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Old October 13th, 2006, 12:41 AM
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Default Yomi - Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

I would like to share some of my observations on the new Dom3 nation of Oni Kings in the Early Era.


First of all - the disclaimer: I've played Oni Kings in 2 of my large SP games vs mighy AIs, which are finished now (I won). I am also currently playing it in my 3rd SP game.

Therefore I don't have any MP experience with Oni Kings yet. However, I do have a lot of experience with Dominions competitive MP in general, having played it for more than 2 years, perhaps 60+ games total. That gives me some ability to have certain ideas on how good or how bad the nation would fare in competitive MP games.

Nevertheless, even with this understanding it's not the same as actually playing the nation in MP, and I fully admit and understand that. Therefore below are my current observations and thoughts. I'll reserve the final judgement until I'll give it a spin in MP.


So here are my feelings so far about this interesting new nation:


I really like the idea behind this nation. It certainly has a unique personality and flavor. Unfortunately I am far from sure how well it will fare in MP in its current state. In fact I strongly suspect that it'll not fare very well against other nations played by competent players.


Here are the reasons for my feelings how this nation may not be well suited for MP in its current state, based upon my observations so far:



************************************************** *************************************

List of Oni Kings weaknesses:


1. Very low protection on ALL (!) demonic regular units. We are talking about protection 3, 4 and 6, with prot 6 for the best and most expensive 50gp and 65 gp troops. Combined with average defense, and low hps (9) for cheaper troops, and only 24hp for their best 50-65gp troops means that demons (in their normal form) are extremely fragile to both melee and archer attacks. (Which was clearly design and balancing decision, which I have no problem with for the most part)


2. (This is a huge deal breaker) Both spiritual and regular forms of demons can be banished relatively easily by cheap lvl 1 priests. >;( And unlike Ermor with its free or cheap undead hordes, demons are quite expensive to buy, so their loss really hurts. What makes things even worse, 12 gp demons (the only relatively cheap demons available to Oni player) are size 1! That means lvl 1 priest with the single cast of banishment can affect 5x6 = 30 demons in any of their two forms! Each unit has only 9hp or 5hp for ghost form, in addition to only slightly above average MR. (13MR). That makes attacking armies with more than few priests to be VERY cost ineffective for Oni, and if its more than several priests, its almost suicidal using demonic troops (which are main Oni troop type). Larger demons fare slightly better due to larger size, slightly higher MR and more hitpoints, but still suffer a lot from banishment, since their both primarily and secondary forms can be banished relatively easy by lvl 1 indep priests. I am not even talking about priests with level higher than 1, which many nations have, which makes banishment both larger in AoE and makes it even harderer to resist . Also demons have no easy way to make their demonic armies less banishable.


3. No sacred regular troops at all. Only two sacred commanders, with only one of them being cost effective option - the most expensive capital only 500gp Oni King. Few summoned sacred low level demons, but nothing to write home about. Therefore bless strategy - not very powerful, at least in the early/medium game before Oni Kings units have buffs they need to make them worth producing in significant numbers.


4. No heavy infantry at all and very mediocre human medium infantry. No cavalry, no units with any type of shields to withstand missile fire. basically Oni armies are extremely weak against any type of archers.


5. Quite average archers, worse than some of the common indep archers for the same price. Their only advantage is low resource cost, but as I said common indep tribe archers have better stats for the same cost in money and resources.


6. Below average researchers .


7. Relatively limited magic path selection Only 3 schools of magic. (Death, Fire and Earth only, nothing else other than sometimes air one, which is not very useful).


8. Small selection of pretenders, no unique *and* interesting pretenders.


9. No priest other than movement 1 lvl 1 priest, which is actually inferior to indep priest. (Most useless of Oni unit IMHO, in most situations -10 gp on its price is not worth having 1mp unit where almost all other Oni units are 2 mps)


10. Most of national summons are not very interesting, considering their price and also the amount of units they bring. Many summons, including the best ones, are impossible to cast not only by national mages, but even by mages summoned by national mages). So unless you design your pretender specifically to be able to cast these spells, you can pretty much forget about many of them, including those actually worth casting.

************************************************** *************************************



Now after reading this whole list you may come to conclusion that Oni Kings is a totally hopeless and weak nation. That would not be true. So to be totally fair, let me list their strengths as well, based upon my observations so far.





************************************************** *************************************

List of Oni Kings strengths:


1. The Oni King unit (of course!). It's a good commander, no doubts about that. That's IMO the main strength of this nation in MP.

Basically its strategic role is quite similar to Niefel Jarls. It costs the same 500gp. It has about 30% less HPs than Niefel Jarl (Oni King only has 50hps). It makes it significantly less powerful in the early game, especially considering the fact that high bless strategy is *much* more beneficial to Niefelheim than to Oni Kings, therefore Oni King player is much less likely to go with the high bless strategy then Niefel player, which indirectly makes Jarls even better comparable to Oni Kings.

However in the late game (assuming Oni player have managed to survive to see it), and with good research Oni King can be more powerful than Niefel Jarl. Invulnerability plus Soul Vortex is a powerful combo. Fire magic and (rarely) air magic also add diversity. So basically in the late game Oni King can be a very powerful unit.

At the same time late game nations have a lot of different means to deal with SCs, and SCs overall are significantly less powerful in Dom3 than in Dom2 due to multiply balancing changes. Which, together with the fact that Oni Kings are capital only units, significantly reduces the value of Oni Kings in MP games during its later stages of the game, where Oni Kings finally have buffs they need to be really effective.

This being said, Oni Kings units are still the major strength of the Oni Kings nation. In fact they are their main strength, because frankly it doesn't have that many others.



2. Many demon units are only res 1. That allows to produce a lot of them quickly, which can be quite useful if your castle is in danger of being assaulted by enemy. Mortal archers cost only 4 res as well. All this allows Oni player to raise army quickly and to experiment with sloth scale, if he chooses to. Demons are non sacred and cost a lot though, other than wimpy 12 gps ones.


3. Demons troops need to be killed twice, after death they revert to very weak but ethereal form. If this form is not destroyed by the time the battle ends AND the battle is won, the demon will reform in its normal form.

It may sounds great on paper, and it works well enough against AI because AI rarely brings enough priests to battle. In MP is not that big of a bonus, since lvl 1 priests can banish BOTH demon primary form and its spiritual form, making them doubly effective against Oni. Also it makes recruiting the only inexpensive demons (12 gp one) almost meaningless against any human player due to their size 1 and low MR. Finally all demon secondary forms only have phantasmal weapons, which require MR checks on each successful hit, and they all have low hps and prot 0.

Overall, being able to survive immediate death even for a little while is still an advantage of the nation, not to mention it adds unique flavor to the nation.


4. Battle mages are decent. Only level 1 and 2 mages, except Oni King themselves, which are rare and much better to be used in their SC role most of the time. However Earth, Death and Fire are good magic schools for battlefield, and so Oni Kings do have relatively good battle mages.


5. Oni have 2 good battlefield-wide spells. Both require level 6 research in two different schools. One gives demon troops prot 10 (which demon units desperately need, because most of them have crappy prot 3 and 4. The side effect is additional damage from fire, but most of the time its worth it). The other spell grants demons berserk ability. Both spells are must have for any serious battles). Although these spells do nothing to alienate the main Oni critical weakness - banishment by lvl 1 priests, they do help to balance odds somewhat when battling other nations national armies.


6. Few low level human troops and human commander have stealth attribute.

************************************************** *************************************


So here is is.



As you of course realize by now, I think Oni Kings really need some boost to make them stand up to other nations in MP. I have created few suggestions of mine that IMHO would help to even the odds. They are by no means the only possible solutions, but I do think that implementing them, or something along their lines, would be a good step to improve the overall balance of this interesting new nation.


************************************************** *************************************

NOTE: When I was creating this list of suggestions I've tried to be VERY careful not to go too far, making Oni too powerful and/or unbalanced. Basically, I've tried my best to preserve the balance as well as unique feeling of the nation, not to make it more powerful than other nations.


1. Add 4 MR to all demon troops. Or if it's too much - consider Oni national demons as having +4MR when it comes to checks against banishment. After all, demons are supposed to be significantly more difficult to banish than undeads. But as it turns out, their current 13 MR, 14 MR and 15 MR is absolutely not enough. Either that, or banishment should only affect undeads and not demons.

Unlike free or very cheap undead hordes, demons armies are VERY expensive, money wise. Yes, their spiritual forms is a interesting bonus unique to Oni nation, but it mostly delays enemy melee units (unless they have magic weapons), but does not affect the outcome of the battle that much. Demon troops are still weaker that most of national armies with similar cost, due to their high cost and extremely low protection, even with their bonus of spiritual form.

With this in mind, giving Oni's national armies such a critical weakness by allowing few lvl 1 priest easily annihilate huge (and very expensive) demon armies is too much. In the current state of the game, all human player have to do is to field some medium-quality melee screen troops and some archers, with 5 or 10 cheap lvl 1 priests, and arrange them in defensive position with "hold than attack" orders to melee. That's all.


Archers and melee units, backed by barrage of banishments would quickly revert half of the demons to their weak ethereal form, by the time demon melee troops advance to engage in melee. After round or two in melee, most of the demon melee troops will be in their ghost form due to their protection 3 or 4 and relatively low hps, and many weaker ones will be destroyed completely. At that point melee combat becomes much less casualties-intensive for both sides, due to oni ghost being ethereal (difficult to hit with normal weapons), and their own weapons being phantasmal (only hit when MR check is failed)

Than these ghost forms, who have even lower hps than original forms (twice as low), are very quickly banished by the same lvl 1 indep priests.


This setup can and does annihilate huge Oni armies with the armies of almost any nation plus bunch of 50gp priests, which all together would cost the fraction of what Oni player would have to pay to recruit such an army. I am not even talking about nations which have cheap priests with levels higher than 1. That makes recruiting demonic armies (which is what Oni Kings theme is all about) to be very cost-ineffective in MP, forcing player to recruit mostly archers and bland human medium/light infantry in its castles, both being same or worse than common indep troops. Not very exciting.


2. Make the cheapest 12 gp demon troops (Ko-Oni) size 2 instead of their current size 1. Yes, it would make them less powerful in melee, because they won't not benefit as much from the reduced defense of their enemies when they swarm them. But considering that it makes then TWICE as weak against banishment as normal sized one, combined with the fact that they have lowest MR of all demons(13MR) and very low hps, them being small actually makes them much weaker in MP instead of benefiting them.


3. Make ghost forms of oni have the same HPs as a normal form, instead of having 50% of HPs . The demons do not have that many hps to begin with. (HP9 and HP14 for low land and medium level troops, so their ghost forms currently have meager HP5 and HP7). Their ghosts have 0 protection. Ghost forms will not be able to deal much damage anyway, but at least they would stick around a bit longer if they would have full HP of the demon instead of only half.


4. Raise protection on best oni troops (50gp and 65gp "Oni" and "Koni Oni") from prot 6 to prot 11-12 by giving them at least *some* armor. 65 gp mostly melee-oriented units should be able to last longer than 1-2 rounds in melee, or not to be killed by few arrows. And once in ghost form they die almost as easily as 5 times cheaper lesser demon due to low hp and 0 protection. That doesn't sound right, their ghost form should also be significantly more difficult to kill than ghost form of weakest demon, to justify their high cost)

Protection 11-12 and size 3 would still leave them very vulnerable to both missile fire and melee attacks, but it would make to survive slightly longer. Make them more resource intensive to compensate for their better armor. Currently Sloth 3 is almost no brainer for Oni Kings player.


5. Make low level Oni national summons to summon multiply demons with appropriately increased costs, instead of summoning them one by one. Research is hard for Oni as it is, and it does not make any sense for the player to spend valuable mages time to summon 1 cheap and weak demon per turn for 1 gem for example. Considering their stats, to make any difference on the battlefield these summoned demons need to be used in large numbers. But by the time Oni mages are able to gather enough of them, there are much better summons available. So they need to come at groups of 5-15 with the gem price being multiplied as well. As of now many of Oni's national summons simply not worth it.


6. Make "End of Culture" and "End of Weakness" Oni's spells Thaumaturgy 4 and Alteration 4 instead of Thaumaturgy 6 and Alteration 6 as it is now. Level 6 is very high for the slow pace of Dom3 research in general, especially so for Oni with their relatively weak reseachers. At the same time in the late game Oni have powerful Oni King unit to work as SC and to help them in their battles. They also will have access to better summoned troops and good battle spells for their strong mages. Where Oni really need help is more in the early to mid game, where they are having hard time against other nations.


7. Give Oni demon troops with ranged attack prec 11 instead of their terrible prec 9 . Currently with -2 prec on javelin for example, which makes their effective prec 7, your demons who has this type of attack can hit anybody except the enemy they are shooting at, even at point blank! In fact, they are more dangerous to your own troops, since your troops have very low protection to begin with, and high level demons are strong. What the point of giving them missile attack for additional cost, if this attack is quite useless?

The flame attack, for units that have it, while slightly more accurate, is still not very effective.

As I said, "friendly" fire is especially deadly to your own demonic troops, so precision is really needed for you to not be afraid to use your own troops ranged attack.

************************************************** *************************************




Sorry for the very long post. I've tried to give detailed explanations to the reasoning behind both my observations and my suggestions. Please feel free to post your own comments and observations on the subject of this thread if you like.



I would be very excited to hear one of the developers thoughts on this topic.
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  #2  
Old October 13th, 2006, 01:12 AM
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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

Very nice write up. I haven't played with this nation, but I enjoyed reading your analysis.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 01:22 AM
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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

You found Oni Kings good SC's?! How did you get around them fatiguing themselves out after three spells?
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Old October 13th, 2006, 01:31 AM
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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

Quote:
Maltrease said:
Very nice write up. I haven't played with this nation, but I enjoyed reading your analysis.
Thank you Maltrease. I am glad you liked it.

Quote:
KissBlade said:
You found Oni Kings good SC's?! How did you get around them fatiguing themselves out after three spells?
As I said, they are only good SC in the late game KissBlade. Fatique is indeed a problem in the early game. First you need to get rid of their terrible high encumbarance armor and replace it with better one, with 2 or better enc. Than give them some fatique reducing items, and reseach spell soul vortex for them, as well as basic conjuration Earth Power spell (which you'll get anyway because you need Dark Knowledge for important death gems searches) With this setup against non-undead troops they can be quite efficient fatique-wise.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 01:38 AM

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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

They were the first nation i played as..

Didnt finish the game was just really unimpressed with them Expensive Units who died very easily.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 02:30 AM
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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

Nice Korvin.
Following is a rough description of my first game playing Yomi (Single Player):

I trained my first Oni King on the 2nd turn and made him my prophet. After building a reasonable army of bakemono archers and bandit infantry with small flanking groups of poison spitting, flame throwing Kuro-Oni, this initial force cleared indy provinces easily and the prophetized Oni King reinforced the ranks by reanimating armored souless as they advanced. As the gold income began to rise, more Oni-Kings followed and were equipped with horror helmets and bracers of protection (since early on that was all I could afford). I had them cast 1 or 2 buffing spells and sent them into the fray. AI troops rout quickly when the kings enter the battle.

I initially have used the old sorcerers for research and forging simple items with multiple castings of reanimation at times when I needed to quickly amass a wall of fodder for absorbing arrows. Mixing small squads of the cold Ao-Oni in with the front lines was quite effective in adding some serious punch against some of the heavy armored enemies. The undead fodder also helped to absorb banishment bombardments.

The game is still in progress and not a sure win by a long shot. Research is very slow and I now border 5 AI's, one of which I have nearly defeated (Ermor).

I can see where it would be a rough pick for competitive multiplayer. I bet however that someone will come up with a healthy strategy to make it shine.

I like most of your suggestions, but I would prefer to see the small Ko-Oni retain their small stature, but reduced in price. As it is I train stealthy prot 11 bandits for 9gp instead of the 12gp banishable prot 3 Ko-Oni. I guess the "end of weakness" spell may make them more appealing, but I still lack about 290 research points before I can try it out.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 03:45 AM
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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

Skelespamming with Hennyas could distract the banishers. Could.

That said, I also found Yomi unappealing.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 04:49 AM
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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

I haven't looked as in-depth into them as you have, but I have played against them a couple of times, now. I would say that increasing the MR of their corporeal form is a good idea, as long as they don't increase the MR of their ghost form. They certainly should not be banished quite as easily as undead, as long as there is still some kind of balance between the two forms. Ie. the corporeal form is best destroyed by missile fire and melee and the ghost form is best destroyed by magic. It means the player fighting Oni Kings has to be more flexible.

As for having no heavy infantry, that's not a huge deal. You can always buy indies for the missile screen if you really want it. From what I can see, there isn't an easy way for an enemy player to figure out how to specifically target your most vulnerable with missile fire.

As for poor research, I thought that was supposed to be counter-balanced somehow in their theme. At least, that's the way their description makes it look. Kind of like how Ulm in Dom2 got less magic than anyone else, but supposedly had things to make up for it (wait a minute....)

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Old October 13th, 2006, 05:08 AM

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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

Nice job Corvin.

Now stop being so lazy and do your R'lyeh analysis!
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Old October 13th, 2006, 05:53 AM
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Default Re: Oni Kings analysis. Developers please read

Quote:
BigJMoney said:
I haven't looked as in-depth into them as you have, but I have played against them a couple of times, now. I would say that increasing the MR of their corporeal form is a good idea, as long as they don't increase the MR of their ghost form. They certainly should not be banished quite as easily as undead, as long as there is still some kind of balance between the two forms. Ie. the corporeal form is best destroyed by missile fire and melee and the ghost form is best destroyed by magic. It means the player fighting Oni Kings has to be more flexible. "

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Well currently ghost form is twice as easily to kill by banishment as a normal form, which is quite easy to kill in the first place. That is due to the fact that banishment is AN attack, and corporate form having the same MR as the normal form but two times less hitpoints, which were low to begin with. So its 7 hitpoints for ghost form of for 30gp demon, and 12 hp form for 65 gp demon. And 5hp for 12 gp one.

So increasing MR by four for normal demonic forms while making ghost form hp equal to normal form would be acceptable solution. Although I think ghost form would still need some MR increase, maybe not by 4 but by 2. I like your suggestion about these two forms having different MR and requiring different means to kill though.


One of the main idea behind these double forms theme of On nation is to give demon troops the chance to survive the battle in ghost form. "Almost immortality", as their description tells us. However currently despite their "immortality" demon armies often suffer high casaulties in any battle when it comes to melee, much more so when few enemy lvl 1 priests are involved. And if dozen of indep lvl 1 priests are involved? Which you can bet your *** will be in MP with ANY nation vs Oni player?

You can forget about medium or large demon armies than, unless you have huge numerical advantage over enemy, because you would fare much better with indep early era troops for the same price.

Quote:
BigJMoney said:

As for having no heavy infantry, that's not a huge deal. You can always buy indies for the missile screen if you really want it. From what I can see, there isn't an easy way for an enemy player to figure out how to specifically target your most vulnerable with missile fire.

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Two points.
1. After few turns of battle, during which you can and should try to distract enemy fire to decoy troops or high armored troops, as you rightfully mentioned, it usually comes to the melee, since all of your demon troops are clearly melee oriented units, even those who have some form of limited ranged weapon. And enemy archers are quite happy to shoot into melle. They hit their own units on regularly, but they hit you more often. However enemy units normally have much higher protection than 3 or 4, so they suffer much less from missile fire.

2. However where low prot reeeaaaly bites you in the *** is not missile fire but melee itself. Becuase, BigJmMoney, you are right, you can use some tricks and decoys to avoid the worst of incoming missile fire, at least for the first few rounds. However at some point you have to engage the enemy with your melee demonic troops, who are all melee types. (otherwise what was the point of having them around? )

And at that point, how long your do you think prot 3 and 4 troops with 9 and 14 hitpoints AND low defense would last? One round? Two rounds?

What about your elite 65 gp units (the best national unit you can buy as Oni) with "great" protection of 6 and mighty 24 hitpoints? What's the point of having 65 gp melee unit which can not normally last longer than few rounds in melee with very average enemy troops, before being reduced to the "I-can-not-hurt-you-because-you-do-not-believe-in-ghosts!!! " form, which in turn is promptly banished by nearby lowly drunk village priest??? That's some mighty demon, all right... >
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