Edain Mod 4.5 Siege
Greetings, companions of Edain!
The moment has come for us to share our plans for the upcoming Patch 4.5 with you. As you might have guessed from some of our previously published updates, siege gameplay will be a major focus this time around.
We've been planning major improvements in this area for a while now, and with the comib patch we're finally ready to tackle this issue in a big way. Not all changes in 4.5 are concerned with sieges - apart from the array of bug fixes and balance improvements every new version brings, you can expect profound changes to another core gameplay system which we will be presenting at a later date - but siege is certainly a major focus.
In this update, we will showcase many new additions to sieges and explain our intentions behind the most important gameplay changes.
Our primary goal was making sieges more fun and challenging to play both for the attacker and the defender. To that end, we have greatly expanded the strategic siege arsenal of most factions to bring more options and diversity into the game. Factions that used to lack unique and interesting siege weapons or defensive structures will now have their own tools for siege battles. Just like field battles, we wanted to allow players to approach sieges with different strategies: Do you go over the walls, through the gate or even try to raze the walls entirely?
Defensive structures will in turn be more specialized and focussed on beating back different types of attacks. It should no longer be possible to simply plop down a bunch of towers and be safe from everything. That way, we want to enable more strategic planning and interactivity on both sides as attacker and defender will each have to try to counter the other side's approach - and will have more ways to do so.
There will be many more siege weapons in Patch 4.5, with a particular focus on giving every faction at least one completely unique tool for sieging enemy castles.
In addition to the ram and the catapult, Gondor will gain access to the Siege Shield that protects allies behind it from enemy ranged damage:
This siege shield is supposed to emphasize the heavily armored status of Gondorian armies and allows you to march on a fortified position without getting decimated by its towers and archers.
Rohan is now supported by mobile and aggressive siege weapons that are especially beneficial in the early game: The Petardiers and Hay Carts.
The Dwarves will now have access to the Earth Hammer with all three of the Dwarven Realms. It will be remodeled into a medium-ranged siege weapon. While its range will be lower than that of a catapult, the Earth Hammer will serve as a kind of disrupter of enemy buildings and defense facilities because it is able to temporarily shut them down with each attack.
Additionally, the Dwarves will be able to recruit mine workers to build siege tunnels. This will be a completely stationary siege structure from which workers will periodically tunnel towards enemy structures to make them collapse. Their lack of mobility but great destructive power makes the siege tunnels a perfect fit for the Dwarves and allows them to bring down even enemy walls which could withstand regular rams and trebuchets.
Rivendell already has access to the catapult, the Dunedain ram and the Lorekeepers of Stone, but we have plans for another siege weapon in the future.
Lothlorien will be able to recruit melee Ents that are cheaper and more mobile than regular Ents. In exchange, they can't throw stones and are not as effective against enemy units. But they do allow you to attack enemy fortifications more quickly, filling a similiar role as rams do for other factions.
Angmar will now field Siege Trolls that may build three different siege weapons directly on the battlefield: A Troll Sling, a Battering Ram and a Siege Tower. Much like the Thrallmasters, this emphasizes Angmar's flexibility to react quickly to new situations. It also gives the faction access to Siege Towers which could not be built inside the fortress itself because they would be too tall to get out of the gate. In the field, however, they can easily be constructed, adding another faction besides Mordor and Isengart into the game that siege tools to storm a castle's walls.
Isengard and Mordor already have a wide range of different siege weapons, among them completely unique machines like Grond or the mines. We didn't see the need to further increase their arsenal.
In Edain 4.5, every castle will have at least four different defensive structures, at least one of them unique and exclusive to its faction. We wanted to move away from defining factions like Rohan by their small amount of defensive structures - this just makes them less interesting to play in siege battles, and there are other ways to ensure that factions like the Dwarves and Gondor still feel like better builders than Rohan.
At the same time we extended the building options on the smaller defense buildplots found in camps and the bases of factions without walls. Until now factions like Isengard and Mordor, could build only a single structure here, the sentry tower. Now, there will always be two structures to choose from.
Gondor now gains access to the Wall Crane which repairs nearby buildings and structures:
Rohan already has a unique defense upgrade, the Wall Banner. Its bonus will now last for 30 seconds after leaving its radius, much like statues work in Edain 4.0. In addition to the three existing defense facilities, Rohan now can build Onagers on the walls:
The Dwarves already had access to four different defense facilities. Among them we reworked and improved the Raven tower. Like statues and the Wall Banner, its bonus will now persist over time and and it has a larger area of effect. On top of that, we reworked its design:
In addition, the dwarves now make use of another defense mechanism: Boiling oil! The Dwarven stoneworker can now unlock oil vents for their fortress, which will be built at the gate walls, allowing them to pour down boiling oil on attackers:
Rivendell will gain the ability to build a Wall Catapult. Alongside the sentry tower, postern gate and mystic fountains, this gives them four different defensive options.
The faction of Lothlorien doesn't get new structures, but a new defensive power. Lorien players can now summon a Huorn permanently onto battlefield, barring the way for enemy units. This felt like a very fitting defensive measure for a faction so connected to nature.
Angmar gains access to cages that weaken nearby enemy units:
Isengard and Mordor don't have any castle walls, but as we mentioned before, we extended the building options on defensive buildplots for camps and bases without walls:
Gondor, Rohan, Rivendell and the Dwarves can build statues there, which will no longer be available on the regular build plots of camp maps anymore. By contrast, Angmar has access to cages that weaken nearby enemies, fulfilling the same role as wall cages.
Isengard's Warg Sentry has been moved from the regular buildplots to the defensive buildplots. This way, it no longer occupies a full plot and is easier to use. Mordor can build a Defense Banner that increases the production speed of nearby recruitment buildings, aiding the faction's ability to build up large armies.
Along with a new siege mechanic and defense buildings come deeper gameplay changes. We had a couple of goals: Sieges should be fun and interesting to play. The attacker as well as the defender should have chances to turn arround the battle by playing well. Sieges shouldn't feel like "work" or a cumbersome duty at the end of the game - which on one hand means that castles shouldn't be TOO tough to crack, but on the other hand the defender shouldn't already have lost the moment he's been pushed back into his castle. After all, if that's the case, why bother playing out the siege at all?
Another important goal was that sieges shouldn't feel passive. On the one hand a couple of sentry towers shouldn't mean that the defender doesn't have to think about further defense any more because that simple line is already virtually impenetrable. He should also have to actively use his troops and react to a changing situation. On the other hand it wouldn't be very interesting either if the attacker could just stay safely out of the range of the castle and slowly but steadily reduce everything to a rubble with his catapults which the defender can't reach because they're staying safely inside the opposing army. We wanted a more dynamic siege in which both players constantly trade blows and armies clash on the walls, at the gate and in the castle itself.
Our first step was to give all siege units a more clearly defined role. Each siege weapon should provide unique and different ways to open attack paths into castle. Each defensive structure should defend against one specific attack type especially well. Wall catapults, for example, are especially effective in countering an attacking enemy's catapults due to their long range and high damage. In return they inflict less damage against troops and have a high minimum range, making them less practical if the enemy is approaching with rams and ladders to attack the fortress at point-blank. Here, towers show their strength: They now have a shorter range and thus work less well against attacks from afar, but they still remain a good means to punish at advancing infantry. In return they are now especially vulnerable against enemy siege weapons - bringing us back to siege catapults that are able to destroy towers from a safe range to clear the way for the attack.
However, catapults are not enough to flatten the fortress on their own. Troops atop walls are now considerably better protected from ranged attacks and walls are harder to destroy with regular siege weapons like trebuchets and rams. This should give special machines like siege towers a more important role and thus make attacks with troops more attractive than the passive catapult bombardment - they provide a faster way to storm walls. Certain special weapons are still able to destroy walls, among them Isengart's mines and the tunnel diggers of the Dwarves. This is once again meant to give those a special and unique role to make them more useful (breaching walls is now a special thing, not something even the cheapest weapons can do). It also emphasizes the gate as a special weakness of each fortress. Unlike the walls, it may be broken in by cheap rams but is also easier to defend because there are more defense build plots.
Furthermore, we have put in another batch of mechanics to encourage the attacker to storm the castle earlier. Siege weapons are now a little bit cheaper and available more quickly across the board. In return they cost a similiar amount of command points as regular troops - it shouldn't be possible anymore to just overwhelm a castle with 10 or 20 rams. In exchange, most of the defense facilities, especially towers, are a little weaker than before. In addition, many regular buildings are bit more vulnerable to regular units. These changes are not too drastic taken on their own, but come together to make camps and outposts as well as weakly defended castles more easy to capture - a large amount of siege weapons should mainly be necessary if the defender on his part has also put up a strong garrison and multiple defense facilities. This way, both sides are encouraged equally to actually to invest into the siege.
Moreover, buildings in the base now become more vulnerable to siege weapons if the citadel is destroyed - this also makes it more appealing to first storm the fortress and destroy its core instead of just bombarding it eternally from the outside.
Many factors playing into a siege: Besides siege weapons and defense facilities the economy is also an important part. If a castle isn't able to at least support a respectable garrison of defensive troops, the defender has already lost before the battle even begins - and then why play through the siege at all?
Naturally, the attacker will be superior, he's controlling a bigger part of the map after all - and because the defender in return has the home advantage in his forterss, that's only fair and right. Regardless we believe that the defender's disadvantage is currently too big. If he uses his limited number of economy buildings to unlock enough command points for a solid garrison, he gets set back in resource production even more than he already is anyway.
This is actually not the case in most other strategy games: In Age of Empires or Starcraft, for example, you don't have to decide between gathering resources and increasing your population limit because the building of houses/pylons happens independently from harvesting resources. We felt we we had created a double and unnecessarily severe downward spiral here as soon as one player starts to lose territory. This is a tricky balance: On the one hand the superior player should be rewarded for his victories, but on the other hand we believe that the inferior player should still have at least a base amount of resources and command points that gives him the chance to turn the tide if he plays his cards well. In the end this benefits both players as it creates more thrilling games that remain exciting until the last minute.
Resource structures inside the fortress will now have different upgrade chains from those outside. Structures within the castle get more powerful upgrades overall, but they're more expensive and less efficient for their cost. This makes them less attractive in the early game. We want to be careful not to make bunkering from the first minute the best strategy so there are no more battles for settlements. However, the castle should gain more and more prominence as the game goes on and become a more attractive target. It should produce enough that even a player who's been pushed back is still a threat. This way, the game's focus should steadily shift from smaller battles towards large sieges.
At the same time, economy structures can only get one upgrade instead of two. We found that players would usually just give each building the same upgrade twice instead of combining two different ones at levels two and three - which was intended to be the interesting aspect of two tiers of upgrades. A main reason for this was that the two economy upgrades had to multiply with each other, making them most effective when you take both. In addition, researching two upgrades for every single building was seen as unnecessary extra effort, which is why we decided to tone it down to one single choice that is in turn more meaningful.
External economy buildings now have the following upgrades:
* Small Pantry: Increases the command points by 150.
* Scouting Post: Doubles the hit points and triples sight radius (does not add a tower anymore).
* Additional Worker: Increases the production by 50%.
These upgrades cost 300 resources and take 45 seconds to research.
Internal economy buildings now have the following upgrades:
* Large Pantry: Increases the command points by 300.
* Sentinel: Doubles the hit points and adds a sentry tower.
* Additional Workers: Increases the production by 100%.
The upgrades cost 800 resources and take 210 seconds to research.
Another change is related to the Citadel. It now has a new upgrade that provides a large amount of command points, giving you a solid base value inside your castle so you don't have to dedicate too many internal resource structures just to be able to recruit any sort of garrison in the first place. Its high cost, however, prevents you from research it too early in the game. It is not meant to provide command points for a quick rush, but to give the defensive player a fighting chance later on (or upgrade the attacker's army from 1200 CP to the full 1800, giving you the points you need for a solid army of siege weapons all in one go).
Citadel-pantry: Increases the command points by 600
This upgrade costs 2000 resources and has one minute of research time.
Expect more changes in the future but we feel these changes will provide some much-needed fundamental improvements to the siege situation. None of them are set in stone, though, so of course we're looking forward to your feedback!