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Von VisconteDimezzato,

Dear T9Aers,

welcome to the summer update, which sees DE and VS alphas updated and a small hotfix for O&G recently layouted slim (community found a few typos).

Let's go them with the release notes for DE:

Display Spoiler
Salutations, T9A community!

After a long wait, we’re pleased to bring you the 4th version of the DE alpha book. What should you expect? What changed and why? Read ahead and find out!

The data:

Even if we’re in the middle of a pandemic, we’ve been lucky enough to have access to a couple of online gaming platforms that have been organizing tournaments and have allowed a good amount of players to stress-test the dread elf book. Thanks to the amazing work of the tournament support staff and our very own ACS, we’ve been keeping tabs on the choices most players make and the army’s results. Plus, we’ve been playing our own share of games, discussing with accomplished DE generals and scouring the forums for criticism and for ideas on what to change and why.

While we know that the promised rate of updates was initially higher, we took the time between the previous update and today to allow the players some time to actually try it out. Unusual times call for unusual measures…

The major changes in design:

There are some issues in T9A that cannot be solved with simple point tweaks, no matter how hard you try. This is when we as designers go back to the drawing board and try to figure things out by altering the rules of an entry. While there are not a lot of major redesigns in this update, a few of them merit more discussion.

  • The Hereditary spell
This has been on our radar for some time now. While it has its uses, Curse of the Phantom Queen can be now classified as a “miss”. A good surrogate marker of the popularity of a Hereditary spell is the frequency of the Magical Heirloom in lists: you guessed it, the DE don’t buy this item and by interviewing DE generals we found out that they weren’t selecting the spell either, except against very specific opposition or with a very specific army composition.

So we got to brainstorming, since we wanted to keep the “retribution” theme that we find very characterful of a belligerent people’s vengeful god. Enter the new version of the spell: now when cast it covers all of your units within 18” of the caster, but also gives the DE player the choice on when and whether to trigger its effect. The way to do it was to use Veil Tokens, which adds a further cost to the spell and hopefully balances out the versatility it will afford. A frequent criticism we had received for the previous iteration was that it always felt bad to have to lose a bunch of elves for the spell to have any effect: now all it takes is a single HP loss, which frankly happens all the time!

How does the TT envision players using the spell? It could be any number of uses: try to thin down enemy ranged troops by slowly but surely inflicting casualties even at long range, or try to cause that last wound to the war machine that has been peppering your troops with rocks or bullets. In combat, the effect will be less spectacular in big scraps with multiple units, but getting a timely 2d3+2 S4 hits in a key fight is the equivalent of triggering a Breath Weapon - and we all know how good these can be in the right moment!

As with any new design, this is subject to change depending on the feedback we get - the advantage of this spell is that with a variable number of hits/s/ap we can find the perfect balance and give the DE the hereditary spell they deserve.

  • The Crucible of Slaughter
This entry has puzzled us for a while - the -1Res effect of the crucible has been well received and provides a potent tool for the DE, turning even the lowly Legionary into a formidable foe. However, it came to our attention that while thematically this entry would fit most with the Temple Militants, this configuration was never used. On the contrary, units of Legionnaires were the perfect place to put the Altar, being able to benefit from a multitude of bonuses - Academy, Scent of Blood from Cadharen’s Pennon - while also getting the most out of the Blades of Darag thanks to the interaction with Assassins and Temple Legates. This all led to a deathstar playstyle, which we’ve been trying to avoid for the Dread Elves as per the guidelines.

Number crunching and team-wide discussion led us to the conclusion that the Divine Altar’s effect and interaction with the Blades of Darag is acceptable when inside a Militant unit due to the strong thematic link but also the downsides of such a block (frenzy, no armour, no access to the academy rules). So we came up with a solution: have the Altar attendants be armed with whatever weapon the rank-and-file of the carrier unit uses. This adds a level of cohesion to the unit, but more importantly allows better balance.

What this change does is practically compensate for the loss of the attacks of the models displaced by the Altar: where you’d have 6 obsidian guard fighting, now you get 6 halberd attacks with battle focus and roughly the same stats, and the same applies to Judicators, Legionaries or even the Auxiliaries.

Further tweaks were made to bring the survivability of the model down to a manageable level - 6HP made it too reliable, so it went down to 5HP. Finally, as the intention is for the Altar to be best when inside militants, it made sense to grant it Frenzy; if inside temple militants that changes nothing, but when inside any other carrier it adds an extra element of unpredictability.

  • The Warlock Outcast:
A lot of players have pointed out that the character section seems limited and that the customizability of the magic phase is lacking. In this update we are testing the Warlock Outcast with an option for being a Wizard Adept; this will hopefully give players the ability to mix and match the paths as they see fit, and give birth to more and different character compositions. We chose to retain the Irresistible Will as a rule for the adept as well: without the +1 bonus to cast spells, he will likely have to make even riskier casting attempts - hopefully balancing out the very potent -2 to dispel attempts.

As with any new design, this will be followed up closely and tweaked if any balance issues arise, but it is the intention of the task team to allow DE players to use Warlock adepts going forward. (And yes, Not a Leader is still there, as it should be!)

  • The “minor” changes and changes in points:

There are a number of these in the book, and covering all will make this into a bigger text than it already is!

Some magical items were tweaked in points to open up more interesting builds for characters (looking at you, Mastery of Slaughter Legate!). Another notable change is the Assassin dropping his Blades of Darag for Paired weapons: reliably killing a dragon is not what this character should be able to do, but he still can threaten all kinds of characters with poison attacks, MW2 and Artistry of Death.

In the mounts section, the most attentive readers among you will have already noticed a major change in the Manticore entry. It’s not a typo, the 50x50mm base manticore has gone down to Resilience 4. The reason for that is a game-wide attempt to tone down the “smaller” monstrous mounts, and similar actions will be likely taken for similar type mounts in other LABs going forward. What this accomplishes is to further differentiate the Extraordinary Specimen entry, which practically gives you a powerd-up version of the slim book Manticore, while also retaining the 50x50 option for all your basing/modelling needs. The smaller version still comes with the +6” command bubble, so there are still uses for the (now slightly cheaper) Res4 versions.

Another flying unit saw some changes: the Harpies are now down to 5-12 models by popular demand. This is a quality-of-life update for all the players who want to port their pre-LAB armies into the new era, and according to feedback received by the community the smaller footprint will be a welcome change. As is the case with all flying “redirectors”, their price is not dependent on the model count, but rather on the capacity to alter the flow of the game: the 170 point price tag is not an error, it’s what the smaller footprint flying redirector is worth in the Task Team’s opinion. To help out in the chaff-clearing and warmachine-killing role, the harpies now have an extra attack on the charge, surely enough to make all the warmachine crew cower in fear.

Smaller changes and some point increases are also present: The Repeater Handbow’s wording and effect was streamlined with its bigger cousin, and the Hunting Chariot got a more powerful version of the Dragonsbane Harpoon. As the unit use and in-game effectiveness of some entries was deemed to be too high for the price tag, steps were taken to achieve better internal balance.

So there you have it: a new version of the book, with new options available and hopefully better external and internal balance. As always, we’re looking forward to your feedback, and will be happy to answer any questions that our faithful ACS forward to us!

For the glory of Dathen!

The Dread Elf task team

Here is the update:

Then comes the VS alpha release note:

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“In today’s “Acta Publica”, the VS LAB Team outlines the current changes to the Vermin Swarm Alpha Book with the release of Hotfix #1 (Dated July 1, 2021, Alpha #2).
The Change Log can be found on the downloaded file at page 27, but we’ll go over them here as well.
As stated before, the VS LAB Team will take on the task of edits, hot fixes, etc. as small and purposeful updates. Because so much of the book is connected, we don’t want to upset the book too far in a wrong direction with a big or wide spread change. There will be a series of these updates and each one will vary in size and composition.

As we go through the latest update, starting on Page 2, we made a fairly big change to the Callous rule. This is to streamline the Vermin with the main rules regarding lost HP during a combat phase. BRB rule 15.F.a, does not make an exception as to by who or how HP are lost, but only if they were lost from your opponent. This comes into play with some of the Vermin abilities. Also in the Callous rule, it was made more clear as to the way Area Attacks are performed when shooting into combat. Unlike most other shooting attacks, an area attack is to be carried out against its original target and then the total number of hits are randomized prior to rolling the to wounds. In the case of the bigger strength hit, that too, is randomized.

Eagle can’t stack them and they don’t work when they are fleeing. They are too busy running to give the signals.

Without Number is a bit of house cleaning to make sure the upgrades are clear. You may equip the “summoned” reinforcements of Legionaries as they appear in their entry (Light Armor and a Hand Weapon, no shield) or equip them with Spears and Shields (and their Light Armor).
Cohort Coordination had its words changed a little bit to put more emphasis on the fact that Disruption negates their Steadfast and thus their bonus ability.

Trial and Terror was edited to add the “T” and to clarify how long the choice of alternate shot was for (which is basically one phase).

The Hereditary Spell was tweaked a little bit for a little more clarity on their movement and placement. We will keep an eye on this spell as the concept is spot on for what we want and for what it represents in the background. The spell is a subtle and follows the background of a silent force that influences the Vermin Society. We see the spell now as a flexible lurker that could soak up missile fire, instant Damage spell, force march tests, destroying wrecking teams, damaging light chaff, pulling out Mad Gits, removing trap counters, DTT for fleeing enemies, delayed damage as it grows, some protection while not blocking Line of Sight are just some of the possible uses for the spell. It’s a Diamond in the Rough.

With the Special Items section, we did a little word clean up and tweaked a few things. Sacred Aquila was clarified as to when and what the damage effects are; a little “uh-oh” was added to the one use only Storm Rocket to fit the theme; clarity for the Orb of Ateus was given just in case someone was confused as to when this was to be activated since you can’t carry over the effects to another phase; and the Battered Laurel Wreaths was made more in line with the theme of the item. The item is for a brave soul to step up to accept the role of Protector of the Republic, but this is short lived and is in no way a permanent change of status. If a unit has the option for a Champion model, but for some reason there is no Champion present at the time a Duel is issued; then a R&F model can be promoted to accept the Duel on behalf of the Senator. This does not allow resurrection of Champion models as that is an Undead thing. Once the Duel is over (one way or the other), then the model reverts back to a regular soldier of the swarm.

Decimation changes were small and with the wording of how it is resolved. Basically, you roll all of your dice as normal for Discipline Tests. Once you are done and you still Failed your Roll(s), then you may apply another D6. Use this D6 as a Minimized test to the remaining 2 dice that you have from your Failed Attempt. When you discard the highest die (per Minimized) from this set of 3 dice, those are the HP losses to that Vermin Unit. Hopefully this allows you to pass the test. If not, the HP are still lost and you follow BRB rules regarding the situation in which you failed the test.

The Praetorian Brute was changed in the Layout of the book to make it more prominent for the choices. It was also streamlined with the Brutes that are on the Triumphal Platform. All cases had their Halberds removed and their stats changed to show their strength and position of honour.

House Prefects were cleaned up a bit, with the timing of the Stygian’s detonation and a change to the Skorchit’s potion. The Skorchit Alchemist can give his unit a potion, that for one use only, may choke the life out of the very Vermin who drink it, but for those that survive, they will be filled with such zeal and focus that they just might explode. This choice was made in order to level out the Agility spike that many were worried about. This change still fits within the vision/theme that we see the Alchemist brings to the army...a quick twitch fix. This also enables the rule to be applied to more units, even the Bloodfur Praetorians for more playstyle options, at a cost of 1-3 combat score points due to the change in Callous.

Slight change and clarification with the Swarm Priests and how important their cohesion is to the army.

Blackfur Veterans had a change to their Formations. It is important to the Team that the unit showcases these formations as they are the pinnacle of Avrasi Military training. However, they still have their shortcomings, and it is very important that they stay and hold true to their formations and training. Any deviation from that and the cohesiveness of the unit begins to falter. The Formations are now dependent on a specific formation with no gray area. Close formation of 5 wide grants the Testudo. Tightly held shield wall crawling across the battlefield to engage the enemy. An the Line formation of 8 wide grants the Phalanx, which has the ability to almost always bring a sharp point to the discussion with an enemy unit. However, with all of those bodies closely packed in facing forward, its a really hard time to get them to about face and retreat. If they fail to follow these formations and forget their training, then they are no better than rogues and are left to fend for themselves as they get no bonuses. The training states, 5 wide or 8 wide, there is no other (for the bonuses).

The Doomspark Device received a little rework that resulted in a role reversal. No longer are units of large electrical generators roaming the battlefield en masse. They are now single model units that gain a bit of mobility to be able to get to the right spots on the battlefield. The same total number of machines are still available, but in a slightly different role. The Generator was also clarified to point out that it cannot unleash its sparks if it is itself engaged in combat (per normal shooting rules). This also should help with the measuring of ranges now that it is a solo model.

Just to note a correction to a typo from release in where the Mauss Cannon is NOT flammable, but the fire pots of the Skorchit Ordinance sure are!

Also some balance changes were made in the area of small price tweaks to some. The Vermin Slaves’s option for Without Number goes up a point to 2 points per model. Ignifer Grenadiers had a price reduction for both starting and additional models. The Storm Rocket item went up to cap out the Prefect.

Finally, the Doomspark Device went up a little bit to 180 from 160 now that it is a solo model. We know of the typo as it didn’t cost 1602 before. Rats are always messing with things.
We thank you for your input and your patience as we work on untangling the tails of these glorious Vermin.”


And of course the file:

Last but not least, updated O&G layouted slim:

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