[Dev Blog] Desktop Tuesday: Smarter Combat



This stuff is spectacular. I’m all for Hearthlings making the obvious decisions (focus firing) on their own, and I’d bet most players would agree.

I am curious how both the Ogre and Orc Knight’s aggro generating abilities will interact with this smarter target sorting. Is there an aggro multiplier that’s applied after the (DPS : HP) sorting is done?

Side note : I am totally building that tower on my next play through.


I’m still hoping for a way to designate posts/patrols/behaviors for different units (or general unit types) in a party ahead of battle–this would negate the need for a separate party with your Cleric, as @sdee mentioned in the video. Plus, setting up your positions and battle plan ahead of time would be a more realistic combat simulation and can be taken a number of ways to further limit or discourage micromanagement.


To make focus fire more intuitive, how about stating that certain units are more senior than others, such as in this order:

  1. Cleric
  2. Footman
  3. Archer
  4. Knight

Then process focus fire the same as you’re doing now, only make the classes respect the aggro choice of the most senior unit within their range.

This has the advantage of automating the synergy between parties (Party 1: ground forces, Party 2: ranged classes working together). It also allows for scale, and for each unit to decide where to focus fire in the absence of a more senior class.


Hey there,
This is my first post to the forums and I just wanted to let the DEVs know a little about what I think about the direction of the combat/movement system of the game. I haven’t played the game for a few alphas now, because to me, the combat system is unusable. I want a combat system in the game and I understand why the Radiant team wont add RTS-like controls. Here is my counter point.

You (DEVs) claim that you want to alleviate the players from as much micro as you can. Okay, I get it. But with the combat system that is currently in place, I do WAAAAYY more micro than in any other RTS game. I constantly have to pause the game and use the weird banner system. If I don’t, I will pull my hair out watching the Hearthlings drop one-by-one as they fight inefficiently. So to me, your approach to remove as much micro as you can, is in fact, causing me to micro more in StoneHearth than in StarCraft and other popular RTSs.

If it was up to me, which it isn’t (I know), I would maintain the banner system because I understand its purpose, but its not good for small movements in combat (micro). I want to have more control as the player, so I can single out the targets I want, not what the game wants. I know the DEV team can optimize the Hearthling AI to focus fire but I want to do it. To me, it just feels like the combat system is taking control away from the player and that kills me inside. I understand the DEVs want a more hands-off approach, but I really wish there was an option for more “serious” players to have greater control over individual Hearthling control and not force them to use the banner system and constantly pause the game.

Overall, I still love the game and I would love to spend countless more hours on it if the combat system didn’t feel like it was working against me. I love the transparency of the DEV team and am excited to hear what they add next to the game! Keep up the great work!

Thank you,

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My thought is… i’m confused. What is the advantage of this? And in you little list, who is the “most senior” Why should our guys attack footmen before archers? I totally didn’t get this, sorry.

Sorry, I should include a scenario to hopefully help clarify:

  1. Two footman and a cleric are the first on the scene of a raid.

  2. I proposed the following order of precedence:

  3. That means the footmen would pick their target, and the Cleric would defer, as it’s lower in the order.

  4. Then let’s say Party 2’s archers arrived next. They calc and pick a different target. They’re more senior than either the footmen or the cleric that are already there, so the footmen and the cleric immediately switch targets to support the Archer’s decision.

  5. Finally, the knight wakes up from his nap and waddled down to the battlefield. He makes yet a different decision and goes right for the big guy. Once again, all the other classes that are lower on the order fall in line and respect the knight’s targeting decision.

Does that help, or make this more confusing?

I completely agree with you. The comnat system as it is is very clunky. In the dev blog, the only solution they offer for two issues (getting guys healed and sending units away from combat) is to switch their party… seriously? Switching combat parties is the most tedious mechanic there is and without pausing, my footman is long dead by the time i switch his party. I like the auto targetting of weak enemies, but it doesn’t cut it. The hearthlings’ ai is just… weak. They don’t run (and stay) away from combat, they don’t pull agro the way you want them to, they don’t use the best ammunition for certain situations… the list goes on.

So yeah, +1 for better controls (right click to attack/ move, what’s wrong with that?)

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Well, and why would the archer choose a different target than the footmen? They all have the same target ai, after all.

I wasn’t making the assumption that that’s true. If so, great, but this could also make it so you wouldn’t need everyone to share the same target selection algorithm.

Okay well. They do share that algorythm so this is kinda redundant…
Furthermore, if guys HAD different target systems, the reason would be that it makes more sense for them to attack target x than target y, right? In that case it would make very little sense to oberwrite the optimal footman target with the optimal knight target, just because you ranked the knight higher…

In the same post they said:

We’re looking more at how this AI should work, but for now, if you must get a wounded solider away from the front lines while their party fights on, and you don’t mind the micro, consider moving them into another party.

This is classic iterative development, and it’s a very healthy construct. It gives us no things to explore and help shape, even though they’re not quite perfected yet.

Hmmm… not quite. Let’s say my archers are the only ones fighting at the moment (for whatever reason). Do I want my archers focusing on the big lumbering meat shield, or the low hanging fruit that are peppering them with attacks? Nah. I want them to take out the easiest possible targets to reduce the number of opponents. That said, when a Knight shows up and starts pounding on the big guy, I might want the Knight to direct fire on his target to help pour on the damage and kill him quicker.

Both decisions are valid in different scenarios.

Yes, as you say, in different scenarios. Nothing you can fix with a simple “do what the knight does” command.

And what exactly are you trying to tell me when you say that having placeholders in place is part of development. Yes, i know that and I am maling suggestions to fill these gaps. Why is it that every time you criticize something, some white knight jumps in to say that the game is in development? I know that. That’s why I am here and sharing my opinion. The combat system is bad. I know it will be improved, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is bad now, does it?

No, but what’s the value in being negative about something that is known to be unfinished? It just doesn’t feel constructive to me, and just complaining doesn’t offer any solutions or ideas for ways to improve it. Complaining just because something is “bad” has no value. IMHO.

Well, I did ask for better controls in various threads, as I did at the end of my initial post in this one. Furthermore, i gave a list of points which are not sufficiant, so I do believe that this is constructive criticism. What’s really inconstructive is telling me off for giving my opinion, without giving one yourself.

Okay, fair point. Perhaps the issue isn’t so much what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it. Is there a purpose to being so confrontational?

What’s really inconstructive is telling me off for giving my opinion, without giving one yourself.

I’m not sure I follow you on this one. When you say I haven’t given an opinion, can you clarify this please?

Edit: Also – It was not my intention to be perceived as ‘telling you off’, for any reason at all. If that’s how I was received, then I apologize. Opinions, when politely delivered, are welcome, from my perspective, anyway.

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Ok, sorry. I might have gotten a little carried away. As to giving my opinion unfriendly… i am a direct person, i don’t mean to be rude. It is a fact though, that stonehearth’s combat system is the worst one which i ever used in a strategy game and I have definitely played a lot of strategy games. I don’t understand why the devs are refusing to implementing very basic mechanics (drag to select, click to move, etc.) If they don’t want combat mechanics, they should remove the combat (which would be a shame)

I appreciate the willingness to talk about this. I respect directness, so I understand. At least I know where a direct person is coming from! :slight_smile:

I’m not sure that they’re refusing so much as prioritizing differently. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these mechanics come in the future, to be honest. It’s probably a question of getting the AI guts sorted out vs. polishing player experience first. If I hear you correctly, you would have preferred they hold off on rolling out a more complex combat system until also including better management mechanics?

Yes. I don’t think one can go without the other. I kind of understand why the devs didn’t see this was an issue, at first. Up until alpha 15, placing an attack banner and forgetting about it was fine. With alpha 16, the devs took a step onto the path of strategy game, in terms of difficulty and need to manage, but didn’t take the necessary one step further of giving us the tools to do this management. Again, I’m not asking for any highly developed total war system, with 20 different combat classes, party formations and environment influence. All I’m asking for is the most fundamental control over my soldiers.

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