Viking Conquest - Battle of Aescesdun - quality of play

direstorm

Recruit
Best answers
0
Summary:

Battle of Ascension content should get a second pass. Based on forum thread titles it sounds like it might need a technical pass anyhow, so why not get a content guy involved too?

Issue occurred in current steam version of game as of 1/5/17, no third-party mods, save game was from latest version.

For your convenience, a copy of the relevant save (just prior to the battle) is https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_RHD1oLuE0ON0JCQWlqWjQ1UzQ/view?usp=sharing

Background:

Just ran through the Battle of Aescesdun. Battle took six hours over three attempts to complete. My forces were approximately 185 strong (I can only fit 144 on my boats, so there you go) averaging mid-tier troops, which I feel is appropriate for this stage of the campaign: I have two forts (although I would -love- if Din Bych could stop getting attacked while I try to do the campaign quests) with small garrisons, and a modest income, with a Snekka and three Karvi's to my name.

I'm a total newbie, didn't even do a complete run-through of a vanilla campaign yet. I got the boxed set of all the M&B games for christmas, and I've been playing them basically non-stop since. I can sometimes win tournaments, if I don't get stuck with a spear or a q-staff against a sword-wielding opponent, but I'm getting better.

My preferred tactic for myself (since AI seems to be too dumb to do this consistently to a shield wall) is to circle around on a horse chopping down archers and those juicy fat targets at the back of the shield wall with some javelins, while my troops turtle up and soak arrows. I feel like I've got sort of a mid-level grasp of tactics, which seems to be about what I need for this stage of the game. My difficulty settings are at 14%. My first two attempts at this battle had battle size set to 150, and my final (successful) attempt I set it to 450.

For the battle of Aescesdun, I feel like the battle content and approach could use some adjustment. One thing I noticed, is that the battle starts with a huge majority of my troops and only a few if any friendly NPCs, who run in and die right away.

:grin: The battle starts out pretty great: my troops turtle up, I take out the archers, they grind through the first couple waves, everything is great.

Issue:

The problem starts around wave 3, roughly when a -normal- battle would take a break. My troops have already lost about half their numbers, and they've taken out three times their number in vikings. I'm out of javelins and scrounging on the battlefield for more, my troops are out of javelins and my archers are running out of arrows and rocks.

In real life, a sane commander would pull those troops back, get them some water, some more arrows and if available a fresh horse, while the allied commanders -- who up til now have been sitting on their butts -- take a stab at the decimated, demoralized enemy.

:twisted: :evil:  :mad: What happens in the game is my horse gets shot out from under me and my troops are ground into paste through waves 4 and 5. At this point, the winning strategy is for me to run to a corner and go AFK for an hour or two while the NPC's duke it out. From a gameplay perspective, this is problematic, and unless I want to bring 600-800 troops on this little outing there's no way to avoid this problem. There's also no warning that hey, this is a three-hour epic battle with no potty breaks, so you'd better hit the head and grab a drink because you're going to be here a while.  :ohdear:

Having intentionally sent me through a meat grinder (thanks!) you then cheerfully point out that this was just a warm up -- the real battle is around the corner, and so sorry your troops are all sausage now, here's 10k pesos to go recruit some new ones.  :evil:

Proposed Solution:

First, I suggest rethinking the whole massive AI on AI action. If the player's been following the Wessex campaign, they've already seen big AI numbers. The important issue to consider here is that this battle does not work as scripted. It is not fun gameplay to intentionally grind a player's hard-earned force into paste and then, to add insult to injury, force the player to sit in a corner for an hour while the big boys decide things 75 troops at a time, with no way to skip and good odds, if the player attempts to participate (by actually playing the game), that s/he will be killed and forced to load their last save (no other battles work like that, only the story ones, and this one strikes me as especially ornery).

The solution I propose has two parts. First, why not have those same 1200 vikings broken up into two battles of 600? This can lead to a potentially greater feeling of "this is an epic battle" because there's room for additional plot exposition: The vikings have taken the hill, we have to charge uphill to take it back. This gives an important pause in pacing for ammo, health recovery thanks to first aid or whatever that skill is, and a key bathroom/beverage/save point break.

Second, in every campaign battle I did with the default AI, if I had 100 troops and they have 200 on my side, then when the battle starts I have 25 and they have 50. Why does this battle not do that? It needs to do that, because I'm a lot more comfortable leading my men into a meatgrinder 20 at a time while the AI with eight times more troops than me does all the heavy lifting. I feel like this may be a glitch of some sort. Do all the commanders but me in this battle have a tactics score of zero? There's something wrong here.

Conclusion:

Great game, I was thrilled that you seem to be actively developing and maintaining a game that's ten years old. That's epic, guys. Great job with the game, I can really appreciate the effort that went into it. There was a steam patch two weeks ago.  :shock:

Hoping you guys put this into the bug tracker.  I know it's just a quality of life fix, it's low priority, but c'mon. It's an easy fix. You don't need to torment a player who's already dropped almost a hundred hours into the game. The RNG will do that just fine without your help.

GG,

Dire of Storm
 

kalarhan

Python Saint
Count
WBNWVCWF&S
Best answers
31
as a new player: which difficulty are you using?

if you set it to 1/4 damage (player) and 1/2 damage (friendlies) things will look very differently from a normal difficulty battle (or a insane damage one).
 

direstorm

Recruit
Best answers
0
Those are the settings I had it on. I'm also using False Uthbert's armor from the duel on the farmstead, which means that in the majority of cases even if something hits me I take no damage. However, the occasional 1 and 2 damage hits add up over time, and my pony takes much more of a beating than I do. So like I said, I do fine for the first few waves, but then my horse dies. At that point, my role as a flanking skirmisher is pretty much done. Anything I do which could expose me to damage tends not to work very well if I do it for an hour straight.

I imagine this fight looks pretty similar on higher damage settings, just the cutoff point at which "do anything and you lose" happens probably occurs faster because you're taking more damage.

Having friendlies take more damage than enemies do would turn this battle into a nightmare, because first your troops get ground into paste, then your allied AI will -lose- instead of fighting on even ground (or with an advantage).
 

kalarhan

Python Saint
Count
WBNWVCWF&S
Best answers
31
I see.

Seems like you are looking for a difficulty similar to what RPG games have, some call it casual, others storymode. Its a setting that makes you pretty much immortal (you and your army), for a high focus on the story and not on gameplay/combat.

The options listed above should be enough for a casual play, but it never hurts to retest and check balance  :grin:

If you don't want to wait for a future patch (if the devs do decide to release one for this), you could use a few alternatives (for any tough battle):

1) check your battle-size. Make sure it let you play with 30+ FPS on the combat phase (when all agents are attacking each other). Battle may start with 120 FPS, but what really matter is when swords are hitting shields (FPS drops a lot)

2) enable cheat (game launcher). You can use CTRL+F4 and CTRL+SHIFT+F4 to kill enemies

3) check mod subforum for ways to tweak your game and make it your own (you set the rules of the universe)

 

direstorm

Recruit
Best answers
0
Kalarhan, I'm not looking for an easy mode. I tried bumping my difficulty up a bit and it seems to be exactly what I expected. I will probably bump it up a bit more in the future now that I know how to play. Under ordinary circumstances, the difficulty is fine.

You'll also note please that I beat this battle -before- posting on the forums. I'm not saying wah, I lost, game is too hard, make it easy. It has an easy mode.

Campaign battles don't use the ordinary battle mechanics. That's the first thing to keep in mind. Ordinarily, if I get low on health or my troops start being stupid, I can pull back. I lose some renown, sure, but I get some health back, my troops regroup, and my horse recovers its full health. Now, this is the important mechanic for this battle.

In this battle, I can't do that.

For ordinary battles, and for the other battles in the campaign that I tried (I finished the campaign since my first post) the mechanics are fine. For the battle of Aescesdun, and only for that battle, the mechanics of campaign combat are broken.

This battle is not like other battles because ordinary battle mechanics don't apply. Check out the save file I posted if you want to take a look at it. Use whatever difficulty you like. I get that you're an elite, hardcore player or whatever and you can kill all 1600 enemies by yourself. Give it a try, see what happens.
 
Best answers
0
Hi direstorm,
This is a very special battle, it's the biggest battle, it's not a common battle. It was designed to be a true challenge for the players and it was thought to require a very big effort from the player to (maybe) finally end the storyline.
During this time a lot of players have talked/argue about this battle and it was decided to keep it this way... we also decided to don't include certain items/weapons and...  :facepalm: eventually they spawn :mrgreen: We might reconsider in the future if we see players don't appreciate it and it seems a "must do".
 

kzwix

Recruit
Best answers
0
I concur exactly with the original poster. The battle is VERY long, and, for my part, I play in hard (100% damage to me and my troops). I usually died around wave 3 or 4, especially seeing how I didn't have any troops obeying me after the first waves (it sure doesn't help that the enemy gets reinforcements but you don't until YOUR numbers get low enough, forcing the survivors to get ground to paste before numbers can be evened up a bit).

But the very tedious part is that you cannot afford to get damaged too much (else, you bleed out slowly, which, in this battle, means that you die and have to reload a previous save), you cannot afford to take many risks (a javelin in the back on wave 6, for instance, could just make you lose 2 or 3 hours of battle...), and so, you have to remain on the border of the battle. I used to go, on foot, around the shield wall, and harass enemies where I could get close without taking damage (or only a little bit, when unlucky), to help the battle. It worked quite well, but, after some time, I didn't have enough health to continue this tactic, and had to sit it out far away, looking at the AI armies without anything to do.

I had saved my horse (left it FAR away from the battle lines, for it to survive the constant arrow / javelin hailstorm), so I called it back, and spent 3/4 of the battle circling around at respectful distance, while the big boys had their fun hitting each other with sticks, and I had maybe 5% health left.
Then, when I saw that the battle seemed to near its end (lower quality troops, their shield wall dangerously approaching our side), I began hit and run tactics with lance, on horseback - aiming for the rear corner guys of the enemy wall, and being far enough before others turn on me, rinse and repeat.

Well, it worked, and I managed to finish the battle, after maybe 20 or 30 deaths, reloads, etc.


Not complaining about the difficulty, here, but the cumbersome feeling that this is a battle that I MUST go through ASAP (especially with the battleground following me around), and it being very punishing, and very long (it took me several hours to grind through it, and several near misses of several hours each, too, in addition to a lot of quick fails where I took a javelin in the 10 first minutes, or lost half my life on wave one, etc.), it might use a little reworking.

Additionally, the game speaks about two hills, but you don't really see them (there's a kind of low bump with a tree in the middle of the killing field, but it hardly counts as a "hill", in my humble opinion). I guess it's a historic fact that the battle was fought around two hills, but it could be grounds around which to split the battle in two halves, for instance. Like, first, you help around the "first" hill, then around the second one, or whatever.

To be honest, I didn't use shield wall, at the time (didn't know how), so I merely led my troops around the sides of the enemy shield wall, while they crashed against the shield wall of my allies, or I led my troops against the enemy skirmishers/archers, while the walls lumbered on, fighting each other, far away. But, as the battleground is quite small, and you control only a small portion of the forces, you see a "punish the victor" effect, in that even when you win the engagement, and start pursuing the remnants of their wall, suddenly, you get surrounded by a huge lot of enemies spawning around you, or nearly surrounded by enemies popping very near in front of you, and you have to flee quickly to avoid being slaughtered.

So, in a normal battle, it's fine, because usually you don't fight a lot near the enemy spawn point, and if everything goes wrong, you can back off, or you get stunned, etc, but here, it's a real pain.

I guess that enemy spawn mechanic cannot be modified, but it really harms the overall feeling of the battle, along with the fact that it's too damn long, and that you don't control a thing for a big part of the battle time. Why not split it in several 400-500 men each side battles (here, it was a monster 1250 vs 1250 battle), which would make it more manageable, and, more importantly, let you see a sort of "progress bar" in the battle, instead of wondering how many more waves you'll have to grind before it is through. Like, you would fight against a few waves, get a screen telling you how the enemy regroups, whatever, and you'd know you have reached a "completion threshold" in your battle. Then fight again, have another screen, and last part of the battle, or something like this.

Or, possibly, have the player be named "marshal" before the battle, in recognition of their awesome efficiency at arms, which would, at the very least, give them something to do during the whole battle, as they would be able to command all the troops, not only their own. That way, we could avoid having a lot of troops pursuing the enemy to their spawn point (where they WILL get slaughtered when enemy reinforcement pop up), move the battle away, and, overall, have a much more interesting gameplay. Plus, the possibility of changing history by having comparatively very few casualties :smile:
 

direstorm

Recruit
Best answers
0
Kalarhan, I beat the battle before I made my first post. I hope your advice helps newbies who are stuck who dig this thread up in the future.

CeltiberoCaesar, thank you for your reply. Overall, I feel that the developers did a great job with the Mount and Blade Viking Conquest DLC, but I also feel that the battle of Aescesdun is a rare example of bad design. I'm sure it was a lot of fun to design and develop this epic battle, but as the player, I feel left out. It is not an epic challenge; the winning strategy is to send your troops into the meatgrinder, then sit in a corner for a few hours and play some other game with M&B alt-tabbed. This is an epic fail on the part of the design team.

I understand that this is a finished product and you are unlikely to revisit it.

Hope you all have a happy new year.
 

DaVincix

Veteran
WBNWVCM&BWF&S
Best answers
0
Ooh jesus ... lol.

I come back here to the Taleworlds forums after having done my last post within the Brytenwalda forum, good time prior to VC release, means years ago (as i submodded Brytenwalda with another one, for bit more stats realism and historical strategy outcome support tweaks).

Hello again, guys, so to speak. My first post, iirc., after these years.

VC lingered in my Steam library ... finally started it to play, and was surprised how much quality this Brytenwalda mod-commercial-follow-up provides. Two worlds between what i knew under Brytenwalda and what VC became regarding the overall game design. 1000 Kudos to the devs for this high professional done "mod"! You deserve every coin you got/get due to going commercial with your former mod.

Started VC story mode, and i'm since then addicted again to Warband aka your VC.
In actuality, i'm waiting on Bannerlord. Was bored to play CK2 and other games, and thus fired good old Warband, but just VC.

I sneeked into the VC forums already a bit right after VC fired, found the beta announcement 2.032 today, and wanted to re-start with this beta patch. And then to play strictly along the story mode - which i didn't as of yet (in current game, i'm in England and established just my refuge at the south coast below Wincester and have running 3 enterprises (bakeries only but: Dorestad, Cantwaraburgh, Bosvenegh). ... i even went out of story mode, prior to the order by Hrodolf to kill the Frisian rebel (... well, i don't like that order, better would be an alternative way to end this story step ... anyway, in a former start, i did this kill and then the Sven Doccinga attack, but stopped then).

So, after this introduction, now to ontopic:

What i read here, and if it is true, as direstorm and kzwix describe this story battle, then it is actually a game design mistake, as direstorm mentioned already. Sorry to say this.
Saying this as veteran pc game player (since the end of the 90s) and veteran game modder (since 2005 also total conversion mod leader/main coder for years, not TaleWorlds games though).
There can't be two opinions on this, it's really fact, if a opinion be fact (it can't be really, but hey, i wanna underline, what the two players critizise in this thread, with right).

Dear devs, you really should give the player a choice: One for the players, who have hours over hours time and fun to make this battle, and one which goes around it.

The latter one could be fe.: Start playing the battle, winning a bit, then second or third enemy wave overwhelms, and end of story mode. Scripted. Just a picture appears, that you have been found half dead, similar to the start of the story mode at Doccinga. And good is the thing - player goes into sandbox, if he wants to play on afterwards.
You can even copy the code for this battle end, from the initial Doccinga code, i guess? (with a bit of actualization for this matter, of course)

I actually do not plan to invest hours over hours for one battle, until i figured out the very probably minimal possible way to win this battle and end the story mode with this - nope, this is time-stealing! I'm an adult, not possibly a kid, which possibly has or just takes the time to play such battles a half day long.
And remember, i'm an old Warband player, and i know that battles can be tough in this game, but please don't steal our precious time by constraint, when we wanna play through the story mode.
Sounds like a rant, this paragraph? ... it's not meant as that, i really love you for the VC creation ( solely except for the random ctd's and freezes :wink: ).
A pro-tipp just for your game designing. Please change your course for this script-battle with the two above suggested options.

Because after i have read this thread, i decided to start the beta patch 2.032, but playing further my current match.
I'll rewatch here, if you make an alternative code for this battle, and then, yes, actually wanna play the story mode through, as you designed it (i became curious for the whole story mode, and finally just after i have read another thread, which convinced me to make it along the scripted story). 

VC devs, thanks for reading, just in case.



 

DaVincix

Veteran
WBNWVCM&BWF&S
Best answers
0
Thanks for a quick answer. Appreciated. You are right in principle, with first making own experiences, but the posts of the two players above are very very detailled in their problem description, and nobody reflected them as you did now on my post. Rather the one who is a VC dev, confirms their issue with his reply and says, it is that way by design goal, imo. i can't read something else out of it.

Can you elaborate this a bit more, how that battle ends after few minutes and is won though or rather story mode ends?
I neeeed to know that more detailled, because if so, then i get to a new start with beta patch 2.032 and play along story mode, still today.

( I'm not botherered with possible spoilers ... just please explain the mechanic, how players are able to end the story mode at this battle story point, it's all i need :wink: )

P.S. As for "..VC devs (Idibil, Adorno, Moto, CeltiberoCaesar, etc).." - i know the guys, i'm not new to the forums, but yes, it's years ago that i was present, thanks for making me aware of the indicator item "external devs". I also remember your name, and see you around in many many threads, arent't you a moderator or something like that?
 

DaVincix

Veteran
WBNWVCM&BWF&S
Best answers
0
I had a clear question. If you have no reply to the point made, contrary to CeltiberoCaesar who made already a clear statement to the according final story battle from which we speak in this thread, just skip it. My initial post was directed to the devs about that final story battle, not meant to discuss common game and forum stuff.
However, let's just forget this thread here. Or, if a dev has the will and time, replies once more, if the final battle stuff will be or won't be changed still, in a future patch - that could put the aspect(s) of the thread to a final end. 

P.S. As ex-Warband modder myself, and just veteran player and modder, as i wrote in my intial post here, Kalahan, you could assume from such a guy, that i know about tweak and cheat options. Look, as further info, i saw the M&B development from its rookiest days (pre-alpha), while this is not the thread theme, but you ashame somebody like me, when you tell stuff, which perhaps would fit to gaming newcomers.

Edit: Ok, i see (kalahan's posts deleted, he himself or a moderator).
Just for the protocoll :wink: My last two posts were directed to kalahan, who certainly tried to help (as he is doing all around in the forums, which is to appreciate, no question), but didn't in my case.
It's alright, can happen.
 
Best answers
0
Hi DaVincix,
Sorry for the delay.
I missed what happened before I arrived.... In any case... The design of the battle (and almost the complete storyline) was to ended in this final battle... and the idea was to be a "epic final battle" and therefore it was that way. We would have considered to make some of those idea... but the development time ended long time ago. Sorry but only issue are treated and fixed.

Thanks for coming back and I hope see you again.
 

DaVincix

Veteran
WBNWVCM&BWF&S
Best answers
0
Thanks Celtibero, for your reply, i understand the reasoning. As for me, we can put the thread to rest.

Otherwise:

I'm still interested, how other VC addicts play this final story (scripted) battle.
Also, what happens formerly and afterwards.
Imo. spoilers aren't a theme, really.
 

nGabor

Sergeant
WBVCWF&S
Best answers
0
DaVincix said:
I'm still interested, how other VC addicts play this final story (scripted) battle.
Also, what happens formerly and afterwards.
Imo. spoilers aren't a theme, really.
In case you are still interested, here is how I finished this battle.

I played on full damage, battle size 300.
I was on wessex side.
My army was ~60 men, very mixed from nobles to freeholders
I made separate group for my companions (practical to keep them alive for their party skills)

Early stage:

- Ordered companions to hold position in the back, to be avialable at the end of the battle.
- Ordered my man forward to the middle of the field while I was riding my horse slowly.
Waited for the armies to clash, then ordered my troops to attack the infantry units.
- Myself got to the back of the enemy formation, cut down some skirmishers and killed the viking leader.
- Then I continued to harras the enemy shieldwall from the back. When my horse got hurt I changed to another horse roaming the fileld.
- Every time our side got reinforced I ordered my men to retreat to the middle of the field to keep them alive.

This took 2 or 3 waves.

Mid battle:

- Affter I lost most of my troops I dismounted and ordered the remainders to follow. I took position on the right flank of our shieldwall and carefully got into the melee with my balanced goedelic champion sword (fast, strong, long) cutting down hundreds of nords, beheading many skirmishers while advancing.
(This was the part when I died most of the times, not beeing careful enough)

End battle:

- At this point Vikings seemed to overwhelm the Saxons. They had better troops and pushed us back very much. I put all my hope to my contribution (I felt I cut down hundreds) and the slight advantage in troop numbers.
- After countless waves (I was immersed deeply and concentrating to avoid enemy spears) I noticed they dont get reinforcements so I called my compainons, and finished the remainders of the enemy.


Unlike others I really enjoyed the design, the epic, huge battle. I had to reload many times but it was a cathartic experience when finally the last enemy was cut down.

I hope you dont mind the 'necro' but I read the negative critics on the game design, so I would give a look from a different viewpoint.
 

bodhi

Veteran
Best answers
0
Sorry for the necro, but I don't wnt to create a new thread just for one single related question...

Does anyone know if the Balance Mod makes this mission more difficult? I'm finding this battle impossible to win. I'm on the side of West Seaxe. The Beserkers can one shot me, heavy javelins can take as much as 80% of my health. The few times I have reached the end, all of my allies are dead and I'm left alone to face 30-40 enemies.

I'm not a weak gamer, I find games like darksouls a walk in the park and love difficult games. But this seems, hmmm, "off".

PS: I'm not using a horse. I'm on the ground with my boys, like a real man-warrior should be. Could this be why. No horse cheese?
 

Tingyun

Knight at Arms
Best answers
0
bodhi68k said:
Does anyone know if the Balance Mod makes this mission more difficult?
Better to ask this sort of question in the Balance Mod thread, since the support forum is for support from the VC devs for the official version. The short answer is no, but I’ll post a more complete discussion at the thread: https://forums.taleworlds.com/index.php/topic,373658.msg9031029.html#msg9031029