I've playing a lot of TWWH 2 multiplayer recently, some of you probably played with me in tournaments or on ladder, and after acquiring some experience of how the game's multiplayer works I decided to express my thought about it. Because it's a very fun and underappreciated part of any total war game. Multiplayer definitely deserves love and attention from the community and developers. It's a rough gem, as they say.
The main problem with TWWH multiplayer is how unforgiving and intense it is, you'd think that a game orientated at slow, thoughtful, turn based single player would translated this style of game play to online as well. But nothing like it. Online battles last on average 3 to 5 minutes and they are fast, up close and vicious. Like two weasels on cocaine having a knife fight in a can of Pringles. Atrocious and exhilarating at the same time.
Online battles work like that because of two reasons, in my opinion. First - the only way to win is to destroy the opponent's army, second - you can have no reinforcements so all errors you make cannot be fixed. Thankfully TWWH online is fairly populated and building armies doesn't take much time so the down time between matches is very short. But, how can the battles themselves remain fast and become more forgiving at the same time?
Frist, change the main game play mode from a sort of 1v1 "death match" that we have been playing since Total War 1 to "domination" type mode. Maps would be separated in several zones, lets say five, each of equal width and the length of the entire map. Like a field in american
handegg football. Both players start in the middle zone and fight to push the enemy army to the next zone behind the opponent. Until the fight takes place in the last zone on the opposite edge of the map, by taking control of each zone a player would get a point. The winner is decided by the number of points accumulated. The zone is considered under one player's dominance if he has the majority of his army in it, while the other player's army has been pushed to the next zone.
Essentially the current play style of battles stays the same, but the now there is more to do rather than just kill the enemy. You can still flank and experiment with different army builds, but with "domination" mode I suggest the battlefield starts to play a role in the game. Because right now maps are either really good aesthetics or a hindrance to 1v1 games. Depending on how the map was designed. Be damned the large-forest-in-the-middle maps.
Second, introduce reinforcements to allow more room for error. Lets say every x amount of time each player gets some points he can use to summon reinforcements on the field. Similarly how it's done in single player when reinforcing armies arrive from the edge of of the map. But in multiplayer new units should spawn closer to the main fighting, and probably have some invulnerability period so the enemy can't camp them attack right as they spawn. This way each player has new units available on the field and can use them to tip the battle in his favor.
One of the most enraging and easy ways to loose online is to either bring the wrong army and let your opponent have all the counters while you have none, or loose some units to friendly fire. Which in TWWH is very common and can cost you a game if you'r not careful. I've seen many times when a dragon's breath killed more of friendly units than enemy's. It's really painful to kill your 1300 gold Sword Masters of Hoeth with your 2400 gold Star Dragon. And have no way help yourself other than not do it in the next match.
With reinforcements the battles should become much more forgiving and "fluid", because you can change your army on the fly and not be limited by your initial set up that you brought. Or at least have some ways to change it. Having fixed and limited army set up is not bad in and of itself, but the way it is right now means that every mistake is very costly one.
My topic turned out to be pretty long for most posts on this forum so before going forward with my ideas, I'd like to read your thoughts on what I already wrote.