Articles in Category “Rules Team” 87

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

  • Hi all and welcome again to the Rules Team blog

    Today we will release a bit more of sneak peeks of the upcoming 0.10 Rulebook of The 9th Age, and the topic of today are the mundane close combat weapons found in the Rulebook. Many of you have already tested the two weapons that have suffered the biggest changes: Spears, and Parry. While technically Parry (Hand Weapon + Shield) is not a CC weapon, we will include Parry as just another CC weapon for simplicity's sake, as in reality most often the choice is between taking a Shield alongisde your basic Hand Weapon to benefit from Parry, or to get a Spear (alongisde a shield or not) or a heavier Halberd or Great Weapon. Flails, Lances and Light Lances have sensible differences so they will not change for the moment and will therefore not be discussed in this entry

    As you have already tested, the boost to spears while interesting, is not enough to make them an interesting alternative to weapons such as Halberds or Parry. One of its disadvantages is that it is very specialized, while you usually have at your disposal other weapons which are more flexible and universal. In addition to this, its overall power is not so big, not even in its best matchup (in the end, we want some level of Rock-Paper-Scissor, but we don't want to throw it all out on this mechanic). For this reason, the change decided for spears has been to add to its current rules an universal Armour Piercing (1) that can be used against all enemies. This is quite a boost that we hope can make spears attractive, since even with the current anti-cavalry rules, spears were still not attractive enough. This universal buff will help spears have something to add in almost all scenarios (contrary to the current very specialiced and limited effect), and reinforces the spear's role as an anti-armour weapon. But since we know that this spears are also becoming quite powerful, we also will address the points cost of this weapon, specially when it comes with a free shield

    Next one in line is the Parry mechanism (Hand Weapon and Shield). The change introduced to Parry has had a lot of enthusiastic followers, and has made Core units and Shield units very interesting again, where previously they were only used if nothing better was available. However, it has also given rise to some mixed and negative reviews from certain players, and what's more worrysome, some overperforming units and builds. While technically it has certain disadvantages, the truth is that in many occasions the Shield has become the best weapon available, matching and even surpassing sometimes the migthy Great Weapon. At first we tried to address this problem by increasing the points cost of the Shield, but we have come to the agreement that that path has already been strolled to the end. We were reachin a position where a Shield would cost up to 4pts on a 12pt infantry model. Which doesn't strike us as the kind of basic equipment that a Shield should represent.

    On the other hand, we also have seen many units previously considered seriously underperforming, to now have a role in battle, and we had to act with care when addressing the shield to only hit those units that were overperforming but try to keep the lowly units with their needed advantage. To this effect we considered several optiosn and debated long and forth, but came to the following conclusion: Close Combat Attacks from opponents in the front can never score successful hits on to-hit rolls of better than 4+, before applying to-hit modifiers. This can only be used by models on foot and against Close Combat Attacks from the front.

    The rationale behind this change is that the units with lower Weapon Skill, such as WS2 skeletons and WS3 Empire Heavy Infantry, have now a role with their shield as tarpits, and are pretty balanced and bring an interesting tool to the table. However it was high Weapon Skill units, specially WS5 and above, that were giving us the worse problems balance-wise, because on this units the change from being hit on 4+ to being hit on 5+ was much more noticeable (33% damage reduction compared to 25% damage reducion on WS2 units). While high WS units might seem at a loss here, we need to akcnowledge that this units were overperforming according to the data available. We have also addressed the point cost of the shield on this units and returned it back to 1pt/model. Even if they only benefit from the Parry when being hit by characters (and certain super-elites with WS6), we agreed that a Warrior of the Dark Gods paying 8% of its base cost just to improve its Armour Save by 33% was a fair price.

    In addition, this change makes Parry not always the best option, as it will be most useful againt the enemy elites, but not so good against the enemy tarpits, so makes it more rewarding to have in your army a mix of Parry, Spears, and Halberd/Great Weapon, and have each unit matched against is relevant preferred opponent from the enemy army. In such a way, we encourage… [Read More]
  • Hi all

    As you all probably know, the Rules Team, all the ABC, and the newly created Balance Board, has been working hard the last weeks to tweak the 0.9 releases into a better shape. We are all aware that this beta version had some balance issues, and have been playtesting, discussing, reviewing feedback and compiling data to fine tune our project. We have also included some additional design approaches that were not possible to include in the previous version, mainly due to time constrains.

    As such, on 8th of December, the new version will be released, tagged 0.10, which will see many small details tweaked and some big problems addressed. We are still working out certain specifics, but we are able to release some changes as sneak peeks in a similar way to what we did previously.

    Today, we will show you the redesign of the Beast-Bane Halberd, a popular Magic Item in the Common Magic Items section of the rulebook, along with some insight on the change. Here is what the new Beast-Bane Halberd looks like
    Beast-Bane Halberd. 30pts
    Magic Weapon. Halberd. Attacks made with this weapon are resolved at Strength 5 and have the Special Rule Multiple Wounds (2, Monstrous Cavalry, Monstrous Infantry, Monstrous Beasts, Chariots, Monsters, Ridden Monsters)

    What exactly means this change and why was this change done?
    The weapon is now a bit more expensive, this in itself is a measure that we consider for things that are correctly designed and more or less balanced, but not perfectly. Small points adjustment sometimes is enough. On items with bigger problems, points adjustments often can't solve the problem on their own, but they can be a part of the solution. This is one of those cases

    In addition, we addressed one of the problems that this item had: Models with a good base Strength or with access to Strength-boosting abilities could benefit much more from this weapon and wreck through entire armies unopposed. For this reason, we fixed the weapon's Strength to 5. In this way, models with Strength 4 can still get the same benefit from the Beast-Bane Halberd (with a slight pts increase), but models with Strength 5 or higher, which were the main offenders, now don't get such a good boost and must chose between increasing their Strength with other weapons (Magic or mundane) or using the Multiple-Wound weapon

    The change was done as a first step towards balancing the Multiple-Wound weapons. We have seen this weapon been quite a success in tournaments and armylists, and furthermore, this weapon has also been used as a benchmark and a reason to create and improve many army-specific Multi-Wound weapons, many of which are also very popular. While we want to shift the meta towards something more infantry-friendly, as opposed to the Monstrous Infantry and Monstrous Cavalry of old, we felt that we have gone a step too far. As mentioned above, we identified the main problem being models with access to high base Strength or Strength-enhancing abilities, for which other weapons such as Giant's Blade or Great Weapon is a bit overkill and therefore they don't need it that much, but with this weapon they could access still a very good Strength value and double their damage output against many of the units out there and in some cases even entire armies, which didn't create a very balanced game

    What do you think of this change? Let us know in the comments or on the forums, and stay tuned, for tomorrow more will come :)

    Kind regards
    Rules Team [Read More]
  • The second instalment in the design philosophy blog (this is the controversial part).
    First part can be found here: Armybook design philosophy #1




    Armybook uniqueness
    We want each armybook to have a unique feel to it, both in aesthetics and in play styles. Each army has its own strengths and weaknesses, and this is one of the things that sets this game apart from several other wargames. A common mistake with many community/amateur created armybooks, are that the books are given the tools to deal with all their weaknesses, and lots of new units to make the army more "complete". In the end, we fear this will lead to all armies being too similar, and the choice of which army to play would be more almost purely about aesthetics rather than play style (it should be about both).

    What does this mean for new unit and items?

    For magic items, we want to limit them to a rather short list, so that they can stay unique, and so that we can have a chance to keep them balanced. Creating 30+ unique, balanced and useful (remember internal balance, all choices should be viable) magic items for 16 armybooks, not an easy task. In the first version armybooks, magic item lists will be quite limited (10 items*), but hopefully they will all be useful, so in practice more variation than before. This lists would then be expanded (or even replaced) in the future in order to keep the game fresh.
    *Obviously this would not apply to armies without access to common magic items

    On the same note, we are not looking at adding a myriad of new units to each army. First, we want to focus on making all current units playable. If all armies would get new units to fill the empty gaps, we would soon have 16 more or less identical armies.

    There is also another reason for restricting addition of new units, and that is the long term plan for the 9th age. The longevity of the project is too important to ignore. If we truly want to save the hobby, we must have a plan for the future, and this entails two key aspects:
    1. Keeping the game fresh and preventing of from growing stagnant and boring. This keeps people interested in the game, and prevents major fall off with time.
    2. Keeping the amount of complexity down. Too complex, and attracting new players will be exceedingly difficult.
    Both to these aspects points towards keeping the number of new unit low at this stage and gradually adding more units during the coming years.


    One way to do keep the game interesting is to add new unit choices. Say a year from now, we add a new unit to each army, and then we keep doing this in regular intervals. Now, if we add 3-4 new units now already, how many unit choices will the books have 3 years from now?
    We don't want every armybook to have too many unit choices. This becomes a nightmare to balance, and more importantly, the added complexity from all the new units makes the game exceedingly hard for new players to pick up the game. And being able to recruit new players is a very important thing of course.
    I hope people can understand this approach, that we must plan for the future and therefore cannot give everything to everyone :0

    So, we will not "add new units for the sake of adding new units". Before we add something, we must ask ourselves,
    - Will the new unit fill an actually needed role?
    - Can this role be better filled by redesigning an existing unused unit?
    We aim to create short, concise, simple armybooks, but still with much character, variability and a great deal of possibilities.

    With all that said, will there be no new units?
    Yes there will. But not for all armies in the first version of the armybooks, and no more than 1-2 units per army.
    Note that many existing units are getting new equipment options, these I do not consider "new units".


    Special characters
    In the first version of armybooks, there will be no special/named characters. For several reasons. Special characters would increase the number of units we have to find a role for, and more importantly, find good balance for. Furthermore, special characters without the background are rather meaningless. When the fluff is more developed, we might start adding special characters. But for the first version of the armybooks, no special characters.
    We will however make sure that all your old models are usable (some examples of this already in the TAC file).


    Army diversity
    We want all armies to have multiple play styles, and have the possibilities for playing themed lists. For some armies this happens naturally, while for other armies one might have to give them a small push. In the TAC file there are some examples of a few ways to help themed lists (greenhide horde: mark of the boss, daemon legion: mono-god armies, Vampire covenant: blood lines).
    Here we have to be careful to not overdo this. We want both mixed lists and themed lists to be viable. And we want balancing the armybooks to be possible, so we can't do too many possibilities where each book essentially contains 5 completely… [Read More]
  • Armybook committees (ABC) are working hard on the new armybooks. Most of them still have a long way left before they reach the beta phase. In the meantime, I will tell you a bit about the design philosophy and guidelines we have put up to ensure the books are made with a somewhat similar mindset.

    First, the work is being done mainly on a hidden part of this forum. Army support has access to this forum, and their purpose on that forum is to help with communication between the larger community and the armybook committee, making sure they create something that the community wants (just remember that the community consists of individuals with lots of different opinions, so often the community is not so clear with "what it wants"). They will summarize feedback, suggestions, opinions etc from the community and forward these to the ABCs.

    Design Goals
    One of our overarching design goals for the 9th age is "simplicity, without removing tactical depth". This is a quite vague term. Below are some more concrete examples of what this means for the armybooks:

    1. We don't want a game where every single unit has a unique special rules or equipment. The rule book is full of special rules, representing all kinds of effects, abilities, skills etc. For this reason we are avoiding inventing new special rules when there are similar special rules in the rulebook already. I.e. so called "stream lining"

    2. Having units with identical statline but different equipment as two separate units in the armybook does not really fill any purpose, it's just waste of space. For this reason we are looking at merging similar units, and differentiating them with weapon options or upgrades.
    There are many examples of this in the TAC: Empire of men infantry, greenhide horde core goblins and orcs, Dwarven Holds merging of scouts and ambushers into core unit upgrades and so on. Note that not all units that were merged in the TAC will stay merged. We also don't want to go overboard with this, it should still be fairly easy to get an overview of what the unit can do, so not too many option for a single unit.

    3. We are avoiding items/abilities with significant overlap with rulebook items (for example, we don't need a race specific magic item that gives 4+ ward save).

    Balance, both internal and external.
    External balance (all armies of equal power level) is something we value highly. As you can probably imagine, balance is a very difficult thing to get right without extensive play testing. The first version of the armybooks will be beta versions. This means that they will not have been extensively play tested, and will likely not be perfectly balanced. Still, we do play test (we even have a whole play testing team to help out here) and try to balance all armies toward the average power level of TAC armies.
    Note "average". This means that if we do it right, roughly half of the armies will receive a reduction to their overall power level!

    Internal balance (choices within the army of equal power level) is something we also value highly.
    No unit in the armybook should be auto-include, and every unit or option in the armybook should be useful at least in some builds. This means that all units should have a role to fill in the army. If it currently doesn't, it will be redesign.
    We strive to allow more than one play style for the army, and we strive to reduce the worst random elements (not all, just the most game breaking effects of completely random stuff that the players have minimal control over).

    On a related note, we also want to limit so called RPS (Rock-paper-scissor) effects. I.e. very matchups dependant lists. We don't want a game where the outcome of a match is determined before armies are even deployed. To achieve this, we are looking at making very one sided armies (pure gunlines, flying circus etc) impossible to create. Having a few extremely good matchups and a few extremely poor matchups does not make for a fun and interesting game. We as game developers should try to discourage this.


    This was only half of the design philosophy we have put up for the ABCs. The other half will be posted in a few days. Stay tuned. [Read More]