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Topic: The Tipping Point Effect

Cleeus
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Joined: 2013-11-02, 08:24
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Pry about Widelands
Posted at: 2013-11-02, 14:26

Hello everyone,

first of all I want thank the team of widelands developers, designers, mappers and all other contributers: This game is what I have missed so long (beeing a settlers II fan). Widelands really captures the spirit of the old days and the fun in building a fruitful settlement :) Also the game is of surprising high quality. Congratulations on that! And it's running on Linux, yay!

So, already having "wasted" many hours wuseling against the AI (build17 and trunk in build18 feature freeze), yesterday I have played online with a friend for the first time. After the game, we had some discussion about the gameplay and I have some questions about warfare mechanics and game balance.

I have been playing the barbarians mostly (although I also played the campaigns in build17) in single player AI and multiplayer games. In all my games, my goal was to defeat my opponents via conquering his land or at least to defend my land agains the opponents. I assume the majority of widelands players play it this way, but other goals might lead to other conclusions.

In widelands, land is mostly equal to ressources which are ultimately required for warfare. Thus conquering a lot of land and exploiting the ressources is the dominant strategy. Losing land means losing ressources, winning land means winning ressources. This obviously leads to a virtous cycle: more land -> more ressources -> more soldiers -> more land; or to a vicous cycle: less land -> less ressources -> less soldiers -> less land. Of course I'm just stating the obvious as this is not uncommon for economy centric strategy games.

Following this logic, I mostly rush to conquer as much land as possible. When hitting on the enemy, sooner or later a battle will emerge. Given a suffient number of millitary buildings at the border, the outcome of that battle will be a simple function of the number existing and supply of new soldiers. Most of the time it would make no sense to retreat because giving up land ultimately leads to the vicious cycle. So the party with the higher number of soldiers and the better supply in new soldiers at that point will win this first battle. To win this battle both parties mostly have to get all the soldiers from the interiour country to the border leaving everything behind the border vulnerable once the frontline breaks. Thus, when you win the first battle, the interiour country of the opponent is mostly defenseless. When your supply of new soldiers is only a slight bit higher than that of the opponent, at some point there will be a tipping point where you can take building after building, destroying more and more of your opponents economy. It is this single tipping point that will decide the game.

Basically the game is over after the first battle because either you have won and can subsequently destroy more and more of the opponents country or you have lost and will be the victim of his ever faster and stronger attacks.

Is this what everyone is seeing or are multiplayer games between more advanced players different?

Also (because I think it might be related to the effect), what is the difference between a barrier and a donjon in terms of warfare mechanics?


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fk
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Posted at: 2013-11-02, 16:20

"Also (because I think it might be related to the effect), what is the difference between a barrier and a donjon in terms of warfare mechanics?"

Their vision range is different.

Building Conquer range Vision range

Sentry 6 10

Barrier 8 12

Donjon 8 17

Fortress 11 15

Citadel 12 16

(the newlines disappear all the time, hope it's not a mess.)

Edited: 2013-11-02, 16:30

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SirVer
Joined: 2009-02-19, 15:18
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Posted at: 2013-11-02, 18:05

It often goes like this, especially if one player went for massing (as you seem to like) and the other tried to establish training quickly. But in those cases I saw very often that the player that starts to get his training going falls back a bit and fights back as soon as her training kicks in and then the game can be very back and forth. Widelands can make remarkable entertaining and exciting games.

And about expanding: I'd say you need a lot of terrain at the beginning (more if you play atlanteans, less if you are barbarians) and then you do not need much more land for a while. Then, expanding makes sense again.


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Cleeus
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Posted at: 2013-11-02, 20:23

What bothers me is, that once you have overcome the first defense line, it is easy to rush through and jump from military building to military building.

Is the "vision range" of the building also the range where attack is possible?


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toptopple
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Posted at: 2013-11-02, 20:32

I have different experience, so I'd say this simple view of strategy doesn't hold. Just played a game against AI today by watching them (fog-less). They stormed on at first contact and even conquered 2 of my outposts. But as things go they didn't succeed to conquer my two towers I had installed near the front. Had I installed only one tower, I would have lost that important region (still not lost the game then). But I hadn't. Since they were nerds and freaks, they continued to run against my towers until all their men were lost while mine were reduced to half. - No need to say how the war ended! Proper strategy also counts in this game and that's good! face-wink.png


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toptopple
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Posted at: 2013-11-02, 20:41

If I may add this here, it seems important that defenders have a slight advantage over attackers at same soldier levels. Not sure if I just had good luck, but my impression was that this is implemented already. Otherwise it should! This counters an all-too-simple mass attack strategy in the beginning phase of foreign contact. Btw, other Settler games also had this setting.


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SirVer
Joined: 2009-02-19, 15:18
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Posted at: 2013-11-02, 23:32

What bothers me is, that once you have overcome the first defense line, it is easy to rush through and jump from military building to military building.

That is a mistake in the defender then: you must burn down your military buildings that you will loose so that the other player is forced to build new buildings at the border. This naturally slows down his advancement - because first wares, then soldiers need to arrive. But if you are miles behind in building up your economy it will not safe you as defender either. In most games it makes a big difference though.

Btw, other Settler games also had this setting.

Which setting? Defenders advantage? There was none in settlers 2. In Widelands it is mainly implicit: your soldiers are quicker back home and heal.


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Cleeus
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Posted at: 2013-11-03, 09:36

SirVer wrote: you must burn down your military buildings that you will loose so that the other player is forced to build new buildings at the border. This naturally slows down his advancement

Yes, I sometimes do that when it's obvious that I'm about to loose a building. So this is mainly an AI issue (it doesn't seem to do that).

Defenders advantage? There was none in settlers 2. In Widelands it is mainly implicit: your soldiers are quicker back home and heal.

Hmm, so it also doesn't make much of a difference if I build barriers or donjons or fortresses - it's just a matter or numers (and training level). Or is there anything I can do to get a better defense?


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SirVer
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Posted at: 2013-11-03, 11:02

The healing rate for bigger buildings is vastly higher. This makes a huge difference while defending.


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fk
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Posted at: 2013-11-03, 11:25

In the first DOS version of settlers there was an advantage for defenders, but in this game soldiers from other buildings come to help. That seems better to me.

"Is the "vision range" of the building also the range where attack is possible?"

Yes, you can attack what you can see. If a scout walks by a military building, you can also attack (temporarily) that building although it was not visible before.

"Or is there anything I can do to get a better defense?"

The trick is to be able to mobilize more units than the enemy in the area where the battle takes place.


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