Clearly red has the advantage, and especially on day 1 of each week. But not just then, and not just red. But there’re also not just advantages. The way I see it we have the following:
- Advantage of color: Red over all others, Blue over all remaining but Red, etc…
- Major advantage of day 1 of the week, but also minor advantage any day (one day ahead anytime to build an extra dwelling and attack the adversary by transporting the higher level creature through hero chain)
- Minor (partly balancing) advantage for the colors lower in hierarchy: previous player may have cleared a passage or conquered a strategic site by defeating an uber army, coming out weak after the battle, giving the other the chance to both defeat the weakened army and use the pass / conquer the site (e.g.: mine) for free. This doesn’t compensate much, especially in MP, but it often does in SP against AI.
Most of the proposals above (mine included for that matter) are probably quite difficult to implement in VCMI. Not impossible (with open source few things are), but probably not feasible with the time and resources than we currently have Plus some would replace one balance issue with another:
- Randomize turn order: it’s actually impossible to do it without always having a player get two days in a row as opposed to one of the others. Even if it’d apply only on day 1 of the week and in an organized manner (as lord haart suggested), it would still mean that after Red plays Day7 on Week1, Blue will actually get to play two full days before Red can do anything again. Blue will basically get the day 1 advantage, but now also the double movement on top of it (caravan hero may be needed to bring troops to the main hero, but that’s a minor inconvenient).
- Hire troops when attacked on day 1 before your turn. This was my suggestion, but I totally digress from it now. Not sure how come I didn’t see the pitfall, namely the huge risk the earlier player would take in attacking the others, when having little clue about which army it may encounter (Blue may end up day 7 with 1 defending Pikeman in castle, but hire 3 Archangels and the rest if attacked by Red on day 1)
- One day simultaneous turns: not sure if at all possible with the current code structure, not to mention the chaos I foresee. Haven’t played much Age of Wonders (very little 10 years ago, liked it, but sadly no time) so I don’t know how it worked there, but Heroes is windows-based. Once you open Town/Hero/Battle/Etc screen, everything freezes in the background, apart from static animations. I’m pretty sure this is one thing that won’t be doable with just a mod, but would require major changes to the core of the VCMI code structure, with impacts everywhere totaling at least 1 year of delay for the whole project. And coding effort aside, I see chaos in gameplay as well: a pop-up opening just because you ran into an event, or simply opened the town screen to recruit something, while meanwhile the enemy makes moves you don’t even see, or simply attacks you. Would battle open on top of the event window? Or if two of your heroes are attacked in the same time by different opponents, how would the game handle two battle screens in the same time? This may work on RTS’s where (almost) all happens on the map, but in Heroes it’d be way more than just a clicking race
Looking back, the only solution without major pitfalls that is see, is Steven’s original suggestion of having a towns visit-and-actions session between weeks. This way all players would get the chance to use the limited new money to build fortifications and buy defenders, but that’s it. Once day 1 starts for Red, he should be able to make choices about attacking enemy towns or not in “full” knowledge of what to expect, based on the R-click information he gets (current scouting/stealthy abilities thanks to skills/spells included of course). But while I don’t see balance pitfalls, it may still be quite a coding effort.
For even less coding effort, I thought something more in the lines of what the WoG scripts may be more realistic. And I thought of those which give “double movement” and “half price for creatures on day 7”. Working with this kind of code changes in a mod, perhaps we could consider something like this:
- Player 1 plays day 1 same as any other day of the week.
- Player 2 gets on 1st day 5% movement bonus for all heroes AND/OR 5% discount for creatures AND/OR certain temporary buffs (like double Defense for attacked heroes and/or double Arrow Tower strengths) in case they are attacked before their turn
- Players 3, 4, etc would get further buffs, as they are at disadvantage to even more players
- Similar balancing tweaks can be considered for the other days of the week, but reduced same as the risk is (e.g.: 5/10/15/…% buffs on day 1, and 1/2/3/…% buffs the rest of the week). This however should be a separate script at choice.
To take the movement bonus for example (perhaps not the best still), even with 8 players, we’d get to a maximum of 35% movement bonus for the 8th player. That shouldn’t put Red at too much of a disadvantage. Basically for one day he would have the 1st move advantage, but knowing that it’s against enemies which all have temporary Logistics-like bonuses, but not more.
As these buffs can be considered as a balance issue overall, another script can be put in place (at choice only for those who find it necessary), which on day 7 would reverse the effects of the day 1 script. This would compensate first players for the day 1 movement penalty or extra purchase costs, so that at the end of a 7 day cycle, they get the chance to cover the same amount of land as the others, and make the same amount of purchases (provided all other conditions are the same).
Now, I understand this may not be a piece of cake to code either (and I’m happy to receive feedback on pitfalls I overlooked again), but it’s probably still the easiest which could be accomplished on top of the current code structure, hopefully through mod scripts only.