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-   -   My Philosophy on Strategy Guides (http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=41942)

AreaOfEffect January 12th, 2009 03:15 PM

My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
Recently, a player commented on a new guide of mine. The comment implied that I had not written a guide to the nation, but rather a strategy that happened to be specific to that nation. I'm sure he made this implication because he himself had thoughts about a different approach the nation could go in. Clearly if there are subjects I had not covered, my guide must be incomplete. By extension of that logic, nobody has yet written the guide to any nation in my opinion.

This game is so rich with content and mechanics that I feel it impossible to write the definitive work on any particular nation. To illustrate my personal development, my first guide was an attempt to do this with the nation of MA Mictlan. It in my belief is a tragic failure and my worst guide to date. I played with the nation on several occasions afterword and found my assessment of some units to be flat out wrong or incomplete. My assessment of the Moon Priest is a fine example. When I choose a E9S9 bless and learned more on how to utilize astral magic and communions, I found this commander to be my preferred buy more and more. You just can't write everything there is to do with one nation in my opinion, particularly when you are working with a character limit. I could write books on the subject of dominions if someone wanted to pay me an hourly wage.

Then what can one do? My philosophy now is to avoid writing everything there is to write and instead put forth a focused cohesive strategy. Not only that, but make it a point to slim the strategy down to the minimum of what is needed to make it work. I find that guides that spend all of your points for you to be far less enjoyable and assume too much. There are all kinds of games where province count, winning conditions, map layout, and special conditions are wildly different. I find it hard to believe that those points spent in that way is the best for all of these situations.

Surely I want there to be a guide for every nation out there. Ideally I would want there to be more then one for all of them. I would like each one to be large enough that you could base your entire game around it, yet each leaves you enough points to work with so that you can integrate another players strategy into it as well, or perhaps just spend those points on taking that strategy to the extreme, or, even better, allowing the player to work out their own strategy while still having something tested and workable to fall back on. You have to understand that each player has a play style. Cornering that person into your style may not be the best way to help them.

And that's what it comes down to, helping others enjoy this game. That should always be the one thing that sticks in your mind whenever you decide to write a guide. This is my philosophy.

Aezeal January 12th, 2009 03:45 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
you're post stopped being interesting to me after the first line since I already know where I stand: Your guides (or whatever) are good and you should continue till you have written one for each nation.

I can honestly say that the Caelum thingie had quite a few tricks that where new to me.

Gandalf Parker January 12th, 2009 03:51 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
Wouldnt it be a high expectation for everyone to write a guide about a nation and not have it be about a strategy? I see many different views of how to play nations which conflict with others. None are wrong, just different.

Im with you. I want to see a guide for each nation, and preferably more than one for each nation. And strategy guides for game variables.

This is an old quote of mine. I was talking about the strategy books that came out for every game that hit the market for awhile but it still applies.
"There cannot be a strategy guide for Dominions 3. There are two many nations, and too many options within each nation. There would have to be a Strategy Set of Encyclopedias. And even then it would fall short."

Gandalf Parker

Executor January 12th, 2009 04:01 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
I agree with you Areaof Effect.
A guide is there to help you make your own strategy with the nation, there are hundres of ways to play a nation. Take Sauro for example, you can take any of the scales to either 3 or -3. You can concentrate on either sacreds, reseacrch, summons, a killer Pretender...

You couldn't even begin to ilustrate all that in a guide.

The point of a guide is to help you understand and learn some handy tips about a nation, and if you're going to depend on a guide completely you're gonna lose, badly.

The best example of my point is Baalz new Niefelheim guide. Completely different strategy with the giants then anyone.

KissBlade January 12th, 2009 04:21 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
^(not to OP) Oddly enough I've always thought the big thing about Dominions is that all the optimized strategies start to look roughly the same. Take Sauro, you can make up a strategy that ignores their archers but really is that a preferable thing to do? Sure it's new and something you can win but probably not the most efficient. It's a plus to dominions that you /can/ win with practically anything (I've seen some really awful starts/nations win with sleek diplomacy mixed with good general sense of strategy) but all strategies aren't created equal.

I thought your Caelum guide looked pretty standard (except for the frost brand, I thought that was kinda neat). (nevermind I thought you were referring to someone you weren't) *Edit

Ironhawk January 12th, 2009 04:36 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
I agree that a guide should lay out a specific strategy or set of tactics for a nation. To try and write every possible strategy in any depth would be way too much work (if its even possible) and to just generally describe the characteristics of a nation wouldnt have any value.

Aezeal January 12th, 2009 05:23 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
I do think the strategy you describe if you do it should be the best strategy there is.. of course that can be debated but it should at least be a contender.

vfb January 12th, 2009 06:36 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides

Originally Posted by Aezeal (Post 666378)
I do think the strategy you describe if you do it should be the best strategy there is.. of course that can be debated but it should at least be a contender.

Well, I disagree. I think any strategy guide only needs to (1) be effective enough to give you standard early expansion, (2) not leave you crippled in the mid or late game, and (3) offer some new ideas.

chrispedersen January 12th, 2009 07:20 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
Hey AoE

I don't think theres any problem with what you did, but rather what we call them or what we expect.

If we called them *A* strategy guide .. to X... I really think that is more appropriate.

I think no one can lay out *the* definitive guide; theres always interesting twists and alterations as the game develops. But *a* strategy guide suggests a course of action and a plan of attack - which like it or hate it still gives the reader a plan of attack.

Gandalf Parker January 12th, 2009 07:22 PM

Re: My Philosophy on Strategy Guides
Being "the best strategy there is" also runs into the problem of:
Large map
small map / blitz

So "the best strategy" becomes "the best strategy for xxxxxxx" which seems to be part of the problem here. And some strategies and guides are just plain fun on a large map against lots of AIs. It doesnt make them not guides.

I suppose for clarity we could come up with more labels. What many people seem to consider a "guide" would be something to guide you. Mostly likely to a victory, in an average game.

The problem then is the many other guides. They arent really "tips". And they generally involve more than what would just be a "tactic". I guess we could call them "Strategies". We would still have overlap since the author gets to decide what they feel it is but Id be willing to call mine more of a strategy than a guide. Or even an alternate game scenario. Ive never meant any of them to be winning mp strategies even if I didnt say it.

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