Well, let’s see what feeding back through the Council will do.
As I’ve said many times before, I have no objection to those who like alpha-strike combos having the option to keep them - I’d just like a similar option to limit them and keep the game interesting.
Also, as I and Voland have long argued, alpha-striking is actually a BIG part of the balance problem - as in order for the Pandas to cope with alpha-squads, they have to ramp up the DDA, which promotes more alpha-builds, which ramps up the DDA, which promotes more alpha-builds…
Whereas limiting alpha-capabilities (but NOT completely eliminating them) maintains a much better balance within the game, and in my experience makes it much more enjoyable.
The problem with modding is that any patch they do can break a mod very easily. So all mods are kept as a very narrow and specific purpose. Not even counting the fact that the initial modloader didn’t guarantee backwards compatibility, which was very annoying to cope with.
And I have uninstalled the game and have no plan yet to go back. So no new mods and it will be difficult to expect mod updates when next patch breaks something.
Having a mod that would prevent alpha strike means lots of modifications everywhere.
stats (hp, weapons, armor, …)
mindcontrol (need a way to cut the link, other than disabling head or killing or make Sirens squishy - I think they should be low HP, good armor)
Upside to being able to alpha-strike is when one faces 8 heavies (all with rockets), 4 snipers, 2 techs, at least 1 armadillo, etc. Of course you also believe one shouldn’t be put in such a situation.
Another solution is that the enemy AI adapts and instead of always making a frontal attack (where they always lose) and instead take a defensive stance. Forcing a situation where one can’t alpha-strike. Thus leading more to a room to room, house to house battle.
As I’ve just said on Discord, it depends on your definition of ‘alpha-strike’. I’m all for the Squad being able to take out that dangerous Siren/Chiron/Heavy in 1 turn by using Skill combos. But being able to exploit Terminator builds to create semi-infinite combat loops that can end a mission in 1 or 2 turns simply makes a mockery of the game.
What mostly works for me (and that’s just for me) is limiting each skill to one use per turn, squad wide skills to once per turn per squad, speed soft cap at 20. That’s just to prevent wiping the enemy out on the first turn on any difficulty, mind you.
Or worked for me, because last night I quit playing, at least for a while. I don’t see a point in playing a game where this is the reward as a design choice for learning how to play well and putting in hours. Can anyone point me to another turn based strategy game that does it? Where an experienced player on any playthrough on any difficulty by midgame is rewarded with a mindless clickfest for the rest of the game?
And you are absolutely right, it can’t be fixed by modding. You can perhaps take away from the player the ability to wipe out the AI in the first turn, but if the game is designed to have alpha-strike in it, you still have a mess to deal with at turn 2. Just as now, for those of us playing with self imposed restrictions, you would every once in a while get a glimpse of the game that could have been…
How can there be any semblance of balance if player 1 can wipe out player 2 on turn 1? It doesn’t matter what super stats, abilities, weapons, or numbers you give to player 2 - he ain’t gonna have the chance to use them!
And of course then you get players who don’t know yet how to alpha-strike, nor how to deal with the things the game throws at them without alpha-striking, rightly complaining about difficulty.
IMO, there are only two ways forward:
Redo the game to make alpha-strike an essential game mechanic, as in the upcoming Gears of War, which basically tries to emulate the pace of a third person shooter.
Get rid of alpha-striking altogether, or allow alpha-striking on some difficulty levels. In any case, balance the difficulty of the game on the premise that there is no alpha-striking to avoid introducing a tilt that makes difficulty uneven.
IMO alpha-strike in = game unfixable.
Just to be clear, this is what I mean by alpha-striking:
I’m not so sure of that, which is why I reached out to you.
You did a great job with ‘RF a la carte’, enabling the player to simply choose how RF should work in their game.
I think the same is true for Skills. Having a mod that enables you to say: ‘Number of Skill re-uses allowed per turn = 0-9’ would go a long way towards fixing the Squad end of things - and in my experience, fixing the Squad end of things immediately moderates the DDA if you don’t save scum.
Of course, tweaking that so that you can limit the number of Rallies each Squaddie can receive as well would be even better, but I’d settle for a Skill Use button.
As a matter of interest, why did you stop playing the game?
It seems like the issue for alpha-striking is less about being able to kill enemies in a single turn (which is what I believe the widely accepted definition of the term is), and having ability combos which seem “exploitative”, such as those that can be used in an near infinite loop. I will make sure that I flag this issue specifically with the dev team.
The other point to make is that unlimited Skill combos as they stand completely contradict the point David Kaye made in that talk he gave (recently reposted by Yokes, though I can’t find it now) - stating that Snapshot’s own analysis of a key problem with the XCOM series is the inverse difficulty curve: the fact that it gets easier to beat the game as you progress.
Right now, you need to know that this is true in spades with Phoenix Point. Once you have a Level 7 Terminator squad, the only thing that’s stopping you is your own self-limits - and the luck of the RNG of course.
Believe me, the game is much more interesting when the opportunity to cheeze a mission isn’t infinite. Then it turns into a brilliantly tactical chess match.
Asolutely UV. As I said above, the ability to kill single enemies in a single turn is at times absolutely essential - and the process of figuring out how to do that (within the limits I set myself) is really interesting.
The ability to wipe out a map in a couple of turns is just boring. I’ve done it on a handful of occasions - especially in that last playthrough I described where I realised that I needed to get the DDA down fast and Terminated 2 Lairs and a Citadel without even bothering to rest in between. But it’s not actually much fun.
It’s nothing like Banner Saga though. The term is the same, but mechanically it is quite distinctive.
There is a limited amount of mechanics available. It will be rare to find the game which is fully original - XCOMs limits their ability use by cool downs, PP by resource management (that is also why I am against just slapping cooldowns on abilities to balance things out - you do one or the other. PP should be able to balance its mechanics with the system it choose to implement).
I do agree, though, that PP doesn’t feel cohesive, with individual systems working against each other.
Which is why the likes of myself, @VOLAND and @SpiteAndMalice keep arguing that a good way forward is to reduce the power of everything.
I absolutely agree that Sirens/Chirons/number of enemies can feel too hard - especially if you’re fritzing the DDA with save scums and alpha-strikes. And I keep saying that the number of Sirens & Chirons that appear each mission should be severely limited on the lower difficulty settings. Read most of those posts, and what they actually say is ‘5 Sirens all at once is insane!’ And it is. But that’s caused in part by the RNG having no difficulty limitations, and in part because the DDA thinks you’re superman cos you aced your last mission by alpha-striking after you save scummed out of it the first time round.
@Voland has written some very good analyses of how this muddies the stats, which I’ll leave him to elaborate on.
To use a pretentious word, it’s a holistic thing. You can’t take any of this in isolation - you have to look at it as a whole. Save scumming ramps up the DDA, this makes things more difficult (produces more an stronger enemies) which promotes alpha-striking behaviour, which ramps up the DDA, which promotes (Voland-style) alpha-striking behaviour, which generates an infinite loop of mutually assured alpha-destruction that ultimately ruins what in the early stages is a very nicely balanced game.
From my experience, 2 very simple fixes prevent this from happening: 1) don’t Save & Restart (though some players prefer to play their games that way) and 2) don’t do Voland-style alphas. That keeps the DDA sane and stops the feedback loop from happening. But that’s just 192 hours of my own personal experience. I can’t speak for the millions of hours played by the community as a whole.
That’s what I call the “tilted pool table metaphor”. Scoring some holes (=playing in (a) particular way(s), ie alpha-striking) is very easy, scoring other holes very hard.
Modifying the size of the holes/table (=number of enemies, their stats, etc) while there is a tilt doesn’t really solve anything.
EDIT: Another reason for the difficulty complaints is that PP is comparatively much more complex than Firaxis XCom, which is where many players are coming from, and that the game does a poor job of explaining itself. This hopefully would be rectified by the new tutorials.