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Bufkin

What do we actually mean with game balance?

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Posted (edited)

I think balance would be this:

No matter what army a specific faction makes, every other faction can always make an army list that beats that with a reasonably high rate of success.

Additionally, every unit in an army should find themselves in at least 30% of those lists or that unit is underpowered/overpriced. 

Edit: "Real" faction.  Things with battletomes. 

Edited by Vextol

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Going to take a shot in the dark here as I didn't take the time to read everyone elses feed back before I posted so feel free to pull back my gutplate and let it snap back real hard if I say anything stupid!

I would like to raise a point around strategy games, especially RTS games and how unit management, field strategy, terrain tactics, and formation (that is a big one!) strategy plays directly against your point here;

• Primarily card games are not comparable here; a card can not move, and is not based around probability (i.e. 1 in 6 chance of getting a 2 on a 1d6 roll to make that sweet sweet play) as opposed to fixed numerical values and options being spontaneously thrown into your plays at hand - if this were the case then instead of making all of these different attacking, hitting, and saving throws it would run more similar to "put all of your army into a hat, each turn draw a random unit card. These are your options for this turn. this is how much damage they will cause based on what our statblock tells you. Your only way to improve your outcome is to select units with larger stat blocks and more obscene abilities and pray to RNGsus that you can pull it out before you die"

• in strategy games there is usually a large feature of assymetrical balance; more or less that each party doesn't need to follow the same rules as long as they perform within the same fundamental core rules and have a similar level of potential and probability based on their design purpose; it's as simple or as complicated as it wants to be - Rock > scissors > paper , Cav > Infantry > Archers, etc - byrules, traits, triggers, and other abilities and functions outside of statistics can make this much much more sophisticated

 

I can go on about this for a while but think about it like this; 

Balance; In that while all armies, factions, or player choices may not have the same execution or allow for an identical approach to the same exact situations (i.e. an army of gutbusters will have a much harder time engaging an enemy using a missile focused army than if they just charged forth and got stuck in) the choices, factions, and armies should in all scenarios have the same weight and when weighed against eachother as options should neither leverage for or against the opposing choice as a whole, but have more weight in different situations than in others, and have an equal amount of ability to force their opponent to play into their advantage, or be able to adapt by adopting a different approach to the same playoff - the more accessible these options are to each player, the fairer the game is by not weighing down on certain choices

 

this is just my impression though, take it with a grain of salt

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5 hours ago, AaronWilson said:

I think "balance" means to most people being able to take what you want and always being able to complete / be able to give anything else on the other side of the table a proper game. 

Absolutely not - you should never be able to take a thrown together list and be able to compete reliably against someone who has a well built list. Balance is both players being able to build well built lists out of their respective pools of options. List building is a skill and an important part of the fun of the hobby for many people and removing it turns the game into something I (and I suspect others) I want nothing to do with. 

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6 minutes ago, SwampHeart said:

Absolutely not - you should never be able to take a thrown together list and be able to compete reliably against someone who has a well built list. Balance is both players being able to build well built lists out of their respective pools of options. List building is a skill and an important part of the fun of the hobby for many people and removing it turns the game into something I (and I suspect others) I want nothing to do with. 

Oooooonnnn the other hand, saying "your Battletome is balanced because this single specific army build can compete doesn't mean the game is balanced either.

For example, an army of units XYZ from the Alphabet Faction, if arranged on the tabletop in specific formation Z YXX, might be competitive with the other factions in our hypothetical game. However, our Alphabet Faction includes 26 units. Even though all the factions can be competitive in this hypothetical scenario, given clever list-building and play, I would still argue the game is not balanced.

You shouldn't just be able to bring 17 Steam Tanks and win a tournament. But you should be able to bring some Steam Tanks and win a tournament.

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2 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

your Battletome is balanced because this single specific army build can compete doesn't mean the game is balanced either.

That's not what I said - I can see how you inferred that however. My intention was specifically to counteract the idea that you should be able to take any combination of units from a book and have it perform well. You should be able to take more than one set of specific units to create a "good" list but it should still require thought and planning to make work. I have no issue with some options being either suboptimal or purely narrative. Not every unit in a book has to be viable for competitive play for the game or the book to be balanced. 

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14 minutes ago, SwampHeart said:

That's not what I said - I can see how you inferred that however. My intention was specifically to counteract the idea that you should be able to take any combination of units from a book and have it perform well. You should be able to take more than one set of specific units to create a "good" list but it should still require thought and planning to make work. I have no issue with some options being either suboptimal or purely narrative. Not every unit in a book has to be viable for competitive play for the game or the book to be balanced. 

This is where we disagree, though. Because something "nonviable" for competitive play is also "nonviable" for narrative play - not because narrative players are cutthroat, but because some narrative armies are played by skilled players and they  happen to have good units.

For example, a good narrative army that fits very well into a campaign might be a Hagg Nar Daughters of Khaine army, or one of the up-and-coming Flesh Eater Courts armies that goes 5-0 at tournaments. Those armies can be written into the narrative fairly well, I'd argue, and there's no written rule that says "skilled narrative players must dial back their lists and their skills to play narratively!"

A balanced game helps narrative players just as much as competitive players, because that means they can take a "narrative" collection of units and still have a chance. A unit being non-viable competitively means it is simply non-viable period, and that's a bad thing.

So while I agree that you shouldn't just be able to throw together literally whatever to make an army, it still should be possible to use all of the units in your faction/battletome in some competitive capacity. If this hasn't been achieved, I'd argue the game isn't balanced.

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I know in our area, if we have someone trying to run a campaign, they constantly complain because we bring strong lists.  If units are not viable for competitive play, they are by default not viable for play period because competitive play is the standard for many groups... narrative or no. 

There should be no nonviable units in an army book period.

It should be designed from a competitive standpoint where the assumption is both players breaking the game.  If they designed that way, then even the narrative players would be ok because their narrative choices wouldn't be gimp or they'd have more tools at their disposal at the least.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

A unit being non-viable competitively means it is simply non-viable period, and that's a bad thing.

This is incorrect - as I've been preached at on this very forum. Narrative play/non competitive matched play is a social contract, both players have to agree to what's going on. You are 100% correct that a balanced game is just as good for narrative players as it is tournament players - I've never argued against the idea. What I do take issue with is the idea that every unit in every book has to be viable for the game to be balanced. It is not possible without losing key aspects of list writing being an important part of the game. It is simply not possible to make a book where every unit is viable because GW cannot design in such a way. The way the game is played where I'm from is different from where you play and so on. This is evidenced on this forum where some people think certain units are fantastic while others have horrid results with them. Should GW endeavor to reduce the game in unit performance in books? Absolutely. Is it feasible that books are designed where every unit can be used viably in a tournament environment? Absolutely not. There are too many variables. 

@Dead Scribe Sure - in the cartoon meta you play in this is true. Its not elsewhere where lots of different types of players make up gaming communities. 

Edited by SwampHeart

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14 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

Oooooonnnn the other hand, saying "your Battletome is balanced because this single specific army build can compete doesn't mean the game is balanced either.

For example, an army of units XYZ from the Alphabet Faction, if arranged on the tabletop in specific formation Z YXX, might be competitive with the other factions in our hypothetical game. However, our Alphabet Faction includes 26 units. Even though all the factions can be competitive in this hypothetical scenario, given clever list-building and play, I would still argue the game is not balanced.

You shouldn't just be able to bring 17 Steam Tanks and win a tournament. But you should be able to bring some Steam Tanks and win a tournament.

Kind of arguing with the choir.

Balance should mean building an army while having the tools to deal with most situations. You have your tank unit, your chaff killers, the chaff, the hero killers and objective takers, support, etc. 

A balanced list should contain a good many of these, and the game should be balanced around taking them instead of focusing on an all hero kill list or an all tank list, or using units that have no synergies with each other and somehow beat someone who put together a good army that works together. 

Now not every army has all the tools. And a fair few work in ways that it’d be counterproductive to being taken. You don’t want slow moving tanks in a fast Killy army. On flip side you don’t want something that will die if you glare at it in a tough defensive army.  It’s how the game should work. 

Making everything viable if you build for it is a good idea, you want to play Judicators? Well this guy is good for making them stay on the table and work a little better even when you get attacked. But if you get my caught in close combat they will get wiped off the board so take this unit  of Liberators to block off the enemy, and then this unit of Sequitors will be there to kill their elite units if they get overzealous about killing you... etc.

 

making everything just flat out viable is not good for any army. Like say Judicators allied into a Daughters of Khaine army to be the main damage dealers. That shouldn’t work on paper or on the table.

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On 4/17/2019 at 1:23 PM, Dead Scribe said:

External balance means that all factions are competitively viable with at least one build.

Internal balance means that within a faction there are multiple choices that are viable instead of just one build.

The old evocator and sequitors coming out invalidating things like liberators for example because their cost were similar or same but the evocator and sequitors were vastly better is an example of bad internal balance.

 The kharadron overlord book is an example of bad external balance.   

I like the concept of external and internal balance but I really dont agree with your examples :)

Kharadron was very competetive for a long time and have recently again performed well.

Liberators are still a valid unit, AoS2 did not invalidate it BUT it changed its battlefield and listbuildning role. 

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Imma throw my hat in the ring here. Balance as I see it is that every battletome be able to provide mechanics and units that allow players to make a competitive list, preferably several list possibilities to avoid one trick armies. Clever design would allow different viable lists that involve different units from that army so that each unit can find a place in a viable list. And by that I don't mean being able to throw whatever together and smack around a top tier DoK list, I mean the ability to create a competitive list that involves certain units while having the options of making equally viable lists that involve the other units from your army, with the main determining factor in the success of those lists coming down to how each list performs against whatever your opponent brought. Another point of good balance design would be for every army to have a fair chance against another army depending on list composition and not for the core rules or staple units of an army to give it an objective advantage over another army.

Another popular point of debate is points costs, it's hard to determine accurate points costs for balancing especially when two armies may have very similar units at very different prices because the allegiance mechanics of those armies will affect those units differently. Large god-tier units like Archaon, Nagash and Alariel also make balance a tough challenge because while they should be powerful, you can't herohammer them and have them carry a game. You can build a list that heavily supports them so that they can do the heavy lifting but that can be countered by killing the supporting units, rather than having an innately powerful model on the board. It's always awkward to see models like nagash get wiped out by a unit of ghouls or whatever that's a fraction of his cost but if most units had a hard time hurting big models like him then big models would just become the new meta.

I guess my overall point is that with so many armies and units it's going to be a challenge to balance them out while making each feel unique, it's why most strategy games usually only have 3-4 armies because the more unique mechanics and rulesets you have interacting the harder it gets to make an overall game balance.

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, SwampHeart said:

This is incorrect - as I've been preached at on this very forum. Narrative play/non competitive matched play is a social contract, both players have to agree to what's going on. You are 100% correct that a balanced game is just as good for narrative players as it is tournament players - I've never argued against the idea. What I do take issue with is the idea that every unit in every book has to be viable for the game to be balanced. It is not possible without losing key aspects of list writing being an important part of the game.

@Dead Scribe Sure - in the cartoon meta you play in this is true. Its not elsewhere where lots of different types of players make up gaming communities. 

Narrative play and non-competitive matched play is indeed a social contract. I agree with you. But consider the following situation:

I am a TO and overhear a couple players preparing for their game. They're both fairly good, but one is sad about his fluff because he's going to lose before he even starts, and questions why his army doesn't retreat before the might of the other army without losing all his characters and whatnot.

Player A brings a 1000 point narrative army which isn't very good - perhaps he's built it around the idea of a Hoplite Phalanx using Freepeople's Spearman rules, and doesn't really find the gunners or crossbowmen a very interesting choice for his "Greece-themed" army. He's got a narrative of his Free City, perhaps inspired by the Spartans, that values camaraderie and bravery, and uses the Phoenecium rules. He's written pages of fluff for this narrative event, hand has them all to hand out to players.

Player B brings a 1000 point narrative army which is fantastic - perhaps he saw the undead dragons in Skyrim and brought two Terrorgheists and a Abhorrant Ghoul King on zombie dragon as Gristlegore. He also has pages of fluff - about the trials of his Ghoul King's attempt to subvert the wills of the dragons - of course seeing himself as a magical king bending the will of monsters to protect his kingdom. Like Player A, he's very dedicated to his fluff, and he had the army and the fluff before the FEC Battletome came out.

Eventually, they agree to ask me to not play a game - they'd rather skip that part of the event, thanks. What did I do wrong as a TO? Was one of the players wrong? Why was said player wrong? Should they be punished for breaking a social contract?

I'm not advocating making everything viable thrown together in a hodgepodge. But I am advocating making every unit viable in a useful context. Narrative players can then use that context to build their armies around a narrative they like.

Edited by Unit1126PLL
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Posted (edited)

The problem I see there is kind of the same problem from back when Samurais encountered American Civil War era weapons and tactics.

 

They got slaughtered. End of empire and power slaughtered.

This wasn’t because the Samurai were a bad or underpowered army in their proper setting. But because they had no answer for the advantages that guns and longer ranged weapons (cannons) provided. 

Much in the way you cannot expect an army of Bibilical era Hoplites to tackle a Dragon riding medieval soldier. Against a more theme timeframe army player A would have a better time, but this sadly isn’t Sigmars timeframe at all. Roman soldiers would get trashed even by regular knights by sheer difference in quality of armor and weapons. 

but if his narrative is to be Ancient Greece he’s not going to have a good time against anything from the post Roman Empire to the Renaissance Era, and even worse against pre Industrial era tools. This isn’t a case of having a bad list but a matchup that is near impossible... unless you’re Ewoks, or Na’vi. It’s a matchup that would have played out the same even if you took the story approach because of the players own choices. 

Edited by King Taloren

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, King Taloren said:

The problem I see there is kind of the same problem from back when Samurais encountered American Civil War era weapons and tactics.

 

They got slaughtered. End of empire and power slaughtered.

This wasn’t because the Samurai were a bad or underpowered army in their proper setting. But because they had no answer for the advantages that guns and longer ranged weapons (cannons) provided. 

Much in the way you cannot expect an army of Bibilical era Hoplites to tackle a Dragon riding medieval soldier. Against a more theme timeframe army player A would have a better time, but this sadly isn’t Sigmars timeframe at all. Roman soldiers would get trashed even by regular knights by sheer difference in quality of armor and weapons. 

but if his narrative is to be Ancient Greece he’s not going to have a good time against anything from the post Roman Empire to the Renaissance Era, and even worse against pre Industrial era tools. This isn’t a case of having a bad list but a matchup that is near impossible... unless you’re Ewoks, or Na’vi. It’s a matchup that would have played out the same even if you took the story approach because of the players own choices. 

Right ... but those choices are available. They exist. Why do Empire spearmen with shields exist if all their role is in the game is to show how much better guns and bullets are? 

That's my point. There's not really a viable place for Empire dudes with spears to exist in, except perhaps to absorb a charge meant for someone else - but you could do that with any number of units, so it's hardly a niche they alone fill. That is simply a non-viable unit  in competitive play. Similarly, it's non-viable in narrative play.

Either make every unit viable in some context, or remove it as an option. If mortal humans with pointy sticks are irrelevant at the scale Age of Sigmar is trying to be played at, then remove them or find a way to make them relevant. Including them is like having rules for hoplites in the Napoleonic Wars (or American Civil War as your example); if that's your view, then don't include them.

Personally, my view is that mortal humans with pointy sticks could be made relevant in a similar way Dwarf Warriors are relevant: cheap and able to take a hit with the Shield Wall rule. Perhaps give them a bonus when they are charged like the Elven spears have - but even that unit isn't competitively viable either.

Edited by Unit1126PLL
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7 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

Why do Empire spearmen with shields exist..... 

... That's my point. 

Ha! 

I am definitely on team there should never be units in armies that aren't ever taken.  That is the biggest failure in my book.  I'd MUCH rather have unbalanced armies game wide than nearly useless units within a specific army. 

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

I am a TO and overhear a couple players preparing for their game. They're both fairly good, but one is sad about his fluff because he's going to lose before he even starts, and questions why his army doesn't retreat before the might of the other army without losing all his characters and whatnot.

Narrative armies aren't for tournaments (in the context of expectations, I think any player should bring whatever they want to a tournament), its as simple as that. If Player A chooses to bring something narrative to a tournament he's made a choice already, he should either be prepared to not perform as well as expected or he should take a more well constructed list. If it was a narrative event instead you as an event organizer would have a great deal more lee-way in how to pair players, how to create better match ups, etc. 

But the simple fact of the matter is Player A doesn't want to take a well constructed list, he wants to take a fluffy list. He has made a choice and has to deal with the consequences of that choice. You're saying you don't think a list of thrown together models should work but then suggesting a list of thrown together models (i.e. simply models you like without any real thought given to list construction) should be on par with a list that is properly built. Again, given the overall complexity of the game it simply is not possible for GW to make every unit in every book viable. Additionally this isn't even their design ethos (based on what we've heard in podcasts and interviews) where designing armies and units is first based on the 'feel' of that army. 

List building should be an important part of Age of Sigmar - and list building can be a very important part of a well balanced game. There are well balanced games where list building isn't important (see Kings of War) that I find terribly uninteresting (and I know I'm not alone). The reality of the game is that not every unit is going to be on par with every other unit - you have to consider synergies, are you playing with realm spells, what mission pool do you use, and a myriad of other factors that simply aren't the same for every gaming group or tournament. 

Edited by SwampHeart

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History itself proves that long range will almost always be better then close range. There are a few exceptions to the rule, especially when you go to the scarcity of ammo in certain historical eras. Melee has always been the go to after either side runs out of ammo, or in use to get close enough to stop them from using their long range weapons.

The catch there is that the army has been self limiting by Player A. If he doesn’t want to use all the tools for story reasons it’s kind of on him. They have slightly more reach so you get more attacks on melee, but freeguild is kind of bad positioning for the game overall because of how widely varied, and kind of bad, the units are.

I will say that the problem isn’t entirely the balance it’s the choices, it’s like taking a Nighthaunt Army and having a single Nighthaunt Hero, and allying in FEC courtiers to fill out your hero slots. You can but why are you if they do nothing for your army? 

 

Thematic reasons are ok but if you ignore more than half of your army’s units because it doesn’t fit what you want as a themed army... maybe you shouldn’t be using matched play rules if the theme is more important that something that might win a competitive rules part of the game.

 

Though another point out here is that Freeguild is still a GHB/compendium army. They haven’t been touched since the game came out so right now they are in a very bad position as far as armies go. So even more of a handicap to work with there.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, SwampHeart said:

Narrative armies aren't for tournaments (in the context of expectations, I think any player should bring whatever they want to a tournament), its as simple as that. If Player A chooses to bring something narrative to a tournament he's made a choice already, he should either be prepared to not perform as well as expected or he should take a more well constructed list. If it was a narrative event instead you as an event organizer would have a great deal more lee-way in how to pair players, how to create better match ups, etc. 

But the simple fact of the matter is Player A doesn't want to take a well constructed list, he wants to take a fluffy list. He has made a choice and has to deal with the consequences of that choice. You're saying you don't think a list of thrown together models should work but then suggesting a list of thrown together models (i.e. simply models you like without any real thought given to list construction) should be on par with a list that is properly built. Again, given the overall complexity of the game it simply is not possible for GW to make every unit in every book viable. Additionally this isn't even their design ethos (based on what we've heard in podcasts and interviews) where designing armies and units is first based on the 'feel' of that army. 

List building should be an important part of Age of Sigmar - and list building can be a very important part of a well balanced game. There are well balanced games where list building isn't important (see Kings of War) that I find terribly uninteresting (and I know I'm not alone). The reality of the game is that not every unit is going to be on par with every other unit - you have to consider synergies, are you playing with realm spells, what mission pool do you use, and a myriad of other factors that simply aren't the same for every gaming group or tournament. 

I shouldn't've said TO in my example - I meant  that to be an organized narrative event. You know, like the NEON.

And I'm not suggesting a list of "thrown together models" when I say Empire spearman. Maybe he brings a Celestial Hurricanum to make them +1 to-hit and add flavor and casting, perhaps he throws in an Empire general to keep them steady and be his narrative leader. But none of those rehabilitate the army. Yet it's clear he included those in an effort to create a "Well-built-list" as best he can.

I'm not too concerned with what GW can or cannot do it, but if they cannot ensure every unit is viable because there are so many, then perhaps there are too many units?

I'm not trying to remove list-building. I'm simply saying there should be no such thing as a non-viable unit. I do believe there is design space between "every unit is viable to play (if you build your list around using it, for example)" and "listbuilding is now irrelevant".

13 minutes ago, King Taloren said:

History itself proves that long range will almost always be better then close range. There are a few exceptions to the rule, especially when you go to the scarcity of ammo in certain historical eras. Melee has always been the go to after either side runs out of ammo, or in use to get close enough to stop them from using their long range weapons.

The catch there is that the army has been self limiting by Player A. If he doesn’t want to use all the tools for story reasons it’s kind of on him. They have slightly more reach so you get more attacks on melee, but freeguild is kind of bad positioning for the game overall because of how widely varied, and kind of bad, the units are.

I will say that the problem isn’t entirely the balance it’s the choices, it’s like taking a Nighthaunt Army and having a single Nighthaunt Hero, and allying in FEC courtiers to fill out your hero slots. You can but why are you if they do nothing for your army? 

 

Thematic reasons are ok but if you ignore more than half of your army’s units because it doesn’t fit what you want as a themed army... maybe you shouldn’t be using matched play rules if the theme is more important that something that might win a competitive rules part of the game.

 

Though another point out here is that Freeguild is still a GHB/compendium army. They haven’t been touched since the game came out so right now they are in a very bad position as far as armies go. So even more of a handicap to work with there.

Right, you're basically feeding my argument (ignoring the bit at the beginning, because I'm not sure if historical truths are necessarily mandatory truths in a fantasy game).

Yes, Player A is self-limiting. But every list is self-limiting. Having a points limit means you must make choices about what your list looks like, and those choices are by definition limited. The fact that Player B's also-limited choices are better than Player A's choices, despite both of them having had the same amount of time to put their lists together, and shooting for the same amount of synergy (hero buffs battleline WHEE), is a bad thing. Empire spearmen, even when given all the buffs available to them, are not competitively viable, and that's a bad thing. There is never a choice to take that unit ever period, over even swordsmen or Dwarf Warriors or handgunners or whatever. The unit is simply bad, and nothing can be done to make it good. So remove it, or make it good. GW are professional game designers, so the onus shouldn't be on me to redesign the spearmen, lol.

The problem is the balance, though, because the balance affects the choices. Taking Empire Spearmen should be a valid choice somewhere. The FEC heroes are valid choices in an FEC army, even if they are invalid in the Nighthaunt army. Empire spearmen? Literally useless. The quintessential example of a unit that is non-viable, and exactly the type of problem that should not be allowed to fester.

And yes, I am setting aside the GHB/compendium army difference for now because I'm using it more as an illustrative example rather than actually having it be true. I could've gone back to my Alphabet Unit A and Numbers Unit 5 for my examples, but it's easier to do so in the context we're speaking in.

The point is that nonviable (in any context ever) options shouldn't exist. It's okay for something to be nonviable if used suboptimally in-game or taken in an inappropriate list, but it's not okay for a unit which exists that is simply never good ever period.

Edited by Unit1126PLL

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

I'm not too concerned with what GW can or cannot do it, but if they cannot ensure every unit is viable because there are so many, then perhaps there are too many units?

That's a perfectly fine statement. I have no issue with GW pruning units to make the job at hand more mangeable. However because of the way the game is played (differently by different people) even with a more limited pool of options some units will be considered non viable. Tournament players (myself included) will still parse the book the for the best RoI units and synergies and dictate those are the best options. And then the cycle begins again - for every unit to be equally viable list building cannot matter. If Empire Spearmen with a Captain can beat an equal amount of points of any given type of unit/army then list building is now invalid. You can take 2000 points of any group of models and beat 2000 points of any other group of models. This isn't inherently bad (some people prefer it) but it removes an essential element of the GW hobby. 

Edited by SwampHeart

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1 minute ago, SwampHeart said:

That's a perfectly fine statement. I have no issue with GW pruning units to make the job at hand more mangeable. However because of the way the game is played (differently by different people) even with a more limited pool of options some units will be considered non viable. Tournament players (myself included) will still parse the book the for the best RoI units and synergies and dictate those are the best options. And then the cycle begins again - for every unit to be equally viable list building cannot matter. 

That's not true at all. @King Taloren gave an example of a bad list above: A Nighthaunt Army with only a single Nighthaunt hero and a bunch of allied FEC courtiers to fill out your hero slots.

The fact that this list is bad doesn't mean that FEC courtiers or Nighthaunt heroes are bad. It means the list is bad. It's proof that you can make every unit viable and listbuilding will still be part of the game - because while it might become easier to make good lists and harder to make bad ones, it doesn't mean bad ones de-facto cannot exist.

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I meant player A was self limiting in that he went to play all spearmen instead of taking a unit of gunners as well and knights and a few more pieces instead of going whole hog on one thing.  Points are one thing as a limiter on listbuilding.... but then there is “I want to play Tzeentch with no wizards or daemons.” Why are you playing the faction of you are not using the tools provided? 

I agree with viability is needed for units. But in the context of a list that centers around being able to handle situations. Spearmen could be good but as I said it shouldn’t be your sole unit. Even at a 1000 points he had room to bring a bit of variety to help shore up some weaknesses. I know not all armies have all the tools but that is the fun of building lists to compensate for those weaknesses by shoring up what you can and finding your strengths that can be used to topple your opponent.

For the moment the main reason Freeguild is even a thing is that they are the remains of the Empire army models from WHFB (which spearmen were actually pretty decent back then because of how combat worked back then) and GW was trying to make sure everyone had things to play in Sigmar. Because if they had outright left everything behind we probably wouldn't be here talking about Sigmar.

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

because while it might become easier to make good lists and harder to make bad ones, it doesn't mean bad ones de-facto cannot exist.

No it becomes an exercise in trying to make a bad list to prove the point. Writing lists should be a skill not something that you do by accident just by selecting models you like. Of course in any game no matter how much it slants for or against list building you can still build a bad list, the question is how much skill is involved in writing a good list. You want to err on the side where its largely incidental where I think it should be something that you set out to master. I do think GW should do a better job of removing 'trap' options in armies because there is a material cost associated with making a bad decision. That said I don't care if every unit is viable in a book simply because I understand it isn't something that's possible. Why ask for or suggest a thing happen when you know it can't happen? 

Internal balance should be better but it will never be perfect (I've said this much already earlier in the thread).  This argument started because you made an assumption (reasonably made) about my view point (one viable list = a good army) and then devolved into the argument of individual unit viability (or arguably 'internal balance'). Neither of us is actually engaging in any form of discourse with the idea of changing the other person's mind but just to argue that our own view point is the superior one. Because of that I'm going to leave the topic alone - we have a fundamental disagreement on the nature of unit viability as a whole. I respect but disagree with your opinion. 

Edited by SwampHeart

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4 minutes ago, SwampHeart said:

No it becomes an exercise in trying to make a bad list to prove the point. Writing lists should be a skill not something that you do by accident just by selecting models you like. Of course in any game no matter how much it slants for or against list building you can still build a bad list, the question is how much skill is involved in writing a good list. You want to err on the side where its largely incidental where I think it should be something that you set out to master. I do think GW should do a better job of removing 'trap' options in armies because there is a material cost associated with making a bad decision. That said I don't care if every unit is viable in a book simply because I understand it isn't something that's possible. Why ask for or suggest a thing happen when you know it can't happen? 

It always sucks to buy a unit only to learn they are basically unplayable due too their rules making them the least viable option in your army. I have belakor but have to take him as an ally if I want to use him in my slaves or slaanesh, so I just proxy him as a normal daemon prince to help justify the purchase.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, SwampHeart said:

No it becomes an exercise in trying to make a bad list to prove the point. Writing lists should be a skill not something that you do by accident just by selecting models you like. Of course in any game no matter how much it slants for or against list building you can still build a bad list, the question is how much skill is involved in writing a good list. You want to err on the side where its largely incidental where I think it should be something that you set out to master. I do think GW should do a better job of removing 'trap' options in armies because there is a material cost associated with making a bad decision. That said I don't care if every unit is viable in a book simply because I understand it isn't something that's possible. Why ask for or suggest a thing happen when you know it can't? 

Because I know it can be done. There are plenty of games in the market in which the phenomenon of "trap units" is largely avoided. The idea that every wargame ever has just endured the existence of trap units is silly.

As an example, Field of Glory, an ancients wargame which I play. Each army list is self-contained. To use the Greek hoplite example again (because it's the one I'm most familiar with, since I play them in FoG (though not in AOS) lol), the Persian-Wars era Greek list can include skirmishers. By any metric, these Greek skirmishers are freaking awful, being worse than their peer contemporary opponents in a good number of ways. One might be inclined to write them off as useless, because they get so soundly defeated in the skirmish fight. But the problem is that they're necessary. There is a battlefield role they play in screening your heavy phalanxes due to various rules interactions surrounding heavy foot (phalanxes) and how they move and go to war. If you play without skirmishers, you lose the game, even though the unit would probably be judged "nonviable" simply on statline and capabilities alone.

I could see a similar role for Empire spearmen - worse than Chaos Warriors in a straight fight, but necessary for an Empire army to function, because they're sturdier than swordsmen (say) due to  their pike-wall (or however you want to visualize it) and therefore can serve as a "wall" unit for your archers. This may not make Player A's army much better, but if they're willing to sigh and take even a single cannon or handgunner unit to pick on the enemy unit embroiled with the spearmen, then voila, a good army.

Right now, adding a single handgunner unit to his army won't do much of anything at all, because Empire spearmen are nonviably useless.

Edited by Unit1126PLL

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Posted (edited)

Edit - Nevermind. This is a pointless argument - see above. 

Edited by SwampHeart

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