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Change is Inevitable
#1
Lords,

We are always working to make Alamaze the best experience it can be for our players. Here now after three months of seeing the current rules in action, I will be making some changes to a few commands in order to re-balance what I regard as some unbalanced rules. The changes, when implemented, will affect both existing and new games. How to do that without upsetting current strategies or favorite tricks is, well, the trick. Before mentioning the specific commands I have in mind, I'd also add that whatever may be included in this first revision, keep in mind that other changes may emerge at any time in the future. This could be global commands, as we are contemplating now, or specific changes to kingdom setups, for example.

I feel strongly that these three things need to be modified:
1. Sea Patrol and fleet construction and the introduction of fleet maintenance;
2. The workings of the Chaos spell;
3. The workings of the Invisibility spell.

Whew. No price increase change. Tongue

I will provide more specifics, but I just want to give advance warning that players should not build strategies going forward based around a single command or spell. My motivation is to increase enjoyment for all our players and eliminate a few currently overpowered commands that can cause disproportionate damage to a position. Feel free to comment.

Expect the changes to occur sometime in mid to late August. So, for example, don't build lots of fleets now thinking they will always be free to maintain. Existing games will be at least 10 turns down the road, so many will have ended. Games forming now and soon, you have the advance notice.
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#2
Well, I was worried about a price increase, so you got me! I agree that all three of those things could use reform.
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#3
Can you share your reasoning as to why those three things are problematic?
Lord Thanatos
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#4
Agree with LT on being curious about the reasoning.

1 seems like it's balanced by the order cost.

2 and 3 might be problematic on some levels, but it might just be easier to increase the spell levels for those spells (or groups of spells) across the board, rather than change them. (This is an old D&D trick that works quite well for play balance, and I imagine it would take a LOT less programming time.)
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#5
I wouldn't mind seeing a change in troop shuffling. I hate spending 3+ order to move out a captain, put in a wizard, ect.
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#6
(07-17-2013, 04:21 PM)Lord Thanatos Wrote: Can you share your reasoning as to why those three things are problematic?

These are the three commands identified that cause disproportional damage to positions resulting from a single command that can lead to players dropping. Players understand that in a campaign, they may lose a war to another player. But when they open their results and are severely damaged or effectively eliminated by a single command for which they likely could have had no intelligence, their enjoyment of Alamaze is diminished.

Player A is having a great time with Alamaze, enjoying everything, building his alliances through his hard worked diplomacy and building his kingdom, planning many turns down the road, imagining his prospects. He eagerly opens his last results and finds one of those three orders he had no clue about - not on the encounters, not on recon, etc, has just taken him out of the game. That's not what I want for our player base.

These three commands will be modified, not eliminated. Details are still being worked out.
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#7
Ahhh, on that level, that TOTALLY makes sense. I guess I was thinking about the economic impact of navies, not the potential to raise a navy and take someone out via Sea Patrol.
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#8
(07-17-2013, 05:27 PM)bluefile2 Wrote: I wouldn't mind seeing a change in troop shuffling. I hate spending 3+ order to move out a captain, put in a wizard, ect.

I agree, that will come later. What I want to do presently is preserve the immersive experience of Alamaze, ie, its raison d'etre, by eliminating the few broken (overpowered) commands that jolt a player out of that, when the player could not have a reasonable defense against it.
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#9
(07-17-2013, 06:39 PM)Ry Vor Wrote:
(07-17-2013, 04:21 PM)Lord Thanatos Wrote: Can you share your reasoning as to why those three things are problematic?

These are the three commands identified that cause disproportional damage to positions resulting from a single command that can lead to players dropping. Players understand that in a campaign, they may lose a war to another player. But when they open their results and are severely damaged or effectively eliminated by a single command for which they likely could have had no intelligence, their enjoyment of Alamaze is diminished.

Player A is having a great time with Alamaze, enjoying everything, building his alliances through his hard worked diplomacy and building his kingdom, planning many turns down the road, imagining his prospects. He eagerly opens his last results and finds one of those three orders he had no clue about - not on the encounters, not on recon, etc, has just taken him out of the game. That's not what I want for our player base.

These three commands will be modified, not eliminated. Details are still being worked out.

Fleets:
I lost 1SO and three starting wizards in a Warlords game while at sea. In response, I damn near eliminated the RA until others came to his rescue. Point = I was definitely NOT taken out of the game.

Chaos:
I lost 1UN and two starting wizards to the DE casting chaos (also losing control of region on same turn). In response, I once again control the region and am fighting back against the DE with everything I have remaining. Point = I was definitely NOT taken out of the game.

Invisibility:
I remember years ago losing a battle to an invisible, gating, TR army group. In response, I quickly learned how to cast locate group spells. Point = I was definitely NOT taken out of the game. (BTW, I had far more problems with the artifact that allowed the TR group to gate than the fact that the group was invisible... just FYI.)

Here is my point: these things all create learning curves and add immensely to the subtlety of the game. Great games have easy to understand orders with myriad levels of intrigue/tactics to consider. Alamaze is clearly such a game. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO MAKE THE GAME EASIER AT THE EXPENSE OF SUBTLETY.

I remember many hours of talking with Phil about the nuances and subtleties available. I am certain most of my thoughts he had known about for many years. Still, whenever I uncovered a new tactic or strategy (at least new to me) my appreciation for Alamaze increased exponentially. Be careful not to rob your player base of this dynamic! Do not start down the path of making things too easy. Phil told me many times to "consider the order sequence" and to "contemplate how magic might have affected" whatever I was talking about. Those were magical and insightful conversations about Alamaze.

I was still rather new at Alamaze when the game became no longer available and I am still learning things almost every turn in my Titan game against Morgan Kane. The three things you have mentioned are NOT too powerful to players once they understand how things work...

I have recently had some great fleet to fleet battles and have sold fleets to help raise wizards and to keep my position alive when I had only a single popcenter. It is GREAT that such a game mechanic exists.

I highly treasure dispel magic spells... the most effective counter to chaos that there is. Or... if you can't dispel the chaos spell, attack those bastards with a 3 and issue invisibility orders to all your wizards. Smile

I highly prize locate group spells and value high level agents (7) to look for ambushing groups at key locations. Move an emissary to the locations where your groups are located to see if the emissary "bounces" due to an enemy group. Smile

Just my two Imperator cents...
Lord Thanatos
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#10
(07-17-2013, 09:21 PM)Lord Thanatos Wrote:
(07-17-2013, 06:39 PM)Ry Vor Wrote:
(07-17-2013, 04:21 PM)Lord Thanatos Wrote: Can you share your reasoning as to why those three things are problematic?

These are the three commands identified that cause disproportional damage to positions resulting from a single command that can lead to players dropping. Players understand that in a campaign, they may lose a war to another player. But when they open their results and are severely damaged or effectively eliminated by a single command for which they likely could have had no intelligence, their enjoyment of Alamaze is diminished.

Player A is having a great time with Alamaze, enjoying everything, building his alliances through his hard worked diplomacy and building his kingdom, planning many turns down the road, imagining his prospects. He eagerly opens his last results and finds one of those three orders he had no clue about - not on the encounters, not on recon, etc, has just taken him out of the game. That's not what I want for our player base.

These three commands will be modified, not eliminated. Details are still being worked out.

Fleets:
I lost 1SO and three starting wizards in a Warlords game while at sea. In response, I damn near eliminated the RA until others came to his rescue. Point = I was definitely NOT taken out of the game.

Chaos:
I lost 1UN and two starting wizards to the DE casting chaos (also losing control of region on same turn). In response, I once again control the region and am fighting back against the DE with everything I have remaining. Point = I was definitely NOT taken out of the game.

Invisibility:
I remember years ago losing a battle to an invisible, gating, TR army group. In response, I quickly learned how to cast locate group spells. Point = I was definitely NOT taken out of the game. (BTW, I had far more problems with the artifact that allowed the TR group to gate than the fact that the group was invisible... just FYI.)

Here is my point: these things all create learning curves and add immensely to the subtlety of the game. Great games have easy to understand orders with myriad levels of intrigue/tactics to consider. Alamaze is clearly such a game. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO MAKE THE GAME EASIER AT THE EXPENSE OF SUBTLETY.

I remember many hours of talking with Phil about the nuances and subtleties available. I am certain most of my thoughts he had known about for many years. Still, whenever I uncovered a new tactic or strategy (at least new to me) my appreciation for Alamaze increased exponentially. Be careful not to rob your player base of this dynamic! Do not start down the path of making things too easy. Phil told me many times to "consider the order sequence" and to "contemplate how magic might have affected" whatever I was talking about. Those were magical and insightful conversations about Alamaze.

I was still rather new at Alamaze when the game became no longer available and I am still learning things almost every turn in my Titan game against Morgan Kane. The three things you have mentioned are NOT too powerful to players once they understand how things work...

I have recently had some great fleet to fleet battles and have sold fleets to help raise wizards and to keep my position alive when I had only a single popcenter. It is GREAT that such a game mechanic exists.

I highly treasure dispel magic spells... the most effective counter to chaos that there is. Or... if you can't dispel the chaos spell, attack those bastards with a 3 and issue invisibility orders to all your wizards. Smile

I highly prize locate group spells and value high level agents (7) to look for ambushing groups at key locations. Move an emissary to the locations where your groups are located to see if the emissary "bounces" due to an enemy group. Smile

Just my two Imperator cents...

The Imperators think like Imperators, meaning that the most highly experienced, highly skilled, resilient, determined players think about how change would effect their game. I'm more concerned about everybody else, honestly. Those tricks I am going to fix aren't going to weaken the game or community, they are going to strengthen it. Imperators will come up with a new bag of tricks, I am confident. It's time for that.

Those three things I mentioned are design weaknesses I am not proud of, especially the sea patrol problem. I want to fix them. Fleets have no maintenance? What was I thinking? And they can be added virtually unlimited in a turn and be deployed that turn and destroy a kingdom's position? This is crazy. I can't believe I did that. It must be fixed. Long time players have accepted, "don't go in the water". That wasn't the intention.

Chaos is way too game-ending and depressing and is ridiculously cheap - it is broken. It shall be repaired.

Invisible is the most intricate to modify. This is where the subtlety application has to be employed, although I'm fairly pleased with the lines we are on presently in that effort.
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