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Bufkin

What do we actually mean with game balance?

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7 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

I would consider "subfactions" within a larger faction to still be separate armies. Basically, if my army has an "allegiance", then it should count as an army. So for example Slaanesh within Chaos is an army, but Ironweld Arsenal within Order are not, because they have no allegiance (though I do want them to get one).

Ideally, this means that you'd do a separate bell-curve for each army, rather than each Grand Alliance. You'd still have some variance in tiers (i.e. "Slaanesh Chariots is a lower tier than Keeper of Secrets spam on the bellcurve") but those should be as narrow as possible, and the lower tier ones should only be lower tier by a smidge - in my example, it would be the difference of a few percentage points in winrate ideally, perhaps even within the margin of error.

How does that take into account specialty? Slaanesh's THING is going really fast, a lot of their stuff can run and charge in the same time and their base movements speeds are really high. Wouldn't Slaanesh have the best chariots compared to Chaos as a whole since speed is their thing? 

Every army has a theme as well as strengths and weaknesses. I see your point about internal balance, but what about keeping to theme? Not all chaos chariots should be the same, and if all armies have weaknesses, should they have poor units to reflect those weaknesses? Khorne doesn't have chariots, but does have some very slow calvary (8'' movement) compared to everyone else, but it hits like an avalanche. Khorne calvary is different, but fine. However one of our battleline is kind of trash universally. Bloodreavers are just useless. Is that ok? Should Bloodreavers for sure be good? If they are, does that then make defining roles within armies more valuable? Maybe battlelines should have different roles depending on what you want to do. 

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3 minutes ago, Ravinsild said:

How does that take into account specialty? Slaanesh's THING is going really fast, a lot of their stuff can run and charge in the same time and their base movements speeds are really high. Wouldn't Slaanesh have the best chariots compared to Chaos as a whole since speed is their thing? 

Every army has a theme as well as strengths and weaknesses. I see your point about internal balance, but what about keeping to theme? Not all chaos chariots should be the same, and if all armies have weaknesses, should they have poor units to reflect those weaknesses? Khorne doesn't have chariots, but does have some very slow calvary (8'' movement) compared to everyone else, but it hits like an avalanche. Khorne calvary is different, but fine. However one of our battleline is kind of trash universally. Bloodreavers are just useless. Is that ok? Should Bloodreavers for sure be good? If they are, does that then make defining roles within armies more valuable? Maybe battlelines should have different roles depending on what you want to do. 

If it's any consolation, bloodreavers are literally meant to die, like that is their sole purpose. 

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6 minutes ago, Ravinsild said:

How does that take into account specialty? Slaanesh's THING is going really fast, a lot of their stuff can run and charge in the same time and their base movements speeds are really high. Wouldn't Slaanesh have the best chariots compared to Chaos as a whole since speed is their thing? 

Every army has a theme as well as strengths and weaknesses. I see your point about internal balance, but what about keeping to theme? Not all chaos chariots should be the same, and if all armies have weaknesses, should they have poor units to reflect those weaknesses? Khorne doesn't have chariots, but does have some very slow calvary (8'' movement) compared to everyone else, but it hits like an avalanche. Khorne calvary is different, but fine. However one of our battleline is kind of trash universally. Bloodreavers are just useless. Is that ok? Should Bloodreavers for sure be good? If they are, does that then make defining roles within armies more valuable? Maybe battlelines should have different roles depending on what you want to do. 

I'm confused by your question...

So what you'd have is an overall "game" flowchart which would say which armies are doing what:
'Khorne is getting 48% winrate, Flesh Eater Courts 49, Slaanesh 48.5, Free Peoples 47..." etc.

Then you'd get an "internal balance" flowchart which would say what units in the army are good:
"Chariots are in 20% of winning list and 80% of losing lists, Keepers of Secrets are in 90% of winning lists and 10% of losing lists..." etc.

And balance around that. Theme shouldn't really affect game balance, imo. It should be how the army achieves those wins.

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3 minutes ago, Unit1126PLL said:

I'm confused by your question...

So what you'd have is an overall "game" flowchart which would say which armies are doing what:
'Khorne is getting 48% winrate, Flesh Eater Courts 49, Slaanesh 48.5, Free Peoples 47..." etc.

Then you'd get an "internal balance" flowchart which would say what units in the army are good:
"Chariots are in 20% of winning list and 80% of losing lists, Keepers of Secrets are in 90% of winning lists and 10% of losing lists..." etc.

And balance around that. Theme shouldn't really affect game balance, imo. It should be how the army achieves those wins.

I think I misunderstood the bell curve should be as narrow as possible point. To my mind that read as each army has a bellcurve, with chariots being near the lower end but without a huge margin, and then I was like "but slaanesh chariots should be better than anyone else's because their theme is going fast" so their chariot should be higher tier compared to other chaos armies.... or something like that. I think I confused myself tbh. 

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8 minutes ago, Ravinsild said:

I think I misunderstood the bell curve should be as narrow as possible point. To my mind that read as each army has a bellcurve, with chariots being near the lower end but without a huge margin, and then I was like "but slaanesh chariots should be better than anyone else's because their theme is going fast" so their chariot should be higher tier compared to other chaos armies.... or something like that. I think I confused myself tbh. 

Roger, yeah, no. I meant "within the category of Slaanesh units, there should be a bell curve - but we should strive to make it as narrow as possible." Then "within the categories of Armies, there should be a bell curve, but we should strive to make it as narrow as possible as well."

So Slaanesh chariots might be in the bottom 50% of Slaanesh units, or whatever, but still be pretty damn good chariots. An example of this being the case might be that Slaanesh chariots are SUPERFAST relative to other Slaanesh units, making them RIDICULOUSLY FAST compared to other Chariots, but the other Slaanesh units are fast enough that the chariots are not absolutely amazing, if that makes sense.

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As far as balance goes, it's impossible to get truly balanced while armies are different. All I really want is for them to mix up what exactly is powerful more often. Witch Aelves go up to 360 for 30? Cool make blood stalkers 100pts for 5. Morsarr go up 40pts per squad? Drop allopexes just as much. Evocators and sequitors up 20%? Drop all the SC cav units betwen 20 and 60 points depending on where they were at.

True balance is a pipe dream, shuffling the power around more keeps anything from being too oppressive for too long and keeps list building fresh.

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This topic is a good example of where the "most people play matched play only" mindset comes from.

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3 hours ago, Sedraxis said:

This topic is a good example of where the "most people play matched play only" mindset comes from.

In what way? :)

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4 hours ago, Sedraxis said:

This topic is a good example of where the "most people play matched play only" mindset comes from.

...It's a topic about army balance. Were you expecting painting tutorials and fanfic?

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4 hours ago, Sedraxis said:

This topic is a good example of where the "most people play matched play only" mindset comes from.

I think it’s more an example that the majority of posters who are participating in this thread are playing matched play. If you want to voice an opinion about balance in open play and narrative please do. I think insight of how balanced the game is on the other side would be somewhat informative. 

Though if it involves a bunch of house rules that might point out a problem...

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Matched play is the rules as GW publishes them and intends them to be played. 

Narrative and Open are very much unique to each player and player group. Seriously go ask about them and you will get a thousand different answers as to what they mean to different people. That makes it pretty much impossible to balance in any way because each game is unique to the next. So it makes total sense that GW and discussions like this focus around Matched Play where the rules and mechanics and stats of the game are 100% identical game to game across clubs and nations. It gives a common united ground to discuss the matter.

 

 

Also a balanced and well structured core game helps narrative and open play immensely. You can play unfavourable odds and missmatched points and all those other things much more easily when you've a balanced and formal rules system to adapt from. If you know that 40 spearmen will beat 1 dragon in a balanced matched play game; then you know that if one player brings 3 then that is around 3 times the challenge from normal. You can predict, plan, build and have a fun game because the player with 40 spearmen know knows that its a darn uphill struggle to win; or that perhaps they should get 70 or so spearmen to even the odds just a little bit more. Or perhaps is an attack on a wall so the dragons are up against increased defence etc... Ergo you can break the game much more easily and adapt and twist it to suit your fancy when you've got a core balanced and formal known system behind it. 

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Thats the complaint I hear a lot in my "comic book reality" as SwampHeart likes to call it.   Narrative games become unfun because of the imbalance of tournament lists in comparison to non tournament lists and the narrative people wish that the game had better balance at the top so that there were more viable builds which would benefit narrative play more.

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10 minutes ago, Dead Scribe said:

Thats the complaint I hear a lot in my "comic book reality" as SwampHeart likes to call it.   Narrative games become unfun because of the imbalance of tournament lists in comparison to non tournament lists and the narrative people wish that the game had better balance at the top so that there were more viable builds which would benefit narrative play more.

Exactly and honestly the tournament group also wants this to a degree. Granted some want just one clear powerlist that they can buy and "win games with"; but in truth a healthy competitive market would be one with multiple viable builds with a modest power curve so that well built armies are strong, but not brokenly so. Thus weighting things toward player skill. 

That's really where most markets benefit from it, including GW. If most the game is evenly balanced then it spreads out purchases across their whole range-  that means no leaving one product range languishing with big investment and not making good sales. It also encourages people who have a working army to experiment with other builds and thus buy more models rather than just buying one efficient working army. 

Army building is still important, it just won't be a win/loss based on the army build alone. Plus it adds more variety into matches and should make for closer more engaging and fun games. 

 

 

You'll never get it so that ANY army composition can win because to do that you'd basically have to render most units down to near identical stats; at which piont the variety in the game is purely weighted on the visual aspects. That's not totally bad, but it does mean that there's no reason to get new shiny toys because they will mostly work and do the same as everything else. It can lead to bland experience. so you want variety, you want some degree of skill required in putting together a good list. It's just that you want a nice even setup so that a good list isn't brokenly powerful. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm glad to see so many cool headed responses to this!

I think to me game balance is not having "un-interactive game experiences."  To elaborate given two not completely horrible lists they should give each other a run for their money in whatever matched play scenario.  I think the game becomes un-interactive when one army tables the other exceptionally quickly, especially if its not due to a mistake made by the player getting tabled. Another big ticket item is when an armies ability renders another armies set of abilities useless with no counter-play option.  Basically balance to me means that the game is decided on the tabletop by player decisions and not in the list building phase (of course given both lists are in the category of not horrendous) . 

Edited by jake3991

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6 minutes ago, jake3991 said:

I'm glad to see so many cool headed responses to this!

I think to me game balance is not having "un-interactive game experiences."  To elaborate given two not completely horrible lists they should give each other a run for their money in whatever matched play scenario.  I think the game becomes un-interactive when one army tables the other exceptionally quickly, especially if its not due to a mistake made by the player getting tabled. Another big ticket item is when an armies ability renders another armies set of abilities useless with no counter-play option.  Basically balance to me means that the game is decided on the tabletop by player decisions and not in the list building phase (of course given both lists are in the category of not horrendous) . 

Yeah I'd agree with this. I'm going to make up a tier system to illustrate. Tier 1 is powerhouse tournament lists that consistently place. Tier 2 Is tournament lists that have sometimes placed. Tier 3 is mostly optimized lists that opt for a few "fun" options like suboptimal units for aesthetic but 99.9% of the list is optimized Tier 4 is just whatever's fun and the most casual of lists

I think between tiers, so tier 1 versus tier 1 it should be down to player skill and any list could take it coming from the same mindset and pool. So the best possible list your army can use and represent at a tournament, everyone should have a pretty fair shot. However Tier 1 to Tier 2 I think there should be a CHANCE of tier 2 winning, but tier 1 should win like 70% of the time. Then I think Tier 1 should flatout crush Tier 4 every single time because Tier 4 didn't even try and just threw things they liked on the table. 

So within tiers people should have evenly matched great games but if they try to punch up out of their weight class it should be a struggle to win because their list isn't the best possible list it could be. 

I think getting everyone to a place where all tier 1 armies can compete well will be the biggest challenge. I think the best possible beastclaw raiders list is objectively worse than the best possible daughters of khaine list. 

How to achieve this balance at a tier 1 level is going to be difficult, but I guess that's the dream. 

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So I play ghosts and see the imbalance when playing against an army like DoK or FEC. 

I think most players just want the sort of balance where one faction doesn't have access to all the bonuses in the game while their own only has access to one or two. In my last games against DoK when fighting certain units I did more damage to myself when having mortal wounds bounced back at me from my opponent's save throws. Then fighting a unit that has 5+ re-rollable shrug save, compared to your own 6+ unre-rollable shrug save. And when you get re-rolls to hits, but your opponent gets re-rolls to hits and wounds. And when you have no shooting but your opponent has multiple shooting options. There is no balance in that. Another example would be VLoZD, so when your biggest 7 wound hero has a 4+ ethereal save but your opponent has a 14 wound hero 3+ ethereal due to a relic. 

Every army has good and bad units. Ghosts have 13 heroes, 3 are bad choices, 4 are fun but not great choices, 3 can work really well with the right artefacts/combos, 3 are pretty solid choices. That for me is a great spread of heroes for balance in a book. The issue comes when those heroes carry a similar points cost (or higher) than heroes from other factions which are hands down a million times better. But this is more of a points balance problem which GW are making headway in addressing this (at least I hope they are 😳). 

But at the same time having a command trait such as Terrifying Entity is just bad rules writing (utterly pointless). Having units that rely on enemy units having super low bravery to be a viable option (harridans), but then giving your opponent's ways to increase their bravery and therefore completely negate your unit's ability is again just bad rules writing. When players have books that are littered with lots of these bad rules those players will naturally feel disgruntled when they go up against an army with much better written books. 

Every army has it's awesome unique abilities, but the top tier factions that are regularly stomping tournaments have not only their own unique abilities but also have the abilities of other factions, this is where imbalance happens. When a faction has decent endless spells and terrain while others don't is further imbalance that is so easy to fix. When a faction has decent battalions while others don't is another easy fix of imbalance, especially when having low drops is an integral part of the game. You can keep each faction different and interesting while still having access to the same tools as other factions. To be honest I think that's the only sort of balance players want from the game.

I don't take ghosts and want them to have what all the other factions have, such as having shooting, but at the same time losing on missions because I can't put a 14+ wound, ethereal saving, self-healing hero onto an objective on turn 1 and camping it there and win the mission as a result is not a balanced game, which is more down to rules of the mission creating imbalance, which again could be a relatively straightforward fix. 

Overall I much prefer AoS to other game systems and I hope that GW continues to address the issues that players have without turning it into a swords and shields version of some other game system. 

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I don't think there is one awnser to what 'we' or better put players mean with balance. My thake on it is simple however;
To have design be made in such a way that from an army build standpoint several armies work with similiar restrictions for skill (point cost) and have several armies be able to preform tactical moves in a similar manner (unit design). 

While balance most certainly is tied to Matched play talk most of the time, it's just as important to introduce it into Narrative and Open plan. Where with Open play it's often easier to agree on X units and heroes to bring with you. In Narrative play the balancing factor comes from a scenario, objectives or even an outside third player acting as a dungeon master, this last aspect can sometimes be removed and a deck with random effects can thake its place.

What is key to understand for this concept has to do more with the social aspect of gaming. However a lot of it often get mixed up and is tied to a game's result. But this is probably also because not all 'wargamers' are actually such social people. Because the intention of balance is to have both players start out on equal footing. Often one of the two is a better tactical player, and this can mean that the outcome becomes the same, even if players would switch armies.

Key designs I think for AoS are tied to balance are:
- Unit point cost for 'power', we all know certain units or Battalions are slightly underpowerd
- Unit design, also if it's free, free scenery to all and Endless Spells to all are a great way to balance this game
- Correct unit design, in some armies certain Warscrolls have all the Keywords you'd expect, due to lore, others don't have those Keywords at all despite it being mentioned in lore

Hope this helps you figuring out my thake on it. Balance in short is restrictions, restrictions force people to get creative and this means every game can start out on equal footing/known pro's and cons, which improves the social activity of wargaming. 

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Posted (edited)
On 4/19/2019 at 6:30 AM, Belper said:

Witch Aelves go up to 360 for 30?  Evocators and sequitors up 20%? 

They usually are pretty good at analysising the tactic-less and skill-less hammer units and nerfing the ****** out of them in the ghb

They don't buff weak units enough though imo. Beasts of nurgle and a bunch of the maggoth Lord's have like no use.

Edited by Riavan
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