Necromancer Balance Discussion

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Home Forums Age of Wonders 3 Discussions Balance Suggestions Necromancer Balance Discussion

This topic contains 463 replies, has 29 voices, and was last updated by  Ericridge 6 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #217045

    ExNihil
    Member

    Hi Guys,

    I know Necromancer needs a lot of attention. It would be helpful if we could map the balancing issues for this class, both respective of other classes (e.g. Necro/Theo, Necro/DN and Necro/Rogue) and with races (units, RG upgrades etc.) Also, sustain should be considered and how it works with specializations. I am really not an expert here, so I ask for your help – if you could write down what you consider to be the issues, and what causes them that would be very helpful indeed. Of course proposals are also welcome, but I think charting the balance of Necro should be a first step, and perhaps we could reach some sort of understanding on what requires attention.

    #217072

    NINJEW
    Member

    the big issue with necro is that its early game is very very weak, so as soon as the other player sees you’re playing necro all they need to do is rush you

    once you hit the midgame the necro is actually very competitive, in my experience, but surviving to that point is so difficult that it’s not really viable

    #217077

    Play a few Necro versus Dread games.

    Your won’t moan about Theocrats after that.

    #217087

    ExNihil
    Member

    I’m actually now playing vs. Theo (Leon Feargus) as Draconian Necro, luckily I had a far start or else I’d be minced meat.

    I understand why the Dread would be a very very difficult an IMBA matchup for the Necro, I wonder what sort of balancing mechanisms are already implemented to make this a bit better. Any ideas?

    the big issue with necro is that its early game is very very weak, so as soon as the other player sees you’re playing necro all they need to do is rush you

    once you hit the midgame the necro is actually very competitive, in my experience, but surviving to that point is so difficult that it’s not really viable

    Can you break it down? Why is it so weak in the early game? What does it take to make it competitive? How does it fare in late-games?

    #217092

    Zaskow
    Member

    I wonder what sort of balancing mechanisms are already implemented to make this a bit better.

    Haywire on banshee scream and Demolisher*2 on bone collector. That’s all.

    the big issue with necro is that its early game is very very weak, so as soon as the other player sees you’re playing necro all they need to do is rush you

    Do they? When I played Necro I hadn’t noticed him huge weakness. Spam city strategy is much easier for necro, because no town morale = no limitation of terrain.

    #217096

    NINJEW
    Member

    I haven’t dabbled in necro myself much so my understanding is a bit limited, but the main problems i’ve always heard are thus:

    1. At the begenning of the game, you have no healing. Racial supports with heal abilities no longer function, and and your units dont even get natural Regen. the only source of health you have, period, is your leader, and potentially a necro hero (first hero being necro dramatically improves your chances of surviving). This lasts until you can research and produce reanimators, which could take 8 turns or so (I have no idea if this is an accurate number or not, just trying to remember off the top of my head)

    2. Your starting units are straight up worse than normal, due to ghoul giving stat penalties. This lasts for produced units as well, until you’ve built up some buildings and research. In theory, this is alleviated by the game granting you more expensive units in your starting army.

    3. due to the above two concerns, your only reliable early clearing tool is lost souls. This leads into: very poor scouting, especially in the early game, because you cant spare very many “scouts” due to them being your frontline fighters. You can use cadavers to alleviate this but it’s a small bandaid.

    4. The necromancer economy suuuuuuucks. Your cities grow very slowly, and you get no happiness boosts (the 15% you get is equivalent to the lowest happiness level bonus, which every other class essentialy gets AS A BASELINE). I believe there is also very few necro economic spells, if any at all. So good luck scraping the gold together for your sub-par early army.

    By the time a necromancer reaches midgame, however, prospects turn around for it very quickly. Necro has a variety of very powerful combat spells, and with some research and buildings, produces very powerful racial units. In addition, the necromancer has a number of ways of bringing back its dead units, and getting more units for free out in the field. Once a necromancer is in gear, it becomes a terrifying theocrat-warlord on steroids type hybrid, that achieves hordes of very powerful units that will not stay dead, backed up by excellent spells. But it’s incredibly hamstrung getting there (and, of course, still loses devastatingly to the other big lategame powerhouse, the Dreadnought)

    I’ve never played necro in MP myself (though I have played against one several times) so this is all second hand knowledge, of course.

    I have absolutely no idea how necro fares in a cityspam meta, though between the pop growth and economic problems I can’t imagine that ending well.

    #217097

    NINJEW
    Member

    Oh also if your opponent went grey guard youve basically already lost, whether you manage to get to midgame or not. Kind of an issue, what with grey guard being one of the most popular spec choices…

    #217098

    NINJEW
    Member

    Something should probably be changed so that essence harvest doesn’t effectively double your cp in a big battle vs necro

    #217103

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    I think Necro is massively OP (yeah, sorry).
    I’m playing Necro since EL, Single and PBEM, and I play with STRONG defenders and first of all:
    1) You get better starting units.
    Yes, you do.
    For example, you tend to get:
    a T3
    at least one T2 Support
    2) Your hero has a 20 HP healing ability on a 3-turn cooldown.
    3) The EMBALMERS’S GUILD gives all your produced undead +7 HP +40 % Fire protection – and it regenerates 50% of a unit’s HP (they also give +50 pop).

    SLOW ECONOMY?
    ARe you kidding me? Each battle fuels one of your towns with pop. I have turns I get 600 pop via battles alone, and that’s not a rare occasion (depends on map settings).

    Of course you get Reanimator asap. Your hero gets lesser reanimate undead, making it an advantage to fight with T1 and T2. Once that has happened, your starting army is a powerhouse.
    Example: Hero, Frostling Queen, Mammoth Rider, Reanimator, Witch, X (can be everything, actually, even a Lost Soul).
    4) Lost Souls: try to not let them go single.
    5) Banshees; probably the best unit you can summon for that cost – try to add a Banshee to a stack of Lost Souls. Result: Chaos and Despair.

    To be frank: Lost Souls, Reanimators and Banshees, competently led, are among the best Class units there are. The Class WADES in healing…
    6) CONTROL UNDEAD. Well, yes. Necros get it early. Tombs are not that rare. Libraries tend to come with Reanimators. Necromantic Circles come with Reanimators. There are lots of undead to fight. Control undead may not be as good as conversion, but, boy, does a Wraith King “converted” ups your power!
    7) No morale and alignment problems. Your race has a terrain problem? Not anymore.
    8) ANimate Ruins. Try Destructive. Makes sense anyway with “Wreck” spell. Hasty Plunder followed by Animate Ruins kills all economic problems – you just need to destroy one AI town.
    9) The Alignment dependent specs. Lol.
    10) You have elemental weaknesses? Try Tigrans. Problem against Theo? Nah.
    11) You can take Mystical sites like no one else.

    12) If there is a problem, it’s with AUTOCOMBAT! And/or peoples building preferences.

    Last battle in a PBEM as Tigran Necro: Library (Strong Defenders): 2 Evangelists, 1 Apprentice, 1 Reanimator, 1 either Dwarven or Draconian T2 Sup. I had Hero, Sphinx, Reanimator, 2 Sun Guards, 1 Shredder.
    CLOSELY MATCHED! (So AC would probably have seen a problem.). I didn*t have to use reanimate – I didn’t even HEAL, for frag’s sake, it was THAT easy.

    So problem is AUTO, obviously.

    #217109

    Dr_K
    Member

    SLOW ECONOMY?
    ARe you kidding me? Each battle fuels one of your towns with pop. I have turns I get 600 pop via battles alone, and that’s not a rare occasion (depends on map settings).

    I believe that fragile or unstable is a better term for the Necro’s early economy.

    #217117

    NINJEW
    Member

    I think Necro is massively OP (yeah, sorry).
    I’m playing Necro since EL, Single and PBEM, and I play with STRONG defenders and first of all:

    well yeah, when you can manual your battles necro is very strong. i thought we were talking about live MP meta – in PBEM necro is perfectly fine

    1) You get better starting units.
    Yes, you do.
    For example, you tend to get:
    a T3
    at least one T2 Support
    2) Your hero has a 20 HP healing ability on a 3-turn cooldown.
    3) The EMBALMERS’S GUILD gives all your produced undead +7 HP +40 % Fire protection – and it regenerates 50% of a unit’s HP (they also give +50 pop).

    1. At the begenning of the game, you have no healing. Racial supports with heal abilities no longer function, and and your units dont even get natural Regen. the only source of health you have, period, is your leader, and potentially a necro hero (first hero being necro dramatically improves your chances of surviving).

    2. Your starting units are straight up worse than normal, due to ghoul giving stat penalties. This lasts for produced units as well, until you’ve built up some buildings and research. In theory, this is alleviated by the game granting you more expensive units in your starting army.

    4. The necromancer economy suuuuuuucks. Your cities grow very slowly, and you get no happiness boosts (the 15% you get is equivalent to the lowest happiness level bonus, which every other class essentialy gets AS A BASELINE). I believe there is also very few necro economic spells, if any at all. So good luck scraping the gold together for your sub-par early army.

    1) You get better starting units.
    Yes, you do.
    For example, you tend to get:
    a T3
    at least one T2 Support
    2) Your hero has a 20 HP healing ability on a 3-turn cooldown.
    3) The EMBALMERS’S GUILD gives all your produced undead +7 HP +40 % Fire protection – and it regenerates 50% of a unit’s HP (they also give +50 pop).

    that pop growth from killing stuff only works for one city. so you get one decently sized city, and everything else is kind of garbage.

    One City is not a good foundation for a strong economy.

    Basically, yeah you’re right, Necromancer has a ton of advantages. the problem with necro in the live MP meta is that it’s very hard to leverage any of these advantages during the early game, and if you can you’ll get, at best, what any other class can do with far less effort. also pretty much every advantage you listed doesn’t really come online until post turn 10 or so, which was kind of the entire point.

    so, in a nutshell:

    12) If there is a problem, it’s with AUTOCOMBAT! And/or peoples building preferences.

    this is the core of the issue. necro gets hurt really, really bad in early live mp, that’s the source of the entire discussion. PBEM and Single Player necro has no glaring balance issues. this is true of most of the balance issues discussed in this forum, honestly.

    #217118

    Bob5
    Member

    Strong defenders favours Necro, Necro needs a lot of kills early on to get good town growth and some cadaver armies. Once you get good town growth you can rush production very easily, but I think Necro builds up cities a bit slower. They really need to get that Embalmer’s Guild when you want to pump out units, you need that Harvesters Guild to get growth, and building those slows down the building of say, shrines, builders hall, barracks, and units. They’re more dependent on the Harvesters and Embalmers guild than the other classes are dependent on Store House and Public Baths.

    That said, Necro does have some tricks (especially if you don’t intend to go good). One favourite of mine is if you have a Theo hero showing up to say you want a different hero, and then killing him for the Spirit Wand. It’s free 150 dead population and the spirit wand is great on Necro heroes, it combo’s well with Inflict Despair, and on the next turn a different hero will show up asking to be hired. Other classes suffer from race relation penalties for killing heroes that show up to be hired, but necro has no race relations.

    #217126

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    I suppose (tentatively) that the difference between manual and AC Necro is the biggest of all classes (I can support this opinion with my distinct impression that combat results tend to differ most from predictions).
    So the balance problem here is the fact that AC is bad for Necro.

    I mean, playing Necro on a strategic level is easy: you start with one town and only 1 source of healing, without regeneration, so Embalmer’s guild (and going back to town, if your units are too badly hurt to really be healed by hero’s 20 points) is necessary – which happens to reduce fire damage taken by units produced there and adds +7 HP to al produced undead.
    Lost Souls are pretty powerful in battle – provided you know what you are doing, handling of those is clearly 1 AI weakness.

    My suggestion for balancing Necro is making a concerted effeort to find out what the AI screws up when leading Necro units into battle.

    But one thing is clear: you can’t BUFF Necro.

    #217128

    NINJEW
    Member

    lost souls are actually very good in auto, is my understanding. undying means they consistently survive, while the ai tends to use up turns killing lost souls that secretly won’t die (instead of killing units that will be gone for good)

    necro clears just fine past turn 5 or so, if you game the autocombat right (tricks like putting an extra lost soul in its own stack on a separate adjacent hex before starting the battle, which will split the defenders up as half of them chase down the lone undying lost soul). the bigger issue is that it has a lot of trouble building up a competitive pvp force until midgame, due to its economic woes, delay before it can produce good units, total reliance on reanimators for healing, and heavy research needs (but without any kind of research boost). other classes, headed by similarly competent players but without these shortcomings, can produce a far greater force than a necro is able to scrounge up early on.

    the biggest autocombat woe is probably with abilities like control undead: a human player can attack a tomb and reliably get very good undead units, while the autocombat often won’t give you a new unit at all (or, worse, your leader attempted to control undead and placed itself in an awful position where the remaining defenders immediately slaughter it)

    auto comabt may or may not be very good about using revive lesser undeader to preserve units. i know this used to be a problem with never getting cadavers, but that (obviously) got fixed.

    #217155

    Zaskow
    Member

    the bigger issue is that it has a lot of trouble building up a competitive pvp force until midgame, due to its economic woes, delay before it can produce good units, total reliance on reanimators for healing, and heavy research needs (but without any kind of research boost)

    No problems here, actually. Necro can get powerful strike group banshees + reanimators very easily and early. Synergy between these 2 units is so strong, that they can crush almost any force, except machine fist of dread or theo army.

    #217157

    NINJEW
    Member

    does your group meta include necromancers then? what would you say are their primary strengths and weaknesses? how early can you get a good army together, and how many units are in it?

    #217160

    Zaskow
    Member

    does your group meta include necromancers then?

    For best performance, of course.

    what would you say are their primary strengths and weaknesses?

    I’ve already pointed weaknesses – massed crusaders + other theo stuff or machine army will disintegrate this group. Massed supports with fire/spirit damage also can do a lot of problems. Not very mobile.
    Strengths – enough healing, wide possibility to avoid losses (lesser reanimate undead), possibility to increase army (raise corpses), inflict despair increases damage output of banshees greatly. Good abilities to take towns.

    how early can you get a good army together, and how many units are in it?

    30-40th turn, 3 stacks (avg, except leader’s escort). Some players can make this group on 25th turn.

    #217162

    NINJEW
    Member

    What does that consist of? I wouldn’t say 3 stacks of t2s is terribly impressive come turn 30 (with cav evolve ~8 T3s + 7 t2s + 3 heroes is very much possible)

    For a non evolve strat, I’d estimate my cannon build reaches probably 4 cannons, 4 golems, 2 engies by turn 30 (though that number rapidly increases afterwords, since I’ve stockpiled the gold for that and ensured that I can 1turn cannons)

    How do Necro armies compare?

    #217163

    NINJEW
    Member

    pretty sure any rush is gonna hit before turn 30 as well. what’s the turn 20 army looking like?

    #217165

    Zaskow
    Member

    How do Necro armies compare?

    Banshees have 0 problems with living T3 with phys. attacks.

    For machine army I’ve already showed that these groups aren’t viable.

    pretty sure any rush is gonna hit before turn 30 as well. what’s the turn 20 army looking like?

    Depends from auto results. 🙂
    Leader + 1-2 cavs + few supports (racial) + heroes + crap.
    4-5 reanimators + 3-4 banshees. It’s difficult to say clearly, because I played Necro long ago.

    #217170

    NINJEW
    Member

    Well, I’m not saying “how would a battle between these two armies go,” as obviously my experiences are not representative of every possible opponent (that is just 2 test cases, afterall, from the same race/class combo no less!). Mostly just a demonstration of “here are some numbers that I know are possible, so other classes should be able to reach similar numbers with their own units. Can the necromancer also reach these numbers?”

    So, what does the composition of a turn 30 necro army look like? Turn 30 is also approximately where I’d say the midgame generally begins, which is where I agree that necro is competitively viable

    Leader + 1-2 cavs + few supports (racial) + heroes + crap.
    4-5 reanimators + 3-4 banshees. It’s difficult to say clearly, because I played Necro long ago.

    These are the turn 20 results?

    That’s not terribly impressive, though not exactly awful either. Do you remember how much research could be done at that stage as well? how much cp you have, do you have a good combat spell at that point, how many empire upgrades do you generally have, etc. I think the presence of things like Vampiric Hunger, Master of Puppets, and Healers of the Dead are going to be a big decider in how viable Necro is early on.

    I suppose it is helpful that Banshees are among Lesser Shadow Stalkers, Phantasm Warriors, Crusaders, and possibly Golems in the 2.5 tier.

    Kind of want to see this in practice now. Might have to arrange a necro game or two with some of my buds.

    #217179

    Zaskow
    Member

    So, what does the composition of a turn 30 necro army look like? Turn 30 is also approximately where I’d say the midgame generally begins, which is where I agree that necro is competitively viable

    Banshees + reanimators mostly, a few collectors (if you was lucky with research places), 5-7 cadavers + leftovers from beginning army.

    Do you remember how much research could be done at that stage as well?

    Not much, actually.
    Lost souls + Reanimators + Banshees are obligatory.
    1-2 upgrades for CP.
    Death Ray, probably, or Fire ball.

    I think the presence of things like Vampiric Hunger, Master of Puppets, and Healers of the Dead are going to be a big decider in how viable Necro is early on.

    One-two from this, but not all.

    how many empire upgrades do you generally have

    2.

    #217181

    NINJEW
    Member

    Eh, sounds like weak early game, viable midgame to me. Maybe not totally helpless earlygame, but certainly not competitive with other classes.

    Perhaps a more pertinent topic of discussion could then be, how well does raiding/rushing/other early game aggressive strategies hamper the necro’s ability to reach its powerful midgame? how effectively can a necro fight back? it sounds like it has the unit count to put up a fight, but not a terribly good one.

    #217190

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    Wait.
    Playing Necro with or without Auto are two different things.
    Necro with Auto is more about learning what unit combos the AI will net you consistently good results with. And also what combos will net you bad results. Example: scout battle. Manual and auto scout battles are two different things, and with Auto small Lost Souls groups may go down, even though superior.
    Also, you are not hampered in early game. Most – if not all – Necro games I played, I started with a T3. I think, the regular setting is normal defenders, and backed by a T3 even the AI can’t err too much.
    Then there is race and spec choice.
    It’s obvious, that in competitive MP humans are definitely not a good choice, because you cannot really use human priests. Dwarves would be not so good either, for the same reasons. Frostlings are a good choice. If you get a T3 it helps, because the AI uses Nova and everything you fight on ice will either be on unfavored terrain or do cold damage which you resist completely. Destructive helps, because going evil most of the time helps as well – if you can control undead they will most likely be dedicated to evil.
    Tigrans, on the other hand will negate your Spirit problem (and Sphinxes are pretty good against machines at that) – however, Tigran Ghouls are somewhat squishy, and due to the offensive character of Tigrans Auto may lose you stuff.

    What I want to say is, that synergies are pretty difficult to assess and work with. Elves, for example make pretty good undead. Less pop growth and Blight weakness? No problem.

    Halflings get something special, too, and they are supposed to work well, but I didn’t play them, yet.

    So, for MP and auto, keep in mind, the other classes are a year longer out, and players have a lot more AC XP with them. With Necro, it’s still about finding out what works.

    There is nothing even remotely weak about them, and their “weak” early game is also based on Zas saying “depends on auto results”.

    Also – Necro has a lot of rush potential themselves, but that depends on a couple of things, mainly how much mana they get and whether they can control a couple of undead.

    EDIT: ONE disadvantage: heroes. In competetive MP you simply can’t have another hero than a Necro at start. In single you can, since you may actually booty up an army for him, but when it really counts, you rather depend on getting the right hero.

    SUGGESTION: Make sure, a Necro player’s initial hero offer is a Necro!

    #217193

    Ericridge
    Member

    I will list few of tricks I do.

    On normal defender strengths.

    You can acquire a Archon Titan very early. If you find a archon occupied haunted boneyard. Wait til it spawns its’ first one early and send a army after it XD I had a archon titan with 300+ HP because of this.

    Attacking a tomb super early is viable option if you get good mix of starting units on your normal strength for starting army. Because they can be occupied by Death Bringers. I have gotten a deathbringer as early as soon as necromancer unlocks it’s control undead. And from there you can start the process of ghouling independent units that occupy the map.

    One of the ways you can deal with angry dreadnought who wants your undead to stay dead ….

    I happened to be at war against a Global Assault Warlord and he was just losing everything he got to my death bringers and Dread Reapers. I sent every manticore, warbreeds, and phalanxes I got right into the direction of the dreadnought sieging me at where I’m buying time with racial and death bringers. All those ghouled warlord troops steamrolled the dreadnought.

    And there is a way for necromancer to quickly grow it’s cities, it’s just slightly cost prohibitive and dependent on the RMG. Undead Plague spell stacks. Meaning if you discover three independent cities and dow on them all and cast undead plague on them? 1200 Population growth per turn. In exchange for 60 Mana per turn. You will need a focused mana growth early on. It can be done.

    And if you get super lucky and have age of death show up pretty early in your spellbook. Race for it as fast as possible and cast it. You will achieve a dominant position very quickly early on. All those dead independents being cleared will become your ghouls. Combined with Hasty Plunder and early game shenanigans.

    One way to buff necromancer is that if it’s ghouls die in battle and cannot be resurrected? They can be turned into cadavers instead to represent salvaging the destroyed corpses and patching them together. And from there if cadavers die, they are truly dead. Unless they have undying or resurged XD Maybe the cadavers should get inflict ghoul curse too? To represent a growing undead horde. And would be a good reason for me to summon cadavers as hard as possible.

    Those is my current thoughts.

    #217196

    Zaskow
    Member

    It’s obvious, that in competitive MP humans are definitely not a good choice, because you cannot really use human priests. Dwarves would be not so good either, for the same reasons.

    Do you think that people will choose race for Undead only for healing reasons? Human and Dwarves are chosen, because they work good at auto and have tough units.
    Human priests and forge priests are good units even as ghouls.

    Elves, for example make pretty good undead. Less pop growth and Blight weakness? No problem.

    Additional damage from nowhere is always problem.

    #217200

    ExNihil
    Member

    So, is there a balance problem? Either UP or Op, or perhaps both.

    #217201

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    Zas, then they are not thinking clearly. If your EARLY game is your biggest problem, then you have to chose race and specs to minimize it, because once you are in midgame it doesn’t matter anymore whether a race works a tad better in AC. Human and Dwarven Priests may be good ANYWAY, but ANYWAY is a problem too many at that point.

    #217210

    Hatmage
    Member

    Humans working well in auto is largely on the priestly healing undead lack. Human priests are valuable to necromancers as killers of the despaired, but don’t do much for them before inflict despair is available, and any armoured unit with a shield, such as an elf or dwarf swordsman, is a tougher frontline troop than humans can muster. Halfling brew brothers can heal the undead and do dramatically improve their leveling and clearing ability, but other undead halflings aren’t great, plus you’d be playing halflings.

    Lastly, 80% blight resistance on zombie elves still largely invalidates blight as a damage type against them. Taking one damage from blight but one less from spirit and fire is a great deal for ghouls.

    #217212

    Zaskow
    Member

    So, is there a balance problem? Either UP or Op, or perhaps both.

    I think strength of Inflict Despair is still high (currently 10). Despair has a lot of synergies with various Necro skills, weak and strong. From, again, Inflict Despair to Invoke Death. Also Despair destroys unit’s morale which leads to one more Necro synergy (Exploit Despair) and decrease unit effectiveness greatly.
    9 strength would be enough.
    Also it needs to test Necro against Dread. Are bone collectors enough or no?

    If your EARLY game is your biggest problem, then you have to chose race and specs to minimize it,

    At least choice of these races could save from losses on auto before arriving of reanimators.
    Anyway, I’m not sure. Need more playing Necro.

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