New Maps and AI Practice

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forbiddian
Posts: 30
Joined: August 14th, 2009, 9:36 pm

New Maps and AI Practice

Post by forbiddian »

I am a relatively new player -- been playing like two weeks now (plus some more in High School). I played Starcraft (and other RTS) more seriously, so I really recognize the importance of knowing the maps and the viable openings. Experienced players all know them, but there is a big map selection and it's difficult to get my feet wet.

With the search function, I couldn't find any guides to maps or even discussions about maps in general, so post up here:


1) Which maps are considered balanced and in the standard cannon?
2) Which other maps are in the standard cannon (and hopefully why you find them to be imbalanced)?
3) Are there any standard cannon maps that don't come with the 1.6.4 game download?

In addition to that, discussion on maps in general or any tips you can provide for players would be great. (For instance, on Weldyn (ostensibly in the cannon, seen it in 3-4 reps), players with access to merfolk fight to position their merfolk in the center of the lake, where it can attack, defend, harass the nearside village, and scout. Seems obvious to put a merfolk there, but an anchored merfolk rakes the enemy lines like a knight on e5.)

A last question: Might as well put it here. Just to toy around with different build orders and how they pan out, I'll be playing a few games against the AI. The AI is pathetic, and never positions units to guarantee kills, bothers to heal, bothers to prevent you from healing, etc. Still, you can give it a handicap by giving it extra gold. To somewhat simulate the difficulty of playing against another player, how much starting gold should I give to the AI (am I right this is the method of handicap)? In other words, about how much gold given to the AI poses a challenge to you? I've been giving it between 225 (steamrollin') and 300 (gettin' steamrolled), but I think it might be very map/faction dependent. I believe the AI plays better against Lawfuls and on maps with low village density.
MDG
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Location: UK

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by MDG »

1) All the mainline maps except Isar's cross.
2) Isar's cross (because it is too small which leads to imbalances for those factions affected most by mobility).
3) I don't believe there are (because if there were standard cannon maps (which, I presume means good, well balanced maps) for default era then, they would be added into mainline.

The AI is not pathetic, it was designed for the single-player side of things, not to test multi-player player's. The AI is actually pretty good in comparison to many other game AI's. It's understood that it doesn't compare to any semi-decent player but it is important to remember the context. Insulting the volunteers who made, and continue to improve the AI is a poor way to proceed on this site (one of them happens to be the game creator and project lead; David White). If you think you can do better, then your contributions would be appreciated...

Different players would require different amounts of gold to assist the AI depending on how good they are so, there is not going to be a set amount for everyone. It will vary somewhat according to map and/or faction as the AI tends to play in a way that suits some factions and some maps more than others.

EDIT: Check the stickied topics in the Multiplayer Development sub-section of the forum for a number of topics on replays and/or map creation guides (not specifically what you wanted but, they will have some of the info. you are looking for). Also, just posting up your own replays in this sub-section (Strategies & tips) of the forum and asking for feedback is a good way to improve (as long as you can take the critique).
Radament
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Joined: January 14th, 2007, 12:50 pm
Location: Germaica

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by Radament »

All of the maps that are included in the stable version are fairly balanced but slight changes are of course still possible with upcoming versions.

Wesnoth is a really complex game, and of course there might arise slight advantages/disadvantages for a side depending on the constellation and map. On some maps it is deadly to face two chaotic factions with two lawful factions (this is more valid for 2v2 games) or vice versa - depending on the starting time of day, the first combat turns might see you facing the enemy on the wrong time of day. Usually you have to concede a village or two, putting you in an early disadvantage. One such map is Xanthe Chaos (2v2) - still one of my favorites.

You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of the Factions too - undead, for instance, are a pretty slow faction and could have problems against the exceptionally mobile Drakes on large maps such as Paths of Daggers. It's not carved in stone though. Knalgans might have difficulties on maps with extended water areas (such as Fallenstar Lake), as the only unit which performs good on water is the expensive Gryphon rider. They do fare pretty well on the water-heavy but smaller Weldyn channel, tho.

Generally the medium sized maps like Freelands (1v1) or Clash (2v2) provide a more fair gameplay, but this is mainly because a streak of bad luck can be better compensated. Isar's Cross (2v2) on the other hand, a very popular, small map, might give you headaches after a bad turn or two, given there's less space to retreat & reorganize and less fights, meaning it might not be possible to even out the stats. Isar's just a big mess, and probably the least balanced map, but it's helluva fun.

Concerning build orders, assuming you don't know what Faction your enemy has, it might be good to forfeit expensive, specialist units at the beginning - a mage will not help against Drakes, for instance. Buy as much units as you need to grab all the villages you can (careful planning and sometimes gambling to get a quick unit is necessary) and try to sniff out what my opponent is. But then, sometimes you want to rush your enemy and thus crank out your bad guys. Depends on strategy. But the main priority of the initial build is of course village grabbing, and possibly occupying vital positions on the map as fast as you can.

And I'd strongly advise you to go & play multiplayer. The AI is indeed pathetic - after all this isn't Chess, and adaptation to an unexpected situation (like, two mages missing 6 times) is paramount. Giving it 3 times the gold will just have you depending on a good roll. Don't worry about getting a beating or two, we all have been through that :) On the plus side, you learn nice tricks.

Almost forgot, on some maps you will have to move your leader forward to another keep in a more central position. (Castle hopping island comes to mind, 2v2) Your main force will have to be recruited in this front position, and the initial recruits should be for optimal village grabbing.
forbiddian
Posts: 30
Joined: August 14th, 2009, 9:36 pm

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by forbiddian »

MDG wrote:The AI is not pathetic, it was designed for the single-player side of things, not to test multi-player player's. The AI is actually pretty good in comparison to many other game AI's. It's understood that it doesn't compare to any semi-decent player but it is important to remember the context. Insulting the volunteers who made, and continue to improve the AI is a poor way to proceed on this site (one of them happens to be the game creator and project lead; David White). If you think you can do better, then your contributions would be appreciated...
I am a new player and can handily beat the AI, playing a faction I've never played, on a map I've never played, against another faction I've never played. This is pathetic.

Perhaps you had a bad day, but your condescending attitude is atrocious. I'm not [censored] and I've played other games. I have a large databank of observational evidence that programming AI that can beat humans is hard. I even phrased my question in such a way to dodge accusations that I'm being insulting, but apparently some people on this site are too thick/defensive/hostile or whatever. Allow me to elaborate.


In Starcraft, I could take the AI on 2v1 (and more if I knew what factions my opponents were playing or played on a large map). One of my friends could take the AI on 5v1, but he required a very modified build order for defense where he constructs Battle Cruisers or Carriers (which the AI doesn't know how to respond to). He could also beat the AI 8v1 with the worker exploit.

In Age of Mythology, I could beat the Titan AI without exploiting bugs. The Titan AI is the standard AI plus it gets a 100% bonus (double the resources and builds/researches EVERYTHING in half the time). Note that among three equally skilled friends, one of them with just a 15% bonus can beat the other two. The Hard AI (best AI they had, but no handicap bonus) is completely pathetic. I taught my girlfriend how to play Age of Mythology (her first RTS... and really first video game). She could wreck the hard AI within a week.

Although the default AI is terrible, there were still ways to modify the game to create interesting scenarios. In Starcraft, there was no handicap system, so it was just, "How many AIs can you beat simultaneously with standard play?"

With AoM, it turned out that if you give the AI a double handicap (Titan difficulty), it's actually a very interesting game. Players with <1700 rating could not beat the Titans and players with >1800 rating could beat the Titans consistently easily. Playing against Titans was a very good litmus test for your build, and knowing that a Titan was about a 1750 player was a great yardstick to measuring your improvement and determining the areas where you should improve your game.


I'm not insulting the AI of this game at all. Compared to player skill level, actually, the AI in BFW is actually about as competent as the AI created in the professional video game industry. But that still doesn't make it "fun to play against" or "a challenge." And I think anybody who isn't extremely defensive and hostile to people new to the site would point out that the AI is pathetic compared to a human being.

A human being losing to the AI under standard settings would be considered a pathetic player. Hence me calling the AI pathetic.


Please in the future, don't be so quick to judge, threaten, and whatever else. And your presumptuous attitude that I WANT to "proceed" in a website with obnoxious posters like yourself, looking down their noses at people looking for help? Whatever "proceeding" is. Perhaps it's ass-kissing others who have "proceeded," but apparently it's not being courteous, friendly, or bothering to read what other people have to write.

And in general, do the developers have as thin skin as you do that the developers need a legion of "Proceeded" people running around, "proceeding" up the website by threatening new posters into being so careful with their words that they couldn't possibly come off as a criticism of this perfect game? If I have a legitimate criticism, then I'd want it to be heard, not squashed under the iron heel of some "Proceeded" exclaiming, "I'd like to see you do better!"

tl;dr: Wasn't criticizing them. Seems like the developers are better people than you are.






@ Radament: Thanks for the Skill Book. But how come Atma doesn't give me any reward? She just says, "Some say that the taste of vengeance is bittersweet, but I find it to my liking...."

I'll keep practicing build orders against 300 gold AIs. I'll check out Freelands (never played that one before).
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The1exile
Posts: 152
Joined: December 6th, 2008, 12:17 pm

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by The1exile »

forbiddian wrote:But that still doesn't make it "fun to play against" or "a challenge."
AI in any game is never really going to be as much of a challenge as playing a human opponent, because you can't make it smarter. All you can do is give it a handicap (more gold, more allies) but if, for example, you played me with three times your gold and three times your income (the latter being more important, admittedly) I could easily win given enough time by just sitting in anything remotely resembling defensive tiles with a zoc-net and maybe some healers and wait for the force of numbers to overrule. In fact, if you can beat the AI at a certain level of gold going above it shouldn't change it since there's a physical limit to how many troops can be at the front and then it's just endurance.

I may have wandered off the point. Whatever it was. Oh, and not playing a faction before has little effect in Wesnoth, actually; although you arguably have an edge in playing with a faction whose strengrths and weaknesses for you, I find it's often more fun to have to adapt to what the game hands you (and play random picks in multiplayer), especially since no matchup will leave you without options.
Rubies for passion, rubies for revenge.
Velensk
Multiplayer Contributor
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Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by Velensk »

Build order isn't really a term that applies to Wesnoth. You might have your prefered starting recruit against a random opponent or one who choose a particular faction, but after that it's all about adapting. Unlike games with a tech tree, you don't have to have any infrastructure to get the unit you want or invest in anything other than that unit. So when it comes to it, just get what you need when you need it, or save money to be able to get what you need when you need it.

EDIT: Also as a note: 100 gold is standard for multiplayer matches.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
xivarmy
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Joined: March 25th, 2009, 7:33 am

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by xivarmy »

You could try increasing the AI's income rather than its start gold (or perhaps a mix of both) so that it's not withstand 1 huge assault and then go take it out, instead you'd need to continuously outattrition it by a certain margin. I'm not sure how much of an income boost would be needed, it does burn its units rather quickly.
forbiddian
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Joined: August 14th, 2009, 9:36 pm

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by forbiddian »

Velensk wrote:Build order isn't really a term that applies to Wesnoth. You might have your prefered starting recruit against a random opponent or one who choose a particular faction, but after that it's all about adapting. Unlike games with a tech tree, you don't have to have any infrastructure to get the unit you want or invest in anything other than that unit. So when it comes to it, just get what you need when you need it, or save money to be able to get what you need when you need it.

EDIT: Also as a note: 100 gold is standard for multiplayer matches.

I'll have to disagree. Given that I don't have nearly as much experience, we'll see how well I can argue the counterpoint.

I guess if nobody uses the term "build order" then I'll have to define it here: The actions you take in the first two turns, and perhaps the start of the third turn, before you've seen your opponent.

A good build order could: Get you all the nearby villages, maximized for efficiency (possibly changing your starting buy, but I'd rather get, say, a Cavalry unit for 17 than a Spearman for 14 if the Cavalry unit can fetch an extra village (so they effectively cost the same). Establish scouting information before the third turn, allowing you to purchase the next unit (I understand some races can buy on two, and position your leader/troops to prepare for an enemy offensive or to establish your own.

An opening build order might also (although this goes into more skill than I have at the moment, it's probably what pros might work on) maximize military activity near its conclusion, giving you the luxury of more mobility to respond to the situation better.


For example: I played one game on a map I've never played before. It was multiplayer so I didn't want to spend forever on my first turn simply counting hexes (Zzz), but it lead to a completely botched BO. I went for a balanced recruit (knowing nothing about the map -- what are you going to do?). Two of my troops were one MP too short of getting to a village and two troops could overshoot their village but not reach any other villages. When my turn 2 rolled around, I realized that I could have simply shifted the positions of my units and gotten two additional villages without even changing the units I bought.

After analyzing the map/game further, I realized that I could have grabbed a different village with my leader, which would have given me access to a second village (using my leader -- still back in town during turn 3). This would have generated a full 12 gold more in the first three turns without giving up defensive options. And that's just gold, I also missed out on really important scouting information early. I could have determined what race he was playing and that would have let me buy a counter unit on turn 3, instead I had to wait an additional turn and the critical counter unit was late on the scene.

I ended up losing, for a number of other reasons, a dozen or so I could go into detail about (I just need more practice), but the opening build really left me in horrible shape, although I think my actual recruit was decent (if I'd known more about the map, I might have changed one or two units slightly, but yeah). I was basically down a unit (12g) from what I could have had at zero cost. That could have been more ZoC, an extra body to absorb hits, an extra 5-10 damage in combat.

Of course, I'm sure good players can just see where the units will go, but planning out some openings might be some help.
Velensk
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Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by Velensk »

Diffrence in personal definition I guess. I don't consiter that type of planning a build order because I consiter the term "inital recruit" to be more applicable. Build order to me must involve amoung other things, building and investing in your mid-late game statagy, and your inital recuruits don't really do that, unless you are planning to rush.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
Caphriel
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Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by Caphriel »

Yeah, we don't call that build order around here. We call it your initial recruit :)

You'll find that compared to StarCraft, you don't need to test new openings against an opponent as much, because there is no engagement for the first several turns, so you can optimize your initial recruit for whatever your goals are, which are usually the ones you mentioned: get all your villages as fast as you can, scout the enemy early, and have the maximum number of troops in good position toward the battle line by around your third turn. There's no need to practice your build, it will work out the same every time, with one exception:

Something to take into consideration with the initial recruit is the quick trait, which gives a unit one extra MP. You can't depend on getting it, but sometimes it pays to recruit your units in positions such that the presence of the quick trait will help.

It's definitely worth spending the time counting hexes the first time you play a new map. Just let your opponent know that it's your first time on the map and ask for patience. Most people will give you the time as long as they know that you're actually there.

After a while, though, you'll learn the move speeds of all the units, and the distances from the castle to each village, and you'll be able to generally interchange initial recruits between factions (scouts here and there, 5move fighter-types there, 6mp support unit thus, etc.) After that, you'll learn what works better and why. Playing against the AI won't really help you learn what works, because the AI will, as you know, do suicidal things that a human player won't, so playing against the AI tends to favor using a lot of heavy melee units and letting it wear itself out against your line.

And, as I tell everyone, you'll learn 1v1 the fastest by watching the top ladder players play. They're good players, and it's easy to find their games.

Xiv's suggestion is spot-on, though, if you want to keep playing against the AI; give the AI an income bonus for a more evenly paced match. You'll probably want to start with an extra 10 gold per turn and see how that works.
jmegner
Posts: 49
Joined: May 24th, 2009, 1:15 pm

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by jmegner »

forbiddian wrote:It was multiplayer so I didn't want to spend forever on my first turn simply counting hexes (Zzz), but it lead to a completely botched BO.
You might want to practice your initial recruit on a map a few times and write down some variations that work well. I usually play loyalist and my friends like to play around 4 different maps, so I actually have a fairly pre-determined initial recruit for maps that I play often.
forbiddian
Posts: 30
Joined: August 14th, 2009, 9:36 pm

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by forbiddian »

Caphriel wrote:Yeah, we don't call that build order around here. We call it your initial recruit :)
I think build order sounds so much better, probably from years of AoM and SC. I'll prolly eventually transition to saying IR, but BO comes out more naturally. I'll work on it, though.
Caphriel wrote: Xiv's suggestion is spot-on, though, if you want to keep playing against the AI; give the AI an income bonus for a more evenly paced match. You'll probably want to start with an extra 10 gold per turn and see how that works.
I started giving the AI 200 gold and +10 per turn. The game becomes quite unrealistic strategically, because of his unit flood, but my tactics got TONS better by playing. The AI always attacks, which is actually kinda nice for practicing battle evaluation. It's easy to throw the game away if you can't tell what will happen. I see a lot of people online attacking a Wose with a lone Skeleton Archer, and etc.


I'm having trouble finding good games against humans, though. Everyone on the main server is playing 2v2s on Lisar's Cross or speaking a foreign language. My french is passable online, but I can't understand anything else. Is there some type of rating system so I can find people my level or slightly above my level?

Or alternatively other newerish players with AIM want to play :twisted: ?
Or patient experts want to play :eng: :augh:?
Kolbur
Posts: 122
Joined: April 29th, 2009, 9:33 am

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by Kolbur »

You want to play ladder: http://ladder.subversiva.org/
There you get your good players playing 1v1 only. :wink:
Just register and look out for ladder games or start them yourself. Observing ladder games is very helpful too.

About the initial recruit: It is very important. You need to get your villages fast and you need to get into a good defense position against rushing atempts or get into a good offense position to rush yourself. Also you need to be prepared to face every faction if you play against random (and that's the default in ladder games). A one sided recruit can lead to a fast defeat against the wrong faction. I don't use fixed recruits for every faction map combination. Far too much to memorize or bureaucracy. Instead if you know the maps and the factions it's quite easy to figure out some initial recruits fast. Also don't be too lazy to count hexes. :D You need to do that all the time...
Velensk
Multiplayer Contributor
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Joined: January 24th, 2007, 12:56 am

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by Velensk »

The other way to do it is to look for people you recognise from the forum (though that's not always a good way to go because many people on the forum arn't avid multiplayer people.

There is no built in rating system if you do some searching you will find out the reasons for this one.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
Caphriel
Posts: 994
Joined: April 21st, 2008, 4:10 pm

Re: New Maps and AI Practice

Post by Caphriel »

The reason build order doesn't apply is that a) you're not building anything, and b) the order you do it doesn't matter. What's important is what you recruit and where. Alternatively, you could apply chess terminology and call the initial recruit plus early village grabbing/unit positioning an opening :)
forbiddian wrote:I'm having trouble finding good games against humans, though. Everyone on the main server is playing 2v2s on Lisar's Cross or speaking a foreign language. My french is passable online, but I can't understand anything else. Is there some type of rating system so I can find people my level or slightly above my level?
Welcome to Wesnoth multiplayer. I see you haven't encountered the Colosseum yet. A lot of people play Isar's Cross because it's small and lends itself to fast games. Colosseum is a survival map that gives each player one increasingly-overpowered unit to kill waves of increasingly powerful enemies.

You don't need to speak the language of your opponent in 1v1, although it makes it more fun. Joining the ladder is a good way to find good 1v1 opponents, but not all ladder players are good. Some of them only play on one map over and over, which might be good to watch to see some ideas for that map.

I mostly play 2v2 (not on Isar's, though), and my 1v1 is a bit inconsistent, but I'll still play you if I catch you online and I'm available.

If you're a really serious StarCraft player, which I get the feeling you might be (what's your race/APM/iCCup rating?), you'll find that by and large, the Wesnoth community is more laid back about their game than most SC players :)
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