Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

All things Desktop Dungeons

Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby Lujo on Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:26 am

Apsolutely no suggestions, demands, threaths, hyperbole or anything here. Just a missplaced blogpost on a class in a videogame for anyone with time/will/interest in such a thing. Would like other people's thoughts below it, but won't sacrifice depth of analysis - I'm doing this for fun. (It's not a balance discussion! It's rambling!)

So, apart from Darvin dropping hints about their reliability at clearing vicious (enough to get me interested to experiment), and me dropping hints about their attack bonus maybe being excessive, and sporadic mentions about cydstep in general, we haven't had much talk on warlords.

Now, my relationship with warlords had been a strange one. At first, even during the alpha, they confused me completely. They took a perspective shift that my mind couldn't easily make, and adjusting to them took me a while. Basicaly, they were so simple and powerful that actions I felt were necessary with other guys were counter-productive, and I couldn't believe something like that could even exist. This is Lujo the noob talking - in a game that's generaly difficult and arcane to a newcomer, something like a repeatable cydstep can seem like a big anomaly. My mind kept shutting out this possibility, and telling me that if I get used to this it would make the difficulty I was having with other guys seem tiresome instead of challenging.

Then, after deciding to try to accept that, yes, they were indeed ment to be that powerful, I started using them more often. After all, I WAS using more powerfull stuff, but I rationalized it to myself as intentional cheating in a way that wasn't forseen. Something that, if pointed out would be adjusted. It made me feel smart about figuring it out. Warlords, however, seemed to be built that way on purpose. So I decided to see if there was something I was missing, maybe they weren't "made of win"? Turned out they were, but button mashing, muscle memory and the general lack of need to think while I play them made me missclick myself to death often enough to prompt me to drop them as "not worth the risk".

Then, when effort was put into making accidental missclicks a much rarer occurence and combat predictions were made more servicable, I tried them again some more. All my previous expirience with their power level was telling me Darvin was probably right about them being dependable vicious clearers (I suspected too dependable). And sure enough, very few places could stand an undying guy with the biggest damage bonus in the game. By this point I didn't mind their power - I concluded that the game obviously needed straightforward powerhouses, even if I'm still ready to dispute the caliber.

However - the dissatisfying expirience didn't go away. The whole "why is repeatable cydstepp mechanicaly bad to the game" debate revolved around this mechanic-wise: repeatable cydstep lets you ignore health as a resource. While many could appriceate the power it provided, or agree that it's an interesting twist, what it ment was that you are playing a melee guy who plays like a spellcaster. Since you only really wanted to cast one major spell (not counting for utility), and your hero started with this spell, what you were looking for in terms of magic boosting items/boons was mainly mana and mana refill. Since health was unsynergistic, what you were looking for as a melee guy was damage. You had the biggest built in +% dmg, so piling on more lead to diminishing returns, so what you were in fact looking for was base damage.

In other words, this guy had actual need for very few features, at the basic level. His inherent power ment he could get away with it, too. At a more advanced level, he could make good use of a few more things:

Since all his mana is tied up with recasting a 10 mana glyph, unless you are efficent with leveling he can waste a lot of blackspace. However, since he can reliably kill enemies much higher in level than himself, once you make the perspective shift which lets you think of higher level monsters as popcorn rather than obstacles, you naturally become efficent with leveling. IMAWAL helps, and so does Entanglement (Clearance is allready attractive as a mana refil). So do the damage items (even the current tri-sword). So, making up for his possible "intangible" defficency comes from simply playing him "right", to the point where he's all upside.

The physical resist monsters seem to be his failing, but RBS both helps with that, has it's downside eliminated by warlords core mechanic, doesn't fight for space in a warlords inventory and synergises with cauldron.

At the most expirienced, but skippable-to-via-guide, level, he can be optimized by preps. The preps aren't such that they "break" him, the preps are basicaly simply synergistic with the few feature he does have, or simply number among the very few things that he wants - gnomes/mana keg for poions, orcs/trisword for damage, JJ/Mysterea/Earthmother for mana/mana refills, Mysterea/Cauldron for cost reduction / mana refill efficency, extra mana/elves for mana, potions/slayer wand for blackspace efficent catapults... This may seem like a lot, but most of it is one and the same, can be prepped on any run, and there is very little else you could want to prep with them anyway (if you're being rational).

This sinergy goldmine ultimately lead to warlord play being boring but powerful by default, and the warlords being "cursed with awesome" for me. I enjoyed experimenting with the Cauldron, as well as the new Dragonsoul because they gave the "same old, same old" warlord shoehorn routine alternatives, but just as Darvin pointed out many times - why not just prep a Tri-Sword? And it's true - Warlord gold, if you look at it, looks like it shouldn't be doable, yet for a warlord it is.

So, right now, I use them to save myself time and effort in some places when I don't have the time or energy to come up with a more creative and rewarding solution. The optimization that Darvin is inclined to apply to anything is rational, but there is no need for it. As Murdus found out in the "class abilities mix and match" thread - and you can look it up it's a pricelesly hilarious moment - it's really hard to make the warlord more powerful than he is.

However I've noticed that just about every "serious" badge completely changes the way he behaves - and it feels more interesting than playing him in a regular fashion! Faithless? Warlords without prepped-to-cheeze mana refills! Parched? Warlords that have to work gods and a variety of items, have a sensible damage bonus on top of not being gnomes! Hoarder? Warlords without a guaranteed efortless million CP! Miser? Warlords that actually have to think about an arbitrary hazard! Warmonger? These guys which get a Might whenever they drink a mana potion and sinergize with Taurog!

Anyway, that has been my experience with the warlord. I wonder what other people think about him, in relation to the other guys, and what I wonder about the most, as usual, is what am I missing? There's so much stuff that warlords don't have to pay attention to, and so little space in my locker most of the time, that the only thing that ever let me experiment with them were badges that in theory cut his inherent power by anything between by 1/3 to a 1/3.

Ty for reading ^^
Last edited by Lujo on Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2777
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby Blovski on Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:18 pm

Disagree about no health management... I mean, yes, you can take more hits off high damage enemies but against low-ish damage bosses they really need to make sure they don't forget to regen a little to take an extra blow or two. And to let schadenfreude work. That at least is a thing I usually forget to do.

Otherwise gnomey warlords (the ones I'm playing atm) are phenomenal against low-endurance, high-damage dungeons (so DL, which has 5 bosses with 2 HP/point of attack but have a bit of a struggle with Naga City (this is me playing, and I know NC a looot better than DL). I imagine Elf Warlords would have even more of a problem. Orc warlords might work better on that dungeon.
Blovski
 
Posts: 490
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:21 pm

Re: Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby FDru on Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:03 pm

The Warlord gets huge situational damage bonuses but needs to expend resources to get it (and already be almost dead). What keeps him in check is that he's mediocre at full health and without blowing a potion first. Unlike, say, a Rogue who has that huge damage bonus innately all of the time (and First Strike ya?)

I've probably avoided playing Warlords cause they're easy, though. Mana burn is their main weakness but it's really easy to counter that.
User avatar
FDru
 
Posts: 449
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:41 am

Re: Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby Darvin on Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:00 pm

Unlike the Rogue, the Warlord can and should expect to get at least one hit in before starting to rely on death protection. While a conversion-heavy elf or a potion-quaffing gnome can get a repeated chain of CYDSTEPP'ing, most of the time he's only got two DP's per fight and the rest of the battle must be won with health. Health management isn't ignored with the Warlord, rather it's what tilts the balance and gives you your edge. ENDISWAL is a superb find for a warlord. He's also one of the few classes that actually *loses* damage if his opponent is slowed or he otherwise has first strike, since if he takes the hit first it will reduce his health below 50% and give him his attack bonus.

Take this, for example. This is a really old annotated playthrough, but for the most part it's still indicative. The HP->attack booster swap is now just a straight extra attack, so that would benefit me. Crystal ball costs gold to activate, but I bought little from the shops so I'd have had more than enough gold to fuel it.

Look at the level 7 troll takedown; my approach is to tilt the balance using ENDSIWAL for physical resistances and avoid having to tap my crystal ball for mana. When it comes to the 75% resist physical boss, I actually don't use DP and instead use poison. I ensure that I'm always being knocked low enough to activate my damage bonus without triggering a death protection.

While there are many cases where your health resources aren't helpful due to extreme boss damage, there are many cases where they can be used. The warlord's first weapon of choice is the CYDSTEPP glyph, but if you pay attention to thresholds than other glyphs can be used to leverage his otherwise normal health thresholds.
User avatar
Darvin
 
Posts: 3063
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:44 am

Re: Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby Lujo on Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:50 pm

I really forgot about the "drink a potion to help use skoodenfeudy or two" routine which is very helpfull with warlords - I also thought I mentioned skoodenfreudy in the preps section, but obviously didn't - is a nice mana refill, practicaly a fixture with elven warlords (I've played a few, one of the quests has you doing it, I think).

And as for health being important - well, yes, it can be, ofc, BUT you don't really have 2 DP's per fight, because you're not a mele regen fighter guy, you're a cutting edge ding machine. With or without IMAWAL, you can level really efficently in terms of leaving popcorn around, and you can wittle your health by lowering monsters' health and setting up dings. Then hit the boss with the DP's, then ding, then hit the boss with the dp's, then mop up actual popcorn to ding, than use the last dp/healing to get your health back up for skoodenfreudy, then hit the boss with dp's, and THEN consider your other options. Which can be many.

You can't level efficently in terms of blackspace, but if you pick first strikers/deathgaze/general nuisance guys as leveling fodder, you'll probably be looking at 2 dings in the first boss fight. Or so it seems to me. I mean, sure, any strat used by a pro can clear a sub-vicious dungeon, just not this efficently.

EDIT: As for using your health to get a pre-dp hit on something - overheal from the cauldron is really nice ^^
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2777
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby Darvin on Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:23 pm

is a nice mana refill, practicaly a fixture with elven warlords (I've played a few, one of the quests has you doing it, I think).

Elves in general love the schadenfreude potion, the only problem being surviving an attack from a high-damage enemy. That latter problem is not an issue for warlords.

BUT you don't really have 2 DP's per fight, because you're not a mele regen fighter guy, you're a cutting edge ding machine.

That's true, but you aren't going to ding every battle. A lot of your bread-and-butter leveling will be done without dings.

THEN consider your other options. Which can be many.

The time to consider your other options is before the DP chain, not after. A lot of the time (especially with level-up catapults) you can leverage the HP refills nicely if you're paying attention. For instance, one shot of HALPMEH or ENDISWAL (or any other survival booster) can often let you edge in one extra attack before you start relying on death protections.

Don't waste HP; there's no sense throwing away 40 HP and blowing a DP against an enemy that deals 60 damage. Find a way to survive an extra hit using those HP resources and lean on your DP chain only once your health is totally depleted. You can get a lot of leverage out of your HP at the start of an attack chain and after a level-up. A Warlord isn't a glass cannon Rogue and shouldn't play like one.

You can't level efficently in terms of blackspace

Sure you can; Warlord isn't a nature regen-fighter, but if the situation comes up he certainly can do it. The thing is you won't be using death protection (save as a finisher) in this situation. This takes a while to get used to, but the Warlord is quite adept at switching approaches on the fly.

Also using blackspace to charge up ENDISWAL for max resist can be a great way to approach things.

EDIT: As for using your health to get a pre-dp hit on something - overheal from the cauldron is really nice ^^

Good suggestion. I usually prefer ENDISWAL (good when blackspace is plentiful) and lifesteal (good while popcorn is plentiful) but the cauldron definitely sounds like a great one to add to the mix.
User avatar
Darvin
 
Posts: 3063
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:44 am

Re: Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby Lujo on Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:20 am

Darvin wrote:
BUT you don't really have 2 DP's per fight, because you're not a mele regen fighter guy, you're a cutting edge ding machine.

That's true, but you aren't going to ding every battle. A lot of your bread-and-butter leveling will be done without dings.


I misunderstood the original comment that prompted mine - for regular leveling, you have 2 DP's, ofc, unless you blow a consumable resource, which may be a completely legit thing to do, if you have mana potions to spare, if you grabbed refreshment early (well, after mystic balance) or if you're simply in EM. And GETINDARE or Entanglement add another free hit to the leveling string, provided you didn't pack RBS. So the regular routine for me is 1 hit, 2 death protections, first strike/slow. You can also ding-kill something much higher than yourself (if you can reliably do DL, just apply the technique elsewhere).

Darvin wrote:
THEN consider your other options. Which can be many.

The time to consider your other options is before the DP chain, not after. A lot of the time (especially with level-up catapults) you can leverage the HP refills nicely if you're paying attention. For instance, one shot of HALPMEH or ENDISWAL (or any other survival booster) can often let you edge in one extra attack before you start relying on death protections.


What I ment by "other options" is "mana refill options other than dings", which included mana potions CB and boons. Sorry if wasn't clear. With a warlord fighting a boss (or anythig really) ding first for the leveling damage benefits, then start on the potions. Whether or not you even really need to think beyond that probably depends on the dungeon, but I don't remember the last time I had a feeling I need to put that much effort into warlord play - dings and mana refills were mostly enough. And I got him through Slime Pits somehow, but I think I was using Mysterea, so I fireballed the Goo, and don't remember the run itself.

Darvin wrote:You can get a lot of leverage out of your HP at the start of an attack chain and after a level-up. A Warlord isn't a glass cannon Rogue and shouldn't play like one.


Which never occured to me. Leveraging the "below half health" thing in a way which isn't "auto-bonus with dp's" did occur to you guys, while I have a pretty good track record with him while not even being aware of it as an option. :shock: Good enough track record to consider him way above curve. Either I'm playing the prep game too hard (quite possible), or I'm always trying shave off time and effort wherever (certanly) or both + whatever else. I wasn't even aware it was below half-health, I thought it was below 25% all this time. I went to check. Wow. Now I'm interested in why I never thought of it.



Oh, and he's also the one guy who actually thinks of Druids as a serious threat. They feel incredibly bland and lackluster for everyone else, but my Warlords really fear them ^^
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2777
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am

Re: Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby Sidestepper on Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:09 am

The Warlord has a similar dynamic to the Priest. Optimal play means using up all of your health before relying on CYDSTEP or Good Drink. If a monster does 60% of your health and you just go ahead and invoke your class power, you are wasting it. Blackspace management is very important for these two classes and if you get to the boss without having a few scraps of space to manipulate your health total it's almost like losing your class ability.

We really need a term for cases where you regen fight to reach a certain threshold, even if the regeneration ends up favoring the monster. Priests and Warlords have to do it a lot more, but it's an important technique that all characters end up using.

Lujo: Nothing against you personally, but I really want you to learn the art of brevity. The top half of your post could have been condensed down to "repeatable cydstep lets you ignore health as a resource." We are all on the same page here and anyone who is reading a balance discussion will have the bexperience needed to understand that sentence without needing a page of historical background and justification. And if they don't, they can always ask.
Sidestepper
 
Posts: 746
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:36 am

Re: Warlords, a relaxed look at them as an expirience

Postby Lujo on Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:59 am

@Sidestepper: This was a balance discussion? :shock: I was perfectly honestly out to pen down a rambling post on the expirience a player (me) had with the warlord, for anyone interested in reading a textwall on it. For real. The "history" was the point - the history of different oppininons a guy had on the warlord... Maybe I really ought to start a blog for this sort of stuff?

Sidestepper wrote:The Warlord has a similar dynamic to the Priest. Optimal play means using up all of your health before relying on CYDSTEP or Good Drink. If a monster does 60% of your health and you just go ahead and invoke your class power, you are wasting it. Blackspace management is very important for these two classes and if you get to the boss without having a few scraps of space to manipulate your health total it's almost like losing your class ability.

We really need a term for cases where you regen fight to reach a certain threshold, even if the regeneration ends up favoring the monster. Priests and Warlords have to do it a lot more, but it's an important technique that all characters end up using.


I always thought of it as "cutting corners" because while the metaphorical sense doens't translate, it's what you're doing in the literal sense :D Well, it does in the metaphorical sense, because it ends up saving you the trouble to ding, or blow resources on a heal. And I factualy learned it from you - or more precisely, allowed myself to accept it as "legit" because of you.

It always seemed to me to be the king of the "advanced" strats expirienced players develop that the devs keep going on about - I only started doing it after I've seen your annotated playthrough. I had trouble seeing it as "legit" before, and that may be the wrong word. The burning and the sigil regen help were introduced after a bunch of discussions pointed it out, but regen fighting as such was so obscure that it felt like "cheating". Again, wrong word -.- It felt like you weren't supposed to contemplate it, because of the seeming "don't explore while you fight stuff" rule. I had no trouble using it with monks, but monks made me think "yeah, well, it only works for a broken feature" - it never occured to me to even consider it with other guys untill I found out you guys were doing it and the devs didn't seem to mind. Before it seemed like a "game wasn't ment to be played this way" thing, or "if I win like this, and I'm not a monk - what does that prove?"

It looked like I was "cutting corners" in the places where I was supposed to either ding before and start the fight with more power (or health, or dr), blow a potion/boon or ding right there. Obviously, I was wrong, but it did turn out that regen fighting as such wasn't being presented in the right way (or enough) so it got help presenting itself.

No wonder that priests and warlords were my blind spot. Well, at least as far as depth is concerned.

Makes me wonder if something like a "always poisoned" monster or dungeon element like a chest or blockage (or otherwise endiswall vulnerable statue, hmmmm) would be benefical to people overcoming an urge to comply to the "don't explore while you fight" law. Something with a big bunch of health but no regeneration at all to stonewall you into dropping an assumption and regen fighting it.
User avatar
Lujo
 
Posts: 2777
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:47 am


Return to Desktop Dungeons

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests