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 2 Player Starter Concerns 
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Denizen
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I feel a re-examination of the 2 player starter is necessary. I realize that much of the contents are set due to pre-planned considerations, but with the unexpected 2.1 changes, some of the original design choices regarding balance and game-play expectations have shifted (1). Additionally, the inclusion and implementation of unique versions of retail units (the minion squads) has been something that has been nagging at me, and I think it bears discussion - I am curious to see if I am an outlier in my views, or if others agree with me about the unique squads (2).

1.
The first thing that jumps out as a potential problem is that general playtests suggest a metagame that requires cyphers to be activated as heroes more often than as minions. If this remains the case, the included cadres, while balanced against each other, are likely going to play slower due to the internal hero/minion balance. New players may very well assume that the Cypher should be activated as a minion, due to unit distribution, making the process of learning the hero activation importance harder to come to without outside advice. And that says nothing of trying to use a starter cadre against a "normal" cadre, where the current meta for 35 points is 2 heroes, 2 minions, and the cypher. I understand that some elements of the meta may shift as the beta progresses, but I think that the starter should reflect what an average player would consider a "balanced" cadre.
At the very least, I believe the included minion squads should have an ability that triggers with getting a second activation token (more on this below).

2.
The larger problem, at least in my eyes, is the minion squads that are included. I assume that their overall design is intended to do two things simultaneously: 1. Fill the remaining point cost. 2. Provide a simplified squad with which to teach the rules. The included minions do achieve that, but they currently fail a third consideration: Does the unit stand on it's own when used outside of the starter box?

Why do they fail? Because their non-unique counterparts seem to be better.
I understand that the starter units are supposed to be the elite versions of the retail units, but the difference seems to boil down to vastly increased pay for subtle performance differences.
- Sundown Enforcers(unique) v Enforcers: For the same cost I can get 4 models with an upgrade. The Enforcers also have a 2+ activation token trigger (which synergizes with their upgrade) and a faction ability. For more health(models) and more abilities on the Enforcers, I give up one point of armor and one point of melee defense (negated by the upgrade). Their ranged attack costs one esper more than the unique versions, but both squads do the same damage if all models have LoS.
- Dark Pinions(unique) v Seraphim: This comparison isn't as straight forward as the Enforcers, as the two squads have different roles. The unique squad does have 1 more health per model, and the statlines on the units reflect their attack-type difference. However, the units both have an attack that can be used at range, but the Seraphim also have a melee attack, faction ability, and upgrade. The Seraphim have a psychic attack instead of a ranged attack, again increasing versatility. While there are cost differences similar to the Enforcers, the differences in this case could be more the result of different attack types instead of directly related to recruitment cost.
- The retail versions of both units give greater flexibility when cadre-building, both in the initial recruitment cost, and in the maximum squad size, as well as being more attractive to the faction they have a token ability for.

Why is this bad?
I'm paying for a unit in the starter that will only see play if I have no other options when building a Prismatic cadre. I would never consider the unique squads for inclusion in a faction cadre as they do not have faction abilities - at least the retail versions fit nicely with SSP/Noh. Furthermore, when I realize that there are stats for a more mechanically diverse version, that will give me more flexibility when building a cadre and more options when playing, my reaction will likely be (is) negative, especially considering that it would require another purchase to get the most out of the squad. This is doubly bad for the Seraphim, since the Dark Pinion models are holding weapons that do not reflect the Seraphim stats; at least the Sundown Enforcers are the same model as the Enforcers, making stat swapping simple.

What are possible solutions?
- Give the unique versions a 2+ activation token trigger. They are supposed to be elite soldiers, after all.
- Give the unique versions noticeably better statlines to justify point costs and reflect that they are elite.
- Give the unique versions more active abilities (though this undermines the simplicity goal)
- Or Adjust the unique versions current abilities to make them clearly better.
- Combine the two units (IE have the retail pack use the same stat card as the starter unit), and balance the starter cadres by having the players use the squad with an upgrade (nicely introducing that concept). The upgrade should be titled "Sundown Enforcer/Dark Pinion" and have some ability that reflects the special nature of the unique version.


June 11th, 2017, 3:53 am
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Denizen
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I have been pondering this for some time.

In broad strokes I agree with Glitch.

That said I think a simpler solution is to provide 2 cards in the starter for the Minions (if not everything). A simplified set of cards intended to allow players to learn the rules quickly and then a standard set of cards that is supposed to work in the broader game.

The Enforcers cover this well already, but the Pinions really need a version that is a standard shooty version instead of the melee standard of the Seraphim.

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Last edited by Obsidian-Crane on June 15th, 2017, 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.



June 11th, 2017, 4:23 am
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Good post Glitch.

I hadn't thought about this. Now that I think a little about this topic, I'm very worried about the starter box set. John's come with a very good answer imo.

At the very least the starter box has to be retooled to reflect the current/future state of the game. I also want to draw attention again to the 2x2 mat. It's just too small. I just don't envision a game of even 35pt that will play well on a 2x2.

Scrap it. Honestly we don't need it and I don't see new players even caring about it. If SPM wants something in the box still then give more folded terrain. Personally I think this is where SPM could just save some pocket change by scrapping the mat entirely.

New players will almost definitely have a TT background of some kind. They will at the very least understand how to set a basic battlefield up.

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June 12th, 2017, 12:31 pm
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The mat should stay. For brand-new tabletop players it helps them denote the play area. It helps make the game appealing to people who play board games, and gives them familiarity. More importantly, it is likely that the mat will have "shadows" where the included terrain should be placed for the tutorial games, to ensure a balanced set up.

As for the size, I agree that 2'x2' is tight, even for 35pts, but for the purposes of a tutorial, it generally helps to have less space since it should keep the action up. And when people are ready to move beyond basic starter games, then they can leave the small mat behind. Nothing wrong with playing on a clean table with paper terrain, might not look as nice but it gets the job done.


June 12th, 2017, 1:48 pm
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I can't imagine seeing someone pay $100 at retail thinking they are buying a whole game for TT minis game. Only to find out, it's just the tutorial you bought. Now you need to go out and buy more units just to be reasonably affective.

This is TT wargame, we've all played them and there isn't one that really is a simple buy and play. The best one coming/out is 8th edition, for 160 you get over 50 models a huge hardback rules book, dice ect.

The whole idea of the initial game box should be retooled or scrapped and recreated with another design in mind. It's not a successful bridge between TT game and TT wargame. Not to mention the game doesn't function well as a TT game in the current test iteration.

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June 12th, 2017, 2:33 pm
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You are correct that most people will understand that the starter is not meant to be the whole game or even a long-term cadre solution.

But to assume that everyone that is going to buy it has the same experience with the genre as you do is rather short-sighted. As SPM clearly stated from day one on the kickstarter, the 2player starter is designed with brand-new players in mind. Someone who is either new or novice to TT Wargames will get the most benefit out of it. Someone with more experience will likely look at it and either just buy the rulebook and the units they want, or decide to get it for the exclusive units and ignore the tutorial aspect of it. The starter will be internally balanced, so that if a person wants to treat it more like a boardgame instead of an entry-point into the larger game, they can, and there should be nothing wrong with doing so.

So my goal with this thread is not a total redesign of the starter to suit existing RK players, but to point out that the initial 2.0 balance doesn't work as well under 2.1. A secondary concern is the minion squads, as I would still argue that the starter should be useful to players of all levels.


June 12th, 2017, 2:52 pm
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Bare in mind that the enforcers are the same model whereas the dark pinions and seraphim are different.

I would probably use dark pinions as seraphim as I can't see me using them outside of running the boxed game for demos


June 15th, 2017, 8:03 pm
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Mirgroht wrote:
Bare in mind that the enforcers are the same model whereas the dark pinions and seraphim are different.

I would probably use dark pinions as seraphim as I can't see me using them outside of running the boxed game for demos

I touched on this in the initial post, but only briefly so thank you for calling it out. The fact that the models are different for the Void minions makes addressing the power level issue harder, but I do like Obsidian-Crane's idea to have a set of "training" stat cards and a set of "regular" stat cards.


June 15th, 2017, 8:36 pm
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Mirgroht wrote:
Bare in mind that the enforcers are the same model whereas the dark pinions and seraphim are different.

I would probably use dark pinions as seraphim as I can't see me using them outside of running the boxed game for demos


Yup, which is why if there are Learn to Play (L2P) cards the Pinions need a standard rules version as well, that isn't the Seraphim.

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June 15th, 2017, 9:39 pm
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so on the talks about the mat. we do need it, it's a nice visual to new players. working in the industry i know how much this can be a little push to new players. they can throw out something that looks nice to new players already, but maybe SPM creates a 3x3 fold out board. double sided maybe too. it's thicker, heavier, and won't move around as much. also it'll store nicely in the box itself. players can pull it out, unfold it quick, and throw some punchboard terrain out on the map. won't cost much for them to make it either. Just a thought. i know of a few mini games that came with these and was something that was in continuous use for even experienced players.


July 5th, 2017, 1:19 pm
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Alright, so you should be seeing the full starter rulebook today.

The starter models are also largely changed.

As a rule of thumb, I want the starter models as simple as possible. I don't want new players to have to worry about Knockback or Lifeleach or anything of that nature when learning with the starter. Of course, I want older players to be able to use the models as well if they wish, so the goal is to simply increase the model's base stats to make them more competitive. The Knights have a higher than average Esper Draw which makes up for their rather lackluster cadre abilities, and will also hopefully make demo games quicker and bloodier as players get their attacks off more often.

Other units had other stats boosted and abilities simplified slightly.

The booklet itself is designed to teach people as they play, walking them through a series of games. It starts them off right in the action where players learn to attack and then they slowly build up to a game using victory points and every model in the starter.

The target audience for this is entirely new players, even players who have only passing familiarity with war games, so please keep that in mind. And printing two sets of stat cards was simply not something we could do.


Worth noting: Miss Kaylee will lose the Heavy ability and cupid's e-draw will be 1/4. Not sure those changes made it in before cards were exported.

Thanks all!

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August 4th, 2017, 6:42 pm
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I'm fine with the direction you're taking the starter units - sometimes you just need some solid muscle on your team.

I'm still going over the quickstart rules, (and have enlisted some friends to do the same) but the first things that jumped out at me was that success is assumed in the first game (Duel). It is probably worthwhile to include a line about what happens if Miss Kaylee's player is unable to pay for the attack. The rules should also probably instruct each player to shuffle their decks before drawing their hand (Many games have the decks pre-set for the example game, so it should not be assumed players will shuffle first.)


August 4th, 2017, 11:46 pm
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There is a lot to digest in the starter so I want to make general observation first.

The 2P Starter should present an honest example of the game. Models and Rules should all follow the normal expectations for the game, with no dumbing down or simplification, remover no one is picking this up with no familiarity with game concepts at all. The one exception is play space, which is better suited to being smaller to implement the rules faster.

Which then leads to the first addition the 2P set needs; a terrain pack. Which brings up the 2x2 mat; if the mat is designed so it can be cut up into 1x1 squares and rearranged as you see fit, having multiple copies becomes an advantage. 4 copies of the mat is then a 4x4 table with variation, 3 copies lets you build a 3x3 with variation.

Card Changes:
Given that the 2P set should incorporate the full rules the Enforcer's Stoic, Upgrade and Second Token ability should just be put on the Sundown Enforcers and the Enforcers card removed. (Squad max should go to 6.)
A similar merge should be done with the Sepraphim and Dark Pinions (but ditch the Dark Pinions name...), the models can then be mixed between the Pinion set and Seraphim set to create 2 packs so at max size you get more variation.

Now onto the rules.
Anatomy of a Card:
This could be also be a seperate sheet so players can have it beside them as they go through the games rather than having to flip back all the time, or having to include a new reference picture each time a rule is first referenced for the games.

The Duel:
  • Should mention that models must be Engaged to fight in melee so must be within 2" of each other (the 2" bit is there and there is no reason to not include the base of the Engaged rules)
  • A picture of the specific cards that shows where to find the relevant abilities is desirable (but see Anatomy of a Card).
  • Should provide guidance for the mulligan. (Kaylee green/blue/yellow/Wild Mikhal orange/red/purple/Wild)
  • Should tell players to use Esper Draw.
  • Reminds me of the current problem with the core rules not addressing being unable to pay the costs of an action.
  • I recommend adding a press to Mikhal's defence action so that Defence presses are covered as well.
  • The order cards are placed in the discard should be correctly followed; cards used to pay costs followed by unused flipped cards. The fate of unused Flipped cards is not covered.
  • Block and Guard should have their exact rules text in a call out beside the applying damage section.
  • The Effects of Block and Guard should be described in the relevant dot points of the determining damage section, with exact numbers for Guard vs Mikhal's attack.

Run and Gun
  • Should be played on a clear board so LoS need not be explained at the same time as movement and shooting. LoS remains the most complicated set of rules in the game in regards to implementation on the table as it has the most "moving parts".
  • If you include terrain in this example you must also define what an Object and Model are for game purposes.

Muster the Troops
  • Should just add the squads to the Hero and add terrain. This requires the full LoS rules and full terrain rules (including collisions and falling).
  • Need to define a unit.
  • Can introduce random first player.
  • No need for activation tokens at this point, one player activates both their units in any order following the activation sequence.

Secure Perimeter
  • This game then introduces all the final rules, Knights, Cyphers, Activation Tokens and Objectives and VP.

I still need to carefully digest the book after The Duel, but feel the above are key steps in complexity towards a full game. Given that each step is adding more "moving parts" to the rules and thus more complexity to the game. RK is not a very complex game on the whole but LoS and Activation Tokens are essentially the most complex sets of the rules in play (not from a rules perspective per se but because of how their use affects play) so should be introduced separately.

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August 6th, 2017, 12:10 am
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Awesome, thanks guys!

I would actually be really interested in the opinion of someone who has never played RK before (in regards to the starter). If you know anybody, that's awesome.

I have someone in mind as well...

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August 6th, 2017, 2:12 pm
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I might be able to put 2 someones together and see how it goes, but it will not be until Sunday your time.

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August 6th, 2017, 8:48 pm
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I'm still waiting to hear back from the people who have never played, but I have finished my reading of the quick start. Overall, I think the flow and pace of additions make sense.Here's the list I made while reading:

Game 1
- Order that cards are put into the discard after flipping/paying for an action is important.
- It should be made clear what happens if you cannot (or choose not to) pay for an action after the flip, in both the quick-start and full rules.

Game 2
- The quick-start rules for disengaging allow a unit to re-position within engagement range if a disengage attempt fails, while the full rules require the failing unit to "maintain its position." Both sets of rules should be the same in this instance. (Changing the core rules to match would make more sense to me.)
- For the purposes of the QS rules, I understand by collision damage is ignored, but there should still be a reminder on push/pull that the model stops moving if it collides with an object. I know that is mentioned earlier in the section, but I feel it's worth repeating.

Game 3
- Cleanup is touched on when recovering your action tokens in covered, but there is no mention of having to discard down to 5 cards.
- How squads handle engagement is not covered in any way.
- It should be noted that a support action can used on any (legal) target in LoS. The confusion on whether support actions followed the same targeting scheme as attacks based on skill was an issue with the core rules, so such a thing should be made clear in the QS rules as well.
- Squads ignoring their own models for the purpose of LoS is not covered.

Game 4
- It should be noted that there is a difference between activating a unit and giving a unit an activation token for the purposes of scoring objectives.
- It might be worth noting that AoEs that don't have the Buff/Debuff trait affect all units. (probably in the core rules as well, better to spell it out than have someone assume the action is missing a tag).

I understand that some of the above points are things that may be too "advanced" for the purposes of the quick-start, but I also expect those issues to confuse new players if not covered (squads and LoS/engagement, support targeting, etc.) I did not read any comments on this thread until I finished the read to avoid being influenced. I do agree a full anatomy of a card diagram should be included as a separate sheet, and that random starting player should be introduced at some point. In addition to the card anatomy being separate, I think two additional things would be extremely useful for the quickstart:

1. A list of all the abilities on the cards, so that in later games players do not need to keep flipping through the book to find out how Guard is worded, for example.
2. At the end of the QS rules booklet, a list of "advanced" rules and pages to look up in the core book ("While you'll want to completely read the core rules, here are some things that were simplified or omitted from these quick-start rules").
Including:
- Cadre Building and Battlefield Setup
- Full AoE rules (Size and origin elevation were omitted)
- Collateral Damage
- Terrain Rules (LoS while on elevation and Traits)
- Cleanup (If discarding down to 5 stays out of the QS)
I think this is important so that new players do not overlook a rule that differs slightly than what is presented, or miss a section like collateral damage.


August 7th, 2017, 4:53 pm
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I made a number of changes listed here in terms of clarity and generally explaining things a bit better.

The starter is very much intended to be accessible to people with no miniature games/Relic Knights experience.

I know there was feedback on changing which games some of the concepts appeared in, but I want to try the starter out with brand new players before delving into that.

Thanks for the feedback!

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August 12th, 2017, 12:10 am
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I have an intro game organised for later today.

However I have a general question about the terrain. Is there any terrain that is intended to be Size 3?

Suggestion: as game 2 introduces terrain a picture showing each item indicating it's Size would be useful for understanding blocking/obscuring.

I also note that the shipping container items can be stacked together to make a larger building, or stood together for the same effect.

With that I think a picture showing deployment and table set up for each scenario is a good idea, it helps create a repeatable experience and would allow one table set up to be used for each game steadily adding elements as the games are played through.

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August 12th, 2017, 1:41 am
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Report from play test with 2 people that hadn't played RK before but are both experienced board gamers with a bit of CCG experience. A father and daughter duo.

Questions
Do you have to discard face up?
In 2PRB it says Miss Kaylee's Screw Attack Press is 2G on her card it says 1G. Which is correct?
Miss Kaylee has the Heavy trait, but the rule book only refers to the Surefoot trait. Which is the correct trait?

Observations and General Feedback
Had 2 new players play through the first 3 games of the 2P starter. These players had never played RK before but play a lot of board games and a bit of various CCGs. 1 is 12 and the other is her father.

Ms 12 played Void for all three games.

Game 1 Observations:
Mikhal is doomed to loose this match up, he has a weaker attack, weaker defences and less health. He could stand to have +2 damage or go back to having Block with Press for 1 Armor rather than Shielding. (Especially as the key property of Shielding isn't relevant until at least the 2nd game.)

Mikhal's esper recommendation for the mulligan does not include Orange, but it is the first colour he will need!

The father read the rules out and kept asking "what is ....?" as something would come up but not be explained. Of particular note is the lack of definition for Impair.

Ms 12 immediately asked "when do we draw cards?" when she started her turn as Mikhal. This is brought about by the detailed explanation of how to read a card that includes the explanation for what Esper Draw means.

Game 2 Observations:
Absence of terrain rules was an issue. We placed a small amount of terrain in line with what is available in the starter.

The text implies you can move through buildings etc because the idea of "size" for terrain isn't well covered at all.

Mikhal has a pull action but there is no discussion of Collateral Damage anywhere in the book.

No mention of the fact you can pre-measure anywhere in the book.

Now that card draw is implemented no mention of maximum hand size or discard (it is in game 3).

Game 3
You are instructed to do deployment and then you are told the win condition. This created the situation where Ms12 deployed Taharial aggressively and unsupported and then learnt that if she died she lost. Fortunately her father left Bang Bang exposed and the game swung totally to Ms 12.

General Observations:
Blocking does not follow the rules that are in the main rulebook.

Mikhal is taller than all the terrain (at least when deployed as shown in the promo photos) and so can see over all of it, but on the 50mm base Miss Kaylee is smaller than all the terrain, which creates a weird logical interaction. While Miss Kaylee's wide stance doesn't support her moving to a smaller base, perhaps Mikhal could go up to a 50mm base?

Both players enjoyed the game and were starting to get the hang of the rules. However they did need a lot of reminders, which is ok but....

The biggest issue in observing, and later reflecting, on the games was the wall of text effect. Each game is a big wall of text that doesn't actually direct the reader to do something, it tells them how but not when to do something. So they keep reading and then have to go back and work through how to do things in the game.

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August 12th, 2017, 10:50 am
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Obsidian-Crane wrote:
You are instructed to do deployment and then you are told the win condition. This created the situation where Ms12 deployed Taharial aggressively and unsupported and then learnt that if she died she lost. Fortunately her father left Bang Bang exposed and The biggest issue in observing, and later reflecting, on the games was the wall of text effect. Each game is a big wall of text that doesn't actually direct the reader to do something, it tells them how but not when to do something. So they keep reading and then have to go back and work through how to do things in the game.


So you would like to see some of the sections changed around here in terms of where they appear?

Or more of a step by step thing for every game? "Player 1 activates Mikhal and uses his attack. Pay all costs. Player two activates a defense action. Player 1 makes Mikhal'd follow up move." etc, etc

If the latter, an extended example that can just be a callout players can choose to ignore may be more beneficial.

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August 14th, 2017, 4:32 pm
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