This weekend I've been looking at the final piece of my 3 part attempt at balancing unique units. In this case, it's Gilden's Iron Golems. The general consensus on these guys is that they are vastly underwhelming aside from their look, so this is definitely going to be a buff of sorts (although I tried to balanced it out via cost). Originally I thought that there was 2 ways that I could have gone with this. The first and simpler thing to do would be to move these guys up the tech tree, make it an early game unit where all that def would be useful (the difficulty would lie mainly in balancing it so that it isn't too easy to rush with them). The second, and more interesting thing to do, would be to make these guys more useful overall and thus worth keeping around once you get them. Since I thought it would be a bit of waste to make them an early game powerhouse only, I went with the second route.
In any case, here's what I came up with:
1) Golem base cost reduced to 150pp (production points - from 200pp originally), reduce metal cost to 30 (from 40), and reduced mana cost to 20 (from 30). This is primarily to make the base golem a bit cheaper to field so that you can quickly make one to tank a few hits for you (borrowed the idea from my Juggernaut mods).
2) Increased the cost of Tempered Steel (+10def) to 30pp (from 20pp), and added 10 metal to cost (from nothing). If you want a tougher tank, it'll cost you a bit more. Also changed the type to "Golem" to move it into its own category, making it easier to see. The metal cost doesn't show up in the window, so I just added it to the description of the trait.
3) The primary change is the creation of an "Iron Golem" (IronGolemSpecial internally) trait, and moved all the basic traits that it normally has into it (Immune to Poison, Critical, Vulnerable to Lightning). Think of it as an "Iron Golem Blood Trait" if you will. This essentially frees up 2 trait slot that can then be used for something else. I also added the Cannot be Knocked Prone trait to it from the basic unit and remove it from the base parameters (golems always has this, it just doesn't show anywhere). (Uses Path of the Defender ability icon)
Now, to make things truly interesting, I added some traits for you to use in those "something else" slots. (All are golem only and "golem" type to make it easier to see from the rest of the unit designs.)
4) Added: "Adaptive Offense" trait, costs 50pp, 10 metal, 10 mana. Golem gains 1 atk every level. So with experience, a golem with this becomes stronger and more worthwhile even later in the game. (Uses War Machine ability icon)
5) Added: "Adaptive Plating" trait, costs 50pp, 10 metal, 10 mana. Golem gains 1 def every level and 2 hp every level. Basically an upgraded Tempered Steel meant for long term use. (Uses Light Plate ability icon)
6) Added: "Self Repair" trait, costs 100pp, 20 mana. Golem regens 3 HP per round in battle and heals 6 hp per season out of battle. This is pretty essential for a "tank" golem, but is expensive to field. (Uses Medic ability icon)
7) Added: "Mobility Upgrade" trait, costs 50pp, 10 metal, 10 mana. Golem gains 4 initiative and 1 movement (stolen from Juggernaut's Frenzy mod). This allows the golem to rush out front of the troops and becomes a better tank, or to let them keep up with your troops once they gain mounts. (Uses Train Iron Golem ability icon)
8) Added: "Crushing Blow" trait, costs 30pp. Golem gains the ability to perform a Crushing Blow (double damage, but loses next turn). This ability is well used by the AI. (Uses Crushing Blow ability icon)
9) Added: "Hurl Boulder" trait, costs 30pp. Golem gains the ability to hurl a Boulder at opponent (range attack that does more damage as you level). This is a useful ability, but it isn't so well used by the AI (they tend to stay still when using it, or always try to use it when just attacking would do more, which sometimes defeats the purpose). Still, a range attack can be handy to take out those back line units while you tank front line ones. (Uses Hurl Boulder spell icon)
After all of that, I modded the Base and AI designs for Iron Golems as follows:
- Iron Golem (the "blood" trait)
- Adaptive Offense
- Self Repair
- Hurl Boulder
- Best Weapon (same)
- Best Shield (same)
- Braided Belt (instead of nothing)
- Iron Golem
- Tempered Steel
- Mobility Upgrade
- Crushing Blow
- Best Weapon (not just blunt - although the game normally picks blunt anyways)
- Best Shield (wood shield + upgrade is kind of pointless?)
- Troll Charm (same)
Basically, the Base design is more of a reckless type of frontline fighter, charging forward (hurl boulder), then going all out until hurt and then backing off to repair (using hurl boulder when it's off cooldown). While the AI design, who's not so keen on tactical strategies and not so good at keeping units alive has a more straight forward design that emphasizes speed and defense, with crushing blow to do spike damage (it's also pretty cheap to field to alleviate any possible resource problems).
There are also quite a number of other builds for them, including a full tanking one with Tempered Steel, Adaptive Plating and Self Repair, or a more offensive one with Adaptive Offense, Mobility Upgrade, and Crushing Blow. Overall I think the traits presents a good array of choices that makes you seriously think about the golems you design and what purpose you use it for, which is the main purpose of this exercise. While golems are generally stronger, they are also more expensive and takes longer to produce (due to trait costs), but if you want to field a cheap golem, you still can (just don't take all traits). I've always been a proponent of giving golems Overwhelm (I was going to make a 3rd offensive trait for it), but I feel that even without it, these changes are still plenty good enough to make you consider using a Golem. In my test runs, with an Armorer sovereign (+25% def) and a solid defense build (produced in a fortress for more def) the golems became quite a refreshing change in play style, tanking hits from the stronger mobs/units while you wear them down, a more defensive style of play that isn't seen often. They are really only vulnerable to elementals (particularly air ones, of course), mages, spears and the strongest of attackers (Jugs still hurts - lol). Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the results.
Anyways, here's the modded files if anyone feels like messing around with it. (Note that this is a core file mod - base units won't read new abilities from mod folders, so I had to append them at the bottom of CoreAbilities. This mods 2 core files, CoreAbilities.xml and CoreUnits.xml, so extract those modified files into your data\english folder and overwrite to install, and extract the original files also included to uninstall.):
Edit (as requested) a version for Mod Manager: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lqjwt2tkdkgu1k8/IronGolemModv1.0.zip
Finally, while I didn't make this change in the above mod, I would suggest moving the Golem Shield from Heavy Armor up one tier into War College. This will allow golems access to heavier shield tech a bit earlier, keeping them meaningful later in the game. Also, consider giving Gilden back the tower shield since golem shields aren't really usable by normal soldiers due to their weight.
Here's some SS:
Golem design, traits in a new category for ease of use...
Golems in action, poor Umber getting a taste of my Golem line and Defender Sovereign...
Buffed Golems (Hasted, Growth, Nature Cloak, Resist Fire) vs Delin, the Pyre of Man (Slowed):