No doubt you watched the Age of Wonders III Dreadnought gameplay released a while ago that demonstrated a fair amount of features, from magic to siege battles and the campaign map; but did you all see the powerful effect of the Destabilize Mana Core spell? It raised a question that I asked Triumph Studios.
Previously, when players traded spells with AI or other players in Age of Wonders II, you could see a list of their transferable spells. If negotiations went sour (e.g backstab), you would in theory already know most of the spells that they have available and could use that knowledge to your later advantage. This was a bit of a sneaky rogue-like tactic that could be used almost as an exploit to your benefit.
Let’s say you have the Destabilize Mana Core spell ready to use in the same siege battle as shown in the Dreadnaught video, but before this battle you attempted to trade spells with the AI or a player in that city (successfully or unsuccessfully). Would the AI take into account you have the Destabilize Mana Core spell from previous trade attempts and use that knowledge against you? Could players also exploit this in Age of Wonders III?
Eventually, after debate with some friends, Jimmy van der Have from Triumph Studios told me the following…
With AoW3’s skill system and classes we’ve chosen to not allow players to trade skills, which includes trading spells. The thought behind this is that allowing this type of trades would muddle the class definitions, which we want to keep strong and focused. E.g. I’m in a multiplayer match and the Arch Druid that shows up on my doorstep casts Destabilize Mana Core. This issue will be especially apparent when human allies start sharing all their spells.
As a consequence, skills – and spells – will not be visible to other players. As far as diplomacy exposing other information, we are still looking into the details. So, this is one of those things which has alpha build in scare quotes stamped on it. The goal would be to expose nothing the player can’t find out. E.g. you can see cities that you have seen on the map, but not the items a player has.
Finally – for the bit on the AI – things are, a bit complicated. If – like you describe – the AI would reserve mana and casting points because you could cast Destabilize Mana Core there’s the risk the AI couldn’t cast any spell. That could actually end up worse than when it would cast spells and then fail to dispel the Destabilize Mana, i.e. you end up not casting Destabilize Mana Core – in most battles – and the AI ends up losing battles it could have won by sniping the last unit with a spell.
Anyway. Nothing at this point is final. We’re still figuring stuff out and balancing things. — Triumph Studios.
That’s some pretty in-depth stuff for you Age of Wonders experts out there, but gives a reasonable idea which direction the developers are going in at present.