Battles in Heroes VII
02/17/2015 | comments
This article is about what changes, novelties and also current balancing tasks on Heroes VII’s battle system. You’ll find out the recipe is not really changed but we’re trying to make battles more interesting and varied.
For many of you, some of those elements can appear to be “implicit” but this website is a place for all kind of Heroes :)
1. Tactics phase
We discussed a lot about this feature and found out the tactical phase was too important to be reserved to certain Hero classes with the relevant skill, so in Heroes VII, all heroes can benefit from the tactical phase and deploy their troops according to their own tactics, though some Heroes, thanks to the Leadership skill, can improve the area where they can deploy during this phase.
Positioning your Cabir in the battle map
2. Armies layouts
In Heroes VII, we developed a system to have more flexibility when creating battle maps, which include the possibility to have custom deployment formations for CPU controller armies. It means the “ambush” formations seen in Heroes III are possible, as well as other exotic formation.
3. Boss battle maps
In Heroes VII, we don’t plan at the moment on having bosses because we want to stay in a paradigm of army vs army, so we are focusing on efforts in making unique battle maps using the tools we have developed. That means instead of one 4x4 creature with more health than a thousand champion units, you will fight a regular army, but in a map with specific shape and encumbrance, and with unique positioning of enemies. This will challenge your ability to adapt to a tactical situation that is out of the ordinary, while staying in the normal rules of the game.
This is one endless topic of discussion, and we had a hard time getting a majority’s opinion from out studies in the community. Some prefer a dynamic initiative like in Heroes V, some prefer the classic “creature initiative-based” system. We decided to go for the latter, while trying to improve it. We know the timing of the Hero action in the turn is a critical element of a battle, and that relying on his creature’s initiative is debatable, but having the Hero in the initiative bar with its own initiative value proved to be impractical during our prototyping phase.
Flanking in Heroes VII is an experiment which goal is to promote movement during battles and counter natural tendencies to turtling, even if more tools have been developed with that in mind, like more area of effect abilities and spells. Flanking grants damage bonuses to creatures attacking the flank or rear of an opponent. We had originally designed it as more powerful but our first tests have proven it wrong. Flanking is to be used as the main tool of the most mobile units like fliers and teleporters, but should only remain a “bonus” for most creatures.
Cover feature existed in Heroes VI but we tried to make it more obvious and efficient in Heroes VII. We’re working on a system to provide a clear preview of which enemies will have reduced damage when shooting at your creature, when you’re about to place said creature behind an obstacle to take cover. Placing your shooters in cover during tactics phases could improve your chances to rule the fight.
7. Retaliation system
Heroes VII will also feature Retaliation system. All creatures will be able to retaliate after the first melee attack they receive in the turn. Heroes need to be sure that their creatures do not suicide themselves when rushing on weak but devastating enemy units.
8. Defend action
The defend action in Heroes VII has a significant effect on a creature’s defense, making it not only a default action when you can’t do better but a real boost for a defensive tactics.
The wait order moves a creature back in the initiative bar, for the turn. Creature with higher initiative (the slowest) will wait longer than those with low initiative. Fast creature will then always act before slow ones. Each creature can only wait once a turn. This has a critical impact on how to manage enemy retaliations.
10. Hero attack
Heroes can act one a turn during a battle, when one of their creatures has the initiative. The default action is an attack, which is ranged and does not trigger retaliation. In Heroes VII, the power of this attack is currently balanced to allow a starting hero to kill 2-4 core units with one strike and a maximum level hero to be able to kill most champion units with one strike. Of course we will continue to reiterate and adjust those values until the very end of the development.
11. Hero spells and warcries
Heroes have two other major ways of intervening in the battle. Spells are powerful and affect enemy or allied troops immediately or during multiple turns, and they cost mana, so they are limited according to your investment in magic skills and abilities. Warcries are tactical options that grant bonuses to your troops and that can also be upgraded through one skill, reserved only for Might heroes, and warcries cost no mana.
Before engaging a battle, you are generally asked if you wish to play it manually or to let the statistics talk and do the job for you. In Heroes VII, we don’t want autocombat to challenge a real player’s ability, so unless the odds are greatly unbalanced, you’ll tend to lose more troops when using autocombat than if you play manually. Of course if you succeed in getting the upper hand and outnumber greatly your opponents, autocombat will allow you to smash your enemies as well.