HOMM3, Horn of the Abyss mod, Cove Faction - some views

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cjleeagain
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HOMM3, Horn of the Abyss mod, Cove Faction - some views

Postby cjleeagain » Dec 20 2018, 15:28

I have been playing HOTA recently.

The Cove faction is well polished, and comes across as a genuine, gamemaker-created faction. It works smoothly and there are no strange graphics quirks.

That said, I am starting to find this a boring faction.

XXX

What drew my attention to HOTA recently? I saw a video online pitting their Tier 7 units, sea serpents and haspids against all other factions’ Tier 7s. Cove won handily everytime. All 9 other factions could not hold their own against the haspids in regular combat.

Being a reasonably experienced player, I suspected that Cove was not overpowered despite the fact that they clearly have the best Tier 7 by a wide margin. So I decided to play through myself and see how it worked out.

It’s true. I don’t find Cove all that powerful in actual gameplay. But much worse that that – I found them boring.

What’s wrong?

This is just my opinion after only half a day’s worth of gameplay. I can’t claim to be an expert in anything:

Tier 1: Nymphs and Oceanids are useless. What is the use of ice immunity? How often do battles turn on the use of ice bolt? Even worse, as teleporters and level 1s they are always targeted. So they die very quickly and never succeed in doing anything useful.

Tier 2: Crew Mates and Seamen. No special abilities. They don’t lend anything special to the faction or battlefield. Even zombies have more value for their side, since they are capable of spreading disease. I hire these guys because they are there to be hired, but can easily get other mercenaries that are more useful.

Tier 3: Pirates/ Corsairs/ Sea Dogs. These are by far the most useful Cove guys, because of their accurate shot which is essentially an adjusted version of Mighty Gorgons’ death stare. But I would not advise relying on Sea Dogs, because their growth is low and they get killed a lot so it is a long time before you can get them in sufficient numbers to scare level 7 enemies. Their ranged ability makes it sound as though they are dangerous, but level 7s will probably fly over and hit them first thus depriving them of the ability to use accurate shot. This is unlike how the Mighty Gorgon contributes to their faction, by making tier 7s wary of approaching the melee-oriented Fortress faction.

Tier 4: Stormbirds/ Ayssids. Ayssids are basically Rocs who attack twice unless they don’t manage to kill something on their first attack. Again, not particularly interesting. But even worse for them is that they are level 4. Thunderbirds, the sole flying unit for Stronghold, are level 5 and already very easy to kill. Cove’s only flying unit is level 4 which makes it harder to keep them alive and in numbers sufficient to have any serious effect on the enemy ranged attackers – since the main purpose of being flying and able to cross the battlefield in one move, is really to reduce the enemy ranged.

Tier 5: Sea Witches and Sorceresses: they auto cast weakness or disrupting ray on the enemy when using ranged attacks. I get the impression they are inspired by certain Fortress creatures. They are just superior forms of zealots.

Tier 6: Nix and Nix Warriors are clearly Behemoth inspired, but in a defensive way. They have high defense and abilities which ignore enemy attack value. Unfortunately all it means is that Cove has a Tier 6 unit that is difficult to kill, and which can accumulate in great numbers over time because it survives better than anyone else. This Tier 6 isn’t a great contributor to battlefield attack; it just winds up being a big stack that the enemy loves to blind. How does it contribute to Cove heroes who tend to have high attack? What strategies are good for playing Nixes?

Tier 7: Sea Serpents and Haspids are by far the strongest Tier 7 units, especially with their poisonous ability. Haspids’ attack is only marginally less than Archangels’. But again, they don’t contribute to their side as much as other units’ tier 7s do. Phoenixes for instance, are invaluable because they guarantee a first spell casting. Titans are vital for their ranged power. Black Dragons are crucial for casting Armageddon and being spell immune. Behemoths are important for barbarians to attack overwhelmingly, doing as much damage in a short time as possible. Archangels keep your army alive. Storm Hydras are fantastic defenders against superior numbers. But I just can’t see any strategic use for Haspids.


Right now I am still new to this faction, and my views may change. I have yet to devise any strategy that is particularly useful for Cove. The melee attacking is pretty ho-hum. A ranged strategy isn’t impressive. A defensive strategy isn’t impressive. A hit and run strategy isn’t impressive. A spellcasting strategy doesn’t work. I still have no clue how to play Cove to the best of its abilities. It’s not like Fortress and Stronghold, where you can get high level flyers early on and press that advantage to seize a second castle.

cjleeagain
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Re: HOMM3, Horn of the Abyss mod, Cove Faction - some views

Postby cjleeagain » Jan 6 2019, 8:44

OK, having accumulated some more experience with HOTA Cove by finishing maps of different sizes, I am sharing my thoughts.

Cove, like Fortress and Stronghold, is a faction that depends a lot on might. Their heroes get high attack stats and low defence stats. So if you are not careful, your forces die fast once the enemy closes in on them. You have to hit hard and fast. To moderate the likelihood of Cove making a first attack, their faction has slower units than most other factions so they are not overpowered.

This kind of fight is called a Glass Cannon. And yes, the cannon unit also has similar traits. If you have a hero like Jeremy with a cannon specialization and expert artillery, your cannon can do a lot of damage. But the HP remains the same, which means it only takes a few enemy archangels or dragons to take out your cannon in the first move for 250hp. Also be aware that the cannon is a two-square unit on the battlefield. If you have a crowded battlefield, the AI always makes a beeline for your cannon because dragons can easily hit both the cannon and one of your units standing by. In the end you get hurt for no retaliation, and also lose the cannon.

I totally fail to see how the cannon or the ballista specialties are good to have. At the end of the day, you cannot deploy multiple cannons in stacks. These specializations are like Mysticism or Eagle Eye - close to useless. Any chain lightning wielded by a competent spellcaster can easily wipe out the cannon as part of a general attack. If I came up with a spell or mod that could disable Tazar's/ Mephala's Armorer specialty completely in one move using 8 mana, I'm sure everyone would be pissed. But you only need spell power of 10 to wipe out a cannon or ballista using lightning bolt.

Stronghold's solution to having low defense is to have lots of cheap units and beast pens or other horde buildings to maximize creature growth. Cove's units are not so cheap.

Unlike Stronghold, Cove’s range attackers are cheaper and easier to get. No need to struggle with finding 20 crystal for the Cyclops cave or skipping cyclops in favor of Behemoths. As Tier 3 and 5, it is compulsory and natural to get ranged attackers for Cove, and these see a lot of use.

Cove’s tier 6 is close to useless. The Nixes are high defense, but low HP and are slower melee attackers. They see little use most of the time and the enemy doesn’t care about them either. Due to their low HP and low growth, they are easy to destroy using spells. Conflux’s Psychic Elementals have more HP and spell immunity; Dungeon’s Scorpicores have the same HP but are fast flyers. Nixes are really a Nix on Cove and you can save your money buying them by upgrading Corsairs to Sea Dogs instead. Nixes are also terrible for defense in castles, because they perpetually get smashed by enemy spells.

The enemy always tries to take out your Sea Dogs. No surprise – they are more lethal than Mighty Gorgons due to being ranged. I am not fond of castle assault with Sea Dogs in my army because they always get targeted and can’t trigger accurate shots over castle walls.

Cove’s tier 7 is stronger than other tier 7s, but due to not being able to fly, they are less useful. They also cost quite a bit. So you get your money’s worth – pay more for stronger unit.

Overall a balanced and polished faction.

cjleeagain
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Re: HOMM3, Horn of the Abyss mod, Cove Faction - some views

Postby cjleeagain » Jan 17 2019, 8:51

https://ibb.co/nzYmm1Z



Here is an image of the Sea Dogs at work. They really look good in this combat! 128 sea dogs wiping out 4 Ancient Behemoths in one shot plus another 6 Ancient Behemoths felled by accurate shot!

But never forget that this is an unnatural situation, a best-case scenario:

1. It is human vs AI. Of course I'm better than AI.
2. This is in late game. Throughout most of the game, you will never have many sea dogs. Because they take a lot of time and resources to upgrade, so a more common battle takes place with 30 sea dogs on your side and you will be killing like two level 4 or 5 creatures via accurate shots.
3. Accurate Shot doesn't work in melee. So although the Sea Dogs have no melee penalty, they are pretty useless against the truly powerful enemies - all of which are level 7 and higher Dragons. At least Mighty Gorgons can stand their ground and retaliate.
4. Cove, like Stronghold, is focused on attack. So their ranged attacks can do an incredible amount of damage when you have the golden bow/ no ranged penalty plus are nicely sheltered behind a wall. If the enemy were to close in, you would take substantial casualties.
5. Cove is definitely a more balanced faction than Stronghold in terms of ranged/ flying/ melee and might v magic mix. But it is still not a magic faction. You can expect that when facing a human player they will find counters for that nasty stack of Sea Dogs. In late game it is pretty common to have magic heroes able to do 1500+ damage in one spell. That will wipe out 100 Sea Dogs - seven weeks' castle production - right away. Even the fragile Archdevils won't lose so many weeks' castle production. When you factor in how expensive Sea Dogs are, you should realize that I only dare play like this when facing the AI.


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