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Old January 15, 2019, 21:11   #61
Join Date: Oct 2013
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Originally Posted by Quirk View Post
Infinitum, forgive me for being impatient, but you are again making sweeping statements that are hard to reconcile with reality. [...]
Perhaps our viewpoints differ. I mainly play melee characters. The way I see it, the main difficulty of Sil is keeping ahead of the melee/evasion curve from ~350' through ~850'. Before that, a largeish investment in melee/evasion is usually enough to kill everything with minimum equipment, and once you've survived Kemenrauko/Cat territory one generally have enough good equipment, consumables and raw skills to trivialize every other encounter sans V.

In practice, I find this means every single skill and ability purchase prior to and during those depths have to be justified in place of another point of (functional) melee/evasion, since dealing and avoiding is what ultimately keeps melee characters stocked with consumables, safe, and alive. This changes somewhat in the lategame once melee/evasion becomes prohibitively expensive, but at that point everything else dies on contact anyway.

In light of that,

Smithing: Can be an equipment boost for a low investment until 500' or so, but any expenditure beyond that is actively counterproductive for the midgame. There are some lategame shenanigans to be had, but the lategame is nowhere near as punishing as the mid and mid-lategame. There's heaps of threads on this.

Song of Elbereth: Is an unreliable escape at best, and generally a worse combat song than Staying in situations where having a song matters (eg vs tough, high will opponents or when you're otherwise losing).

Song of Challenge: Is generally worse than Opportunist. Cheaper to get initially, sure, but some stealth isn't a bad investment to avoid some surrounds, and Opportunist still works in situations where you want a combat song (eg vs tough opponents).

Song of Silence: Is generally good for stealth/stabbing characters, obviously. It helps that Quick Study isn't that good for stealth builds.

Song of Freedom: Like you noted. Generally much worse than Staying. 10 extra will vs Slowing/Entrancement isn't as good as 10+ extra will vs everything, and between the 6 perception combat characters want for Bane and rings of perception traps usually aren't an issue. There is a small niche vs V since it can close pits/open up rubble, but that isn't worth the 1500 extra xp imo.

Song of the Trees: Is generally good. Elemental resists are never bad, one needs some extra light around shadow spider depth anyway, and this is cheaper than the 1500 xp for the jeweller/pray-for-mithril combo (assuming one also wants Staying, and nothing else in the song tree). Not to mention dropping Lamps later on is not always enough for multiple Amethyst S/Gwauthrauko.

Song of Delvings: Is cool and thematic and atmospheric and I'll leave it at that.

Song of Staying: Is good. For a 3 grace Noldor, it's effectively 10 points of Will as well as the protection bonus. I usually value [,+1d2] slightly above [+1,], so at 3300 xp this is a pretty good value once one can afford to stockpile the xp (at ~(+10)[+10]). 7 song/3 grace is incidentally where one gets +2 light from the trees.

Song of Lorien: Is good for stealth singers.

Song of Thresholds: Is situationally a (+4)[+4] by the time you get it, which is pretty good. It's also another 3200 xp on top of The Trees/Staying, which is quite steep. And it both requires and prohibits mobility in combat, which can be situationally bad (especially since you can otherwise use doors to lure the AI 1v1). And Staying + Dodging/Flanking is generally [+3,2d2] which is arguably better. The escape is cool, but requires you to create distance vs non-flitterers, which looks quite situational for melee characters.

Song of Overwhelming: Looks weak. Haven't tried it though. Does it work off another will modifier than Mastery (or does the stun remain longer)? Might be situationally good for heavy armor characters?

Song of Mastery: Suffers a bit from the Smithing problem. It's (very) strong later on, but the early-mid concessions to get there (eg dropping evasion to pay for it) are painful to play through. And I'm far from convinced it actually makes song better than evasion at equivalent values (RIP my singer-smiths. All of them).

So, looking at the songs from my perspective I'm seeing a pretty solid midgame combat boost at 3300 xp, a necessary answer to shadow critters in the late midgame at 1000 xp, and a bunch of interesting and situationally good abilities that aren't worth the 1500+ xp investment during the critical parts of the game.

Which is to say they're not all that different from most other ability trees in the game, except I think this one has a pretty intuitive way of addressing the problem without overhauling the ability system (and help make non-stealthy Singers into more of a standalone arcetype).

Anyhow, different strokes for different folks etc etc.
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Old January 16, 2019, 01:10   #62
Join Date: Mar 2016
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Originally Posted by Infinitum View Post
Perhaps our viewpoints differ. I mainly play melee characters.
So this does make quite a substantial difference.

I can tell you myself that Elbereth is pretty great for archers. I've been running quite a few lately in testing the overhaul of the archery tree and I've seen Wiwaxia run a couple of Elbereth archers too. Very early on, when it doesn't keep the wolves off, it's not so hot, but by the time they're wargs, they're fleeing. Late game you can make the switch to Mastery to freeze up enemies you don't want escaping, but for an awful lot of the game Elbereth keeps many of your enemies where you want them: distant pincushions. Here's one from who managed to grab a Sil after some awkwardness on 950' led to me descending before I'd properly scummed:

Challenge doesn't really do the same thing as Opportunist. Opportunist is good at hurting and finishing enemies that are running away. It doesn't pull in cat assassins or stop breathers breathing on you. Some of what it does in terms of pulling enemies in to fight in more favourable surroundings can be replicated with various AI tricks. Not everyone has patience for that. A few quotes from other players here:
Originally Posted by ripforareason
Song of Challenge is good, very useful against cat assassins.
Originally Posted by Blinkhog
Song of challenge, the balance seems good, maybe slightly too powerful, as orc archers become easy to deal with only 2 points in song and 3 grace. It also downgrades cat assassins from a terror to annoying. I like the mechanic though and the monster stances, I think this mechanic should be developed further.
Originally Posted by HugoTheGreat2011
For the future - whatever you do, DON'T remove Song of Challenge! It works for me!
Originally Posted by
Song of Challenge is really, really good. Even at 500' - 600', I've been able to manipulate packs / archers of foes off of a simple two Song + three Grace alone. Annoying Easterling Warrior trios or Orc Captain packs are somewhat trivialized with this...

It's strong & makes my guy stronger, yeah, but I feel like I'm cheating.
How situational it is depends on whether you're consistently using it to pull enemies into corridors, in which case it's bread and butter, or whether it's more of a silver bullet against ranged types. In either case, it's cheap and decently widely taken.

Silence, Lorien, Trees, Staying you've noted as good. Freedom we both think niche, Delvings is clearly overpriced on the way down, and is only widely taken on the ascent. Thresholds is potent, but distinctly overpriced, and the ward side doesn't necessarily primarily benefit melee builds.

Overwhelming is decidedly better than Mastery for melee at the point you get it: with Mastery if you beat them on Will, they skip one turn, win one with Overwhelming, they're stunned for 2d6 turns and doing half damage. In practice you will win some against most late game enemies with 10 Song. Melee characters however just don't tend to take that much Song and I'm not expecting that to change.

Mastery currently largely supports Elbereth archers and Lorien sneaker throneroom shenanigans. I don't think it's easy to make work on melee builds at all and the cost of entry is high.

A number of the songs you call "a bunch of interesting and situationally good abilities" just aren't good on the builds you play - Elbereth, Silence, Lorien. And that's fine, but the game isn't just about melee brawling, and these songs would not materially help melee brawling. They require different playstyles to shine. There is no real issue with any song up to Lorien except Delvings in terms of people taking them and playing with them, and if you didn't look at when people took Delvings you might not be certain of even that from simply seeing winner skill lists.

The issues with the songs at the top of the tree are not necessarily going to be fixed by not having to pay for abilities. Thresholds is fun but requires a different play style of its own, and I think it needs to be cheaper to be used in builds. Overwhelming hasn't persuaded people to upgrade from Staying so far, and I'm not sure shaving the cost of upgrade from 2900 to 1900 is going to do it; it probably has to retire. Mastery needs a lot more song than 11 to be good, and reducing the cost of entry from 8100 to 6600 still probably doesn't make it all that viable for melee fighters.

So no, I don't think the suggestion to stop paying for abilities does enough to fix the cost issues of the expensive ones, and I'm not going to touch on the generally unhelpful direction of the language stuff; the last thing we need right now is to divide the song tree further.
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Old January 20, 2019, 03:02   #63
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Originally Posted by Quirk View Post
Thank you. This is really useful feedback. I felt the wards were powerful from my own experimentation, which was more combat oriented, but it was hard to put a finger on it. Knowing that it would be broken at a low price means I do need to go back to my latest sketched redesign and reconsider it, but better that than wreck game balance.

Lorien is stronger than Thresholds at 50' on a Sindar, but gets markedly weaker as enemy will and perception ramp up. This levels off late game so while I usually get Lorien about 500' on a pacifist and it is weakish at 15 song or so there, at 900' with Song in the mid 20s you are basically untouchable.

I think the weakness of Thresholds currently is that you need to survive to the point you can afford it, or go all in early with few other tools. Staying tends to be bought by combat characters at about 800', so such a high cost makes it unattainable until very late game, and I suspect the build you're running needs it to survive. I think maybe dropping it to 6 or 7 would make it a plausible option from the start while being enough of a sacrifice that it forces some dedication to the build?

I'm thinking of dropping Delvings to 2 or 3; does that seem reasonable?
These both sound reasonable to me. There's a melee Thresholds build I'd like to try, and dropping the price a bit should make it easier to get off the ground.
Having Thresholds at 6 or 7 does allow an all-in Delving/Thresholds/Elbereth start, which will be a much smoother start for the build I was trying out, but I don't think that will be a problem.
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