[TomeNET] Races: rebalancing analysis

TomeNET is pretty good balanced game and one of the main reasons of this fact is that it’s balance based on Angband (which based on Moria), so it’s rebalance history could be counted as ~40 years in total. But as TomeNET overgrown (in a good way) with a lot of features, new classes and races – it’s important to continue balance polishing.

Main idea of game balance is simple:
If players are keeping to use the same build (race, class, skills) – in most cases it means that it’s stronger than others and it should be nerfed. And vice versa – if players do not use certain build – it should be buffed. Btw, in the past TomeNET had quite interesting statistics for different races/classes, it could help in rebalancing.

But unlike ‘common’ MMORPGs (like WoW, for example) where main balance is happening in classes, and races play kinda decorative way there, TomeNET got pretty different situation – races influence on gameplay a lot, almost the same way as classes. It makes gameplay and build diversity much more interesting, but also makes balancing harder (eternal dilemma – complex gameplay originate difficulties in game balance).

And if classes’ balance in TomeNET is quite good, races’ balance could do better – there are races which are hardly chosen for any class at all; at the same time my belief that every race in TomeNET should have certain advantage for _each_ class. In other words, ideally every race should have _something_ which makes it desirable to play for each class. It’s ideal situation, but rebalancing purpose is to continue getting gameplay to this ‘ideal’ situation, it’s eternal process.

I wanna start my analysis with Archer class, as atm it’s one of my favorites. It’s ‘simple’ in a way of comprehension it’s gameplay; also not too much different skill-builds available for it, so it’s relatively easy to estimate it’s strenghts and weaknesses for different races.

Currently we got 18 races in TomeNET. My impressions upon their suitness for playing archer, from best to worst, top 5:

High-elf 230% 3 st (25 BT) 10 hp // pros: very high STATS/SKILLS bonuses; cons: high exp penalty. The best race overall.
Dark-elf 150% 4 st (10 BT) 10 hp // high stealth, good hp
Dwarf 130% -1 stealth (0 BT) 11 hp // high hp, low exp penalty.. I’ll still think that giving dwarfs tiny crossbow bonus in exchange to ‘bow’ debuff would be fun.
Vamp 270% 2 st (-10 BT) 11 hp RESIST // high hp, resistances (even with -10BT vamps are very solid choice)
Half-Elf 110% 1 stealth (5 BT) 10 hp // good in average

All other races are weakier because of ratio BONUS vs SURVIVABILITY. Eg: lets take ‘hobbit‘ race. There is a myth (in my opinion) that it’s good race for ‘archer’. But is it? Biggest problem of hobbit is 8 hp. As archer class got only +5 hp per lvl, so having extra hp bonus from race is pretty essential; so the only way to play hobbit archer at endgame is to use +life weapon and getting ‘health’ skill. But other archers in general should do this (+life and ‘health’) it to increase survivability, so at the end we see that hobbits appears not really good compare to other races and not much people play hobbits-archer. The only use of hobbits it’s to utilize ‘Disruption Shield’ magic to improve survivability.

How to compensate low survivability? One of the best ways is to give bonuses to certain skills – because it give possibility to make race customization independent from other classes (bad way to rebalance is just giving resistance or other bonus, like stealth – cause this resistance influence _all_ builds; so giving bonus to certain skill is better for accurate rebalancing).

Currently hobbit got +0.080 bonus to skill ‘Slings’ – pretty nothing (so overal is 0.880 per skillpoint) to compansate it’s problem with hp. I would say it should be +0.400 bonus, it would make at least some sense in taking such race for archer.

So, all low hp (less than 10) races are quite dull in most cases, except playing with cheezing-uber equipment. Players wouldn’t want to play hobbits at ‘soloist’/IDDC mode, except RP cases. One of the most important thing in TomeNET – survivability and low hp races just not match to others in this field, if you play without ‘Disruption Shield’.

Next problematic race is Half-trolls. It seems, in the past this race was imba and most of archers played this race so devs severely nerfed this poor dudes. Now half-trolls should spend 0.500 skillpoints on ‘archery’, compared to 1.000 for other races. It doesn’t make sense really, thats why all people just stopped to play half-trolls archers; at the same time people could play Draconians, have loads of hp, 5 BT and have 1.000 archery.. So I suppose half-troll should be unnerfed a bit – to 0.750 archery.. also maybe bonus to slings? (cause of love for stone throwing). Just to convince players to give half-trolls a chance.

And just some fast-paces analysis of other races:

Half-Orc.. Give them bonus to bows (Isildur approves)
Elf – increase bonus to bows/calmness. Without it half-elves is still more preferable cause of extra hp.
Gnome – increase ‘Crossbow-mastery’ bonus
Dunadan – increase bows/calmness bonus.. Actually I don’t see any use to play dunadan cause of high EXP penalty (170%). Just compare it’s parameters to Dark elves. I would say that this race in general needs rearrangement – reducing exp penalty for 130% would make sense.
Yeek – this is special case; good for 60+ lvl gameplay, nothing to change.
Goblin – increase Crossbow-mastery bonus.
Draconian – pretty ok (cause of resistance/hp), even with low stealth
Kobold – Bow/archery bonus.
Maia – N/A. I suppose it would be fun to give possibility to play maia archer. Tolkien lore won’t say ‘no’ to it. Just take care with bonuses, to give certain boundaries to it’s pros.
Ent – N/A. The same situation as with maia. ‘Sling’s ents could be interesting possibility. If ent could wield a sword, why he can not use ‘sling’?

All above was ‘sweet’, ‘buff’-approach. But rebalance could go in opposite direction, eg to reduce bonuses for high-elves, dark elves and other races from top 5. But TomeNET already is pretty challengins, even for high elves. I think it’s better not to buff top races, but to make ‘weak’ races more attractive to choice.

Soon I’ll continue analysis for other races/classes and also builds. Hope to see your comments!

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