Hi everyone !
I'm coming back to this forum page today, in order to deliver to you all a BIG bunch of suggestions that I was thinking about for a few weeks now. You probably already saw some of them if you read some of my comments on the forum. I tried to sort them as much as I could, so you can read point after point and stop where you want. This is some kind of a feedback after playing the mod for almost a year now, I think (I can’t remember exactly the day I installed it for the first time).
You already know I really like the mod, so keep in mind that each one of those remarks or proposals that may sound unsatisfied come with the wonderful feeling playing AOTR left me in general, you can trust me when I say that I am a fan of your outstanding work. Take what you want, and please don't get mad at me for my phrasing, I'm not that skilled with the English language !
Hopefully it will take less time for you to read all of these suggestions than it took to myself to write them all (a whole day, dammit). Let’s go !
Okay. I recently heard (on your mindblowing preview live for Haradwaith, Lorien, MM and stuff) that Lorien was about to have walls. And that Mordor still won't have any sort of walls or something very similar, like, polls. Hem.
Walls are a difficult subject in AOTR. They are now very expensive, twice as much as they were before. Nobody builds them anymore in multiplayer (way too expensive), and even in skirmish mode against the AI it is rather impossible to spend that much resources in a wall and not something else that will actively help us to win the game. In fact turtling in itself is possible, and even very efficient with a lot of factions, but not with walls because they're now bad for this, and for anything else to be honest.
I don't specifically remember the main reason for raising so much the price of those walls (it was a 6.0 feature if I remember well, maybe not). But now, I think it's safe to say that nobody is using them anymore anyway. The problem with reducing their price back to its normal state would be, I think, that annoying players would spam walls to kill the fun of the RTS game and basically do nothing until... the end of the world, by any chance. What may the solution be ? That drives us to the next part, so stay focused.
b) Win conditions
Some of you might have already seen me discussing about this specific subject. BFME has an extremely simple concept as an RTS game in which winning means killing the enemy. In Age Of Mythology (AOM), you had two other ways of winning the game : seizing control of the majority of the map through forums (not that transposable to BFME because fortresses can be built anywhere on the aforementioned map) and building a big wonder while turtling to defend it.
I think, honestly, that if BFME had a way to win while turtling, walls at their actual price would actually be truly interesting. And that also means that you could add walls to factions that typically don't have them in order to make this kind of victory possible (just like Scandinavians in AOM that had shitty walls, but walls nonetheless). I would honestly give walls, in this purely fictional perfect world where the code works and everything is fine (completely rational I know), to all factions except MM. Tweaks on efficiency, hitpoints, upgrades, whatever you want, but make them useful, just like they were in ROTWK.
We could also think about other new win conditions, such as completing quests or whatever, but meh, more like a campaign thing. I don't know if this is even possible to implement something like that, or if it is "balancable" regarding other aspects of the actual RTS core of the game, but this is my suggestion. At least one new win condition in AOTR so turtling becomes a way to win, and so expensive walls still serve a purpose in the game (because they don't now, which is okay overall but a bit sad).
I don't know if this counts as a gameplay suggestion, but let's talk about maps in AOTR. First, don't get me wrong, a lot of them are really amazing. They're beautiful, they're wide, they're precise, they have a lot of strategic potential. A lot of them, though, are too heavily encumbered under loads of models, too wide, or too uneven (while some are basically flat, which is also weird).
Lemme take a simple example : the Dol Guldur Fortress map in AOTR. It's really beautiful, I love looking at this map and moving my troops accross tortured towers and walls. But the main bridge is way too narrow, and also bugged, meaning that units trying to cross it, whether they try to enter or leave the fortress, will just face pass finding issues that, as we probably all know, is one of the black spots of AOTR and BFME in general. Also, this map is difficult to read. Dol Guldur buildings have the same color scheme as the rest of the ruins, so I frequently lose sight of my important things in the Fortress. The big ruined walls that are way too close to the camera also don't help, basically blinding me and forcing me to rotate to find something I'm looking for.
Understand this is not a specific remark concerning this specific map. Same for Caras Galadhon (I just don't know where my things are while playing on this map, it's too wide), same for Minas Tirith (heroes can't reach the gate without aging during the process), same for a bunch of maps that are only made of hills on which you can't build at all (and that is frankly annoying to see a red ghost of your future building that will never come to life, wherever you put it on the map). A lot of your maps are just incredibly beautiful, but this is... too much ? I don't know how to phrase it correctly, to communicate how much they amazed me and how disappointed I was going through all of these little pitfalls on your maps.
I’ll quit bothering you about this, let’s go on to the next part.
Geez, another complicated situation where the comparison with AOM seems quite difficult concerning ships. And I know you guys from the AOTR team already have some ideas for naval warfare in the future, so I'll just say that it is obviously incredibly complicated to come up with something as new as functional for this part of the game, stay strong !
About inns, now. The inn units you created for two AOTR factions are really cool (Kinn-Lai soldiers and Dorwinion Pikemen). But many factions are lacking those new models and are “only” able to recruit units from another faction. It would be really cool to imagine a completely new type of unit for each released faction, so we have equally refreshing designs for every inn in the game. I don’t really know if you also already have plans about this but, meh.
Here are my suggestions regarding this. Take what you want.
- For Mordor, add Men of Nûrn, enslaved or corrupted, with fishermen/Aztec vibes. Or Black Gondorians of the Black Gate, that bowed to Sauron after he took over the place. This would show that Sauron, as he did for the Brown Lands and Greenwood, once destroyed what was Mordor and made it his home. Or maybe this place was dark and poisonous since the very beginning. Doesn’t matter. Last try : Cirith Ungol Trappers, a bunch of poisonous orcs covered in webs, their loyalty to the Dark Lord only beaten by their hate for spiders and Men.
- For Isengard, add whether Warg Veterans, old scarred wolves coming from the Misty Mountains that fought a lot of wars and ended up in the legions of Saruman, or maybe simply Breeland mercenaries, the ones that Saruman hired to burn down the Shire after the War of the Ring. But maybe those actually were Dunlendings, I don’t really know. In any case, better than Moria Screechers, which are both bad and not that lorewise if put aside Isengard armies.
- For Rohan, maybe implement Woses as recruitable inn units to replace Marchwardens. This old trick of Galadhrim helping Rohirrim at Helm’s Deep seems too restrictive for me, I would change it for something more “Rohan-like”, related to the story of this country. If not, you could also create Aglarond Dwarves, even though it’s more a Fourth Age thing (dammit). One last idea would be Ost-In-Edhil Veterans, Eregion support units (I know most of Eregion elven inhabitants moved to Rivendell after the death of Celembrimbor but I’m trying).
- For Lorien, add Men of Rhovanion that are basically Blighted Trappers but not yet corrupted, and strong enough to fight against the Dark Lord. They have unique abilities and wield different weapons than their original corrupted counterpart, to make them feel different. I think this is a better option than Greenwood Warriors, even though those ones are actually not recruitable in the WR faction (that makes them a fair option so Men of Rhovanion really are an idea for a completely potential replacement).
- For Dol Guldur, you could add Rhûn units, because it’s logical, but something different than just giving Phalanxes. Why not Samurais with creepy war masks ? You could call them Rhûn Shoguns, and tell that these nameless warlords, shrouded in mystery, answered the call of the Dark Lord to destroy the West they hated for so long. It sounds cool and not completely extravagant to me.
- For Gondor, I think it would be a good idea to make some sort of Haradwaith allies to call or at least mercenaries that they could pay for their protection, to rethink a little bit the rivalry between those two kingdoms and show that some Southrons didn’t completely hate Gondorians (because the opposite is probably true). If not, what about Arnor remnants in another form than Rangers : for example, Annuminas Keepers, an old order of Monks that guard the ruined tower. Just throwing ideas. Not lorewise, I know.
- For Rivendell, I would suggest Sentinels of the Grey Havens, so we can see the strong connection between Cirdan and Elrond, as members of the White Council and two allied houses (Teleri and Noldor). Mithlond is basically all that is left of Lindon, so it should be important, in my opinion, to reflect that in the Rivendell faction. Honestly, Ered Luin Traders are already a completely valid option, the problem is that we can train them with Erebor, so they’re not unique as Rivendell inn units.
- For Misty Mountains, Angmar people (Inuit-style) would be pretty cool, wielding cold, long-forgotten and rusty swords once forged in the lost kingdom of the Witch-King. You could also forget the swords and just implement those Dark Men of the North whose ancestors saw the reign of Angmar. Still cooler than Black Uruks. If not, one last idea : Black Dwarves, with a heart of stone and the mind of a dragon, consumed by their love for gold.
- For Woodland Realm and Erebor, congratulations again for those two unique inn units.
Regarding signal fires, after thinking about it for a few days, I would say that they are okay at their actual state. After all, they don’t need that much more functions to be attractive. A nice refreshing touch could be added to the game for a reason or another, but signal fires already do the trick.
Entering the long part. Yep, the previous one was the short one. I will now explain what I would like to see in the future for the different “finished” factions of AOTR, even though I understand it is unlikely that those plans will ever change from now on. I’ll try to be as constructive as possible to, maybe, give you a good idea that might be implemented. Let’s go !
I’ll start by saying that, no, I won’t beg for walls, but I’ll ask for them anyway (don’t worry I read the FAQ). I don’t care that much about them, it’s just that I love defensive strategies, and Mordor seems to be the most “defenseful” evil faction in the game, Isengard and Umbar subfaction put aside (DG, MM and Harad are moving forces, spreading across the map, not holders of heavy fortresses). So I wouldn’t complain if those Mordor walls were to be implemented. Even if they probably won’t be anyway. Eh, at least I tried.
Now, entering the serious part : I think Khand Warriors are the great losers of the faction. They don’t synergise with any hero, unlike Morgul Orcs or Black Uruks, and they are basically cheap Rhûn units that everyone stops making once the Rhûn Encampment is level 2. Which is understandable, but sad. It would be interesting to give them a versatile side in the nature of a bow, just like Uruk Scouts. This way, they would be a much more long-term solution for Mordor players that don’t have the money to purchase Rhûn legions but don’t want to struggle with orcs in mid-game. I’m pretty sure this way we could see them used in multiplayer.
The Rhûn faction, I bet, is kind of a running gag in the AOTR team because people keep whining about having it even though the game can’t support more than 11 factions. I do agree, though, on the (completely different) fact that the Rhûn subfaction in Mordor is lacking one last thing to be complete : a support hero. Orcs already have Gorbag, Shagrat and Gothmog. Rhûn soldiers, that basically are late-game Mordor units, have nothing like that, because both Nazgûls and even the Mouth of Sauron don’t have any specific buffs for them.
I would replace Gorbag by a Rhûn captain, Japan-Mongolia-China inspired, who would be much more expensive but also much more efficient at supporting late-game units. If you want to keep Gorbag, Mordor will then have too many heroes, and I would then exit one of the two Nazgûls and give a name to the remaining one (while maybe giving a fifth Nazgûl to Sauron’s summon so the Nine are complete with the spellbook power). Last solution : make one of the two Nazgûls Khamûl, and give him proper Rhûn-related buffs. In my opinion, Rhûn units really need something close to a general to properly take the place of Mordor late-game subfaction (just like Brand for Dale, Great Goblin for Goblin-Town, Imrahil for Dol Amroth, Bard for Esgaroth, Grimbeorn for Beornings, Wulfgar for Dunlendings, Halbarad for Dunedain, Câssimir for Black Numenoreans) : that would be more consistent and, also, really fun.
The rest of the faction is mindblowing, so I don’t have anything else to say, except thank you.
Fountain Guards. Yup. Those heroic units aren’t as strong as they were originally supposed to be, I guess, because they are very rarely recruited. The problem with Fountains Guards is that even if their structure bonus is good, Gondor already has stoneworkers to do the trick about this specific concern, which also provide resources and don’t die easily. Fountain Guards need a buff, and buffing them isn’t only about reducing their price in my opinion, but more granting a bonus that will actually help during battles, and reward the player for keeping them alive for so long, just like other heroic units. I understand the idea of giving all abilities on lvl 1, but the actual bonuses are too inefficient to make the choice of Fountain Guards a valuable choice.
The “Prepare for battle” power of Gandalf is never truly activated. It does not really give any sort of advantage in a fight, and can be launched almost only on cavalry in order to chase more easily fleeing enemies if you want to get a proper bonus from its use. I have a preference for the actual form of Gandalf the White, with less lightnings and kabooms than the Grey of the Rivendell spellbook. But this ability in particular seems to be quite useless in most matches. Replacing it with something in the same vein, that reflects Gandalf’s leader abilities would be really cool. Maybe a passive buff to speed with the image of Narya, “Fire of Heart”, or something like that.
Also, Sworn Allegiance is the only power of the Gondor spellbook nobody ever goes with during a match. Fiefdom troops already come out of the barracks fast, and they are more expensive than spam orcs from Mordor and MM. Everytime someone wants Dol Amroth Citadel into Elessar they go Numenorean Engineering which is way better. I would suggest replacing Sworn Allegiance with whether a summon similar to Oath of Cirion, but with Fiefdom troops that are actually wearing Armaments of the White City. But maybe it’s too powerful due to the numerous buffs Fiefdoms get in the early game. Another possibility would be a Fully Armed and Filthy equivalent giving Armaments of the White City to Fiefdom Troops as a tier 2, which would be really useful for players that intend to keep on recruiting a lot of Fiefdoms in mid-game.
Some of us already had a discussion about Revelers. I learned that they are meant to be magic-infused bards, that use the voice of the Elves to break down corrupted towers or accelerate the grow of crops. That is cool, so I will let go my “change the model” suggestion for them. I love the fact that they are Rivendell siege weapons, and I want them to stay around so we avoid the “duh noldorin ballista” madness (even though I agree on the fact that Noldor could completely make ballistae).
The only other problem I have now with Rivendell is closely related to the fact that micro-managing those Revelers requires some dexterity, because they are weak, slow, and a lot of their abilities can’t be used in one click, you have to select them one by one and actively search for a target on the map. But all of this is understandable. The rest of the faction is extremely well-done, mixing Shire tranquility with Arnor remnants and Noldorin forgotten glory.
Another thing I would like to say though is that Elladan and Elrohir are never chosen by players. Their powers counter orcs and buff Dunedain, sure, but the fact that they are blocked behind a passive tier 2 is really costly in PP, and that’s probably why people just recruit Halbarad while going for Dunedain, so they can go Breath of Manwë, Old Kingdom or Many Meetings and be more proactive with their tier 2. Honestly, you should do the same as for Easterlings and Westfolders : a good power that unlocks units once used for the first time. Maybe a stun (Dunedain Ambush !) ? Or even a summon of unique Arnor-style Dunedain that can replace Many Meetings (meaning I lack another idea to fill the speelbook, dammit). I think you get my idea anyway : the brothers are just too expensive for what they do, and their resource price isn’t the origin of the problem.
d) Misty Mountains
I’m amazed by the incoming content for this faction, lots of both original and interesting updates (notably the whole Mountain-Orcs thing that will become more central to the faction thanks to Bolg). With the Untamed Allegiance finally replaced by something much more powerful (and moved to the fortress so it becomes surprisingly strong on some maps), MM is truly polished to a fairly finished level, showing your implication to completely rework the original “goblin” faction.
However, Giant Bats are bad. Just bad. The problem is that when you can train Cave-Trolls, Snow-Trolls, Gundabad Stone-Trolls, Mountain Giants, Fire-Wyms and stuff, you don’t need Bats, and they don’t even sound exciting. If there was a much more restrained monster choice for MM, maybe they would be used, but they need to much investment and micro-managing compared to how useful they actually are. The cold-drake that is coming seems way more appropriate to harass cavalry from the skies, for he is tougher and has more health. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone sustain a bat long enough for it to reach lvl 3 so it can finally regen with each hit. Their passive to counter flying units would be interesting in a game like Warcraft III that has a lot of flying units, but in BFME… I just think they should be scrapped in their actual form, they serve a too specific purpose for me.
About the spellbook : Untamed Allegiance, which was a joke, got a huge buff by entering the fortress, replaced by a powerful healing summon (in MM, so beware the Three Brothers). The problem stands now more around T3s, because the Watcher clearly isn’t that great compared to the extremely useful Winter and the honestly good Were-Wyrm that delves tunnels. With Durin’s Bane being also way more versatile than the Fire-drakes Wrath, the bottom right of this spellbook appears to be quite abandoned each game. A good way to prevent this would be to rework the positioning of the tree, but the Watcher would be still bad. I would just make him a T2 again, pushing down the Scavenger so it becomes more or less passive, or something like that. If you have an idea to make the Watcher a proper T3 compared to his neighbors, this would be great to implement it. Maybe this is the perfect occasion to find a true spot for those Giant Bats, as a summon ! But I would understand this sounds kind of repetitive with the actual Bats tier 1. Oh, well.
e) Dol Guldur
I once supported the idea of a Dol Guldur Dark Obelisk building, leading to some proper turtling strategies for DG with debuffing enemies instead of buffing allies with heroic statues. I still do. It would be some kind of a bonus aside from ruined towers and barrows that already are greatly efficient concerning this specific aspect. However, this is an additional suggestion, so it is less important than corrective suggestions.
One of the actual problems with Dol Guldur is that Risen Dead, Ravagers and Spiders are really strong, and they outvalue each other aspect of the faction. For example, Harbingers of Shadow or Unburied Wights, that are extremely fun and cool undead units : I don’t see them that much used, which is a shame because I love their designs and effects. For Risen Dead notably, I think that a nerf might be necessary to give more depth to other units. Spiders might also be a little bit too fast, you can never catch them up with pikes unless the DG player stops micro-ing them.
The speelbook has one power that seems underused for me, that is the Spell of Concealment. The Spawn of Carcharoth is so good (and the two other T2s being interesting enough) that the aforementioned power is just never played. The fact that it can stealth allied structures is truly interesting, and has the potential to give birth to very innovative strategies, but I think the positioning of the tree would need a rework to see this power played. The problem might also come from the Gift of the Necromancer tier 4 that is basically insane, but I don’t really know how to fix that one apart from reducing its damage (and maybe increasing its speed to compensate).
The Erebor faction is close to perfect. It has two generations of kings each giving a very different gameplay, cool designs, interesting subfactions, etc. The problem I repeatedly have with this faction directly relates to Dwarves being SLOW. I know this is part of the deal when you’re choosing Erebor, because even the early-game units are tanky as hell, but the Grim Hammers and Ered Luin Rangers that respectively are supposed to be anti-spam and work out as a replacement for cavalry sadly aren’t that efficient. But, they’re cool, and that is important. I would personally think this specific remark is due to my lack of skill playing the game, not to a balance problem. But let me know if somebody else thinks that those two specific units feel inefficient.
The power Muster the Dwarves is very bad. Dwarves are expensive, so you can’t queue a large number of them before using the power, and slow, so you can’t make them rush in to save the day after they made it out of the barracks faster than usual. You truly need to change that power into something better, in my opinion, because nobody’s ever going to use a power which is that bad, unless they are in a very very specific situation that involves an enemy army in the base and a lot of resources to spend instantaneously. I also think Fully Armed and Filthy should give additional Forged Blades with the Heavy Armor, given the very restrained radius of the power. Also, Send in the Goats is already strong in itself, but it then drives into the extremely powerful and absolutely epic Moria Reclaimed, that then gives you access to the not less insane Cave-in. I would seriously recommend changing the positioning in the tree to avoid this optimized “auto-choose” for the Erebor spellbook, but I heard it was supposed to happen in 7.0, so it’s great.
The upcoming release of the strengthened subfaction will make your Isengard the best rendition of it ever showed on screen. To be honest, I don’t really see what could be improved, the range defenses on walls put aside (but nobody’s doing walls anymore so I guess it’s not that important).
One thing that still feels weird to me though, is the idea of keeping the BFME 2 fortress upgrades that need other fortresses to grow stronger. That seems not consistent with the dynamic core of AOTR, in which building a second fortress in a game already seems to be unlikely, but 3, almost impossible. If you don’t want to change the effects of these upgrades, I would simply implement them as a slightly better upgrade than the lvl 1 (for example, Burning Forges at 35 % or Excavations at 20 %) so the player does not read an effect that will never get to properly affect his game because they will never have more than two fortresses during a match. I don’t know if you understand what I mean, but this feels really unnecessary to me to let this kind of mechanics in AOTR, because they’ll never trigger anyway, so I don’t know why they are still here.
h) Woodland Realm
Druids of the Oaken Order don’t exist. It’s sad to say, but they are never used by anyone. And that’s a shame, again, the original idea is stunning and their powers very cool. The problem is that they’re really bad because they need unfair amounts of upgrading, micro-managing and grouping for very little rewards in the end. I would highly suggest giving them the ability to strike people on the head with their staff, so they can defend themselves in combat, and making them resilient enough so they can be “abandoned” in a big melee without them dying at lightning speed against low tier units. And 1000 is too expensive to obtain the ability to give a slight buff to a single hero (at least there is the autocast but it is really difficult to micro-manage efficiently).
About the speelbook now. Elvenking’s Decree should be switched sides with Elvenking’s Feast in my opinion, because it would make people think a little bit more about which tier 3 they actually want, because Elvenking’s Feast is way more often chosen in multiplayer. Elvenking’s Road is honestly in a position similar as Spell of Concealment for DG in my opinion : great idea, never used. I don’t really know how it could be possible to make this spell more attractive, maybe by giving a proper passive buff to units hanging around the Waystone ?
Rohan is one of the coolest factions, and I have way too much fun charging in with dozens of riders yelling “À mooooooooort !” and all this kind of stuff. Without any surprise though, one of the black spots of this faction is the spellbook power “Muster the Rohirrim”, which is bad and this is why nobody’s using it. Again, cavalry units are expensive and making them train faster doesn’t make any sense unless you have a bazillion resources to spend in one shot, which is rare because you only save big stonks of resources to get expensive heroes or heroic units. You could replace that power, I think, with a passive buff to cavalry speed production, or an equivalent to Fully Armed and Filthy but for cavalry only, it would be in my opinion much more efficient coupled with a strategy that intends to create an army of almost only horsemen.
Rohirrim and Rohirrim archers are sadly often pointless. They are taking a long time to be recruited, and their intrinsic power isn’t as great as the one Riders of Snowbourne are taking advantage of. All of those units need a lvl 2 stables to be available, but the choice of the player often tends to be the Snowbourne instead of Rohirrim, because the first are quite stronger than the seconds without any noticeable difference in time of training, price or other weaknesses. I would say that maybe a Horde bonus on Rohirrim would make them a great choice to build a cavalry-only army. This way we could see them used more often compared to Riders of Snowbourne.
To be honest, I don’t really have any other remarks about Rohan, all other units and powers have their utility and weaknesses, and the heroes are incredibly well-made.
The Lothlorien faction also is on the way to its final form, with the rework of the Mallorns mechanics and the new models. I sincerely don’t have anything to say about this faction. The spellbook is balanced, the units all have their place and purpose, the heroes are very good overall… Nope, really, can’t see any way of doing better than it is now. Can’t wait for the new Mallorns !
III) The End (finally !)
If I have any more suggestions for you, guys, I promise I’ll edit this topic to let you know. Thanks for reading until the end ! I really hope my ideas will be at least discussed on the forum by various people, because I truly believe that some of them could make this mod even better than it is currently.
Remember that you’re free to disagree and me too, we can debate and stay polite at the same time. Again, sorry if my English language is written in an unconventional way that might drive me to be misunderstood. Looking forward to your answers, bye bye !
Edited by Nerevar42, 02 June 2021 - 06:53 PM.