Unfair advantages. (Core Game)

As someone that loves the prospects of this game, i am also concerned with mechanic decisions that could make for very unfair disadvantages for certain styles of play. And while this is mostly in terms of the multiplayer aspect, it should also be considered for the singleplayer game.

For one example, lets take religion, which was lightly touched upon as a concept mentioned in passing in one of the livestreams.
My ideas on this is that you should not be handicapped for choosing to adopt a play style that invests more into a secular, or even a nonreligious route, for example if choosing to invest into temples and priests and whatnot gives you some advantage that cannot be balanced with someone that chooses a nonreligious or secular style of play, then that is a bad game design.
My idea for bypassing this would be something like a branching tech tree in concept. You choose to invest in religion, and you will not be able to have the benefits that the other decisions would give.

Maybe not a flat-out “choose this, that is gone”, maybe just something like “you invest in this, now you can invest less in that,” or “now you can invest less in technology” Whatever benefits those would be are up to the developers.

Another example would be the diplomacy vs military axis.
Choosing to be a diplomatic should not put you at such an unfair disadvantage that you would be run over by someone playing militaristically.
An example of balance here would be the ability to bring in troops from other factions to drive off invaders, like hiring goblins or kobolds to patrol your borders through trade and diplomacy if you have invested enough into that.

The main point is that aside from the obvious disadvantage of not playing the game very well, you should not be put in a radical disadvantage by simply not wanting to adhere to a determined ideology, or not wanting to be a huge military might.
An example of this in effect is Age of Empires, monks could be a pain in the ass to deal with in big numbers if you did not also have them or used pure military might to overwhelm the army protecting the monks, that forces your hand in deciding how to play, which is bad for a sandbox game like Stonehearth.

I could come up with some more examples, but i would rather hear if anyone else could think of balance issues along these lines, so please pitch in with your ideas for balancing potentially unfair advantages.

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Maybe starting with a main army-centered capital then going more cultural as you get stronger/more army might be a good idea… rather than to complain about investing into cultural stuff from the beginning and complain about getting raided by ogres.

How can i even complain when i haven’t even had the chance to play yet?
That was not what i was talking about at all, and i mentioned in my post

[quote=“Wilderkitty, post:1, topic:1076”]
aside from the obvious disadvantage of not playing the game very well,[/quote]
I was talking about the long game and game mechanics that specifically punish you for not conforming to a strict routine.

Meh up to you rlly :tongue:
Sorry for the miscommunication then…

Hey, no worry. Subjects like these are easy to mistake for -and often confused with- simply complaining about not understanding the game, but at this stage of development, subjects like these serve to ensure the finished game is as balanced as it can be.

So with that out of the way, any game mechanics you can imagine would create serious imbalances, or favor certain legitimate play styles at the exclusion of others?
The more minds the better.

I agree, I really want to see different ways dealing with enemy forces or events such as diplomatic solutions. With a game like this that’s aiming to be sandbox I’ll most likely have not just one game but multiple, playing in different ways and having different priorities.

One idea I thought of is say I had a city centred around a monastery or something, maybe i don’t have a large military just basic city guards, so when an army attacks I’d love to see ways of overcoming them other than a fight, either through diplomacy or since its a religious city maybe influencing their minds or manipulating them before they even attack. As much as I’d like to see these different play styles, I can understand why it might not come initially with release.

So to relate it too your original question/subject. It’s all about balance and getting these different play styles working together properly. There have to be advantages to play with a different style but also sacrifices. If being more diplomatic was more beneficial then no one would bother with an army (generally). So if they can create pros and cons for many types of play styles while keeping them all fun and working together there should be no problem… That being said, we all know finding the right balance is hard, just have to look at any game ever to know this : P.

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i cant come up with any particular mechanics that would lead to imbalances (or abuses), but i do know the team is pretty adamant about avoiding those scenarios…case in point, the notion of having pets received from the KS campaign level up and or defend your units…

that was pretty quickly (and rightfully) put to rest, as it would lead to an unfair advantage for some folks…

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Exactly my way of thinking about it as well.
You wouldn’t be left with no guards tho, you might possibly not have invested as much into military, but still have ample soldiers to guard the monastery.

I was thinking when talking about the whole investment into temples and priests that it may provide some advantages like an increase in some cultural aspect of the game, like for example a boost to the effect of festivals, while also decreasing the amount you can focus on technology, relative to how much you invest.
While a more secular play style would leave you with more capacity for technology, maybe through unlocking stuff like universities while decreasing some other aspect, like for example limiting some other aspect like lowering your religious capacity. And with a nonreligious play style you would not have any of the religious advantages, but maybe end up with better technology and military. I dunno, something along these lines.

Naturally, all of this depends greatly on how they plan to make the gameplay work, which we will have to wait until the beta to really see for ourselves.

@SteveAdamo [quote=“SteveAdamo, post:7, topic:1076”]
the team is pretty adamant about avoiding those scenarios…
Indeed, and to help them avoid those scenarios i figured we as a community ought to have a subject like this where we can share our views for their consideration.

Agreed although since it’s a sandbox game, would they limit your tech tree because you chose a, for example, more militant city?

There are people that like getting “everything” and having a tech tree or similar limit what you can select because you chose a different path in that tree might frustrate people who believe that the game should be more open.

That’s the only problem I see with that plan… It might not seem that bad of a problem but I have friends that want all the gear and all the money and all the achievements if you know what I mean. I know it doesn’t mean that Radiant wouldn’t put a system in that determined your cities structure (religious, militant etc.), but I feel if they did people would complain. I guess it depends what the tech tree choices are and how they affect you so I can’t say for sure. But I do see the advantages for a structure like a tech tree or building choices and the effect they might have on your city in that respect.

Just my opinion.

Like i say, it depends entirely on how the game is decided to be played. At the moment it seems very resource driven, so the more resources you spend on any one thing, the less you can spend on anything else, this is the principle i have been going by in my examples. The question is, will the game recognize that sufficiently, or will you have to need extra inputs.

“You can’t please everybody all the time” On the topic of people that want to be able to do everything; If you can do everything on your first playthrough. Where is the replay value?
If you play first through a very militaristic playstyle, you will be more likely to try another time to see how the diplomatic gameplay differs. The more separate play styles you can accommodate, the more replay value the game will have.

That being said, they did hint to different modes. I believe they spoke of having this “sand box” mode in which you can build and expand in peace and in that mode, play styles would not be very relevant, so your friends could theoretically be able to get all the stuff. But the “story mode” as i will refer to it out of convenience, would be more geared towards playing different ways.

Thank you for sharing your opinion.

I don’t think I really understand the problem. If you’re a secular city, of course you’re going to be weaker in terms of raw military units than someone who creates a military city. That’s the disadvantage of having a religious city. In turn, you get the other advantages that are unique to having a religious city.

Well as I understand the settlement, the facilities and the commodities are the foundation to skill your settlers up.

So you have two limiting factors readily available for balancing, the settlers itself as you cannot indefinitely skill them all up to be ultimate warriors and the resources required for things you can build.

In one of the interviews it was mentioned that different factors will trigger interest of monsters/factions towards your settlement. Like having a huge oile of valuables lieing openly around on a stockpile.

For me this means when you decide to have a huge project constructed you run the risk of waking up some dangerous enemies, so you better have a good defense ready.

I believe the risk that one branch of the tech tree is mandatory, like having to invest in ever more and improved barracks is a very low risk. The risk is the opposite situation.

What I do believe to be a real problem is to enable someone to play a purely one branched city, maybe this will become the high art of stonehearth, to survive while only pursuing one tech tree.
It should be difficult for sure, but should it be possible?

Anyway for me it seems like there would always be many options to deal with a problem or having progress. Monsters find your stocks to be tempting? Well drive them off with a stick (warrior class) or set up a trading post (politician class).
You need to find out more about the world around you? Well just go there and take a looksie (scout class) or use clairvoyance (mage class).

Anyway balancing is always a difficult thing and mistakes will be made, but in a nutshell I think specializing providing an unfair advantage wont be a problem. Wanting to only specialize will be a problem and hell to master - I hope!

i don’t really know, true i like the idea of paying goblins to protect you or just have other players protect you for gold and other nice things. but i don’t really think that you can make it so that everyone is equal just not how the world works… anywhere. now if you want to have a religious empire, trusting god to protect you. while another player built a giant military might, now what you are saying is that the military might is to be on equal foot with the people with out an army. now i could understand and even like something like the power of clergies to use holy magic to attack your enemies, or have them sacrifice to a god and have the gods beast to protect you (not have that beast to be op) but the fact remains if you don’t build armies you will be killed, unless you have allies. so you can’t change anything with out having a game that’s illogical in a retarded way. thou i want to have a religion dedicated to a dark god and summon demon armies :smiley:

I don’t see this as a disadvantage, rather I would view it as the challenge of focussing on diplomacy/ trade. I would imagine the reality of it is that you will run the risk of being attacked by a large force, but as you’ve said you could perhaps hire mercenaries to fight for you? Who knows if that will be in the game.

Also as you are focusing on your ‘economy’ perhaps you would have a lot more resources to put into structures and fortifications? Meaning you could survive for longer.

Perhaps diplomacy will allow you to call in aid from other factions on the map, or perhaps with your economy you could bribe the attacking force to leave you alone …

Or perhaps you focussed on building traps etc. with your resources and so would be able to take out a large part of the attackers through traps?

As @SteveAdamo said, the team seem pretty adamant about avoiding any imbalances or abuses, and I think there will be multiple ways to deal with scenarios that pop up.

Just my thoughts anyway!

What about hiring heroes (high level fighter) directly in a tavern instead of building a big army. Those heroes would only stay for some time (1 battle / 180 seconds / …) and would be expensive to hire. A wealthy city could focus on the economy without doing all the stuff to recruit armies (crafting weapons, recruit soldiers, train them, build barracks …) and just pay those heroes until the job is done.
To keep the play styles balanced the heroes to hire would change every now and then so they don’t become too mighty and you have to hire different sort of heroes (assassin, warrior, …).
Another idea to weaken your (human) enemy could be to pay ninjas or pirates to “visit” his town and while your enemy removes these disrupting guys, you can start to prepare your defense.

If you find any grammar mistakes: Keep it private.

i just came to think about something, if i had a big army i would just annex the empires that did not want to join me. maybe add a system for that, like i invade your place take over your town or what ever, then i place my flag there and demand a tribute of some sort. then add a system that gives you info about the player that you have annexed, like how many soldiers he got or is building. Enough info to keep them in line :3 thou still think that forcing people to balance how they manage their kingdom to have their ups and downs, lots of armies means lots of power to take over others, lots of money means building your kingdom faster, also be able to spare money for hired soldiers and bribing other players.

The problem I see with the system proposed by the OP is that it assumes that one branch should be mutually exclusive of the other branch of the tech tree. However, Diplomacy is not mutually exclusive with Millitary; Religion is not mutually exclusive with Trade.

There is already a limiting factor to balance the game, namely “If I build this, I won’t have the resources to build that” which means that if I want Monks, I will have to wait to get Traders. I don’t think that because I chose to get Monks first that Traders should never be available to me. In their last livestream, the developers talked about how they didn’t want to make exclusive content for the different kingdoms because then you would miss 2/3 of the game content in any playthrough. I think an exclusionary tech tree suffers the same flaw.

I think a better balancing mechanic would be to have different encounters depending on what your city has focused as the developers have hinted at doing. Focus on the Military, the orcs invade to try and kill you; focus on the Trade and they raid to steal your stuff; focus on Diplomacy and you have to work harder to keep neighbors pleased and helpful, etc.

And perhaps focussing on only one aspect of the game should be a little harder than playing with the base everything, and should reward you with deeper game mechanics for doing so. As has been suggested with farming, you get some base production if you don’t want to play the metagame but if you put in the effort you get higher crop yields. Millitary, Diplomacy, Religion, Trade, etc. could be similar so that you get some base output if you don’t want to play that metagame, but if you want to focus, you get some extra output for playing the metagame better.

I think a more promising idea would be to have mechanics in place so that the millitary conquest game could be won through diplomacy, religion or trade, while the diplomacy game would be won through military, religion, or trade, etc. It should be difficult, that way you can be rewarded for playing one metagame really well.

And there should be a way to lose in each of the metagames.


Hiring mercenary parties could work or alternatively a sufficiently developed city can attract different people. So like a city with a really strong economy would attract merchants further boosting economy but it would also attract thieves so you might end up with a secret thieves guild that you can hire for help, or a city with a major military could attract famous warriors to test their skills against your best while also making it so that you’d be more likely to be targeted by sneaky methods to avoid fighting your army of doom. A city that’s focused on religion and some major monastery could get large amounts or possibly even unique/rare special units like priests and clerics.

There could also be one off’s, so like get an arena of a certain size to get an extra powerful gladiator unit, a library for a wizard, or a cathedral for a super cleric. That could even be extended to something like the magma smith so that once you build some super smithy they have a chance of appearing and joining your city.

As for a balance between diplomacy and military, a pure diplomacy approach should be near impossible compared to a militaristic approach. For that kind of setting there is enough hostility out there that unless you have another method of defending yourself you will need a military, even if you could reason with elves, dwarves, goblins, orcs, necromancers, fairies, elementals, bunnies, gods, and whatever else ends up in the game you’d still have to deal with titans that seem to exist solely for stomping on you.

I agree 100% with this; at some level a successful city needs to do a little of everything; the great rewards come from pushing your capabilities beyond what’s needed to survive in a certain area. But there should not be penalties for not pursuing a certain track beyond the basics, that’s a negative incentive and in my opinion usually not a good game play mechanic. So Diplomacy should not be appealing because if I don’t do it I’ll get hurt in some way, it should be appealing because the rewards are good enough that the opportunity cost of doing Diplomacy and not Trade or War (or whatever) is still worth it.

As for specific balancing concepts, it’s clear that the core game mechanics are not well defined enough to make concrete decisions or offer detailed ideas in this field yet.


@SteveAdamo I also believe that the developers are going to avoid these problems at all costs.

Just because you have a temple, doesn’t mean you cant have a giant army or a great trade center. Some people think that because you have a large army you shouldn’t be able to invest in diplomacy. I disagree, if you have a large army to fight off the goblins and troll, you could still have a diplomatic relationship with, say, the bunny faction.

As the developers have said, population will be directly related to food. I’m guessing buildings will be directly related to resources. If you build a religious branch building, say, a temple, it doesn’t mean you can’t build a trade branch building, such as a caravan. It just means that you may have to wait longer because you don’t have the necessary resources.

@Wilderkitty I agree that if you have very good diplomacy skills, and have a strong relation ship with a faction, such as the bunny faction (not sure if you could ever trust goblins) then you could hire them to protect your city, for a small fee (fee is related to your relation ship, if you are their BFFs, then they might protect you for free!)

I disagree with this, in order to balance it you just need to make everything available. There shouldn’t be major cross-branch dependencies, e.g., you need to have a certain level of temple in order to have this amazing diplomatic thingy-ma-bobber, or since you got this supersoldiermakerfacilitythingy you can’t have a trading caravan. Thats just a bad way to go about things. If everything is only dependent on its own branch, e.g., in order to build a large farm you have to have a small farm. The cross-branch dependencies should be very reasonable, and there should be nothing prohibited because you have something else, (yes, I use e.g. lots!) e.g., you can’t have a giant farm because that temple priest says its overrated! (lame example, I know).