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Make Monsters Great Again

 
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stormywaters
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:54 pm GMT    Post subject: Make Monsters Great Again Reply with quote

Let's talk about monsters and how they could be fixed. Very few of them are truly playable, and it usually revolves around one or two specifically powerful SAIs (I'm looking at you, Regenerate, Plague and Dispel Magic) that can outweigh the drawbacks of running a monster.

"Drawbacks? What drawbacks?"

Great question, other Barry. Let me address that.

Monsters suffer from a few problems not shared with most other units, chief among them being lack of reliability. Virtually 0 monsters have more than a 70% chance to roll a useful icon during a roll, and even then it's rare. Many monsters have 50% or lower chance of rolling something useful on their most common face.

Now you might think "Well lots of rares aren't highly reliable either!" That may be true, but there are a couple of other things to consider:

1. Rares cost less to field. Sure it's 1 point, but you can run 4 rares in the place of 3 monsters.

2. Rares often have reliability across two icons. There are many rares that have 67% chance of one icon and 50% of another, giving it decent utility in two areas, instead of decent utility in one and uselessness otherwise. Some of the better rares have three different icons with 50% favorability (Buffalo-Folk, Lady Nereid). While it's not a 70%, it means that it can semi-reliably save, maneuver, and attack all on one die, something nearly unheard of on monsters.

In addition to this lack of reliability, monsters just tie up too many points for their effects to be worthwhile. If we were talking about 3 points for an unreliable 4 points of effect, it might be worth it, but the price of monsters just rarely comes out as worthwhile compared to running two other dice in their stead. We're talking about a 25% reduction in price for better icon distribution. Not to mention that 6-sided dice average more than 1 icon per face per health, where monsters never do.

Let's look at some of the better monsters that really see play:

Quote:
Troll - This die is ridiculously good. He's got 70% melee, 50% save, and Regenerate. The ability to randomly pull 4 health off just about any roll is worth the price, and he is one of the rare beasts with decent stat spread.

Coral Giant - 70% melee again, with two 40% icons is not bad. Tag on his maneuvers-as-saves racial and his stats get better, and abilities like Counter add to this. Again, reliability.

Fireshadow - What can't he do? With Create Fireminions, he's got the best stat spread hands-down. The fact that he pulls 40% minimum and has Cantrip and Counter is just nuts. He's reliably useful.

Minor Death - Another 70% melee unit but with subpar other icons. However Plague makes this one actually playable, since Plague can give a lot of value when it hits. I've seen it clear 10+ points of health.

Crocosaur - Pulls a whopping 80% in melee, and three of those give you icons plus a reroll. His racial gives him 40% saves in swamps as well.

Strangle Vine - The only other 80% icon I know of, and it's got Wild Growth to boot. With a reroll on Rend and five offensive SAIs (plus Wild Growth), it's no wonder this guy is good.

Unicorn - One of the rare "triple-fifties" monsters, this guy hits what he needs half them time on melee, save, and maneuver. When one of those saves is Counter and two icons let him and a friend run away, it's just good. Tack on two Dispel Magic faces and you've got yourself a great monster.


That concludes the list of really good monsters, a list of 7 out of 60. There are a few others that are semi-playable, and then a pile of unplayable monsters.

So what's the fix? How do we make all these unplayable dice worth their weight? I won't offer conjecture on that point yet. I'd rather see what everyone else thinks first.
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syntaxerror111
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 6:13 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are some quick thoughts.

Monsters have 3 natural disadvantages:
1. result dilution (ID or any SAI result is only 1/10)
2. vulnerable to single target spells and abilities (ex. lightning bolt), with 4 points invested in a single unit.
3. lack of 'extra' pips. this is apparent if you analyze the raw icon output

they also have 2 natural advantages:
1. allows greater depth of army promotions (rare->monster)
2. damage mitigation when combined with other large units (varies by army composition)

It is my opinion that monsters need powerful SAIs to make them worth fielding. It is unfortunate that many SAIs found only on monsters aren't more powerful. I have a metric for comparing units based on expected performance (including rough values for SAIs), but I had better save that for another time.

The easiest fix to make more monsters relevant is to look at weak SAIs that only appear on monsters and give them a power boost. It is probably not possible to make all dice in the game equally competitive, because the icons are fixed. But this would be a good start.

Any changes to monsters, SAIs, or really any other aspect of the game need to be carefully analyzed and play-tested thoroughly to prevent unintended problems from being introduced.

More thoughts to come later.

-edited for clarity
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cliffwiggs
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:39 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI - we were going to go through this same exercise in a few months, I'm glad to see initiative and some thoughts. I may poke my head in, but probably won't follow word by word until I finish whats already on my plate.

As you look at monster only sai's, you will find many many that are unique and one poor monster that is unfixable.

Let me throw something completely random on the table. what if monsters were 3 health units, but each face did 4 points of effect? Does that break them or just make those 7 monsters even more desirable? what about 3 and 3?
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syntaxerror111
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 8:43 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

cliff,

I am working on a post for my method of analyzing the "power level" of units. There are many things to take into account, but it may be helpful when attempting to re-balance monsters (to at least get them close).
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stormywaters
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 12:40 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

cliffwiggs wrote:
Let me throw something completely random on the table. what if monsters were 3 health units, but each face did 4 points of effect? Does that break them or just make those 7 monsters even more desirable? what about 3 and 3?


I think dropping their cost and keeping their faces makes the good monsters perhaps *too* good. I can't imagine an instance where I *wouldn't* play a Troll in a melee army, especially given that there is no restriction on mixing the races. At that point, any time I want a melee strategy, I am taking multiple Trolls, no question. The same applies to the other good monsters - they functionally replace their rare counterparts.

Now if we made them 3 and 3, you're kind of balancing it a little better. They are trading the higher icon count from rares with potentially wider spread of SAIs. This is an idea worth looking at, but we'd need numbers on all the monsters. I suspect this will make a few more playable but it will likely leave many still unplayable.

There are a couple of other options that I've though of which could help, or could not. Who knows?

1. Any time a monster rolls an ID, you may choose to turn it to any other face before counting its results. While this doesn't change the percent chance of rolling a useful icon, it increases the odds of hitting those oh-so-important SAIs - the reason we take monsters anyway. Of course I think some SAIs would need adjustment but I already think that as it is. This option is simple, clean, and could really make monsters worth looking at by universally increasing their odds of hitting powerful faces.

2. Each monster comes with a card (or just printed in the starter rules) that grants them a special ability. This is not ideal, but it would allow some more freedom with changes and let us fix the one unfixable monster. Troll might just have "When this unit would be killed, roll it. If it rolls its ID, send it to your reserves instead of the DUA. No SAIs may be used during this roll" (just off the top of my head). Each monster could have a card with a unique ability which could boost the power of the dice with bad icons and temper the strength of the really good monsters. Of course this isn't perfect since it'd involve including those cards in starters or at the very least listing each of the monster's special abilities in the racial rule section (though this isn't a bad idea anyway). It also means some information is not printed directly on the die, but plenty of dice have special rules that aren't indicated on the dice (Dragonkin for instance).
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cliffwiggs
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:36 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

stormywaters wrote:
I can't imagine an instance where I *wouldn't* play a Troll in a melee army,
Given it's SAI as written I would agree, but I don't see that SAI remaining unchanged. The 'theme' of the troll should be that it regenerates itself, not others. I know everyone loves their trolls and I don't want to disrupt this thread, but that shows that it is just a little too good. Some ideas I've been considering:
1) Only recover goblins, not other races.
2) recover 4 health, but they don't roll as they enter the army.
3) recover 3 health only, so no troll chaining.
4) make it a conditional SAI more like 'rise from the ashes'. it could be a one time roll or it could be every turn 'on regenerate it moves to the reserves, on an ID it is buried and truly dead;

my point is, if it is a few SAI's that break the system. those can be changed as well.

Quote:

Troll might just have "When this unit would be killed, roll it. If it rolls its ID, send it to your reserves instead of the DUA. No SAIs may be used during this roll" (just off the top of my head).
You read my mind, but note that the phoenix already has a similar ability w/o a card, so we CAN do this (for the troll atleast)
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stormywaters
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:55 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

cliffwiggs wrote:
Given it's SAI as written I would agree, but I don't see that SAI remaining unchanged. The 'theme' of the troll should be that it regenerates itself, not others.


I can't tell you how glad I am to hear that. Regenerate has been a thorn in my side for years, and I fully agree that it should regenerate itself.

Quote:
You read my mind, but note that the phoenix already has a similar ability w/o a card, so we CAN do this (for the troll atleast)


Sure, it was just off the top of my head.
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Indrid Cold
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:40 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am putting in my 2 cents from a position of inexperience compared to the majority of you here. I've only had the game for a short time but I've played it quite a bit in that short time. And now that I've discovered that the rules appear to be, to some degree, in development, I am excited at the prospect of actually contributing "behind the scenes" in some way.

The weak-monster issue is, for me, one of the main things that stands out. They are super cool in theory, but not so strong in the game. My first thought is to lower the power of the few very strong monster SAI's, and then give the monsters an overall advantage. Something like making monsters impervious to instant kill spells such as lightning - due to their large size, or the fact that they are a swarm of creatures rather than one single creature. Perhaps this would make them too strong, but they do cost 4 after all.

If the revisions of the rules are essentially complete, or if I'm too inexperienced to offer ideas of merit, please feel free to disregard this post. If I'm speaking out of turn just chalk it up to my excitement at the possibility of actually being a part of the development of this game in some way.
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cliffwiggs
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:20 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

To some extent the rules will always be in flux. It keeps the game from being stale and 'the average gamer' is always moving too.

we have a multi-release plan to change a lot of other things. SAI's and thus Monsters is one of those items. so we haven't done it yet.
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gorillanator
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:29 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the idea of segregating points value for building armies vs heath points.

It would be a great way of balancing out the power curve of certain dice and making EVERY die playable and fun.

With a game as deep as Dragon Diceâ„¢, a more flexible point system would keep the game fresh as new strategies are discovered.

Some people would call this nerfing...but I think it makes for a healthier play environment.
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cliffwiggs
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:38 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only concern I would keep in mind is how complicated it is to remember.

Right now it is very fast to just count the health of the dice and verify your opponent brought the proper units.

The most complicated it gets, the harder it would be to verify and the most trust you have to do.
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gorillanator
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:53 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

didn't think about that.

It would be a very complex thing to have to look up the point values to build a list.

Going back to the Monster dice...

I just find em too cool not to use.
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stormywaters
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:24 am GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

gorillanator wrote:
I just find em too cool not to use.


And I'm trying to make that choice not be a hindrance to army construction! Mr. Green
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gorillanator
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:48 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just another brainstorm idea:

How about if you treat monsters like dragons?
So monsters don't cost points, but you bring a fixed amount into the battle, say 1 for every 10 points.

That way they don't take up "valuable" points. They are in essence "free" and cool boosts to the army.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:02 pm GMT    Post subject: troll Reply with quote

I have always house ruled the troll and the phoenix:
regenerate: if this unit is in the dead area at the beginning of your turn, roll it and if regenerate comes up, place it in your reserves.
RFTA is similar but only works from the buried unit area.
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