Monday, April 24, 2017

Battle Report: April 22th

The nations of Minaria again march to war in this session of DIVINE RIGHT. We continue the game between the nations of Mivior, Shucassam and, Pon. Who are played by, Myself, Jared and, Were-Puppy respectively. 

Last time, Jared's Shucassam managed to gain the strongest alliance with the grand organization of Immer, Muetar and, Elfland to its ends. Mivior was a distant second in power but, with naval supremacy with it's ally Hothior. Pon alone continues to hang on in the east, maneuvering to it's own ends.  What follows are the highlights. 


A few weeks in, Muetarian reinforcements arrive at the Miviorine port of Addat, granting a major advantage to the Shucassami-aligned besiegers. The attack is made upon the beleagured fortress....


Monday, April 17, 2017

Battle Report: April 15th

Welcome to another DIVINE RIGHT battle report! There were actually two games this past Saturday but, I'm going to focus on the second because the first didn't get too far. The first game will get written up once we get a few more turns on it. 

Thus, the nations of Minaria again march to war, this time in the ADVANCED GAME. This game features Jared as Shucassam, Were-puppy as Pon and, yours truly as Mivior. The first couple turns are uneventful. With the various powers grabbing allies and, maneuvering forces for sieges. Mivior managed to grab Rombune and, Shucassam managed to ally with Muetar. Pon is unlucky in diplomacy but, manages to get a special mercenary, Ogsbogg the Ogre. What follows are the highlights. 


The combined Miviorine-Rombuni fleets make their way for the vulnerable Shucassami port of Zefnar. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Battle Report: April 8th

Minaria is at twilight, little time remains before winter falls on the continent ending the campaign season. Here is the final session of the game that started on the 25th of March. The players are, Were-puppy as Hothior, Jared as the Dwarves and, myself as Zorn. 


Last game there were several climactic battles around Castle Lapspell, which put the primary Goblin ally of Muetar to flight. The Dwarves where able to overcome fortune's disdain and began to make gains against their enemies. Hothior continued to be bogged down in the coasts of Mivior but, with they managed to prevent the aforementioned siege of Lapspell. The Goblins were driven to retreat from central Minaria by the same event. From here, we continue. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Don't feed the SJWs

Bioware discovers that they will never, ever, be satiated:
At BioWare, we strive to make games that are representative of our players and the broader world around us. We do this by actively consulting within our diverse workforce, as well as speaking with different communities.

In Mass Effect: Andromeda, one of our non-playable characters, Hainly Abrams, was not included in a caring or thoughtful way. We apologize to anyone who interacted with or was hurt by this conversation. This was never our intent, and was an unfortunate byproduct of the iterative process of game design and a change in the structure of the character's dialogue.

We have had several discussions with members of the transgender community, both internally at BioWare and in the broader community, and we are working to remedy this issue. Once the changes are implemented, Hainly will only reveal certain information to Ryder after they have developed trust, and only if the player chooses to support her.

As always, we appreciate the help, feedback, and support from the Mass Effect community.
Once you started feeding the SJW, he always ends up devouring you.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Battle Report: April 1st

The war-drums beat, soldiers march, knights ride and, war again comes to Minaria. This week is just a continuation of last week's game, coincidentally taking place on April Fool's Day. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of any good jokes for this post, so it will have to go uncelebrated here (alas).


This game consists of Were-puppy as Human Monarchy of Hothior, Jared as the Dwarven Kingdom of Ghem and, Myself as the Goblin Sirdarate of Zorn. At the end of the last game, Hothior had Pon and Rombune as allies. Zorn had Elfland, Mivior, Muetar and, Shucassam to call upon. The Dwarves had only Immer to aid them. What follows are the highlights. 


The Dwarves commit to their attack on the recently victorious besiegers of Aws Alzak...


...and utterly annihilated them. This leaves only the Goblin royal army as the only significant military force against the Dwarves east of Pon.



Far out west, the Hothior-allied Rombuni and Mercenary fleets continue their stalemate at the ancestral capital of Mivior, Boliske. 


Meanwhile in Hothior, the Sirdar instructs his allies to continue their campaign against the human kingdom. The addition of the Shucassami fleet allows them to target Hothior's ports. Castle Lapspell in Hothior is put under siege.


Unfortunately, prudent Hothiorian diplomacy was able to frustrate a major pillar of the Goblin's campaign in Hothior convincing Shucassam to drop from the Goblin alliance. This is coupled with fortuitious news weeks later. Where freak events cause Shucassam to join with Hothior despite Pon violating the sovereign territory of the desert kingdom. This allows Hothior to send the Ponese Royal army to Lapspell. As well as send Hothior's small fleet to harry the recently arrived sea-borne besiegers. 


The Zorn mercenary fleet retreats from the Hothiorians but, the Goblins suffer a major loss west of Lapspell. Their Muetarian allies from the city of Pennol were defeated with heavy losses. 


The battle goes poorly west of Lapspell as well, with an attack by the Ponese Royal Army causing intense causualties to the Muetar regulars of Beolon. 



The following weeks, the mercenary fleet fought the Hothiorian Navy outside of Lapspell and....


.....now lies at the bottom of the mouth of the "Deep" river. 


The victorious fleet moves in the port, having broken it of it's siege right after the remnants of the Eastern besiegers fall to the Hothiorian Royal Army. 



The situation in Hothior now untenable, the Goblins have their allies retreat. 


Despite their victories to the east, Boliske continues to bog-down the Rombuni Fleets limiting their application to the Hothiorian cause. 


In the North, the Goblin Royal army was able to escape from the Dwarven army that took out their allies around Alzak and, now returns to their home territory. 


The Dwarves decided against their pursuit of the Goblins and instead gathered their forces to the east of the Archduchy of Pon. The allied armies fall upon the castle of Crow's Nest. 


Things are becoming clearer in Minaria at the end of this session. The Goblin hegemony in the last game proved all too fragile in Eastern Hothior, despite their large alliance. Hothior managed some excellent diplomatic and military work. Successfully preventing further incursion into their territory by causing the rout of a major Goblin force. Albeit with no increase in their plunder. The Dwarves managed some minor victories in the East followed by the siege of the significant fortress of Crow's Nest, while Hothior was occupied elsewhere. Zorn accomplished little this session, losing nearly every battle fought. Their forces are all currently moving away from their enemies, perhaps to some objective? Only time will tell. 

Notes


Despite the fact that this session was kind of short in terms of actual game time, a lot happened, particularly in Hothior. Jared ended up solidifying his gains in the east and bringing the fight west. 
My Kingdom, Zorn, really fared poorly, I don't think anything good happened at all. Were-puppy on the other hand, ended up completely trashing the respectable army that was tearing through Hothior. Although, when we got to talking one thing stood out to me the most: the acquisition of Victory Points. 

There are only two ways to win a game of DIVINE RIGHT, you can kill all of the enemy player Monarchs or you can be the player with the most Victory Points at the end of 20 turns(assuming you are playing the standard game). The former option is both incredibly risky and rare. Even if players aren't protective of their avatars, it's only about a 33% chance to kill or capture after you've triggered a fate roll. Which already relatively rare to get, unless you have some lucky battles involving enemy monarchs or, manage to have your slow military catch-up with one of the speedsters. Otherwise, there are only two ways to acquire Victory points: sieges and killing or capturing a monarch(not necessarily a player monarch). As it can be tricky to kill or capture any monarch in game, it's really more of a bonus mechanic, this leaves sieges. 

If you'll notice with this and other games' write ups, I often write about climactic sieges and the battles that allow for or deny them. Getting and accomplishing sieges is the primary goal in DR. It is the only goal that is really stable and reachable under all conditions and states of the game. Capturing a monarch is a nice bonus but, can't really be relied upon to deliver those precious VPs. Not to mention monarchs can hide in castles if things aren't going their way, cementing their secondary status. 

It's no secret that we play this every week to better understand the game. While I had understood the importance of sieges before this week, it wasn't until this week that I really understood their primary role in the strategy of DR. This sort of understanding of the strategy of DR will definitely help when it comes time to design and code the game's AI. 

Otherwise, while I expected a certain amount of uncertainty, I didn't expect such a massive cause and effect cascade that whooped my allied forces in Hothior. Both events and turn order favored this reversal combined with Were-puppy's skill in exploiting it. Resulting in the loss of a decent siege, no less.  Although, as is always the case in DR, it's not over yet!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Battle Report: March 25th

Whew, had some technical difficulties with blogger this week. Please pardon the tardiness. 

The warhorns sound again in Minaria. This week there were two games again but, due some technical issues I am just going to go ahead and focus on the latter one. Which is a continuation of last week's game between Jared(as the Dwarven Kingdom), team coder Were-puppy(as Hothior), and yours truly(as Zorn).

At the end of the last game, Zorn was able to ally with both, Pon and Muetar. Whereas Hothior only had Rombune to call upon and the Dwarves only Immer. The war continues, what follows are the highlights.




Hothior continued it's campaign against Mivior. Who was driven into the Dwarven alliance by the Hothorian surprise attack on Colist. 


Meanwhile in the east, the siege of Alzak continues to tie down the majority of the Goblin aligned forces. This time joined by reinforcements from Basimar in Muetar. 


In the north, the move counter-move of the Immerian royal army and Goblin reserve forces reaches a head in a series of clashes in the cursed forest. The first of which ended in a slight loss for Zorn. 


Before the next clash however, hastily recruited mercenaries join the Zorn defense forces. Both sides fight to a standstill with heavy losses. 


In the end, Immerian reinforcements combine to eliminate the last defenders. Unfortunately heavy losses to the Immer royal army in the fighting render them unable to siege the Goblin capital. 


 Back at Alzak, a deft diplomatic strike by the Dwarves convinces Pon to drop from the Zorn alliance. The resultant gap in the besieging forces allows for much needed supplies to refresh the defenders of the castle, breaking the siege.


Over in Hothior, the armies of Muetar have begun their siege of Tadafat on the River. The surprised Hothiorians are quick to recover however, planning a daring raid on the weaker half of the besieging forces. Unfortunately the attack fails but, this allows the relieving forces to make their way into the castle. 


Meanwhile the Dwarves attempt another relief of the beleaguered Alzak castle. Attacking the weaker Muetarian stack which, suffers some losses, despite the defensive advantage of the Barriorr Mountains. These losses however are not enough to break the siege....

...and Alzak falls on the next assault. 


In a major coup for Zorn, Tadafat falls that very same fortnight. It's garrison put to the sword and it's treasures plundered and brought to the Goblin Sirdar's treasury.


The Minarian campaigning season is close to half over and, the current alliances stand as follows.  Zorn is ahead in allies but, has a lot of ground to cover. Hothior has both Pon and Rombune to call upon and is using them to good effect attacking the Goblin alliance at it's undefended allied hinterlands. The Dwarves have had several setbacks this game but, they have proven themselves prudent. Despite the winds of fortune blowing against them, they remain a potent force in Minaria.

Notes


This was a pretty awesome game with lots of back and forth between the various kingdoms. One thing that stands out the most is how diplomatic actions by one player affected the later actions/strategy of the other players. I didn't go into detail above but, there were two cases this session where a strategic deactivation of an allied monarch allowed another player to swoop in and reactivate the ally for themselves. Shucassam was allied to the Dwarves for a short time before Hothior deactivated them, Zorn then took advantage adding them to their alliance. Also when Pon was allied to Zorn and was deactivated, Hothior swooped in and gained them as an ally.

Not only is this feature of the game only semi-predictable, it also creates a dynamic but, balanced minigame within the larger wargame. As these diplomatic reversals tend to be more noticeable with more players(in fact I don't think this sort of thing would happen in a two player DR game) but also, they allow weaker alliances to capitalize on their rival's attempts to weaken the current leader in allies/strength.

Besides the above, it is always great to be able to play with the team. You really can't learn too much playing this sort of game solitaire, particularly with regards to strategy. For instance, I tend to have a big picture kind of focus when I play the game. Whereas, Jared tends to be more detail oriented. This has tripped me up several times when his meticulous counting of the pieces ended up giving him a combat advantage that would have been unnoticeable if you had just been looking at the counters on the map. Also Were-puppy actually uses some really counter-intuitive strategies with his attacks on neutral kingdoms. You would think giving an opponent a free ally would be an adverse move to make but, this allows you to get a "Pearl Harbor"-like attack in on vulnerable castles and, helps to control the shape of an opponent's alliance. In the current game despite my two successful sieges to his one, Were-puppy is actually the overall leader in Victory points. This is because, he was able to get the drop on a royal capital without protracted battle.

Knowing the full extent of strategic options available to the players of DIVINE RIGHT will definitely help when it comes time to work on the AI for the game.

Overall, this game is halfway done. Despite being the strongest alliance-wise, Zorn is only second in plunder. Hothior and the Dwarven Kingdom maintain potent forces, who are posed to make gains in the coming months. Ten turns remain and, it's not over yet. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Battle Report: March 18th

Welcome to the aftermath of another weekend VASSAL game of DIVINE RIGHT. We actually had two games this Saturday but, I am only going to be reporting on one. This is because I ended up goofing up and overwriting the save game for the other. Otherwise what follows are the highlights of a game between an anonymous teammate(as Hothior), Jared(as the Dwarves) and, yours truly(as the Zorn Goblins). 

As a side note: I ended up focusing more on strategy(wanna do a little better this week) than on notes this week so my chronology might be a little off. 

The session this week covered a little over two months of in game time or about 6 turns. In that time, anonymous' Hothior managed to gain the Kingdom of Rombune as an ally; Jared's Dwarve's managed to join forces with Immer's domain and; Zorn managed to add both Muetar and Pon to it's alliance. 
   


The combined Hothior-Rombune alliance decided to attack the capital of the neutral kingdom of Mivior. 


Their sheer numerical advantage made short work of the surprised garrison, plundering the castle. 


Meanwhile in the east, Immer and Zorn play a maneuver game in the Nithmere mountains. Zorn has the advantage due to the difficult terrain of the kingdom but, Immer has the numerical edge on the local Goblin defenders. 


To the south, the Dwarven royal army make a raid on the royal Goblin forces near the siege of Alzak. The goblins end up taking casualties but, the attempt on the life of Zorn's king fails. Fortune favors the Dwaven retreat in the face of counterattack from the allied forces and the Goblin army joins the siege of Alzak. 


Out west in Hothior, Muetarian regular's are slowly making their way to potential targets in the kingdom. As the Goblin's allies lack any form of navy, they are presently unable to beseige either of Hothior's ports meaning Tadafat is their only possible target. 


At the end of the session Minaria stands at the beginning of struggle. The respective Dwarven and Goblin alliances fight across the east and north. Hothior is fresh from it's campaign against Mivior and will likely be able to marshal it's forces against the Muetarian invaders. Things are just starting out, no telling how they will end up. 

Notes


Alright another week, another game of Divine Right. This is likely shaping up to be the best game so far, as we're really starting to get the rules down pat. One of the major reasons we play this every week is not just so we can learn how to play the game but also, so we can improve on our understanding of the rules with each game. Making mistakes and fixing them is an effective way to learn. Although even with this game I've certainly noticed a few mistakes on my part. 

These mistakes are instructive though, when we start following a rule we had previously forgotten it changes the strategies necessary for play. In doing so, we gain a better understanding of the design and the assumptions behind it. Rules like the one against stacking allied armies(which had been largely forgotten in previous games, which explains our "doomstacks"), which necessitated careful attention to how the now differentiated armies could move and attack. Not all of the kingdoms have the same or even similar military power. So this rule actually enhances the movement and positioning based mechanics that have been discussed before, and adds more depth to the strategic thought the game requires.

Otherwise though, things here are just getting started. Hopefully we'll be able to continue this one next week. In any case, I can say for sure, it's not over yet.