Reviews, Bugfinds and Commentaries on the UCP, Unofficial Community Patch for Heroes 7 by Antalyan and his team.

The game Might & Magic: Heroes VII, developed by Limbic Entertainment.

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cjleeagain
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Reviews, Bugfinds and Commentaries on the UCP, Unofficial Community Patch for Heroes 7 by Antalyan and his team.

Postby cjleeagain » Dec 27 2017, 5:59

Dear Antalyan and All

Most of the following reviews and commentaries have already been sent to Antalyan via the moddb.com site. I am also posting them here so that we know more about the patch. Antalyan announced his UCP mod on the Modcrafting Guild section of the forum, which means most people would not have noticed his announcement. I am deliberately posting here instead of as a reply to him on his thread (find his thread here: https://www.celestialheavens.com/forum/17/16672), so that other people can find his mod.

The mod/patch is hosted at http://www.moddb.com/mods/unoffical-com ... p/articles

So far only 294 people have downloaded it. The number should be 100x greater. Assuming there are even 29400 people in the world who still play Heroes 7. Whatever it is, 100% of all people who play Heroes 7 should install this mod. It is UTTERLY STABLE and you stand to lose nothing. Antalyan hasn’t created anything bizarre or eccentric; he basically was targeting to address preexisting problems and not to create new ones.

Let me stress that this is an awesome patch/ mod. It is VERY small. Antalyan basically solved or reduced problems that took Ubisoft’s paid professionals at least 1,000 as much system resources to handle.

Average size of a Ubisoft patch was 1.7gb. Antalyan’s patch is 1.62 MEGABYTES. YES, THIS IS NOT A MISTAKE. You are not downloading an executable that will download another 1.5gb of code to patch the game. It really does take one second to download the UCP, and that’s it. It is very easy and brainless to install. You don’t need to navigate to registry or tweak something weird.

Ubisoft should just have hired Antalyan to build the game. The efforts of a genuine enthusiast are often far superior to half-hearted efforts by underpaid, disinterested programmers.

cjleeagain
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Observations about the UCP

Postby cjleeagain » Dec 27 2017, 6:07

1) Fire Elementals can only fire nova once now per turn. That’s very good. What is not so good – the AI is too dumb, so it often misuses its opportunities. EG it uses ranged attacks when my troops are crowded together, but fires Fire Nova when the only victim would be a single stack. So this mod weakened the Fire Elemental as used by the AI, more than it toned down the Fire Elemental’s powers when used by a human player. At least when Fire Elementals could fire nova every turn, the AI always used their nova to maximum effect. I guess all of Antalyan’s genius can’t beat the idiocy of Ubisoft.

2) Enemy heroes may lose experience when they lose a battle. I don’t really know how this is calculated though. The experience lost is usually quite minimal eg -1412xp. The idea is good but execution seems flawed. Definitely not consistent.

3) Justicars’ opportunistic retaliation seems to work reliably now. But is it always supposed to be two strikes? I know Justicars strike twice normally. But that seems excessive. Sure, I like it when I’m playing vs AI. But a human player might be grousing Overpowered.

4) Remember, this mod doesn’t heal the stupidity of the AI. So far the AI has been very reliable in attacking units standing next to Justicars – so the Justicars will do lots of free killing without retaliation. As fun as this is when battling vastly bigger AI armies, it doesn’t seem right. These idiots just make a beeline for my defending Legionnaires, and my Justicars are always beside, so it’s always predictable. After a while my Celestials just revive the dead Legionnaires.

5) The new spell Martyr and new Ancient Treat ability Living Shelter are abilities/spells best used for Legionnaires and other cheap, mass units. That’s because damage is allocated numerically. A high level unit takes little nonmagical damage due to its high defense stats, so it will pass on less damage to the low level units. In contrast, low level units take more damage, so they will pass on more damage to high level units. The Martyr spell is close to useless unless you want your mass small units massacred to keep alive your Treants, Titans and Angels.

6) Included in my list of uploaded pictures, is one that shows my level 30 Wizard facing off against a vastly inferior Knight. Due to me religiously visiting every stat booster in sight, the Wizard’s attack of 13 was nearly equal to Knight’s defense of 15! But playing Wizard as a might hero simply can’t work! 43 Medusa Queens can’t even kill one Abbot when Legionnaires are here to shield the Abbots! But once my Wizard opens his spellbook, there is totally nothing the Knight hero can do against him.

I think this is really what Heroes of Might and Magic is about. Ubisoft did get this right, and we must not forget the lesson if we ever produce a crowdsourced Heroes VIII. Previous iterations of Heroes, especially Heroes II and III, the Hero type didn’t really matter. If your stats are equal, you fight similarly. A high level Wizard who visited many stat boosters could take on a barbarian or knight as a might hero, without opening his spellbook.

In Heroes VII you simply can’t do that. Not unless you choose Random Skilling, and deliberately build some ridiculous skill combos. (And usually you can’t do that either, since as a Wizard you won’t be offered the opportunity to get Grandmaster Offense, for instance.)

In Heroes VII, the Wizards get Metamagic and Prime magic and the Knights get Leadership and Righteousness by default. Someone who plays Wizard will always find his playing style leans towards survival, so that you can up your metamagic. Then keeping Arcane Eagles alive so that you can fly them into the enemy and cast power spells. In contrast, a Knight will always find that his style demands that he crowd his forces together, protect each other, and advance using morale turns to boost their fighting ability since their attack is always poor.

7) Before the patch, I would make use of the Recall spell to teleport to any town I pleased. As long as I could block a town with a hero, the spell would direct me to the next town that was vacant. Obviously this is an exploit that worked almost as well as Heroes III’s Town Portal with Expert Earth magic. It seems Antalyan is wise to this exploit. His mod now forces me to teleport only to the nearest town. If the nearest town is blocked, then I can’t go anywhere else.

8) Vampire Lords have no retaliation now, which is good. In Vampire lore, they were never meant to be retaliated. Also now you can’t cast entangle on them, but Druid thorns still work to reduce their movement and give them damage. I don’t know if this is intended by Antalyan. I’m neutral either way.

9) To my horror, Nature’s Revenge no longer works on Earth Elementals and Chthonians. In other words, no matter how many times your forces and hero hit these ugly monsters, there will not be a single Mark of Nature (and increased damage) on the Chthonians. Entangling Roots also do not work on them. Are they supposed to be a might ability or a magical ability? Note that Warden heroes and Treants deal Might damage, not Earth damage.

If it is Antalyan’s intention to make Chthonians and Earth Elementals take very little damage from Earth Magic-type attacks, this is not taken into account in the system. The popup gives a damage estimate far higher than the actual damage received. I strongly oppose this change, because creatures should not be able to invalidate a basic faction ability. Other faction abilities (eg Bloodrage, Metamagic, Righteousness) are never invalidated by individual creatures. Nature’s Revenge should not suffer this fate when fighting against creatures immune to Earth effects.

10) I’m not that familiar with Rune Patriarchs as I don’t have Trial by Fire, but it seems they are no longer Fire Immune.

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Observations of problems with the patch.

Postby cjleeagain » Dec 27 2017, 9:52

Observations of problems with the patch.

These aren’t necessarily problems that Antalyan created. Many are just old problems that didn’t get solved.

1) Implosion creates weird situations. Sometimes there is space on the battlefield, but instead of pulling units towards the Implosion victim, a unit is hurled far across the battlefield. This doesn’t happen very often. I think less than 1 in 30 occasions. Since I’ve cast implosion at least 200 times with the new mod, I’ve seen this happen at least 6 times.

2) Implosion sometimes causes units to end up on top of each other. This is not the ‘Shantri Titans mysteriously teleported to a different dimension’ bug. They can’t be seen on the battlefield anymore, but can still be targeted if you point your cursor at their image on the status bar at the bottom. And they can still target you. If AI choses to move the unit, it can become visible again once it is no longer ‘under’ another unit. Same for yourself. You might not be able to see or right click on that unit, but you can target a distant enemy, and your unit will come out from ‘under’ another unit and become visible again as it moves to attack. This happened only 2 times.

3) Legionnaires still sometimes offer distant protection. This mainly happens if Legionnaire is at the inner wall of a castle, and some other unit is fighting outside the castle. There doesn’t seem to be a distance limit to this bug, since it has happened with cavaliers fighting 8 squares away from Legionnaires.

Remote protection has never happened with my units and never happened on the open battlefield i.e. AI is not under siege.

4) Djinn Channelers only succeed in sucking mana from killed units a bit over half the time. Often they don’t succeed. This is true no matter what the killed units are – undead, construct, or living.

5) Marksmen still miss quite often. EG you think you’ve targeted 3 enemy stacks with piercing shot – and they only hit 2 instead. Even worse, sometimes they miss in a way that hits your own units! Come on, whatever the pop up info says, it needs to be reliable. If pop up says I’m gonna hit 3 enemy stacks, it’s outrageous that my Mucksmen fire and hit 1 enemy stack and 2 of my own stacks!

6) Really fed up with enemy targeting my Cabirs. AI is obsessed with Cabirs. That’s not a problem most of the time – until you are a Fire Elemental, a Lilim, or a fire Spellcaster and still make a beeline to hit Cabirs when you could be doing a lot more damage to other units. Doesn’t AI do damage calculations and prioritize the units they can hurt more at lowest cost of retaliation?

7) Heal is still quite problemmatic.

If you can heal for 300, you still often end up only healing the top unit in a stack despite the description saying you can ‘heal and resurrect’. This doesn’t seem consistent. Sometimes you can indeed heal for the full 300 worth, ie resurrect a few units. This is true no matter what faction the hero and units are.

Now your heal may hurt Summoned Elementals that are standing nearby. Surprisingly this gets worse if you have more units to heal. IE if you are healing one stack for 200 health, you will harm your summons for 200. But if your stacks are all fully healed, casting heal will not hurt your elementals. I’ve tried this several times, so I can range between killing 4 or no elementals.

Also occasionally you don’t hurt your summoned elementals and can even revive them. I don’t know how this works. Theoretically the only elementals who cannot be healed are dark elementals.

Heal calculations are problemmatic. If I am reviving a dead Minotaur Guard stack, and the heal is supposed to be for 195, what I get is a single 35hp minotaur guard. Not a stack of 2 guards with the top guard at only 35hp.

Heal messages are also confused. Sometimes I continue to see the pop up say that heal heals ‘0’ units on my side if Undead enemy units are nearby. If I cast Heal anyway, I find that I can heal my units and still hammer the undead. So I think your team has cured this bug, just not managed to change the AI’s pop up messages.
I find Heal most reliable when used against enemy undead. So far everytime I cast heal on them, I can whack them all for 400 or whatever damage. There hasn’t been a time when I could only use Heal to kill the topmost unit in an undead stack.

8) This may or may not be a bug. If you have Grandmaster Fire Magic and your Djinn channelers are hitting the enemy, the units killed by them (which add to your mana) do not include the units killed by Fire Mantle damage.

9) The Grandmaster Logistics perk seems to be wrongly calculated. You’re supposed to get only 10% faster in all your areas of control. But when I’m actually using it it seems to be 100% more. As much as I love this perk, it’s overpowered.

10) Master Hunter often shoots only once. I notice when they shoot only once, it is for the entire battle not just a single combat round. This suggests they entered battle recognized by the AI as ‘hunters’ rather than ‘Master Hunters’?

11) Ice strike sometimes doesn’t work on Master Hunter. IE they don’t shoot with additional ice damage.

12) I don’t know if this is by design, but Dragon Nexus doubles hero mana only for the next battle.

13) Oak Dryad’s renewal ability seems to have vanished. The Ancient Treant’s new living shelter ability seems close to useless, and they no longer restrain enemy units from moving. These two changes really hurt Sylvan badly. You’re just getting hammered. And why would I want to use Living Shelter to redirect damage from cheaper units to my Treants? I only grow 1 treant per week and it only has 400hp.

14) Alchemist’s Robe (+1 duration to friendly spells) doesn’t seem to work.

15) Treant attack no longer restrains enemy units from moving.

16) Darkness Elemental (supposed to be immune from Dark Magic effects) can get poisoned by dark blades

17) Gold income is sometimes wrongly reported by the system.

18) Royal Griffins can disappear after battle dive.

19) I experienced two situations on two different maps where I didn't visit a building, yet the status was set to 'visited' already.

20) In less than 0.5% of all battles, some unit will become untargetable on the battlefield by cursor. Sometimes you can still target it by pointing mouse at the unit portrait, sometimes am forced to use 'autocombat' to get AI to target it for me.

21) I experienced the weird 'teleported to dunno where' bug 4 times with the UCP. Where I would be walking around, then suddenly my hero would be teleported to another square in another part of the same area of control, and continue walking. This bug was reported long ago and I thought it had been cured by 2.2.1, although I didn't play H7 often enough after the 2.2.1 patch until Antalyan offered his UCP. It rarely surfaces, but looks like it is still around. In more than 500 'gaming days' where I was moving an average of 3 heroes each game day, that's a pretty low rate.

This bug always seems to function within the same area of control. IE I have never been teleported to another region before, much less an area that I hadn't explored.

22) Sometimes small units can retaliate to Basilisk Rider. I think it is particularly pronounced by the Justicar, who always can do opportunity retaliation.

23) Necromancer can learn Heal via Arcane Attunement. On three occasions, I was fighting a Necropolis or Dungeon hero when he/she learned Heal from me. (Dunno if they can cast it.) Two occasions were against Necro heroes, once was against Sephinroth (or a female Dungeon hero, I didn’t look closely).

24) I was fighting a battle against Air Elementals. Two stacks attacked my Ancient Treants, and both times I saw the message ‘Entangling Roots’ appear. But the Air Elementals were not entangled, and flew back to their starting position.
They were able to fly over and attack me again the next turn, and the message Entangling Roots again appeared. But they flew back.
On the third turn, they could not move anymore.
This persisted for the rest of the battle, because my Ancient Treants never moved. Every turn I checked, and they had entangling roots applied. As a result the Air Elementals were unable to move from their starting positions, and were slowly shot to death by my weak ranged units.
I think you should make Entangling roots work immediately. IE entangle them next to the Ancient Treants.

25) The portrait at the bottom left during a battle doesn’t always correspond to the actually active unit. This happens in less than 1 per 50 battles. No matter whose portrait is displayed, the active unit is the one that is highlighted on the battlefield.

And here is a list of my uploaded picture links, with title naming the type of bug I found. The thumbnails are blurry due to my imagezilla settings. Click on the photo to get a much bigger and clearer picture.

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The Darkness Elemental gets Dark Poisoned from the blades of the Shades

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Note that the Income of the Castle is reported as 4600, but Income of my Faction is reported as 4000. (4600 is correct.)


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Griffins sometimes vanish after battle diving. You can't see these guys in my photo, because they have just dived and caused damage to the enemy, but have landed in another dimension.

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My photos are surprisingly blurry, but this Heal threatens to Resurrect -4 Elementals. This isn't a typo. I tried it, and my elementals really died.

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My healing powers can heal for 209 but system reported as 0.

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Healing bug still not fixed with UCP I'm afraid.

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Heal resurrects only 1 unit. This photo taken from the 3rd round.

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Heal for 230, but can only resurrect 1 Raja!
Note, photo shows aftermath of resurrection in the 4th round. There are 9 Rajas in the stack now. Since Rakshasa Raja has 154 hp and the top unit in this stack has 5 hp, that means 2 Rajas have 159 hp. A healing for 230 could have resurrected two. Instead it only resurrected one. I wasn't sure what the hp was when there were 8 Rajas in the stack when I cast heal. I only know that this heal isn't cast efficiently.


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Heal sometimes works correctly.

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These are the Legionnaires offering remote protection.
My battlefield grid has vanished and I don't know how to bring it back. Anyway, it only affects AI when they have 1 Legionnaire stack in castle and 1 stack of units outside the castle. (There can be other units outside the castle, all benefitting from the same bug.) The bug doesn't benefit the human player.

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These enemy Medusas can't be targetted anymore.

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First day of the week, all my heroes have yet to move, no enemy has ventured into my territory. Yet a building is 'visited' already.


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Small units can now retaliate the Basilisk Rider?

http://imagezilla.net/show/wSHlWs3-Dark ... isoned.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/zYVZfqd-Gold ... rongly.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/Ctwwzud-Grif ... Diving.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/kWFmsaT-Heal ... ummons.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/e9HRSP2-Heal ... s-0-1-.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/o7wdVH3-Heal ... s-0-2-.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/1xX3gKq-Heal ... 1-Raja.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/W4K6RQj-Heal ... 1-unit.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/Ar3eqAv-Heal ... troops.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/9PonMaH-Lego ... s-away.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/2i9PdKM-Medu ... ttable.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/uavuHoP-Nobo ... lready.jpg
http://imagezilla.net/show/ypAy4pc-Smal ... -Rider.jpg

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Here you can see the time when two air elementals attacked my treant, were entangled, but their entanglement didn’t work until the third round. So they flew forward and hit me twice before finding themselves stuck across the battefield in Round 3.

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This is just to show the other Air Elemental stack, similarly entangled. BTW the photos were not taken until round 5, when I realized what was going on. Like any Air Elementals they had attacked my treant in Round 1 and 2, flying across the battlefield and flying back.

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This was very confusing to me. The bottom row portrait showed Gloria my enemy, as well as her stack of Arcane Eagles, but I was able to browse my spellbook and aim chain lightning at her forces.

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Eventually I realized that the Arcane Eagles had waited, except their portrait (and Gloria’s portrait) hadn’t been shuffled off the assembly line. It was actually my turn.

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An enemy Grim Rider stack marched over the undead corpse of Plague Lamasus – and instantly turned untargettable. I could not do anything, and had to use Auto combat to let the AI end the combat.

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I’m pretty sure this is not supposed to happen – Plague Lamasus affecting Earth Elementals!

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Other examples of how Portrait and Active Units may be different. Ubisoft products really are very unpolished even at 2.2.1. Imagine, you’re playing Command & Conquer back in 1995, and you select a mammoth tank only to find that it is a rifleman shooting the enemy. If EAGames had been such a screwup, Command and Conquer would never have become so wildly popular.

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Portrait and active unit different.

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Stalkers mysteriously became untargettable. In this particular case, I could target them by pointing at the portrait so I didn’t need to activate Autocombat.

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Sometimes Implosions doesn’t just suck units nearer. If the units are already adjacent, they are thrown across the battlefield instead.

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My treant was on the starting row next to all my other units. That’s how I arrange my forces normally. The Lamasus came near, attacked the treant, I cast implosion, and next moment I found all 3 stacks (1 Treant, 2 Lamasus) more than halfway across the battlefield!

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Suddenly my wolves were unable to use feral charge. But when I turned off feral charge, they could target the enemy stack.

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I’ll leave you to guess what faction this castle belongs to.
Last edited by cjleeagain on Dec 27 2017, 14:20, edited 4 times in total.

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Some comments about the New Spells

Postby cjleeagain » Dec 27 2017, 10:05

1) Creative and interesting, and really make a difference to the level 4 spells. Otherwise we were suffering from level 4 spells not being useful enough. EG with Implosion and Summon Elementals at level 3, there was never really incentive to build Academy Mage Guilds to level 4 except to fulfill conditions for building Champion dwellings.

The new spells are: Soul Conflagration, Fire Sentry, Haunting Plague, Wasp Swarm, Erratic Storm, Martyr. There might be more spells, but I didn’t see any list of the new spells on Antalyan’s list of changes so have to go with what I remember.

2) In lengthty playthroughs I never saw the AI use a new spell even once.

3) Fire Sentry is overpowered. Gloria (Fire Mage, +6 Fire spellpower) can cause incredible grief with her casting. At spellpower 15, with +6 from her specialty and +4 from Fire Wisdom and no artifacts, she should have only effective spellpower 21 when casting Fire for the first time in battle. (Her Pyramid hasn’t fired, so Metamagic is at lowest level.) Yet her sentry has 800hp, can shoot 1 ranged enemy and 2 nearby enemies for 1800-1900 damage. So if you’re fighting a human opponent, you can decimate 3 stacks in the same turn? That is extreme.

And btw, Fire Sentries do enjoy the benefit of 50% greater spell damage with Simurghs nearby also. That means I can do nearly 3k damage per shot with Fire Sentry using Gloria. This is way too much.

Just 3 turns into the battle, Gloria’s Fire Sentry can hit for over 2500 damage thanks to her increased metamagic. Outrageous!

4) Soul Conflagation is very interesting, but also overpowered. The spell makes up for Wizards’ lack of area of effect spells, but it really causes too much damage and never risks hurting your own nearby units. I normally don’t play Simurghs, but this spell makes Simurghs really pay off. If you wait till end of turn to move your Simurghs, they don’t get killed. Then next turn, you’re in the middle of the enemy. You can kill three, four stacks using this spell, which practically seems designed to work with Simurghs. The damage stacks. The spell already rewards you for having your own units near the enemy, and now the Simurghs increase the spellpower. And you have metamagic and arcane amplification helping you in turn 2. That is overpowered. You can wipe out a whole bunch of enemies with this spell and no matter how skilled your human opponent is, he can’t counter. If your numbers are equal, not many opponents are strong enough to kill a full stack of level 4s in the first turn.

Below should show why I think Soul Conflagration is overpowered. All units adjacent to my Simurghs were going to get hit for 2.2k damage, and those a square away, for 1.4k damage. Are you kidding me? This was in the middle of a long game on a big map, but my hero was not yet at level 30.
Image

5) Wasp swarm is pretty useless for a level 4 spell. At high levels you can affect many stacks, but it doesn’t actually do a lot of damage or cripple your opponent. Also, the effect is spread out, 1 stack per turn. If you have high level Earth Magic, you can ‘affect 8 stacks’ - but what’s the point of taking so long when the enemy can take out 3-4 of your own stacks with Chain Lightning or Fire Sentry? Unless you are in a siege, Wasp Swarm is drastically inferior to Fire Sentry and Soul Conflagration. It is better than Martyr though. I see very little reason to cast Martyr in most scenarios, unless you want your high-hp summons or mercenaries (such as Earth Elementals) to get the damage meant for ranged units. But since Haven doesn’t get Prime magic very much, I never tried Martyr on Summoned Units. There was always some reason to use my summons to fight and I didn’t want to add to the damage they were taking already.

6) I have tried Haunting Plague, but it just didn’t seem to do much. Most necromancers are actually higher level in Prime magic than Dark magic, and I have found myself gravitating towards Implosion if I play Necropolis. The other faction that depends heavily on Dark Magic is Dungeon, but if you get the right perk, Dungeon heroes can suppress enemy retaliation with their hero attack. Usually I prefer to let my heroes suppress enemy retaliation. If I’m a high level enough spellcaster, I would prefer to cast Shadow Cloak, Agony, Face of Fear or Shadow Image. There is never a good reason to cast Plague. Unless enemy is hiding behind castle walls like how we would use Plague in Heroes 4.

7) Erratic Storm is extremely effective, whether on your troops as protection or on the enemy as a debuff. It is a tactical spell, and unlikely to be used very often though. It is essentially the opposite of Storm Arrows. Most of the time Chain Lightning or Cyclone would be preferred. I think Erratic Storm should be made a level 2 spell so that it comes into play much earlier.

I fear that Antalyan has designed some of these spells to work with a lone human player fighting AI neutral stacks. As I have observed in the past, the game is best when you are playing neutrals. Neutral stacks become really ginormous playing on Heroic, and they are often mixed stacks that are very hard to kill without taking substantial casualties. Antalyan’s new spells do not look overpowered considering the size of neutral stacks you face on Hard and Heroic. But if you were facing a human opponent with one, two castles max, it doesn’t seem right that your level 15 hero can wipe out several weeks’ castle production with these new superspells.

I know Heroes VII tries to strengthen Magic heroes and scale up their abilities, but problem now is that magic heroes are overpowered. Might heroes really need their troops, and you being able to kill so many within a few spells creates a situation where a Might hero can fall further and further behind in any competition. Remember, in Heroes VII, all defeated heroes are sent back to their castle for rehiring. Cost of rehiring more powerful heroes is also not inflated unlike in Heroes VI. This is unlike Heroes II where if your hero is defeated, he can never be hired again by your faction. This creates an incentive for a Magic hero to keep on launching suicide attacks on his Might opponent. He tosses out two spells and gets killed, but he only has to sacrifice minimal troops to wipe out a vast number of his opponents’ troops. After several turns, the Might hero has no more troops and the Magic guy can now run rampant.
Last edited by cjleeagain on Dec 27 2017, 14:48, edited 4 times in total.

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My concern that magic is overpowered in Heroes 7

Postby cjleeagain » Dec 27 2017, 15:14

Dear Antalyan,

Here is a General big problem with the game that should be worth tweaking in a future version of your mod:

Magic has been scaled up way too much in Heroes 7.

In Heroes III a Magic hero was pretty useless after a while, so all the skilled players play a might hero with Expert mastery of 3 or 4 spell schools. That was not balanced.

In Heroes VII, Magic is way too powerful. There is hardly any multiplayer of HVII, so probably the feedback hasn’t gotten around. But there is no way for equivalently skilled human players to fight each other if one is might and the other magic. The Magic will always win.

Here are a few sample photos. I’m matching pure magic heroes against each other.

Ella is a priest and all her stats are higher than either of the two Academy heroes I was matching her against. She’s level 30 and has religiously visited every possible stat booster I could find. The AI only has level 15 and 11 mages. Photo is of Mirym, level 15. Ella’s Might stats are also far higher than the enemy’s, so with or without mana she is formidable. And of course her army is substantially larger than the enemy’s.

Although Ella is a Priest, I made the point of maxing her Air and Prime magic in addition to Light. So if I’d wanted to play the ‘blast each other with spells’ game, I could. In various replays, I can do far more damage than my enemies can with spells. But I won’t win because both enemy heroes had a ton of gargoyles. We would decimate each other with spells, then the Academy faction would win because I won’t have troops left to fight the gargoyles.

Image

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I fought the level 11 and 15 mages many times, but every time they inflicted outrageous casualties on Ella. I'm a human player, commanding a Hero who has vastly superior stats and a significantly bigger army and a very sound hero build, and the enemy is only capable of using one spell Chain Lightning. But in some attempts I got killed and in other attempts I got most of my army decimated after fighting just one enemy. There was no way that I could kill both Mirym and Theodorus on the same day. Even though my level was higher than theirs (11+15) combined and my army was bigger than these two's combined.

Eventually I decided on the smart move, which was not to fight the AI heroes. Instead I marched straight to their castle. Since my army was stronger, they never attacked me. Instead they TP-ed home, then deposited all their troops into their castle, then stood outside their castle with no troops.

That's right! Game is imbalanced and I could not have possibly defeated Mirym and Theodorus if they were controlled by a human opponent, much less take their castle. But by relying on AI to do all the stupid things, I won. I killed Mirym and Theodorus without engaging in battle, since they had no troops when I attacked them. Then I auto-combated my way to victory over their leaderless troops in the castle.

There is no way I could have completed this scenario playing against human opponent offensive spellcasters.

The problem is that Damaging spells get far stronger than Healing spells. I tried fighting the level 15 casters many times. These two AI heroes Mirym and Theodorus were so weak, they had spell power 11 and 8 respectively. My spell power was 18, with Master Light Magic (obviously). But I can’t resurrect or heal even a fraction as much as the enemy can hurt or kill. And Mirym the level 15 is an enchanter, a defensive caster. His spell power was only 11. Theodorus the Battle Mage only had spell power 8. If Theodorus was a level 30 Battle Mage, his Chain Lightning would have been instant death for level 30 Ella the Priest.

That Martyr new spell is nowhere equivalent to the likes of Soul Conflagration or Fire Sentry. Resurrection is expensive and only truly heals one stack, while the enemy can demolish multiple stacks with Chain Lightning.

Aura of Purity either does not work anymore under the UCP patch, or it no longer guards against destructive spells (even if these are far more dangerous than spells like Time Control.)

Heroes VII lacks a spell immunity spell, like Antimagic in Heroes III and IV, or Protection from Some Spell School. You can’t Summon Earth Elemental (which in earlier versions of Heroes, were immune to lightning.) There are no possible counters to spellcasters as a result. Even a 50% protection from Fire was terribly effective in previous iterations of Heroes. It is clear that the Heroes VII programmers didn’t actually play the game themselves, or they would have quickly realized the imbalances.

Can you imagine how bad it would be if I were pitting a Might hero (eg Paladin) against these casters? In H7 there are some battlefields which are very long. Even without things like Rune traps and Casting Stage to reduce my troops’ movements, it would take 4 turns to fully cross that kind of battlefield. With Chain lightning blasting away four times and a different target chosen each time, the enemy could do at least 3k damage to each stack of my forces. In other words, a relatively small Academy army led by a level 15 could destroy 2 months of castle production on a level 30 Might hero. Even if the level 11 or 15 Academy hero was killed, it would only cost about $5k to rehire the hero the next day, and he could create hell on vastly bigger armies with his spells once again. In contrast, the Paladin would be out of commission after his army was demolished. All that Leadership and Righteousness would be useless.

One particularly infuriating battle involved a level 7 (yes, 7) spellcaster decimating my level 29 hero’s army. I attacked her with a vast army of undead and she had only one week’s production of Earth Dragons and a few other units. She simply had one unit that could move first (since she’s Sylvan), and she cast earthquake. Her spellpower was a grand total of 7. (This took place with Random skilling, I don’t know if it makes any difference.) I still won the battle, but with very heavy casualties.

As much as I hate to praise Heroes VI, I think they did some things right. They had magic defense in Heroes VI, and your magic attack would be matched off against that magic defence in damage calculations. That should be how to calibrate magic heroes so that their powers can increase proportionately when they level up. Against weak heroes and neutrals not led by a hero, the magic hero should be able to deliver superpowerful spells. Against another hero with substantial magic knowledge or power, the caster should find his spells not working so well. Otherwise it is just a hurtfest, with victory going to the side with the gargoyles or black dragons.

Heroes V did not have perfect balance, but it did a better job. Damaging spells don’t scale up so incredibly. So in late game, high level non-damaging spells (such as Phantom Image) can still make a difference.

In Heroes VII, because damaging spells scale up so much, we don’t have much incentive to cast tactical spells after a while. Tactical spells don’t scale properly even if the potential is there. (EG, in a future mod, Time Stasis could last for 1 turn if you’re level 9 or below, but 3 turns if you’re level 30, 4 turns if you’re level 40. Darkness Cloak could last for 1 attack or 10 attacks depending on your level, etc.)

The best example of a spell that doesn’t scale is that level 4 spell Stasis. I have never seen computer cast it before. I hardly ever use it myself. Why bother to take 1 enemy stack out of commission for one turn, when you could hammer the enemy for 1/4 of their total HP with Chain Lightning? The various spells of the Dark Magic school tend to be heavily biased towards tactical spells, so they are the biggest losers here and would be eaten alive by anyone with Chain Lightning. All that subtle manuverability and battlefield positioning for Dungeon faction is now useless because the enemy can just blast away.

Implosion is another problem. If you have over-30 spellpower and a Simurgh, you can kill 100% of any stack outright. I think Heroes V made spell scaling logarithmic, but in Heroes VII, if you have a level 20 caster who visited some stat boosters and has some artifacts, that would be sufficient to get a 100% implosion. This is really unbalanced. Theoretically you could level up to infinity with your spellcasters, since you can take on 1 million Shantri Titans (in one stack) with just 1 Simurgh.

Also, Gargoyles should not be completely immune to all spells. That’s opening the way for cheap Dragon tactics. In Heroes II and III the Black Dragon’s spell immunity was a game breaker for many people. Even though it is not easy to get armageddon, whoever that got it first (also depends a bit on luck) was very often the winner. I think that Heroes V did it correctly. Gargoyles had a very high degree of immunity, but were not completely immune. This prevented game breaking tactics. If you got Armageddon before everybody else, you usually did not have enough spell power to totally rule every battlefield. Or you could not just rely on having spell immune units in your army to rampage all over the map. Your foes had a chance to come back.

One more observation – Heroes VII has the biggest gap between fighting Heroes and fighting neutrals that I have ever seen. H1-6 never had such a total difference in experiences.

In H7, it is more straightforward for Might heroes to take on neutrals. Magic Heroes always have to micromanage their troops. But Magic heroes can creep with small armies and have an easier time against enemy heroes.

For example, see here.
Image

My Wizard's entire army is already in the picture. That’s right, 2 Simurghs, 11 Genies, 3 Rakshashas. Took down the Shantri ruins with no casualties. Spellcasters, especially the Academy ones, can do stuff like this with minimal troops, which quickly gives them a big advantage over the Might Heroes. (Necromancers can’t do the same despite having Prime magic, because their faction moves too slowly and they can’t heal their forces. The aftermath of this battle is uniquely hurtful to Necromancers since they can’t raise anything.)


I think only the Wizard v Offensive Might hero lineup is weak, since a hero dedicated to Might would typically have tactics, bloodrage (if Stronghold), leadership and the advance warcry, and be able to cross the battlefield to inflict substantial casualties on the spellcaster before the caster gets to cast. If a spellcaster were up against a ‘balanced’ or ‘defensive’ might hero, these might guys would be eaten for breakfast.

Although the gamemakers have created different classes of heroes for the sake of giving the game variety and customizability, in practice the classes are not the same. In general defensive might heroes like Bone Guard and Paladin are simply no match for offensive or balanced spellcasters. Unless you have specific game conditions (such as a hero that must never be defeated), in most cases offensive spellcasters will do much better than anybody else because they can do so much damage, and cannot be permanently killed. In H7, ransom is much cheaper than in H2. Anyone with decent income can ransom her way out of a battle after casting power spells to decimate the enemy.

I think this game has a long way to go before it can be properly balanced. But with the lack of interest now, I’m afraid Antalyan you won’t get enough feedback to adjust your mod until game is balanced. Still, I hope my feedback has been helpful. It is the only way I can at least repay your kindness in building a mod for the community that has improved the game considerably.

Anyway I’m done with the game. I have uninstalled it again, and probably won’t come back for at least 12 more months. As it stands, I have milked almost all the interest value from Heroes VII. Might come back at some time in the future when you or someone else has created a mod that balances all these concerns more effectively.
Last edited by cjleeagain on Dec 27 2017, 15:36, edited 1 time in total.

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Antalyan
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Re: Reviews, Bugfinds and Commentaries on the UCP, Unofficial Community Patch for Heroes 7 by Antalyan and his team.

Postby Antalyan » Dec 30 2017, 17:13

Hi cjleee,

Although I don't have currently much time, I would like to make you sure that I have noticed your feedback and messages and I'm incredibly thankful for that. I doubt I will ever receive such a huge portion of feedback information at one time... I believe you would be a great professional tester.

I will look at the individual issues later (and I promise to at least zhink about everything mentioned above); however, I would like to enlight several things:
- I'm unfortunately quite limited in changes as I'm missing anyone who would be able to deal with scripts, I can only do what's changeable directly in the editor and it's not much.
- Since I'm alone on everything now, I can only focus on issues which appear in most cases. Rare issues happening only in a particular situation are unsolvable, unless I get an exact description or video how to reproduce such a situation.
- The "new" spells haven't been introduced by myself, they came with the expansion Trial by Fire.
- I am not planning to change the balancing of the whole game, might vs magic balance has always been quite arguable and it cannot be fully resolved (neither has been in any previous installment).
Wryn Pendragon Umbranacer community H7 project: http://wpu.worldofheroes.cz/indexEN.html
H7 Unoffical Community Mod

cjleeagain
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Re: Reviews, Bugfinds and Commentaries on the UCP, Unofficial Community Patch for Heroes 7 by Antalyan and his team.

Postby cjleeagain » Dec 30 2017, 19:57

Antalyan

You've done plenty, and this is also what I can contribute in hopes of making a better game. ;-)

Now I no longer have the game (my schedule will heat up in a couple days) and won't come back for a while. It would be nice to come back and find that Ubisoft has sold the game to someone bunch of enthusiasts on kickstarter who are going to create Heroes VIII...


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