Unit Costing Anomalies

Field of Glory II is a turn-based tactical game set during the Rise of Rome from 280 BC to 25 BC.
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Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by MikeC_81 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:30 am

With the game over 15 months old now and multiple competitive tournaments in the books, I feel it is time to address some unit costing issues that have persisted long enough in the game to have a discussion on whether, and how they need to be tweaked.

Armour costing:

Several units that feature heavy armour are underperforming based on their points. From what I can tell, in general, a unit currently pays 12-18 points to upgrade from Protected status to Armoured Status. That is the equivalent PoA advantage of 25 points in melee encounters. This cost appears to be maintained regardless of unit quality (ie Elite vs Superior vs Average) or Impact combat capabilities (ie Impact Foot vs Light Spear vs Lancers). The protection afforded by this armour also appears to have a less than decisive impact against missile fire. This currently has some strange distorting effects on game balance.

For units that are quite strong in Impact combat, their armour rating actively becomes a burden and those units that shed armour become very aggressively cost efficient. A prime example of this is the Jewish Zealots who are Superior, Impact Foot and are Lightly protected. At 51 points, this unit absurdly cheap and has powered multiple players, myself included, atop several tournament crowns. Since armour is not calculated as a factor in Impact combat, the end result is that the players facing off against Zealots are often essentially dealing with 51 point Roman Legionaries due to the fact that not many foot units survive impact combat intact.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Armoured units which actively punch below their weight unless it is against a narrow set of opponents. These come mainly in two flavours, the first of these are armoured cavalry, especially those who use bows are their primary form of combat. Currently, Average quality Horse Archer costs 44 points, while an up-armoured counterpart costs 57 points or approximately 30% more. A Superior quality Horse Archer is 56 points while an Armored equivalent is 72 points or approximately 26% more. The steep cost is, in my opinion, is not remotely made up for by performance gains in that unit. The up-armoured horse archer doesn't shoot any better, still lacks any kind of impact capability, and doesn't absorb enemy missile fire better by any appreciable degree. Byzantine lists which heavily feature armoured mounted horse archers as a core component to their army have seen almost no play and little success even against its contemporary lists and it is probably due to this fact.

Other unfortunate offenders include foot units of average or superior quality that pay a very expensive armour tax. A prime example is the Roman Auxiliaries who are Medium, Average quality Light Spear, Swordsmen foot units and have Armoured status. They cost a whopping 48 points to field, and the first and obvious comparison is against its contemporary, the Jewish Zealot who at just 3 points more is an absolute whirlwind of death and destruction. One may consider it unfair to compare it such an elite outlier in the game but one only needs to look at the numerous 36 point Medium, Average quality Light Spear, Swordsmen foot units who have Protected status like the Italian Foot units found in Republican army lists, Indian Javelinmen, and Hebrew Foot. The Roman Auxilia costs a staggering 33% more than these units for absolutely no appreciable increase combat effectiveness. As mentioned before, since armour rating is not calculated in Impact combat, the Auxlia must first survive the initial phase of combat and emerge intact before its expensive armour comes into play in combat calculations. Even should it survive the initial push, the advantage given by the Armoured status vs a Protected unit is a paltry 25 PoA. Should an Auxlia unit be faced against a 36 point counterpart, even if its armoured status is brought to bear in extended melee combat, the expected mean time for that advantage to turn into a win for the Auxlia is far too long to justify a 33% premium in cost. Indeed the Auxlia is not even remotely guaranteed to win that fight as 25 PoA still allows for a significant chance at losing combat.

I am unsure how to fix this problem. Perhaps armour should be scaled to the elan/experience of the unit that it is being equipped with so that lesser units are not actively burned with such a high premium. Other alternatives include linking Armour cost with the relative value it is expected to get, scaling armour into Impact combat to some degree, or providing a much heftier bonus in melee combat.
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by rbodleyscott » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:41 am

This is something that probably does need tweaking. In the tabletop game, taking the most-armoured option was a no-brainer, as it gave a +100 POA bonus in melee against most troops with lower armour ratings. We reduced the effect of armour in the computer version, but did not reduce the cost of most of the unit-types. This was intentional, to allow the ordinary troops that made up the bulk of historical armies (and were being avoided by competitive players in tabletop armies) to be effective. However, the result of this is that the balance has tipped the other way, and it could do with revisiting.
MikeC_81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:30 am
Perhaps armour should be scaled to the elan/experience of the unit that it is being equipped with.
It is already, but not with the different combat capabilities. Also note that combat capabilities are currently charged at a flat rate, and not varied according to troop quality.

Here is the current points chart - the cost is per 100 UnitSize, which is the internal measure of combat strength. 8 model infantry units are 600 UnitSize and 4 model cavalry units are 400 UnitSize. Elephants and chariots are also 400 UnitSize.


Points System.jpg
Points System.jpg (107.9 KiB) Viewed 1885 times


We prefer to stick to a consistent system, which allows us to set points costs for new units as they are added to the game, rather than arbitrarily setting points costs for individual units according to their (possibly initially incorrectly) perceived battlefield value. We would therefore prefer to find a way to tweak the points system, rather than tweaking individual units' points costs.

Clearly any changes need to be made with care. For example, Roman legionaries certainly do not need to be made more cost effective, even if Zealots are currently OP cost-effectiveness wise.

So one possibility would be to reduce the extra cost of armour for at least some unit types, but vary the cost of capabilities according to unit quality. This is something we already considered, but so far backed off from.

For example, if the cost of infantry armour was reduced by 1, but the cost of Impact Foot capability was increased to 2 for Superior or Elite troops, the Roman legionaries' cost would stay the same, but the cost of the Zealots would increase by 6 points per unit. However, the cost of Superior warbands would increase by (probably) 8 points, which might not be justified by their effectiveness. This in turn might require a tweak to the "deep unit" discount, which, together with the above changes, would make Average Warbands (and Pictish spearmen) slightly cheaper, and Superior Warbands slightly more expensive.

Assuming that Armoured Superior Lancers are currently considered cost-effective enough (by those who know how to use them), something similar might be done with cavalry, making the cost of armour 1 point less, but the cost of Lancers capability 2 points for Superior and Elite troops. This would keep Armoured Superior Lancers at the current price, but reduce the cost of Armoured Superior Horse Archers and all Average Armoured Cavalry and Light Horse. It would also increase the price of Protected Superior Lancers - which might or might not be justified. Similar considerations apply to Superior Light Spear cavalry - do they need their points tweaked?
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by vakarr » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:45 am

I am looking at putting in a mod that includes superior light horse with javelin/light spear and light horse with javelin/light spear and sword. I am interested to find out why these two troop types do not exist in any current list? Is it because they are not worth the points? Is a javelin and sword combination likely to be much more useful than just the javelin (I think it would help against light infantry and other double armed light cavalry). Why are there all sorts of superior light cavalry with bows but none at all with javelins?

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by devoncop » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:46 am

MikeC_81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:30 am
With the game over 15 months old now and multiple competitive tournaments in the books, I feel it is time to address some unit costing issues that have persisted long enough in the game to have a discussion on whether, and how they need to be tweaked.

Armour costing:

Several units that feature heavy armour are underperforming based on their points. From what I can tell, in general, a unit currently pays 12-18 points to upgrade from Protected status to Armoured Status. That is the equivalent PoA advantage of 25 points in melee encounters. This cost appears to be maintained regardless of unit quality (ie Elite vs Superior vs Average) or Impact combat capabilities (ie Impact Foot vs Light Spear vs Lancers). The protection afforded by this armour also appears to have a less than decisive impact against missile fire. This currently has some strange distorting effects on game balance.

For units that are quite strong in Impact combat, their armour rating actively becomes a burden and those units that shed armour become very aggressively cost efficient. A prime example of this is the Jewish Zealots who are Superior, Impact Foot and are Lightly protected. At 51 points, this unit absurdly cheap and has powered multiple players, myself included, atop several tournament crowns. Since armour is not calculated as a factor in Impact combat, the end result is that the players facing off against Zealots are often essentially dealing with 51 point Roman Legionaries due to the fact that not many foot units survive impact combat intact.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Armoured units which actively punch below their weight unless it is against a narrow set of opponents. These come mainly in two flavours, the first of these are armoured cavalry, especially those who use bows are their primary form of combat. Currently, Average quality Horse Archer costs 44 points, while an up-armoured counterpart costs 57 points or approximately 30% more. A Superior quality Horse Archer is 56 points while an Armored equivalent is 72 points or approximately 26% more. The steep cost is, in my opinion, is not remotely made up for by performance gains in that unit. The up-armoured horse archer doesn't shoot any better, still lacks any kind of impact capability, and doesn't absorb enemy missile fire better by any appreciable degree. Byzantine lists which heavily feature armoured mounted horse archers as a core component to their army have seen almost no play and little success even against its contemporary lists and it is probably due to this fact.

Other unfortunate offenders include foot units of average or superior quality that pay a very expensive armour tax. A prime example is the Roman Auxiliaries who are Medium, Average quality Light Spear, Swordsmen foot units and have Armoured status. They cost a whopping 48 points to field, and the first and obvious comparison is against its contemporary, the Jewish Zealot who at just 3 points more is an absolute whirlwind of death and destruction. One may consider it unfair to compare it such an elite outlier in the game but one only needs to look at the numerous 36 point Medium, Average quality Light Spear, Swordsmen foot units who have Protected status like the Italian Foot units found in Republican army lists, Indian Javelinmen, and Hebrew Foot. The Roman Auxilia costs a staggering 33% more than these units for absolutely no appreciable increase combat effectiveness. As mentioned before, since armour rating is not calculated in Impact combat, the Auxlia must first survive the initial phase of combat and emerge intact before its expensive armour comes into play in combat calculations. Even should it survive the initial push, the advantage given by the Armoured status vs a Protected unit is a paltry 25 PoA. Should an Auxlia unit be faced against a 36 point counterpart, even if its armoured status is brought to bear in extended melee combat, the expected mean time for that advantage to turn into a win for the Auxlia is far too long to justify a 33% premium in cost. Indeed the Auxlia is not even remotely guaranteed to win that fight as 25 PoA still allows for a significant chance at losing combat.

I am unsure how to fix this problem. Perhaps armour should be scaled to the elan/experience of the unit that it is being equipped with so that lesser units are not actively burned with such a high premium. Other alternatives include linking Armour cost with the relative value it is expected to get, scaling armour into Impact combat to some degree, or providing a much heftier bonus in melee combat.


Really excellent analysis Mike.

Difficult to disagree with any of it. As someone who came to grief against superhuman Jewish zealots this season in the FOGDL and saw Roman Legions fought to a standstill by them in one on one rights in neutral terrain I felt the pain first hand 😉

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by rbodleyscott » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:18 pm

vakarr wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:45 am
I am looking at putting in a mod that includes superior light horse with javelin/light spear and light horse with javelin/light spear and sword. I am interested to find out why these two troop types do not exist in any current list? Is it because they are not worth the points? Is a javelin and sword combination likely to be much more useful than just the javelin (I think it would help against light infantry and other double armed light cavalry). Why are there all sorts of superior light cavalry with bows but none at all with javelins?
The only Superior Light Horse with bows currently are Huns.

You can mod in higher-rated light horse with javelins if you want, but it really isn't needed for them to fulfil their historical and in-game role, so yes, they would probably not be worth the extra points. Paradoxically, by upgrading the light troops, you could be downgrading the overall army effectiveness. This is one of the reasons that we don't (currently) have any light horse so classified.
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by Geffalrus » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:48 pm

FWIW, kinda seems to me that the design of the Zealot is just.......really synergistic, if that makes sense. By that I mean, the Zealot essentially has all it's points put into Impact and Superior, two traits that work together very, very well, while trading off points in armor and Medium vs. Heavy (penalty to cohesion combat tests). So the Zealot gets a lot of advantages in the initial impact due to Impact and Superior and essentially ignores its weaknesses - since armor doesn't factor in, and the Medium penalty to cohesion tests only applies if the unit loses the combat. So with Impact/Superior, the Zealot is likely to - at least - land an indecisive roll vs most other units, and will likely win vs most units that cost equal to or less than the Zealot.

Now, of course, in the longer run, the Zealot can be ground down by other units with more melee advantages, though the Superior trait will help mitigate both the armor deficiency and the cohesion vulnerability. However, since the zealot costs only 51 points, compared to expensive power units like legions, warbands, and pikes, the ability to flank comes into play. Assuming equal skill and no terrain shenanigans, the ability to hold a unit and have more units to flank is pretty potent. Automatic cohesion drops are hard to beat. This is something I've noticed a bit with Scuturai vs. Thureophoroi in a bunch of my games. I like both units, but one thing that Scutari can - more - reliably do is tie up units for a flank attack. This is because, thanks to Impact foot, they are more likely to stick to a unit when they charge in. They have a higher win/indesive chance vs. more powerful units. Of course over time they will get stomped, but if you have two scutari or two Thureos trying to double team a pike/legion/warband, you really do need to survive that initial impact. In my experience, Thureos are - more - likely to bounce off and get disrupted because they don't have a massive impact bonus. Sure, Thureos can be quite sturdy for long engagements, but that doesn't matter if the unit gets wrecked in the first clash. And you need the first clash to not go terribly if you want to pin the unit.

Which loops back to the Zealot, a unit that is even better than Scutari at pinning units in place. Thank goodness, I guess, that they don't also get Lancers. XD

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by rbodleyscott » Mon Feb 25, 2019 3:35 pm

Geffalrus wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:48 pm
Which loops back to the Zealot, a unit that is even better than Scutari at pinning units in place. Thank goodness, I guess, that they don't also get Lancers. XD
Errm. In the next update the 166-111 BC Maccabean army will get a few lancers (and pikes) but reduced number of zealots.
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by Geffalrus » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:07 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 3:35 pm
Geffalrus wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:48 pm
Which loops back to the Zealot, a unit that is even better than Scutari at pinning units in place. Thank goodness, I guess, that they don't also get Lancers. XD
Errm. In the next update the 166-111 BC Maccabean army will get a few lancers (and pikes) but reduced number of zealots.
*takes a deep sigh and pours a large glass of Liquid Courage

:lol:

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by MikeC_81 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:47 pm

@RBS, is there any way to tweak the combat resolution system to favour armour more than it currently is? Points adjustments affect the entire roster of units when imo it is the outliers that need to be cleaned up. Most units are just Protected, it is the a few weird ones like Thueriokaitais and Roman Auxilia that suffer heavily.

Ie more missile fire absorbed, higher PoA differentials, casualty reductions in melee and impact to generate higher combat strength modifiers over several rounds of combat, or some combination of the above. Units with less than Protected status suffer the opposite.
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by rbodleyscott » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:57 pm

With regard to cavalry there are two issues to resolve.

1) Cost differential between Armoured and Protected almost certainly too great.
2) Possibly cost of all horse archers (relative to lancers or light spear cavalry) too great too.

Overall, are cavalry too highly priced at present? Cavalry armies don't seem to do too well in open tournaments.

One possibility would be to
1) reduce the cost of Mounted Armoured (and Fully Armoured) by 1 per UnitSize, thus 4 points per unit
and
2) reduce the cost of Mounted Bows by 1 per UnitSize, thus 4 points per unit.

If both of these were applied:

1) Armoured lancer and light spear cavalry and cataphracts units would be 4 points cheaper than at present.
2) Protected lancer and light spear cavalry units would be the same price as at present.
3) Armoured horse archer units would be 8 points cheaper than at present.
4) Protected/Unprotected horse archer units would be 4 points cheaper than at present.

Would this be an improvement to game balance, or does it go too far?

Maybe it is too simple a change - maybe the differential for Average Armoured cavalry (currently 8 points per unit) is OK and should be left alone, while the differential for Superiors (currently 16 points per unit) is too great and should be reduced?
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by rbodleyscott » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:59 pm

MikeC_81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:47 pm
@RBS, is there any way to tweak the combat resolution system to favour armour more than it currently is? Points adjustments affect the entire roster of units when imo it is the outliers that need to be cleaned up. Most units are just Protected, it is the a few weird ones like Thueriokaitais and Roman Auxilia that suffer heavily.

Ie more missile fire absorbed, higher PoA differentials, casualty reductions in melee and impact to generate higher combat strength modifiers over several rounds of combat, or some combination of the above. Units with less than Protected status suffer the opposite.
We don't want to do that, we are very happy with the current effect of armour. The changes from the tabletop version, where it had too much effect, are exactly in the place we want them to be.

The task at hand is to try to rebalance the cost-effectiveness of armour by changing the cost, not by changing the effectiveness. The latter is not going to happen.

And as not all armoured units need to have their cost-effectiveness rebalanced, we will have to do the rebalancing by more than simply changing the cost (or effect) of armour.
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by MVP7 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:07 pm

I do agree that armour is a bit too expensive for its overall effect. I do like Richards suggestion of moving the cost-weight from armour to capabilities but it would definitely be hard to pull off without creating new issues. Average (close) Warbands and Pictish Spearmen could maybe use a tiny price reduction. I don't think there's much room for reducing light-spear cavalry price since, while not as powerful as lancers, they both mostly rely on flanking and light spear evades which can be very useful capability. I don't know if making superior Warbands more expensive would be warranted either.

Maybe the base cost of 'unprotected' and 'lightly protected' could be raised a little for non-light units since most of those already rely on some sort of gimmick like mitigating the bad armour with high impact or outright negating it with heavy weapons. When it comes to cavalry, even protected level tends to have the same gimmicky nature which saw the Indian cavalry go from Raw to Average over time and what makes Bedouin Cavalry a great deal for the price.

I can think of a couple important details that should be considered before any changes: The cost-effectiveness of average to superior pikes should not be reduced (directly or relatively) as they are already struggling to be viable. Also the cost of any raw or below average units should not be reduced as their cheap price is a major factor in the questionable performance of armoured and expensive units.

---

Another possible anomaly in the pricing system might be price of veterancy for light units. The superior Cretan Archers cost 42 points compared to the 30 of otherwise similar average archers. The effect on performance hardly seems like worth the cost (especially when you consider the price of the light infantry unit I posted about in the beta forum) as ranged effect is more about quantity of attacks than raw damage. The morale benefits also doesn't seem worth it as it just turns the unit from fragile to brittle. I think this pricing issue also affects the Byzantine Flankers which are pretty expensive as is.

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by MVP7 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:30 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:57 pm
Maybe it is too simple a change - maybe the differential for Average Armoured cavalry (currently 8 points per unit) is OK and should be left alone, while the differential for Superiors (currently 16 points per unit) is too great and should be reduced?
If anything I would say that the cost of armoured for average unit is too high but for superior armoured it's not that bad. Armour gives only moderate benefits against ranged attacks and during melee while veterancy directly effects everything from impact and melee results to cohesion tests. Armoured vs protected gives you 25 POA during melee while superior vs average gives you 50 POA on impact and during melee. I don't think the overall value of armour is anywhere near as great as the value of veterancy.

Personally I don't think melee cavalry needs price reduction as much as it needs better performance against raw infantry. Any raw spearmen (and to lesser extent even heavy light spear) can handle superior lancers way too easily. Even 24 point Limitanei with light-spear+swords has 7%/79%/14% melee-odds in favor of superior armoured lancers which seems off considering the price difference*.

* edit. What I mean is professional well armoured cavalry should cost way more than some drafted garrison militia and I think the former should have a lot bigger advantage vs the latter than it currently does. I know this would require pretty significant changes to the game but the current popular practice of using raw infantry to counter shock cavalry seems inauthentic.
Last edited by MVP7 on Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by MikeC_81 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:53 pm

I am unsure at all about adjusting melee cav costs atm. That said, if given the choice between armoured vs un armoured Lancers, I prefer the latter if the choice is available but very few lists offer that kind of choice and when you need cav, you need it and will pay whatever the cost is to get them in your army.

Posting on my phone is rather difficult so I will follow up later tonight on infantry and mounted bow units
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by vakarr » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:49 pm

I also think that with the war on light troops reaching a new crescendo, their cost should be reduced. In my last battle I had light bowmen on a hill that were charged by light horse bow - if my infantry had stood to receive the charge, they had a good chance of surviving, but no, they had to run away and be hit in the rear. I've also seen light infantry in woods run away from a charge that they could have defeated. I've also seen frequently that light horse with javelins can't defeat light infantry - even slingers beat them up. That's why I think that giving javelin armed cavalry swords or rating them superior is not a waste of points.

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by SnuggleBunnies » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:14 am

Lots of interesting ideas here. I think, Richard, I am overall in favor of the changes you proposed.

I agree that cavalry armies are quite weak in MP play right now, and I think cheaper cavalry could be good for the game's meta. That being said, part of the reason for the weakness of cavalry armies is the very rare generation of steppe type maps, due to the horse boys getting the 'invader' tag and ending up in Agricultural terrain more often than not.

Cheaper cavalry archers would certainly be worth testing. Right now, the 72 pt Expert Armored Horse Archers are a hard buy, when they are so likely to try to evade from Lancers, get rear charged and slaughtered anyway.

Thorakitai are another unit that could benefit. They don't do well in the main battle line anyway, due to their weakness vs Impact foot or Phalanxes, and on the flanks, they have a good change of fighting Thracians, who will negate their armor anyway. 54 points is a bit much for them, I would say.

On the other hand, Armored Lancers vs Protected really depends on the map and opponent; on map with less room to maneuver, or a foe with more missile power, I might take rather more of the Armored than Protected, but I think having the two slightly closer in cost would not be a bad thing.

We already discussed the Byzantine Flankers and their present 52pt cost.

Regular Warbands being cheaper and Superior a little pricier I think would honestly be a better reflection of their worth.

Really, the only unit that would maybe concern me would be the average Armored Hoplites. This is not because they are particularly great troops, but because many of their foes in the Rise of Persia era are poorly equipped to fight them; against Irregular Foot, and Assyrian mixed foot and the like, they are pretty fearsome heavy hitters, and presently cost 54. Still, they flounder in terrain and can be flanked, so this doesn't worry me too much.

vakarr - I think light troops are in a good spot right now. Too many, and your army is squishy and will fall apart. Too few, and you get picked to death or forced to attack in less favorable circumstances. Light troops operating far from support get punished. Light foot evading from light horse is probably due to the nearby presence of other non light enemy forces. Light javelin horse are capable of disrupting slingers or archers on Impact, but of course lack melee capability. I think this reflects their historical use as harassing troops. Lights evading in woods - that would not have anything to do with the latest patch, whose only change to light behavior was to make them always evade in open terrain against non light troops. Light vs light dynamics were not changed at all.

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by melm » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:02 am

I think Jewish army list needs cheap zealots since the list doesn't have mounted unit and only irregular besides zealots. If Jewish army is felt too strong, I'd like to see the availability of zealots reduced a few and that's it. Lacking mounted is already a handcuff.

The increment of armor is already small for the foot. I am not sure we can make the difference even smaller. Thorakitai and Thureophoroi are both average. On the table, the cost difference is 2. Shall we make it 1? But protected and unprotected is 1. I think it looks more right to make armored and protected difference more than 1.

The mounted section could have more love. I welcome the proposal to reduce unitcost by 1 for mounted and bow. And we shall not forget we also can balance the army with availability.

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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by MikeC_81 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:41 am

rbodleyscott wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:57 pm
With regard to cavalry there are two issues to resolve.

1) Cost differential between Armoured and Protected almost certainly too great.
2) Possibly cost of all horse archers (relative to lancers or light spear cavalry) too great too.

Overall, are cavalry too highly priced at present? Cavalry armies don't seem to do too well in open tournaments.

1) This is correct for Average Quality units however it may not be the case Superior units. As another poster put it, synergy is a big catalyst here. Part of the problem with a fixed cost system is that it does not take into account which combination of traits perform well together and which ones are anti-synergistic. You and I have discussed this which lead to the discount on deep ranked formations last time I posted about something like this. Something similar is happening with Mounted Horse Archers since gain next to no advantage from armour as they rarely fight in melee and when they do, they have to face a situation where they first have to survive an impact round of combat where their PoA is 0 in many circumstances.

edit: I will add that when I was in the beta, I felt that when you buffed the missile protection for Armored mounted units, that it might be enough to make them playable. I have since changed my stance on this as I think the evidence now points solidly towards that not being the case.

2) Horse archers at a baseline level are not overpriced at all imo. They are simply suppressed in the current metagame where a lot of competitive armies are typically filled with cheap infantry, have an overabundance of skirmishers, and/or cheap cavalry. The problem is many horse archer armies also have to pay for Superior status and the benefit from that is also suspect with respect to shooting unless you buff the PoA bonus for Superior Shooting. When you start combining that with any kind of armour, they become obscenely overpriced and a lot of Horse Archer armies don't have the option to bypass those and buy cheap Horse Archers. They have to take Superior and Armoured Horse Archers and its crippling those armies.
rbodleyscott wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:57 pm
One possibility would be to
1) reduce the cost of Mounted Armoured (and Fully Armoured) by 1 per UnitSize, thus 4 points per unit
and
2) reduce the cost of Mounted Bows by 1 per UnitSize, thus 4 points per unit.

If both of these were applied:

1) Armoured lancer and light spear cavalry and cataphracts units would be 4 points cheaper than at present.
2) Protected lancer and light spear cavalry units would be the same price as at present.
3) Armoured horse archer units would be 8 points cheaper than at present.
4) Protected/Unprotected horse archer units would be 4 points cheaper than at present.

Would this be an improvement to game balance, or does it go too far?

Maybe it is too simple a change - maybe the differential for Average Armoured cavalry (currently 8 points per unit) is OK and should be left alone, while the differential for Superiors (currently 16 points per unit) is too great and should be reduced?
I would heavily prefer if any fix you make try to surgically target the underperformers and bring them up to par before trying to scale over performers down. There are two reasons for this. The first is that I agree that Armoured Superior Lancers as you have stated are probably cost efficient, I would not want to mess them or Cataphracts as of right now. I have also never felt that Light Spear Cav was inappropriately costed. I also do not want to see protected or unprotected horse archers get any cheaper than they are now. I still have nightmares chasing down Klayeckles and your mounted Rhoxalani all over the map. I think horse archer armies would be better if more players played smaller, more compact elite infantry armies. Maybe those, in general, are also overpriced to some degree but at least that is not a very clear cut issue like this one.

Secondly, for me, it is clear that the majority of the underperformers are of units in the Average quality rating and have been given armour. It makes sense to see if a targeted buff on those types of units would make sense before going after a fundamental rework of the entire points structure which would then see multiple units repriced. I am wary about moving too many levers at once and producing unforeseen consequences which then have to be counteracted and we are stuck in an endless cycle of buffing and nerfing units in a game of whack-a-mole.

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Looking at FoG2DL results, the overall metagame shows that the best armies are invariably are those which simply can pump out a large number of cheap but competent units. Subfamilies of these armies are either swiss utility knife armies like the Carthaginians or armies which rely on a gimmick like an aggressively cost-efficient unit like (Jewish Zealots) or mass bows. This is especially prevalent in the Late Antiquity section where there are lots of these armies to choose from.

All of which leads to finding out what you as a game designer see as the benefits of armour and how armoured units behave on ancient battlefields vs their less protected counterparts. For example, I know for a fact that at the current pricing structure, Roman Auxilia needs to be roughly 33% stronger than the equivalent Protected Light Spear/Swordsmen unit and we just know they aren't. Another type of comparison is that Offensive Spear units which cost 42 points but are still only Protected will be given a much larger edge with +50 PoA in melee. If you felt that Roman Auxilia weren't much better than the average Light Spear/ Swordsmen unit of the era and simply were better geared and the advantage is marginal then it is pretty obvious you need to slash the cost of armour.

Or it could be Roman Auxilia are supposed to be markedly better than the common rabble and therefore simply have incorrect traits as something like a shift to Above Average and Some Armour would all of a sudden make them a lot more palatable and keep them at around the same price point. As the game mechanics currently work, I would not pay more than 42 points for Roman Auxilia and even then they would still be behind the power curve, only less outrageously so. Similarly for Thorkitai 48 points is probably the most I am willing to spend. So maybe the Average column progression would be more like 4-5-6-7 and that would serve as a targeted fix for infantry.

I am not sure if you are willing or not to separate armour costs for archers into a separate pricing category on its own but doing so makes a ton of sense to me. These are not close combat troops and do not come close to gaining the same benefits of armour, limited as they are already.
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rbodleyscott
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:59 am

MikeC_81 wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:41 am
All of which leads to finding out what you as a game designer see as the benefits of armour and how armoured units behave on ancient battlefields vs their less protected counterparts.


My answer to that is: Armour gave an advantage, particularly against shooty enemies, but was not in itself battle-winning.
For example, I know for a fact that at the current pricing structure, Roman Auxilia needs to be roughly 33% stronger than the equivalent Protected Light Spear/Swordsmen unit and we just know they aren't. Another type of comparison is that Offensive Spear units which cost 42 points but are still only Protected will be given a much larger edge with +50 PoA in melee. If you felt that Roman Auxilia weren't much better than the average Light Spear/ Swordsmen unit of the era and simply were better geared and the advantage is marginal then it is pretty obvious you need to slash the cost of armour.
Agreed.
Or it could be Roman Auxilia are supposed to be markedly better than the common rabble and therefore simply have incorrect traits as something like a shift to Above Average and Some Armour would all of a sudden make them a lot more palatable and keep them at around the same price point.
I don't think so.
As the game mechanics currently work, I would not pay more than 42 points for Roman Auxilia and even then they would still be behind the power curve, only less outrageously so. Similarly for Thorkitai 48 points is probably the most I am willing to spend. So maybe the Average column progression would be more like 4-5-6-7 and that would serve as a targeted fix for infantry.
Agreed.
I am not sure if you are willing or not to separate armour costs for archers into a separate pricing category on its own but doing so makes a ton of sense to me. These are not close combat troops and do not come close to gaining the same benefits of armour, limited as they are already.
Yes, that might be a way to deal with that issue.
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rbodleyscott
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Re: Unit Costing Anomalies

Post by rbodleyscott » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:37 am

Infantry

I am currently exploring the following combination of changes.

1) All armoured infantry costs reduced by 1 per UnitSize.
2) Cost of Impact Foot capability increased to 2 per UnitSize for Superior/Elite units.
3) Depth discount increased to 11%. (Though this could be tweaked further)

This would have the following effects:
Impact Foot
1) Superior/Elite Roman Legionaries,Hastati/Principes and raw Legionaries - cost unchanged.
2) Triarii - cost reduced from 43 to 40.
3) Mediocre legionaries - cost reduced from 60 to 54.
4) Imitation legionaries - cost reduced from 54 to 51.
5) Zealots - cost increased from 51 to 57.
6) Veteran Samnite foot - cost increased from 63 to 66.
7) Average warbands - cost reduced from 58 to 56. (Increasing the % depth discount would reduce this further)
8 ) Superior warbands - cost increased from 75 to 80. (Increasing the % depth discount would reduce this increase)
9) Veteran Dailami Foot - cost increased from 54 to 60.
Light Spear Foot
1) Imperial Roman Auxilia - cost reduced from 48 to 42.
2) Legio Palatina - cost reduced from 78 to 72.
3) Legio Comitatenses - cost reduced from 54 to 51.
4) Veteran Italian Foot - cost reduced from 66 to 60.
5) Persian Immortals - cost reduced from 75 to 69. (see discussion below).
6) Average Assyrian Heavy Foot - cost reduced from 60 to 54.
7) Assyrian guard foot - cost reduced from 72 to 66.
Offensive Spearmen
1) Superior Armoured hoplites - reduced from 78 to 72.
2) Average Armoured citizen hoplites - reduced from 54 to 48.
3) Thorakitai - reduced from 54 to 48.
4) Veteran African Spearmen - reduced from 78 to 72.
5) Pictish Spearmen - reduced from 54 to 52. (Increasing the % depth discount would reduce this further)

My main concerns with these results are Persian Immortals and Armoured Hoplites. Obviously hoplite armour is more useful against Persians than against other armies. But, from a point of view of the matchup between Persians and Greeks, both sides will get some of their troops discounted - the Persians will get cheaper Immortals and armoured horse archers (see next post) and the Greeks will get cheaper armoured hoplites, so the balance between those two iconic opponents would not be greatly altered.

However, against other opponents the Achaemenid Persia army is already a very effective army, and with the overall discount on its units (if it takes the maximum number of Immortals and cheaper Armoured horse archers - see next post) would be 48 (or 72) extra points to spend in a 1200 point army. Similarly a Spartan army, if it took the maximum number of Armoured Hoplites, would have an extra 72 points to spend. Do either of these armies need this boost?

Thorakitai I find to be worth the current points if you put them in a position where they are the units that will absorb the most enemy missile power.

So overall, I am not sure that Immortals and Armoured spearmen are in fact over-priced, and we might need to tweak the points system adjustments so they only apply to Impact Foot and Light Spear without bow capability. (And probably Heavy Weapon)

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Of course the alternative to all this would be to simply tweak individual units which are obviously excessively benefited or disadvantaged by synergy or lack thereof.

Probably that would mean simply an ex-gratia adjustment to the cost of Zealots and Imperial Roman Auxilia.

As I have said before, I have been trying to avoid such individual unit tweaks, but ultimately it might in fact be the best solution.

See later post on this subject.
Richard Bodley Scott

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