Groundhog Day aka part 2

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  • You know that feeling for sure, when in the morning you just want to do this:

    After having been in the word police jail for a couple of days due to excessive use of words (and memes) we had to wake up super early to provide you with part 2 of the A New Force Awakens! "Behind the Scenes" blog.

    The idea for this part was born after some skype conferences (and a lot of coffee to survive those) where TINS and myself got the idea, to answer or rather explain some community problems and fears. This is basically the "Topic of the Week" and will return as long as there are questions to answer.

    Though, we still need a badass name for this ;( (and yes, we are open for ideas here)

    Topic of the Week (courtesy of @Kathal)

    Army Strength and Weaknesses, What does ASAW mean? (careful Kathal uses salty language sometimes - dunno what you mean :gwhistling: )

    Due to our involvement with the community and particularly the ACS over the last couple of months, we have noticed something which has tended to become a rather heated topic: the Army Strength and Weaknesses (from now on ASAW). The reason why emotions run high in such discussions is obvious: ASAW define the respective armies in what they should be good and in what areas they should be bad (or rather lacking).

    However, when talking about this topic, it seems that many members do not exactly know, what a Strength or a Weakness means for an army. Thus the idea for this part of the RT-Blog was born, to give you guys a fundamental understanding, how the ASAW can be understood and applied to an army.

    For this, two cases of Strength are taken as an example, "Speed" (relevant for the WDG community) and "Special Saves" (relevant for the DL community).

    1) Speed as a Strength in the ASAW chart
    When people think about the topic "Speed" they are immediately associate it with the Movement Value of the unit/average movement value of the army. While this is certainly the core of "Speed" there are many other things, which fall into the category of "Speed", which are less obvious.

    For one, there is Swiftstride. While it doesn't improve speed directly, it improves the average charge distance. Flying is also one of those "subthemes" to "Speed", even though it has a clear overlap with the trait "Mobility". Fliers can easily get from A to B regardless of terrain and thus are very fast at getting to the destination. Random movement, while normally associated with the "feels bad moments" of rolling either way to low or to high, can also be a strength, when the actual random movement roll is made more consistent like rolling 4D6 and discarding any die you want.

    "Speed" is basically just a trait, which explains, how well we can get from A to B and how well you can dictate the movement game. By dictate it is meant how well you can apply pressure on the opponent with your threats. However, while the army can have a great Speed trait with a high movement value, what does the speed offer the player, without some secondary special rules or rather effects which interact well with this advantage?

    These would be things like Devastating/Thunderous Charge, Impact Hits, Light Lance/Lance or even in a more broader sense, things like Move or Fire or Quick to Fire. With or without those special rules, the "Speed" trait loses a lot of value. Sure, all the combat specific terms fall also under the "First turn damage" category, but does Thunderous Charge really help on a M3 Dwarf units? Speaking out of personal experience, it rarely does.

    2) Special Saves as a Strength in the ASAW chart
    When it comes to Special Saves, we usually think about either Ward Saves or Regeneration. While it is true, that those two are the primary rules for that category, there are many more.

    What about Fireborn or Lightning Rage? Sure, quite narrow compared to the big two, but they are also special saves. The same can be said about Toxic Attacks on the Daemon of Pestilence Mark (Toxic Attacks get -1 to wound against them). Yes, it is narrow, but it is also a form of special save.

    Another great example of a special save is the Lucky Shield. Yes, it is one use only and procs with the first successful hit, but the players with their Cannons and Catapults always have those "feel bad moments", when the first Cannon ball just get deflected from a puny Shield wielded by a tiny Elf on a 40m high Dragon (or how big those darn Dragons are). The Eternal Ring is another example for this. It is a special save against the first wound the wearer receives (2+ ward save). However, at the same time it has several secondary effects, which can also be rated under the category of "Special Saves", namely immunity to Lethal Strike and Multiple Wounds.

    There are many more examples of "Special Saves", be it Parry/Distracting (falls also in the "Avoiding to get hit" category), Ethereal, Magic Resistance or Stone Skin, and this is before the ADT/CDS starts to brainstorm about this whole topic!

    However, at the same time there cannot and should not be one absolute best army in any category, since it would actually hurt the game design quite a lot. Why? Cause it would basically force you to play army X, if you want to play an army with strength "Speed". Hence, when we are talking about a strength, there are 5 armies which excel at this particular strength. Those 5 armies are even in that particular strength, however, how the actual strength is implemented can and will vary. An example for this is the "Heavy Arms Fire". While Empire, Dwarfs and Infernal Dwarfs have those traits, there are some fundamental range, damage and special rule differences between them, which makes them quite different to play with and also against them.

    But what does now a "Weakness" (be it either Soft or Hard Weakness) mean for an actual army? Lets take for example an army with the Soft Weakness "Speed". Will this army have access to "First turn damage" weapons/special rules? It is rather unlikely, because it is more likely, that they will receive the charge than getting it off (think about Dwarfs here and their tiny legs). Will an army with the Hard weakness "small arms fire" have access to something, which boosts the BS of a none Warmachine unit? Likely not, since there is nothing to boost to begin with.

    This means, when a trait is in the "Soft Weakness" or "Hard Weakness" category, it will have totally different effects on the army. While "Soft Weakness" basically means, that the specific trait will be rather rare and will hardly see any kind of support, with a "Hard Weakness" you will not be able to find anything associated with it in the book AND the secondary elements (like I mentioned earlier) will also be pretty rare, since they cannot be enabled at all.

    In the end, there is the last category, which is basically all the rest in which the army is basically average. This means, the respective army has maybe either a little bit more access to things, which fall under this category, or have some form of support for them. However, overall they are just average on that specific trait.

    So that's it for this update.

    As you can see @Kathal has clearly had a "positive" influence here, as we have ONLY tippled the usual length of the Blog Posts (if we would combine both parts). This was also the reason, why we decided to split the whole thing up into two pieces, otherwise we feared something along this line due to an information overload:

    With the wise words of Rudyard Kipling we will close this issue of the "Behind the Scenes Blog":

    Rudyard Kipling wrote:

    Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

    Your "Behind the Scene" Blog Team!
    "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] [ETC 2019 - ID]

    1,659 times read

Comments 6

  • HJFudge -

    I really like reading the blog posts :) good job keep it up.

    I still dislike the idea of hard weaknesses from a design standpoint but hey.

  • Bugman -

    Thanks for a great article.

    I think any army should be able to play any play style, but if your army was not designed for that play style, you should still be able to implement it but at a cost and detriment to the army

    • Kathal -

      The problem is, what is if that particular playstyle goes complete against the particular army flair? When WDG can suddenly play a Gunline or Avoidance shooting it takes a lot of uniquness away from the armies, which should thrive on these parts.

      Sure, in theory I would want to have the most flexibility with any given army, ideally only needing a single army to cover every single playstyle. However, this design approach would result, that there is no army trademarks/unique playstyle (like Avoidance shooting for SE) as it would mean, that the design teams would be impossible to implement new design ideas. Why? Cause suddenly everybody wants it and following this design approach everybody would get it.

  • The Unmarked -

    My concern is that contrary to the army direction polls, several armies' soft weaknesses can currently build their strongest lists using their weaknesses. Examples being cavalry heavy EoS lists, Bound Spell heavy BH lists, shooting heavy OK lists, and (my main army) combat heavy MSU VS lists. I don't have a lot of opponents in my area, but I watch a lot of Battle Reports and read a lot of tournament lists. I acknowledge that I could be very wrong, but that's just what seems to be happening.

    • Kathal -

      There are two things than, a) are those truly soft weaknesses and especially b) should the army have this particular playstyle available to begin with? The strongest WDG list under 1.0 was a gunline, which got neither supported by the ASAW polls nor by the background and feeling, which the army should have. Hence, it got (and will get) nerfed/removed as a playstyle.

      I cannot speak for the cases you mentioned above, but yes, if those fall under a soft weakness the support for them will be cut back in whatever fashion the respective teams deem it necessary.

  • saint_barbara -

    Thank you guys!