Issue 7 - MOAR 2.0 Spoiler and a Sneak Peak at DL

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The latest issue of the 9th Scroll is here! You can read all about it in the news.

  • Welcome to the 7th Issue of the "Behind the Scenes" Blog!

    First and foremost, before getting into the spoilers, here are some updates regarding how the BTS-blog will evolve in the next weeks and months to come:

    After tallying up the likes in the last issue, there was an overwhelming majority in favour of a more serious style with collapsible formatting. This means that we will continue in with this more serious style, but still try to also carter to those who preferred the old more relaxed style. Basically everything rules-, spoiler-, or management-related will be written in a more serious tone, while the intro, transitions between topics and ending should be more informal. It is an iffy balance we know, but a trial and error never hurt anyone (...said the surgeon).

    Furthermore, after the flood of comments in the blog, we quickly realised that the Blog comments section does meet our needs for a good discussion, nor does it represent the various levels of interest in certain subtopics. Besides, it is a real pain to write longer explanations without the normal forum tools (and @Kathal gets grumpy after 200+ notifications - nah man :gcool: ).

    That's why we've decided to open a thread in the General Discussion sub-forum which is dedicated to each issue released.

    The link to this issue's thread can be found here: BTS Blog - Issue 7 Discussion Thread


    Last but not least, we're trying to implement a "fancy" table of contents in each BTS blog, to give you a quick overview:
    • Army Uniqueness, Identity and imperfection in the current game
    • A Peek at the 2.0 rules changes - Part 3
    • DL Spoilers - Unit design
    (if I find now a way to hyperlink the corresponding topics in the blog, it would be "truly" fancy)


    There is one last point we almost forgot, before we can start with the spoilers, rules discussions and sneak peaks for the Daemon Legions.

    We'd like to welcome a new sucker member into our glorious ranks of BTS-blog writers: @Calcathin.

    In order to keep the metal-head WotDG lads in line, we figured we needed some fresh blood. Don't be fooled by those long ears and T3, this wordsmith has long walked the Path of Razors AKA: the HbE Subforum - and will continue to do so. Less well-known among his skills is Text-Kwan-Do: The Art of Brutalizing the Rules Teams with walls of feedback, analysis, and argumentation. It was for this singular talent to annoy everyone that that our Headhunters (*cough* HR *cough*) knew they had found the right man!

    Also, following the Blog's traditions, here is a quick sketch for those of you who have never met him in person:



    But now, back to the rules related part of the blog:

    Army Uniqueness, Identity, and imperfection in the game

    Display Spoiler

    Before diving in, I hope that after several frank posts clearing the air we can have a mature discussion on this, because if we're going to discuss game-wide imperfections (and it is fun to moan & single out stuff we'd like nerfed) we must acknowledge this simple truth:

    External Balance has never been better.

    At the same time, we're willing to be openly self-critical with everyone regarding certain changes, and the thing that stands out most in the current version of T9A is:

    We need greater faction differentiation in terms of racial identity and playstyles.

    This is why instead of the having the old ABC teams (Army Book Committee) focused on solely a single army without the ability to see others' work directly, or have a broad overview of the context, we now expect ADT members to be able to focus and work on any given army book with equal enthusiasm. Instead of small teams virtually isolated from one another with rough power-level guidelines, we now have concrete ASAW to help define the faction features & limits.

    It's why we're now moving away from a heavy focus on external balance to empowering the iconic playstyles more. External balance needed addressing in the past, but it's far less extreme now so we can afford to allow armies to shine a little more in their specialized areas while we can be sure, that they will not destroy the external balance we build over the different iterations.

    This will have the knock on effect of curtailing niche power builds like the current Mass-Peasants KoE, and the former Corner-Hammer WotDG & Marked OK gunline. On the other hand, it will also mean more epic KoE knight charges! This means limits in playstyle diversity for some factions, but let's face it, it was a bit weird playing SE only because one liked the best Monstrous Infantry Deathstar in the game, the thicket-beast deathstar.

    At a more specific level of differentiation, because the overarching guidelines of the past did not stipulate strict army-by-army strengths and weaknesses, the differences between races (elf, human, dwarf) were maintained, but uniqueness between two armies of the same race (HE/DE/SE or KoE/EoS) inadvertently suffered. This is an example of systematic failure and not flaws on the part of the teams (ABC/RT) involved.

    As readers can probably tell by now, racial differentiation is high on the radar of faction identity, and we do have a road map for this, but that will be saved for another day...

    Army Strengths & Weaknesses

    In the redesign of WotDG & DL (of which we share the occasional spoiler), designers now focus on the strengths and weaknesses by implementing specific guidelines for each army which make the army feel unique. These guidelines have been inspired from the community feedback and then adjusted so they are more closely aligned with the Ninth Age background and to guarantee racial identities are preserved (Elves, Humans, Dwarves, Undead, etc. ).

    Thus army strengths and weaknesses are now based on general tiers, from "Hard Strength" to "Hard Weaknesses", with a maximum of 5 armies being in those peak categories (so "Hard Strength/Weakness"). This basically means, that a maximum of 5 armies can be great at "Grinding" for example. Will there always be 5 armies in there? No. Some Strengths and Weaknesses are so unique, that there might be only 1-3 armies in there.

    This obviously results in limitations for the designers, but ironically it has also stimulated creative solutions to ensure armies stay competitive using their strengths. As funny as this may sound, most professional designers crave hard guidelines from which to launch brilliant solutions into unexplored areas. When certain common options are no longer available, it is the nature of the human mind to explore and investigate new options.

    All this takes time though, so for armies currently not being redesigned not much will change in terms of inter-racial differentiation in 2.0 until it's their turn. For example, it won't be until the KoE/EoS redesign, that their respective ASAW get fully implemented and thus result into more distinct themes and playstyles. Nevertheless, it is a definitive goal for all armies to receive the attention and differentiation they deserve.

    Will this result in perfect books? Nope! Some people might love what comes out, others will dislike it. However, our ambition is to produce the best immersive experience we possibly can while retaining external balance. We believe in being upfront with our community about what and why we're doing things this way is only fair, since YOU supported us since close to two years.

    Wish us luck on our road!


    A Peek at 2.0 Rules Changes - Part 3

    In the beginning we had the Movement Speed split, then came the Weapon Skill split, and now rounding out our trilogy is the third part of the updated Characteristics in 2.0, hold on to your biceps guys...
    Display Spoiler

    Starting with the 2.0 BRB, arguable one of the most influential stats in combat will be split into two parts:

    "Strength" will be split into "Strength" and "Armour Penetration"

    NOTE: The "To-Wound table" stays the same and the names are already finial!


    As many players have proposed & speculated over this concept for some time, it will not come as a complete surprise. This will mean strength will no longer help models penetrate armour.

    There have been and still are many ongoing discussions about this particular Characteristic, since currently an increase of strength doesn't usually only mean that you start to wound the opponent better but at the same time reduces the effectiveness of their armor.

    This lead to an awkward spot, both in game design and in balance. Most of the time, it's just the best option for units or Characters to take the biggest Strength increasing weapon (Great Weapon says hi) and be done with it, simply because a flat out Strength increase is often better than anything else you can buy. This results in a screwed balance, where you needed to partly inflate the cost of high strength granting weapons, so that the other options become viable (problematic balance-wise).

    Furthermore, it was limiting areas where game design could be improved. Units beyond a base strength of 6 are very rare in the game, simply because of how good that Characteristic is. This basically means, that we could only design ranked units with Strength values in the 2-5 range because pretty much everything else soon becomes broken in some form.

    This change address now both issues, it gives the game designers leeway to design interesting concepts, ie. it could lead to a Strength 8 Chariot with a rather low Armour Piercing value (like 1). This design would be great against most Monsters but looks less effective against units that come with at least some form of armour & a shield. In terms of balancing, it could mean that Great Weapons could get +3 Strength but only +1 Armour Piercing without breaking external balance.


    What does this mean for the Army Books?

    For the books which are not getting a rework, not much will change for now. If they have a unit with currently Strength 4, they will keep Strength 4 and the AP (1) value. There might be some form of redesign here and there where this split could be used, but these will be rather uncommon.

    However, for WDG and DL which are getting a complete rework, that split is being heavily used, especially for the DL, which has several units so far that utilises this split to its fullest.


    For the general game design, there are some special rules which could become unnecessary with this step. Something like +1 to wound can now be represented by a simple +1 Strength. We are aware, that there are some exceptional cases, where this might be a nerf (primarily against high toughness models), but this is only an example of what could happen. Furthermore, every unit, which currently has the Armour Piercing Special rule will simple have it in the unit's Armour Piercing column directly in the profile - so no more STRENGTH-3=AP sums taking up precious seconds in games.


    In the end, we are sure that by giving the game designers and balancing guys a new tool, they will be able to expand their repertoire of options, while the overall clarity of the units should also improve, since you will be able to see directly, on how good your unit is against Armour.


    Daemon Legion Spoiler - Unit design
    Let's peer beyond the Veil to see what the immortal Daemonic Legions ADT have in store for the world. Hint: it ain't pink rabbits, and lollypops...

    Bear in mind that the New Daemonic Legion Book still has quite a way to go before it's ready for Alpha, so everything talked about here is subject to change, although the basic army structure seems fairly settled, which is one of the reasons why I cannot get into specifics too much (because it's still a bit too early).

    Characters

    Currently the team is forging the characters from which most armies will pivot about. This array of options will include 7 Mark-specific Daemons versions and one generic Harbinger.

    Unlike the current Lords, these characters will not all be Monsters. However, players can be confident that there will be at least one of two 'heavies' in there, since it's hard to imagine a Gluttony Lord walking around as a tiny infantry model. As with all Marked models, these leaders will excel in their individual roles, but lack the versatility of their mortal foes.


    Given the sheer number of Marks, and the design wish to have a Greater Daemon for every God leaves the current Daemon Prince model for DL hanging in the air. Should the model itself become a Greater Daemon or should it become a type of single mode unit?

    The team is currently discussing this issue but it is to early to be able to make a statement about this topic.

    Special Category

    All special models will be unmarked, but will have the option for aspect upgrades and are designed to compliment the various army archetypes available to DL. Seven unmentioned units will be Mark-dedicated and covered in a later post as we approach Alpha. Note the widespread availability of magic conclaves, one of the designated army strengths:

    Flying Diverter
    These seem weaker defensively than the current Furies but with much better leadership, and, like all special units, they will have the option of purchasing an aspect upgrade.

    Light Infantry Conclave
    Shooting infantry, with high damage, limited range, and very weak melee abilities. I assume the aspect upgrade will further differentiate them from their lower damage/higher range core counterparts. Unfortunately, the details are still being hammered out, so it's hard to judge this unit fairly.

    Warbeast Unit
    Very fast, and quite tough models, which rely heavily on a unique special rule. This unit seems like a specific counter certain ItP/fear-causing armies, which would make it powerful tool in the game if it passes in its current rules version. Remember that the process is often iterative, and amendments are quite common based on Balance & Playtesting feedback.

    Flying wizard conclave
    Wow, just wow. These look like a nightmare for armies that lack regular shooting - think flying ogre warlocks that shrug off magic...and that's all I'm going to say for now about them. Hold off on eBay-ing to those old Sky Serpent models if you have any!

    Fast Chariot
    This is a hot-rodder's dream. It has three levels of upgrade, so it can be driven around as a mini, van, or mac truck! I think this has great potential for magnetic pimping options among the serious hobbyists.

    Anti-Monster Chariot
    Not exactly a tank, but Large Target models will certainly have a healthy respect for its potential damage output, since it gains abilities based on its target. Looks like a powerful area of denial tool - monster roadkill, here we go...

    Daemonic Thingy (really, it's very hard to describe)
    A buff/hex-wagon model that flies. The most complex entry in the book by quite a bit, maneuverable, aggressive and pretty quick, but at the expense of durability. The tiny 50x50 base belies it's impressive stats and abilities - not sure if this will get through the review unscathed, but fingers crossed,


    That's it with this issue.

    As always, if you have any form of feedback on how to improve the BTS blog or in general ideas on what we should write about, please let us know in what ever channel you want to use (be it a PM, as a comment to this blog or in the BTS Blog - Issue 7 Discussion Thread ). Just make sure to tag us (or add us, if you want to use a PM), otherwise we might miss it :sweat:

    As always,

    Your BTS-blog team (now with @Calcathin)!
    "When four Kings abdicate their thrones, do you really have a Kingdom anymore?"

    I kind have a "blog" now: From Beer and Bretzle vol 2

    ETC 2016 - ID
    ETC 2017 - WDG
    ETC 2018 - ID

    4,078 times read

Comments 10

  • Vulgarsty -

    Totally agree with split of s and ap (recognising that s will normally be associated with ap)

    Take a deadly poison blow pipe dart. Could really be S10 but obv cant be now because blowpipe darts are in reality rubbish against armour but in current rules a poison that strong would also bust through plate armour. A nonsense. Woth a split it can be s10 deadly but if you ate well armoured you are ok.

  • bbbbb -

    Looks great! Good job!
    I am wondering if it could be possible to add a timetable of some sorts for the upcoming releases of the AB and RB in this blog or general discussion?
    I can't wait to see the new RB and WotDG / DL books! So an ETA could lessen the wait-pain :)

  • saint_barbara -

    The one thing I don't like about being staff is the fact that I don't get surprised by changes served so neatly by the BTS team. Great job guys!

  • JackStreicher -

    If you write the stats down differently it might also help to find values faster, meaning:
    Army book view: one circle with the army's crest containing all combat relevant stats, one circle with a bullseye for ranged stats.
    And possibly the models silhouette with movement LD, W, T.

    So veginnets and veterans will find the stats they're loiking for with one look (but that's just sort of a interface design)

    • Kathal -

      As already mentioned in the BTS Blog Discussion thread, we will provide the new Layout next issue or present the most actual form of it (if there is no final form found yet). I think, the direction taken so far is great for visibility and easy to find the things you are looking for.

    • JackStreicher -

      Well sorry I haven't heard/read anything about a new layout until now ^^
      Care to provide a link? :)

    • Kathal -

      Next issue we will release the new layout ^^

  • Wesser -

    It shall be interesting to see how the STR split is handled flufwise.. "the giants mighty club descends and the burly Vermin Hulk was splatted like a gnat" vs. "the giants mighty club descended but was deflected on the goblin's shield". It may create situations :)

    • Kathal -

      And than you realise, that a Troll had the same Strength and Armour Penetration as a punny Human with a slightly bigger Sword, and it gets stupid again ;)

  • Spazbite83 -

    keep it up guys