Thoughts on VS after ESC and ETC (Negativity Incoming! - AKA: Bring Back the Slim)

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  • Thoughts on VS after ESC and ETC (Negativity Incoming! - AKA: Bring Back the Slim)

    A couple of people have posted some great battle reports on their experiences from ETC, so I figured I would also post mine. Instead of posting individual battle reports, I'll try to sum up my overall thoughts on the 'state of the book'.

    The Journey:
    I am a long-time VS player. I played VS at ETC 2018 and played VS almost exclusively until the LAB came out. Once the LAB came out I played VS for about 6 months and then switched to DL because I was frustrated with the state of VS. I played DL at ETC last year and did relatively well with them. I went 4-2 and finished with 74 points (62nd overall). After ETC I was determined to play VS at the next ETC, so almost all my practice games since last ETC have been with VS. - The constant rule changes have been frustrating. At first I was playing heavy shooting, then I had to pivot to CC-focused. After the nerfs in May (which I felt were unjustified and I think with the benefit of hindsight to have proven to be unjustified), I seriously considered switching back to DL as I did not think VS were in a good space. However, I decided to keep playing VS. In part, I did not think I had enough time to get into shape with DL prior to ETC and in part because I felt morally obligated to play them. As someone who has been one of the most vocal critiques of the VS LAB team, I felt it necessary to try the army at ETC to get some real feedback.

    Negative feedback is coming - so turn away if you do not want negativity:
    If anyone is wondering, after playing something like 100 games with VS over the last year, I am even :more convinced that the VS LAB team has no vision for the book and does not know what they are doing... When the last update came out, I called for the resignation of the LAB team, and I still firmly believe that is the best path forward for my beloved book.... However, that is not the point of this thread, so I will save that for another day.

    My results at ETC 2023: 3-3 with 50 points. (by game: 13, 3, 11, 1, 4, 18). This was a pretty disappointing result for me as I was in pretty good shape going into ETC this year. I had played a lot of games and done fairly well in my practice games leading up to ETC. - Had the book not gone through so many changes in 2023 I probably would have been in even better shape, but I was unable to practice the same list for more than a few months at a time which is a bit frustrating. - However, at ETC, I did not play perfectly, and I also had some pretty terrible luck (especially in ESC), so the results are not super unexpected.

    My list:
    570 - Swarm Priest, Sacred Platform (Whispering Bell), Wizard Adept, Witchcraft, Rod of Battle, Obsidian Rock, Holy Triumvirate, Caelysian Pantheon
    295 - Swarm Priest, Wizard Adept, Thaumaturgy, Book of Arcane Mastery, Lightning Vambraces, Holy Triumvirate, Caelysian Pantheon
    250 - Vermin Senator, General, Senatorial Litter, Cowl of the Apostate, Crown of Autocracy
    150 - House Prefect, Pistol, Orator's Toga, Skorchit Alchemist
    130 - House Prefect, Praetorian Brute, Pistol, Fetthis Fleshmaster
    539 - 43 Blackfur Veterans, Champion, Musician, Standard Bearer with Eagle Standard (Stalker's Standard)
    332 - 42 Vermin Legionaries, Spear, Champion, Musician, Standard Bearer with Eagle Standard (Legion Standard)
    235 - 25 Vermin Legionaries, Champion, Standard Bearer with Eagle Standard (Banner of Discipline)
    130 - 30 Vermin Slaves, Musician
    572 - 44 Blackfur Veterans, Bloodfur Praetorians, Champion, Musician, Standard Bearer with Eagle Standard (Sacred Aquila)
    550 - 11 Fetthis Brutes, Champion
    80 - 10 Giant Rats
    190 - 5 Experimental Weapon Teams, Jezail and Shield
    190 - 5 Experimental Weapon Teams, Jezail and Shield
    285 - 3 Dreadmill Chariots

    Quick thoughts on the list: It is a relatively CC-oriented list with some decent ranged pressure to try to force the opponent to fight. - Jezzails do some light pressure while hand/wrath/lightning vambraces (and sometimes trial of faith), can force the opponent to come at you. - If I were to re-write the list, I would get a bit more ranged pressure. I would drop the chariots, add two more engineers and try to find the points to make the jezzail units 6-models each. (But overall, I think the list works fairly well when executed properly).

    Pairings: For the most part, I avoided all really bad matchups in the pairings. Meaning, I did not have to deal with the extreme snipe lists or lists that were tailored to play against VS (such as double catapult). But I also ended up drawing mostly neutral matchups. - Having to dodge a bunch of very anti-VS lists meant that I had to be babysat in the pairings more so than I would have liked which also made it harder to get the good pairings. Certainly, it feels like it was a liability to have a VS player on the team and the team almost certainly would have been better off with anything other than VS.

    Quick summary of my ETC losses: Two of my big losses were because I lost my general and my whole army proceeded to panic off the board. My other big loss was the result of me repositioning my bunker to create an escape path and then blundering by having my general on the wrong side of the unit after pivoting it to give leadership to a key unit. - In two of the losses, I was in a very good position. In one game in particular, I was clearly winning, my opponents general was dead, I had secondary at least drawn, but likely won, but then I got a tad unlucky and my opponent had a perfect overrun that allowed a reasonable charge on my general that was trying to escape. - With the general dead, my whole army fled off the board within a turn.


    The Leadership Mechanics of this army are so tedious, unfun, and punishing: In my game against KOE, I made one mistake with the leadership bubble forgetting to move my generals position in the unit one time and immediately lost because that meant I essentially auto-failed my fear test and subsequent steadfast test. Had I passed those tests I was very likely to win, but instead I lost. Yes, this is absolutely my blunder and I deserve what I got... But, no other army has as many bubbles to worry about and has such brutal consequences for either making a mistake or simply going out of bubble. - The fact that you are constantly playing in the bubble makes it so hard to pursue/overrun/ or just play sufficiently wide. To make matters worse, you have this highly important senator character who needs to be close enough to the action to provide essential leadership, but in a safe and secure position. If one thing goes wrong, or you get unlucky and fail that 6/7-minimized reroll-able leadership check you often instanrtly lose the game.

    The generals role is too important: No other army is punished nearly as much as VS is for having the general die. It is simply unfair and can lead to some swingy games. In my one my ESC games I was in a very good position. However, my slaves failed a re-rollable 8 minimized steadfast check which lead to my bunker being caught, my general eventually dying, and that dramatically swinging the game. Once that happened my entire army chain-panic bombed off the board. Sure, i probably could have done things slightly differently to keep my general alive. I guess I could have had a contingency plan for a 4% outcome? But should a game swing so hard after a very unlikely event happening. If this would happen to other armies, their leadership is better than base 5 and they likely still have a BSB. Vermin swarm is essentially unplayable after the general dies. - This really should be addressed in one way shape or form.

    VS Magic is too expensive: I've shown the math elsewhere on these forums, but VS pays more per spell than any other army and our wizards are very weak and do not have +1 to cast. We possibly have the worst magic phase in the game (Dwarfs do not count), but we pay the most for it. ~ Outrageous... Additionally, our weak wizards only have 2 wounds when not on a platform. I was a little unlucky, but in two games my wizard died to the 5-5-5 misscast (most other armies do not have this problem!)

    VS Blocks are slow immobile, prone to chaffing themselves, and severely constrained by the leadership mechanics. In addition to constantly worrying about the leadership mechanics, VS is forced to constantly look to see if they are accidently chaffing themselves because they cannot complete a wheel either due to some opponents unit or a building. ~ Its not fun, very difficult to play perfectly and see all the possible scenarios and iterations of reforms that might prevent your unit from charging. ~ Better players know how to exploit this and it is really not a pleasant experience when your unit cannot complete a charge simply because its bus is too long.

    The solution to chaffing yourself is to allow for adequate spacing between your units to give them space to wheel. But alas, we are forced to play in a stupid 18" bubble. It is usually hard enough to fit the whole army in the bubble with a standard 12" deployment, so your units are often exactly 1" apart making the 'self-chaffing' something that is nearly inevitable.

    Playing in person sucks: The VS army almost seems like it was meant to be played online. With the aide of bubbles that are exact and easy to measure, it is easier to play this army online. Worst of all, carrying 200+ models to a tournament and then ranking them up after every game is a huge test of patience. ~ I even invested in duplicate movement trays to attempt to rank up my dead models during the game so less time was spent doing so at the end of the game. Even still, it was not fun and wasted a lot of time that could have otherwise been spent having a beer after the game or hanging out with my friends.

    In summary: The leadership mechanics are not fun and extremely punishing. Moving the models around the table is extremely tedious from both a bubble-management and anti-chaffing perspective. The magic phase is under-powered (actually make that the whole army is under powered) AND on top of that, cleaning up after a game also sucks.

    BRING BACK THE SLIM! ~ If the LAB team will not resign and bring new blood and ideas onto the team to fix the book, than the least they could do is publish a roadmap. The book is nearly universally hated, why are we still banging our heads against the wall, tell us your plans. Most importantly FIX THE BOOK!

    The post was edited 1 time, last by BlackLancer: Spelling/Grammar ().

  • Great read and analysis. I tend to agree on basically everything but your last paragraph.

    There a high chance to create too much traffic with this army and then you end up chaffing yourself, happened to me couple of times at the ETC. I think with Dictator the leadership game is a bit easier than with Senator due to Dictator being able to move more freely and it has a bigger base. That does not however negate what you said how important it is and how punishing it can be if you lose your general.

    About the book itself. I would still like to see this current version just tweaked a bit to make it more well "rounded" to be able to compete in more playstyles than just one.
    :BH: :SA: :VS:
  • Very good assesment on the army situation.

    I personally feel the pain with the general role. A simple dice roll or a well played maneuver from enemy making your general flee, is a certain loss. Even if we tried to "hide" our general, he is weak, and no positive contribution can be obtain from the points investment other than the leadership buble...which is the second biggest issue as you said, you cannot overrun/pursue or try anything remotely creative with tunnels or flanks. ( Of course we have fearless units and the greater eagle standard, but it is not cheap nor always posible)

    It feel we have to put much more effort than other armies to obtain mediocre results. Of course, everything cannot be positive and we need draw backs, that reasonable and makes challenging to play, but when the cons are so evident, it makes the playing experience a bit discouraging.

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

  • i feel like going back to the slim is the best option, but the second best option is to give the book more units that can operate outside general bubble so it's a bit more palatable to play. There's no need to over do it on promoting ranked infantry (advice that can also be applied to whatever core rules re-work you have coming).

    For LD independent units:
    -both brute units fearless with disc 8
    -PD - consider unbreakable here like eos fanatics
    -reintroduce PD skirmishing GW unit with good damage output would be spicy. 2a st5 would be neat maybe give them a way to get around striking last.

    Just let the players have fun. The people that like their infantry heavy rosters can still do so and now everyone is having fun.
  • Good write up. And in general i fully agree.
    Two remarks.
    One. Dont expect anything to happen. I have been doing similar write ups like this for nearly a year long before etc results back me up. Source? Nearly five hundred games with vs. still nobody even cared. In fact people tried to diminish my posts just because ..If something was to happen everyone had countless hooks to get attached to and set things in motion. I am pretty sure nothing significant will happen and the book will be adjusted by yet more insignificant tweaks without addressing the elephant in the room which you,me and many others have pointed out. The one and only available playstyle. Sad as it is that is the truth.
    Two. Go back to daemons :).

    Sorry for being blunt but i have personally given up hope so better not waste any more energy.
    • Imho the usual viscious circle will continue. We will either get overwhelmingly buffed then nerfed again and so on but under the same framework. I just accepted it and slowly started playing other armies too. Maybe in a few years from now skaven will be back from gw so dont lose all hope.
    If i was to "be constructive" for the nth time i'd

    1. Stand behind for all characters.
    2. Bigger bubble for general, more survivability from snipes long rannge threats.
    3. Faster arenas
    4. Light troop velites
    5. Cheaper sparks.
    6. More efficient ewtz.
    7. Tunnel mechanic replaced by special ambush (own table edge)
    8. Asassin character that is an actual asassin.

    But most of these have been stated countless times.

    The post was edited 1 time, last by VerminusValor ().

  • Vs can still win. But takes a very big amount of skill and focus which in the long run enhances the zero fun experience. In most cases they must play utterly defensive unless they play first and it is the spoils of war scenario (my last game in clashing tournament). Positioning and counters is of extreme importance whilst at least two cannons should be the beginning of each and every list to prevent single models from roaming freely. As of the last update a split of forces in two sides ,(with a ges or a pullpit) is aso almost obligatory. I have statistics from nearly five hundred games which i might share after vacation if people are genuinely interested.

    Still a bad roll and it is pretty much over no matter how good you play. Not like say other armies over, more like "gg over'
  • Thank you Ryan,

    Completely agree with all your post. The book is a pile of hot garbage and has been since day one of it's launch.
    Please LAB team I look at you now. Just admit defeat. This book is and has been a complete failure.

    Suggestion is as well to move back to the old slim with a overhaul. E.g. make the demon not a leader, have the pendulum as bodyguard instead of stubborn. Give the pendulum 5++ ward save instead of 4++ and boost its wounds with 1 or 2. I can add plenty of ideas for the overhaul if necessary.

    Also completely agree about the design team for this book. They need to resign and let others take over. This project is suppose to be driven by the community. I do not know a single person that actually likes this book. It is hated in unison from both VS players and its opponents. I have since the launch of this LAB refused to play this book but I have been forced to play against it plenty of times. And I can't remember a single game against this LAB where I have felt. Oh this is such a nice experience. Man this is fun to play against. Not once.

    Remove the LAB, move back to the SLIM with overhaul and I would be a happy rat player once again.
  • There's exactly zero chance that a move back to the slim would ever happen. We can't put out more books that are just Games Workshop products with a thin coat of paint. If anything, we're still too close to GW concepts.

    Also, personally, I want an original book with new ideas. Not a copy of something I already played for four editions of Warhammer.
  • arwaker wrote:

    I dont know anyone who likes VS slim more than LAB. Not everything is perfect, but on average in a good shape. Many of the suggestions some people make sound like a nightmare to me.
    I guess you don't know that many people playing this game. The book is garbage. Now let's move on and look at how we solve this. Our suggestion is to move back to the slim with an overhaul.
  • StockFish85 wrote:

    arwaker wrote:

    I dont know anyone who likes VS slim more than LAB. Not everything is perfect, but on average in a good shape. Many of the suggestions some people make sound like a nightmare to me.
    I guess you don't know that many people playing this game. The book is garbage. Now let's move on and look at how we solve this. Our suggestion is to move back to the slim with an overhaul.
    Yes. Please. My idea is to lobby tournament organisers to accept the slim instead of the LAB. The large online events should not be a problem, especially if we gather together as a united voice.

    Eldan wrote:

    There's exactly zero chance that a move back to the slim would ever happen. We can't put out more books that are just Games Workshop products with a thin coat of paint. If anything, we're still too close to GW concepts.

    Also, personally, I want an original book with new ideas. Not a copy of something I already played for four editions of Warhammer.
    Mate, you play your own version anyway with skitterleap and portable tunnel markers. Im sure you can invent new rules that you want to use anyway. Kudos to you, but the rest of us are not as lucky.
  • StockFish85 wrote:

    arwaker wrote:

    I dont know anyone who likes VS slim more than LAB. Not everything is perfect, but on average in a good shape.
    I guess you don't know that many people playing this game. The book is garbage.
    I mean, you say that but the data we have available doesn't reflect your statement:

    That being said, this is an old survey and I would like to see an update on this to see if we've improved results since then.

    EDIT: There was a recent poll but I do believe no results were ever published? @Shugdaddy

    The post was edited 1 time, last by Hombre de Mundo ().

  • Eldan wrote:

    I'm just speaking from the perspective of the project. The legal team has already made it very clear that we're not going back to GW rules. We can't.
    That's not correct as far as I know. The only two legally problematic armies were DL and WDG and they have been changed. Everything else is just the project wanting to change stuff for design or whatever reasons. But from a legal point of view we have been safe for a while now and that is not the reason for the redesign anymore.