Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Endless Legend: Drakken playthrough. Turns 1-10

So I started a new game just now. I'm playing the Drakken faction, mutated dragonspawn with a wisdom/diplomatic flavour.

I set everything to normal/average except the game difficulty which I set to Serious.

Here's my start:

I'm in the corner of my starting province. No anomalies (moleholls on the map) are available so far in my start province but two are next door and one is excellent: Wizard Stone adds 2 production, 6 science and 10 happiness. The other anom is Escaped Specimens which adds 2 food and 4 dust. So quite nicely rounded as well as being big numbers. It's in an awkward spot in the corner of the region so I'll need to scout it before I decide.

Let's talk about how the tile FIDSI, the resource numbers are calculated. Usually it's 3 per tile with the terrain type determining the type. Eg forest gives food and production. Anomalies usually add 6 on top of that. And certain races get bonuses on certain terrain for the Drakken we get +2 science and +3 influence on terrain that holds a ruin.

This is what it looks like on the map in fidsi view.

Here it is scouted, still in turn 1.

My scout revealed another anomaly 2 hexes to the east of the ones we saw before, making it an even better spot as our first district will add those resources. I'm going to settle the spot with the Escaped  Specimens anomaly for 10 food, 10 production, 8 science, 4 dust and 10 happiness. 32 on the 4 basic resources is strong. It will not get there till turn 2 but well worth the sacrifice.

Turn 2.

Here's what it looks like settled:

I have only 5 adjacent hexes in this province which is a shame but I have room to add 4 districts to the south and east which will upgrade the city centre. It's a starting city I'm happy with.

My units have taken a village quest and two ruins. One gave me a quest I won't do the other gave me 30 dust.

My next decision making concerns my hero. With my starting hero I usually go either general (focus on combat stats) or scout (focus on ruin exploring, speed and vision). I'm going general with this guy as his class skill tree supports that better. Occasionally it's worth going for city governor with your start hero but not in this case.

Next I want to plan out my deed strategy.

Visionary leader: pacify 8 villages. I probably won't do it with this guy. If I were to go all in for this I'd build an early unit or two so I could win fights without needing to pause for healing and I don't want to focus my city on that early, I'd rather build it up.

Wealth Harvester: be the first to gather 30 units of a luxury resource. Another one I'm not going to beeline for but I'll happily accept if I get there. This might have suited me if I'd set up my city in my start location as there was a wine resource nearby. The reward for this is not fantastic.

Civilisation Builder: Be the first to build the Museum of Auriga. This I am all-in on. Many times the AI doesn't go for this, either because it lacks resources or because it does something else with them. It's not easy to get 5 titanium and 5 glasssteel early on so that's now my main job. I may be able to get them from village quests or ruins.

Turn 3:

I move my hero to a village, check its quest no way I'm paying them 8 titanium, so I enter combat. To maximise the amount of stuff my starter army can get done I hide my proper units at the back on hold position and let the nearby militia reinforce in and get hammered.

My militia took a bit of a battering but my roving army finished just fine.

I realised in the fight that I'd forgotten to give my infantry units armour so I'll grab a couple of ruins then head back to my province to retrofit them. It will also let me use the militia for a couple more fights (they'll reinforce into any fight within 4 (or is it 5?) hexes of the city.

My hero levels and I start working up his class tree, Tactician.

Turn 5

I hit a ruins and get 10 Emeralds. I'll hold them for now because the Drakken version of the deed requires you to stockpile 30. It would be a shame if I used these ones then later got 20 from somewhere.

Turn 6.

My city finishes its Founder's Memorial and my population rises to 2. This is pretty slow, the price of missing a turn then settling a food 10 industry 10 city spot. The spot had other things going for it but the price is this slow start. I queue a Mill, then should have Seed storage ready for when the Mill is done.

I check a ruin and it gives me a quest. The quest is to colonise a region and the reward is 15 glassteel. I like the sound of that. I decide to build a Settler before I build my Seed storage. The Settler turns off food generation while you build it so the seeds wouldn't do anything so I may as well build him first. Also Settlers built in the first era are cheaper. I edit my Settler design to give him a movement trinket.

I now just need to source some Titanium to start building the Museum of Auriga. I've discovered a region that has a desposit so I could make a second settler to settle that but that's my worst option. I have an undiscovered resource in the province I made my first city in so I will go and explore to see what that is (please be Titanium). Failing that hopefully I'll get lucky with a quest or parlay.

Turn 7. Walking through forests. Urggh. I upgrade my units but don't have enough money to buy them all movement trinkets.

Turn 8. Hit a ruin. 30 dust. Just enough to outfit my infantry with movement speed. I discover the region's resource. It's not Titanium, boo! It's Gold, a luxury which is ok but not impactful now. I queue the specialised harvesters in the Research window.

Turn 9. Main stack still struggling through forest. 2 movement points per tile means my speed 5 stack moves 2 hexes. Blerggh. A skyfin scout from a nearby NPC empire checks out my capital.

I visit a village and check its Parlay offer. No I don't want to pay you Glassteel. I'll happily accept 4 xp though. I then fight them. Yuck, it's tanks v tanks in forest (which gives a defence bonus). After 6 rounds I've battered one of them to death the other is still there and I'll have to go again next turn. That will be my second village pacified, somehow I don't think I'll get the deed for being the first to do 8.

Turn 10.

The city finishes its Mill. Up to 33 production now which is respectable. Excellent science and dust even without the buildings that help.

I attack the minotaur again. I decide to place my units back on high ground in forest so they'll get a terrain bonus and set my hero to healing a unit. On turn 5 I realise I may not get the kill. I frantically change orders to allout assault for the last turn but dammit, the minotaur survives with about 10 hit points. I'm an idiot, I had one job. Looks like my hero stack will be stuck there another turn.

After that he will head towards the village which is right next door to my city, clear that with the help of the city militia and pick up the first Settler. I think I shall settle the province with the Titanium in it first as I urgently need to get that tap turned on. It feels quite chancy whether I'll win the deed race. (After that deed I'll be going straight into a Second Age deed that requires 15 glassteel and 15 titanium).

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Endless Legend: city tile progression

I've been playing some 4X games recently and my current favourite is Endless Legend. This came out in 2014 and at the time I didn't get too immersed as it was rather prone to crash on my elderly computer. 3 years of polish at their end and a couple of new computers at mine and it plays like a dream.

It's a very fun, very immersive, fantasy conquest game with a strong narrative quest driven story arc for each race that adds to the immersion.

There's several pieces of downloadable extra content but I've decided that can be my Christmas present to myself and I'll d/l them on Christmas morning.

This blog piece is looking at an aspect of the game that isn't very well explained and that I've put some thought into figuring out: city development.

Cities grow outwards as you play one tile at a time. Once a tile or the city centre becomes adjacent to 4 other tiles it becomes a level 2 district and gets significant bonuses. So there are a lot of concepts intertwined here and a geometric mini-game on top. It's at this point you should mentally review whether you want to continue reading?

Still here? Hi 5 my felllow nerd.

Here's a strategic view of an unsettled region called Hawyrd:

In this view we can see very clearly the little molehills that signify bonus resource tiles.  There are only three in this province and they're all near the watchtower in the North West. Also of note are the ruins which can't be built on. Other terrain features like resources and villages are fine to incorporate into your city. In fact placing your city on top of a resource is a good move as it will operate as an extractor. The same is true of placing a district on it. This saves you having to build an extractor separately and will often start the resource trickling in many turns before you would otherwise have been able to.

Now let's close in:

Pretty eh? My mouse is over the tile to the right with the light blue stalks on it, geysers. In the game they play a lovely animation of water continually spouting up then collapsing again. Also of note is the river to the south of us, a feature I'd missed on the strategic view. Rivers are pretty useful, they give extra food and certain resource producing buildings give more or require rivers.

Let's turn the resource (fidsi) numbers on:

Our anomalies (the three little molehills we saw on the strategic map) give us lots of science. I'm quite liking the hex that has the red spices on it. Taking it would turn spice production on and is adjacent to the Moss Pearls anomaly. Our first expansion can go north east and get us the right Geysers anomaly. Then south west gets us the two river tiles. After that we'd expand north west towards the final anomaly.

There's some discussion of what the optimal shape for a city is. I've heard people say triangles or tramlines but I don't think either is quite true.

Try not to laugh at my amateurish rendition of a hex map in paint:

1 = city centre.
2 = next 4 districts. Placing the 4th one levels your city centre to level 2.
3= levels 2 districts to level 2
4 = expands in a not-quite-triangular clump, It's not a triangle because the bottom corners would do nothing, They will not be enclosed to make a level 2 district nor will they enclose anything else. Starting from the bottom left placing the 4s gives us the following amount of level ups: 0, 0, 2, 0, 1, 2, 1 for 6 level ups from 7 districts placed. I think this is optimal.

What does that mean for our settlement of Hawyrd? Well, fast forward a few turns and I have a coloniser ready. Here's her view of the tile we're thinking about:

10+7+10+4 = 31. 31 resources plus a spice mine is a very respectable tile. I can mouseover the other tiles with the Build City button selected and compare but there's nothing better.

Plopping the city down there gives me this pop-up, basically telling me I got a free building.

Here's a city management view of our brand new city:

So the 7 hexes exploited produce 1+1+4+0+1+2 = 9 food. Our first expansion target is to the north west which will get us that rather nice 5 science 5 industry tile as well as the plateau tile with 1 food, 2 science 2 industry plus another tile left of that one.

And here it is:

Here's a close up of the city with 4 tiles built.

We're expanding to the west leaving the two eastern tiles blank. Behind the city you can see the geyser tile we're building out towards. On my Paint map this corresponds to having parts 1 and 2 of the city development complete.

I now plan my next expand. I have two good options. I can expand northwest and get the geyser tile which itself is worth 5 science and 6 industry or i can top the triangle which will give me 2 districts levelling up to level 2. Mouse over the Borough Streets building and the "extra level" part of the tooltip will show a level up gives 2 dust 2 science 2 influence and some fortification and happiness. It's at this point I compare the geyser tile with the alternative tile that would be picked up and discover that I'd missed an anomaly. Topping the triangle actually gives me an anomaly I hadn't noticed before, another Moss Pearls in addition to 2 level 2 districts. It's also a Watchtower hex so I'll get that for free too. That's a big play!

And here is the triangle (on the Paint sketch that's parts 1,2 and 3). As you see from the tooltip my city has some pretty nice tiles in it.