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Slavemaster - Discussion Thread

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Responsible members of the Skylords Reborn team recently met to discuss possible changes to campaign maps. What is outlined here are the proposed changes to the map Slavemaster. These changes are not final and are only proposed. As a warning, other map projects such as more RPvE presets and Defensive RPvE have a much higher priority for our team. As such, these, or any campaign map changes, may not happen for a very long time. 

Some changes here are firmer than others, all italicized proposals have accompanying explanations for why we are considering them, but they are the most tentative of all the proposals.

Proposed Changes:

1.      Owner of Mo and slaves is determined by proximity.

2.      Mo automove if player disconnects.

If one player disconnects and the other player is not around, Mo will often just stand still with nothing to do which can lead to his death. The goal would be, if it proves possible, to have Mo automatically walk to the teleporter without the other player having to run a unit near him to take him over.

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I think there are various signs that maps have issues with either being unintuitive or uniquely vulnerable.

One such sign is when commonly advised tactics consist of outlier cards as crutches to easily overcome hurdles. These influence the progression in a round so heavily that runs with or without them become incomparable.

Another sign can be that people avoid interacting with certain aspects of a map entirely and instead circumvent them.

When the argument is that expert should be hard, then it completely undermines that point when those maps are rather broken in two. An expert map with half the enemies missing/not spawning or lots of its content not being engaged with no longer has a claim on being expert difficulty.

However, as initially mentioned, when expert maps are unclear, sometimes on top of being hard, then the entire thing is running into major approachability issues. Which in turn make players feel like they have to employ some exploit or meta strat, which curbs the creative process.

A big factor is also how easy a tactic that trivializes a map is to execute as well as how widespread it is. High-execution strats that are generally unsuitable or unknown for the broader playerbase don’t warp a map on a major scale. Meanwhile, low-execution tactics degenerate to “cheese strats” and make the content feel lame and unappealing.

It also creates the issue that people come to rely on meta strats and exploits to the point where even thinking about alternatives becomes unappealing. The perceived power gap between the established default strat and whatever they might come up with seems so big that it feels futile to even attempt something else.

The oppressiveness of meta strats and exploits erodes maps in multiple ways, effectively leading to a much shallower experience.

So I want to first look at what issues a map has. Then why they might occur and what parts of the map are getting undermined. Afterwards spitball some ideas on how these issues could be addressed. And finally various elements that could be changed to make these maps more approachable from different angles. Can also be possible compensation nerfs to maps in response to fixes that make them harder.

Main Issue:
A commonly used tactic to open this map is claiming ill placed wells to the east over a cliff.

The existence of a defended wall right behind these wells heavily suggests that the actual path players ought to take when attacking from this direction is overcoming said wall and then proceeding as usual. Instead one can circumvent the defenses and have a save haven to launch an attack from without actually fighting ones way into the camp.

Move these two wells far enough away from the cliff.

Where to put them is important though because they could get attacked by twilight entities running through the middle. It may be possible to simply switch positions with the Bandit Tent right next to the wells.

Edited by Cocofang
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I'd like to preface this by mentioning it has been quite a while since i played this map as i am not a fan of it so please correct me if i misremember something.

This is my least favorite map due to the relative indefensibility of the initial wells. Perhaps this could be addressed as part of the buildings pass but thats far into the future. I am not a fan of the gimmicky wall jumping either but considering the alternative I don't think it should be removed without fixes elsewhere. Furthemore preventing the wall hop makes that whole path useless. 

Speaking for adv difficulty ideally I'd like to see the structures next to the fire spawner be more defendable by t2. In general an advanced map should be beatable using a well rounded deck from any faction by the third try (including a single playthrough on standard). This map has multiple issues to meet that goal.

1. Firstly on standard the fire spawner is sufficient to prevent any type of defense requirement for a long enough duration to fairly easily complete the map so playing on standard is not adequately representative of advanced difficulty which should be fixed. It would make more sense that the behavior of such a match changing mechanic should be similar between std and adv to adequately prepare players.

2. Secondly the time constraints combined with the strength of enemy forces makes most t2 defenses nonviable fairly quickly (if you can even get them in place at all). Even orb stacking (which i also think should not be the primary strategy for any map on adv/std) tends to be very unreliable due to power constraints. Additionally due to the lack of reliability in defending those early orbs, the fire spawner is most often required for much of the time (after you let a couple wave spass through as is customary) which means the left side of the map is also completely useless.

-2.5. Stuff like twilight dragons and those twilight fathom lords that spawn the poison area cant be countered adequately by buildings which further weakens the ability to defend. These issues could be addressed in the building pass or alternatively more likely in the case of the dragon perhaps a different unit such as one that doesnt have an anti ranged passive could be substituted.  

3. Thirdly the twilight spawner just respawns which makes killing it relatively pointless unless you somehow manage to get forces there to kill it very quickly. This seems like a good opportunity to differentiate advanced from expert. If the twilight spawner did not respawn then advanced players could benefit by building their forces while defending early to then assault the spawner to prevent further incursions to the south. 

4. Due to the siege-like nature of this map, it becomes very easy to run out of power, I suggest increasing the initial number of wells or increasing the initial capacity and the initial void power. 

Edited by JarodDempsey
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  • 3 weeks later...

Very little reason to play Advanced when the main difficulty is the Twilight spawns. There seems to be very little difference between the strengths of attacks between the two difficulties.

The wind traps are just annoying and limit player options... in a bad way. I think they should just be removed.

Edited by VinceyBoi
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  • 2 weeks later...

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