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wildbill

Freelance Armies

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This past Saturday, I played at the tournament in Jasco Games in Dallas, TX. While a grand time was had by all, I did notice that multiple people were playing Freelance Armies. Gus Landt ended up the ultimate winner, fielding an army that I had actually considered building!! It was almost all archers from various factions. Totally brutal.

 

Now, Mad Pat (the BL running the tourney) had tried to limit Freelance Armies to only 2 troops with adepts in them period. I correctly argued that you can not limit one army without limiting ALL armies. It would be like "I hate facing Soul Cannons so I'm setting the restriction that you can you only have 1 in your army." That would be unfair to any Razig players. Now, if Mad Pat had come in and said, "All armies can only have 2 troops with adepts", that would have been acceptable. Then, Gus would not have been able to field the archer horde that he did.

 

On the long drive back from Texas, Micah and I discussed the Freelance Army. We rightly determined that as more and more faction books get released, there will just be that many more fabulous units available for use. Yes, you have no faction abilities. Who cares? Gus obviously didn't need any.

 

With the new Mercenary rule that Emmel was talking about (25% Mercs for your army), I don't think we need to have the Freelance option any more. However, I am not sure the best way for Reaper to phase it out. But, I figure the best way was for us to discuss the viability of continuing to have the Freelance army staying. I, for one, do not want to see Warlord degenerate into a tournament where everyone is fielding Freelance except me (Go Dwarves! :bday: ). That would get majorly old in a hurry and would probably drive people away!

 

Let the discussions begin. :devil:

 

Wild Bill :blues:

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Well I'm sure players who have been at this longer than I have will have more in depth posts, I'll add my two cents.

 

One of the aspects I like most about Warlord is the "feel" of the different factions. I think Reaper has done a good job of distinguishing them through model selection, statistical themes, and faction abilities. I've fought Overlords, Reven, Reptus, Razig and Nefsokar, and each time I've felt like I was facing a different army. I think freelance armies reduce the game to a flavorless meltingpot. Just an opinion, I know, but I think that by removing the army abilities and taking the cream of every crop, the game goes from being a bunch of factions facing off to a power crawl where everybody takes the highest stats and rolls off with a dice... and that gets lame quickly.

 

For example. My dwarf warriors hit decently enough, but have pretty low armor. That's a weakness inherent in my army; my line of warriors will most likely crumble if I don't get a good position on you. If I continue to play faction pure, then it forces me to deal with the low armor, and makes the game more fun for me and my opponents. I have to think about how I can do the most damage to them without over-exposing my fragile units. They have a nice juicy target to go after in my low DV warriors. If I play freelance, then I'd pick up several blisters of the fabulous Overlord warriors, keep my 2 MAV and gain excellent DV as well. I gain a great unit that will fight well, but I lose the flavor that makes Warlord fun.

 

Those are my thoughts. Nobody I play with does freelance so it isn't a big problem for me, but I've played games in the past where freelance was the normal thing to do, and the games lacked stayingpower.

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As far as I can tell, based on gameplay and in various discussions with people, the chief complaint against freelance is the number of "ranged" adept model types it can field. I don't think freelance should be removed from the game but I do agree that something needs to be done to help achieve a better balance between the freelance army and the faction armies.

 

My suggestion is this, since any pure faction army is limited in the number of "ranged" model adept types it can field why not place the same restriction on the freelance army? By not otherwise limiting the adept types to the freelancers it still gives them flexibility yet helps the balance of the game by not allowing them any more "ranged adepts" than anyone else. I know this is something that has caused problems time and again among various players who play Warlord and I know it would increase the enjoyment of the game for all as a whole if a ruling like this were established.

 

Anyway, just my two cents.

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From an aesthetic point of view, freelance armies should be limited to:

  • two good/neutral factions (a convenient alliance or a faction + mercs)
  • two evil/neutral factions (a convenient alliance or a faction + mercs)
  • two factions of the same alignment plus mercs (an alliance of similar philosophies + mercs)
  • three good factions (a grand army of good)
  • three evil factions (a grand army of evil)

Any other combos look like a munchkin freak show.

 

Also, each troop should contain Models from only one faction, except Mercs can be used in any troop.

 

Rich

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I think we should keep them. For starters, the really arent that many merc minis, and second its one of Orba's SA to be able to bring one over. Unless this doesnt make the army a freelance one. But either way I still think they need to stay.

Just my 2 cents.

Prophet

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How about something like having the Freelance rule replaced with "Mercenary armies may contain up to 25% (or 40% - whatever) troops and solos from other factions". This would allow people to take very different Merc armies, and have a decent contingent of other models around them. Scoundrel's luck could remain the Warlord's only, if people so chose.

 

This would would effectively disallow the grand array of ranged combat. At 25%, you could probably field more archers than would normally be allowed, but not every troop.

 

It also gives mercenaries an option parallel to the other factions.

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Yes, you have no faction abilities. Who cares?

 

The "faction ability" of freelance armies is to take the troops that you like. Yes, it is a potent ability. And yes, freelance players give up quite a lot in order to get it.

 

I understand the need for play balance, and quite frankly, I don't see much of a playbalance problem regarding freelancers per se. With the new merc rules coming out, all factions are going to gain quite a bit of the flexibility that was previously the sole purview of freelancers. That, I think, is a good thing. It will serve to level the playing field between all factions, though a true faction purist would resent loosening the restrictions on all the factions.

 

But if there is a playbalance problem, I hope it will be addressed with a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer. Allowing an entire army of shooters probably isn't good for the game. If so, fine, let's fix it. But let's keep the playing field level. Perhaps we should limit everyone to only two units of shooting adepts. After all, if an entire army of shooty freelancers is unpleasant, then an army of 11 bull orc archers, 11 goblin skeeters, and 11 merc crossbowmen probably wouldn't be very pleasant, either.

 

-St.V.

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After looking over Gus' list (thanks for posting it!) I think that the real advantage with the freelance is within the ranged units area. The adapt status is suppost to designate the 'rarer' troops but it is perfectly legal to field an all adapt faction pure force. With 4 separate artillery units able to cover each other during differing inititives an opponent would have a rough time dodging them all. I would have to say that limiting a freelance force to a set number of adapts would be quite unfair, but there needs to be some type of restriction upon ranged units just as there is in the other factions. In just about every instance (barring Razig) the factions only have at most two units with a ranged capability. This seems like a good guidline to build off of for the freelancers. In reality I think most people have a problem with the multiple different troops with range than actual types of models shooting at you. I would be more comfortable with a troop of 2 orc archers,2 reptus archers, and 2 elf archers than seeing these spread out over several activations in different troops. I think that limiting them based on number of ranged troops and therefore tactics may be a soultion that people can live with. The only real way to find out though is going to be through playtesting.

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Wouldn't a person who populated his/her army with an abnormally high percentage of Adepts specializing in ranged attacks be doing themselves something of a dis-service? They may be fielding an army that is great at a distance but wouldn't they be deficient on the melee side of the equation? I think there's nothing wrong with leaving the rules as they are. If nothing else it provides an opportunity for those of us (like me) who want to approach the game in a very personalized sort of way.

 

- Dave

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I totally agree with your point hadnt actually thought of it that way, but it makes sense to me. The personal approach to Warlord.

Prophet

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It is impossible to deny the power of ranged combat in this game. One need only look at the recent tournament winners to see the evidence: Freelance armies with at least three troops of archers, Elves with nearly half their army as archers and ranged-capable models, and ten-soulcannon Razig armies.

 

Of course, you must consider what the balancing factors of these armies are. The soulcannon and its availability is getting fixed soon, and the rest of that army's ranged models can only shoot every other turn. The entire Elf army is rather squishy, it's archer adepts are limited to a single troop, and its archers generally cannot survive a firefight with other archers. Freelance gives up the special rules of a pure army and cannot combine good with evil.

 

The question remains: do these factors balance out the advantages of the armies? In the case of Razig and the Elves, I believe the answer is yes. In the case of Freelance, I have to say no. Being able to choose from the best that two thirds of the game has to offer completely outweighs the loss of an army special rule that is not always useful or valuable anyway.

 

So, how do you implement game balance that isn't a simple band-aid? I believe that the Freelance army, as it is now, should be done away with entirely. In its place, the current Mercenary Company concept could be expanded into a possible "Alliance" rule that allows one to play with a faction as the "parent" faction while still benefitting from faction special rules, and being allowed to take a certain percentage of points from one other faction. Alternatively, a Mercenary army could have the Change of Heart special rule expanded to allow a certain percentage of points to be taken from any factions rather than a single model/unit.

 

The thing to remember is that nearly every army in the game has only one unit of Archers available to it (or two units, with the potential addition of Mercenary Company Crossbowmen), while the Freelance army suffers no such limitation.

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Wouldn't a person who populated his/her army with an abnormally high percentage of Adepts specializing in ranged attacks be doing themselves something of a dis-service? They may be fielding an army that is great at a distance but wouldn't they be deficient on the melee side of the equation? I think there's nothing wrong with leaving the rules as they are. If nothing else it provides an opportunity for those of us (like me) who want to approach the game in a very personalized sort of way.

 

- Dave

 

 

Actually, the person who won the tournament in Dallas, TX last weekend was playing a Freelance shooty-heavy army. Obviously, no army is unbeatable. And yes, a lot has to do with dice rolling, but it also has to do with terrain. If there is a ton of terrain on the board, then my mostly hand-to-hand army has a chance of running across the board and engaging those pesky archers. Cavalry should do well against an army like that. I don't remember seeing too many people playing with cavalry last weekend, though.

 

I know that this is not an easy solution. And like someone else stated, it would need to be playtested before implementation. The last thing anyone wants to see is a knee jerk reaction to the problem. I liked the idea of giving the Mercs some sort of ability to take 25% of their force from any other faction in the game. That sounded like a good idea!

 

Wild Bill :blues:

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Why not just limit everyone to two ranged adepts per 2000 points? Not only would it solve the Freelance problem but Reven, Nefsokar, and any others that will soon be able to field three archer troops with the 25% rule.

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Wouldn't a person who populated his/her army with an abnormally high percentage of Adepts specializing in ranged attacks be doing themselves something of a dis-service? They may be fielding an army that is great at a distance but wouldn't they be deficient on the melee side of the equation? I think there's nothing wrong with leaving the rules as they are. If nothing else it provides an opportunity for those of us (like me) who want to approach the game in a very personalized sort of way.

 

- Dave

 

If it were a battle to the end, then you are correct. But, in 90% of these it is based on a time limit. So the all ranged person doesnt have to worry about the melee side of things, cause by the time the opponent gets there, time is called.

 

So, that is why these discussions (this thread along with the tourney structure thread) and ones like them are happening at the same time.

 

If A and B then C, but if not A and B then D type of structure is what seems to be happening.

 

Things involved in both discussions:

 

game type

game length (time per point value played)

table style (shape, size, terrain, etc...)

 

Its hard because you should not have to consider those things when making rules for force construction. But, at the same time, as we have seen from the past 3 months worth of tournaments, that they do have a very close roll in the outcome of things.

 

I dont want to have archer heavy forces auto win in timed gams in open tables. Nor do I want to have to tell game hosts that they have to add more terrain or change the length of games to make it more fair... So, somewhere there has to be a happy medium.

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If a game limits the effectiveness of ranged combat, it decreases the appeal of the game for many players with a view to realistic combat. There are too many historical battles where ranged capability was an overly decisive factor.

 

Limiting the availability of ranged units can help to a degree, but also limits specific builds, and doen't fit some army concepts. Most people expect shooty elves, and a pirate crew not festooned with pistols and anything else they can grab would also be odd. Limiting the number of shooting adepts also limits the expansion of the game. People would be choosing specific units and ignoring other product, which wouldn't help Reaper.

 

Changing the lists more than the change in archers from grunt to adept would require significant effort and cause more problems with both current print runs of the rules still being purchased (I wound up with a first printing less than a month ago).

 

The Freelance concept is a strength for Warlord, because it allows people entry to the game with the miniatures they have, rather than requiring a potential player to invest in a specific army before they can play. I've talked to a lot of people who really love that concept.

 

The easiet ways to control ranged combat are through terrain and scenario objectives. Balanced scenarios can be a lot harder to develop, but felt terrain is not that hard to come by. Using more terrain can be at least a stop gap measure while scenarios that can be won without shooting and within time limts are developed.

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