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Von VisconteDimezzato,

Hi there, T9Aers!

finally, the Vermin Swarm Alpha is here!

Some notes about it are necessary, tho.

Please remember this is an ALPHA test version.

It means such a version allows:

- the community (YOU!) to take part to a certain extent into the framing of the book;
- the Task Team to analyze more statistics, synergies and identify potential issues.

As other Alphas, it will be followed by quick updates, tweaks, point changes and potential redesigns to refine the product also in terms of balance.

To better understand what it is meant for "Alpha" in T9A, please read our notes in the following spoiler:

Display Spoiler
It's important to remember this is an Alpha release. We perfectly understand the community is extremely enthusiastic about such a release. However, we believe it's important to clarify what an Alpha release is meant to be.

Our Legendary Army Book Production process is extremely similar the so-called Software release life cycle used in SW and videogames industry, with a nuance very similar to both Open Source software and Early Access funding systems.

What does it really means? The Alpha phase of a product is the first real "testing" phase of those products. In the case of Early accesses and Open Source Software, Alpha phase is conducted publicly for various reasons, both "philosophical" (open source culture) and economical (payed early access) and in some cases even for marketing.

From our point of view conducting a public Alpha phase is a win-win approach:

- it ENGAGEs the community so it allows YOU to influence the design process in a phase in which main structures have been built and we have to work on deciding what will stay and what will go as well has tuning;
- it gives the Task Teams statistical data that is impossible to reach through our Playtesting Team (which is a very important team and is doing an incredible effort to support the TTs, but cannot reach the level of significant statistical data needed);
- it allows the community (YOU!) to see and play the LABs before the final gold version, which means the community sees new material faster and allows real feedback to influence the final direction of the book to an extent.

It should also be remembered that the project has decided to be truly creative with new designs. This means that it is entirely easy to miss on balance, and if this happens, issues will be addressed with fast updates. We don't want to be so conservative in the design process that we ensure perfect balance on an alpha release. No Alpha book is deliberately OP on points cost. But with totally new designs being implemented, the result is that we will miss on balance sometimes. But it's alpha, which means we will make quick adjustments. But until we get data back from games played, it's all theory balance that has limitations.

We want to ensure new and exciting designs come out of the Task Teams work. We are confident that the RT will ensure balance is addressed if the data shows it to be OP or UP. In other words, we want first to select the finest marble block for each book, and then refine the sculpture to be the masterpiece the community of The 9th Age deserves.

Also, be assured that the goal of all army books is to be mid tier. It's extremely tricky to get this right with new army books. The balance of the overall game at this point is very good and because of that, a few underpriced entries in a book can swing that book towards the top power level very fast. Play testing data, while certainly providing very useful information, at times does not result in uniform results and often is not statistically significant enough to base decisions on. Play testing does find "broken" units and is key to ensuring big things don't get missed. Additionally, Play testing is excellent for new design experimentation for playability and so on, and the feedback from the Play Testing team is used in that process evaluation quit a bit.

Alpha phase is a way to increase the amount of play testing by several orders of magnitudes resulting many more eyes looking for "broken" units or extortionary synergies and so on. The first few months after VS book release (the "alpha phase"), you will see frequent updates where bigger problems are fixed swiftly. After this the book enters the beta phase, where you will see more spaced out and more data driven updates.

That said (an introductory wall of text, sorry), we are happy to give you the Task Team release notes:

Display Spoiler
From the depths of the hidden design network, we who are about to discuss our work salute you!

You have probably seen the hints left and right that the alpha phase for the VS LAB is imminent. Finally that time has come!

Many people have worked very hard on the LAB and I want to take a moment to thank anyone involved for their efforts. This includes the community for ongoing feedback. Now we come to you and ask you for more feedback.

We hope you enjoy playing with and against the armies of the Vermin Swarm and will participate in helping us. The plan is to update the alpha based on initial qualified feedback after 2 weeks.

Finally, it is my pleasure to pass on an early peak into the work of our BGT team:

VS LAB TEAM wrote:

Avras has fallen.

The ratmen came from within the walls and below our feet, overrunning the greatest city on earth in less than a day. We managed to escape in the chaos, leading what refugees we could find to a safe haven in the provinces.

We fought so hard against the treacherous legions of Gaius Dexion, who sought to crown himself master of the eternal city. With his pale queen whispering in his ear, they would have ushered in an era of death and tyranny. The senate elevated Marcus Tiberian, legate of the northern legions, to the rank of dictator and charged him with the defence of the city. Some questioned his commitment to upholding the republic he was chosen to defend. His brutal repression of dissenting voices and the imprisonment of our elder statesmen proved them right.

Now both have perished, but a king rules in Avras all the same: a verminking, who holds court attended by a senate of screeching vermin. His legions march out into the provinces, consuming all in their path, seeking to feed their unending hunger and forge an empire of their own.

I wonder if the gods mock us, sending these rodents to punish us for our hubris and ambition. It matters little, for our priests and oracles can no longer find any answers through the old ways. The gods themselves have fallen silent, and I wonder if they have turned their backs on us for our sins.

So ends the fourth age of this world. The age of men is over. The time of the swarm has come.

Enjoy the read and above all have a nice day! We will see you on the forum. Please focus your comments here:

VS LAB Alpha Discussions

The VS LAB team (Little Joe)

And now, finally:

IMPORTANT NOTE: VS SLIM BOOK GOLD will be still available to download.
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