Hey guys! I’m here to talk about a topic that has been recently improved by new updates, one that we’ve all been waiting a while for: Combat. First of all, I’d like to tank Team Radiant for putting in a lot of effort to improve combat by adding new enemies, classes, and overall a really solid update. I also understand that this is definitely not the final combat update, and everything will of course improve as the Alpha stage continues. Finally, this post will serve not only for me to make my own suggestions, but to serve as a place to talk about what you do or do not like about combat or feel could be improved. With that said, lets get started!
(As an aside, this will be long.)
I’m going to get out of the way my own thoughts on the topic. I’d like to preface this by saying I currently have not gotten through much of the campaign, in fact I only have two footmen and nothing really town-threatening has happened. As such, my thoughts are subject to change if I feel the need arises. However, I feel that I do have a good grasp at least on the early game, and this topic will focus primarily on that, but also apply to the rest of combat.
Alrighty, with that preface out of the way, here we go. I honestly think that early game combat is a bit… bland. You send your footmen out to deal with a certain threat, let’s say the small Varanus, and your footmen just… hit it. And then they get hit. And they hit back. There’s no variety or threat, at least where I am. It’s the same thing happening with all of the other threats. A Giant Zombie appears, and your footmen hit it, staying completely stationary, until it dies. The goblin thieves run away, cower, and die.
Now, as I don’t have any other combat classes, and I have not seen any other variety, I am biased towards this. However, I imagine that combat in later stages would work mostly the same way, with an enemy cleric healing their kobold archer buddy as he’s getting pummeled, and your clerics doing the same thing. I’m not aware of any special abilities giant Ogres might have or the possibilities that might entail. But. The early game is still very bland, and I think I know what the problem is.
Everyone is not doing damage, they’re doing numbers. Let me explain.
I am a fan of an RPG system called Dungeon World. I don’t have much experience with it, but I’ve been looking at picking it up eventually so my gaming group at college can try it out soon. I’d like to move your attention over to this post on the Dungeon World forums, posted back in 2012. If you don’t want to read it, I’ll tell you about it here.
The poster is confused as to how monsters work in Dungeon World, and asks for help. Someone explains that monster have different Tags, explained as narrative cues for the DW fiction. In an Earth Elemental example, they are Solitary, Huge, Forceful, have Reach, can Meld to stone and can turn the ground into a weapon. Essentially, the Tags help the GM running the game to establish what exactly the Earth Elemental can do and how it does it. The Earth Elemental also has a whopping 20 HP. That’s not a typo. The Earth Elemental is scary not because of it’s massive health, but because of what it can do and how the GM uses it.
I’d like to direct you to another post, also in the same topic, linked here. I’m not going to summarize it here, and it’s a good read anyway, so come back when you’ve read it. You back? Good. I bet you’re wondering now what the heck I’m trying to say here. I’m saying that combat can be improved by following the 16 HP Dragon example, and making the enemies do damage.
How Can We Make Enemies More Threatening?
Let’s take, for example, the Varanus from earlier. The Varanus has a LOT of health. It takes my 2 footmen, each with stone mauls, approximately 16 or so hits to defeat (as far as I remember anyway, it’s been a few hours). The Varanus also attacks very slowly, bringing one footmen to between half- and three-quarter-health. Overall, it’s very one sided and there’s much to be improved. Let’s take a look at the Varanus in detail.
From the Varanus’ .json file (found in entities/monsters/forest/alligator) we can see that the Varanus has a base total of 400 health, and in alligator_teeth.json it does 10 damage per attack, 5 if it is weak. A Stone Maul gives footmen +12 damage I believe, making the total number of attacks with 2 footmen right around 16 or 17 hits. How can we improve this dynamic of hitting each other until someone loses? How can we make the Varanus do damage? How about adding a new mechanic, to steal from DW’s language, a new tag: Poisonous. When the Varanus attacks, if he is below half of his health, he will try to poison someone attacking him. Let’s say he can shoot poison twice, inbetween his regular attacks. If someone is poisoned, he won’t try to poison him again, and instead poison another attacker. The Varanus plays a different animation to poison, perhaps rearing back to give the player feedback on what’s happening. To avoid the poison, perhaps the footmen should hold up his shield, halting attack to block?
This poison will stay in a footmen’s system for 12 hours with an Herbalist or Cleric’s help, or 36 without. This makes the Varanus capable of dealing lasting damage to the footmen, perhaps even the town. To help move combat along faster, we can take the health down from 400 to 300, and maybe up the Varanus’ natural armor to help mitigate damage a bit.
With this one change, the combat with the Varanus is a lot more interesting, giving more challenge to the player, and even making combat in the future even more difficult as new enemies will be added that can damage the player without able combat units.
I got a bit sidetracked there, but I like to think I at least made a bit of a point. I don’t know anything about combat in the mid to late game, so I’m unsure as to whether or not this is relevant for those bits. Anyways, my suggestion and idea is over with – What would YOU GUYS like to say about the current state of combat? Love it? Hate it? Need more little stone golem buddies? Say so in the comments below! Cheers!