Thoughts on the future direction of SE

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  • Thoughts on the future direction of SE

    Hi guys,

    I want to share some stuff I've been thinking about for a while now. These are thoughts and ideas which have evolved over the last year and a half or so, starting from the mess of the original 1.3 SE release, and the realization that SE development was being adversely affected by the fear of SE avoidance amongst those making the decisions.

    Originally, as some of you may remember, I put the problem almost entirely down to our mobile long ranged shooting, and the ability to "kite" while shooting effectively at long range.

    I can be stubborn and argumentative enough to make a Dwarf shave his beard in shame, but I am open to other ideas, and I do let my ideas evolve. So it is that I have, over time, started to see how other aspects fit into this problem. What I say below is based on that, but it doesn't mean I have identified every part of the problem, and I am fully open to anything I have missed.

    I'll start by quoting myself from another thread:

    CariadocThorne wrote:

    Aenarion43 wrote:

    @CariadocThorne, @DJWoodelf, @Arhain, @'KiRaHyuU’

    As fellow elven players, this may interest you. What are your thoughts on this?

    PS. @Everyone, the post with my opinions and thoughts on ASAW is updated! So only the segment with examples on how to move the armies in this direction is missing. :)
    I strongly agree with pretty much everything you've said. I think a weakness in damage might be too much though, just lacking either strength OR weakness in either first turn or grinding is enough IMO.
    My main concern is that a lot of it is very similar to the direction I believe SE need to move in!!!

    I've always been opposed to uber-fragile psycho-beserker elves. That's fine for some DE units, but even for DE, they are still Elves and any who aren't drug-crazed should be at least a little harder to kill than a goblin. For SE and HE, the superior skill, grace and speed should really make a difference in keeping them alive, which it currently doesn't.

    Also, recent discussions about taming SE avoidance and bringing back the other playstyles SE used to play (avoidance has always, and should always be a part of SE play, but it is only the last few years where avoidance has become the entirety of the playstyle, instead of just a facet of it, and attempts to tone back avoidance have had the unintend effect of killing our other playstyles, effectively forcing us to play full avoidance) have convinced me that some of the glass cannon aspects of SE need to be reversed, otherwise we will forever be stuck in the shadow of avoidance, unable to evolve our more aggressive styles, without enabling avoidance even more.

    To cut a long topic short, and drastically over-simplify: SE are a the most mobility focused army in the game. Other armies are as fast, or as maneuverable, or as good at sneaky deployment shenanigans, but no other army is as good at all 3 as SE. If we develop SE's combat threats as fast glass-cannons, we add formidable zoning threats, which can be used to good effect in an avoidance list. They also play into what used to be called "Sethayla Style", which basically means shooty avoidance with kestrals, heath riders, pathfinders and sentinels, until the enemy has been sufficiently weakened, then combo charging Bladedancers, Wild Huntsmen, Kestrels and mobile characters into heavily weakened enemy units in the last turn or two of the game. The avoidance preserves points, and plays to draws or small wins, but the combo charge capability can turn that into 20-0 wins if done right. The more we try to enable aggressive combat SE by enhancing our glass cannons, we enable this kind of avoidance even more.

    This is, I believe, why some of the combat oriented changes the SE Task Team have proposed over the last few updates have been rejected, and why people like @Fnarrr opposed the lessening of the restrictions on fast SE combat units.

    --------------

    So, how do you enable the most mobile army in the game to play combat, without losing it's hyper-mobile flavour (relying on Forest Spirits to do the fighting) and without enabling the "Sethayla Style" shooty avoidance followed by last turn combo charges into weakened units?

    You make sure that the fast combat units either can't be relied on for that last turn charge (Wild Huntsmen, with their vulnerability to frenzy baiting), or that if they can be relied on to be in position for the charge, they can't be relied on to break the enemy before the game ends.

    I saw a comment a while back on the ID forum, complaining that it was ridiculous for fast armies to have "burst" damage (ie first turn damage), and be able to win combat decisively in a single round, while slow armies who take forever to reach combat rely on grinding out the win over several rounds of combat, rounds they may not have by the time they actuall get into combat. I'm looking at the same problem from the other side.

    -------------

    So, I'm essentially endorsing a similar idea for SE as you are for HE, trading some killing power for survivability and grind. It will be done differently though. The Elven part of SE would still be lightly armoured, while I suspect your approach for HE would involve a blend of "avoiding Hits" with decent (but not top-tier) armour. SE would also be more maneuverable, ideally with some enhanced maneuverability (not speed) for the infantry, enabling them to play a game of changing direction and re-deploying mid battle to outmaneuver the enemy and force advantageous fights, in concert with the guerrila aspect of the army, and its deployment shenanigans.

    Also, where HE want a strength in more defensive magic, SE would specialise in debuffs, partly from spells, but as magic is not a strength for SE, partly also from magic items and special rules. For example, I am picturing SE characters NOT putting out a million high strength attacks, and blending giant monsters to paste in a single turn, but rather combining their skill and agility to avoid the hits of enemy monsters and characters, and rather than relying on armour or special saves, using their high agility and ability to strike first combined with weapons which weaken enemies they strike. A Sylvan Prince chopping a Feldrak into a steaming pile of meat before it even strikes back is not just game-killingly unbalanced, but un-immersive too. However, a Sylvan Prince dodging and parrying it's blows over several rounds while steadily landing precise cuts at joints and tendons, weakening and maiming it until he is finally able to administer the killing blow, well that seems a lot more immersive to me. Meanwhile, I imagine a High-born Prince using the same skill and grace to avoid blows, but also relying on powerful defensive enchantments woven into his arms and armour to stave off those blows which make it through, while he steadily inflicts wound after wound until he is left victorious.

    @DanT, @SmithF, @Hachiman Taro, Since @Aenarion43 has prompted me into finally writing out some of the stuff I've been thinking about for SE's future, I thought you might be interested to see this. If you want to discuss anything I've said, we should do it somewhere else though, so as not to derail this thread about HE.
    So, what does this mean in practical terms?

    First, let's look at ASAW.

    Strengths
    (- combat grinding)*
    (- combat first turn damage)*
    - avoiding hits
    - special deployment
    - manoeuvrability
    - speed
    - manoeuvrable shooting
    - small arms fire

    Weaknesses
    - armour
    - strength in numbers
    - medium arms fire
    - heavy arms fire
    - ranged damage magic, small spells
    - ranged damage magic, big spells

    *Combat units split into two main camps.
    - Elfs: Absolute crap in grinds, strong in first turn (but not as strong grind as DE)
    - Trees: Good grind (mainly due to staying power), nothing extra first turn (not as strong grind as other grinding armies, such as WDG, OK, DH etc)
    (ps lack of "strength: special saves" doesn't mean it cannot exist, only that it's not the main defence tool for the army)
    Guerrilla warfare, hit and run, using terrain and careful placement. Splitting up the enemy force and ganging up on weaker parts.
    Not much here needs to change. Small Arms Shooting is currently a trap strength, almost a weakness disguised as a strength, and that needs to be dealt with, but that is another topic, and not really what I am here to talk about today.

    The main changes I am looking at, in terms of ASAW revolve around Avoiding Hits, and the two minor strengths in combat damage. I would like to see Avoiding Hits actually mean something, particularly in combat, and I would like to see our strength in first turn damage removed.

    That wouldn't mean no first turn damage at all, as we wouldn't have a weakness, but just slightly less than we currently have.

    If removing the first turn damage strength opened up room for a new strength, I would want to look at something like Hexes/Debuffs. That might be enough to get at least partial access to Witchcraft (without the kind of bad compromise we had recently), but would also allow more debuff effects from items or special rules. For example, a magic weapon which debuffs the target with each wound suffered.

    The biggest real change would be most of our Elves losing Lightning Reflexes, and gaining Distracting in exchange (predators pennant and Hunter's Honour would then become OS debuff instead). This would be a noticeable drop in first turn damage, and a significant increase in survivability in combat, but in a way which fits our Avoiding Hits strength.

    WH would be the exception, and our main remaining "first turn damage" unit, but would keep frenzy to make sure they aren't too easy to use for last turn combo charges. Because Frenzy makes the so hard to use aggressively, they could perhaps only become frenzied if they haven't engaged in combat but the 4th turn or something similar.

    Blade dancers might also need a slight change, as currently their offensive dances offer a first turn damage" option. This could mean A slight buff to their base profile and rules, but all dances become a trade-off to specialize them. For example, they could get 2A and 5++ base, and have a dance which loses the aegis, but doubles Distracting to -2 to hit (good vs most R&F), and one which loses Distracting in exchange for a 3++ (good vs impact hits and stomps). I'm not really sure on this yet, but I think they would need to lose a little first turn damage.

    Overall, this would change how SE play, but not by as much as you might expect, and I think it would be a positive change.

    We would no longer be able to play avoidance for 5 turns, then combo charge weakened units on turn 6 to grab the win. We would still be about out-maneuvering the enemy and setting up favourable combats and combo charges, but instead of trying to set up perfect combats where we murder the ever-living s#it out of the enemy and break them in one turn, we would be setting up combats where we murder the ever-living s#it out of them over 2 or 3 rounds while drawing away/chaffing/shooting away any supporting units before they can charge in support.

    I think this style would give us more leeway to have powerful, mobile units without raising the spectre of avoidance.

    Anyway, that is my current view, looking at our full Army Book rewrite, whenever that may be.

    What do you think?
  • Well we have one of the more functional books, and what's arguably one of the best internal balances in the game, and even the bad choices are still playable. So stuff ain't broken. That being said there are two issues I've found to be plagueing SE:

    1. Hard Target/mobility/cover either matters or it doesn't. These days when it comes to the enemy shooting at us it seems to me that either I'm forcing hitting on 6/7+ (making my units almost invulnerable to enemy fire) or the enemy ignores all/most modifiers to-hit entirely (meaning light troops costing 30-60 points dies about as easily as ranked up goblins). Used to be an issue mainly when playing against UD, but Ignore cover, QtF, "always hit on" and special attacks that autohits have become a lot more common.

    That's what bugs me about Pathfinders. Maybe 50 ppm isn't too much, but it's really a case of "either the enemy can deal with them or he can't", and neither is particularly desirable. What I mean is that currently "Avoiding hits" is super RPS as either an enemy is totally crippled by it or he doesn't care at all. This could do with some evening out

    2. Being a glasscannon army never did fit SE. I think's it's fine that say Wild Hunters stay that way, but the rest of the army really should play like you say. Ideally I'd love some tricksy things in CC to symbolize the elves luring the enemy into traps and ambushes. I remember an old rule that allowed certain units to break from combat at will for example

    One problem here though is that if our CC damage is lowered for more Distracting then a) people might rely more on shooting and b) we become even more vulnerable to all this world's auto-hitting
  • Wesser wrote:

    ...

    1. Hard Target/mobility/cover either matters or it doesn't. These days when it comes to the enemy shooting at us it seems to me that either I'm forcing hitting on 6/7+ (making my units almost invulnerable to enemy fire) or the enemy ignores all/most modifiers to-hit entirely (meaning light troops costing 30-60 points dies about as easily as ranked up goblins). Used to be an issue mainly when playing against UD, but Ignore cover, QtF, "always hit on" and special attacks that autohits have become a lot more common.

    ...
    thats exactly the thing that needs some treatment.
    If not done in the BRB (why should warmachines ignore most cover?.....but I doubt there will be a change) then it should be one of the Top3 things for the full book redesign...all that skirmishers (and light troops in general) dying like flies to auto-hits and warmachines.

    Quick Starter Team

    Playtester


  • DJWoodelf wrote:

    Wesser wrote:

    ...

    1. Hard Target/mobility/cover either matters or it doesn't. These days when it comes to the enemy shooting at us it seems to me that either I'm forcing hitting on 6/7+ (making my units almost invulnerable to enemy fire) or the enemy ignores all/most modifiers to-hit entirely (meaning light troops costing 30-60 points dies about as easily as ranked up goblins). Used to be an issue mainly when playing against UD, but Ignore cover, QtF, "always hit on" and special attacks that autohits have become a lot more common.

    ...
    thats exactly the thing that needs some treatment.If not done in the BRB (why should warmachines ignore most cover?.....but I doubt there will be a change) then it should be one of the Top3 things for the full book redesign...all that skirmishers (and light troops in general) dying like flies to auto-hits and warmachines.
    Yep, thanks

    I don't mind other armies getting counters such as in case of VC with Reaper and Altars of Death (even though the army not having to roll to hit for any of it's ranged attacks is a bit off), but our guerilla design doesn't mix well against threats that can only be outranged. A Pathfinder that can't move into short range is well and truly subpar for instance.
  • Great post @CariadocThorne, I too would like to see individual combats lasting a bit longer. I remember in 6:ed warhammer, I played with OnG and he skaven and the combats would last for ages (perhaps a wee bit too long :) ) later I switched to WE/SE and he to WoC/WDG and the fights would literally be a 1 round explosion. This is ofc the nature of these "elite" armies and the editions from 6th all the way to T9A have been going in the more fast/explosive direction. I'm definitely not saying lets go back to 6:ed warhammer, but he and I both reminisce the good ol' days of slow grindy combats.

    That's one of the reasons I like our trees so much and it would be nice to make the elven side less volatile.
  • Wesser wrote:

    CariadocThorne wrote:

    Rothulf wrote:

    I think Blade dancers should remain some damage units too, somehow...
    That was my intention, they would just change from having great offense one turn and great defense the other turn, to good offense AND defense every turn.
    Hmm I actually like that about BDs that you have to choose between the two
    Yeah, I know a lot of people do, but it allows "first turn damage", and I think if we lost that strength, we would need to cutback on first turn damage, to just WH (as they are now), and Kestrels, HR etc (but with slightly lowered damage output from swapping LR for distracting).

    (Edit: Just to note, my suggestion would keep the element of choice, just shift it, so instead of choosing between offense and defense, you would choose between different types of defense, or different types of offense)


    I think you made a good point about auto-hits and "always hits on..." being more common. I think this may be part of a wider problem, with armies getting to add more counters to each other's strengths.

    I've seen a lot of complaints from high armour armies about increasing prevalence of AP, and high wound count armies about increasing availability of multiple wounds, and this may be best solved by internal discussion and cooperation between task team's to roll back some of the counters which have been added against specific threats slightly.

    I will try to open some internal discussion on the subject.
  • If I can hone in on losing Lightening Reflexes for a second.

    1. It’d be a difficult sell as the other Elf Races wouldn’t have any reason to keep them then.
    2. Rangers would really need fixing or an epic points drop. :)
    3. I feel the knock on effect on the weapon options for our characters could be significant. Aside from Titanic Might the only way to get above S5 on anything other than Dev Charge is a Great Weapon. Which means we would hit on Agi 0 without LR. I’m not sure how keen i’d be for that.
    "The combination of lemon and habenero peppers was confusing to me. I will pay for this tomorrow i think." - Rosanjin Scholar, Iron Chef
  • Maybe it's more like an SE variant of Lightning Reflexes where we just swap the +1 to Hit for -1 to be Hit, keeping the Initiative bonus for GW.

    In other words we just use our lightning reflexes to avoid being hit instead of being more deadly.

    Be cool if we could choose between the two (or have some units have one, and some have the other) instead of the reroll 1 to wound in the Forest. Seems a lot more fluffy to me (but a choice would be more powerful too, so not sure how it could be balanced).

    Data Analysis

  • Thoughts on the future direction of SE

    Etheneus wrote:

    With a choice the whole reason to change it (the limiting avoidance) would be nullified. The avoidance guy will just choose +1 to hit.
    This.

    A large part of the reasoning here is to reduce our damage output, especially first turn damage, so that we can't avoid until turn 5, then set up last turn combo charges to win. Choosing between LR or Distracting would totally undermine that.

    It also makes it fairly pointless. LR is more powerful in most cases, so you'd rarely use Distracting, but would still have to pay for it.

    Switching to Distracting would mean slight price drops or compensating buffs for most units.

    Sent from my HTC One M9 using Tapatalk
  • In the specific case of Rangers, I would think they would get one of two treatments:

    1. Keep LR (at least in effect) and gain Distracting on top in exchange for a points cost increase. This could be keeping the actual LR rule, getting S4 on profile and halberds, getting a unique "Sylvan Greatweapon" as suggested by @Rothulf. This would not be cheap however.
    2. Lose LR, gain Distracting. A slight additional defensive buff, to make sure they have a reasonable chance of keeping enough alive to matter when they strike back, combined with a slight drop in cost so that we can add a few "ablative wounds" in the third rank, to absorb casualties without losing hitting power (something I strongly recommend even now with Rangers)
  • There's a few issues I see with all the time distracting as a complete replacement for current Lightning reflexes in SE.

    Firstly, SE might not ideally be the ultimate glasscannon elves (that's DE), but equally we're hardly the defensive elves either (that's HE).We're wild, and furious is a part (perhaps currently too great a part) of that.

    I generally agree with the ideas in @CariadocThornes OP, but probably not taking it so far as completely replacing LR with distracting. Maybe if DE got Lightning Attacks (same as current lightning reflexes) and HE got Lightning Defences (Lightning Reflexes but with -1 to be hit instead of +1 to hit) for their avoiding hits strength that seems like it might happen. Then we got some mix of the two, I think that could work (with a lot of balancing effort). There's a balance between the savage and the graceful in SE, and that dichotomy should be reflected in our playstyle.

    It would still let us play "Sethayla Style" sure, but perhaps with more restricted builds (that have counters obvs). But then we should be able to play that way, it's almost described, or maybe even prescribed in our ASAW. We already have an avoid hits strength we can use for this, but also we can't (with the current ASAW) go too far towards becoming grindy elves either.

    Basically I think the general direction is good, it just needs a more nuanced or holistic approach than a straight swap of Lightning Reflexes for Distracting for SE.

    Data Analysis

    The post was edited 2 times, last by Hachiman Taro ().

  • Wesser wrote:

    That just increase the RPS factor towards shooting and autohits doesnt it?
    Why? We are already vulnerable to them, and we would be trading offensive power for Distracting, not other forms of defence, so we won't take any more damage than we do now.

    Meanwhile, most of our units would be slightly cheaper, so we'd have more bodies to soak up the damage.

    We would be slightly worse off in combat against enemies with a lot of auto-hit attacks, as they would still inflict the same amount of damage, while we would inflict less, but even so, the extra bodies would partially counteract this. So yes, there would be a slight negative impact in certain situations, but that's often true of any kind of redesign.

    It should be obvious, but yes, there will be downsides to a major change like I am proposing. However, I think they are relatively minor compared to the possibilities which could be opened up, which will never be allowed so long as we have the ability to play avoidance with turn 6 combo charges as well as our current design allows.


    Hachiman Taro wrote:

    There's a few issues I see with all the time distracting as a complete replacement for current Lightning reflexes in SE.

    Firstly, SE might not ideally be the ultimate glasscannon elves (that's DE), but equally we're hardly the defensive elves either (that's HE).We're wild, and furious is a part (perhaps currently too great a part) of that.

    I generally agree with the ideas in @CariadocThornes OP, but probably not taking it so far as completely replacing LR with distracting. Maybe if DE got Lightning Attacks (same as current lightning reflexes) and HE got Lightning Defences (Lightning Reflexes but with -1 to be hit instead of +1 to hit) for their avoiding hits strength that seems like it might happen. Then we got some mix of the two, I think that could work (with a lot of balancing effort). There's a balance between the savage and the graceful in SE, and that dichotomy should be reflected in our playstyle.

    It would still let us play "Sethayla Style" sure, but perhaps with more restricted builds (that have counters obvs). But then we should be able to play that way, it's almost described, or maybe even prescribed in our ASAW. We already have an avoid hits strength we can use for this, but also we can't (with the current ASAW) go too far towards becoming grindy elves either.

    Basically I think the general direction is good, it just needs a more nuanced or holistic approach than a straight swap of Lightning Reflexes for Distracting for SE.
    Yes, when I talk about swapping Lightning Reflexes for Distracting, I'm trying t keep it fairly general. It could be a slightly different mechanism to achieve a similar effect, and it wouldn't neccesarily apply to every unit. WH would probably be left untouched, and both BD and FR could swap or possibly have both, but these are details, and for now I want to concentrate on the "bigger picture" of how the SE army would work. None of this is likely to happen until the full army book redesign, and that is probably some way off, so I want to see whether the community are in favour of this general design direction, and then we will have plenty of time to work out the details later.

    I agree that "Sethayla Style" should still be possible, but we won't be allowed to make it too strong, so we need to keep things balanced. By moving most of our army away from first turn damage a little, we would open up room for designs which would never be allowed currently for fear of making those turn 6 combo charges too strong.
  • first of all, LR should neutralize each other instead of leading to elven massacres....in most ridiculous way even one horde terminating the other without any attacks back.

    Second, I have favoured the idea to remove the +/-1 to hit from LR/Distracting and instead grant an OS/DS bonus.
    Elves could have both e.g. to choose to have +2OS or +2DS every round of combat.

    When I think of a Re-Flex I firstly think about Re-acting quicker and only secondly think of Acting quicker....because biologically the reflex triggers actions.

    So all in all, IF we keep the current special rules as they are, then Distracting would be the best rule for elves instead of the offensive-based Lightning Reflexes.

    Quick Starter Team

    Playtester