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Old November 29, 2007, 11:49   #1
Daven_26d1
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Ironband...

I was gonna send my rebalancing Ideas to Antoine, but I figure Matthias at least will have some 10 cents+ to add, and I guess the new variant could do with a bit of exposure, so here goes:

For those who haven't played it yet, Ironband is an "ironman-only" variant based on NPP. Please give it a go if you have a bit of time spare, because at present not enough players have been past DL5 to give the maintainer proper feedback; the variant has enough new ideas to be worthy of continual development. My advice to the newbies who find it too hard is to get a bit of experience in Ironman mode in V (or another variant if you like) - it will be a little easier to get a character going (ie past the first few floors). A little experience at Ironman in general won't hurt, much better to get some practice in a familiar environment - and as the new variant aims to fix some gripes with that mode, its difficult to appreciate why the new game is good otherwise. Although I'm now going to make suggestions as to how to make it harder, don't let that put you off - I think anyone struggling just needs some ironman experience.

The main problem lies in the game not being hard enough once you get a character rolling (actually I thought it was easier from the word go) and some rebalancing needs to be done. Put bluntly, nobody should be able to win a variant on their first try, even if they have as many wins under their belt as Matthias. I don't believe Matthias to be a cheater either, I suspect he just has far too much time to play *band in - I figure parsing his TC from ladder characters and extrapolating a realtime figure based on those would scare a lotta people away from Angband; but of course, I digress.


So here are my suggestions:

The player is simply too good at everything; the idea was that you get some choice over development but are partly forced down a random route. However, instead of being good at one thing, you end up good at everything and great at one thing. Personally, I think the (currently classless) game would benefit from some basic classes (fighter, shooter, caster) but it may be hard to impose classed play, and perhaps this is something to think about for later; maybe try some rebalncing first, and maybe the game can stay classless. If so, I think the amount of statgain may want reducing a little.

The biggest "broken" aspect of play is casting, not surprising as the game has reworked spellbooks, wands/rods and added an idea of talismans. The concept of not recovering spellpoints until you descend, while a great new tactical feature, has an overlooked balance issue: at low levels, you basically get a low-level mages casting power to last you a whole floor(!) which is fine, and cool, and adds something. Once your SP balloon, though, even though they have to last you a floor, you are capable enough at fighting/shooting to save most of your SPs for the vaults/uniques and coupled with talismans and wands allows you a longer chain of more potent magic than in any variant I know of; my test character (mainly ran as a ranger) died at about 1/2 to 2/3 SP(!!) after fireballing away half a pit of diamond and adamantite coins. I still didn't figure out if these would have been worth "collecting" for XP... Anyway, the point is I tried to base my character around stealth and shooting, then fighting, and lastly magic - I basically would have been happy to detect traps!

This is what I would do for the next version, with regards to rebalancing casting:

*Restore mana potions - rather than reduced effect, get rid. Antoine commented that Matthias' winner had too many supplies at the end, but I also know he drank at least one of these. If he didn't have it he would have presumably had to use up other supplies or take an early exit from the floor. When thinking about realism, this seems a bad thing to do, but remember that never recovering SP, but getting them suddenly zapped back full on using stairs is also unrealistic. Treating the SP changes as a pure game device (and a potentially awesome one at that) mana potions are 100% broken, IMHO.

*Wands - these are almost fine as is - rods and wands are big part of mid-game ironman play, and thats what they are here too. As they take up a whole inventory slot for one spell, you simply cant carry all of them to 5000' as you start having to carry spare artifacts in ther late game, to swap in resists and slays. I don't think the talismans should make casting from wands any cheaper, though... the wands should represent the best value magic in the game.

*Spellbooks - although I didn't find anything but the first spellbook for a long time, I found (over three floors) three spellbooks containing more than enough magic to win with. The fact that practically every spell had the same (<7% by the time I died) fail rate was an issue for me. Either make them rarer, or add more and have each one less useful (make the player choose his magic more skillfully). It wouldn't hurt to make spell fails a little higher. Alternately, let them get burned more easily, even the "good" ones... *evil grin* ...that might just be a lot more fun!

*Talismans - (AKA what got broke) stacking talismans makes spells too cheap, end of story. I suspect Matthias and his dry-run winner will agree with me... They are, unfortunately, a nice & cute newish idea, otherwise I would recommend their removal altogether. So instead I recommend:
A- Stop cumulative effects, curbing the chain-casting "wizard of legend" effect that afflicts lvl 10 "fighters" in Ironband.
B- If you increase spell fail rates, talismans could reduce them, that would be ok in my book.
C- make them rarer, thus forcing the player down unexpected routes and making him/her adapt to what the RNG gifts him... I think this was the basic concept of development in Ironband.
D- To reiterate "stop cumulative effects" - don't let them have any effect on wands, wands should be the cheapest way to cast (because you get only one spell per item) but FGS don't let talismans make them cheaper! After that, spellbooks coupled with talismans are what shapes your power; by chance or by choice - a staple of Angband.

A couple of other observations:

Arts seem rarer, so thats all good, because even with my rebalancing suggestions, IDing items and not wearing cursed ones is actually a lot easier, so those features should even out a bit.

The new unique I fought might have been a tricksy little cow, if only I wasn't overpowered, so don't worry about redoing those, at least until they have been more tested. From what I can tell, they are in line with the current V ones, and new flavour is always nice. Basically, after about 200' all uniques were offed far too easily for my liking - when I play ironman in V (still my favourite ironman) I'm used to getting chased off otherwise tasty floors when Mim turns up to bail Azog out, stuff like that. I put a lot of this down to it being to easy to have a natural +3/+4 speed on a low-level @. Obviously anything of "normal" celerity and zero ranged attack will be laughable to the "somewhat quick" player. Something of a sidenote, this one - I would personally focus on the casting side of things and give it a test run first.

BTW, on a side note, the plural of 'talisman' is 'talismans'. I wish wholeheartedly it was 'talismani' (to bring them in line with the magi who would create them) and google tells me a whole lot of peeps wish it was 'talismen'.

Hopefully, some of this was of some use to Antoine, and at least one or two people are intrigued enough to give Ironband a go.
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Old November 29, 2007, 12:25   #2
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I've not yet played IronBand, unfortunately (I don't even have time for the competition --- fortunately though there is Christmas ahead! :-). However, I'm fond of any thought-of and original experiments in Angband (as opposed to mindless adding content, random features from other games and cute jokes that break balance or high fantasy climate), so I'll do 2 random ignorant friendly comments, so that the brave experimentor is not discouraged.

First, about small speed bonuses breaking early game. I think it works OK, or will, in Un, thanks to tweaked AI. Anyway, even without stat-based speed, early speed boost from objects breaks the game (or makes it, as some feel), so I think balancing this with AI seems better than shunning from speed bonuses. (OTOH in Un speed bonuses from objects are very limited --- to DL/10 speed bonus per item, IIRC, as an additional balancing act, besides AI.)

Second, I'm all for making the game harder (but less unfair, that is it should require more skill, but not more luck), but perhaps lower level can be made easier for newbies, instead of advising them to train in ironman V. This is trivial in variants with wilderness, where you can plant a newbie starting dungeon along with a challenge starting dungeon and make everybody happy and able to boast at the ladder according to their measure. As for IronBand, I'm sure there are some original ways specific to it, which I cannot guess without playing it (like, add a one-time shop at DL 3, or something ).
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Old November 29, 2007, 13:42   #3
Daven_26d1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandobras View Post
I'm fond of any thought-of and original experiments in Angband (as opposed to mindless adding content...)
Well said. The variant could definitely have something special.

Quote:
First, about small speed bonuses breaking early game. I think it works OK, or will, in Un, thanks to tweaked AI. Anyway, even without stat-based speed, early speed boost from objects breaks the game (or makes it, as some feel), so I think balancing this with AI seems better than shunning from speed bonuses. (OTOH in Un speed bonuses from objects are very limited --- to DL/10 speed bonus per item, IIRC, as an additional balancing act, besides AI.)
Well, for me it doesn't break UN; I have had similar survivability with rolled up (-2 spd) artisans of Bree as I have had with my later min-maxed points based (+3 or +4 spd) shadow fairy rangers. The reason I got further with the rangers is I played them more recently, hence learnt the game more, and yes, I min-maxed them. Also, when I first tried Un, the artisans and paladins I was playing at the time experienced about 50% death by bug or broken savefile! Since WIP 7b, I have lost only one character due to bugs, and I could have recovered it. Mostly, Un kills you because you take your eye of the ball for two or three presses - and you have no excuse with the expanded -more- system.

In Ironband, speed is broken, because there is no real deficit - my rangers in UN had a balancing small HP pool, and being fast, teleporting and shooting ninja-style simply didn't help when something got a hold of you and wrung your neck. With Iron, being fast is just one more power that you're pretty much guaranteed to have. Give it a whirl, and see what I mean - the more the merrier before the creator loses interest!

Quote:
Second, I'm all for making the game harder (but less unfair, that is it should require more skill, but not more luck), but perhaps lower level can be made easier for newbies, instead of advising them to train in ironman V.
OK, yes - unfair is wrong, but I'd like the game to feel a little "unfair" as ironman mode usually does. Matthias has suggested that the game is a lot about what equipment you find, but I suspect he doesn't play as much Ironman as me. I haven't played more Ironband yet (I have to swap drives or get around to makefile hacking), but seeing as I usually make at least 250' with a kobold and just about guarnteed 1000' with a high elf (in V ironman) I just wanna say you make your own luck, and adapting to the RNG's gifts appears to be Antoines idea, he just made them too numerous, a shame as his vision is what attracts me.

The reason why I suggest V is that its current state makes for great ironman play, and everyone should be familiar with V. By all means, cut your Ironman teeth in Ironband, It was more a suggestions for the players who can't get anywhere and will stop trying (ie playtesting) if they find it too hard.

Quote:
This is trivial in variants with wilderness, where you can plant a newbie starting dungeon along with a challenge starting dungeon and make everybody happy and able to boast at the ladder according to their measure. As for IronBand, I'm sure there are some original ways specific to it, which I cannot guess without playing it (like, add a one-time shop at DL 3, or something ).
I'd be put of if the early game was harder, its already easier than ironman V. However there is something tempting about a birth option which adds a shop (I would put it at dl5). Its something to aim for, and being able to clear dl1-4 in the (forced) one dive (so that you have more cash to spend) is actually a big part of the learning curve. I would personally remove scoring, as if avoid_death was set.

Its unfortunate that the new variant is of main interest to a smaller no. of players than usual, so keep trying guys (It will all make more sense after half a dozen games, I swear) and I'll see you on the ladder. Everyone loves getting ladder comments, so I'll comment with tips & encouragement to anyone who submits a dump, unless I catch you flat out cheating, and I'm sure the creator will too. The thing to remember is ironman play isn't much harder, just a lot different.

EDIT - wtf? had to proxy in to post, I get no life from oook over my bare IP... I'm guessing if you wanted to ban me I wouldn't be able to log in, so I should blame my ISP...
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Old November 29, 2007, 16:53   #4
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Sorry, don't have any 10c to add. I can only repeat that you cannot draw any conclusions from so little data. I had some lucky drops, and so had you character (2 deep books, acid ball wand , etc)

In other news I've won OAngband on first try as well. Also what is a TC?

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Old November 29, 2007, 17:16   #5
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In other news I've won OAngband on first try as well.

Crikey, well done - O is *tough*.

Also what is a TC?

Turncount, I'm guessing...
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Old November 29, 2007, 18:08   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias View Post
Sorry, don't have any 10c to add. I can only repeat that you cannot draw any conclusions from so little data. I had some lucky drops, and so had you character (2 deep books, acid ball wand , etc)

In other news I've won OAngband on first try as well. Also what is a TC?
Did I write TC? I guess I meant turncount...

I agree more testing is needed, which means more playtesters (hint, hint guys...) I couldn't talk for instance above rebalancing drops and monsters, because that takes much more data.

My drop luck was moslty piss poor until the last couple of floors, I got almost no use from the books & wand you mentioned, which were found not long before I died. I got two lucky wands early though, which obviously kept my equipment in good order - "remove curse" & "enchant armour".

You will always get some good items, and its kind of about using what you find - obviously you need some luck for ironman, but for me - even after only one game - there is no way that I could be convinced that the spell system isn't broken.

Again, people are encouraged to play more and verify my opinions, or just plain prove me wrong. I'm gonna give Iron another whirl probably tommorrow, so we'll see how I do.

Congrats on O, I only played that once, got bored & left my elf somewhere around 1000'. The ai routines were a lot stronger, if memory serves, so a first time win possibly deserves a commendation.
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Old November 29, 2007, 23:53   #7
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[QUOTE=Daven_26d1;4060]I was gonna send my rebalancing Ideas to Antoine, but I figure Matthias at least will have some 10 cents+ to add, and I guess the new variant could do with a bit of exposure, so here goes: [SNIP]
[\QUOTE]

Hi Dave

Thanks for all the commentary and good ideas.

I agree that the power of the @ needs to be toned down, and I am going to implement some of your suggestions and some other ideas.

Glad you are enjoying the game, though, and I suggest other people jump in and play it now before I overcorrect and make it near impossible

A.
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Old November 30, 2007, 00:13   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antoine View Post

I agree that the power of the @ needs to be toned down, and I am going to implement some of your suggestions and some other ideas.

Glad you are enjoying the game, though, and I suggest other people jump in and play it now before I overcorrect and make it near impossible

A.
Actually I have to agree with Matthias that the game should be playtested more in its present state before major changes are made, though I hope what I have written gives you plenty to think about. Something to bear in mind is that both myself and Matthias were using high elves, and they are good at fighting, shooting & magic, not too mention have see invisible.

There is a half-orc on the ladder now, and he isn't very magically potent at all, though casting detect monsters and Identify is a very nice addition to a "fighter" build.

Something else I realise, is that you can get access to reusable sources of ID and remove curse (one of these is pretty much required for any shot at ironman mode in V) a lot more easily; however I guess this is one of the annoyances of regular ironman play that the variant aims to fix and it just makes for a more playable game; there are certain other aspects that similarly make it easier, but more fun. I still don't think the start game should be harder, its just a combination of practice and luck, and patience will be rewarded if anyone tries enough times.
I still think magic is the greatest issue, not unsurprisingly because that's what has changed the most.

Incidentally, I have to wonder how well you have performed in your own variant Antoine? Presumably you are a fan of ironman if you took the time to write it?!
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Old November 30, 2007, 00:31   #9
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> There is a half-orc on the ladder now, and he isn't very magically potent at all, though casting detect monsters and Identify is a very nice addition to a "fighter" build.

Yes I was glad to see that.

> Something else I realise, is that you can get access to reusable sources of ID and remove curse (one of these is pretty much required for any shot at ironman mode in V) a lot more easily

Yes. *ID* and *Remove Curse* a bit harder though.

I myself don't like being short of ID, so I didn't want to make it a big hindrance in the game...

> Incidentally, I have to wonder how well you have performed in your own variant Antoine? Presumably you are a fan of ironman if you took the time to write it?!

I have played a warrior character and a mage. Enjoyed both, won both but with save-scumming (because I wanted to get to the late game and playtest that rather than play the early game again and again).

I want to do some more playtesting before the next release. I also want to try a specialist archer, and a sneaky thief type.

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Old December 12, 2007, 18:37   #10
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Never won a 'Band...playing them since '90 or so.

Never played any in Ironman modes.

That said, I like this a lot, so far. Reminds me, in some way, of IVAN. Have not made it past DL6, keep running out of torches, not finding enough of them. Maybe a spell in the 1st book, "Create Torch" or "Refuel" would be nice? Also (and my beef with NPP, too) is that there is no "running" through sand. Gonna wear out my keypad by tapping 14 times to move 14 squares. Getting across a level takes a lot of tapping.

Oh, and I am playing w/ archers/slingers mainly so far, and only played High Elf. Back to it for me!
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