0.3.5 playtests

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cymruvoodoo
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0.3.5 playtests

Post by cymruvoodoo » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:15 pm

Okay, time for another thrilling installment of Playtests From Elsewhere! In today's action, matchups between the X'Lanthos, Reclaimers, and PMC!

The battlefield setup was the first order of business, a typical 4x4 table space with plenty of terrain. Two clusters of two story house ruins were placed in the middle of the table, offset to each player's right, with forest bases, hills, and single ruined structures, none over two stories, scattered around in the rest of the space.

All three lists were built for simplicity:

PMC:

Director
Full Recruit Squad
Technician
2x Machine Gun Emplacement

X'Lanthos:

Commander
4-man Soldier Squad
Assassin

Reclaimers:

Captain
Full Reclaimer Squad
Forward Observer

All lists are built to 230 points, as that allowed each faction to get a commander, a squad, and one extra sample of something representative of the faction. The goal was to keep it vanilla to try and keep track of the faction style in each matchup.

The mission was a simple stand up fight in every case. This may not have been the best choice, but we'll go fancy, with capture points, for the next round. For this time, the goal was to keep it as simple as possible so that there would be a minimum of variables in play when it comes to assessing the results. Deployment zones are 10" table edges.

Game One: X'Lanthos and PMC

PMC lost roll-off and was forced to deploy first by the X'Lanthos player. Game board was essentially symmetrical and so the deployment was to place the gun emplacements on the right flank, where they could cover the closer cluster of ruined houses and had reasonable lines of fire across the center of the table. Technician, Director were placed centrally to make for the nearest ruin. The Recruit squad went immediately to their left for an aggressive advance up through the woods while covered by the Director and his Light Show Of Doom.

The X'Lanthos player decided to make for the closer set of ruins off to his right, use the soldiers to support the commander's push forward, and send the assassin up her left flank. The X'Lanthos player had been doing her homework and noticed that the machine guns did not have a perception value. The risk was not too big since if the technician and the director took time out to make active spot checks from the middle they would not be shooting at the X'Lanthos forces on the right flank.

Round One:

PMC player had the first turn and he double-moved all units capable of movement. This left the Director and Technician ready to make a single advance up inside the ruined house next turn. The recruits were tucked inside the forest, ready to move out and pop smoke next turn.

X'Lanthos player was equally aggressive, she made double moves with all units. The Soldiers and Commander went the long way around some trees towards the edge of the table. They would be in the cluster of ruins near the middle of the table on her left flank with another double move, either up on the second floor or forward to the edge of the ruins on the ground floor. The assassin's stealth bases sprinted forward ignoring all terrain as normal and moving to spread out on the ground floor of the ruins and stay out of line of sight

Round Two:

The PMC player moved his Director up in the second floor of the ruined house with a double move to get him to the window. The Technician did the same, but moved off to his right to look out of a different window. At this point, the risk to the machine guns is obvious. Nothing is in line of sight but the recruits make a single move and pop smoke anyway.

The X'Lanthos player rushed her assassin tokens forward with another double move. The machine gun emplacements cannot spot, so staying concealed from them is not a concern. It would be fatal to be spotted by the technician or director, however, and so she was very careful to keep the different bases on the other side of the trees. A single phase-generator move will put the assassin in combat range next turn. On the other flank, the soldiers make a single move within the ruins on the ground floor to line up the PMC director through a crumbling wall. As there are only four soldiers it is not hard to get everyone in line of sight. The shot is in the third range band and the Director is definitely in cover. The squad bonus cancels out the penalties for range and cover so the final target number is an average 7 or less. A roll of eight is not what she wanted to see, but a lavish three CP later, spent from the commander and the squad together, and the roll is a two-hit success. One hit becomes a wound, the Director passes his Morale check and the PMC player plots revenge. The slower commander makes a double move up into the second floor and is a threatening presence for the next round.

Round three:

The Director opens the show with a laser rifle attack on the X'Lanthos soldiers. Range favors the Director slightly but as it was on the upper end of the third range band in either case it doesn't matter in this situation. Range and cover penalties plus defense mean that the director needs a 7 also and gets a whopping three. After the obligatory accusations of loaded dice and deals with the Devil, the PMC player makes three rolls to wound spends two CP, one to shift a four to a three, the other to re-roll a six and removes two of the Soldiers as the reroll comes up five. They pass their morale check thanks to using the Commander's morale in place of theirs. One of the two machine gun emplacements can see the Soldiers, so has to shoot. It's a long shot, fourth range band, and the dice don't come up with the five or less required. The Recruits make a single move to line up the shot-up Soldiers, open fire with five, and then drop smoke right in front of them. The Recruits are two inches into their third range band and not great shots but quantity has a quality all its own and they still just need a 9 or less to connect. They promptly roll an 11. The CP reroll comes up with a six, which generates three hits. The small arms are not great against the high-armour X'Lanthos but with three hits connecting, one comes up lethal and the Soldiers are down to their last man. That guy passes his morale check, although that's not exactly relevant anymore. The Technician goes on overwatch to see about interrupting the Assassin whenever he uncloaks.

The X'Lanthos have definitely been battered but they are by no means out. The Commander starts the show by moving to a second floor window and taking an electron masser shot at the Recruits. The X'Lanthos player opts to take her shot at one of the further back Recruits as from that angle she can shoot over the smoke grenade's AoE. Penalties put the shot at 9 or less as the Recruits are out in the open without their smoke cover. The commander makes the shot with a 7, no need for CP, and goes straight to the wounds with four under the template. The original target is duly disintegrated, one of the others goes along, and two CP on rerolls drops the other two targets as well. The Recruits have an almost impossible Morale check as they're at -5 and the PMC player made a mistake in his casualty removal. He took the models under the template and now the remaining models are outside command distance of the Director. They fail that morale check and are broken. The remaining Soldier places a gravity mine to cover the commander and then uses his action to move out of the gap and hide. The Assassin drops stealth, moves into base contact with the nearest machine gun, ducking a pot-shot from the technician on the way in. The armour-ignoring blender on legs automatically hits the emplacement*, ignores its heavy plating, rolls two wounds of three possible, and she does not opt to modify the third. This keeps the assassin safely hidden in melee.

Round four:

The PMC player fires the remaining machinegun at the commander, which it can see in the window of the ruins. He needs a four or less and doesn't get it. The Director steps up to bat on the commander and opts to go for a single high-powered shot. It's a tough shot, at six or less, but with the help of a CP reroll the PMC player gets a four, swears at his dice for not producing that sooner so his machineguns could do something before they get filleted, and the strength 8 multiple-wound laser puts a neat hole right through the Commander with a CP bump on the multiple-wound roll. The Commander passes his morale check. The Recruits fall back away from every enemy model, which causes some problems given that the assassin is off in the direction they really want to go (closer to the Director) and try to recover their morale but don't quite get their bottle back. The Technician goes back on overwatch and hopes he can hit the broad side of the barn.

The X'Lanthos player returns fire at the PMC Director, whiffs on a 12, and is stuck on the loosing end of the exchange. The remaining Soldier hops through a nearby window and takes cover from the laser behind some trees. The short-range shot at the remaining Recruits claims one more. The Assassin moves around the machine gun while remaining in base contact, finishes off the emplacement with melee, and then uses its overrun move to get into base contact with the second emplacement. The Technician's overwatch shot fails to connect but this time the CP reroll comes up with the requisite 5. The pistol wounds even at the strength penalty for just winging the assassin.

Round five:

The PMC Director takes another shot at the Commander and finally kills him. The remaining Recruit retreats again and this time manages to get his courage back. The Technician goes back on overwatch to try and catch the Assassin in the open again.

The last X'Lanthos soldier moves up into the woods and fires from the edge of the trees to kill the last Recruit although it takes a CP to connect. The Assassin chops two big holes in the machine gun emplacement and this time spends the CP to reroll the third attack. The overrun move is used to move closer to the building containing the last two PMC models. The technician's overwatch does not connect this time and the Director is running low on CP, so no re-rolls.

The game was called for time at this point as we still had two more games to go. By points remaining the PMC has won although the X'Lanthos are in a reasonable position to turn that around depending on whether the Assassin can get to the Director. The post-game discussion centered on the vulnerability of the machine gun emplacements and how incredibly lethal the PMC Director still is with his laser rifle. I think local consensus is that he's still underpriced. Perhaps consider a small upping in price to 110, 115 points? He does bring smoke grenades, gravity mines, and a laser rifle to the party, all with defense 5 and RA14. After a first playtest it looks like the PMC will not be able to rely on the gun emplacements to anchor their flanks without leaving the technician with them in support. I think that these will only really shine in games with objectives, when you can force your opponent to go towards a known point and fortify that point in depth.




Game 2: X'Lanthos v. Reclaimers

X'lanthos loose this roll off and are forced to deploy first. The X'Lanthos player opts to stick with the two-flank pincer strategy and minimize lines of sight from one side of the board to the other. Deployment was essentially identical except for the Commander and Soldier squad starting further out to the left flank.

The Reclaimers deploy second and opt to go straight up the middle. The Reclaimer squad, the Captain, and the Forward Observer are all positioned to move forward on the first turn and rush into the nearest ruin to fort up.

Round One:

The X'Lanthos sweep forward at top speed. The assassin stealth tokens make a beeline for the other side of the table.

The Reclaimers exploit their speed to get into the ruin and up to the second story on the first move. It is something of a surprise to actually measure out possible moves and realize that the entire faction could be sitting on the center-line of the table on turn one if they start deployed ten inches in.

Round Two:

The X'Lanthos assassin stealth tokens make another double move deeper into the Reclaimer side of the table. The X'Lanthos' player's strategy was to get past the windows of the ruin and come at it from the backside, using the assassin's speed to keep the threat level high. The Soldier squad and commander move into the ground floor of the ruin with double moves.

The Reclaimer player moves his Captain to a window where he will try to clip more than one target with his particle beam if anyone pokes their heads out and goes on Overwatch. The Reclaimer squad stays back inside the building while the Forward Observer moves up to another window to go on overwatch covering the ruins with the Commander and Soldiers inside as well.

Round Three:

The X'Lanthos player reveals her assassin and charges the Reclaimer squad inside the building. The 12" charge range gets the assassin into base contact with a single Reclaimer, he will essentially auto-hit the squad, and proceeds to get all three attacks off. Armour-ignoring strength 5 hits cut down three of the Reclaimers and she uses his Overrun move to contact the Forward Observer. This shuts off his Overwatch. The Commander moves up into the window to trigger the Captain's overwatch, which is just over the edge of the third range band. The Captain needs a 7, scores the 7, drops it to a 6 with a CP for full strength. There was some discussion at this point about whether the Charged Shot rules interacted with overwatch such that a Charged Shot weapon was always at the higher strength value on Overwatch for free, or if you could only activate Charged Shot on overwatch using whatever conditions were present when you went onto overwatch. The end result was that we said that overwatch fixed your state when you went onto overwatch and any shooting you did after that referred back to that state (so if you moved, it was at a -2 penalty if you wanted the higher strength on your overwatch shot) but that doesn't really make a lot of sense when you think about what it's representing. At Strength 6, it took a re-roll to get the wound but the Reclaimer player bought the full three wounds with another CP to bump the multiple-wound roll. The Commander fails his morale check, to many groans.

The Soldier squad moves up to the windows and returns fire at the Captain now that his overwatch is triggered. They are looking for a 9 or less and get a dangerous five. The X'Lanthos player opts to save her CP for a wound reroll rather than trying to buy the additional hit and then hope they all came up winners. The four hits come up a very statistical two and two, to her annoyance, but one of them could be bought down to a successful three to make three wounds on the Reclaimer Captain. The Reclaimer player passes his morale test and takes over.

The Forward Observer attempts to disengage from the Assassin first. The Reclaimer player activates the Forward Observer, moves it out of melee, and the X'Lanthos player takes her free strike. The Assassin still only needs an 8 and gets a 7. She opts to spend both CP to get the assassin's full attacks off as the odds are good the assassin is dead unless the Forward Observer is killed. The armour-ignoring destablizer blade negates the additional armour from the Repulser and the assassin cuts down the Forward Observer before he can get away.

The Reclaimer Player opts to see what his Reclaimer squad can do before deciding what to do with the Captain - they hold still, aim, and charge up their Particle Rifles. They need a 9 since they are at point blank range and the Assassin has no cover. They roll a four and thanks to charging up their particle rifles cannot fail to ventilate the Assassin, who is now a sort of greasy smear on the walls and the floor. The Captain opts to fire on the X'Lanthos Commander again, fires, misses with a ten, re-rolls for a nine, re-rolls again for a five and this time has a whopping eight strength to try and crack the Commander's armour. The one wound becomes two and the Commander is killed before he can rally from being broken.

Round Four:

The X'Lanthos player doesn't have much left to use but the intact Soldier squad has got just one target and she knows they can hurt it, so it's time to open fire. The range hasn't changed, the penalties haven't changed, and so it's a 9 or less to have a shot at taking out the Reclaimer Captain. The roll comes up seven, just two hits. The X'Lanthos player opts to hold the Soldiers' CP for a wound reroll/bump if necessary since just two wounds will do the job and she's got two hits. The Soldiers need a 3 or less to wound the Captain and the dice go high and low. The re-rolled high die comes up 4, so close and yet so far.

The Captain passes his Morale check and the Reclaimer player moves the half of his Reclaimer squad which is left up to the windows of the ruin next to the Captain. Between range, cover, and Reclaimer squad's native talent they need an 8 to connect. The Reclaimer player rolls a 10, re-rolls and gets a 6. Two hits at strength 6 come up 3 and 4, the Reclaimer player buys the 4 down to another 3 and a second kill. The X'Lanthos have to pass a very stiff morale check and duly fail. With that, the game is called.

Post game discussion was quite diverse, everything from how very fast the Reclaimers were to how much we all still need to refer to the rulebook for options that would have been very useful, like the option to go Combat Ready with the Reclaimer squad, or the fact that the Forward Observer has Recon. The general agreement was that the X'Lanthos player's strategy was mostly sound but would work better in a larger scale game. She was surprised by how effective even the half-size Reclaimer squad was at picking off her assassin although that is probably just the newness of the faction to everybody. The little bump of base RA to 13 may not look like much but with the squad stacking bonus on top of that even a small squad of Reclaimers is very dangerous if they get a target.

There was also a question about how Beam interacted with the environment. The problem is that there's no verbiage in there about what to do when the two models involved are not on the same level of terrain or indeed when terrain gets involved. I think there needs to be additions to the effect that when a Beam shot impacts a piece of non-Area terrain the beam stops and that the table surface counts as a piece of non-Area terrain. This way, when you shoot from the rooftop down at someone on the ground, you're not likely to get more than one model unless they're really clustered up (which sounds like a job for an implosion weapon, eh?)




Game 3: Reclaimers v. PMC

The PMC wins this roll and opts to go first. His deployment strategy is to mirror the earlier deployment against X'Lanthos such that the machine gun emplacements are on the left flank covering the further set of ruins and has a better line of fire across the middle. The Director is positioned to move into the central ruined house, the Recruit squad is immediately to his left. The one change is that in this game, the Technician is placed wide, outside of the Machine Gun Emplacements.

The Reclaimer opts with a strategy of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and clusters everyone in the middle of the table with the Forward Observer placed last and inside the ruined house they are going to occupy.

Round One:

The PMC player double-moves all of his units forward. The director heads into the ruin and will advance to the second story next turn. The Recruits and the Technician run forward into cover, heading for the mid-line of the table.

The Reclaimer player double-moves all of his units forward and up into the second story of his ruined house. His units take up position in the windows and wait to weather the inevitable long range shooting before they can return the favor.

Round Two:

The PMC player moves his Director into the second story of his ruined house and into cover, since it was a double move. His Recruits and Technician keep hustling to get through the woods and into the cover of the ruins. The Technician makes a double move, the Recruits single-move to get out of the woods and then dump smoke to cover the angle and keep themselves from getting shot. The Machine Gun emplacements both open up on the Reclaimers in the windows. The closest Reclaimer unit is the squad of Reclaimers, the shot is in the fourth range band for the first emplacement, penalties from range, defense, and cover mean that it needs a five or less to connect. The dice come up high. The second emplacement is further away and needs a four or less, also whiffing.

The Reclaimer player looks at the board and has no viable targets. He decides to go on Overwatch with the Captain with his Particle Beam and the Forward Observer with his targeting sensors. The Reclaimer squad hunkers down in the windows to keep drawing fire and wait. The machine gun fire is not really a significant threat and the PMC will have to break cover at some point.

Round Three:

The PMC player lets the smoke dissipate and opts to move his Recruits directly towards the safety of the ruins with a double move. The Reclaimer Captain's overwatch is only covering the Director's position, so there's no threat. The Technician does a double move to get inside the ruins and begin sliding into the center of the board to support the Recruit advance. He opts to keep the Director's head down so that the Reclaimer overwatch comes to nothing. The Machine Gun emplacements fire again, still looking for a four and a five, and get nothing once again.

The Reclaimer player is once again stuck with no viable targets and so goes on overwatch again, as before.

Round Four:

The PMC player makes a single advance into the edge of the ruins and aims for the Captain in the window. The volume of fire makes up for the lack of talent and the Recruits need just a 10 to clip the Captain. They roll a six, four hits flip into two wounds, and the overwatch is disrupted. The PMC player opts not to spend their CP in case it's needed for morale test purposes. The Technician makes a double move to the second story of the cluster of ruins and ducks into cover. The Director steps out from behind the wall and draws a bead on the Recruits.

The Reclaimer Forward Observer interrupts his action with Overwatch; third range band and cover means he needs a five or less to tag the Director - he rolls a six and buys the result down to a hit since targeting scanners don't care about strength. The director fires with maximum RoF, needs a seven or less to connect and comes up with snake eyes. The PMC player really wanted a rule in the game to let you "bank" rolls by spending a CP and pull them out later with another CP at this point. Sadly, no dice. The Director drops all three possible targets but has to spend two CP to do it. The Reclaimers pass their morale check by using the Captain's morale. The machine gun emplacements fire at the reduced Reclaimer squad, the closer emplacement finally connects with a single hit at full strength. It doesn't come up a wound and no CP to reroll, so the Reclaimer player takes over.

The half-size Reclaimer squad goes first, holding still to up the strength of their particle rifles and opening up on the Recruits. It's second range band, so the Reclaimers need 9 or less, they come up with an eight and opt for a re-roll with their native CP. The reroll comes up an 11, so the Captain buys another reroll which comes up 5. At strength 7, all four hits convert to kills and the Recruits fail the almost impossible morale check. The Forward Observer goes back on overwatch with his Targeting Scanner. The Captain takes aim at the PMC Director with a charged shot and needs a seven to connect thanks to the Forward Observer's targeting. The roll comes up 7, he buys it down to a 6, and the wound is almost automatic. The d3 wounds roll comes up low with a single wound, so another CP to re-roll means he gets two wounds out of it. The Director passes his morale test.

Round Five:

The PMC player takes a pot-shot with his Technician's pistol and misses the Reclaimer squad. The machine gun emplacements spray the ruin but don't connect. The recruits do not recover their morale. The director returns fire on the Captain, is interrupted again by the Forward Observer, who misses his shot with the targeting scanner. The Director opts for maximum sustained beam, needs a 7 to connect, whiffs high, re-rolls to a six and makes the multiple-wound roll to put three wounds on the Captain.

The Reclaimer player moves his forward observer down and out through the window cut down the range for the targeting scanner. Aiming for a six, he rolls an eight, buys another hit to call targets for the rest of the raid (funny how that works, neh?) and they duly take aim. The Reclaimer squad fires first, holding position to charge up shots. They need a 7 thanks to the targeting, roll a seven, and spend their CP on a bold gamble of a re-roll. It doesn't pay off as the roll ends higher at a 9. He re-rolls again and this time is rewarded with a 5 and two solid hits from the particle rifles. At strength seven the odds are good that both will wound and they do.

Game is called for time and with no effective combatants left for the PMC.

Post game discussion was that both strategies were interesting, that had the PMC list been a bit different and there been a sniper and a support gunner present their ability to engage in a stand-off fight would be much greater, and that the Reclaimers are very good at shooting but they really want to get in close to do so which feels a little strange with the melee-adverse faction which gets extra benefit from standing still to fire. In some respects both sides were seriously hampered by the mission since they both would get additional benefit from forcing the other side to maneuver.



As for my personal notes, having looked at all three games, at the list design (which was, admittedly, within the limits I'd set) and at the dynamic of each game I have several comments.

First, all of the PMC specialty pieces feel a little off their costs. The core pieces, the squads feel right for their capabilities and equipment, but the Director feels under-costed and the new emplacements and their associated technician are either over-costed or short on abilities. Across the board, now that we've seen the dynamic of that third faction, the defensive bump that the PMC have is very powerful. There are several ways to get around high armour, but only one way to get around high defense (not counting hoping for a good scatter on an AoE) and that way requires you to connect with an attack in order for subsequent attacks to have better odds. I don't necessarily think it should be dropped or that costs should be increased across the board, but I think units which have significant offensive capabilities should have to pay more of a premium for their high defense.

The Technician is a 30-point penalty fee you have to pay to get 20 point machine guns, which doesn't make much sense when you can get non-immobile machine guns for 30 points, with CP and the ability to use commanders' CP. I think that several things need to happen - if machine gun emplacements are going to stay as they are they need to drop five points (so, 15 points cost) and also get the Recon ability. Even then, they will still be unable to make any perception tests, be unable to move, be required to fire at the nearest target, and be unable to spend any CP for any reason. The Technician either needs to drop in cost as well, down to 25 points at least, or he needs more abilities and equipment, some way to synergize with the gun emplacements or the rest of the force. Right now he just doesn't make sense as an investment even to get cheap machine guns because the odds are that they will not be able to be placed in an aggressive fashion unless the scenario dictates that the other side must come to you.

Next up, the Reclaimers feel very interesting, their speed is very hard to understand until you actually see it on the tabletop and the stop-start dynamic of their shooting is equally odd at times. Right now the points seem fine but we have yet to see the majority of their points so a final judgment has to wait. The one thing I will say is that the Captain feels overpriced. On a three-dimensional battlefield lining up Beam shots is difficult and while he's a good sniper with that high strength multiple-wound weapon and good native RA, the Director's ability to switch modes for crowd control is undeniably more valuable. I think that the big thing for reclaimers is definitely going to be staying scenario focused as their incredible speed means that they really are going to get there "firstest" every time. The question is just going to be whether they have the right tools to accomplish scenario objectives and whether they can get there with enough of them to do the job before someone with more bodies gets there.

It looks like, from a bit of speculation based on the stat lines and equipment, that Drop Guard and Spectres are going to be the Reclaimer signature objective-rushers - the Drop Guard have raw speed and spray weapons, which means they have better odds of getting those bonuses for doing spray attacks at close range. The grenade expert on the Spectres, meanwhile, looks like it will make for some very fun hit-and-run attacks to clear hostile objectives since that raw speed means they can work close with stealth, drop the stealth when in range for the toss, then toss with the grenade expert extra action and double-move away which will open up as much as three range bands depending on the distances involved.

The X'Lanthos seem pretty polished and balanced at the moment, they have to pay elite costs but they get durable, elite equipment. They are vulnerable to swarm tactics but they have plenty of options for dealing with an enemy bringing numbers to bear and they have a fair shot at winning elite force shootouts. The assassin remains a standout workhorse.

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by Sabet » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:18 am

Very interesting read. Look forward to more tests.

On the emplacement, why not give them a perception, or a form of it? It wouldn't really be hard, especially seeing as their immobile, to get them to map the area, and whenever an anomaly is spotted, immediately open fire? Just passing thoughts...
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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by cymruvoodoo » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:53 am

I think the problem I have with saying that machine gun emplacements should get perception is that this only fixes a narrow problem of theirs. The other stealth models present in the game do not have an armour-ignoring weapon so although they will undoubtedly win in melee it is much more likely to take them longer than the X'Lanthos assassin to carve through an emplacement. The stealth is a problem for them that I think they might even need to have, especially by comparison with some of the other problems.

Looking at the raw maths, with RA 13, no CP, and no other way to get re-rolls or RA buffs* the problem is that with targets having a minimum of 3 defense, stacking penalties can take their toll quite quickly. Best case scenario? The target is out in the open, within 8". We'll call these the stupid targets. In that case, yes, the -3 or -4 average defense leaves the machine gun with good odds to hit, but those odds are always going to be less than the odds a gunner with CP is going to have. This is, also, the very best situation, when somehow a unit is out in the open, right in front of the guns. Any unit in the game is going to do well in this situation.

Looking at a slightly more typical but still good situation where the closest visible targets are in average cover and no more than 16" away, the machine gun emplacement's odds have now dropped to a 50/50 shot of connecting, ~20% odds of actually getting to use the full RoF, and in this situation the emplacement still doesn't have CP or access to any CP.

Now let's assume there's a more elite target, like a Corp. Agent squad out there, and they've got the good sense to stay outside 16" - now it's RB3, the target is Dug In, and you're barely grazing somebody on 4's, still with no CP to try and help. The real problem is that you've spent at least 50 points to get this machine gun when you could've had a better one, with RA14, a CP, the ability to use other CP, and a melee weapon, all for 20 points less.

Now, it's not all doom and gloom. The emplacement does have armour 4 and three wounds, which should keep it safe from small arms fire. Synergy should make the emplacement better as well - having a marked target thanks to a Surveyor will go some ways towards reducing the impact of that RA13. All of that does cost more points but in a larger game, the impact of any given point is diffused by the volume of them available.

The other thing I hadn't completely thought through when I made my earlier post was that the machine gun emplacement does not really synergize very well with the rest of the PMC. Unlike the X'Lanthos, who are fine with hanging back or a slow advance, the PMC reward advancing to contact which means the point of contact between the forces is going to be further away from the emplacements. Since the PMC wants to get down into 6" range band engagement ranges, either because that's what they've got or because their weapons get better when fired up close, the other side does not have to move so aggressively to get the PMC into their ideal range bands, meaning they don't come as close to the PMC's deployment zone.

With a bit more thought, I think there are two possible ways to go about fixing the Emplacement for the PMC.

1 - the cheap and cheerful. Keep the emplacement's stat line pretty much as it is. Drop the points for the emplacement down to 5-10 points; you still have to buy the mostly useless Technician to get these guns and they're still not terribly dangerous except up close. They will reward purchases for synergy

2 - the value-adder. Keep the emplacements' points at 20 but add in equipment to the Technician and change the emplacements' stats up to justify that cost. Give each Emplacement 5 wounds instead of 3, give the Emplacements the ability to deploy anywhere within 5" of the Technician after he is deployed, ignoring deployment zone restrictions, and give the Technician the ability to feed his CP to the emplacements as if he were a commander.

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by miniwargaming » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:27 am

Awesome feedback! I love the format of this playtest. I'll admit I skipped through most of the play-by-play and went straight to the post-game feedback, but it was very helpful.

The new units aren't 100% complete yet. For example, the Technician will be getting a special rule that lets him deploy the emplacements. They aren't meant to be deployed at the beginning, but rather placed by the Technician. While I agree that they need a point decrease, you can see how this one change will make a big difference.

I have cleared my schedule next week to work full time on getting the rules and units fully updated for 0.4.1. We might even be just about ready to hit Beta if we keep this pacing up.

Keep up the awesome work!

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by AkimboJonesx21 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:40 am

I quite like the idea of Technicians using their command points to help the Emplacements if withing morale range. The Technician has no real use on the battlefield with its below average stats and small pistol. I would give the Technician a Welding Rod or Fusioncutter that would allow repair of a mechanical unit on a 8 or less. This would increase the use of the Technician and is role as support on the battle field.

The Gun Emplacement should be able to make passive Perception Checks on stealth models then fire. I also like the deployment zone for Emplacements within the vicinity of 6 in. of any Technician. I also think that if an Emplacement doesn't fire within the users turn it immediately goes on Overwatch in your opponents turn. This will give more uses for It and justify points values. These can all be added to the Drone special rule.

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by cymruvoodoo » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:35 am

Hmm. Deployables, you say?

This does sort of change everything. The Technician may be a schmuck, but if he can conjure up one or more gun emplacements, even just if in base contact with him, then that is a very dangerous ability. That does mean that the machine guns will not be out of the fight for the entire game if the opposing force does not come to the PMC deployment zone.

I think, on reflection, that in this case models with Drone definitely do not need perception or the ability to go on overwatch. That conditional "if no target now, fire in next turn" akimbo suggested could be interesting for a more expensive model, however. I think the points might still be a bit off, as the utility of the emplacement just got very, very conditional but I need to look at some numbers and some scenarios first. Can models with drone contest or hold capturable objectives? Right now there is nothing stopping a machine gun emplacement from doing just that, but should they be able to contest/capture/score?

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by AkimboJonesx21 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:59 am

For Deploying Emplacements I would suggest a Recon approach. After both players deploy, all Emplacements are deployed within 6in. of any Technician. It sounded like you were stating that I wanted them to deploy at any time during the Technician's activation. That would be insane. They would be deployed after deployment, but before Recon, just to clarify that.

As for Perception tests, i see no real reason for them to take a perception test against a stealthed unit if a Technician is close by to do it. Also I see no reason not to let them go on a 360 degree Overwatch if it didn't use a ranged attack. If they couldn't it would be like "Oh look the enemy of my programer. Best wait until he gets close enough to attack me. Oh its to late..... (Deactivation)"

As for additions to the Technician, you stated that the Emplacements should have 5 wounds instead of 3. I thought that I would spin it to a more interactive process. If there are 2 to 3 Emplacements than the Technician can only repair one of them per turn. I find that to be quite balanced and the repairing may even eat up a command point. I think with these additions to the Technician and the Emplacement the points are relatively balanced.

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by cymruvoodoo » Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:24 pm

Well, call me crazy, but I thought that was what Matt was suggesting, as far as how Emplacements were going to work? I think a constructible/deployable unit like that is very interesting and would give a very unique feel to the PMC's gameplay. That does answer a lot of my concerns about the problems of early deployment, synergy and being "left out" of the fight.

Similarly, if they are constructible/deployable then it makes them need those additional wounds a lot less, although a re-enforced structure purchaseable upgrade to add extra wounds to gun emplacements would be a very interesting thing to have. You could choose between buying a few extra troops elsewhere or having gun emplacements that could not be one-shotted by multiple-wound weapons (since we have yet to see a d6 multiple wound weapon).

I do think that a "repair" mechanic would be interesting but I am concerned that it is going to add yet another mechanic to a list of abilities that, as I feared, is continually bloating as more factions and their units are added. As it is, I think we need to hold off on something like a "repair" ability until after the Salvagers are more in working order as they are the ones most likely to need and use such an ability.

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by slaughtergames » Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:48 pm

hey akimbo, Matt definitely meant that the technician can deploy them during his activation:
miniwargaming wrote:[....] For example, the Technician will be getting a special rule that lets him deploy the emplacements. They aren't meant to be deployed at the beginning, but rather placed by the Technician. While I agree that they need a point decrease, you can see how this one change will make a big difference. [....]
which makes me absolutely want to use them! that's way cooler than a guy walking around with his portable version! (which means I REALLY have to start getting people into this game :wink: )

I don't think repair would be bad to add, just not very needed at this point. it would be quite easy: IIRC, HEALING already states the target needs to be biological, or living, or something to that end right? REPAIR could just be the same, but explicitly for robotic/mechanical units. We could add it now, but really, only the technician would be using it. we should probably leave it until salvagers are released.

and cymru, just to get back about the Rocket launchers, how would you feel about emplacements having those?
"i buy me new deffkopta!!"
"waaaagh!"
"i did research, to find out how to minimize the randomness of the shock-attack gun."
"huh?"
"waaaagh!"
"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGH!!"

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by dragon1010 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:48 pm

so what mat is thinking is something like the engineer in tf2? (i know random videogame reference but it is strikingly similar). so the technician would be walking around the battlefield littering it with turrets? that is a very interesting idea that i think would work very well. but it also adds a certain risk. if the tech gets killed -> no turrets. but i think that would work well, especially if they can use his cp like a mini commander almost.
armies i play: tyranids (14000 pts), marines (4000 pts) orks (1750 pts) eldar (4000 pts) ig (3000 pts) lizardmen (2500 pts) high elves (3000 pts) cryx (100 pts) blindwater congregation (50 pts) trollbloods (25 pts) Legion of Everblight (50 pts)

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by cymruvoodoo » Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:51 pm

I suppose I overstated it but I am still concerned about the issue of special rule proliferation, but I'll write my piece on that later. For now, I'll leave it at the fact that even in a small game it was easy to miss details which might make a big difference and I think that risk will only increase as the game sizes get larger, which they should do.

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by miniwargaming » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:15 pm

@dragon1010 - Actually, the TF2 reference is perfect, as that is what gave me this idea. ;)

@cymruvoodoo - I agree about the special rule thingy, but I don't feel like we are anywhere near the point of too many rules. Most other games have way more unit and faction specific rules than Dark Potential.

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by cymruvoodoo » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:24 pm

Well, I would agree that we absolutely have not yet surpassed the funky faction list-building shenanigans of Heavy Gear Blitz, the "so-unbalanced-it's-balanced" bedlam of WarmaHordes, or the Encyclopedia Britannica listing of the Infinity rulebook. If we were at that point, I think it'd be making a bit more noise about this, or resigning myself to what will no doubt be an amusing, pleasant, perhaps even fun game, but one as pigeonholed as those listed before. However, I don't think we're at the point of being past those games, into Mallifaux levels of "special" - my worry is that we are rapidly approaching, if not already past the point of oversaturation for new learners picking up the game.

For a veteran hand, I think factions like the PMC and the X'Lanthos are very nuanced at this point, very competitive factions capable of satisfying different playstyles generally and within the faction as well. The abilities are not really too much as they tend to fall into general classes associated with the unit archetype or are tied to key pieces of equipment. Frequent use leads to easy familiarity. This is made even easier for experienced gamers as comparisons can be made to other units in other games and the reservoir of established tactics can be tapped.

Including Stealth there are already 36 special rules for players to keep track of, both on models and on the equipment models have. There are no units in the game which have no special rules to remember. Most units have at least two or three between special rules attached to their weapons (higher rate of fire if you don't aim, higher strength if you don't move, higher strength on better rolls), any deployable equipment like mines and grenades, and the models themselves. This ought not matter, right? I think it does, however, because Dark Potential has a very clean stat-line with enough statistics to represent a fairly complex individual, capable of quite a lot of actions, but no more than are necessary. I think that should be allowed to carry the load as far as it can.

Let me give an example:

Reclaimer Reclaimers Squad v. X'Lanthos Soldier Squad v. PMC Agent Squad. Points values are essentially identical for the purposes of this example. They each have a different base stat line and different equipment. I think, however, that if you strip the majority of their equipment and model special rules away and leave them with one each you get the same quality of differentiation just from the different stat lines and only one special rule and the signature deployable for each unit. Keep, for the purposes of this discussion, the Rifle's Semi-Automatic rule for the PMC but drop Dug-In. Keep the X'Lanthos Soldier squad's special vision rule as that is the only one they've got. Keep the Reclaimers' Charged Shot but drop the Grav Pack, the Repulser, and the Exoskeleton (whatever it ends up doing).

The end result is you still have the Reclaimers being the fastest and the best raw shots and they still want to hold still to get higher-strength shots, so that stop-start rush to get in close for their shorter-ranged weapon is still part of their gameplay. They still have flash-bangs, whatever that ends up doing also. The X'Lanthos still have the biggest punch at range with a good native RoF and strength and gravity mines are still great as defensive, offensive, and utility tools. They also have the option of seeing targets through smokescreens if needs be. The PMC are still smoke-toting, high defense troops who can really savage targets at close range and in melee.

Does that mean Corporate Agents need to loose Dug in, or Reclaimers need to loose their Grav Packs and Repulsers? Absolutely not. However, assuming that every faction has at least one signature piece of equipment with its own special function and one or two special rules which are considered "typical" of that force (Charged Shot, Semi-Automatic) then when you stack that with the "archetype" special rules like Stealth, Loner, Recon, you've got everything you need to take the general faction style (defined by the stat line) and create lots of in-faction diversity.

The X'Lanthos seem the best designed in this regard, the units are diverse, the faction has an overall feel, and the points all seem fairly spot-on. For the PMC, I have to ask whether the Arbitrator fits, and what that entry really brings to the table. He is a mid-cost melee commander but that doesn't seem to be a gap that exists, much less needs filling in the PMC list. About the only role I can see for him is babysitting Commandos, which is not necessarily a job that needs doing. At the bottom of it, I've seen the factions get more complex as iterations have advanced and we're at the point where I'm concerned about what comes with the next wave. As I said up top, I definitely agree that we haven't gone past where a lot of established games have been operating and so you don't need to take a razor to it all just yet. I would like to see Dark Potential try and stay on the other side of the established games in the market, however, as I think there is more ground to be gained by establishing a difference between Dark Potential and some of the other platoon/company level skirmish games on that front.

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by dragon1010 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:26 am

totally called it :mrgreen:

but anyways back to the game we may be approaching a high number of rules but a lot of them are going to be pretty universal. i feel as though now is the perfect time to make special rules. the game is still in playtesting so now or would be great. though i have to agree as of now if many more rules are going to be added then a cheatsheet will be coming with me.

but also if we go the rout that warmahordes is in it could work without it. if the special rules are general enough than you only have to remember a relatively small amount of rules. and with all of the new rules from the reclaimers this will settle out quickly. there are many new rules now yes but many of them have filled gaps that were in the other rules from the pmc and X'Lanthos. this means that for the remaining armies instead of having to make new rules they can use existing ones.
armies i play: tyranids (14000 pts), marines (4000 pts) orks (1750 pts) eldar (4000 pts) ig (3000 pts) lizardmen (2500 pts) high elves (3000 pts) cryx (100 pts) blindwater congregation (50 pts) trollbloods (25 pts) Legion of Everblight (50 pts)

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Re: 0.3.5 playtests

Post by miniwargaming » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:49 am

Excellent points for sure. It's tough finding the balance between using special rules to make a unit feel different from another unit, and also realizing that you don't need as many special rules in order to achieve this.

I'll have to put some thought into this, but it will definitely affect the designs I am putting together.

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