Armybook design philosophy #1

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  • 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.

    Head of Rules Team

    Advisory Board

    Assistant Head of Rules Clarity Team

    VS_LAB team

    2,608 times read

Comments 8

  • Cicciuz -

    Question 1: are you thinking at some combo of units that unleash special ability, like what we observed in Age of Sigmar rulebooks?

    Question 2: I think it will be useful that each army has the same amount of "playable" items: one good weapon, a good talisman a good arcan a good banner. are you of the same idea?

  • There Is No Spoon -

    Allow me to clarify: Is the approximate value of items meant to be the same across armies. We have noticed over at WotW that certain 'unique' items in our armory, which have similar or even more-powerful equivalents in other armories, are costed much higher - we have started calling it Chaos Tax. Is this intentional? Moreover, will there be comparison of army-specific items before finalization?

  • vampire_count -

    You are doing a good job, keep going

  • fjugin -

    @TheTrans, not really the place for specific balance discussions
    @There is no spoon, Not sure I understand the question. The point of the above text was, there will be no army specific "sword of striking" (so all armies use the common magic item version, for the same price).
    @Trillium, Yes, absolutely. We don't mean "don't use race specific special rules". It's more, "don't invent new rules with 90% overlap with rulebook special rules".

  • Trillium -

    I hope 1. doesn't mean SOME of the fun special rules ain't coming back? kinda sad to look at Black Coach and Mortis Engine at the moment.

  • There Is No Spoon -

    Question: Should army-specific items be relatively equal in cost (ie. Sword of striking 15pts) regardless of the faction? And will there be a end-review process to ensure this? I'm asking because there seems to be some disparity between the books in this area.

    • Herminard -

      I believe Erik politely tried to misunderstand your question. Why? He is writing about the BIG picture - you are diggin into army specifics. There are other threads for that. If you ask if there will be some thought to how efficient characters will be with different item compositions when all armies get their 10+ armyspecific items? Well.. I would assume yes. Some of these lads are avid numbercruchers.



  • TheTrans -

    May need to fix the way dragons work if you want them to balanced internally and externally....