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Destroying the Mackerel

Kalil
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 6:22 am

Destroying the Mackerel

Post by Kalil » Fri May 24, 2013 2:00 am

We've seen several example now of insane scores by utilizing the Mackerel synergy (generally with Anglerfish). It's definitely strong, and has led Adriaan to write "That's it. I'm going to destroy the mackerel."

I agree that mackerel are really strong - 5 range is kind of insane. But... The problem, as several people have pointed out, is that they're also very /fun/. I'd be quite sad to see them go away. So with that in mind: here are a couple ideas for how to balance them, while still keeping them fun and versatile.

Idea 1: Change their tier.
Swap Mackerel with one of the higher-tier fish (perhaps Marlin?). Mackerel are strong, yes, but they'd be much better balanced in Tier 2 or Tier 3.

Idea 2: Change the symbiosis trigger.
As it is, they're /easy/ to 'exploit' - just string them together for massive range. Dunam has already solved optimal mackerel/anglerfish placement. I'd really like to keep the +range symbiosis - it's what makes them fun. Perhaps make it work off of a different species, though. Keying it off Clownfish and/or Parrotfish would change the ecosystem to require more diversity, and would make it a lot harder to 'break'.
Another interesting variant would be to make their symbiosis trigger off of plants. This would make them the optimal choice for a shoreline fish.

Idea 3: Nerf Harbors.
Part of the brokenness is that on top of the massive range (which makes aspects so much stronger), they also get an early +1/+2/+3 boost from Harbors, which stacks from every harbor you build. Removing or changing this specialization would significantly weaken them in the hands of power-gamers, while keeping them nearly the same for players who haven't figured out that trick.

Thoughts?

coanda
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:46 am

Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by coanda » Fri May 24, 2013 2:28 am

Here's how I would do it...

1. Move mackerel to tier 2.
2. Replace them at tier 1 with some smaller fish - herring? How those should play, I don't know.
3. Replace the mackerel bonus with a +1 range per herring in range.
4. Make the harbor bonus town-specific instead of global.

I think mackerel would be balanced just about right then.

puke
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun May 19, 2013 11:31 pm

Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by puke » Fri May 24, 2013 2:33 am

I think fish range should not extend onto land, and land animal range should not extend onto sea.

Other than that, I think they're fine. They're useful in specialized ways. A dedicated design can let you rack in a high score, but who cares? when I need large amounts of food to complete a project (and i have not been expressly building a super optimized island world), I get better results filling in the ocean and building some pear orchards.

So who cares if a water world can get crazy food? let it.

but fix the land/sea biome crossing.

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Dunam
Posts: 113
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:55 pm

Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by Dunam » Fri May 24, 2013 3:39 am

I don't think the mackarel is 'broken'. I think it's just the zerg rush of reus: the easiest way to achieve some success.

I think what is broken, is the fact that you can 'force fishing villages'. I can see why projects were randomized. Annoying as they can be, they really ensure that you can't execute a perfect plan, you have to be flexible. Fishing villages are an exception to this.

When you play a water strategy, just spamming mackarel is not the optimal way to go. But it is (my estimate) a 70% optimal strategy.

I think its good that there are some easy good steps to make in this very complex game to grok.

The key to the high scores with water strategies is the ability to force fishing villages and an upgraded project that boosts something world wide that gets better as you spam it.

If it gave this bonus to marlin or tuna, even clown fish, it wouldn't be as big of a problem, because then you would be bogged down into minute balancing, like most of the game ;)

Kalil
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 6:22 am

Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by Kalil » Fri May 24, 2013 4:07 am

puke wrote:When I need large amounts of food to complete a project (and i have not been expressly building a super optimized island world), I get better results filling in the ocean and building some pear orchards.
Three pear trees together = 55 food (25 from the 'strongest' pear tree).
Three mackerel together = 66 food (22 per fish).
The mackerel also get 11 times the bonus from aspects, and allow more flexibility in placement, and are boosted insanely by the Harbor project, and have a very strong symbiosis with anglerfish, and are a base creature, available from the start of the game, whereas pears are third down an upgrade tree, and only available if you have at least one forest ambassador on your nature giant, and either get lucky or fertilize to get potent fruit aspect.
So yah. I don't really see how you get better results from filling in the ocean.

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Dunam
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Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by Dunam » Fri May 24, 2013 4:48 am

Kalil wrote: Three pear trees together = 55 food (25 from the 'strongest' pear tree).
Three mackerel together = 66 food (22 per fish).
The mackerel also get 11 times the bonus from aspects, and allow more flexibility in placement, and are boosted insanely by the Harbor project, and have a very strong symbiosis with anglerfish, and are a base creature, available from the start of the game, whereas pears are third down an upgrade tree, and only available if you have at least one forest ambassador on your nature giant, and either get lucky or fertilize to get potent fruit aspect.
So yah. I don't really see how you get better results from filling in the ocean.
However, part of those mackerel food will fall outside the city borders (and in the next one's).

You will also gain greed much quicker, since pear trees give substantial Awe. (20 in your example)

And although mackarel add their aspects to many spaces, animal aspects give smaller boosts than plant boosts. Mackarel almost never receive natura-boosted bonuses. And they have 2 less aspects than pear trees.

puke
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun May 19, 2013 11:31 pm

Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by puke » Fri May 24, 2013 6:15 am

Kalil wrote:
puke wrote:So yah. I don't really see how you get better results from filling in the ocean.
Depends on how your giants are setup. I was getting around 75 per pear tree, and around 22 per fish. Didnt have fish upgrades as no one had built a dock and I needed different upgrade slots for my giants to be able to do max upgrades on minerals elsewhere.

So really, the only time the fish plan makes sense is when you are dedicated to doing the fish plan. I'm not sure I even had the ability to upgrade to anglers with the way I was setup.

And this is after I just got done playing a six-island 12000 prosperity world. Im not as cool as the 19000 guy, but I'm pretty sure I've got a qualified opinion.

It all depends on what you want your world to do.

Ahenian
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Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 12:44 am

Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by Ahenian » Fri May 24, 2013 7:32 am

I think that if you want to nerf the mackerel you should focus on nerfing what makes it really strong when spammed, not other aspects of it that makes it fun to use in normal worlds unlike full water worlds. Therefore touching its normal move range symbiosis, the way it can give food to land or changing tiers is unwise, all of these changes impact its usage normally and not only in situations where it is gets ridiculous.

Best areas of nerf are probably:

Harbor +1/+2/+3 bonus. Perhaps put a limiter here, this bonus can only stack globally X amount of times?
Anglerfish symbiosis. Tune or change the anglerfish symbiosis weird deeps with mackerels.
Island town plentiful sea bonus. I'm not sure if people discovered this one yet but it gives +10 food per +1 food from the natural sources beside the island town, I got +840 food from just surrounding it with mackerels, can probably reach every higher with blue whales or the alike.

There's already a guy in the high score thread clocking in at 32k+ prosperity (note: freeplay mode) so mackerels aren't the only ridiculously stacking natural source in the game, most of the mackerel bonuses are static like the harbor bonus and will thus lose to smart usage of % scaling strategies in the long run. I myself hadn't unlocked all the high-end tier 3 stuff before doing that almost 20k world so have to start looking into those high tier plants and minerals too.

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Adriaan
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Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by Adriaan » Fri May 24, 2013 10:56 am

The mackerel is staying alive but I'm changing a few things:

1: It's bonus stacks twice instead of three times.
2: It gains a new symbiosis:
Simple: the Mackerel has a reduced number of aspect slots.
3: The fishing nets is going to be more rare, and going to the Seabass instead.

The problem with mackerel is not really the food it gives, but how easy and flexible it is with danger. Mackerels make danger management a cake walk. Ow and the fishing nets of course was way to strong with the range bonus. 4 Range should also be still more than enough to have fun with.

Spyre2k
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Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 8:57 pm

Re: Destroying the Mackerel

Post by Spyre2k » Fri May 24, 2013 7:44 pm

Ahenian wrote: There's already a guy in the high score thread clocking in at 32k+ prosperity (note: freeplay mode)
Yea but I've seen a lot of talk on various optimal strategies they do approach those numbers. The problem with a lot of them though is they take to long to setup.

The Ocean world setup is easy because you start with desert villages to grab those ambassadors first. That takes about 10 mins then you are left with the remaining 110 mins to convert the world into an ocean and setup your fishing villages.

Where as some of the other strategies involve getting more ambassadors from the remaining villages then doing the swap, at which point 30-60 mins are used up. And trying to grow the cities without to much greed in the remaining time can be quite difficult. Especially when Danger and Awe options are so limited on them.

So when it comes down to it time I think is the biggest factor on why other strategies don't quite compete as well even though the math shows they would be better.

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