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Saint Vierzehn

Playbalance & Mercenaries

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I like the idea of having the mercs dependant upon their troops or leaders. How about they have to start takeing a discipline check every turn after their unit strength hits 50% points value. The first one they fail gains them a shaken token. A second failure causes them to retreat. That way hired mercs would be forced to play defensively, preserving their unit for as long as possible, and then moving slowly as they took rally actions to remove shaken tokens. What smart mercenary would throw his life away for a paycheck anyway. Better to retreat and lose a paycheck then die and not be able to spend it.

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I like the idea of having the mercs dependant upon their troops or leaders. How about they have to start takeing a discipline check every turn after their unit strength hits 50% points value. The first one they fail gains them a shaken token. A second failure causes them to retreat. That way hired mercs would be forced to play defensively, preserving their unit for as long as possible, and then moving slowly as they took rally actions to remove shaken tokens. What smart mercenary would throw his life away for a paycheck anyway. Better to retreat and lose a paycheck then die and not be able to spend it.

 

 

That would certainly depend if whether or not that mercenary was fighting under a charter and has anything resembling a brain in the head. Staying and fighting could mean death for the mercenary certainly. However having deserters could spell disaster for the mercenary company, being known to hire out deserters doesn’t exactly help when negotiating payment. If the mercenary managed to run away he would be branded as a deserter and hunted by his previous company, his previous employer and most lords would in fact be inclined to kill him to avoid having a desperate combat-trained outlaw running around.

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To be honest, playbalance means alot more to me than fluff. If a solution can be found that's fluffy then that's great. But I'd rather have an unfluffy negative consequence of including 25% mercs, than having fluffy super mercs who ruin the balance of the game

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That would certainly depend if whether or not that mercenary was fighting under a charter and has anything resembling a brain in the head. Staying and fighting could mean death for the mercenary certainly.

 

 

That same line of thinking could also be applied to most of the faction troops out there, with the possible exception of the ones with the Fearless SA. If you're going to apply that sort of morale penalty to any particular subset of troops, it ought to be applied to all.

 

Playbalance, folks. Ditch the anti-merc prejudice.

 

-StV.

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I think you're missing the point. It's not an anti-Merc issue. If you're going to field an all Merc army, have a blast. If you're going to field a Freelance army, have a blast.

 

The concern is with the possibilities of the 25% Merc models in a Faction pure army, that still grants the army it's ability to use it's Faction SA. It allows you to specifically field Merc models to hide the weaknesses in intentional design of your Faction. It's essentially giving you most of the flexibility of a Freelance, in addition to the perks of a Faction pure army, so people are justifiably concerned. It's a question about what kind of balance will there be to offset this 'have you cake and eat it too' potential.

 

Now granted, the whole 25% thing was mentioned in passing by EE, and honestly, this is all so much wild speculation. There's no telling if this has even survived initial rounds of Playtesting, nor is there any way to know what, if any changes have been implemented or what kinds of limits there might be on the 25% rule.

 

So lets try to hold off on the doom and gloom and excessive panic until we actually get some sort of a real sneak peak.

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I think you're missing the point.

 

 

No, I'm not.

 

 

It's not an anti-Merc issue.

 

 

Yes, it is.

 

If it weren't, there wouldn't be so much talk of penalties to be applied to merc models. As I've already pointed out, if the idea was to hand out pentalites for taking mercs, it would make more sense (both fluff-wise and mechanically) to apply the penalty to the 75% non-merc troops. But nobody wants to seriously consider that because it's absurd. The problem is, applying the penalty ONLY TO THE MERCS is just as ridiculous.

 

 

The concern is with the possibilities of the 25% Merc models in a Faction pure army, that still grants the army it's ability to use it's Faction SA.

 

 

If a model with X abilities is worth Y points, then it should have X abilities and cost Y points. Or, to put it another way, identical troops should have the same cost regardless of what list they're on.

 

That's playbalance.

 

 

It allows you to specifically field Merc models to hide the weaknesses in intentional design of your Faction.

 

 

That those weaknesses in the assorted lists are intentional is only your own assumption. Or do you also consider it intentional that dwarves typically have the fastest infantry in the game? Personally, I think it's kind of silly that the short guys with the long beards run the fastest, and I think it likely that was an oversight on the part of the game designers rather than an "intentional design" of the faction.

 

And even if the things that you assume are "intentional weaknesses" are exactly what you suppose, they're not necessarily a good idea. That's especially true for something as basic and fundamental as shooting. Every army has a basic melee scrub, every army has somehting like a basic breaker footman, and every army has a basic trooper that fills the role of a spearman. But nobody is crying that the lists are too generic, or that particular troop types on one faction's list should be penalized, or that certain of those basic troops should be excluded from particular armies. Shooters are no less valid. And while perhaps not everybody should have exactly the same, everybody should have something that is equally viable for the point cost. Right now, that is not the case, and I do not assume that is either intentional or good for the game.

 

 

It's essentially giving you most of the flexibility of a Freelance, in addition to the perks of a Faction pure army, so people are justifiably concerned. It's a question about what kind of balance will there be to offset this 'have you cake and eat it too' potential.

 

 

Oddly enough, it is the faction players that object to the upgrade. On the other hand, I am primarily a freelance player, and I think a modicum of optional flexibility added to the faction lists would be a good thing.

 

 

Now granted, the whole 25% thing was mentioned in passing by EE, and honestly, this is all so much wild speculation. There's no telling if this has even survived initial rounds of Playtesting, nor is there any way to know what, if any changes have been implemented or what kinds of limits there might be on the 25% rule.

 

 

If the 25% rule is not to be implemented, and merc troops are only to appear in merc faction armies, then certainly nobody should object to the addition of archers to the merc list.

 

 

So lets try to hold off on the doom and gloom and excessive panic until we actually get some sort of a real sneak peak.

 

 

I certainly hope you'll try to do that.

 

-StV.

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Quick point #1: I think the reason that there appears to be an "anti-merc predjudice" is because the 25% in the proposed "25% rule" refers only to mercs. If the rule were changed include any faction as part of that 25% (that is, you can have 25% of your army composed of models from any other faction and still retain your faction SAs), there probably would be some clamoring to impose a penalty on those models as well. From a Crusader perspective, merc crossbowmen are great, but I would still prefer to have the Bull Orc Archers if I had a choice.

 

Quick point #2: I don't think that the apparent weaknesses in any army are just an assumption or an oversight, but are actually part of the game design. An easy example: Necropolis and Darkspawn both lack even a single model with the Cleric SA. Almost every other factions to this point has at least three (Dwarves, Mercs, and Reptus don't, but we're still waiting to see everything that will emerge once they're fully expanded). For Necros and 'spawn not to have any clerics at all is too obvious to be an oversight.

 

Longer point and a new question: When I first read about the 25% rule, the power-gaming side of me said, "Cool! So long Ivy Crown Archers, hello merc crossbowmen!" But, in a lucid moment free of the power-gaming mentality :blush: , I realized that this would probably have a negative impact of playbalance and flavor/fluff of the game and the factions.

 

However, upon even more pondering, I really can't think of many examples of where mercs would be used as a replacement for a faction's models of a similar type. Honestly, the only ones I can think of are: (1) crossbowmen in place of Ivy Crown Archers (obviously) and (2) probably also in place of the Khamsin archers; (3) the Lupine Shaman will probably appear in a lot of lists now that he has the Healer SA, not to mention Necropolis and Darkspawn regardless of Healer since they lack clerics. The armies that haven't been expanded yet are likely to make more use of merc models to fill in gaps, but it's likely that the mercs will see less use even in these cases once they are expanded.

 

So, the mercs do have lot of cool models that would be fun to incorporate into other factions, but other than the three examples above, what other situations are there in which mercs can be used to fill glaring holes in a given faction's abilities?

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A 25% rule could be an awful thing for the mercenaries as a faction because of several reasons.

 

1/ rules that impede or price increases to balance their use, as already discussed in this thread

2/ the mercs have already been split into several factions and which, even with an army book, could risk having being very limited in choice because of their involvement with of other factions.

3/ the stats of merc troopers, characters, etc. could end up being rather unexciting to avoid making them no-brainer choices like some mercs in warmachine.

 

Even though I have no intention of playing them myself, I hope that the mercs will get every bit as interesting and contain as much character as any other army. To balance their use in other armies, the mercs could risk ending up a bland underpowered pseudo-faction in itself which no-one wants. But as Qwyksilver said, let’s not panic the reaper folks work hard on making every faction viable* and are willing to change things if the need changing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*At least when their armybook comes out ::P:

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Well I don't think anyone is proposing any sort of negative effects in a purely merc force. So no it's not anti-merc at all. It's an attempt to not kill playbalance.

 

I don't see any problem with having exiting merc factions and also letting regular armies field the units with some sort of penalty. The penalty would only apply when you mix armies, not in a pure merc force. And on the record I don't care if the penatly applies to all models in your mixed force or just some (be that the main faction models or the merc models). Aslong as the penalty is enough to avoid making 25% mercs a nobrainer choice.

 

In an ideal world no choice would be a nobrainer when building an army.

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Well I only just heard about this today and have given it some thought. I'd be for it as long as the following rules applied:

-25% point surcharge had to be paid

-restrictions placed i.e. Necropolis and Darkspawn may not take any model with the following SA: cleric, healer, innate spell (any cleric spell)

-normal free lance restrictions i.e. no good with evil

-mercs don't get the benefit of army SA

 

The second would be able stop people from removing truly intentional floors in there army and the third and forth I don't think need an explanation.

 

For the first point, I read that some believe it should be as little as 5%. I disagree this and wouldn't support anything less than 25% extra cost (though I would support over), the "25% rule" would be there for flavour not to plug holes in an army. It would offer a great chance to customise one's army. It would also reduce significantly the amount of models that become redundant as it would put there price 6 points over an equivalent grunt: (Example compared to Reptus)

 

X-bowmen @ 28pt vs. Archers @ 41pt

For the better part of the battles I’d use my archers but the RAV 3 and 13pt less I’d take them from time to time (my first thought was to use these as clutchlings with short bows. the +1 RAv is due to the fact that a short bow is easier to handle than a longer one)

 

Minotaur @ 91pt vs. river troll @ 52pt

I would still stick with my troll but the extra 39pt could easily be absorbed by dropping just 2 grunts and there for make it viable to take a "big an' tough troll"

 

merc warriors @ 24pt vs. Reptus warriors @ 23pt

the 'izzards win hands down with there higher DV, Mov and deflect. The only real use would be a way to use a few of our now excess warrior models.

 

 

p.s.

though I don't think you should be able to take from anywhere other than mercs, I thought it may be worth a mention how close the following has come to being a reality ^_^ :

Soul cannon @ 94pt = the "mini Godzilla" with plasma breath that was brought up early in the first Reptus fraction topic.

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Here are the thoughts from an actual Merc player... :blink: I have gone back and forth on this idea about other factions being able to use some of my best Merc units to suppliment their own, without losing their own faction abilities. My conclusion is I don't have a problem with it. They are Mercs after all. As for a cost penalty for supplimenting your army with some of mine... why? The point system for individual models is the same now regardless of faction and any Mercs used to suppliment other factions don't get any faction SAs, either theirs or their employers. That in my opinion is a decent penalty already so why should those units be punished further? I mean Dwarves want to add a few more crossbowmen to their army? Great! But they don't get bane. Crypt Legion wants to hire a lupine shaman? Sure thing! But he doesn't get that nifty dark energy bonus. Crusaders want to add a few lupine ragers to their infantry or to suppliment their cavalry? Not a problem... only the lupines can't mercy or use judgement. Darkspawn wants to add Leisynn and some merc grunts? Super! But they can't make use of paincage.

 

One final thought. Dan Patrick of ESPN radio last Friday, when speaking about opening weekend in the NFL, said that the media will overreact regardless whether their teams win or lose. This is so true but it's not just the media, it's our society in general. So as others have mentioned, chill and wait for the faction book to come out. It won't be as bad as some are saying, nor will it be as good. And remember, if you play well and to your faction strengths, you'll win, and if not, you'll lose, and only the luck of the dice can change that. ::P:

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Quick point #1: I think the reason that there appears to be an "anti-merc predjudice" is because the 25% in the proposed "25% rule" refers only to mercs. If the rule were changed include any faction as part of that 25% (that is, you can have 25% of your army composed of models from any other faction and still retain your faction SAs), there probably would be some clamoring to impose a penalty on those models as well. From a Crusader perspective, merc crossbowmen are great, but I would still prefer to have the Bull Orc Archers if I had a choice.

 

 

If Reaper modified the Nef Rangers to look like the archer template I proposed, I doubt anyone would be screaming about the game being destroyed. The same goes for the Ivy Crown Archers.

 

It's not the game mechanic to which people are objecting. It's the fact that the troops I proposed are mercs. Such is the nature of the Factionalist Puristas.

 

 

Quick point #2: I don't think that the apparent weaknesses in any army are just an assumption or an oversight, but are actually part of the game design. An easy example: Necropolis and Darkspawn both lack even a single model with the Cleric SA. Almost every other factions to this point has at least three (Dwarves, Mercs, and Reptus don't, but we're still waiting to see everything that will emerge once they're fully expanded). For Necros and 'spawn not to have any clerics at all is too obvious to be an oversight.

 

 

Let's examine your example.

 

The main difference between clerics and wizards is healing spells. Clerics get good healing spells, wizards pretty much don't. If the absence of clerics from the Necro and Darkspawn lists is an important playbalance issue, then by your argument paincages, vampiric feeding, chattel, life transfer, and any other healing effects on the Necro and Darkspawn lists should be done away with immediately. After all, those things are just a backdoor fix to an intentional weakness put in place by the designers.

 

As a practical playbalance matter, the absence of clerics from the Necro and Darkspawn lists is not a weakness at all, intentional or otherwise. They've actually got stuff that is *better* than clerics.

 

If you're going to hold that the absence of Necro and Darkspawn clerics is a matter of fluff, fine. I won't argue against that point. But let's also take a look at the Crusader, Nefsokar, and Merc fluff. By the fluff, rangers are "accomplished marksmen, and are skilled archers to a man". Clearly, the game mechanics do not support that. By the fluff, Ivy Crown Archers hone their skills "until they become some of the finest marksmen in human lands." Also by the fluff, Crusaders eagerly make use of war machines. Clearly, the game mechanics do not support those things, either. By the fluff, Mercs will hire themselves out to anyone. But if you propose that armies should be able to sport a contingent of Mercs on an equitable basis (or, in many cases, even an inequitable one), the Puristas start wailing and moaning.

 

The fluff argument doesn't support your position, either.

 

Bottom line: There is no valid argument against the things I've proposed.

 

 

-StV.

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Well I disagree a little there. If noone voices concerns about a suggested change, then these concerns might never get to the attention of the people who end up making the decision.

 

Worst thing that can happen if we discuss this is that we discuss it needlessly.

 

Worst thing that can happen if we don't discuss it because we want to wait and see, is that noone at Reaper realized a certain mechanism might get abused and the fix comes later, after the product has been released.

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Everyone keeps talking about a price penalty. I don't see a need for it. The point values are based on a "secret formula" that Reaper has based upon the abilities of each model. That shouldn't change becuase arbitrarily mucking around with that is what leads to "broken-ness." Besides, the same effect (limiting how many mercs are taken) can be achieved by using a lower percentage and be easier to calculate since you're not trying to modify the value of each mercenary contract issued.

 

It's a lot like the strike "conversations" on the CAV forums last year. Instead of raising the points cost, the percentage of the total force that could be allocated to strikes was reduced, having the same effect, less strikes.

 

I'm all for mercs being allowed in faction forces with two caveats, the faction gets none of the merc SAs and the mercs don't have access to the hiring SAs or merc SAs, and that the percentage be dropped to around 10~15%. Having a quarter of your force comprised of mercenaries seems awful high (no one start quoting history, it's a fantasy game).

 

What I find interesting is that everyone is making a fuss about the archers and clerics. What about the bread and butter of the fighting companies, the grunts. How many factions have don't have access to non-adept grunts with a DV higher than 9. Guess what, Merc Warriors have a DV 10, sure their MAV 1 isn't stellar, but they'll be tougher to crack. What about Leisynn, awesome mage, match him up with your faction's uber mage and it's a fireball party.

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Well lowering the percentage would work for me too. As long as it prevents the situation whereby models become obsolete, because it would be stupid to not bring a merc for the role instead I'm happy.

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