Rethinking orc battlecry


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Snake Sneak

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Post Thursday, 27th February 2020, 18:08

Rethinking orc battlecry

If orc knight/warlord battlecry was meant to strengthen lesser orcs, I think it's safe to say it's a failure. By the time you're fighting orc knights, plain orcs are just place holders (literally), and even frienzied warriors aren't especially deadly. Frenzy is most dangerous when two peer orcs boost each other (knight boosts knight, warlord boosts warlord).

I think this is backwards. If orc knights are the toughest you encounter, they don't need further buffing. It's primarily the plain orcs that need relevance in such context. Their main feature is they block line of sight for some spells. There shouldn't be a huge difference between fighting 1 orc knight and fighting 2. But as it is, 1 + 1 = 4 for orc knights. Ugly things and slime creatures already fill that role (boosting peers).

* * *

I would like to propose a new ability: Cheer.

Plain orcs would cheer for orc knights and orc warlords. The buff could take a variety of forms, but I think small healing each time a plain orc actively cheers would be interesting. No creature has this sort of ability. Vault Preserver works the opposite, it shields other monsters. If you go with cheering orcs causing healing, they should probably not do it if knight is full healed. It would also look better because they would show their support.

Cheer would be unique as an ability because suddenly the default tactic of immediately attacking the biggest threat wouldn't be so obvious anymore. It could even be smart to disable - but not kill - a knight so orcs waste time cheering for him, but he's confused/petrifying/blinded etc.

Remove Battlecry from knights. Their bonus would be that plain orcs cheer for them. It's also problematic that knights buff each other. Warlords can keep it. Warlords hardly ever appear in pairs, so there won't be issues with them buffing each other.

You can also consider orc wizards cheering for orc sorcerors. Orc wizards are pathetic next to sorcerors. Both career lines have in common that there's a large power difference between the best and their underlings. And orc sorcerors/knights/warlords hardly ever appear without plain orcs. I think priests remain relevant so no change needed.

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Crypt Cleanser

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Post Friday, 28th February 2020, 00:55

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

I think it would be better to remove plain orcs and orc wizards from any orc band that places later than, say, D:8. These monsters simply aren't threatening past that point. Orc priests are kind of suspect as well but at least they can smite. Imo removing nonthreatening monsters is better than making their design more complicated (especially since it's a monster that shows up in the early game, when the ability will not do anything).

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 28th February 2020, 05:07

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

Hm, what if cheer was a buff that *stacked* so the more plain orcs that were cheering for a warlord/knight etc the nastier it would get, that would imply larger bands of crappy orcs could actually be threatening, not in and of themselves, but by bumping the power level of something *actually* threatening?
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Blades Runner

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Post Friday, 28th February 2020, 18:58

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

Warriors with might still hit pretty hard on many builds, if you allow them to do so. Regular orcs not so much. I'd also be in favor of removing the really weak orcs after a while, for the same reason the game already phases out other weak monsters. We don't see plain sky beasts or phantoms in the vaults branch for example, so why do we see plain orcs?

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Snake Sneak

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Post Saturday, 29th February 2020, 13:45

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

So you'd rather have less varied and unique game mechanics and a more vertical power curve? Then you can give the Orc Knight treatment to other support monsters. By the time you meet gnoll shamans, plain gnolls are pushovers. Remove plain gnolls, add an Ubergnoll.

Mines Malingerer

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Post Saturday, 29th February 2020, 21:18

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

b0rsuk wrote:So you'd rather have less varied and unique game mechanics and a more vertical power curve? Then you can give the Orc Knight treatment to other support monsters. By the time you meet gnoll shamans, plain gnolls are pushovers. Remove plain gnolls, add an Ubergnoll.


Maybe not as boring of a scaling as glorified palette swaps, but yes, replacing all popcorn with monsters that can affect tactical decision making at all past a certain point seems wise. A ton of fat has already been cut and it seems like the overall design direction (e.g. sheep being replaced with dream sheep) but the leap hasn’t been made yet to clean up all popcorn.

I will concede that popcorn can indirectly affect tactics every now and then by taking up space, but largely this is only a benefit to the player because 1) they can impede the movement of real threats and 2) if they are ever truly in the way they can be dispatched in extremely short order.
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Crypt Cleanser

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Post Saturday, 29th February 2020, 22:47

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

Re: gnoll shamans in particular, their current in-depth spawn range is D:4-D:10. While there's absolutely a good argument for revising the max depth upward (as you could with a lot of dungeon monsters), I don't think a D:4 gnoll is totally outmoded in the way a D:8 orc is. D:10 also spawns quokkas, jackals, and crimson imps in depth, among other things, so ideally you'd take a look over the entire spawn table and make some reasonable adjustments and cuts. You'd probably want to reduce the number of monsters spawned to avoid xp creep while trimming the fat this way, so it's a bit of a project to get that balance right, but I do think the end result of boring monster cleanup would be a tighter, more tactical game.

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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Saturday, 29th February 2020, 23:38

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

Hellmonk wrote:You'd probably want to reduce the number of monsters spawned to avoid xp creep while trimming the fat this way, so it's a bit of a project to get that balance right
Usually they're replaced with MONS_NO_MONSTER entries to prevent xp creep, which is no work at all.
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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Sunday, 1st March 2020, 11:15

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

As much as I'd like a new skill like this on a conceptual level, I don't think it would actually work. My mind imagines the player fighting a strong orc, while the peons stand back and cheer. That's a cool image, but I think that what would really happen is that the peons would throw themselves at you, taking away 3/4 of the bonus they could give the warrior because they'd die before he can get you in melee range. In the end, it would barely make a difference. Maybe in a corridor, if the AI allows the warriors to push forward and swap places with the peons, but, even then, you still would be killing them as he comes forward.

Removing vanilla orcs beyond a certain depth is something I agree with. They aren't the only ones that could use a shorter range.
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Blades Runner

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Post Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 14:35

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

Hellmonk wrote:I think it would be better to remove plain orcs and orc wizards from any orc band that places later than, say, D:8. These monsters simply aren't threatening past that point. Orc priests are kind of suspect as well but at least they can smite. Imo removing nonthreatening monsters is better than making their design more complicated (especially since it's a monster that shows up in the early game, when the ability will not do anything).


I think leaving unchallenging monsters at higher levels is a good way for newbies to measure how far they've come and how effectively their character is progressing. Plus "The Orcish Mines, Except The Mines Do Not Technically Contain Any 'Orcs' Per Se" does not roll of the tongue.

IOW I think orcs are fine as is. Aren't orc warriors still the # 1 killers in the mines?

Crypt Cleanser

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Post Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 15:15

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

I see this argument a lot and I don't like it. Would you be fine with generating plain orcs in Zot? Does the player need the opportunity to 'measure their progress' against Zot orcs? Even a shitty character that reaches orc is going to take almost no damage from regular orcs and kill them in 1-2 hits, so I'm not convinced that they give players a good way to determine how effectively their character is progressing; how much trouble they have handling dangerous monsters like orc sorcerers is probably a better indicator of that! You could also just give the player better numerical feedback on eg. weapon and spell damage, which is a lot better than generating trash monsters.

The flavor argument is incoherent. Most of the monsters that generate in orc mines would still be orcs. I don't think it's hard for players to figure out that orc warlords, orc knights, orc high priests, and the rest are types of orcs that live in the orc mines.

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Vaults Vanquisher

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Post Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 17:55

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

Scientifically speaking, the player will not know for sure that their character is progressing and to what degree without a standardized set of monsters available to test against at regular intervals throughout the game. (You could say the player should just look at their stats, skill levels, etc. but numbers in crawl are notoriously opaque and we can't know with any certainty what's going on without direct experimentation -- the cool and chill way to know things about crawl.)

However, I have to disagree with the poster above who suggests that these monsters should just be mixed in with the general monster population pell-mell. To have any validity, these trials must be conducted under standardized conditions. I suggest instead a standard cell block vault with rune doors like this

  Code:
#########
#r#o#Y#...
#+#+#+#...


populated with dungeon level appropriate test subjects (obviously to avoid creating "newb traps" we would expand the vault with player progression so that the player cannot try their hand at the yak on d:2). These monsters should be placed as durable summons to insure the feature remains experience neutral and does not encourage unnecessary combat. For maximum discoverability, these vaults should be placed on every dungeon level.

With these measures in place, I feel we can safely move forward with removing normal ass orcs from dungeon generation past d:8.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 20:56

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

Reptisaurus wrote:I think leaving unchallenging monsters at higher levels is a good way for newbies to measure how far they've come and how effectively their character is progressing. Plus "The Orcish Mines, Except The Mines Do Not Technically Contain Any 'Orcs' Per Se" does not roll of the tongue.
How often do you see the 'Elf' monster in the Elven Halls?

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Snake Sneak

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Post Sunday, 26th April 2020, 20:42

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

Another game which doesn't just introduce stronger enemies is Into The Breach. It has a class of psion monsters, which have no attack whatsover but boost other enemies. In the game you control 3 units. When a psion appears, usually it's becomes an uphill battle and you need to kill it first. And I once found a 'psion receiver' technology, which lets the equipped mech to benefit from an enemy psion. What a twist!

I wish more games had such complementary enemies rather than enemies that just replace older ones.

A side effect of removing monsters from rotation is that your skill investment becomes more all-or-nothing. If your character is a spell blaster but learned some melee early on, that melee will be completely useless because someone decides weak (or glass cannon) enemies are boring. This discourages hybrids and causes fewer character builds to be viable. Brogue suffers from this, especially the Defense/Accuracy mechanic. After about 10 dungeon levels, you won't find a monster with less than 70 defense unless it's a turret. This is one of reasons why successful character builds in Brogue tend to pick an item and pour all scrolls of enchantment into it (the scroll is the only mechanic in Brogue which locks you out of other options). You can't do /some/ melee past certain point because you just won't hit anything and take serious damage.

bel

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Post Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 05:34

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

I don't know about the other game, but your comments about Brogue seem odd.

I don't know about "hybrid" (the definition is nebulous), but I have played plenty of characters where I invested enchant scrolls into multiple items. Several items in Brogue don't need a lot of enchants, while some benefit a lot from enchanting to a high degree.

For instance, I never really enchant armour over the breakpoint where I meet the strength requirement. If, on the other hand, I have a weapon of quietus, probably all enchants will go into it.

Blades Runner

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Post Monday, 11th May 2020, 06:28

Re: Rethinking orc battlecry

How about instead of Cheer, the lowly orcs have Jeer. So when you're fighting a tougher orc, if you don't deal with the weaker ones first, they heckle you and make rude comments about you. All the jeering would result in things like increased chances for spell miscasts, missed melee strikes, failed evasion, failed shield blocking, accidentally stabbing yourself with your own weapon.

Jeering orcs should also triple the damage from trolls.

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