My analysis of humanoid unit resistances/armor/HP

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Becephalus
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My analysis of humanoid unit resistances/armor/HP

Post by Becephalus »

When I first started playing Wesnoth I posted something along these lines and was more or less shot down due to not having much experience with the game or knowledge of the units/balance. Now I am more experienced, and I still think this would be an improvement. My current thoughts were spurred on by a thread where Dave started talking about new damage types where I voiced some of my complaints with the current system. Soliton/Noy challenged my support of Dave's proposal by claiming that the problems I raised could be handled within the current system, and indeed they can be.

So here are my thoughts about how I think things are now and what I think needs to be changed. My analysis only deals with the humanoid units as I feel the other ones are more fantastical and the values more fungible. Moreover, my analysis should be easily extensible and limiting it to a smaller class makes it more clear.

Right now I think there are two problems. The first is that HP are being substitued for armor, and the second is that armor is not properly being portrayed in the resistances.

The classic exmaple is that of the Spearman/Bowman/Mage. It looks from the graphics (and is sensible from what we know of war) that the spearman has a mix of metal and leather armor with a shield and/or breastplate. The bowman probably has plain clothes or perhaps leather armor and the mage is clearly wearing some sort of robe.

Now these units all have the same resistance to dmg and the only thing that makes spearman hardier is HP. (Sp36, Bo 33, Mg 24).

I think that HP is being substitued for armor here. It seems to me like there are good default HP levels for the 4 main humanoid races. (27 for elves, 30 for humans, 33 for orcs and 36 for dwarves). Presumably in general (but not as a rule) larger and stronger individuals might take up fighting roles and weaker ones archery or magic. But the most of the difference in the difficulty killing a 170cm human wearing a bath robe vs a 185cm human with a shield and armor, when you are wielding a sword, comes from the armor and shield not from "HP". So perhaps +/- 2 or 3 is warranted, but much more seems forced to me.

So my suggestion would be to raise the Mg HP to say 27 or so, and reduce its resistance to dmg, make the Bo maybe 30 with (0's for resistances) and the Sp 33 with some small resistances.

As a rough rubric lets say that the standard armor is leather and this gives 0/0/0, whereas cloth armor like a mage has might give -10/-10/10 or -20/-20/20 (we could debate later the effectiveness of diffferent armor on the different dmg types). Dwarves could have an across the board 10/10/10 as a racial bonus (as they appear to now).

Now I could trot out more examples from other races (basically all the human units, elf fighter/shaman/archer, orc archer/grunt/asassin, and all the dwarves having same resistances when they appear to have very different armor setups) and I probably will, but I would like to keep this first post short for now.

Obviously changing this type of thing would involve some very serious rebalancing (although I don't think it would be as bad or drastic as people think). Anyway I am curious what people's thoughts are on this issue. Just to be clear I am not saying Wesnoth sucks or is broken or anything, I think it is amazing and very fun and very very well balanced right now. But this is something I think a lot of people are interested in and something which I think in the long run would be good for the game.
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JW
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Post by JW »

It always pissed me off that mages had 0%s and elusivefoots have -%s... :evil:

I like your ideas Bece. This would be a lot easier to implement than Hardness. I'd be willing to help out with the balancing if things go that way.

deserter
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Post by deserter »

It sounds very good to me. As do all your ideas generally, Becephalus. :)
(And your maps look mostly great too, although I haven't found time to play them. :( )

I would imagine that balancing would be harder however...
Now you can just change a bit of someones hp or resistance to do the trick. If your idea were to be implemented, it would more complicated, I think. You couldn't really change the hp or resistance or you would have to do that for everybody or everyone in the same race. (like raise the base hp of humans from 30 to 33 or have all armors have a little more blade resistance or something) This would potentially raise more balancing problems etc. Would we then need to balance mostly via damages?

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Post by JW »

I don't think it is as hard as you would imagine.

A Spearman has 0% resistancies and 36 hp.
Give him 10% resistancies to Blade and Pierce and that makes his new effective hp (X / 0.9) against those.
32/.9 = 35.56
33/.9 = 36.67

I think 33 would be better to use as he is not getting across-the-board resistancy increases. Now, if you wanted to investigate it further, he now has an effective 33hp against Cold, Fire, and Impact, 41hp against holy, 37hp against Blade and Pierce. Compare this to the old 36hp against C, F, & I, 45 H, 36 B & P.

B 36 -> 37
C 36 -> 33
F 36 -> 33
H 45 -> 41
I 36 -> 33
P 36 -> 37

He loses an effective 13hp and gains 2. 4 lost hp are in Holy though. Still, it seems like he's lost more than he's gained. Let's try 34hp.

B 36 -> 38
C 36 -> 34
F 36 -> 34
H 45 -> 43
I 36 -> 34
P 36 -> 38

In this case he loses 9 effective hp and gains 4. 2 of the lost hp are in Holy, so it's more like -7, +4 (I think of Holy as less relevant as other damage types (1/3 or 1/4))

Now, if we want to investigate further dropping to 35hp gives these numbers:

B 36 -> 39
C 36 -> 35
F 36 -> 35
H 45 -> 44
I 36 -> 35
P 36 -> 39

Here he loses 4hp and gains 6. Those gains are also in the most common types of damage as well as being larger gains than the spread out losses. I think this is taking it one step too far.

From this analysis it's my belief that, if the resistancies were to change to 10% Blade and Pierce damage on a Spearman then his hp should be dropped to 34 to compensate.

The same type of analysis can be done for all units. This may not be how the guys that currently balance the units do things, but I think the method works pretty well.

And, if any dev wants to show me their methods, I'd be happy to learn :wink:

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Post by deserter »

JW: Alright. ;) That was awesome. 8)
I see that you have a way to transport the units' hp&res into a new system. But I meant thet it would be hard to balance them after the change.

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Post by JW »

deserter wrote:JW: Alright. ;) That was awesome. 8)
I see that you have a way to transport the units' hp&res into a new system. But I meant thet it would be hard to balance them after the change.
Maybe. :wink: That's what I'm hopefully addressing somewhat in this analysis. It doesn't actually balance faction v. faction (which is what is necessary) but it does relatively balance damge type v. damage type.

I'll simply add this to my list of projects and post my results later. :wink:

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Sapient
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Post by Sapient »

The main problem with this change is that it would raise the power of cold and fire damage. (Unless, of course, you allow armor to grant resistance to cold and fire damage.)

Also, it would increase the power of units with many swings, since damage resistance may have no effect on small numbers due to rounding.

Third, while I like your idea and agree with your argument, it is not unprecedented for armor to grant HP. (Final Fantasy Tactics, anyone?)
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Post by JW »

Sapient wrote:Third, while I like your idea and agree with your argument, it is not unprecedented for armor to grant HP. (Final Fantasy Tactics, anyone?)
WINFFT.

Even though there is precedent for it it makes little sense in a game that actually has resistancies (FFT did not IIRC).

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Post by Mustelid »

But the most of the difference in the difficulty killing a 170cm human wearing a bath robe vs a 185cm human with a shield and armor, when you are wielding a sword, comes from the armor and shield not from "HP"
My initial reaction to this was: "Wesnoth is not meant to be realistic. In real life, the greatest warrior in the world, covered in plate armour, can be killed by a single longbow arrow. That would not be much fun as a Wesnoth game feature."

Second reaction: most of the difficulty between killing person X and person Y will come from the difference in their skill level. If we're going to apply a Realistic Interpretation, I'd prefer to think of HP not as physical ability to sustain injury (at least not in the more humanoid units) but rather as an aggregate of general fatigue, confusion, fear, minor injuries, armour damage and so on - which eventually add up enough for a fatal mistake. A really experienced warrior will usually take longer to wear down; a trained soldier (spearman) survive better than someone with no real combat training (mage). Of course, this rationalisation is full of gigantic holes too - for instance, it would suggest that Heavy Infantryman should have very low HP, because carrying all that heavy plate makes you tire quickly.

Resistances usually don't symbolise armour; they symbolise vulnerability to a particular type of damage, which (in a minority of cases) has something to do with unusually heavy armour. Horsemen aren't primarily vulnerable to pierce because of their armour type, but because the most effective ways to deal with cavalry are massed pikemen or archers. Part of the reason why archery is effective against cavalry is the penetrating ability of arrows against plate, but that's far from the only reason. Similarly, the Assassin description is very clear that its poor basic resistances are due to general physical frailty.

In terms of keeping Wesnoth simple to pick up, I think there's a strong case for keeping the resistances of most basic, human-like first-level units as close to 0 as possible. The HP of a unit can be seen without opening up the unit description; its resistances cannot. If a unit has -20 resistance across the board, it makes much more sense to collate this into a single number which gives the player an immediate idea of how well you can expect it to survive. Simple subtraction is easier to mentally deal with than multiply-by-percentage followed by simple subtraction.
Last edited by Mustelid on January 26th, 2006, 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Cuyo Quiz »

Sapient wrote:(Unless, of course, you allow armor to grant resistance to cold and fire damage.)
Well, armour would make fire and cold not actually touch you, and in the very least, the would absorb part of the heat/cold.
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Post by Elvish_Pillager »

Cuyo Quiz wrote:
Sapient wrote:(Unless, of course, you allow armor to grant resistance to cold and fire damage.)
Well, armour would make fire and cold not actually touch you,
Fire, yes. Cold, no. A cold attack is not like throwing an Ice Ball, it's like bringing in a cold front. Insulative clothing may help a little, but not armor in the normal sense.
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Post by JW »

So...can I get a devs opinion on whether or not I should even bother working up more numbers?

I can do it pretty easily between projects, but if it's not going to be taken seriously I won't even try.

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Post by Sapient »

I think hitpoints will (and should) remain the primary indicator of a unit's ability to survive damage. It is best to think of hitpoints as an abstract concept as follows:

"Hit points represent the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious blow and the ability to keep going despite a blow. What, exactly, those abilities are (martial skill, divine favor, inner strength, sheer body mass, etc.) is completely undefined." --Justin Bacon

If damage resistance becomes the primary indicator of a unit's ability to survive damage (rather than a modifier of such), then how do you justify gaining HP upon level-up? And, as Mustelid pointed out, HP is easier to take in at a glance.
http://www.wesnoth.org/wiki/User:Sapient... "Looks like your skills saved us again. Uh, well at least, they saved Soarin's apple pie."

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Post by JW »

The thing is, some resistancies don't seem realistic when compared to each other like the mages 0% compared to the thiefs -30 and -20%s. Also, units with armor have no physical resistancies - although that could actually be interpreted as 0% since unarmored is negative...hmm....

I'll ponder some more and post later.

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Post by catwhowalksbyhimself »

I personally think that this would add somewhat to the strategy of the whole thing. If you want to take down a heavy armored spearman magic or fire or ice will do it better than a sword or shielf. On the other hand, you would expect a mage to be somewhat more resistant to the magic attack types.

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