PBEM and Single Player Balance Mod v1.28: polishing, Dreadnought class boosts and beginning of AI improvement(Community)v1.28 builds on the long-standing work of the balance mod regarding "leveling and mind-control" vs "production" and increases the economic trade-offs of mind-control strategies (specifically for Regrowth units) and boosts the Dreadnought class. It deals with several imbalances noticed in recent competitive and tournament games, in particular regarding Earth Elementals. It also brings the usual improvement in user experience associated with the balance mod: bug fixing, better descriptions, visual improvements, etc.
The main areas of work of v1.27 included Mind control and independent Regrowth units and Engineers. v1.28 brings some refinements and tackles other topics. Its focus can be broken down into:
- Mind-control and Regrowth: as noted in the article about v1.27, acquiring Regrowth units early through mind-control can provide a significant advantage and potentially be game-changing. v1.28 thus expands the extra upkeep (+50% instead of +25% for non-Regrowth units) to all Regrowth units who got mind-controlled. Trolls and Warbreeds are also removed from low-level sites so that it is no longer possible to mind-control them early game.
- Boosting the Dreadnought class (including Engineers): while the previous version focused only on Engineers, this time, the boost is more broadly based and reinforce previous boosts to Dreadnought (mainly heroes) introduced by the balance mod. Magma Forges can now provide gold to Dreadnoughts, making income less dependent on Gold Mines (and thus on RMG luck), Spy Drones stop being blind UG, Engineers are made even more useful, and Dreadnought heroes finally get a top skill!
- Various balance changes: Earth Elementals used to be the best Elementals with Regrowth, 40% Physical Protection, immunity to Fire and Frost, Tireless at Elite... they could clear some sites in solo (especially Hall of the Forefathers), make most clearing a walk in the park in manual combat and be devastatingly hard to counter in auto. After making them very hard to obtain in previous updates, now they lose Regrowth. A few other balance and coherence changes are also included in v1.28 (e.g. Oyster Reefs now correctly provide bonuses to Theocrats, Arch Druids or Sorcerers using their Empire Upgrades or spells based on treasure sites).
- AI enhancement: v1.28 is a timid start to AI improvement. AI modding is a huge undertaking which will need to be delayed after v1.3 due to the enormous workload to properly test the effect (and thus usefulness) of changes. v1.28 starts by allowing the AI to cast some spells it used to ignore.
v1.28 comes 4.5 months after v1.27. This is a significant delay compared to the goal of a release every 3.5 months, mainly due to tournaments using the Tournament and Main branch of the balance mod and preventing releases on these branches, as well as technical difficulties at the end of testing. Hopefully, v1.29's development will be faster!
In the near future, v1.29 should include a limited number of changes on two main topics: the second stage of the rebalancing of the costs of hero upgrades (which started in an earlier version of the balance mod) and very significant changes to movements for non-Walking units (increase of the cost of swimming and malus for Flying and Floating units over Water). Further ahead, v1.3 will be a major update and will finish dealing with the top priorities expressed in the 2017 poll on the directions for balance. In particular, it will rework Racial Governance and boost non-summon strategic spells to make spellcasting more active (and avoid having a number of weak and rarely used spells).
Full changelog of v1.28 (also available on the official changelog of the balance mod)
- Chthonic Guardians now have a shield
Issues/bugs of the balance mod corrected:
- Stiffen Limbs has a spirit attack check (was physical)
- Twisting Roots can start researched (was couldn’t)
- Solar Spire and Stylite can no longer be produced in the Arcane Item Forge
- Cape of Rot has the old version of Path of Decay: it is always active and cannot be controlled (was a version of Path of Decay which could not work; it was not possible to fix it to make it optional like non-hero units’ Path of Decay)
- Foot Wraping of Power (Epic) can no longer be found in Mythical sites, Solid Chainmail Leggings of Heroes (Strong), Longsword of Dire Penguin Slaying (Strong) and Athla's Natural Club (Strong) can no longer be found in Legendary sites.
- Bards get Mind Control Immunity
- Planetary Alignment gives +100 % RP income for 4 turns (was complete the current research instantly)
- Shadow Step costs 4 UP for Rogue (was 5) and Necromancer (was 2)
- Inflict Despair is available at level 5 (was 1)
- Enemy heroes cannot be targeted by True Resurrect
- Warbreeds and Trolls are replaced by Ogres on Destruction Mana Node. Trolls are replaced by Ogres on Ancient Ruins
- Cure Disease costs no action point and has a 1 turn cooldown (so can be used only once per turn) (was takes all remaining AP)
- Liberated from Raiders (+400 happiness for cities liberated from roamers) last 10 turns (was 15 turns)
- Oyster Reef is affected by Sanctified Sites, Animistic Knowledge and Magical Structures
- Harbors heal 10% HP/strategic turn to friendly Boats in the city’s domain
- Trolls, Naga Slither, Naga Guardian and Naga Matriarch no longer have Greedy and Hatching Pool no longer gives Hatched to Naga units. Instead, units with Regrowth gets +50% upkeep when they are mind-controlled (instead of +25% for non-Regrowth units).
- 24 descriptions and Tome of Wonders pages are updated to correct imprecise or incorrect descriptions. Full list.
- Archdruid heroes can choose Call Ancestral Spirits at level 7 (was 5)
- Dreadnought heroes can choose Force Field Generator Gear for 7 points at level 13: Units led by this hero get Force Field Generator: self-buff ability that can be used Once per battle for no action point and gives 40% fire, 40% frost and 40% shock protection for 5 turns.
- Spy Drones have Night Vision
- Great Blacksmith increases sales at your forges: Magma Forge generates +5 gold/turn (in addition to existing -10% gold for Armored)
- Engineers have Tunneling and can Build Road for 4 gold/hex and Bridges for 48 gold (was 5 gold/hex and 60 gold)
- Summon Spy Drone costs 60 RP (was 80 RP)
- Halfling economic RG1: Store House costs 45 less to build (was Store House costs 35 less to build)
- Obelisk of Undeath do not affect allied units with Curse (was: allied units are also Curse if valid targets)
- Tropical Empire gives Inflict Scorching Heat to allied units in your domain (was Inflict Immolation)
- Summon Lesser Elemental is tier 3 skill (was tier 4)
- AI will now cast the following spells in auto combat: Killing Spree, Dampening Field, Sadism, Gift Of Nekron, Rite Of Malediction, Smoke Screen, Bane of the Unnatural.