Soda Pop Miniatures

Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports
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Author:  tinkergoth [ March 19th, 2017, 11:26 am ]
Post subject:  Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Hey guys,

Crossposting this from facebook to widen the audience and discussion it could get. I'm not doing blow by blow descriptions of the games, but I'll be posting the details of the cadre, the conditions, final results etc, as well as any rules questions or issues that arise, and any general notes (positive or negative) that I or my opponent had about the game. I'll keep updating the thread as I get more games in.

Author:  tinkergoth [ March 19th, 2017, 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Game 1 (actually game 4, but first one I'm posting about here): 50pt Cerci vs Doctrine
Rules Iteration: 2.0 Beta Update 13/03/17 (I use DD/MM/YY date format if that's confusing anyone)

RK Malya & Mr Tomm
Pacer with Chaingun upgrade
2 x Pit Crew

Vaultus & Sorin
Master Wu
3 x Academy Guard
3 x Scribes

Primary Condition: Grand Conjunction
Secondary Condition: Anarchy
Playtime: Approx 3 hours
Result: Cerci win by Doctrine concession
Final Score: 7 - 3

Rules Queries:

Hero Shielding: If a minion is within shielding range of a hero, and is a legal target for the attack, the rules clearly state that the hero cannot be targeted. The question we ran into is, is the minion automatically assumed to be shielding in this situation, or could the attacker state that they are targeting the minion, not the hero, and therefore shielding is not actually in effect? To clarify, the specific situation involves Betty and Lug, with Lug within 3 inches and LoS to prevent a psychic attack on Betty. As written, I couldn't see anything stopping the attacker from saying "I'm targeting Lug directly", which would mean that unless the opponent is silly enough to specifically state he's attacking Betty and Lug is shielding, Lug's Friendship and Loyalty ability would never trigger, because they could just say "he's not shielding her because he's the target". We may have missed something, if not, it needs to be clarified. On the same note, what happens if Lug is shielding Betty and another hero (for example, a Pacer). If all three units are legal targets, and therefore Lug has to be targeted, is he automatically considered to be shielding both of them and therefore Friendship & Loyalty triggers?
Note: This was answered on the facebook page by another player, I haven't confirmed by reading the rules again yet, but apparently yes, it does automatically count as him shielding as long as they're both targets. I would still like official clarification on what happens if there are three legal targets, Betty, Lug, and another hero.

Danger Zone: Is the Danger Zone set at the start of the attack? Specific example: a squad of three Scribes targeted by Betty's Rivet Gun attack. One of them is completely hidden behind large cover, so we know that one won't ever be valid for damage to spill over to. Another one is hidden behind the model that the attack is targeted on. Scribes have 5 health per model and 1 armour, Betty's damage is boosted to 9 due to Lug being in the minion slot. After armour, 8 damage is dealt, so the first model dies with 3 points left over... Is that dead model immediately removed, making the model that was hidden behind it and is now in LoS a legal target for the 3 points of spillover damage, or is it safe for the duration of the attack because the valid Danger Zone targets are set at the start of the turn?
Note: Again, haven't clarified, but according to posters on facebook, valid danger zone targets are set when the attack is initiated, so there would be no spill over in this scenario.

RK Malya's Feint & Disengage: Is the intention of Malya's automatic disengage on her melee attack that she be able to also make a follow up move afterwards? As written, she doesn't get to make a follow up, meaning she can only move 6 inches away from melee, without the use of thrusters, which means it's relatively easy for whoever she was engaged with to follow her and re-engage on their next activation, and as Relic Knights go, she's still pretty squishy.

Rapidfire: Is there a limit to how many times you can use Rapidfire press on an attack? Also, using a guard not only halves damage, but prevents all secondary effects, how does that interact with Rapidfire? Do the Rapidfire instances of the attack count as secondary effects, or does it just half the damage on all rapid fires?
Note: I failed some basic reading comprehension here and completely missed the line about how Guard interacts with Rapidfire. That said, would like official clarification on the intent of how an armour boost defense action interacts with rapidfire (my understanding is that the base armour will apply to all instances of the attack, but the armour defense action will need to be paid for separately for each attack)

Sabotage Conditions: For scoring objectives like Anarchy and Espionage, is there anything to stop you just repeatedly sabotaging the same objective to try and score? I know that only one sabotage token will actually have an effect, but unless I've missed something, as written you can just sabotage the same objective marker over and over again until you score the full points. It makes for a really boring game as the units will just hunker down near objectives and continuously sabotage the same one if they're playing the conditions, the consensus from myself, my opponent and the two obsevers was that it would be better if once you had scored, you needed to move onto another objective marker.

General Observations & Notes:


Game Speed: Game still feels too slow. Another 3 hour game, and again, was won by concession by my opponent rather than a points win. Combination of bad flips for condition scoring and bad card draws for attacks resulted in both kill and conditions being difficult to complete (plus Cerci's relatively low damage output, apart from the odd outlier like Betty & Lug, continues to make them feel fairly pillow-fisted). The constant shuffling from flips is slowing things down as well.

Random flips for scoring: This still feels problematic. It's not as big a problem for conditions where you can trigger the flip in a single action with little to no turn or resource cost (anything that requires just placing a Sabotage, Infuse or Secure token on an objective, or Carnage), or for an objective like Tear It Down and Assassination where you score the full points after a certain point is reached. It's still a pain in the !SODA! if you don't flip the correct esper for significant amounts of time (my opponent missed a whole bunch of flips in a row, and the frustration was very evident). Where it's a real problem is the Heist, Defense of Life and Conservation objectives. Defense of Life it's an issue because you have limited attempts at it, and it's entirely possible to score no points off it and run out of attempts (something like Carnage, where if you drop off all three tokens and haven't got the full three points, you score the remaining points, would help fix this particular condition). The problem with Heist and Conservation is more serious. The issue is the sheer turn cost to even attempt to score these. Let's say I've got Heist as my primary. I pick a token up off an enemy objective with a hero, and spend my follow up move heading towards a board edge. Best case scenario, it's within a follow up and an initial move for the carrying target (it being within follow up is irrelevant since I can't drop it off that turn), so three activations later (assuming a 50pt game with a 3 card queue), I finish heading to the board edge on the initial, and drop the token at the end of my initial move, and flip for scoring. Then it's back towards the objective marker using my follow up move... three activations later I finish my initial move at the objective, spend an action to pick up a token, and follow up back towards the board edge. Three activations again, I get a chance to attempt to score. If minions are doing this, they can do it slightly faster, since they can go every second activation instead of waiting through the whole queue, but it's still a significant time investment for no guaranteed points. When you compare that to just taking these activations to attack your opponent and use accrued damage to wipe out their units (even if it takes a few activations, it's guaranteed points), or to fix your hand to make it easier to pull off big attacks, killing the opposition becomes the primary goal of the game, because why would you risk falling behind due to bad flips when you can just killbox the opponent?

Positives/Neutrals/I'm not sure if they're positive or negative:
Note: Some, but not all of these occurred in my game, but they're all things I've picked up from reading and comparing the latest beta rules against the previous iteration

Shield Generator: has been fixed to actually function for minions as well as heroes now.

Squad re-costing: makes it far less likely to see stupidly big squads run except in 70 to 100 point games, where you're likely to have more counters to it. A squad of 10 diamond corps now costs significantly more than a full squad of pit crew, which makes sense given that you'll end up with 10 Diamond Corps with a ranged attack vs a 4 model support squad that have a melee attack.

Unique Rule: I like that the unique rules have been tightened up a bit, though that's more personal preference than anything else. I wasn't a big fan of the Candy Crush list that just ran every Candy possible.

Belligerent: Belligerent makes a bit more sense now, hitting enemy units when they engage or are engaged by the belligerent unit, friendly units have to stop in base to base contact to be hurt.

Placeholder Cards: The changes to the placeholder cards make them a little more useful than before. I still don't think they're a perfect solution, but the slight increase on the reposition and heal, and the ability to give a hero a held esper certainly make it a less bitter pill. Just spit balling, but maybe make it "choose two effects" could help if they're really intent on keeping the placeholder cards? (I'm gonna be honest, I've got no idea what you'd replace them with if they removed).

Refocus: The changes to Refocus were pretty much perfect in my opinion. Just having a couple of cards less can make it that little bit harder to set up a minion for a massive attack, while still providing the ability to manage your hand somewhat to get what you need moving into following activations.

Squad Rebalance: I only just noticed that not every squad gets co-ordinated attack anymore. Interesting choice, not sure if good or bad yet. Most squads do still seem to have it, might just be for the squads it could potentially make too powerful (the Pythons don't have it, could have been considered too strong in conjunction with their movement lockdown abilities?) The Diamond Corps lost Formation as well, which was pointed out to me on the weekend by my mate running a 35pt game with them, Thematically interesting choice, Formation suited them as a crack military squad, but I can see the reasoning behind it, make it harder for them to pull off an alpha strike since they can't see through each other anymore. I think the action rebalances on the squads are a step in the right direction as well. For example, Savra Scouts got their much needed nerf to Hydra Bow, leaving it as a powerful but not insane ability.

Cerci specific notes (both good and bad):

Full disclosure in regards to the following, I'm primarily a Cerci player... Cerci don't feel like they fit their mobility and support theme anymore. I'll split this out into a few points:

Speed & Mobility theme issues: They don't feel fast anymore. RK Malya, the fastest racer around, is barely faster than any other Relic Knight, and while the feint with auto disengage helps, the fact that as written she doesn't get a follow up combined with the shorter initial move means that she doesn't feel like she's that good for hit and run tactics anymore (as mentioned before, the opponents can pretty easily just follow her and re-engage, and because that blocks her from moving before attacking, she loses her free disengage, and suddenly she's stuck in place taking a pummelling). Most of their foot units are no more than average speed, (fastest one I've seen so far is Asger, at 5-5). I understand, you don't want them stupid fast, but it would make sense that even their foot units would be slightly faster than average to make up for the lowered damage potential and increased fragility caused by the removal of full damage guards and redirects combined with their generally low armour (Betty, Lug and Asger are outliers for them based on units I've seen so far, Betty only if she's supported by Lug, and Asger is by far the strongest of them in terms of damage, though he does share the squishy problem). RK Malya's Dash cadre ability helps with the mobility at the cost of action economy.

Pit Crew problems: Pit Crew having repair as an upgrade is thematically weird. Their costing already feels strange when they have no ranged attack, their heal ability is weak (1 point for normal units, 2 if they can be repaired, and an additional point if you keep the Pit Crew in the AoE, thus making them easy targets. Plus it only triggers on activation, not on entering the area, so your units have to spend an activation sitting inside it, instead of being able to pass through and keep moving), and they're a squad of 4 with weak armour and relatively low health. They're Pit Crew. Repairing is their thing. They also contribute to the mobility problem mentioned above, because the AoE and needing them near it to get anything even remotely reasonable out of it means you need to keep your units returning to it again and again, and the pit crew are average speed at best, so it's not going to shift around the board very quickly. So even the units with faster speeds (RK Malya and the Pacer so far) are going to be somewhat tethered to the area around the AoE so they have easy access to some kind of healing. It would help with the speedster theme if it was a targeted ability, since it would allow the pit crew to support while keeping a somewhat slower speed, while no longer keeping the faster units tethered to an area around the pit crew just to survive. Even keeping it as a relatively weak heal/slightly more effective repair, and keeping the full repair as an upgrade would help.

Hero Shielding issues: Hero Shielding is a problem for Cerci so far in the playtest. I assume there's going to be some faster minions coming (I would guess that the Belles are minions). It's fine for Betty and Lug, because you want them nearby each other, so she's not going to outpace him too much, but so far there are no minions with the speed to keep up with Pacer and RK Malya, so unless they're intentionally limiting their movement around the board to stay close to minions, they're in trouble, so again, their speed is restricted, which once again makes them feel off theme. I figure this will be fixed as more unit cards get released, but I'd like to see some stats ASAP so I can actually playtest with fast minions.

The positive stuff about Cerci: I absolutely love the Pacer. The Recover AoE is nice, Suppressing Foam is still a really strong support ability, and their inbuilt recover ability and good (for cerci) armour is a nice touch. Also really like the upgrade for them, it feels right to have it cost a couple of extra points to turn a pure support unit into a support/offensive mix. It's a solid, and well priced non-unique hero. Betty and Lug also work great in tandem. They really feel like a team still, with him guarding her, which is nice, though I'm disappointed I can't run them both in a Radiant Cadre since he's a minion. I like the way the damage boost for her works now, though I am a little sad that Dismantle is gone, it just felt right that Betty would be extra good at taking apart things that were repairable. I can see why it's been removed though, for the sake of simplicity.

Cerci notes summary: I get it, they were too strong in the 1.0 ruleset, because they could drop tokens off the turn they were picked up, were actually somewhat tanky due to perfect guards and redirects, and could dish out surprising amounts of damage (though the lack of overcharged attacks did limit that to an extent). But it feels like overcorrection in the attempt to nerf them for 2.0. Their movement has been severely dropped and their damage dealing potential has dropped overall, which combined with the new disengage rules, severely limits their hit and run tactics capabilities, which is a problem because their increased fragility makes hit and run the only really viable way to go for them in combat. Objective running isn't attractive at all anymore for anything that requires picking up and moving tokens, because even their slightly faster movement speeds allowing them to maybe drop tokens off a little faster mean very little when it's not guaranteed points, so they're still better off attacking to slowly whittle down enemy units in order to get definite points. They just don't feel like speedsters anymore. Other factions have their big theme, like chaotic shenanigans for the Corsairs (flip can really spike some of their effects up, and the downsides have been removed) and esper fixing via deck fixing and alternative resource methods (Vaultus' Rapid Search, Sorrin's Kind and Helpful AoE, Academy Guard being able to mess with the opponent's deck for examples just from my game today). The Cerci theme should be mobility/speed based, but they're just slightly faster (and have less access to fly and thrusters than other cadres seem to, at least from what we've seen so far), so it feels a bit sort of... bland, I guess.

Final Note:

That's it for notes from this game. It's worth noting that this is significantly less than I had to say after the last few games, the rules are definitely improving with the update, so that's a really good sign. I would still like to see work done on the scoring mechanics (Obsidian-Crane's idea regarding discarding a card with the matching esper type for the scenario when you complete the score trigger ismy preferred solution, and I'll run a playtest game with it if I get a chance in the next week or so).

Author:  Obsidian-Crane [ March 20th, 2017, 12:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Excellent report!

I look forward to the next finding (I really need to get my act together again and do some testing).

Author:  Ender101 [ March 20th, 2017, 2:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and your thoughts about your games.

I did have one question about what you said though:

tinkergoth wrote:
Unique Rule: I like that the unique rules have been tightened up a bit, though that's more personal preference than anything else. I wasn't a big fan of the Candy Crush list that just ran every Candy possible.


The new rules for Unique characters allow you to run Candy and all of her Dark Space versions if they keep to typing each Candy as [Darkspace [title of cosplay] Candy] (ie Unique [Darkspace Hero of Time Candy]) where as they could not before unless I'm misunderstanding?

Author:  tinkergoth [ March 20th, 2017, 2:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

I don't have a problem with running a Candy model alongside the two DS Candy versions. That's not what the Candy Crush list was.

Candy Crush was Candy & Cola, Candy Heart, Candy Rush, and I think there was one more, plus darkspace Candy if you had the points to spare. Those first 3 I listed aren't Darkspace versions, they're just the same character with different model names, so due to the unique rule being formerly based on name, you could run them all together while you couldn't run Suicide Queen QK and the solo version of Suicide Queen together.

Under the new rules all the non-Darkspace versions of Candy have "Unique (Candy)" on the card, so you can only take one of them.

Author:  Ender101 [ March 20th, 2017, 3:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Thanks for clearing that up for me ^_^

Author:  Major Glitch [ March 20th, 2017, 3:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

I've always argued that particular list, since all foot versions of Candy used the same stat card (Candy Heart), regardless of what the model was sold as.

The errata even states (indirectly) that the tracker card is what matters for the purposes of unit name, not the model. So you have Candy (RK), Candy Heart (Any of the 3 on-foot models), Darkspace Candy, and Hero of Time. Depending on how they all shake down with the new trait, you may or may not be able to use all 4 in a list going forward.

Author:  tinkergoth [ March 27th, 2017, 12:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Game 2
Rules Iteration: 2.0 Beta Update 13/03/17 (I use DD/MM/YY date format if that's confusing anyone)

RK Malya & Mr Tomm
Pacer with Chaingun upgrade
2 x Pit Crew

Candy & Cola
Dan D. Starship
Rhouss Fixer
Darkspace Hero of Time Candy
3 x Enforcers

Primary Condition: Secure Perimiter
Secondary Condition: Assassination
Playtime: Approx 2 hours 30 minutes
Result: Cerci Win (Assassination completed, 3 units total killed, 1 Secure Perimeter scored). Radiant scored 2 Secure Perimeter, killed 1 unit, and scored 1 point from Assassination.
Final Score: 8 - 6

Quick Summary:

Champion/Villain flip gave us Cerci as Champions, Radiant as Villains. Opponent placed his first objective as close to the center as he could, with large cover nearby. I did my best to use my objective placement to block him from being able to hide units behind any large cover around the board edges while hiding my own as best I could.

I designated Betty as his target for Assassination, he chose Hero of Time Candy (referred to as HoT Candy from here).

Radiant player focused primarily on the Law objective. He also managed to get one hit in on Betty (Line attack from Dan D. Starship) and scored an assassination point, and succeeded in killing my pit crew with Candy's Bottle Opener (not a difficult feat). I focused on killing the Rhouss Fixer and Dan D. Starship to remove a significant amount of his offensive and support capability, then went for the kill on HoT Candy for the Assassination points and extra Unit Killer point.

By the time I killed HoT Candy, he was already on 6 points, putting us on 6 points each, with each of us still able to score off the primary condition. We were sitting around 2 hours of game time at this point. This is where the game got boring, really quickly. We both realised that a) neither of us were capable of stopping the other from trying to score Secure Perimeter at least once in their turn, and b) the first person to successfully flip Law was going to win the game, so the logical choice was to hunker down at the objectives we were near and just keep trying to score them. I had the activation advantage (he was down two heroes), but it still took another 15 to 20 minutes for me to flip the !SODA! card I needed to get the final two points. For that last part of the game, we just ignored each other completely. Every turn was just "I secure the objective *Flip* !SODA!, your turn" and so on and so forth.

Rules Queries:

Disengagement: How does this function when it comes to a squad? Are my units engaged the squad as a whole, or just the specific model? Do I have to remain inside the engagement zone of the model that originally engaged me, or could I manoeuvre my way around the entire squad to find another position? What happens if a squad is engaged by two different units, at either end their area? Technically they can only move their additional models into engagement, but how does that work if they're engaged on both sides?

Scoring Secure Perimeter: I've asked this before, but it bears repeating. Can you score off powering the same objective more than once (same goes for Siege/Espionage/Anarchy/Realign/Grand Conjunction)? I can't see anything that stops it, I know you have to be able to secure/sabotage/infuse multiple times to prevent a situation where you've powered all the objectives and can't continue to try and score without draining tokens, but allowing players to just keep spamming the same one to score is problematic. If players are going to try and run these objectives instead of going for the kill, the most efficient way is to once again just ignore the opponent and sit on the objectives doing nothing but powering it with whatever token type. This just recreates the lack of interaction that the first edition could have, but this time with a random element to cause frustration as well.

Pit Crew Wrench Smash Press: I imagine the intent here is that if you press the Pit Crew's Wrench Smash the turn you've engaged the target, the intention is that you'll just move one other unit of yours 4 inches, but as written it can be interpreted that you could move ALL your other units. Needs clarification. Also, does this movement allow them to get out of engagement without flipping, since it's not the unit who is engaged that has triggered the movement.

General Observations

Game Speed: I know, I know, I keep bringing this up, but I think it needs to be brought up every time it becomes an issue, so it can be addressed. Once again, we've got a game that went around 3 hours in time. Yes, we can play to the clock, but we used to get through a 50pt game in an hour, and even taking into account time to confirm new rules and make notes, you're looking at a play time of at least double the old version. Part of the attraction to RK for me is the fast pace and shorter playtimes, I could get two or three games done in a single day at the shop if I was lucky. No hope of that this time, by the time one game is done, everyone is so wiped that no one want's to keep going. Again, random scenario scoring and Flip requiring constantly shuffling seems to be at least part of the problem here.

Candy's Cadre Ability: I like it in concept, but in practice it turned out to be way too much of a double edged sword for my opponent to ever use it after the first couple of times, when he realised he was giving me exactly what I needed to continue putting the hurt on his units. So after the first few turns, it may as well have not been there. May need some tweaking.

Malya movement: Another thing I know I've covered extensively, so I'm going to only say a little here. We've got yet another Relic who's almost as fast as RK Malya (Candy is literally one inch slower in total, yes I know Malya has Dash, I'm not counting it since it screws action economy by forcing a dead turn to get a little extra speed), and whose Initial Move is faster (9 inches vs Malya's 7). However, the fact that Candy has Fly vs Malya's Thrusters, means that she actually feels like a much more manoeuvrable unit than Malya does (Malya not being able to follow up if using her free disengage/feint ability as written doesn't help this).

Pit Crew Theme Weirdness: I noticed this a lot more this time, because I was playing the Pit Crew against their Radiant minion equivalent, the Rhouss Fixer. I get it, he needs to be better than them to justify the higher point cost for a single model... but just having that line attack makes him significantly better. The fact that his Repair/Heal AOE triggers on entry OR activation for a significantly higher amount than the Pit Crew AOE is really frustrating, especially since he doesn't have to hang around the !SODA! thing. It repairs by default, and for one extra point, turns into a Heal. Meanwhile, the Pit Crew get a minor heal AoE with a slightly better repair effect, and have to sit inside it like targets if they want it to do just a little more (but still less than the Rhouss does by default). And if they want to actually be able to just outright repair, you have to pay an additional two points to give them what used to be their core ability.

Final Notes:

This report is a little more sparse than my list one. Since there hasn't been a rules update this week, a lot of stuff we've been noticing has already been mentioned in my previous report, or has already been answered by others who have found what I needed to know in the rules. The next battle report should have some more new stuff since I was playing as Corsairs, who I hadn't tried since the rules update was released. I still think the current beta version is looking far better than the original version, but it definitely still needs work.

Author:  Major Glitch [ March 27th, 2017, 1:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

For Engagement and Squads, all members of a Squad are required to move into engagement or as close as possible to the enemy unit. As I read the rules, the engagement zone is defined at the model level, not the unit, but disengagement is handled at the unit level, so you could "dance" around the squad if they were positioned in a way that would allow you to do so only by disengaging. (Since you'd technically be breaking engagement if you were moving out of the specific model's zone.) We've posted similar questions about being engaged to multiple units, I'm expecting those issues to be addressed witht the next beta update. Relating to the Pit Crew/Wrench Smash Press; since it's a free move you would have to flip to disengage.

If Candy's cadre ability required LoS to her, do you think that would help any? Or do you think a rework of her ability would be necessary. Similarly, Cola's AoE Enough to Share benefits both players. While the two abilities are thematic, I agree that such a core part of your Knight should be something you want to use, not something you avoid using (See also: Codebreaker v9.0).

[Edited for clarity on engagements]

Author:  Obsidian-Crane [ March 27th, 2017, 10:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Hmm the need for a unit to move to engaged currently wrecks Act As One.

Also I wonder if the Flip race at the end doesn't further exasperate the unit advantage situation created by placeholders. The person with the most units can potentially afford to dedicate one unit to attacking still and still match the other for Flips, or they have an advantage because they can Flip an extra 1 or 2 (thanks to hero + minion activation) times over the opponent.

Thanks for the report Tinkergoth.

Author:  tenro [ March 28th, 2017, 12:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

great input, thanks.

Author:  tinkergoth [ April 30th, 2017, 10:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Been a while since my last playtest. Just one game played today, my opponent found it frustrating enough that he wasn't willing to give it another round. Spoiler alert: Cerci can now play fast, just not in the way you'd expect from the supposed speedsters.

Game 3 (not actually game 3, just the 3rd one I felt had sufficient points raised to justify reporting. At this stage probably game 7 or 8)
Rules Iteration: 2.0 Beta Update 14/04/17 (I use DD/MM/YY date format if that's confusing anyone)

RK Marie-Claude & Esmee
Rin Farrah
1 x Pit Crew (in retrospect this model was useless, if I redid it I'd probably just drop her and run a full squad of Hell's Belles)
5 x Hell's Belles with Rocket Launcher upgrade.

Kisa & Scratch
Darkspace Bang Bang
3 x Academy Guard
3 x Academy Guard
Dampening Field

Primary Condition: Conservation
Secondary Condition: Siege
Playtime: Approx 1 hour 30 minutes
Result: Cerci Win (Total Knight/Hero wipeout, no objectives attempted)
Final Score: 8 - 0

Turn by Turn Breakdown

I don't normally do these, but in this instance I feel it's necessary to give a good understanding of WHY this was such a problematic game. The descriptions of my opponents turns are going to be a little more sparse than mine, I was concentrating more on my plans, his actions are a bit of a blur to me now. My opponent was gaining esper from terrain as well, I just haven't noted it here because it didn't particular affect what I was doing.

Since I won the flip, I chose to be Villain. Using careful placement of my first objective marker, I blocked off a corner of the map that had a piece of crystal grown terrain and a large building I could hide the majority of my units behind. I placed my remaining objectives in such a way that it would ideally keep my opponent's units deployed as far away from my "bunker" as possible. All heroes were deployed so that they were touching the esper grown terrain, Hell's Belles and single pit crew model were also in hiding. Esmee sat on top of the terrain, within 6 inches of Marie-Claude, with a clear view of a significant amount of the board, including all approaches to where I had setup my cadre so that if they moved to run objectives or try to get LoS on me, I had a clear view from Esmee. Opponent positioned himself so that he could attempt to play the objectives. Basically, imagine a corner with some shipping containers in it, all my guys were hiding behind that (and yes, Marie-Claude had full concealment, it was size 4 terrain), while the Doctrine were spread across the opposite sides of the board.

Doctrine Turn 1
Hero Phase: Fiametta activates, Academy Guard S1 as minion. Fiametta attempts to block LoS to her location by throwing down her Ring of Fire AoE between Esmee and herself.
Minion Phase: Academy Guard S1 approach closest enemy objective to prepare for token retrieval on following activation.

Cerci Turn 1
Hero Phase: Pacer activates, Hell's Belles as minion. Pacer gains held esper from terrain, then moves out from behind cover slightly to allow LoS to units Esmee can't see. Refocus. No follow up, still touching crystal grown terrain. Holding 2 esper.
Minion Phase: Hell's Belles activate. Spend 2G 2Y from hand, target Kisa with Rocket Launcher by sharing Esmee's LoS thanks to Marie-Claude's Advanced Team Networking Cadre Ability. Spend 2 held esper from the Pacer for the 2G press. 5 unit squad of Belles all with LoS to Kisa, who has 18 health, makes a pressed Rocket Launcher a 15 damage attack. Kisa is in a Dampening Field, gets 1 bonus armour putting her on 3, but opponent cannot afford her Recover. 12 damage gets through, Kisa drops to 6 hitpoints.

Doctrine Turn 2
Hero Phase: Kisa activates, Academy Guard S2 as minion. Kisa attempts to get to some cover. Places Cat Nip AoE on Academy Guard S2
Minion Phase: Academy Guard S2 move to secure nearby friendly objective. Flip 2, flip fails, no points scored.

Cerci Turn 2
Hero Phase: Marie-Claude activates, Esmee as minion. MC gains 1 held esper from terrain. My hand was junk so refocus, gain additional held esper. Don't move.
Minion Phase: Esmee activates, hands MC additional esper. MC total now 3 held esper. Esmee able to adjust position slightly to draw LoS to Kisa without allowing Kisa to claim cover. Spend junk esper card from hand to remove Ring of Fire AoE. Cleanup hand.

Doctrine Turn 3
Hero Phase: Bang Bang, Academy Guard S1 as minion. Bang Bang places Sorcerous Protection AoE on Kisa.
Minion Phase: Academy Guard S1 retrieve Conservation token, begin to move towards friendly primary.

Cerci Turn 3
Hero Phase: Rin Farrah, Hell's Belles as minion. Rin gains held esper from terrain. Spend 3G 2B from hand to use Headshot, targeting Kisa through LoS. Spend held esper for 1B for press to 6 damage, Kisa has taken damage so attack ends up at 9 damage. Sorcerous Protection flips no Essence, 1 armour leaves 8 damage going through, and Recover won't help because she takes the damage before it kicks in, so Kisa dies. At this stage we're 20 minutes at most into the game. Two attacks launched and my opponent's Relic Knight is dead.
Minion Phase: Hell's Belles spend 1G 2Y from hand, 1G from Marie-Claude's held esper to pay for Rocket Launcher against Academy Guard S1 using Pacer's LoS. No press. 10 Damage, 1 armour, can't pay recover. 1 model dead, 2 remain (1 half health, 1 full).

State of Play at end of Turn 3: Doctrine's Relic Knight dead, Cerci on 5 VP.

Doctrine Turn 4
Hero Phase: Fiametta, Academy Guard S2 as minion. Fiametta gets into cover, cannot draw LoS on anyone she can actually target (Esmee not being a legal target for attacks).
Minion Phase: Academy Guard S2 begin moving towards Pacer to prepare for attacks.

Cerci Turn 4
Hero Phase: Pacer, Esmee as minion. Pacer gets 1 held esper, holds position. Refocuses, goes to 2 held esper.
Minion Phase: Esmee is within 6 inches of Marie-Claude, gives MC 1 held esper. MC now on 3 held esper. Moves along top of terrain to draw LoS without obstruction to Fiametta, still within 6 inches of MC.

Doctrine Turn 5
Hero Phase: Bang Bang, Academy Guard S1 as minion. Bang Bang moves into dampening field and plays Sorcerous Protection AoE near herself, manages to maintain complete cover.
Minion Phase: Academy Guard S1 make a move for the friendly primary to deposit token, cannot make it the whole way that turn.

Cerci Turn 5
Hero Phase: Marie-Claude, Hell's Belles as minion. MC gets held esper from terrain, now on 4. Spends 1G 1Y from hand for unpressed Precision Shot targeting Fiametta. Fiametta guards, taking 2 damage and backlashing 3. MC soaks 2 of the backlash on her armour, goes to 19 HP.
Minion Phase: Hell's Belle's spend 2Y from hand, 2G from MC held esper to use Rocket Launder on Academy Guard S1 from Esmee's LoS. 10 damage, 1 armour, 9 HP, and recover won't trigger before damage, so Academy Guard S1 die.

State of Play at end of Turn 5: Kisa dead, Academy Guard S1 dead. Cerci on 6 VP, Doctrine on 0, Cerci have sustained exactly 1 point of damage, and have yet to be directly attacked.

Doctrine Turn 6
Placeholder Turn: Fiametta Heals 2, goes back to full health.

Cerci Turn 6
Hero Phase: Rin Farrah, Esmee as minion. Rin gains 1 held esper from terrain. Uses Esmee's LoS to target Fiametta with Unseen Shot, pays 2G from hand, 1Y from Held Esper. No Press. Fiametta can't afford guard, takes 4 damage, goes to 6 HP and suffers knockback.
Minion Phase: Esmee activates, gives Marie-Claude 1 held esper. MC now on 5 held esper. Attempts to move to get LoS on Bang Bang, can't. Cleanses catnip AoE using junk card from hand.

Doctrine Turn 7
Hero Phase: Bang Bang, Academy Guard S2 as minion. Attempts to manoeuvre to get LoS on anyone by Esmee, can't. Stays concealed.
Minion Phase: Academy Guard S2 close in on Pacer. Use Sweep Attack, can't afford press. 6 damage total (4 base, 2 coordinated attack). Pacer spends 2G from held esper, 1G 1B from hand for Roll with the Impact, then presses for 2B from hand to get Recover 6. Pacer goes back to full health, is still engaged by Academy Guard S2.

Cerci Turn 7
Hero Phase: Pacer, Hell's Belles as minion. Gain 1 held esper from terrain. Pay 1G from hand, 1G from held esper, place Garage AoE just behind so it's in the cover of the bunker, allowing Hell's Belle's easy access to AoE with a slight move.
Minion Phase: Hell's Belles activate, move into Garage AoE. Use Esmee LoS to Fiametta, pay 2G 2Y from MC held esper for Rocket Launcher. 1G from hand, 1G from MC held esper to press. 13 damage attack, Fiametta has 6 HP 0 armour. Fiametta guards, to get backlash 3, but dies. Hell's Belles soak 1 backlash on armour, take 2, then recover 2 from Garage AoE. Net damage to Hell's Belles, 0. Hell's Belles move back so that Academy Guard cannot get to them without disengaging the Pacer.

State of Play at end of Turn 7: Kisa, Fiametta and Academy Guard S1 dead. Cerci on 7 VP, Doctrine on 0, Cerci have still only taken one point of damage. At this point I could have ended things very quickly by killing Academy Guard S2 for the last point, and almost did because frankly I was bored out of my goddamn mind, but decided I wanted the total knight/hero wipe for the shiggles.

Doctrine Turn 8
Placeholder Turn: Give Bang Bang 1 held esper.

Cerci Turn 8
Hero Phase: Marie-Claude, Esmee as minion. Gain 1 held esper from terrain. Realise I need to flush Bang Bang out. Move out from cover, refocus to gain another held esper. Follow up and continue moving towards Bang Bang. At this stage still within 6 inches of Esmee, currently 2 held esper.
Minion Phase: Esmee activates, give MC 1 held esper, totalling 3, spends turn moving towards Bang Bang. Clean up hand.

Doctrine Turn 9
Placeholder Turn: My opponent, wanting this over with so he can go home and lick his wounds, uses the opportunity to move Bang Bang 3 inches out into the open. She's still in the dampening field and Sorcerous Protection AoE, but I've got a clear LoS to her.

Cerci Turn 9
Hero Phase: Rin Farrah, Hell's Belles as minion. Rin gains 1 held esper from terrain I considered hitting Bang Bang with an Unseen Shot, because it turns out that in a situation where the enemy has 1 hero left and 2 placeholder cards, and you've got Rin activating just before the hero, it's 100% possible to just stun lock them out of the game entirely by knocking them back every time they're about to get a turn, especially if they don't have a guard to prevent the secondary effect (Bang Bang has no guard), so you can just slowly ping them to death while they have to sit there and take it. I was getting sick of this game too though, and I'm not a completely heartless bastard, so I had Rin refocus to make sure I had sufficient resources, and passed the activation to the Belles.
Minion Phase: Hell's Belles target Bang Bang with Rocket Launcher, paying 2G from Rin's Esper, 2Y from MC's esper. Press paid for with 1G from MC's esper, 1 from hand. 9 damage, plus 4 for all Belle's drawing line of sight. Bang Bang has neither 3 armour nor a health total of 15 or higher, so bonus damage does not trigger. 13 damage total. Opponent flips for Sorcerous Protection, no Essence, so no damage reduction. At this point, we did the math. She could get a total of 3 armour if she used Gravity, and would get Recover 4. However with 10 health, 3 armour, and 13 damage, she was dead before recover could trigger.

State of Play at end of Turn 9: Kisa, Fiametta, DS Bang Bang and Academy Guard S1 dead. Cerci on 8VP, Doctrine on 0, making it a simultaneous win by knight/hero wipeout and victory points. 1 point of damage total dealt to Cerci.

State of Players at end of Turn 9: Bored out of skull by the undeniably effective but extremely banal strategy (me). Reduced to incoherent swearing and screeching due to frustration caused by being unable to do a single bloody thing to stop the onslaught of apparently target seeking rockets and sniper bullets curving around multiple walls(opponent).

Rules Queries:

Sorcerous Protection: When does the AoE trigger? Is the card revealed as soon as the initial attack is paid for, before the target draws defence? Or after defense cards are drawn?

Rocket Launcher: Does the Hell's Belles' Rocket Launcher upgrade trigger the bonus 2 damage for 3 or more armour based on inherent armour on the unit, or on total armour granted by AoEs and cover as well as inherent? Given that the 15 or more health requirement says "Starts the game with", I assume the armour is meant to be based on their inherent armour, but as it is currently written, it could be taken either way.

General Observations & Notes

Doctrine Flavour: Doctrine are by far my favourite redesign of all the factions so far. Their abilities to manipulate the deck and their hand is fantastic, really fits them. In a game where they actually had a fair chance, it'd be a really powerful ability. In this case... didn't have too much impact.

Speed of the Game: Seriously guys, I know I said that Cerci played too slow, but this is not the fix I was looking for. This is exactly what I've been talking about when I've been saying that the only really reliable way to play the game right now is to go for the kill, and all you've done is given Cerci an almost surefire strategy to do it at turbo speed, that they can setup as long as they can manage to claim a semi-decent area of the field to hide in during deployment.

Cerci Flavour: I honestly don't get what you're going for. They're not that fast anymore. Okay, Malya is technically the fastest model in the game, barely, but her hit and run tactics are crap now since as written she doesn't get to follow up on the disengage, so units can just follow her, re-engage her, hem her in and stop her getting her free disengage. And what the hell is the deal with Suicide Queen? She's the same speed as Asger now? She's on a bloody jet bike. They're crap at support (the Rhouss Fixer is better at being pit crew than the pit crew are, because for the cost of 4 pit crew he gets an AoE that doesn't force him to stay in it to be even close to effective or for your units to end their turns in it to get the effect, and can upgrade it to heal instead of just repair for 1 point, while the pit crew have to pay two additional points just to be able to do ranged repairs). The "speedster" (quotes intended to denote sarcasm, because for the love of god, almost every model in my faction now goes the average speed, and even the slightly faster ones get matched or outpaced by multiple models from the other factions) doesn't mesh with the sub-par support abilities they have, so between those issues and the random objectives making scoring that way unreliable, the only viable option I have is to go for the kill. Which brings me to...

Marie-Claude's Advanced Team Networking: Listen, I mean this in the nicest possible way, but WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! You took sharing LoS, an ability that was extremely situational in 1E (from memory, Marikan-To shared LoS with Lakmi, Viper could provide it to the cadre using an AoE, and Suicide Queen could do it for herself only with an AoE), and GAVE IT TO AN ENTIRE CADRE! How did this even make it into the beta packet? With the unreliability of objective running now, and access to something like Rocket Launcher, why the hell would I ever run anyone other than RK Marie-Claude? I can think of so many builds that abuse this to utterly ridiculous levels. Hell, I was refining ideas while I was playing, because the strategy was so simple that I didn't even really have to concentrate on reacting. I barely moved anything during the game apart from Esmee. The pacer, the belles and Marie-Claude moved once, Rin didn't move at all. It was the most unbelievably boring game of Relic Knights I've ever played, and by the end of it my opponent was so salty over the frustration of playing against my cadre that I could have shoved a lightbulb in his mouth and used him as a Himalayan rock salt lamp. Every single person that watched what I was doing today (and there were quite a few popping in and out over the course of the game) remarked that it was an absolutely disgusting tactic and a sign of a severely broken design.

I'm not going to do my usual expanded Cerci specific notes at the end of this one. Either later tonight or tomorrow night I'll be going through the current beta document for Cerci and doing a complete breakdown of my problems with them individually and as a faction. Long story short, there's no cohesive niche/flavour for them anymore. They needed to be nerfed from the ridiculous speedster levels they had in 1E, but now they're not really fast at all with the exception of Malya and the Pacer (and even they aren't THAT fast), and instead they've been turned into scarily efficient shooters, the exact opposite of what they're meant to be. Every other faction has their theme, and while some of them might be a little boring (Black Diamond), they still fit within it. The Corsairs might be a bit scattershot, but that's their thing, they're jacks of all trade and have a lot of chaotic stuff with their flips, AND they work together. Cerci are just a messy grab bag of playstyles that don't mesh together. It's not just that one or two units need work, it's a systemic issue with the entire faction.

I honestly would love to hear from one of the devs about what the actual design goal is with the Cerci, because I can't see it. What are you aiming for?

As it stands, at this point I'm pretty much waiting and watching for beta updates, and if I haven't seen some pretty significant changes for the better for the faction by the time they announce the pledge manager cut-off date, I'll be asking for a refund. I'd rather cut my losses and accept that I've lost the kickstarter fees component of my pledge than continue pouring money into a game I'm not going to enjoy anymore. I don't WANT to do that, so please don't put me in a position that I feel I have to. I love the aesthetic, I love the fluff, but if it comes down to the only reason to keep playing being the Sunk Cost Fallacy making me think I've put too much time and money in to quit now, then you better believe I'm walking away.

Right, rant over. Complete Cerci analysis and tear down will follow later.

Author:  Major Glitch [ May 1st, 2017, 6:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

I knew that Advanced Team Networking was going to be an issue the moment I read it. Thanks for demonstrating that so succinctly.

If they wanted to keep some version of this ability, my suggestion would be to limit the LoS sharing to support actions. I had originally thought that it could be toned down by adding an additional cost if using shared LoS, but I hadn't considered esper terrain when thinking about that.

As for the theme of Cerci as a whole, I also agree that their 2.0 "style" isn't immediately obvious.
If their speed was lowered due to their ease of running objectives, is that reasoning still relevant with flips for VP scoring? If increasing their speed to give them a slight edge in movement is still off the table, perhaps giving more of their units easier disengages could act as a unifying trait for them (Either as a trait - "Nimble Fighter" allowing more cards to be flipped for disengage, or allowing a follow-up move after a disengage; or as a press on melee or defensive actions that allows for more unit-specific flavor.)

Author:  ape2020 [ May 1st, 2017, 6:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tinkergoth's 2.0 Beta Playtest reports

Not sure if its been suggested but how about giving Blur tokens a universal trait? My suggestion is if the unit has a Blur Token they can use a follow up movement after disengaging. This would a trait for all Blur Tokens in addition to what ever the units use them for. Makes it very tough to slow them down if using their resourses to generate Blur Tokens, but of course that requires those resources. Would make Malya very slippery and a true hit-in-run artist.

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