VS LAB Guidelines and feedback

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  • VS LAB Guidelines and feedback

    Citizens of Avras,
    I stand before you today as a simple yet proud messenger sent by our glorious senate. For too long has our glorious city been hidden in the darkness, the time has now come to rise again and spread the glory of Avras far and wide, underground and overground.

    Consul @Little Joe has rallied the senate and even now is working with his trusted advisors to begin our return to glory.

    Senator @fjugin from house Rakachit has powered up his Houses workshops to begin supplying our troops.

    @Clanlord Skabrius of House Fetthis has turned his attention to breeding the fastest and most dangerous rats the world has ever seen.

    In the shadows @ArchangelusM of the dusk senate and his fellow Sicarrians are identifying those who will be the first to pay the price.

    Do not fear the stench that approaches, as it is just the bubonic @Fthunder and his contamina who have come to assist our return.

    The wise magister @skipschnit and his magi are consulting the pantheon to gather their support and favor to strike down our foes.

    Live as bold rats, and if fortune is adverse, avoid its blows with swift feet.


    As for the guidelines, they are a description of the concept of the Vermin Swarm army. What does an army look like? What are the characters like? What sort of technology do they have access to? There questions and more are answered by the guidelines.

    In order to keep some sort of structure here, I ask that feedback posted in this thread are limited to CONCEPTS and CONCEPTS alone. If you wish to discuss mechanics based off of these guidelines, please do so here. If you do so in this thread, we will move your post. Please don't make us do so. For example, "I think vermin are extremely courageous and the guidelines should reflect that" is useful. "I think vermin should be discipline 13" is not useful.

    Now, grab a cup of something and cancel your evening plans (ha), here we go:


    Army Composition
    The VS army should convey the feeling of a distorted / parody of a Roman Legion as they are closely tied to the Avrasi culture. Try to actively incorporate the new and unique VS background into the design and especially emphasis the link to the skewed Avrasi culture. This should be conveyed in game mechanics on both unit and army level. On army level, all units in the VS army are divided into cohorts. Each cohorts consists of somewhere around 3-5 units. One of these units would contain the cohort’s leader (see discipline, this would be the "veteran"). Optionally, there may be rules for chain of command within the cohorts, which are used if the primary leader is killed. Units in the same cohorts should be encouraged to fight nearby each other, primarily from discipline bonuses (from politicians, through cohort leader). Other bonuses should be relatively small and not directly increase eliteness of units by a big margin.
    VS military is mixed arms based and consists of infantry supported by monstrous units and machines / constructs. The army should convey a feeling of being a horde army with very basic / expendable units with low equipment quality as backbone supported by specialised units which have a higher eliteness which does all the heavy lifting. Specialized units include melee specialists, ranged specialists and Infiltrators. Machines which are high technology contraptions (electricity / darkstone is a possible subtheme) that often mirror Avrasi / human machinery in a skewed way. Lenses should be a common subtheme, black powder weapons are available. Machines are volatile, have low reliability but produce impressive results if they work as intended.
    Especially war platforms and are very common and come in various sizes (small, like meat grinders and big, like the Doom Bell) and are an integral part of the armies design to support the big blocks of R&F units. The character section offers more "irregular" character models than other armies with specialised roles (see below).
    Besides the single model units and infiltrator style units, the entire army consists of ranked troops.
    Everyone is expendable - the swarm above the individual should be the leading theme resulting in a (compared to the game wide level) lower eliteness. Compared to the slim 2.0 version of the book, the average eliteness of both base troops and specialist units should be lower. And the headcount of the army (again, both base troops and specialist units) should be higher. I.e. more models for similar price and similar effect. This can even work for units like the previous solo units that were single picks, can become units that have between 1-3 models and end up having the same power as an unit instead of a single pick.
    Religious and government institutions (including houses) play a pivotal role in in providing weapons of war to the VS army. There should be a clear connection between institutions and the creations they sponsor/provide. Use your Background Team members to enhance this during the design phase since there should be strong link with BG to have this strongly linked to the book.

    Racial Design Notes - Vermin Swarm
    The vermin part of the army is low eliteness and numerous. Physically vermin are similar to humans, except slightly faster. Training and discipline (to some extent, see below) are generally worse than typical humans. Vermin thrive in large numbers closely packed together (i.e. large units, 30+). A lone vermin is no match for most other races. The full army book is supposed to address the RPS issues which previous versions of VS rules caused - even specialised units should therefore have a reasonable eliteness in the best case scenario (see theme C and the information about specialised characters for further reference). The task team is asked to aim for a level of RPS similar to the game-wide standard (average army).

    The standard rats are generally equipped with low quality gear. Basic rulebook weapons and few units have armour beyond light armour/shield, if even that. Specialist units on the other hand have high quality gear, meaning either magically enhanced (e.g. plague flails), high-tech (e.g. dreadmills, jezalis), or both (e.g. cannons). This should enhance the feeling that ranked infantry is cannon fodder there to delay the enemy, and the specialist support units are there to kill the enemy.

    The ranked infantry part of the army (which is the main bulk of most VS armies) offers average speed and typical lateral maneuverability (e.g. swift reform capabilities where appropriate). The infantry part of the army is overall pretty static except forward movement, and multiple very large units that all need general/BSB support enhance this further.
    This is in stark contrast to most VS support tools, which are nimble and offer high mobility. Speed is however not anything special and is just enough to match the ranked infantry.
    The army lacks the typical fast elements that many other armies have, such as cavalry, flying chaff, fast character mounts, or fast monsters.

    Special Deployment and reinforcements
    VS is a culture with advanced tunneling and digging capabilities, and vast preexisting networks of underground tunnels. During warfare these tunnels are used to quickly mobilize reinforcements. This enables VS to utilize resources where they are needed. In terms of game mechanics this is represented by the ability of (some) VS units being able to enter the battlefield in mid/late game through underground tunnels. Tunnels may either be pre-existing or created before/during the battle by specialized tunneling machines or slave labour. Units that utilize tunnels can be divided into 2 groups
    Dedicated infiltrator units that use tunnels to get behind enemy lines
    Reinforcements. Basic VS units that are mobilized through tunnels to enter battles where reinforcements are needed
    Other forms of special deployments are non-existent in this army.

    Discipline is centred around a group of politicians and bureaucrats: Several character where each has a clear and narrow role in terms of discipline, leadership and other supporting functionalities. By themselves their abilities should not be anything special. One needs to combine several characters to get benefits equaling other armies, and combining all of them gives abilities beyond most other armies.
    Parallel to leadership through high-ranked politicians on army-level, seasoned military veterans leads vermin on cohort-level. Such cohort leaders (e.g. unit champions) can receive and carry out orders from the politician group from far away through coordinated visual signalling (e.g. flag-waving, Morse code or other high-tech solution). This enables VS army to be played wide as long as both politicians and veterans are present. In order to encourage large units, this type of cohort-leaders should be limited to large units, or become more effective the larger units they lead.
    As with most things in VS culture, vermin discipline is high risk - high reward.
    When everything functions well, he army can act very disciplined. When things start going south, the drawbacks are higher than for other armies. For example:
    Emulate leadership by fear thought Roman-inspiring acts such as decimation or execution of leaders when they disobey orders.
    Once a vermin is fleeing, it is hard to make it rally
    Additional losses once fleeing
    Backstabbing and internal fights for who is in control

    Characters primarily represent the politician and bureaucrats group descried under discipline. Each character has a narrow field where it is useful, and beyond this is mostly useless. This field should be of limited use alone and only by working together with other characters can the effects be truly useful. Character should be required to work together in close proximity, but when they are, they are prone mistrust and backstabbing. They should generally be poor fighters due to limited combat experience (potentially with the exception of a dedicated bodyguard role). A major part of the battle should revolve around protecting units with high-value political targets.

    Examples of roles for characters could be:
    Providing higher discipline to troops (general), but with abnormally short range
    Providing rerolls (BSB), but with abnormally short range
    Transferring discipline bonuses through banners(see below)
    Planning military strategies
    Spell casting
    Veil token generation
    Magic defence (e.g. scroll caddy, magic resistance carriers)
    Bodyguard role
    Characters in the VS army should follow similar themes as the rest of the army: cheap and numerous. This means that the VS characters must be of low eliteness (to keep them cheap).
    When comparing VS characters to characters that fill similar roles in other books, it should be clear that VS characters are worse (and they should therefore be cheaper)
    Make sure that potential spamming of characters does not enable:
    Putting very many characters in the same unit, and in that way create high eliteness units with reasonable price efficiency.
    Allow the army to field lots of character-chaff which opponent cannot deal with since they are hiding in units

    The Dux
    The Dux is the most elite single model in the VS army. It is huge and has historically been able to sway the tide of wars. Given the guidelines above of low eliteness characters, this entry presents a big challenge for the design team. Limited eliteness should result in a price no higher than 500pt. This can be achieved by implemented is the following:

    Stat line
    Overall clearly below typical gigantic characters (scourge, dragons, avatar of nature)
    For benchmark; aim for average stats around the same values as typical large ~200p-character (e.g. ogre khan, caiman ancient, minotaur chieftain)
    Since the Dux is big, but not very skilled, it should have better physcial attributes (e.g. res, hp, str) and worse stats connected to skills (e.g. off, def, att) - the current design of some benchmark models follow already this design pattern and should be used as benchmark (e.g. Caiman Ancient)
    Being supernal the model has some innate magical capabilities
    To keep the eliteness levels of the models down, these should be below top-level casters in the army
    Aim for roughly adept power level
    A good way to allow the impact of the model to be high (which we want) is to give the dux meaningful drawbacks. This should be represented and a clear design feature of the model.
    The concept of a tyrannical leader that is hated and feared by other VS should be explored as a way to implement drawbacks
    Limited customization
    In terms of leadership abilities, the dux requires support from politicians and bureaucrats in similar way as VS other characters.

    VS characters are the main providers of magic in the army, not very different from how it is for most armies although an above average amount of items which are technology infused with magic could be supported.
    VS magic follows the description under main theme C.

    Shooting is primarily done in low volumes (i.e. by few specialist models) with decent impact. It should include various high-tech machines and contraptions, potentially even out of the character section. Hand held personal weapons are uncommon and do not contribute meaningfully to the army's shooting. Most shooting is short/mid ranged and mobile or static and longer ranged (average for their troop type).
    All tech-based shooting follows the description under main theme C.
    An important strategy for this army is its shooting, and using chaff, tarpits, magic and other tools to enable the shooting to: 1, stay alive longer and 2, shoot more times. This could for example be done by enabling shooting units to hide behind bigger units, or allow shooting units to shoot into ongoing combats with tarpits.

    Close Combat
    VS approach to close combat is high static combat resolution provided by big units of R&F infantry paired with melee specialists as damage dealer. I.e. ranked infantry should have low damage dealing capabilities but should feel needed to win combats. Furthermore combat oriented war platforms and possibly mixed units (similar to the Skink / Caiman units or constructs like the meat grinder) are part of VS's close combat repertoire.

    Defensive Capabilities
    Being a horde army the main defensive tool is a high number of health points to compensate losses. The primary defence in the VS army is strength in numbers. They have many low quality HP. Heavy armour should be very limited. Avoiding hits should not be a common theme beyond base levels such as parry on infantry and hard target on skirmishers. The primary defensive tools of monstrous units are high resilience/HP.
    The small support units generally lack good defence and are relatively easy to kill.

    Synergies that give direct enhancements to combat abilities (e.g. dedicated high quality buff wagons, characters that provide additional rules that make units better at dealing damage or resisting damage) are not an important part of this army. Instead, synergies should fall under one of the following themes:

    A: Cohort coordination
    Ancient Rome, which VS should be inspired by, is often associated with very good coordination. E.g. shield formation (testudo), standardized equipment and coordinated movement between units (various flanking manoeuvres). Vermin try to emulate this, but often their attempts are poor and fall short.
    Manoeuvres involving several units are coordinated though the cohort leader. If some of the units don't understand the order or chooses to not comply, the move might end up being to the benefit of the opponent
    Techniques involving single unit (e.g. testudo-like formation) is not really a synergy effect. It's a rule that would enhance eliteness and thus should generally be avoided. Limit this rule to trained veterans (e.g. vermin guard). This should require all vermin to cooperate, and when some don't, things doesn't turn out well for the vermin

    B: Characters supporting characters
    See discipline and character section, I.E: politician-characters working together to provide better leadership and support functions. Support functions should not be about damage dealing nor damage resistance.

    Main themes
    The following themes should be present in the army, and should apply to all standard builds:

    A: Horde
    VS is the horde army of T9A. Here, horde means several very big units rather than lots of small units. 4x50 ranked infantry models should not be an uncommon sight. This horde aspect should be represented by the main bulk of the army, i.e. ranked infantry. Specialist support units are not many in numbers but have an above average model count for specialised units in a game-wide context.

    B: Life is cheap
    Most units and models in the VS army should be considered to be expendable. Their main purpose is to make sure the most important stuff stays alive (high ranked characters, expensive high-tech equipment, carefully bred mutants, etc). This is a core part of the psyche of most vermin, and means they don't think twice to act in ways that endanger their allies (e.g. shooting into combat). This does not mean that the individual vermin does not care for his own life. Vermin will protect their own life if they can.
    Rules-wise, this concept should be to implement in a way that VS players are encouraged to sacrifice their own units. Shooting into combat and hitting friends could be one way, but should not be the only way.

    C: Unreliable way of life
    Most tech is unreliable, there is always a (luck-based) risk that the wielder and/or nearby vermin will lose HP when technology is used.
    This drawback should not be compensated with increased efficiency.
    It should be compensated by reduced price (lower eliteness) which in turns allows for more models/units.
    Some tech has an overcharge mechanic;
    This increases output efficiency (damage, range, etc)
    This guarantees that a drawback is suffered, in the form of lost HP on wielder and/or nearby vermin.
    Overcharge mechanic should be fine-tuned such that it cannot be used constantly (e.g. every turn) and must not be clearly better / worse than the regular mode of usability but force players to make deliberate thought-through decisions
    The Vermin Swarm uses unpredictable volatile technology and magic. Given their attitude to life (it is expendable), VS does not care if this unpredictability sometimes causes friendly fire, hurts the users, or otherwise causes collateral damage, as long as it sometimes also means the weapons can cause more damage to the enemies.
    Mechanically, this unreliability should be present in almost all technology, and be represented by luck-based risk of bad things happening when the tech is used. The downside when things go wrong should almost always cause friendly casualties (i.e. not "the tech is not working at all right now"). This downside should not be compensated by high eliteness of tech (when it is working), instead it should allow vermin tech to be cheaper (and therefore help with main theme A).

    In addition to this always present unreliability of tech, some vermin tech should have the ability to opt-in for more power ("overcharge"), and when it does so the drawbacks due to the unreliability should be much more likely to occur. The aim for balancing this overcharge ability should be towards enhancing the strategic options of the vermin player. Using or not using over charge must not be an obvious choice. Vermin players should be forced to consider the added value/power against meaningful drawbacks. Try to tune the ability to be used between every 3rd to 10th chance the player gets.

    Advisery Board Member

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    The post was edited 4 times, last by ValourUnbound ().

  • JimMorr wrote:

    Do low elitness & very low core power level mean that our elites will be even weaker compared to other elites than our cores compared to other cores?
    Valid question and real hard to answer at this point. We've entered the Concept's Phase and are just starting to dissect the guidelines above and get the right concepts that fit both them and the background. If we are to only compare old straight line stats to other armies, then yes, it would probably appear "weaker". However, we know that an army of Zombie Goblin stats isn't going to be competitive to other armies. We have a lot of puzzle pieces to get to fit here in order to make a fun (for both sides) and competitive army.

    To all...if there is something just outlandish or seemingly impossible in the guidelines, then let us know. Also, if there is something that is really worthwhile, then let us know that as well. Work out the concepts of if it would or wouldn't work in the army. However, no mechanics or rules. That is a trap that many fall into...separate concepts and themes from the rules...we want the Why and not the How. Put the How's in the other thread. Thanks.
    B. "MF’ing" Jones - CGL Member

    D.L.- ADT - TT

    Campaign Design-Broken Isles

    Freelance Design

    PlaytestTeam-Mid Atlantic USA

    CGL 2018 Worst Player Winner

    CGL 2019 3rd Place

  • Some very interesting themes in here, very flavour full!

    I especially love the idea of a parody of a well organised, cohort-like structure (I wouldn't mention romans, but describe what elements of Rome it mirrors, and from there on describe its own unique traits), where multiple blocks have a certain influence on each other. I love the fact the multiple characters boost a specific quality. Thats very flavourfull.

    I think one of the biggest chances for the army is to implement the above in a holistic way that is not easy to bypass in the army, and as such, make the specific trait of the army.

    Where I see conflicts with the team above; standalone, small artillery weapons/ units. Doesn't feel right. Possible sollution: a relation with cohort structure, or something else.

    Where I see huge synergie with the above: larger special model that could have an influence on the army, besides having an own effect (example former Mill, Bell). I hope these former concept can be "broken" from their former lore and new, truly unique concepts can be designed that tie in to new lore. That would be a big compliment to the chosen design concept. The make it more fluffy, maybe consider these units are unique (and not spammable).

    GL on the design!
    Booooooaaaaaarsssss .... Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge !!!
  • Tunnels :D
    I dig it 8-) Fits well with the underground theme of the faction fluff to be released (fingers crossed)

    Horde army ?(

    I agree VS should be a horde army, swarming the enemy. My concern is building a decency on a very high model count. If people have to buy/print 250 - 300 models to play a game or 4500 points of a single army... I can’t support that.

    The Dux

    Major change for the daemon. Maybe a daemon no longer. 850 points down to max 500 is big leap. Curious how the team will redesign this unit.

    Unreliable tech :D

    Very cool, but difficult to balance I assume.

    Cohorts :)

    Sounds interesting, but I need to know more before fully supporting it. Could make VS a really unique army. Sounds like a combination of orders, animosity and auras.

    Maybe units can be kitted with a squeal-o-graph to receive orders from the general on the other side of the table?

    Characters :)

    Sounds fun with more characters, unless they become useless point sinks.

    Hopefully engineers will be fleshed out... maybe even get options for mounts?
  • As a theme how factionised are the cohorts within an army?

    I.e we (2-3) cohorts are from fang legion and can only coordinate with other fang legion cohorts. Those (2-3) cohorts over there are claw legion and we don't coordinate with them because of mistrust/different training/we don't squeak their language.

    Or are they all cohorts of the mighty empire and able to coordinate with each other as seamlessly as a vermin can?

    And do the auxiliary units coordinate in a similar way or are they from a separate corps and able to coordinate with anyone?
  • Great guidelines! :) Sooooo much good opportunity here!

    I feel like a rat would be faster than either a human or an elf across open spaces. I’m not sure what “average speed” would be considered to be but I feel that as we are of a similar size to a human then our rattiness would make us quicker.

    Reactions speed:
    I feel like a rat would react faster than a human in all circumstances and if surprised faster than an elf in a similar situation, though if prepared then would be slower than an elf. Does that make sense?
    "The combination of lemon and habenero peppers was confusing to me. I will pay for this tomorrow i think." - Rosanjin Scholar, Iron Chef
  • Pros

    If I understand correctly army will be divided into smaller divisions (cohorts), each cohort consisting of main unit and a few supporting units. A command chain will be implemented making those cohorts semi-independent, freeing them from Ld Bubble. If it is true the design is quite interesting. It will allow us to use the whole battlefield - this is crucial for army of 200+ bodies. It will also allow design to use stronger synergies within cohorts and moving some unit restrictions - moving them to cohort level. We won't be able to 'spike' enemy with multiple weapon teams if teams will be forced to support their cohort only.
  • Cons

    I am not convinced by 200+ bodies whose only purpose is to slow down enemy. This means we can probably forget about buffs to our troops or strong debuffs to enemy. My experience tells me that static CR combined with low defense does not work - even if we double our ranks bonus low defense means that enemy will kill enough our models to cover it. Killing 3 more rats is usually not a problem. I am afraid this concept creates high entrance barrier for VS: painting 200 meaningless bodies does not appeal to everyone and a lot of those people have been 'stolen' by VC. I only hope inner-cohort synergies will be able to solve it...