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The Wood Elf Update: A Parade of Useless Buffs, or: A Missed Opportunity

AldaronAldaron Registered Users Posts: 3
Disclaimer: In this thread, I am not claiming that the Wood Elves have been made unplayable, or too weak, nor am I interested in damning the new DLC in its entirety. I do think some of the new mechanics are very cool (world roots, and healing the forests IN PRINCIPLE).

I am, however, both puzzled and disappointed by the large number of useless buffs the Wood Elves seem to have received in their rework, and a very noticeable lack of 'wow-factor' mechanic and units in this DLC, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth and a noticeably more lackluster experience compared to the standard we have become accustomed to in previous lord packs. I find this all the more noticeable as the contrast with the Skaven mechanics becomes more apparent. To clarify, I am focusing solely on campaign here. Humour me a moment, and allow me to explain.

I LOATHE useless buffs. Possibly more than anything else in a Total War game, they break my game experience. There is, in my opinion, nothing more disheartening to the player than a legendary lord with a faction trait that makes no difference to your faction regardless of difficulty level or campaign progression. The same is true of useless techs, useless skills in Lord skill trees, useless mount options, and useless special building buffs. Topping the list come main campaign objectives that provide meaningless bonuses, and buffs to units unit that are useless/unusable/poorly designed/serve no purpose, and which do nothing to fix these units.

I think I dislike these things so much for two reasons. Firstly, because they feel mildly insulting to the player. You get the feeling of 'Really, CA? YOU know - and I KNOW - that this skill/building/LL/tech/campaign buff/mechanic makes NO difference to my game in any way, at any difficulty, at any stage in the campaign. You still put it in, rather than put in something useful or exciting. Why? Am I supposed to get excited about this?'

The second reason is because of the real pleasure useful buffs, traits, objectives and mechanics can provide - and because after some of the stellar content CA has produced in DLCs and FLCs up to this point, we KNOW they can do so much better.

As the Warhammer Total War series has developed and matured I found myself thrilled at the fact that we seemed to have almost completely abandoned meaningless buffs and mechanics after Warhammer I.

Unfortunately, from what I've seen so far, the Wood Elf DLC is absolutely RIFE with buffs and campaign mechanics the presence or absence of which are absolutely not noticeable regardless of difficulty or campaign stage, or yet which just provide no use whatsoever to the player.
To drive my point home, I am providing a list of the worst offenders below, starting with the tech tree, moving on to Lord faction buffs and skills, buffs from special buildings, and last but not least campaign mechanics. I am including useless PARTS of buffs as well – for example, when a tech provides a decent buff along a completely useless one. This is bad design in my opinion – you should not be made to feel robbed or Meh about a tech because only half of it is useful and the half utterly pointless.
At the end, I will contrast these with buffs and mechanics for other factions which provide, in my opinion, far more rewarding experiences.
I do this in the hope that someone from CA will see this and pass this on, and that this may provoke a bit of a rework/rethink of this update, as I think this is really necessary.
This is not about doomstacks, or about relative faction strength – although I do think that this is an issue in this DLC as well – but about player reward and experience.

I - The Tech tree

Wisdom of the Eagle Lords – 10% Physical resistance and +25 AP damage for Great Eagles. Great Eagles are a weak, extremely situational unit which is near useless in early campaign and a liability in mid-to late campaign. You should not recruit great eagles. This does not make them useful. Why?

Mathlann, Lord of the Deeps – Immune to storm attrition, +100% Gold from ports. Ports make you no money even with this tech. You thus have no incentive to conquer any ports in campaign, and those you conquer you cannot hold. You will not go out to sea. Why?

Asuryan, the Creator & Ladrielle, Lady of Mists - +15 and 20 relations with High Elves & Bretonnia respectively. Wiped out by great power penalty. Why?

Isha, the Mother - +5% replenishment rate for Dryads, Treemen & Treekin – inconsequential.

Anath Raema, the Savage Huntress - +5 Bonus vs. large for elf cavalry, great eagles and hawk riders – completely inconsequential, might as well not exist.

The worst offenders here though are the amber techs – and those are weird, because they’re mostly not BAD. They’re just… Standard. They don’t feel like big, late-game upgrades with the notable exception of Wisdom of the Yew (poison for Treekin, Dryads and Treemen? +15% reload time for all armies? That’s more like it!) and Wisdom of the Ash (+35% Ammunition - NEEDED). +25% fire resistance for Treekin, Dryads and Treemen? Who cares? Fluffy, but a non-issue in campaign. -1 winds of magic cost for lore of beasts spells? Please. I’m supposed to pay a rare, hard-earned late-game currency for that?

II - Athel Loren Building Buffs
These are just no good. Expensive buildings in reduced building slot settlements for stuff like reload time reduction for hawk riders (they’re a terrible unit and should never be recruited) or -20% upkeep for great eagles which are, guess what? A terrible unit which should never be recruited.

III - Lord Traits
My main gripe here is with Orion’s upkeep reduction for elf cav. It’s useless. You have no good cav. in the early game, so you don’t need this, and in the late game you have money, so you don’t care. Why? Why not a boon for waywatchers? Why not something which will, in fact, impact gameplay?

IV - Game Mechanics

The big one. This is where I really lose my cool.

Orion’s Offices: None of these – either during or outside of the wild hunt – confer any global bonuses (which they should. This is what an office should do from a conceptual point of view), and the bonuses they confer make no difference whatsoever to your gameplay. Tiny leadership and charge bonus increases for Dryads, Tree Kin and Treemen? Missile Strength for a lord (Ranged lords do almost no damage)? Upkeep reduction for cav units in THAT LORD’s army? It’s laughable. You could get rid of the whole screen and wild hunt mechanic and not notice in your Orion campaign.

The Magical Forests Bonuses: My single biggest disappointment of this DLC. These are your campaign objectives. The most important thing to the wood elves. The forests you traipse halfway across the Old and New Worlds to heal, expending a huge amount of resources, time and effort in doing so. And what do you get? Special unit versions, like the empire gets from its provinces, or like Eltharion gets from Yvresse or Imrik in the form of his Dragons? Special versions of generic lords with exclusive traits or abilities? Do special Ancient Treemen decide to join your cause when they see you heal the forests, or particular elf kindreds? Are Ancient artifacts of great power unearthed, or do the forests themselves empower your lords with special traits as the grow back?

Nope. None of that stuff. All entirely possible, doable and exciting. All Fluffy. But no, you don’t get anything that comes even close. All you get is numbers – boring at best, useless at worst.

For starters, for the goddamn Oak of Ages. Growth, upkeep reduction and – admittedly – more uses for world roots. Sure, it’s useful, but… it’s the OAK OF AGES. It’s not a random tree. This is not rewarding! There’s nothing unique about it.
The Gaean Vale: +40 winds of magic at max heal, +1 global recruitment capacity. Useful to be sure, but again – worth the expenditure of effort for a late-game objective? No! I feel much more excitement chasing after one of the Books of Nagash as a Tomb King, or after one of Imrik’s Dragons, than I do over the ability to cast one or two more Pit of Shades every battle. There is no originality in this, and it simply isn’t worth the effort when a few knowledgeable heroes can provide an even greater benefit.

I’ve not been able to find information on the other magical forests except in passing on some streams, and I can’t remember what they were. Which is a problem. They’re not memorable. Some research time reduction, maybe. Nothing Game-changing. Nothing to induce excitement. No proper cost-benefit payoff for the player. This is a big missed opportunity.
Please let me know if you guys share the sentiment, or if you disagree completely! Always glad to have you fine folks thoughts – but please share and forward to CA if you feel this hits the nail on the head, and feel free to add examples I've left out or forgotten.

Cheers!

Comments

  • vg45vg45 DenmarkRegistered Users Posts: 147
    edited November 2020
    Aldaron said:

    I LOATHE useless buffs.

    Agree.
    Aldaron said:

    I am including useless PARTS of buffs as well – for example, when a tech provides a decent buff along a completely useless one. This is bad design in my opinion – you should not be made to feel robbed or Meh about a tech because only half of it is useful and the half utterly pointless.

    Disagree, I think giving two buffs with a skill or tech allows you to package a mostly useless but thematic effect that would feel bad on its own because while it is thematic, it has little game impact, with a less thematic but more gameplay impactful effect. Like the High Elf Legendary Lord Imrik's Dragonheart ability that provides army-wide 35% fire resistance, the AI so rarely uses fiery attacks in my campaigns that I think it might come up an average of 0,5 times per campaign, but it is packaged with a melee attack bonus that is kind of boring on its own, but even better than the standard skill that only improves melee attack, so you get the fire resistance for essentially free, it is mostly there for flavour. CA could make it 100% fire resistance and it still wouldn't matter against armies that don't bring any fire damage and it would be broken against those few that did.
    Aldaron said:

    I - The Tech tree

    Wisdom of the Eagle Lords – 10% Physical resistance and +25 AP damage for Great Eagles. Great Eagles are a weak, extremely situational unit which is near useless in early campaign and a liability in mid-to late campaign. You should not recruit great eagles. This does not make them useful. Why?

    Let's assume that Great Eagles are useless, wouldn't it then be ideal to pair a Great Eagle buff with a buff of some other less thematic and more gameplay relevant buff?
    Aldaron said:

    Mathlann, Lord of the Deeps – Immune to storm attrition, +100% Gold from ports. Ports make you no money even with this tech. You thus have no incentive to conquer any ports in campaign, and those you conquer you cannot hold. You will not go out to sea. Why?

    They do provide 100 gold, if you have 6 ports that is 600 gold per turn.
    Aldaron said:

    Asuryan, the Creator & Ladrielle, Lady of Mists - +15 and 20 relations with High Elves & Bretonnia respectively. Wiped out by great power penalty. Why?

    To make up for lost relations by the great power penalty.
    Aldaron said:

    Isha, the Mother - +5% replenishment rate for Dryads, Treemen & Treekin – inconsequential.

    Not entirely, especially given that two of WE LL will focus on tree spirits when the update comes out. I do think it needs another buff, maybe something gameplay relevant to make it more exciting to take...
    Aldaron said:

    Anath Raema, the Savage Huntress - +5 Bonus vs. large for elf cavalry, great eagles and hawk riders – completely inconsequential, might as well not exist.

    Archers need a nerf in campaign, especially on higher difficulties, but we already have a cavalry LL and we are getting a Hawk Rider LL with Naestra and Arahan, I think this is far from inconsequential unless you go all archer spam all the time.
    Aldaron said:

    II - Athel Loren Building Buffs
    These are just no good. Expensive buildings in reduced building slot settlements for stuff like reload time reduction for hawk riders (they’re a terrible unit and should never be recruited) or -20% upkeep for great eagles which are, guess what? A terrible unit which should never be recruited.

    Hawk Riders are getting buffed, how do you know whether they'll be worth recruiting?
    Aldaron said:

    III - Lord Traits
    My main gripe here is with Orion’s upkeep reduction for elf cav. It’s useless. You have no good cav. in the early game, so you don’t need this, and in the late game you have money, so you don’t care. Why? Why not a boon for waywatchers? Why not something which will, in fact, impact gameplay?

    I don't see what's going to be wrong with recruiting a few spear cav to chase down fleeing enemies in early game with Orion and if you are recruiting 20 Stag Knights across your armies you'll be saving a huge amount of cash every turn with this buff.
    Aldaron said:

    IV - Game Mechanics

    The big one. This is where I really lose my cool.

    Orion’s Offices: None of these – either during or outside of the wild hunt – confer any global bonuses (which they should. This is what an office should do from a conceptual point of view)...

    Completely agree, offices can be super cool and I think designing good ones is super easy, just give them a faction-wide bonus and an army bonus that buffs a thematic army for the office holder (even if it is just an upkeep or recruit cost reduction for all or certain units).

    The Magical Forests Bonuses:...I’ve not been able to find information on the other magical forests except in passing on some streams, and I can’t remember what they were. Which is a problem. They’re not memorable...
    They are actually all really good. I don't know about memorable, I cannot remember many specific buffs or abilities other than Kroq-Gar making Saurus cheaper and his faction making everything cheaper, I remember that specifically because I am unhappy with it, not because it is thematic and makes sense. I don't even remember what Azhag or his faction bonuses are despite being in the middle of an Azhag campaign.

    12% bonus income from all buildings, 20% cheaper recruitment, 20% bonus campaign movement, 12% casualty replenishment rate... These range from decent to amazing buffs, could they be better? Yeah, and your ideas are cool, but I don't really think it makes sense to complain about these bonuses.

  • AldaronAldaron Registered Users Posts: 3
    Thanks for the Comments! Really appreciated. Let me retorque a bit:

    Disagree, I think giving two buffs with a skill or tech allows you to package a mostly useless but thematic effect that would feel bad on its own because while it is thematic, it has little game impact, with a less thematic but more gameplay impactful effect. Like the High Elf Legendary Lord Imrik's Dragonheart ability that provides army-wide 35% fire resistance, the AI so rarely uses fiery attacks in my campaigns that I think it might come up an average of 0,5 times per campaign, but it is packaged with a melee attack bonus that is kind of boring on its own, but even better than the standard skill that only improves melee attack, so you get the fire resistance for essentially free, it is mostly there for flavour. CA could make it 100% fire resistance and it still wouldn't matter against armies that don't bring any fire damage and it would be broken against those few that did.

    Disagree with this particular example. Imrik's buff makes perfect sense as you can pair it with Ruby Guardian Phoenix or magic resistance buffs to make your army highly resistant to fire damage - which allows you to cover the battlefield in fire spells and dragon breaths without caring whether they hit your own troops or not. Thematically very cool.
    They do provide 100 gold, if you have 6 ports that is 600 gold per turn.

    You have no incentive to go capture yourself 6 ports - or any ports. Your being corralled into an isolationist playstyle (which i don't mind, by the way). 100 gold for a settlement that is out of your way and that you will lose as soon as another army looks at it funny - Nope. Now, if we were talking 500 gold per port, that *might* be different...

    To make up for lost relations by the great power penalty.

    They don't make up for even half of it. You still end up heavily in the red, and if you're that much in the red, you'll end up at war (which it looks like you can ill afford on higher difficulties).

    Not entirely, especially given that two of WE LL will focus on tree spirits when the update comes out. I do think it needs another buff, maybe something gameplay relevant to make it more exciting to take...

    Agreed.

    Archers need a nerf in campaign, especially on higher difficulties, but we already have a cavalry LL and we are getting a Hawk Rider LL with Naestra and Arahan, I think this is far from inconsequential unless you go all archer spam all the time.

    Heavily disagree. Archers don't need a nerf in higher difficulties, higher difficulties need to be weighted differently. It's not that archers are too strong on high diffs - it's that melee units are unplayable because they are so weak. I don't like being shoehorned into archer spam either (I love archer units but losing because your elite melee troops get slaughtered by orc boys sucks and makes no sense), but making them weaker would make battles a dreadful proposition rather than a fun challenge in my opinion. This needs a rethink, in my opinion.
    Hawk Riders are getting buffed, how do you know whether they'll be worth recruiting?

    I'll believe that when I see it. I think they simply do not work mechanically. Give them 95% accuracy, better shooting mechanics and double their missile damage and then, perhaps... But hey, I'd love to see them be good. Maybe I'll be surprised.
    I don't see what's going to be wrong with recruiting a few spear cav to chase down fleeing enemies in early game with Orion and if you are recruiting 20 Stag Knights across your armies you'll be saving a huge amount of cash every turn with this buff.

    Possibly - but relevant to lower difficulties only. You'll get slaughtered on higher ones if you try that. Yes, I know, most folks play on normal/easy, but I still wish there was something there that could be useful across the board, like melee defense or physical resistance - or even speed. Imagine - Great stag knights have 90 speed with everyone else - but with Orion, they get 100. Boom. How epic would that feel?
    12% bonus income from all buildings, 20% cheaper recruitment, 20% bonus campaign movement, 12% casualty replenishment rate... These range from decent to amazing buffs, could they be better? Yeah, and your ideas are cool, but I don't really think it makes sense to complain about these bonuses.

    Granted, when you add these up they are good - but only when you look at in isolation, on paper. Are they get-into-a-bunch-of-wars, invest loads of time, send-over armies, late-game-quest-epically-rewarding kinda good? In my opinion, absolutely not! They're passive bonuses for goodness' sake. It's background stuff. Could it have been worse? Sure. Could it be better? Yes. I think it's worth pointing that out.
  • Broggan123Broggan123 Registered Users Posts: 43
    Does Wisdom of the eagle lords work on all eagle units and mounts?
  • ScramsaxScramsax Registered Users Posts: 4
    I must agree with OP.

    Underwhelmed is the nicest descriptor I can come up with to describe my personal opinion of the rework as a whole in regards to the lackluster reward incentives.
  • Pico0Pico0 Registered Users Posts: 237
    I agree on most points with OP.

    TBH I was pretty disappointed with the tech tree. Compare this to let's a skaven or Greenskin, you will probably find that there is quite a gap both in size and usefulness.

    Building buff were fine in Wh1 but they start to feel outdated...

    Regarding lord traits, most of LL are fine but yeah Orion definitely got left behind I think.

    For game mechanics:
    - honestly I don't even bother with offices anymore since you are forced to use only 1 type of lor depending on the LL ( I'm pretty sure that this is not he case for Empire offices for exemple ...) and the buff are very situational, only if you want to spam 1 type of unit to get upkeep reduction...

    - for magical forest bonuses I would have liked to get something like your suggestion instead of generic buff. Like getting some campaign exclusive unit depending on the forest you manage to heal could have been more fun (something like the empire elector counts got maybe some special forest spirit)

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