So first I apologize for the silence, been a few hectic months. Working on the elevation and formation AI took longer than anticipated (isn't that always the case). Also on top of that, I'm in the process of selling my house in which I hope to use some of the funds to further fund development, so yeah been pretty flat out.
Anyway, this is just an interim update on what I've been working on and what to expect in the next full devblog which hopefully will be out by this month.
So a brief refresher first, in combat you can choose to attack either the head or body. There is no hit chance reduction for the head, attacking the head does more damage but also consumes stamina whereas the body doesn't. If you completely destroy a unit's helmet, killing the unit with an attack aimed at the head results in a decapitation and a morale loss for all allied units. Not only do you decide whether to attack the head vs body, you have to decide is it better to first destroy the opponent's armor vs body. Unlike Battle Brothers, you have to actively reduce a unit's armor/helmet rating it is not a passive result of attacking. In this sense, it works more like Banner Saga. Side note, there are weapon types that have piercing damage that can ignore a % of armor, but I didn't want to make it available for all weapon types.
Anyway, reducing an opponent's helmet rating also reduces stamina so the trade off on deciding whether to attack head vs body comes down to the amount of stamina a unit has and perhaps the urgency of the fight. If you are wrecking an opponent's side with heads flying off everywhere, you're going to be routing the enemy sooner, but if you are up against opponents with high helmet rating you'll find that sometimes a unit will tire itself out as it attempts to first break a opponent's helmet, then attack the head. This is where it may be more "economical" to attack the body as you won't be reducing stamina and tiring yourself out.
With all that in place, I'll now begin to explain how the new elevation features come into play.
1. If your target is on higher elevation than you, you can no longer use attacks that are targeted to the body. This goes for abilities as well, most abilities have two variants head/body. Certain groups of abilities create synergy, IE the sword abilities that increase your counter attack chance and augment the counter attack itself. These abilities are all based on actively increasing/augmenting counter attacks through successful hits, if you decided to only get the body variant of those abilities you'll find yourself in a pickle against an enemy on higher elevation. You can no longer utilize your strategy as those body orientated attacks cannot be used.
2. If your target is on lower elevation than you, body attacks now do bonus damage. So against a target on lower elevation, attacking the body basically becomes a head attack as you get the bonus damage as well minus the decapitation effect. This is obviously a pretty big advantage as you are doing more damage without consuming stamina.
3. If your target is on lower elevation, you also gain a bonus chance to hit against it. I'm toying around with perhaps adding one more perk to being on higher elevation or perhaps just leaving it as it is and gathering feedback on it first before deciding on adding something else.
4. Attacks/abilities aimed towards the head against a target on higher elevation no longer do bonus damage and cannot decapitate. Your equipped weapon will always come with a default attack that allows you to attack the head. If you find yourself on lower elevation, your only option is to attack the head and attacking the head consumes stamina, no stamina no head attacks. There will be an ability that allows you to recover stamina, every turn you also regain a certain amount of stamina, but being on lower elevation really is quite a disadvantage.
The other thing I'll mention is that I've decided units will have up to 10 abilities they can pick, from a wider pool of abilities, sort of like the Battle Brothers perk tree but there are weapon specific abilities and general abilities. If you decide on a certain synergy/strategy, IE sword abilities that increase/augment counter attacks and you want to be using that strategy as much as possible, then you would pick both head and body versions to account for chances when you are on higher/lower elevation. The downside to this is then your unit is a bit more specialized and may not have access to other utility abilities IE an ability that allows you to disengage from melee range. Also, you'd be completely ignoring shield abilities.
5. Ascending and descending elevation, costs more movement range than compared to just moving on flat ground.
So yeah, combat is shaping up and I'm really excited. The other half of my time was spent on formation AI, which I'll probably talk about it in the upcoming devblog update that I'm hoping to post by month's end. Prior to this, I had only implemented the very basics of combat so personally it is very encouraging to see how my combat has evolved with the AI now taking advantage of elevation. Designing the terrain itself to cater for elevation was also a huge hurdle to overcome, will be talking more about that in the next devblog. For now, just excited that combat doesn't just take place on flat ground
For the demo, I'm also going to be moving the combat specific information into a dialogue so the whole experience of learning the combat should feel a bit more "immersive" and less detached as there is quite a bit of info to churn through. I really didn't want to dumb down combat but I guess there is always a threshold where it can become too complicated/complex. That said, personally I'm on the side of always wanting more challenging/tactical combat.
Also new set, there is going to be a lot of armor variety in Dead Monarchy. Same will go for weapons when I am ready to show them. These sets are still WIP and may change overtime.