NG+ Zelemir's Army - proposed nerf


#1

I’ve just beaten the game, normal and NG+ in Linear mode (absolutely no grinding, every level restarted and retried until I got perfect victory on Normal difficulty, including bonus battles in Normal and all sidequests (these were a bit of a grind, I didn’t necessarily attempt them as I unlocked them, and I didn’t finish SQ6 at all due to having only 1 dragon and 3 ice mages).
There were only two exceptions:

  1. the sheep level simply didn’t seem possible at all on normal, so I had to do it on casual (and replayed it on Normal much later, when I was almost at the end)
  2. Zelemir’s Army - I actually had to create a mod to nerf the creeps there. I did it by reducing their levels by 6 across all waves. Lars told me that he doesn’t mind adjusting the game balance but he won’t have time in near future to playtest things thoroughly, so we agreed that I’d try a solution and see what other old players think about it - and if they find it OK, he’ll put those changes into reality.

So, what do I want from you? If you consider yourself a veteran DQ player who likes a challenge, start a new game with the rules described above (if you already don’t have a save from recent version doing the same thing).
If things get too tough for you, feel free to cheat a bit - some of the battles were so challenging for me that I’m not sure whether I could do them again, let alone explain how I did them :slight_smile:

The goal is to verify that for a party where Azra is level 29-31 and most core characters are 28-30, this battle won’t step out of line when it comes to difficulty, compared to battles before it and after it.
Alternatively, you can use the attached save (feel free to respec characters to suit your style) and see if you can beat the battle.

Here’s the changed part of 4_8_the_army.xml

	<waves diff="easy" first_wait="15">
		<wave type="armored" level="28" count="5" rate="0.25" loc="a" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="armored cultist" level="19" count="2" rate="0.2" loc="a" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="dark" level="26" count="10" rate="0.5" loc="c" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="armored" level="27" count="7" rate="0.25" loc="a" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="armored apc" level="16" count="2" rate="5" loc="a,b" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="double apc" level="19" count="1" rate="0.3" loc="b" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="armored cultist" level="20" count="3" rate="0.2" loc="a" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="dark" level="30" count="10" rate="0.5" loc="c" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="armored apc" level="19" count="3" rate="0.15" loc="b" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="armored" level="29" count="10" rate="0.25" loc="a" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="armored cultist" level="21" count="3" rate="0.2" loc="a" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="dark" level="35" count="16" rate="0.5" loc="a,c" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="double apc" level="20" count="2" rate="0.05" loc="b" wait="5"/>
		<wave type="armored apc" level="21" count="4" rate="0.15" loc="b" wait="5"/>
	</waves>  

And at the end, a bit of reasoning as to why I think this nerf in general is necessary: There is a huge jump in difficulty increase. Compared with the previous map, the first five waves alone have about 25% more HP, more armor, more porcupine AND take shorter time to spawn, which together makes it much harder to cope with. This single battle seems to stand out among the end maps, being harder than it IMO should be.

Or am I just doing something wrong? Have you guys managed to beat it just fine with level 29-30 party without any special equipment and whatnot? :slight_smile:


#2

I’m not sure im super qualified to comment on this since i only played the ng+ levels on extreme (except last 3 levels i did on advanced since i couldnt do them at my level), but at that difficulty the 2 main problems were worm (or was it snakes) speed and porcupine. If it was me balancing i would reduce the speed of those fast guys and significantly reduce porcupine. Porcupine was even killing my knights dragons and unboosted berserkers (i needed 2 healers at boost 3 in range of each melee or they would die). For the speedy guys it was a matter or reloading until my ice mages managed to slow them so was really frustrating.

If porcupine was reduced by 50% or even 75%, boost3+ berserkers would still kill themselves (at non grind levels) but at least i wouldnt have had to constantly put down and then recall my berserkers in order to apply bleed at acceptable cost so levels were feasible and other melees didnt melt as well. As for the speedy small guys, the best example is probably the water side mission close to where the ice mages are obtained, it was a hard but fun puzzle to figure out, and then i had to retry at least 5 times until a speedy didnt manage to slip between ice mage abilities and ruined the extreme gold star. If they were half as fast it would still have been a fun puzzle to figure out but not a frustrating restart party after. Another frustrating level is the first ending level with just archers and knights which cant be done on extreme at non grind level since the damage dealt by my guys wasnt high enough even with good usage of the poison and slow bows to counter the fast guys.

All of this is about extreme but i suspect that at non grind levels it must be pretty similar for normal.

edit: also the hp of mobs in that map you mentioned seemed much higher than on previous map on extreme and i could only do it on advanced in my mostly linear extreme game.


#3

I do agree that porcupine on cultists is a little overpowered. The amount that’s on shadow worms and shadow ghouls seems to be more or less reasonable, as your berserkers will still nuke themselves if left unattended but they won’t die INSTANTLY and your knights/dragons can survive with 1 healer just fine.

On the splitter worms, I think a reduction to 50% ranged-evade (from 60%) would help enormously. That still makes rangers much less effective against them, but it at least gives them a fighting chance. Since evasion prevents status effects from being applied, 60% evade is a lot more powerful than 60% damage resist. On the knights+rangers level on extreme, I had to use the Crystal Patch book just to complete it, as I kept getting hammered by the final 2 waves. The combination of knights’ slow attacks, the lack of real AOE characters, and the ineffectiveness of rangers made it a more irritating than it should have been IMO. I can’t even imagine the frustration of doing this one on extreme on Hero+.

On the original topic, I think 6 levels down is too many as that makes the waves almost the exact same level as the previous map. 4 would probably be more appropriate, but perhaps the wait time between waves could be increased slightly? Even one extra second between the waves would help prevent getting swarmed at the beginning. The shell-beast + double-splitter + priests all at once is a bit much at your level, I agree. I’m not sure how much this particular limited playthrough should be used for balancing purposes, but I do think that this level needs a little tweaking. It’s almost easier on advanced than on normal. (Well not really, but the waves seem more balanced at least.)


#4

— Begin quote from "bevinator"

On the original topic, I think 6 levels down is too many as that makes the waves almost the exact same level as the previous map. 4 would probably be more appropriate, but perhaps the wait time between waves could be increased slightly?

— End quote

I’m not sure if that’d be enough. That is, looking at the raw numbers, first 5 waves in the second battle are 25% stronger in total HP (that’s excluding cultists healing others) - and given that your party’s strength between the two battles will probably grow by something like 2-3%, to make the battles similarly difficult, we’d need to space the waves so that they’d take at least 20% longer to arrive.

Anyway, I tried it with -6 levels and just barely made it. If you have time, try it with -4 levels and adjusted spacing and see if you can beat it that way :slight_smile:

— Begin quote from ____

I’m not sure how much this particular limited playthrough should be used for balancing purposes

— End quote

I’m convinced that it would be good for the game to allow this playthrough as feasible (and as it always used to be the case and this and the sheep are the only levels where it stopped working, I think it’s not done on purpose by Lars and Anthony, so they’d welcome a solution to restore the previous state of things :slight_smile: .

I lost my save from just before the sheep, so I am doing NG+ from start again to go there and see if I could find just about doable setup there as well.


#5

So I tried to do this (every level on normal, no grinding) and either coyot is way more skilled than me, or some things about the game have changed in the last couple years. There were 7 levels (4 on regular game, 3 in NG+) that I had to bump the difficulty down to casual. Also, an additional 5 or 6 levels required 3 or more tries.

If lars wants this to be doable, I have some suggestions (knocking monster level down by 1 or 2 on a few levels, increasing some scrap rewards to make it easier to buy and equip more defenders - the hard part of the regular game (less so in NG+) is managing scrap - it’s entirely possible that those 4 levels in the regular game that I couldn’t do would be possible if I had managed scrap better.