Hello all! I’m u60cf28, a Diamond 1 China main. At this point, a good number of you know me as the guy who makes really long China balance analysis/whine posts. I actually plan on making one about the PUP changes sometime next week, but here I’d thought I’d provide analysis and suggestions for the new Spirit Way.
For those not in the loop, the Spirit Way is being changed to:
- Spirit Way Landmark changes
- Spirit Way Landmark no longer reduces the cost of dynasty units (was 33% discount) in Stables and Archery Ranges around the Landmark.
- Spirit Way Landmark now houses dynasty technologies which can be researched for -50% cost and +100% research speed. (These are Elite Fire Lancer, Veteran/Elite Zhuge Nu, and Ancient Techniques)
- When a dynasty unit dies (Zhuge Nu, Fire Lancer, Grenadier) nearby units will receive +20% attack speed and +20 health over 10 seconds. (This does not affect siege units, and does not stack)
- Developer Note: We wanted the landmark to add more adaptive and dynamic elements to the China gameplan. Previously you committed to 1 building type around the spirit way and were locked into those units. Now you can mix in different forces based on your current dynasty and combat needs.
I’ve played about 10 PUP games at this point, and my impressions of the new Spirit Way are… mixed. The buff is noticeable, but the effect does not feel any stronger than the old (current) Spirit Way. In live, the Spirit Way’s discount enables the mass grenadier common to post-imperial China. Furthermore, I personally was a massive fan of mass Zhuge Nu in early Imperial, as the Spirit Way discount combined with Incendiary Arrows made mass Elite Zhuge Nu very strong against nearly everything but mass Knight and mangonels. Losing the ability to mass either unit does hurt.
Furthermore, I feel like the gameplay of the new Spirit Way is quite gimmicky. This issue is twofold.
First, you’re incentivized to sacrifice a Zhuge Nu at the beginning of any engagement to activate the buff. This is… not very accurate to Chinese culture. Human sacrifice fell out of favor in Chinese culture after the end of the Shang Dynasty in 1046 BCE, and was completely outlawed by Duke Xian of Qin in 384 BCE. This is long before the game’s start date for China (900 CE). While human sacrifice did sometimes occur after the 384 BCE ban, it was usually individual emperors sacrificing their concubines as part of their funerals. Furthermore, it was universally looked down upon by the Confucian scholars and other Chinese elites as being a barbaric practice. So it is weird that in game, China players are now motivated to regularly practice human sacrifice.
The other issue is that, because no one in their right mind is going to use Fire Lancers as their frontline, you have an effect that depends on your backline units dying, and won’t buff your frontline units (as far as I can tell, the radius of the buff is too small to do that). This creates a counterintuitive dynamic where you want your backline dying, whereas normally you want your frontline to take most of the damage.
Thus, I propose one of the following two changes. Either:
PUP Changes Reversed: Spirit Way now provides a discount to all dynasty units globally. If necessary, decrease the discount from 33% to 25%.
This addresses the dev concerns of being “locked into certain dynasty units”. It also preserves the old Spirit Way’s gameplay patterns, and is IMO much more elegant design than the PUP Spirit Way
PUP Changes Preserved: Effect can no longer be triggered by deleting units. In addition, effect now triggers when Palace Guard die. Palace Guard upgrades (Elite Palace Guard and Battle-Hardened) now also present in the Spirit Way.
This makes for a much smoother, and more intuitive, dynamic where your frontline unit (Palace Guard) will trigger the effect on dying. It also gives an easier way to trigger the effect, now that you can no longer delete your own units (Human Sacrifice is bad).