Sunday, January 19, 2014

Daemons of Chaos rework?

Oh man.. where to begin?

This pertains to Warhammer Fantasy!

I haven't responded in this thread for a while now ever since this post a while back:

I find it quite amusing that the thread goes dead quiet after I respond with actual industry experience calling GW out on their shenanigans.

Even though I've been playing my Deamons still, because you know, they're one of the armies that I own and love, I can't help but feel sadness, contempt and frustration over a lot of the design mechanics.

One recent quote in this thread upset me more than it should have:
I found myself mainly agreeing with Phazaels points. We are top tier army and have many good builds we can use, so overall the book is very good stuff.

Do you think just because the book plays well at competitive levels with a few builds (Nurgle, beasts, khannons, choir) means it's a good book? In all my years of game design, this is the number one fallacy that competitive players, pro players or those heavily involved in WAAC play present over and over again. Hey, the book is super strong in the meta, it must mean its a good book.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. This is the worst mentality to have! You have to look at the big picture, the product as a whole and weigh it against others of its kinds (in this case, other army books). What you have here, in the 8th Ed. army book, is a piece of garbage unlike any other. You see some good design ideas that brings Chaos back to its roots, but what you have here is poor implementation, demonstration of poor or no internal testing, and awful execution in relation to big picture. Chief among those design ideas is the universally loathed Reign of Chaos table which not only takes tactics out of the players hands constantly without any form of negation, double-punishes the player, and draws out the game. Every single aspect of that table is a negative, even the benefits that it could possibly offer the Daemon player still needlessly prolongs the game (which is a negative in itself).

The area that they did alright in was the magic items. Sure, it wasn't the best implementation, but it wasn't the worst either. It's actually quite difficult to analyze the cost-effectiveness of all the BRB items while designing new daemon-specific gifts and weighing the effectiveness of both if you included all the items. Weapons should of been available to all, and maybe it would of been good to make Arcane as a secondary for Tzeentch, Armor to Khorne, Talisman to Nurgle and Enchanted to Slaanesh like some of suggested, but this is some serious item combinations to consider, and much more playtime and analysis needs to be done before its called good.

This ultimately brings me to my point, so in the case of the 5 biggest misses in the entire book, I don't have 5 I only have 3. The last one is internal pricing. External balance aside, there's just absolutely no justification to have ridiculously weak Heralds be overpriced and have what appears to be randomly priced locuses at the same time. There's no reason why a GOOD design feature such as the flexibility of heralds and different locuses should be priced to an extent where no one would take them, ever. Why are Beasts their price or Khannons their price? If they are going to be that good, why price them the way they are?

Enter the post I made months ago, sometime around our army book's release. NO ONE with any sense of intelligence did any playtesting with this book. As a industry professional who has been focused on multiplayer gameplay and game balance for the last 12 years, I can say with confidence that no respectable game company could release such a product if they did any playtesting or implemented feedback from intelligent people. No one with a sane mind would say that that Skull Cannon is well-priced at 135 if they actually played the game, and that's a fact.

So for the folks they did playtesting for this game, I can only say that they're either lying, or outright bad, or GW deliberately ignored your feedback and released an unfinished, unpolished product.

Let's talk about the top 3 things they did right, from a broad, design overview perspective without regards to how it was actually implemented.

Good idea, poor implementation:
  • Bring Chaos back to its roots, random tables for gifts with the ability to default to 0.
  • Introduction of different Loci that provides players with more options, customization and playstyle.
  • Bring back mono-God viability and re-implement God rivalries.

Bad idea, even worse implementation:
  • Reign of Chaos table is a negative in every way, function and form. If something of this must be implemented, it should look similarly to the HE Phoenix table where it only affects the Daemon player, should not be a giant kick in the balls if you roll low already, and is not punishing to the extreme. Numbers wise, it should not the outcome of the army the player purchased, designed, painted and fielded, and should not affect battlefield tactics at all. At least 40K was sane enough to mitigate the effects of a bad roll with Instruments, exactly how disconnected was the design team in this regard? Do musicians not exist?
  • The internal pricing of some of these units and upgrade options are beyond laughable. It's to a point where some units are unplayable and a perfectly good design idea (different Loci) isn't even used! That's just awful.
  • There was no visible playtesting that took place with this book (bad idea). No experienced player would say Khorne is fine, Tzeentch matches their fluff, Nurgle is perfectly balanced compared to everyone else, and Caco Choir shouldn't be 6-diced in every game. I can't even say model sales are the cause of this, considering they have piles of Slaaneshi chariots building up because they're garbage ingame but good looking models otherwise. The 135 point Skullcannon though, that raises some eyebrows because maybe 1/10 people I've talked to actually liked the model.

How I would of done things:
  • If Reign of Chaos has to exist, I would of built it with 3 must-have design clauses in mind: It will not affect player tactics, it will not apply a double negative, it will not draw out the game.
Quick idea:
Either make it resemble the HE Phoenix chart, or have it only affect the game if the rolls equate to 6, 7, 8 or 9 for the corresponding God's unholy numbers and effects. Notice how that's only 4 results and not 11? 6-7-8 is more towards the average roll and thus, the results that happen the most. For this reason, the player should have things happen, but not an exaggerated or harsh result. 9 is the furthest of the spectrum, so it should be slightly more powerful, but not to the extent where it gives a overwhelming double positive to the Daemon player. Hell, if this isn't fast enough, we can even say that 6 only powers Slaanesh units and hates on Khorne and that's it. No rolling for other players units because these already benefits yours.

  • Internal pricing of units and upgrades will be reworked and given better prices to increase viability and Loci.
Quick idea:
Let's not make 135 point Skull Cannons and focus more on overpriced Slaaneshi Chariots.

  • The Random Gifts table will have god-specific gifts if they choose to go with a 0.
Quick idea:
There's a million and a half unused Daemonic gifts that are obviously god-specific that are unused from the last book. For some of you who did not play the previous edition of Daemons..
Bloodthirsters could take..
Awesome Strength, Dark Insanity, Obsidian Armor, Axe of Khorne, Firestorm Blade, Immortal Fury, Spellbreaker, Armor of Khorne, Collar of Khorne
Lord of Change..
Twin Heads, Tzeetnch's Will, Staff of Change, Spell Destroyer, Power Vortex, Dark Magister, Daemonic Robes, Flames of Tzeentch, Iridescent Corona, Master of Sorcery
Great Unclean One..
Balesword, Nurgling Infection, Staff of Nurgle, Trappings of Nurgle, Noxious Vapours, Pestilent Mucus, Nurgle's Rot, Soul Hunger, Stream of Bile, Slime Trail
Keeper of Secret ..
Spirit Swallower, Etherblade, Temptator, Allure of Slaanesh, Daemonic Robes, Enrapturing Gaze, Siren Song, Soul Hunger, Soporific Musk, Torment Blade

So to sum it up really quick, I would eliminate the doubles, fine-pick some of these to be used as alternative Exalted, Greater and Lesser Gifts for players can choose from that are God-specific.

1 Exalted, 2 Greater, 3 Lesser that are God-specific for example, so someone like Tzeentch can default 0 to a choice of Tzeetch's Will (just the name) as an Exalted Choice, Mastery of Sorcery as a Greater choice, or Flames of Tzeentch as a lesser choice. This will ensure that someone like the Bloodthirster, will always be able to default to Armor of Khorne or Obsidian Armor if he so chooses.

Daemons of Chaos rework anyone?  Should I?  I think it would be a fun side-project!


wibbling said...

I play them as a 40K army and the simplest change would be when picking a greater daemon you can pick daemon princes of that god as elites, not heavy. Heavy remains any daemon prince and a soulgrinder.

Make screamers able to assault flyers. We have nothing ouside of the soulgrinder that can deal with flyers.

* Give flamers armourbane for, say +8 points per model. That starts to split out the can openers.
* Get rid of the warpfire rules for Horrors and make flickering fire 2d6 for a warp charge point + the number of models in the unit shots. And yes, that might mean 32 shots. Mathshammer wise (against marines) that's 16 hits, 8 wounds, 3 kills. Not exactly battle cannon territory and it means that Horrors are worth taking. It evens out to the same points cost and efficiency as a 10 strong unit of necrons.
* Point up the chaos rewards and allow users to choose them. It's one random roll too many.
* Bloodcrushers should be toughness 5 with a 4+ save. At the moment there is absolutely no point taking them whatsoever.
* Get rid of the loodcrusher/Bloodletter 6+ save. It will never be used and is a rules idiocy.
* Have affect daemon psychic powers as long as you're playing only daemons and have an icon in the unit. Heck, they're channeling their own essence. Seeing if they do is daft. It's like demanding they take a ld test to walk forward.
* Bump up a Bloodthirsters strength to 8 and reduce BS to 7, removing furious charge and adding counter attack. He's supposed to be a combat monster. He isn't. Make him vector strike at d3+number of attacks.
* Make chaos armour more expensive but provide a 2+ save.
* Change the options so that greater daemons and princes pay more than heralds or rewards.

Black Blow Fly said...

All your suggestions would break the army. They are really good as is.

james said...

And get rid of grimoir, the 1 item that broke the game.

Agree with you about bloodcrushers though.

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