Version 1.87 – Gameplay Notes

I have been playtesting with various players in the last few days and am happy with the results so far.

The low morale Pikes turned out to be a great reminder for all players about the under-used rally ability. The change also nicely stutters the start of each campaign battle or at least gives Commanders something interesting to think about.

The removal of long-range grapeshot came with a bonus. Namely, the addition of long-range cannon fire, starting at range 2. It might seem obvious, but I was stung more than once with this and my opponent managed to rack up multiple locked hits unexpectedly. Damage may have been greatly reduced for range 2 targets, but now the cannon fire keeps going for quite a ways. I also liked that battles were not overly focused on the cannons. That was a very welcome change.

With the controversial SF penalty for falling back, it has been a mixed bag, but overall far more positive by far. My battles have definitely felt more intense and exciting.

The downside is that it can sometimes be anti-climatic if your opponent retreats their weaker units and leaves you with the objective prize. However, this can be a realistic outcome sometimes. Regardless, the battles now have a more conclusive feeling to them. The victor gets to savor the win more, the losing commander gets to bitterly watch his keep (or whatever) be overrun and taken. It sets the stage for a more intense next battle,  where the Commander that lost, really wants be the victor the next time around. I like this.

That said, I just had a fantastic battle with Rotamouche where I was a bit stronger (or luckier) and overtook the area around his keep, but just barely. His deeply injured commander had to retreat and leave the fighting to his remaining units which also fell back, but just a bit. I had the dilemma of going for a keep kill (not easy with injured units) or trying to finish him off. Since I was already surrounding his keep (and his Commander was far away, behind a small army of troops)  I decided to start wearing down the Keep. Well, this also had the effect of wearing my troops down and then Rotamouche counter-attacked when our sides were somewhat equal again. I thought victory was mine but now I am not sure what will happen next. We are still fighting (at time of writing this), and if he manages to push me away from his keep will he have enough to take over my keep? I am quite pleased with our seesaw battle. This was exactly what I was hoping for with the SF fallback penalty. A spectacular and intense battle all around one of the keeps. Previously, I almost never had first battles this good, as one side would usually fallback at the slightest hint of unfavorable adverse conditions. I feel the Campaign battle experience is now as I had originally hoped (when I had originally created the campaign). They are now utterly perfect.

I’ve also noticed that more battles now go to completion. There is certainly a lot more commitment to battles now. So all in all, I feel that grapeshot change, the pike morale and the SF fallback penalty – are three ideal tweaks for our aging game. I think 2018 will be a great year for Musket Smoke battles.


6 responses to “Version 1.87 – Gameplay Notes

  1. My experience so far has been quite different. The campaign has become even more one-sided in the sense that if you lose the first two games the rest are just a waste of time. And while others may bluster about having to “take more risks” that just hastens defeat. So if what you set out to do is to further entrench a cartel for the top 5 or 6 players, you clearly have succeeded – congratulations!

  2. Losing a battle hasn’t changed – at all. Both sides still get re-enforcements for a completed battle.

    In the match that we both played nobody fell back. The rule changes only apply to falling back. So in our match, we ALWAYS had the same amount of SF units.

    The reason I kept the old rules for completed battles was to address those concerns. It is now optional how you want to play. If you prefer the old way with both sides getting the same SF units then simply – don’t fall back.

    The issue with rewarding easy fallbacks was that some players would play a few rounds and then suddenly fall back for no reason at all other than they lost advantage with positioning. Imagine investing yourself in a battle over a few days and suddenly your opponent pulls out for hardly any reason at all. Also, players complained about the lack of tension in the campaign when we equally reward winning and running away. Some were annoyed as they felt the mission objectives were rarely met since most people simply fall back and thus rob the winner of the victory feeling. Some labeled the campaign battles as pointless. This recent change addresses ALL of this.

    With this new rule, we get the best of both worlds.

    Now you can both play normally, but if one side loses an SF unit, there is a way to even the odds now. You could ‘try’ to force a fallback, if possible.

    So I think it’s better now, but I am open to trying other things more Dukes speak up. So far we have one Duke for and one Duke against. (Mark and I)

    Mark’s sarcasm obviously stems from strong feelings on the matter. I am glad that he spoke up. We need more people sharing what they really feel.

    While playing, Mark, try to get others to voice opinions about this. Either here or just email me directly. Obviously, we want the majority of players to be happy. Especially players that stick around.

    Two Dukes (so far) have spoken!

  3. I didn’t play at all for over a year and just came back in December – was surprised to see how little my rating had fallen in all that time but actually more disappointed because it suggested that very few new players had entered and stuck it out long enough to climb up the rating ladder!

    I thus likely missed the experience of seeing the fallback option exploited in the way you describe – which certainly seems to be an issue that would require correction. But I remain to be convinced that the revisions are an improvement and that they do not simply entrench the superiority of the handful of players at the top of the scale.

    P.S. Will you ever fix the meaningless and useless “Big Siege” scenario? Any change at all would be better than what we have now!

  4. Yes, all of the updates to help earn and keep new players didn’t seem to be very successful. Which is why I started focusing on making the game more fun for those that actually stick around.

    Let’s give it a month more and see how it goes. Plus I’ve emailed a few Dukes and asked them to weigh in on the new fallback rule. Soon we should have a better sense of what everyone thinks.

    Yes, the Big Siege is currently a little toothless. I have a few ideas, from minor to an extreme (do or die) scenario, worthy of the map name.

    1) Add an SF Cavalry as a reward for the side that doesn’t fall back. (minor, and will make last battle more lopsided, but make the big siege slightly better).

    2) Don’t show the fallback button until both sides have ‘the same number of SF units’. Yes, this means it filters out the final city battle unless both sides are on equal footing and will make the last battle rarer (and more precious). Then this battle will truly be ‘the big siege’ – a bloodfest. The winner of course, still get’s side-advantage and can (next to the church). And the final battle will forever more be more exciting since both sides will no longer be deeply lopsided.

    3) Add an ammo hut on each side that could end the battle, with no fallback option. This could backfire and one side could just entrench themselves and wait with an unfair defensive advantage.

    That’s all I got for options for that battle, or leave it as is. I can’t make a new map as I don’t have the time for that now.

    As to SF earning rules, I guess I could just not give additional SF units for the first 6 battles IF ‘you happen to already have more than your opponent’. That seems like it could be a good rule but would really mess with the opening comments on each battle. I would have to rewrite all those. It would mean the winner would never have more than just 1 extra SF unit than the weaker player. But it would also reduce the motivation to win, which might pollute the spirit of the battles and go back to making people fall back more easily again.

    You haven’t played a lot in the last year so I’m curious what the current heavy players think as well.

  5. So far two more Dukes have voted ‘for’ the new rules. So currently we are at 3 – 1 on keeping the new rules. Does anyone else want to weigh in? Any more thoughts on this?

    Plus another Duke is against. Moving it to 3 – 2 now. This Duke feels that it will cause a snowball effect, even though he admits there are way fewer​ fallbacks now. Which is good.

    • Another Duke has weighed in. We are now at 3 – 3 with regards to the new fallback rule.

      His suggestion was that there be no SF units awarded to the Victor. He was also not a fan of the pikes being down one point of confidence.

      The pike’s rule and grapeshot rules are not under debate here. Only the fallback rule. The pike rule is extra good, from my perspective, in that it stutters the start and also reminds players about the rally move.

      Since the score is so close I am considering an additional rule:

      You do not get an SF unit if you already have more SF than your opponent.

      This should do two things. Reward risk takers and also remove the snowball effect.

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