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Old March 18, 2012, 00:45   #1
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Combat thread

I'm playing a paladin right now, which means the character is heavily prowess-biased. With my Diamond Trollish Great Hammer (8d3) (+18, +82) I get 1.1 blows/round with a 4.4x damage multiplier for average damage of 79/round, at clvl 27 / dlvl 30. This is probably above what I'd consider necessary for this depth, but not absurdly so -- and I consider this weapon to be quite unusual.

Before I had this weapon, I was using a Bastard Sword of Slay Evil with two swap weapons (one with a poison brand, one with merely good stats) depending on what I was fighting. Still never got 2 blows/round, and my average per-round damage peaked at 42 (with fractional blows, remember; actual per-blow damage was about 2/3rds that).

A few observations from this:

* On the whole, things seem to be working fairly well. Combat isn't trivial, but nor is it impossible; we're in the playable range here. Great!

* The finesse/prowess biases may need to be revisited. There are 13 finesse weapons, 19 prowess weapons, and 8 unbiased weapons (abs(balance - heft) < 20). However, all of the finesse weapons are native to dlvl 20 or below, while the prowess weapons are typically deeper (5 of them are native to dlvl 30 or below!). The average weapons are, amusingly enough, roughly between finesse and prowess in terms of native depth.

Functionally, this means that prowess weapons are hard to come by early on, and particularly if there's no affordable mace at the start of the game, you're pretty much out of luck. Finesse weapons are all over the place though, which could lead a prowess player to conclude he's being discriminated against. I actually thought that there were more finesse weapons than prowess weapons in object.txt before I checked it, simply because that was what I was seeing in the drops. We should add a club as an early prowess weapon, and tweak some of the allocations so that more prowess weapons show up early on. And possibly look into adding more finesse weapons to the late game, though I'd guess that's probably not as necessary since high-level egos of low-level items are still perfectly usable.

* Iron Golems are effectively invincible when you first encounter them, having absorption of 25! They're also at -5 speed so they aren't all that dangerous; they just chase you around, slinging a slowing spell at you every once in awhile.

* Phase spiders are a royal pain, being fast, evasive (-20% chance to hit), poisonous, and possessing several annoying spells. I had a hit rate of 58% against them, and didn't have the damage to one-shot them (non-evil poison-immune). Every time I find them is thus a long, drawn-out fight where I'm slowly getting nibbled to death while I flail ineffectually away.

* Hit rates in general seem a bit low. Particularly, I feel like monsters that are very weak compared to the player should not have the same base 75% hit chance. Whether we want to modify the hit calcs to take level into account directly, or scale hit chance with something that also scales with level, I don't know.

* There are tons of fast, evasive monsters. I can see how this happened: when whoever it was (fizzix?) was going through the monster list, the monsters that thematically seem the "dodgy" type (deserving of high evasion) happened to be monsters that already were dodgy by dint of being fast. What this means though is that there are lots and lots of monsters that will hit you 4-8 times before you manage to hit them once. It's not like they're impossible to deal with, but it is frustrating, particularly when they still have the health to survive multiple blows.

I guess I feel like we need to rescale hitpoints to take evasion/absorption into account. Monsters that have high evasion or absorption should have fewer hitpoints to compensate, in other words. The game was previously balanced with monsters' only defenses being massive HP pools and a relatively ineffectual armor class. Now that they have more detailed defenses, that HP pool needs to come down somewhat.

How broadly do we want evasion and absorption to apply to the monster list? I'd kind of assumed that both values would be 0 for most of the enemies in the game, so that the exceptions would be more notable. That is to say that evasive or absorptive monsters would be comparatively rare, which especially means that monsters that appear in groups would have 0 in both scores. Any absorption you give to a monster seriously hurts finesse characters' ability to hurt them; likewise, evasive monsters are a real pain for prowess characters (who lack the to-hit bonus finesse gives). Most characters can't really swap weapons on the fly because their class locks them into one or the other modus, so that means that large numbers of monsters are just plain hard or impossible to kill. Is that desirable?

For reference, out of the first 430 monsters (through 2000'), there are 64 monsters with evasion of at least 10, only 12 of which are normal speed; there are 100 with absorption of at least 5, 11 of which are slow.
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Old March 18, 2012, 04:55   #2
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I agree that not all monster should have large evasion or absorption. I remember posting on a previous thread that my mage encountered an iron golem out of depth, and had absolutely no way to deal with it. However, the golem didn't pose any threat because I could always just walk away from it. I thought it was awesome both flavor wise and gaming wise to have a huge animated iron golem clanking around the dungeon after me in slow motion. I just had to keep moving and keep a speed potion ready just in case I got caught with that slow spell.

I think that clubs should start at entry level, and mauls should be deeper. I found an early maul that made combat too easy for my mage. It was easier to use the maul than to cast spells.

Also, there is a lot of room to play with the finesse weapon depth. A lot of the sword types have similar stats, but weighting one more for finesse could imply that it should be found deeper. I am of the opinion that there should be a couple more weapon types that are only found deep, rather than just the mace of disruption and the chaos swords. Maybe a huge axe, and a great bow.
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Old March 18, 2012, 07:31   #3
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I agree with coach - let's make some of the finesse weapons deeper (scimitar and bastard sword spring to mind, along with the main gauche, perhaps). I think the iron golem should be the exception rather than the rule - presumably the equivalent unkillable for prowess chars is the will-o-wisp.

I don't have enough of a feel for ev/abs to know whether the numbers are too high, but I'd support reducing hp in favour of reducing ev/abs. We could also reduce the speed of some evasive monsters, like phase spiders. (I don't think prowess chars having a problem with phase spiders is bad, but I agree that evasion means that speed could be revisited in some cases, because it was probably originally used to simulate evasion.)

The to-hit chance already includes something that scales with level: finesse! Perhaps what you're suggesting is that the level-dependent bit is lengthened, so instead of 75 + fin - ev we have 50 + 2*(current fin term) - 2* (current ev term) ... or something? This is still going to hurt prowess chars though - we did always want them to be hitting less often, so perhaps the problem is actually that you weren't one-shotting the phase spiders (which is what ought to compensate prowess chars for hitting less). I guess if you'd had a bigger dice weapon (3d8 rather than 8d3) your crits might have made the difference? IMO another change to weapons should be to make finesse weapons all have small dice (d1-d4) and prowess weapons all have big dice (d6-d10), adjusting the numbers of dice to retain the same approximate average. This will make crits work as intended: the regular crits for finesse chars being less awesome than the rarer crits for prowess chars.
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Old March 18, 2012, 11:11   #4
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If you need more Finesse or Prowess weapons for different depths, take a look at light/heavy weapons in EyAngband object.txt! Eytan needed to invent tons of cool weapon names for a similar combat system.
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