To begin, I really like Stonehearth a lot. It’s a fun, enjoyable game that I like the look and feel of. It’s charming and overall I like it. However, after my first few restarts I started to notice something that I felt is deeply flawed in this game and needs to be properly addressed before any more is added to it. That, in my opinion, is the class system.
As anyone who has played the game knows, there are different classes your hearthlings can become by fulfilling certain criteria. When you start out, everyone is a Worker. They have no level ups and gain no experience. All hearthlings promote upwards from here. For the “first” classes (as I’m calling them; please blame Ragnarok Online for this) you generally just need to get the right tool for the job. What you can initially promote to, as far as I know, changes depending on if you’re using the Ascendancy or Rayya’s Children. I generally play as the Ascendancy, so this will be described from their perspective. If that isn’t the case, oh well.
Class promotion usually involves crafting the tool and having someone promote into the job. Footman, Carpenter, Mason, Farmer, Trapper, Blacksmith, Weaver, and Herbalist are the initial classes to pick from. From there, the hearthlings will earn experience with their job and then after reaching a certain level, they can advance to the next job in their branch. Footmen can become Archers or Knights. Masons can become Potters. Farmers become Cooks. Blacksmiths move up to Engineer. Herbalists turn into Clerics. Trappers become Shepherd. That much works well enough as things are. Unfortunately, promotion to second classes is exactly where I feel the problem begins and doesn’t stop.
Experience is a collective pool for a given hearthling that spans across all of their jobs. Let’s say… Mel is a hearthling that I make a Herbalist. When she becomes level 2 Herbalist and then becomes a Cleric, she is still considered level 2. To earn a level in Cleric, she needs to earn enough experience equivalent to level 3 Herbalist. The problem compounds over time. The problem becomes time with just this alone. You have to weigh the time it would take to, say… have Mel take Herbalist to max, then change to Cleric and gain any further levels VERY slowly versus simply taking Herbalist to 2 and changing to Cleric immediately. It puts more value into streamlining the growth of your Hearthlings as opposed to taking them to their highest potential. At the same time, this chains into another problem.
What I feel is the second problem starts when a hearthling levels up and gains perks from doing so. Let’s say… Betty is a Footman that you plan on being a Knight. Let’s say you’re streamlining her, so when she hits level 2 Footman, you bump her up to Knight. Along the way, Betty unlocked the job abilities “Damage Up 20%” and “First Responder.” Unfortunately, when she promotes to Knight, poof! Suddenly those perks don’t exist to Betty as a Knight, which makes no sense. Why does her previous experience (in the form of Job Abilities) as a Footman suddenly go away when she becomes a Knight? If anything, those abilities should be retained so she can do her job as a knight better. The same thing goes for the crafting classes. They even forget how to do their previous job. Unless it’s changed and I haven’t seen it, Cooks can even do proper farming any more; they just do half the job. Even only some of the the abilities would be helpful. This feeds into the first problem and they just loop into each other.
Now, my suggestions for these two things that I feel are problems. First, experience for classes should be kept within those classes. If you need 100 exp to level a Footman to level 1, then swap them to a Herbalist for some reason, it takes 100 exp to get to level 1. Doing it this way can encourage the player to put more time into a hearthling and give them more staying power. It also allows for more beneficial class swapping if for some reason you’re short handed or you just need that extra healer to put a couple hearthlings back on their feet instead of just one. It also lets players who play with smaller towns make each hearthling that much more valuable to the community.
The second suggestion I have is to allow abilities from other classes to remain in effect through class changes. It doesn’t even need to be every ability. To go back to my examples, it would be nice to have Betty do a little Herbalist work and earn that HP regeneration passive, then become a Footman to train up and then become a Knight after maxing out Footman, maybe keeping the first damage bonus and the speed bonus. Both of these would allow a hearthling to become more valuable, especially in smaller towns.
Well, that’s just how I feel about the class system. No where in this do I mean that these are, for a fact, a problem. I’m expressing my opinion on the matter and my suggestions on how to fix the perceived problems. If you disagree, that’s fine and I’d be open to some civil chatting. However, please do not attack me as if I said these are factually problems.