Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Designing a ruleset for Age of Sigmar

Random DE poster from way back when.

OK here we go:

I noticed there are 4 distinct categories for units in the game. Since there are no points in the game, I still think it COULD be possible to lightly balance the game with some very minor work. Instead of re-writing point values for every unit, we might be able to pull something off by limiting certain models based on numbers.

Just so you guys can follow me, here are 4 categories that I've noticed for units:
  • 1w models - Most infantry, or rather, Core (or rather, what was core before) in the game 
  • 2-4w models - Some Cavalry in the game, most Ogres or Monstrous Infantry
  • 5+w models - Most Heroes in the game, or beefy elite units that we would consider "Special/Rare" before
  • 10w+ models - Most Monsters in the game, some other weird stuff like the Bell and what not

So instead of writing points up for these guys, I've chose to do this. For now, I'm just going to call it Core, Special, Rare and Elite for sanity sakes.

The categories here are: Hero, Core, Special, Rare, Elite. This is defined as:
  • Hero - Max of 1 model
  • Core - Max of 20 models if small base (unless warscroll says you can take bigger), max of 10 anything bigger
  • Special - Max of 10 if small base, max of 5 anything larger
  • Rare - Max of 5 if small base, max of 3 anything larger
  • Elite - Max of 1 model

When applied to High Elves, it looks something like..
Tyrion - Hero
Teclis - Hero
Eltharion on stormwing - Hero, Elite
Prince Imrik, Dragonlord - Hero, Elite
Prince Althran - Hero
High Elf Prince - Hero
High Elf Prince on Griffon - Hero, Elite
High Elf Prince on Dragon - Hero, Elite
High Elf Archmage on Dragon - Hero, Elite
High Elf Mage - Hero
Dragon Mage - Hero, Elite
High Elf Spearmen - Core
High Elf Archers - Core
Silver Helms - Core
Ellyrian Reavers - Core
Dragon Princes of Caledor - Special
Tiranoc Chariots - Special
High Elf RBT - Special
Great Eagles - Rare
Alith Anar, the Shadow King - Hero
Shadow Warriors - Special
Alarielle the Radiant - Hero
Handmaiden of the Everqueen - Hero
Sisters of Avelorn - Special
Caradryan - Hero
Anointed of Asuryan - Hero
Phoenix Guard - Special
Flamespyre Phoenix - Elite
Frostheart Phoenix - Elite
Loremaster of Hoeth - Hero
High Elf Swordmasters - Special
Korhil - Hero
White Lions of Chrace - Special
White Lion Chariots - Special
Lothern Sea Helm - Hero
Lothern Sea Helm on Skycutter - Hero, Special
Lothern Sea Guard - Core
Lothern Skycutters - Special

So using the above classification, if we're going to play a test game, it will look something like this:
1-2 Heroes
1-3 Core
0-2 Specials
0-1 Rare
0-1 Elite

Sample list:
Heroes: Archmage on Foot, Prince on Dragon
Core: 20 Archers, 20 Spearmen, 10 Silver Helms
Special: 5 Dragon Princes, 10 Phoenix Guard
Rare: 3 Eagles
Elite: (the Prince on Dragon counts as Elite, see above)

The original framework was done using categories to separate the unit by wounds. However, the problem with that is that you run into situations where a unit might have 5 wounds, which would technically classify them as Rare, but they're not good enough to be limited to 0-1 in most cases (e.g. Tiranoc Chariot). Then you have situations where you have Chaos Warriors, which were core in the last edition of Warhammer and what people are used to now, but are actually the elite of Chaos. That's why I don't see a super huge deal if Special is appropriate for them (max of 10 models, takes a Special slot), but like you said, putting them in Core as well is also appropriate. The same applies for Ogres. These are the times where exceptions have to be made, and the only way these exceptions make sense is if they are applied army by army, unit by unit. Otherwise, there's just no way to balance wounds without point costs.

This might not be perfect, but its a clear way to lightly balance the game around some generic modifications to army restrictions proportional to army size, without actually putting point costs in it.  You're essentially limiting the powerful stuff that you can take, reducing the amount of ridiculous presence on the field, while still being able to freestyle for the majority of the lists.

For example, let's just call the above a small game.  For a medium-sized game, you add +1 Hero, Core, Special, Rare, but keep the Elite at 0-1.  For a larger game, you do 1-4 Heroes, 1-4 Core, 0-4 Special, 0-3 Rare, 0-2 Elite.

While we're doing that, let's add some other generic rules for quality of life reasons:
  • LoS works the same as 7th Ed. 40K (including characters joining units, large models cannot)
  • Infantry-sized heroes can get LoS on 2+
  • Cavalry or MI heroes can get LoS on 4+
  • Soft cover is -1, Hard cover is -2 to shooting
  • Shooting units cannot shoot if they're in melee
  • All melee is base to base
  • All stupid ass rules that make you cluck or do something else equally retarded resolve as if you preformed the required action

What do you think?  I'm looking for feedback first and foremost, and I need expert opinions on people with army specific knowledge.  I am pretty fluid in everything except for Brets, Beastsman, Warriors, Lizards, Orcs, and Tomb Kings.  If you can make a list of units from the Age of Sigmar books following my restrictions, please post them in the comments so we can discuss.

30 comments:

Chris Juddery said...

So here is my list using your method, comes out basically the same as my 2000pt list did under 8th edition

1 x Strigoi Ghoul King - Hero

1 x Vampire Lord - Hero

20 x Crypt Ghouls - Core

20 x Crypt ghouls - Core

40 x Zombies - Core

2 x Varghulf - Special

1 x Terrorgheist – Rare

1 x Corpse Cart - Elite

Per Hagman said...

This actually looks very intersting. Good work. Will talk with my friends if we should try it out :)

RJ Payne said...

Interesting work here buddy! Would suggest that you instead look at grouping units based on wounds rather than base size (which will be abused). Looking at the above I could have units of 10 orge ironguts running around which might be a bit imbalanced. How about this (basically 20 wound cap per unit):

1 Wound Infantry = (1-20 unit size)
1 Wound Elite Infantry = (1-15 Unit size)
2 Wound Infantry/Cavalry = (1-10 unit size)
4 Wound Infantry/Monstrous Cav = (1-5 unit)

Not saying this is bullet proof but hopefully it is a helpful suggestion :)

Rich

archied said...

are the categories based on where the units were in the 'old' army books? or based on the #wounds/base size model listed earlier?
My tomb kings chariots are curious to know :P

TKIY said...

I see a lot of people coming up with slot or point based balancing systems, and it's a good start, but it doens't fix the fact that this is still baby's first wargame.


A Skeleton still wounds a dragon as easily as it wounds a goblin. Still no point in manoeuvring. No flanks, no point in charging.


It's just a bad, bad game.

HERO said...

Right now, you can see that only 1 faction is done and that's High Elves. Ogres are very different because all of their stuff is multi-wound larger models. My friend plays Ogres and when he asked me what I should do, I said he should count his models as Special limits, so max of 5 models. Seems simple enough, if all of Ogres units were "Special" but count as Core.

HERO said...

No it's not, it's based off categories and limitations. For example, the Tiranoc Chariot technically has 5 wounds, but its not good enough to be Rare.

Autumnlotus said...

Let's take a crack at this:

Heroes- Festus the Leechlord
Hero/Elite- Bloab Rotspawned
Core- x2 20 Plaguebearers
x1 10 Nurgle Chaos Furies
Special- x2 10 chaos warriors
Rare- x1 3 Plague Drones

Gotta say this looks a lot more fair then a slaves of chaos batrep I saw recently, lot less warrior spam potential.

benn grimm said...

Look like a good start for sure.

HERO said...

It's pretty much up to the players where they think they should categorize their units. I mean, II can write it all out, but some factions need a little bit more tweaking than others. Chaos Warriors should definitely not be 20-strong, even if their Warscroll says they should be. Therefore, a max of 10 and a Special allotment makes more sense for them.

The idea is not to perfectly balance the game, it's to set some minor guidelines so people can actually enjoy the game and not feel completely rolled.

Autumnlotus said...

Maybe allow the units to combine but take 2 slots? I personally don't mind just 10 since I like focusing on Nurgle daemons as the fodder, but definitely people will be sad when they don't have any core models to use in this ruling

HERO said...

That's not what I'm saying though.. I'm saying that you can count Chaos Warriors as Core, but follow the Special unit size restrictions. Same with Ogres.

Autumnlotus said...

Ahh okay, that makes sense. I sort of assumed the wounds were directly connected to the unit types

HERO said...

They are, in a LOT of cases. That's why the original framework was done using categories to separate the unit by wounds. The problem with that is that you run into situations where a unit might have 5 wounds, which would technically classify them as Rare, but they're not good enough to be limited to 0-1 in most cases (e.g. Tiranoc Chariot). Then you have situations where you have Chaos Warriors, which were core in the last edition of Warhammer and what people are used to now, but are actually the elite of Chaos. That's why I don't see a super huge deal if Special is appropriate for them (max of 10 models, takes a Special slot), but like you said, putting them in Core as well is also appropriate. The same applies for Ogres. These are the times where exceptions have to be made, and the only way these exceptions make sense is if they are applied army by army, unit by unit. Otherwise, there's just no way to balance wounds without point costs.

Autumnlotus said...

Basically, plus if a group uses these rules it is super simple to ask both sides what their thoughts on it are

benn grimm said...

What do you think of using the various attributes being added/multiplied together to give a points value? I just saw a bat rep where they used attacks plus wounds x bravery, seemed a fairly good approach. If damage and speed could be factored in, a formula would exist to at least provide fairly accurate points totals.

HERO said...

And how will those factor in monsters who take damage in wounds? Or effects that can potentially increase/decrease bravery? It becomes very tricky at that point and I think straight limitations are better. The game might not be designed with a points system in mind, so limitations are better and works better with the current system. The idea of any balance engine is to make it so its accessible to as many people as possible. Adding point costs for every unit, building up the army, calculating the points total, and then putting the models on the field is a lot more complicated than just saying, bring 10x Chaos Warriors. Accessibility is important in any houserule because it allows you to expand to more clubs. The more user-friendly it is, and the more similar it is compared to the official product, the more likely someone will try it. That's all you're looking for at the end of the day, people to try your ruleset, and so we can continue to have conversations such as this one (which is the feedback portion).

benn grimm said...

I don't know really, but I'm sure some-one smarter than me will figure it out. It does look to be designed without points, but I'm pretty sure that doesn't stop some one working out values anyway.


You make a lot of good points and I agree consensus/accessibility is key and there will be issues with any gamer-initiated effort. But I applaud anyone having a go, still early days yet.

Orangecoke said...

I'm genuinely curious but: hadn't you said AoS wasn't for you and you were liquidating out of the GW fantasy hobby? If you changed your mind I think that's cool :)

Orangecoke said...

Cool :)

archied said...

problem with that is it doesnt really work across the board. high bravery units seem harshly punished, particularly as losses to battleshock seem a lot less damaging than having a unit break and get wiped out.


skeleton archer = 1 attack + 1 wound x 10 bravery = 20 points.
chaos warrior = 2 attacks + 2 wounds x 6 bravery = 24 points.
dark elf dreadspears only clock in at 12.


no way are skeleton archers closer in effectiveness to chaos warriors than they are to most normal infantry.

benn grimm said...

Agreed, it definitely needs to be a more complex formula, which takes into account as many variables as possible(all if doable). I'm sure someone will come up with such a formula, i've seen some good efforts so far.

archied said...

Personally, im only 2 games in so far, but my other concern is whether theres actually enough of a 'game' to be worth investing time & effort into to get it someway balanced

benn grimm said...

Yeah, I hate to sound like an echo, but I'm getting a similar feeling. Is the core game worth all the time trying to balance it? I love my daemons, but I can just play them in 40k or 8th, so far I haven't enjoyed using them for AOS particularly. On a positive note, interest in Mordheim, KOW and 8th seems to be exploding atm.

archied said...

typical interwebs echo chamber :)


im mostly intruiged by KoW at the moment, i know some folks whove played it with the beta rules and its not 100% super-duper best thing ever, but it sounds good and streamlined just about enough.


on the other hand, i can see situations where i just fancy chucking a few units of chariots and ushabti and a sphinx on the table and cracking a game out in 30-40 minutes.


maybe having a mix of both is the answer

A Legalist said...

Thanks Hero. Kind of Sad that Players have to balance a game cause GW doesn't know how to.

archied said...

80 regular guys on foot?


isnt that going to be a massive ballache to even move them about? and thats before you even get to the charging and combat phases....

Chris Juddery said...

It would be hard to move.... if I wasn't using my movement trays :)
AoS has no templates so no need to worry about bunching up troops and they need to stay within an inch anyway.

So yeah, movement trays to get the troops into combat and then pile in!

bonesaww666 said...

Use the base set of numbers on the war scrolls (skeletons have 10, ogres have 3) count each war scroll as:
1 for Core
2 for Specials
3 for Rare
1 Hero
2 for monster hero (I'm unsure how to quantify monsters atm, as powerful as they are missile weapons can whittle them down quickly, I'm loathe to put their points too high as mounted heros generally have shittier Command Abilities)

So if I wanted 20 skeletons I would burn 2 Core scrolls.

Then set a scroll limit, say 12 scrolls, require 2 Core and one Hero.

The pre established "formations" all see, to be in and around the same "scroll limit" if you use this method as far as I can tell.

As far as warriors of chaos go, I imagime the actual warriors are going to be losing their "core" status.

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