task of getting to T2
BUT they forgot that there was a hole in the mountain that allowed enemies to get in,
This was not part of the plan, they didn’t expect to need military at-all, that’s why there’s only one footman that was just promoted up for the job, it simply did not mean to happen

What the patch to the millitia does is met the hearthlings actually defend themselvs,
Currently if the hearthlings don’t have a combat job or hight enough spirit, they will run away from a enemy that is over a certain level of menace, but because of this, they didn’t fight At-All, which is not something that is suppose to happen, millitia is suppose to be a last stand for the town, where even the weakest hearthlings try their best to defend it, even if they only hit once and run away, the fix is in that they now Actually Fight, so it’s not hopless anymore

You could argue that military growth is tied to the Tier of the town, which is true, but not up for this particular test, a military unit is one less worker that can gather resouces to get the Tier up, and you don’t need combat units to get your Tier up, and in a test where you see how fast you can get to T2 it doesn’t matter if you have military or not, you just need to stay alive, build wealth and get up there(and also make use you don’t have a hole connecting you and your enemies, that’s a bad idea)


I can definitely see how the “we forgot about that hole and were totally not expecting an enemy in the town” line of thought plays out; and I really don’t mean to sound harsh or seem like I’m berating the devs for missing the red flags which I would spot only thanks to having learned the hard way to recognise them.

What I’m trying to get at is that while yes, this was a big problem and yes, it’s great that hearthlings will stand and fight now and will build up their courage if they’re actually winning… all of that means little in a “properly defended” town. The difficulty isn’t in building those proper defences, it’s in learning how to go from Rayya’s Joy (that is, a defenseless town relying on one defensive gimmick to “cheese” all incoming attacks) to a flexible defence that can respond to enemies without having to completely seal off the outside world.

The team chose to play on Normal mode, when Peaceful mode specifically exists to take combat out of the equation. If a crafting rush is the intended strategy to be tested, then it really should be tested without combat in one instance; and with combat in another. Now, I’m assuming this is the other one… but in that case, surely the team should have been expecting those enemies to attack eventually? After all, the goblins’ extortion demands are intentionally geared to get tougher and tougher to fulfill so that in the vast majority of times they lead to conflict.

What I’m going back to again here is that part of planning out a town in Normal or Hardcore mode is to plan out its defences. The militia are not meant to hold out alone; the mid-level enemies are designed to outclass the militia hearthlings on all fronts, so expecting the militia to fight them and win really isn’t a viable plan; no matter how effectively the militia fight. Even if they win, they’ll take casualties and they’ll be tied up with a long fight; and both of those costs are things the town may not be able to afford.

So yeah, you’re completely right that Rayya’s Joy wasn’t supposed to need a military… but the fact that the devs chose Normal mode means that there really wasn’t any option, you need to have a military handy to deal with unexpected enemies. And I’m sure any player who feels confident in Stonehearth will echo the sentiment that enemies always seem to find a way to get at the civilians, even in a hermetically sealed town. Whether it’s a narrow window of opportunity to shoot at a civilian who got close to the wall, or attacking a civilian when they’re outside the town to gather something, or even spawning inside the walls … enemies get in, and you need to have more than just a rally point and some untrained militia to get rid of them.

What I want to see come out of this experience, then, is more info made accessible within the game to help players understand what they’re up against. Whether that’s a friendly reminder on the difficulty selection screen or some advice from a veteran survivalist/honoured Iskender elder/whoever the other factions turn to for advice; there should be something to help players sort out their town’s defences without having to learn the hard way. Because frankly, my only thing about this thread is the fact that nobody enjoys helplessly watching on while their civilians are slaughtered.

Yes, the change will help reduce the slaughter rate, and give the militia a fighting chance against low-level enemies. But it’s not going to help against enemies which can damage many hearthlings at once (so that’s most of the armed goblins and the melee kobolds, who all have area attacks), or against really tough enemies like ogres. On the other hand, explaining the concept of a “hammer and anvil” (professional soldiers out in front, if they have to fall back then they fall back to the militia who become the anvil, and the soldiers go in for round 2 as the hammer), a secure moat, or simply how to keep civilians away from enemies… any of those explanations will virtually eliminate the need for civilians to defend themselves.

There’s a reason the soldiers carry weapons while the civilians wield their hand tools when they’re called to fight. I’m totally in favour of having a militia who are trained with basic weapons and can fight back harder than your average weaver or cook; but for now I think that Radiant need to be learning from this experience to do more than just bandage over the top of that one wound. The hearthlings running away from enemies (even at full health) was, as I said before, not a bug; at one point it made sense for them to always run away from enemies which passed a certain limit for scariness and danger. I don’t think that’s a bad mechanic; even if it does make sense that a whole town working together should be able to easily beat down one or two goblin marauders… those are the goblins’ shock troops, civilians should avoid and fear them and be basically incapable for fighting back against them. But of course that only works if the alternative solutions are made abundantly clear, before they’re actually needed.

It is based on your military strength. There should be a number telling you that in one of the screens. If you have a big enough military and enough time in then you will be getting those unit. So military strength, length of time spent (days/months in game), wealth, and possibly town level. I believe are the factors.

If it was meant for them to show up after the goblin campaign that is another story. For now it is what it appears to be with the factors I mentioned. So if you drum up military quickly, be prepared for tougher enemies coming. Not sure if intended to work that way, but is so far what it appears. :slight_smile:

@YetiChow I just want to point out, this feature isn’t designed to make it so you don’t need combat units, or even to make you ‘more viable’ without them (though that is a benefit). The point is to make it so if you get into the situation of having no combat units (god forbid), then you don’t have to watch your town slowly die over the course of ~24 hours in game while your 20 citizens cower in fear as they are pummeled to death by an enemy who would die in 1 or 2 hits. The player feels helpless, its a boring scene to watch, and in the end you think “man… that was stupid, why didn’t they just hit him once? WELP, never playing this game again : (.” When a game has a system which makes the player feel unable to do anything, and purely punishes them for their earlier failure… that Marauder isn’t just destroying a town, they’re destroying that player’s desire to ever play again - because they see the game as unfair and uncaring.

We want to teach the player, not punish them : ). Losing all your combat units and half your populace of civilians is a pretty big punishment already, but feels fair (its the game saying “hey there friend, you prolly want to build a military,”) and lets the player attempt to organize a defense. And honestly the player may be unable to do so at that point - but at least the game is allowing them the ability to try, not shoving their face in the dirt to make it clear that they understand the error of their ways.

Does that make sense?

Also, the Marauder isn’t meant to cause terror in all hearthlings - he’s just a goblin. Orcs and Ogres and other creatures not yet made will be much scarier - at least from hearlthing’s point of view : ). Zilla - the fire-lizard - will live someday! And Titans (don’t forget those guys!), when we get around to making them, they might even scare you ; ).


Hey everyone, thanks for the good discussion! :slight_smile:

Malley covered most of my points above, so all I will add is that as he was playing and watching our town get helplessly wiped out, I was laughing so hard that I fell off my chair. The game almost never surprises me anymore, so when it happens (thanks, copper mine!), I find it very precious. So I’m glad that @Brackhar and @linda were around to actually brainstorm solutions.


I love the idea of the Hearthlings banding together despite their collective cowar-- ahem, reservations.

Cool update, I look forward to seeing more of these little updates that tie the town together in new and fun ways. :slight_smile:


Hey @YetiChow, thanks for the feedback. You are absolutely right that this system should not replace the need for a well defended town, with multiple guards, a moat, walls, or whatever other defenses you choose to employ. You’re also right that that this particular change doesn’t add anything to the larger combat strategy. Combat as a whole, including defenses, orders, stats, equipment - all of it - likely needs a holistic review to bring it “up to snuff” as it were. This particular change isn’t intended to replace the need of doing that work. It’s also accurate to say that the behavior we were seeing in the game before the change was not a but - it definitely was how the system was designed to work.

That said, we wanted to make this change because the situation we encountered felt wrong. Seeing a town of 20 hearthlings get chopped down by a single monster without doing a single hit of damage to him just didn’t seem realistic. It’s not as if that marauder is Batman; someone should have been able to hit him at least once in the back of the head when he was looking the wrong way. As such, all we wanted to do was add a light simulation of the difficulty of fighting a large crowd of people. The goal here was to turn the cowardly mob of hearthlings from a useless group of citizens into a highly ineffectual one. I’m not even sure if this change would have let the town referenced survive this situation, but that wasn’t the point. It just sucks to feel completely powerless, and having your hearthlings take an occasional pot-shot at a powerful enemy creates some tension and the slim possibility of surviving a terrible scenario.


"Grab your torches and pitchforks and kill the oger!!!"
Does anyone remember the beginning of Shrek? Imagine this same scene, but this time featuring your Hearthlings and Mountain. :smile:
Can we have torches and pitchforks for the frightened Hearthlings, pleeeaaaseee?


@Brackhar and @malley I completely agree with your points, and understand that this change is only one tiny facet of how combat will work by the time it’s “finished” (if it’s even possible to call it that when mods and so on will keep changing and adding to it for a long time after Stonehearth is officially released)

And you guys are completely right, before this change it was painful to watch a whole town gather around a banner and strike a defiant pose, only to run away before any blows had been struck. This improvement will definitely make those last stands feel fairer.

The point I was really trying to make was that Stonehearth really should “detect” situations like this and nudge the player to do something about them; the same way that it detects when scaffolding is needed for a construction project. Obviously it’s a lot more complicated than the scaffolding example; but the game already keeps track of how many soldiers the player has… so any number of events should be able to generate an additional dialogue based on that number, warning the player that they probably want to invest more into their defences.

The fact that you guys built a “crafting only” town on the normal game mode is what originally threw the red flag for me here – the peaceful game mode exists so that players can try things out without pressure from invasions; and really that should be the first port of call for any new player. Obviously you needed to test that crafting-only was viable on Normal difficulty, because some players will certainly want to try it out… but really, when I look at a town in the situation that Rayya’s Joy found itself in, I think that a lot of things must have been going abnormally to get to that point.

I guess the TL;DR: here is that the game should have warned/shown you guys somehow that Rayya’s Joy was headed for disaster, rather than leaving it up to you to figure that out. If several of the developers together only realised the problem after it was too late, the chances of a new player (especially a young child more interested in building houses) paying attention to all those things is… well, slim. As you’ve pointed out, even if someone is promoted to a footman at the last minute, it may well be too late already. That’s why I think the game should make it clear right from the moment that you choose Normal difficulty that a footman is absolutely required, if only to run interference while your hearthlings get back to town.

Another thing which would be really helpful in situations like these would be some kind of overlay which shows your town’s territory/claimed area; so that players know where their civilians are considered to be inside the town, and where enemies can start spawning. That would open up the possibility of tracking where invaders entered your town’s area, so that players can find out about any unexpected entry points (like the abandoned mine tunnel)… and building from that later on, there can be other cool mechanics e.g. civilians feeling a little safer inside the town than outside it, soldiers patrolling the edge of the town’s area, zones of influence for non-co-op multiplayer (i.e. you can’t build too close to another player’s buildings unless you’re allies)

What the fall of Rayya’s Joy shows is that Stonehearth will keep surprising us all – and that’s exactly the reason I love it so much! But it also means that prevention becomes more important than a cure in most challenges; since it’s not possible to cure the issues which nobody has found yet.

So just for the sake of clarity, I’ll repeat that I’m very happy to see this improvement and more importantly, to see that it’s sparking conversations on how to further improve this area of the game. One of the things that makes Stoneheath unique is that it actually has the potential to troubleshoot player-created problems, and if not fix them then at least let the player know what’s going wrong. No other game in this genre has been able to do that. This mechanic of hearthlings growing a little more confident over time is a great way to buy the player some time to step in and sort the issue out. A few on-screen prompts will further strengthen that; and that should be enough for most players. Again, it’s totally true that feeling powerless as a leader sucks for the player who is watching things come apart; and this change definitely helps there… I just want to see something done at the “other end” of the issue, so that players are prompted/encouraged to take action before things actually start going wrong. That turns “totally unprepared and powerless” into “caught by surprise but not totally unprepared” :slight_smile:


I agree with a lot of your points : ), and just so you know, combat is on our list of ‘to be reviewed’ by Richard (our new Design Lead). So hopefully these other issues will be addressed soon. Currently we are working on Happiness, but this issue (which has been around for a while) was thrust glaringly into our faces and felt completely terrible - and we felt it a solution asap.

I totally agree that we should have known better about how we went about building our town, but just so you get the whole story on that, I’ll give you a little more background. We were playing a group game (no, not multiplayer, sorry : /) where the whole team sits around a big TV while one person plays - then we swap out the person in control. When it came to be my turn [yes, I was the cause of this disaster : ( ], I did what I normally do and bumped the speed up to 3x and started crafting like crazy - and since I normally have a much larger military force by that point, it just slipped my mind to check on them. On top of that, we were trying to appease the goblins, and so far had been doing well. Then the goblin chief demanded 60+ of some item that was literally not possible to make in the time allotted [Which is actually a bug: there is a cap on how many of something a goblin can request, but apparently they can ask for multiple of the same thing - which is a bug… that is fixed now (I think)]. And so the goblins turned on us, and we had a HUGE net worth with a VERY small military and no way to block them out. Come to think of it now, we could have tried a sacrificial lamb of a fresh promoted soldier to hit once, then run away from base and try to wall off the entrance… mighta worked shrug.

I agree with you that its kinda crappy that the game allowed us to make these bad decisions, but at the same time, I don’t really want the game flashing text at me saying “BUILD AN ARMY” every minute or so. It is the player’s bad decision to make, and honestly might be a good decision in some situations. …I dunno, its definitely super complicated, so I defer to Richard’s (very good) judgement for thinking on this stuff : ).

I’m glad you are enjoying Stonehearth : ). Hopefully we are able to address more of these general issues soon… man, we have so much to do… I can’t wait to get to it ; ).


I there’s another problem here - the one marauder vs many hearthlings situation looks ridiculous - the hearthlings are constantly changing their minds and going back and forth into the fight.

Have it so the hearthlings commit to their decisions more. If a hearthling runs away, have it select a place to cower in (prefers buildings) and have its morale slowly recover AFTER it has reached this place.

If a hearthling is taking damage from an enemy, all other hearthlings know where the enemy is. If an enemy is near a rally point, all hearthlings know where it is.

if an enemy attacks a cowering hearthling, the hearthling may fight back. A hearthling that has enough morale will path to the enemy and attack it.

If in town defence mode and a hearthling with a fighting level of morale does not know where an enemy is, return to the nearest rally point.

Hopefully this solution will get rid of the weird back and forth crowd that forms and make for a more interesting fight. I like the idea of hearthlings losing morale when getting hit, but if a hearthling is brave enough, they should fight to the death.

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