Relating to shields and combat styles/builds

Jul 10, 12:10 pm
#1
Ischaldirh's avatar
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A bit of recent discussion reminded me of something I had read ... a while ago, which I can't find now, regarding the original devs' goals for balancing dual-wield, two-hander, and sword-and-board. They wanted them to play rock-paper-scissors to each other, with sword-and-board beating dual wield (the shield negating most of the small, quick attacks), dual-wield beating two-hander (striking vulnerable areas several times for each blow the two-hander gets in), and the two-hander beating sword-and-board (heavy blows able to cause damage through, or even break, the shield).

I don't know how well this works as it stands, as very few enemies utilize the many-small-attacks combat method. Additionally not many of them use sword-and-board, beyond guards and dark knights. Most truly dangerous enemies use big, hard-hitting, slow attacks (golems, frogs, Danny, etc) or bypass direct combat altogether (Enner, Izzy). The only dangerous dual-wielder is Sherry, and she's a pretty rare spawn.

Perhaps adding new enemies of these types could help even out the balance, and increase the frequency of great-weapon and sword/board runs?
Jul 11, 5:12 am
#2
red_kangaroo's avatar
goblin prince


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I would very much like for different palystyles to all be relevant and more or less balanced, because it feels good to be able to pick a different playstyle/weapon/equipment each game and not feel underpowered or as if playing a challenge game.

Right now, I think dual wielding and two-handing are quite balanced. Early to mid-game, using two-hander is very powerful, while dual wielding is always powerful. You can sometimes dual wield two-handed weapons by end-game, but this is OK, IMHO.

Sword-and-board definitely needs a buff, simply because you do no damage with your shield, while you can block with you weapons. There are three thoughts on improving shields I had:

* We could increase the gap in block value between shields and all other weapons. This would make shields much more useful, but I'm not sure it's the best way to go - right now, blocking seems very well balanced and getting hit more often without a shield could easily make the game very much harder to play, basically inverting the current problem into making sword-and-board the only best strategy.

* Quoting myself:

red_kangaroo wrote
We could make heavy shields more worth the hassle. Light shields are better because of their accuracy, thus blocking more blows. Heavy shields, on the other hand, could drain less stamina per attack blocked, because of their increased bulk and stability. Thus you could pick to wear a heavy shield and loose only very little stamina from all the blocked attacks.

In addition, we could make all shields take less stamina per block than any weapon, with heavy shields taking next to 0 stamina. This would be probably my preferred method, because we don't need to rebalance blocking value, while making shields useful. Weapons could carry you through fights by blocking hits, but you would not be able to fight that long, because you would be loosing stamina quickly. With a shield, you would be able to last much longer, loosing only minimal stamina. Thus dual wielding or two-hander builds would be good for very aggresive playstyle, because you have more damage but need to kill things quickly and then regain stamina, while shield builds would be good for defensive builds who can fight for a very long time in one go.

* We could give shields a shield bash attack. This again should be balanced not to transform shields into just another weapon. Maybe the shield bash could be a bit like a kick, doing less damage than most weapons, but having a chance to knock back the enemy? That could be quite useful in many situations.

Also, thinking about different playstyles, I would like to add a fourth playstyle to balance against the others: unarmed. Right now, it's rather nice early-game, but quickly overshadowed by enchanted weapons. One way to go with unarmed would be to make the player automatically use a kick attack every time he attacks unarmed. This would make the playstyle rather distinct, giving three attacks per turn with a chance the last attack (kick) will knock back the enemy (forceing them to move next to you again), while balancing it by retaining the lower damage per hit unarmed already has. BTW, I think gauntlets already add their enchantment to unarmed attacks?
Jul 11, 10:05 pm
#3
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Ischaldirh wrote
A bit of recent discussion reminded me of something I had read ... a while ago, which I can't find now, regarding the original devs' goals for balancing dual-wield, two-hander, and sword-and-board. They wanted them to play rock-paper-scissors to each other, with sword-and-board beating dual wield (the shield negating most of the small, quick attacks), dual-wield beating two-hander (striking vulnerable areas several times for each blow the two-hander gets in), and the two-hander beating sword-and-board (heavy blows able to cause damage through, or even break, the shield).

That was probably related to the devs also wanting different damage and armour types to play against each other. Now, I'm down for more varied play styles but this is a tricky one, because there's way too many factors involved. That means there's just as many ways to try and balance it and make it work, but also just as many ways to break the game play.

r_k has some good ideas, but what that won't fix is the fact that the shields that currently spawn aren't worth it. Wooden shields are too flimsy and metal ones are too heavy and inaccurate. You can find decent weapons but if you want a decent shield you have to make one, and most would probably prefer to use scrolls on weapons and armour instead. I have some ideas for improving that but I'm not sure how well it'd work.

First is a deflection mechanic. Right now, the fact that weapons can both block and attack weighs the scale heavily in the weapon's favour. Give shields a deflection mechanic which weapons won't have, by which damage is negated entirely without putting the shield at risk of breaking. This would tie in to a shield's accuracy and gives wooden shields a much needed edge.

Second sort of ties in with r_k's idea for heavy shields; letting you tank longer fights. Shields could have a weak armour value that applies across the whole body like cloaks do. Most wooden ones would end up with 0 AV but the metal ones would have a few points that would defend your whole body. This would make heavy metal shields worth more, especially right at the start in UT when you're still scrambling for armour.

I'm also down for the shield bash. Even if it doesn't do any damage, that extra breathing space would give shields a functionality that weapons don't. That one's been in discussion for a long time, and I don't think it'd mess with the balance too much.

Unarmed is a whole other ball game, also with way too many factors. Probably worth its own thread. I won't touch on it here.
Jul 12, 9:49 am
#4
Ischaldirh's avatar
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If a tweak that doesn't involve adding new mechanisms is what is needed, one option would be to simply increase the ability of shields to block (and also how much they block), and likewise reduce the how much a weapon can block. (It makes no sense for a dagger to be capable of blocking an incoming halberd, no matter how good you are with them.) I do know that shields already outperform weapons in this regard, though it doesn't seem to be enough. I also don't know how dodging plays into this.
Jul 13, 1:43 am
#5
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Except that you're forgetting, Izzy, that simply making shields block better still won't make wood/iron material shields worth it. That's why I suggested what I did.
Jul 13, 2:02 am
#6
red_kangaroo's avatar
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Both what chaostrom is saying and what I mentioned in my first bullet point - right now, you are not actually hit that often in combat; most blows just get blocked. When you are hit, you can die in very few attacks. Thus changing the block ratio for weapons might be hard to balance in a way that both makes shields worthwhile but doesn't make using a shield a requirement unless you want to die to everything.

My suggestion for shields decreasing the amount of stamina needed to block attacks is aimed primarily on making heavier shield worth it. I would love to see metal shield and the like be more useful.
Jul 13, 2:13 am
#7
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Actually as far as that goes, does anyone know if a shield's material has any bearing on how much damage is reduced on partial blocks? That's another possible way of making heavier shields worth it.
Jul 13, 9:23 am
#8
Ischaldirh's avatar
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Chao: I'm pretty certain it is.

Re: Stamina and blocking - It's already not much of a problem. It's extremely rare in my games, for exhaustion to play any role at all. You would need to nerf weapon blocking in the same way you are proposing a buff to shields for this to be relevant. I dunno if that's good or bad, but just something to point out.
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