Sunday 7 February 2010

Unangband Competition update

With two days to go in the Unangband competition, cjeep1962 is winning overall having killed Denethor, Steward of Gondor - a level 57 unique - with Aspir. Big Al is only one level behind, with an adjusted deepest kill of 56 with Mirest. It's down to the wire to see who the winner is...

There's a circle of hell for game designers like me

How long before I could redesign an already well-designed game? Less than 24 hours I hear you say...

I don't think Solium Infernum needs a redesign - it feels robust, every turn has significant choices and Vic will patch out most high level exploits (Puzzle Cube + excommunication for instance).

But everyone complains about the fact you have to have Charisma in order to play the game. So I've played one 0 Charisma game to see what a low Charisma player feels like. It's not impossible, but you need to get extremely lucky, both with keeping your initial legion alive, and events. Events are important because you want to spend as long as possible restricting other people from gaining or spending their tribute.

There are a number of possible approaches that I can see to starting this way. All of them include taking the Obscure perk and starting out as a Lord, as you're already getting too few tribute for this to really matter:

Martial Prowess 4, Master of the Sword: You'll be spending what little tribute you generate on combat cards. What is important with this build is the Prestige Bonus for Victories (1.5). Capture your first place of power, and at the same time start picking on a nearby player. Don't stop until you've killed them.
Intelligence 4, Unnatural Prescience: This approach involves manipulating the events available as much as possible to your advantage. The downside with this, is you are entirely dependent on this and most useful events cost tribute. I don't see this being a viable build at all. You're much better going Prophecy 3 and using Charisma to boost yourself up to Prophecy 4 early.
Wickedness 4, Sorcery: A similar approach to Martial Prowess. The advantage is you get an extra turn. The disadvantage is you already have too many turns with the Martial Prowess to use them all to maximum effect, and this build doesn't let you create dummy event cards to waste time with.

In all of these instances,you'll be extremely vulnerable to a Destruction build, or any event that lowers your attributes by one. If you lose your starting legion or 4 points stat, you may as well rage quit straight away.

The biggest problem with all of the above strategies though is that you can just take the Lust or Gluttony public objectives, and instantly give yourself 1 Charisma. Which is why so many people take either Lust or Gluttony. Gluttony is far easier to achieve in the end game, but you're deliberately running a low tribute game, so Lust may be more appropriate here.

A number of people have complained about public objectives affecting your starting build. I don't necessarily agree, but the fact that Lust + 1 Charisma is a no brainer choice which supersedes the above does suggest we may need to redesign it.

So howabout the following descent into hell of redesigning public objectives:

Your public objective gives you one random tribute card at the start of the following turn any time you qualify for the bonus, as stated below. The random tribute cards you gain are just a base tribute roll, unmodified by your Charisma, perks or any Artifact, Relic or other bonus or Event. Each of the objectives does not modify the number of points available to the Avatar.

Gluttony: You demand tribute on all your available orders for the turn.
Greed: You consolidate four or more cards as tribute in a single turn and do not spend any tribute.
Lust: You control The Garden of Infernal Delights or The Temple of Lust the whole turn.
Sloth: You have an order slot which is not filled at the end of the turn.
Wrath: You destroy at least one Legion or banish or vanquish in single combat one Praetor during your turn.
Envy: You initiate two or more Diplomatic actions in a single turn.
Pride: You have the most prestige at the start and end of the turn.

Comments, thoughts, suggesting while I burn?

Solium Infernum

I cracked after replaying the demo most of the afternoon and bought the full version of Solium Infernum. First full single player game I played a Sorceror, Infernal Cardinal Charisma 2, Wickedness 2 build - ranked at Marquis - and ended up winning in the last turn by gaining about 120 prestige off the previous leader with Charisma and Wickedness maxed out.

Then I played a Martial Prowess 4, Obscure, Master of the Sword - only at Lord rank - and won again. That's right: a 0 charisma build with Obscure which penalizes your tribute draw even more. I only ever got enough tribute to buy a second unit once - but fortunately played the first event at the start of the game and closed off the hell mouth for 6 turns. Even then, despite pressing my advantage and staying well ahead of the AI in prestige (including eliminating another player) it was still touch and go. The AI may have stuffed up once by not attacking my undefended (except combat cards) stronghold, but I kept scrapping up enough tribute for more combat cards - didn't get a chance to increase my Charisma to 1 until turn 60 or so.

Looking forward to some real human opponents now.

For those of you worrying about the early problems with the AI being passive, it has significantly improved in release 1.05a. It's still not ideal, but at least is a worthy opponent.

All of my demons so far have been named after Angband variant maintainers.

Saturday 6 February 2010