Beta 3 has been pushed to next week. Sorry for the delay but we want to make sure it is what we want before we release it.
So lets talk a little about what it will include.
1. Monster rebalance. Monsters have been given strengths and weaknesses. There are a lot more vulnerabilites to various damage types, and monsters have a wider range of attack types.
2. Weapon rebalance. Weapons gain new abilities, armor is more effective against specific types of attacks (chainmail is better against cutting weapons, plate mail is better against blunt). Swords have counterattack, all axes have backswing, spears protect from counterattack. All units that don't use their action automatically defend (you can see it in the screenshot below), much as shields used to do. This means that the first attack isn't such a big deal (since moving into the range of your enemy but not attacking means you are defending and will take significantly less damage form their attack). Items (shields), unit design and level up traits can influence how much of a defense bonus a unit gets when defending.
3. More Spells. Candlecloak, Cull the Weak, Fracture, Gift of Iron, Flame Wave, Tidal Wave and many more. If you haven't seen our latest Dev Journal video, check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ArdQVqLHsI&feature=youtu.be
4. Go Big. Spells do bigger things, curse doesnt reduce defense and spell resistance by a few points anymore, it removes all the victims Defense for 3 turns. More spells have a casting time and a larger effect (and the AI is very good at counterspelling so you may want to knock out enemy shamans and mages before starting your big spells). Summons can be placed anywhere in battle so feel free to drop that fire elemental right behind the enemy archers.
5. Or Go Home. Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Constitution have been removed from the game. These were primary stats that effected other things. rather than doing that we will adjust the other things directly. There is still a trait called Strength which increases a unit weight capacity. There are traits that increase a units attack. But they don't have to given together as was happening with the old Strength stat model. Now your warrior types can grab the Strength trait so they can wear the heavy armor and weapons and your archer types can concentrate on the traist that increase attack, critical strikes, etc. Path of the Assassin doesn't offer any additional weight capacity, but does offer attack bonuses, meaning you can do lots of damage but you probably won't ever be wearing plate mail with that champion.
6. More understanable stats. Accuracy it a flat chance to hit an enemy (Accuracy 80 means you have an 80% chance to hit an enemy). Some units have a Dodge that subtracts form this (So someone with Accuracy 80 trying to hit someone with Dodge 20 would have a 60% chance to do so). This way players can clearly understand exactly what bonuses do. A trait that gives you +10 to Accuracy means your will hit 10% more often. That is easier to weigh against a trait that allows you to cast Fireball or gives you +25% to Experience. Spell Mastery and Spell Resistance have gone through the same change, they are flat percentages to have your spells take effect.
7. Faction Differentiation. This is where we have been spending the bulk of our time. As Magnar has their wageless slave legions and the ability to add population from defeated enemies Gilden can create designable Iron Golems if they have enough mana and metal. Though they aren't the best on attack (stay tuned for a post-beta 3 Trog patch to see what that looks like) they are the games best trainable defenders and they take a lot of damage before they fall.
Not all the factions are done, we are concentrating on Magnar and Gilden. But you will find plenty to do with the other factions. Tarth ignores terrain penalties (they move normally through forests, swamps, hills and rivers), receive a bonus when in small armies and get all new bows with higher attack and no metal requirements. They also get Masterwork Chainmail armor instead of Plate Mail armor at Heavy armor, which is lighter and quicker to produce and better against cutting attack, but isn't generally as good defensively as Plate Mail.
Krax gets one handed versions of all the spears in the game, allowing them keep their shields. They also get a Round Shield replacement called the Bronze Shield which gives them an additional bonus versus ranged attacks and they have inherited Tarth's old ability to get +10 defnese when under 50% of their hit points. They retain their +10% per city level bonus to Accuracy, Attack and Defense when defneding cities. Finally Karavox gains the Silver Tongue ability, the ability to spend influence in tactical combat to flip trained units to his side.
8. Some other things, "went home", there are less techs in Beta 3. In general the tech tree is a little thinner than it was before meaning all goodies aren't spread out as much as they were. We really want to make sure you are laboring over what tech to research next. I made some mistakes on tech placement when I put research boosting techs late in the tree when they aren't needed, and I had food boosting tech early in the tree, when they also werent needed. Now education is a 1st tier tech and definitly worth considering vs standing army (spears and wood shields) and civics (the ability to gold rush).
9. More diplomacy options. Whenever you learn a tech you gain knowledge in that category (Civilization, Magic or Warfare). You can trade this knowledge with other players and it is applied randomly to a tech in that category you could learn. If you have 100 Magic Knowledge (because you have been researching a bunch of magic techs) you can trade that to another player and he will get 100 research applied to one of his magic techs. Once you trade that knowledge away it is in the world and you can't trade it to other players (ie: it's gone). We didn't want straight tech trading but this was a good to represent the ability to share knowledge.
You can also demand tribute from other players and they may demand tribute to you. Or you can offer tribute to an AI player that you want to stay on the good side of. If you are powerful enough you can demand that an enemy sovereign surrender to you. If this happens their empire is removed, just like they were defeated but you gain that sovereign as a champion under your control.
10. Better memory consumption (my 500 turn game on a large map last night was only using 1.3 Gb), better performance (Brad is working magic with multiple threads), better AI (we are changing the default difficulty to Easy, the AI is getting to good).
11. Tons of bug fixes, improvements, polish and tweaking. We replaced a lot of the spell icons to make them more clear and distinct, you can see new trees in the picture below. Lots of new traits for your champions to learn.