Disciples III news

It’s good to hear that this is still a go. Basically, Strategy First has lined up a new developer for DIII, whom they shall be announcing soon.

Hmmm. Honestly, I wasn’t all that impressed with #2, though I sure wanted to be.

I’m just happy they took it away from MiSTland, whose game development record reads something like a series of bad automobile accidents. Now I can just keep my low expectations focused on JA3D instead of having them divided between the two games.

I’ll be keeping an eye, I guess. I really enjoyed 2 and actually have it installed at the moment. But a lot of it’s in the execution – it really boils down to “who knows what the sequel will be like?” Looking at Disciples 2, what should be kept and what should be changed? I’ll be interested to see how the sequel answers these questions, but the answers may or may not be good ones. Will they run with the stuff that people liked in the previous game, or try to fix the problems that made so many people dislike it? Will aquatics and greenskins be playable factions?

Since I left my ouija board in my other pants, all this speculation is completely pointless and baseless and rock-your-faceless. I’m going to forget about it and wait for reviews.

I wasn’t meaning to provide a preview. This is simply news that the game is still actually in development. About a year ago they announced that they were working on a third iteration of the game, but then they went completely silent. And due to Strategy First’s financial problems, many speculated that DIII would probably never see light of day. So sorry there’s no preview yet, but this is still good news.

Well, I really liked 2, so I am glad to hear this. Disciples is an odd game. It breaks the mold of more units is better and focuses on style and more tactical strategy. Nice series.

… and replaces it with an entirely new version of the megastack syndrom, determined by unit levels rather than quantity.

Yeah, I understand. I didn’t mean to hassle you. It’s just that at this pre-light of day point it seems like it’s still a bit of a shot in the dark.

(how do I nest the quotes?). True enough…but I am not sure how to get rid of the super stack in games, unless you scale all enemies to match, which might be a pain for other reasons.

I hear ya. I think the problem may be stacks itself.

Games like Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, and <plug>Land of Legends</plug> have a one-unit-per-square rule which I think really helps. The closest thing you get to a megastack in those games is a group of individual units which travel near each other, but they rarely come close to having anywhere near the indestructable might of a megastack in HOMM/Disc2/MOO/SE4/etc types of games.

Although it may just be a matter of opinion, I think Warlord IV escapes this a bit (fights always boil down to 1v1 at a time, so even megastacks take losses), and I feel like Age of Wonders may suffer from it less than most games.

There are a bunch of ways to alleviate super stacks, such as:

  1. Don’t have super tough units, such that victory is about tactics vs. power. (realistic games)
  2. Give a penalty to densely stacked units (e.g. Operational Art of Wars density -> increased casualties
  3. Limit stacks by an in game mechanic (e.g. supply in the Game of Thrones boardgame)
  4. Low stack size limit (e.g. AoW)
  5. Attritive combat, so you can wear super stacks down. (e.g. Warlords 3)
  6. Strength calculations where 2x units in a stack -> less than 2x strength
  7. Increase upkeep (supply) costs such that 2x units -> more than 2x cost
  8. Limit command and control such that you can only control so many groups of independent units (e.g. ancients miniatures)

I’m fond of 1, 3, 7, and 8 myself.

Another idea to nerf stacks:

Simply have some units who have abilities/stats that somehow are innately powerful against stacks, creating a clear trump to a player running a mega-stacking strategy. Gameplay would devolve into megastacking far less if there was a clear and easy trump to that behavior…

But yeah, I think Jasper’s correct in that there are many things that can be done in a game’s design to alleviate megastack syndrome. Why relatively few 4x-style designers do them is a bit of a mystery to me, because mega-stack syndrome ruins a lot of the ‘bigger’ TBS games for me. That’s one of the big reasons I went for the smaller scale.

I hadn’t thought about it before now, but given the points made about Warlords III and Warlords IV, it seems like that might be one of the only bigger-scale TBS series out there that actively builds in design decisions to prevent megastacking from being all powerful. Good for them!

The mystery of why TBS games don’t often nerf mega stacks is pretty straightforward – alot of people like to build up powerfull stacks and go stomping. HoMM and Disciples in particular are examples of games where uber stacks aren’t just a virtue, but a core design philosophy.

I’m with you on the mega stack hate though. Such games seem to end up playing the same way, without any finesse.

With a bit of magic and a cheap thief you can cripple even a fairly powerful stack fairly effectively. Plus there’s the whole need to expose them to combat to upgrade in the first place. Can’t just rake in gold and purchase the most uber unit right away…

I found it a bit different for those reasons alone.

I don’t recall thieves being so effective, and protecting against them was easy anyway. Magic alone wasn’t enough to overcome an uber stack’s edge, and of course you need to build them up first – that’s part and parcel of the megastack problem.

I have to admit, if the thief and/or magic are a suitable trump to mega-stacking, maybe the problem isn’t as bad as I thought and I just missed that.

But from my experience, the mega-stacking simply comes from having one badass party that does all your work. If you, say, split your battles between two parties, neither party will be able to compete against the other player’s mega-stack, assuming they did focus entirely on one party. So from what I’ve seen, it’s simply an XP arms race for the biggest party.

Sure, you get mega-stacks in a different way. But it’s still a mega-stack game, and I agree with Jasper, I find that simply overpowers whatever the personality of the game would have been, and doesn’t really allow for more interesting strategies. Mega-stack games tend to devolve into the same thing far more than games that dodge that quality.

By the way, for anyone that likes Disciples II and CCG’s: I ported that crappy CCG that came with the original Collector’s Edition to CCG Workshop(.com), and then later used the cards/art to make an entirely new CCG (Discliples: Legacy) that I think is far more elegant. I encourage you to check them out if you like Disc II and/or CCG’s, though I recommend Legacy far more than the original Disc II CCG. Last I checked, you could play at least 5 games each month for free.

The flipside problem to mega-stack syndrome is that if you lose your primary mega-stack, you’ve almost always pretty much lost the game. I find DII pretty enjoyable overall, but the mega-stack win/lose aspect often necessitates reloading from a save and replaying a turn or battle, something I generally despise in game design.

On another note, I’ve been replaying Ogre Battle on an emulator over the past few days, and in retrospect it seems like it may have played a part in the inspiration for the Disciples games. But I sure like the fact that Ogre Battle is much more forgiving.

I have Ogre Battle for the N64 and the PSX. It’s a nice series. I may have to get it out and play it. However, I really wish the battles weren’t auto. I know the AI makes decent decisions most of the time, but I just like ordering each unit to attack.