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In a few topics and just on other online spaces discussing AoS, there's always a lot of discussion on balance - some people believe that AoS is in a pretty good spot and much better than 40k, and others think AoS is in one of the worst states it's ever been in. I wanted to offer a space to discuss what people think of the balance of AoS, and if it's an issue, what would you do to fix it?

In the AoS 3 thread there was some discussion on whether shooting, especially MW shooting, was balanced or at least if it was fun. One of the arguments for strong shooting was that some small buff heroes are massive force  multipliers for many armies, and you need a way to deal with that.

Another point of discussion that has come up recently was concerning the new Slaanesh and DoK battletomes. For those who don't know, there was a lot of confusion about why the points in Slaanesh were so high compared to DoK, and also why one seemed to allow much more powerful combos than the other. There was an obvious difference in design, and some have said that an editor would have been a massive help in this situation. There's definitely a difference in design philosophy between battletomes, and that can leave some armies at the whims of the single writer they get assigned. 

There's also a discussion to be had on damage in AoS - it comes as no surprise to say that, on the whole, AoS has become a more damaged intensive game compared to the beginning. Generally it's not unusual for units with 4+ saves to be wiped out by a charge with a half decent combat unit. Some (myself included) feel that AoS is more like rocket tag in most cases, including casual games - whichever unit changes first kills. Oftentimes games have only a few models on the board at the end of the 2nd battle round. I'm not sure how many people this bothers, mind. 

One of the other major sticking points is internal balance, which is better in some armies than others. Idoneth probably suffer the most from this, but due to AoS's flat numbers (e.g. no Strength and Toughness), usually the best damaging unit arises mathematically as all units perform similarly in a range of situations (compared to the more rock, paper, scissors design of 40k). Unfortunately this can leave casual players feeling a bit upset when their favourite unit is a bit rubbish, and it's also usually less fun to play and play against an army consisting of the same unit again and again. 

Finally, the last point that I've not seen many people discuss, but how effectively do you think GW addresses balance issues in AoS? Ignoring the December FAQ for a second, do you think they update balance enough? Too much? Do you think they listen to fans enough? Perhaps you may think they should focus on buffing as much as nerfing? Do you think points are enough to balance, or are warscroll changes needed for some more broken units?

So yeah, what do you think of the balance of AoS? 

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Tournament data is only somewhat applicable as a guide to balance We should be mindful of the fact that tournament data is not necessarily reflective of how the game is mostly played. Most player

Honestly.... I think it takes a good competitive player to be able to actually do this. If it's two people hard core into the beer and pretzels, but one is playing LRL and the other is playing sylvane

To include some of the tournament data (in-person) that were talking about:  According to AOShorts: There have been 8 GHB20 events with 5+ rounds and 50+ players. Looking at top 5 spots Sera

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I gonna start saying that the balance is bad.

Before we had one army very broken (fec,slanesh,bonereapers,dok,nagash etc)and then the rest were more or less balanced.

Rigth now we have many broken armys(seraphon,idoneths,dok,kharadrons,lumineth and tzenth) and the gap with the other armys is huge and umplayable.

Gw balance is almost non existent,faqs(when we have......) That only nerf 10 points are useless,no nerfs in scrolls etc.

Seems they prefer balance the game releasing more broken armys,new tomes,new overpowers warscrolls as idoneths or morathi got,etc 

So balance a game only releasing more broken things in fact is a indirect nerf to the old overpower army but due to this we have the situation that you described.

That is the inflated damage of every unit,rigth now as you said the units die in one turn and it isnt fun.

I dont think gw even try balance the game,they only buff in 10 points every unit in each faq so people feel that his army is stronger when is a lie because every other army got the same buff,so the overall balance dont change. 

If they really wanted balance the game we would see changes as sentinels only doing mortals in wound rolls,or kroak cant extend the range of his spell,or morathi double attack cp only for melle phase and not usable in shooting etc.

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I think GW should listen to their playtesters more.

I suspect they mostly use them to gauge whether the language is clear enough to play, not for balance or play experience.

Most problematic things can be spotted in the rules preview, so the Community team seems to wallow in overpowered ****** that's written, and even be proud of it.

There is proliferation of mortal wounds, and creatures that require it to be killed. Leaving armies that got rules before mortal wound spam a bit behind.

Now I don't play AoS. I like GW's model designers and artists, but not much else of the company, certainly not their rules writers.

The double turn is an effective method of keeping win % more equal, even though balance between armies is bad.

Shooting having too great an effect is hard to balance as well. Nerf shootimg, and you need to do something to shore up shooting armies.

This is all external balance, so balance between armies. These can be fixed by points adjustment (note that even things like sentinels can. They won't be OP at 250 points per msu. Not that this is the correct approach, but it can be done).

Internal balance is more problematic.

Petrifex was a good example, there was no reason to bother with writing the other subfactions really.

But for Kharadron, I also mostly see Zilfin, sometimes Nar, and the rest a lot less. Spell in a bottle also was abuse waiting to happen, the person who wrote that had an interesting idea, but as far as balancing is concerned they should explore other career options. It would need to be reviewed against all current endless spells (which it wasn't), as well as all endless spells going forward (which it won't be).

In Cities, when was the last time you saw Phoenicium? Though with 5 to 7 playable subfactions, (Hammerhal, Tempest's Eye, Living City, Anvilgard, Hallowheart and maybe the new ones), Cities certainly isn't bad.

Internal balance in unit cost is fixable with points adjustments, but that's hard to do right.

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I think the balance in AoS pretty out of whack, there are some huge outliers in the top tier S / A armies and some absolutely corkers in the bottom tier and everything in between. At this point to not Seraphon win a event is a genuine surprise. 

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10 hours ago, Enoby said:

Some people believe that AoS is in a pretty good spot and much better than 40k, and others think AoS is in one of the worst states it's ever been in.

I just wanted to note that these positions don't necessarily oppose or conflict with each other - it's entirely possible for AoS' balance to be the worst it's ever been, while still being basically fine and definitely better than 40K. :)

Right now feels to me like the "end of an edition" phase, where relative power level of armies has crept up and up to reach an extreme endpoint, where we have units with extreme damage output ("rocket tag"), extreme mobility, extreme survivability (2+ unrendable saves) and so on. All sorts of wacky OP stuff going on.

Then after several months of escalating madness, we'll have a new edition come out that shakes everything up and disrupts the balance, damping everything back to a manageable level. And the cycle begins anew.

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Shooting and magic is way too strong, honestly if that was tone down by 30% at least then a lot more armies instantly becomes viable. 

Maybe GW ins't doing anything too much yet b.c they know 3.0 is around the corner and they already are addressing this. Who knows. But something needs to be done about shooting and magic.

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  • Tournament data is only somewhat applicable as a guide to balance

We should be mindful of the fact that tournament data is not necessarily reflective of how the game is mostly played. Most players never attend tournaments in their whole hobby career. High level play and average play look pretty different. What tournament players want out of the game is different from what casual players want out of it. What tournament players are willing to accept is different from what casual players will.

To make this more concrete, I believe that casual players have more of an interest in having a diverse pool of options than tournament players. Casual players value diversity because it allows them to play what they want. Given the hobby component of AoS, that is a desire we should give a lot of weight to. Competitive players (those who are mainly motivated by their desire to win) are more interested in having a meta that's stable enough so that skill mostly determines the outcome of games. To that end, a less diverse, more well defined metagame is often preferable. A game in which there is a chance that someone will just blow you up with a random jank build is not attractive to compete in.

Still, I recognize that tournament data is the only data we have about what is good in the game. That is due to the nature of casual games. There are no "casual records" and there is no one "casual meta".  So if we want to be data-driven at all in our balancing, tournament data is probably just the only thing we have to work with. Still, it's important to remember that there is more to the game than tournament outcomes.

 

  • What even is a reasonable standard for balance?

We should probably be considering both tournament an casual play as different ways to play AoS with their own standards of what good balance would look like.

For tournament games, I don' think it is realistic to expect every army to be viable. I believe this because in my experience with competitive games, I have never seen one succeed in making every option a player can choose equally viable in a competitive environment. I don't know of any TCGs where all deck archetypes are equally good, or any fighting games where all characters are. So I don't think we should expect all armies to be equally good in AoS competition.

So what should we expect from a balanced game? I think it's reasonable to expect that there should not be absolute outliers in mechanical strength. We don't want a situation where a handful of armies are in their own tier and make up a majority of podiums. I think we are in or trending toward such a situation at the moment. So that's definitely not ideal.

For casual games, we should want every army to be able to have a chance against every other army. And we should want many different lists to be reasonably playable. "Reasonably playable" does not mean "able to win in a tournament", though. Likewise, it also does not mean that we should expect be able to throw any random units into a list and have it be good.

Due to the amorphous nature of casual play, what makes good casual balance is also a bit vague. I think we should think of it as balance at a "tuned" level, where players try to optimize to a degree and do powerful stuff, but the lists are not necessarily built for maximum consistency and are often restricted to a non-optimal theme. In that regard, I think AoS is still doing fairly well. There are a lot of different playable options in most books at a 7-8 out of 10 power level, often enabling a variety of play styles.

 

  • Is balance what we should be worried about?

Due to the nature of tournament data, when we look at it we only see effects, but not the process by which the numbers came to be the way they are. We always have to fill in those gaps ourselves. It's not enough to point to tournament data and say "See, that faction has a 65% win rate, that needs to come down".

This is where, among other things, considerations of play experience enter the picture. There are a lot of ways a game can become not fun to play that are not directly related to balance. An example of that is Petrifex Elite before the nerf. From the data we have, Petrifex was never dominant in tournaments in terms of win rate. But the build was fairly terrible to play against and, perhaps worst of all, extremely easy to figure out. Ultimately, I think that makes the changes to Petrifex justified, even if the numbers don't bear it out: If an army is just terrible to play against, it should change. And the best build of an army should probably not be the most obvious one, too.

Lumineth are another example. The army is good, but I think it's fair to say that it's not currently the strongest army. However, the Lumineth book is just packed with stuff that is terrible to play against, like Sentinels basically deleting a hero every turn with no counter play, Teclis auto casting and unbinding and Total Eclipse shutting down certain army builds by itself. A lot of what Lumineth are doing results in a negative play experience because it prevents interesting plays from happening. And even if that does not make the army too strong, we should be concerned about it.

In my opinion, recent books have been trending towards overall more negative play experiences. The rise of strong shooting has resulted in a growing division between armies that have good shooting, and armies that don't. And if you don't have good shooting, the whole shooting phase is basically just somehting that happens to you. Magic has been similarly segregated: Some armies can just dominate the magic phase, and if your army can't, you will not participate in the magic phase if going up against an army that can. Those two aspects of the game I think should be closely inspected for the next edition, even if they don't directly relate to balance in terms of win rate.

 

 

Edited by Neil Arthur Hotep
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But the tournament experiences do trickle down even to the most casual player I think. Even when I started out with a bit of list building and fantasizing about an army, my choices were formed in part by what I read on the internet about those units. And a big part of discussions about units is how they perform in a tournament environment.

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I feel like the main issue is that armies have become so strong that small mistakes often lead to outright losses instead of the opponent gaining a significant advantage which eventually snowballs into a victory. This is mainly due to damage being so much higher, and how armies are able to projct this power, but armies these days also have much more tricks/tools/option. This can be anything from bad deployment allowing your opponent to turn 1 charge you - This results in you not just losing a unit, but likely half your army = Game is likely over. Same with not having zoned out a teleport properly etc. = Your important stuff is now dead = Game is likely over.

Having observed games on TTS through HWG twitch it seems like very small mistakes are having a massive impact on the game due to the above - The opponent abuses said mistake and it can very quickly change the whole game on its head. The opponent hasnt just gained a small advantage, but likely outright won the game. 

This also affects "inferior armies" - You likely lack the damage or tools to deal with your opponent, which creates very onesided games. If it is a "top army vs top army" I feel like the balance is alright ATM because both have the tools and damage etc.  

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The state of the game feels quite unbalance for over a year now in my opinion. While Slaanesh was corrected within 6 months of its original release in 2019, Seraphon and Tzeentch are still untouched from a year of dominating the tournament scene.

Providing no point update as part of the winter faq was a poor decision from gw even if we re about to jump into a 3rd edition.  It gives the impression gw does not care about the current of the game at all.

Then the latest dual release of Dok and the new Hedonites battletome shows huge disparities in power level between the 2 tomes which just shows again gw non intention or inability to make the game more balance. 

Now as others, I am more concerned about NPE than game balance and NPE is quite high at the moment which sort of has put me on hold with gaming in AOS and looked at other games until those issues are addressed. Lumineth abilities as mentionned in previous posts while not necessarily game winning abilities create quite a bit of NPE to the level of the original Slaanesh release in a meta that had no shooting to deal with it

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Per List bot, AOS Coach,  AOS shorts, and AOS competitive groups (and my only personal event attendance) I think two opposing things are true

1- This is the most un-balanced that AOS has been since before points were added

2 - The amount of "top tier" factions is the biggest it has ever been.

We are in a weird situation where 6 factions absolutely dominate tournament results. So that is actually a pretty large group of armies. In normal circumstances that would probably great. But the power gap between Top tier and the "fat middle" is getting increasingly distant. Its more like S tier and X, Y, Z tier. 

Even if we don't get game-wide points revisions, we desperately need targeted nerfs to the top factions right now. Or at least the problematic units therein. 

 

 

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Think @Landohammer hits on a key point that there is a very fat middle for AoS and if you’re primarily playing games within that fat middle (as I am fortunate to be) things are probably pretty okay.  But there is a growing list of factions, or at least specific sub-factions within certain factions, that simply “do not play nicely” with any of those fat middle factions.  For that matter I’m not terribly sure how well they play against each other.

My personal philosophy for battletomes is that they should be built so that the average player can construct a list more than capable of going 3-2 but which a skilled player, willing to dedicate the time and energy to really learn the army and how it interacts with the rest of the game (e.g. other factions and the battleplans) can pilot to 5-0 on top tables.  Having now read over half the tomes though I think it is fair to say while certain writers are consistent with this approach (personally I’d highlight both Mawtribes and Warclans as recent examples) I think as 2.0 has matured there has been a tendency for certain writers to reach for the “novel”.  Sometimes this doesn’t amount to much  from a competitive perspective for good or bad (boy oh boy was Sons a missed opportunity in this regard...) but other times this “novelty” leads to lists that push the average player up to 5-0 base case scenario with losses either coming from their playing either a player with a similar tier list, user error, or a truly skilled player on the other side of the table.

I’m certain there are those who like tomes coming with a clear cut 5-0 contender.  To each their own.  But I think all too often when the writers create one it catalyze a lot of claims of negative player experience.

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I think at the moment it's quite hard to have this discussion in a really in-depth manner. For example despite having general stats for competitive events we don't really have anyway to run test inside the dataset to answer even basic questions.

In the AoS3 thread I made a statement that I believed the game was actually Ina fairly decent place overall. 

One of the reasons I don't like 5-0 results (which is what tournament results are actually just a proxy for) as a measure of of strength of a faction is because of the nature of winning. We don't really have a way to measure strength besides feel, and "expert" opinion. So we are overly reliant on a few voices and we can't really check their work. This results in us identifying issues but no real way to measure how big the issue is. For example do Seraphon win more events now because they are stronger than othe fractions in proportion to their win rate? Or are they single digit better in the best ways to be better and therefore over represent? 

Then we talk about targets for factions as 3-2(60%), but in reality most factions don't have a winning record at events, even some of the factions players identify as problematic. 

One of the things Tournament hammer has as a stats problem is the variable nature of each match. Battleplans change the reality of a match for many playstyles.

I'm mentioning all of this to say that we need a set of facts that participants can agree on, and a generous +/- on stats before we can really progress beyound the what are we talking about conversation.

 

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Oh the balance is terrible. Every time a new battletome comes out I (and many others with similar experience) can read through and pick out at least a dozen or so warscrolls/artifacts/traits that are clearly stronger or weaker than other options. Without even playing them. And despite the naysayers, yes these predictions do tend to play out. People knew the day the last Slaanesh tome dropped that depravity was a problem. Again, this is without even testing anything!

It is the nature of the beast. The best thing I ever did for myself in warhammer was accept that matched play will remain horribly unbalanced now and in the foreseeable future. If I want a balanced game I will need to balance it myself and the points are simply a rough estimate to start with. I do not hope for anything else. There has been a lot of relief in that acceptance.

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To include some of the tournament data (in-person) that were talking about: 

According to AOShorts: There have been 8 GHB20 events with 5+ rounds and 50+ players. Looking at top 5 spots

Seraphon - 8/40
KO - 7
DoT - 6
OBR - 3
Nurgle - 3
DoK - 3
Cities - 2
Big Waaagh! - 2
Slannesh - 1
Khorne - 1
S2D - 1
Fyreslayers - 1
Lumineth - 1
Mawtribes - 1

This does not look like 6 factions dominating everyone. 14 factions at least won one tournament with 5:0. If you just look at any tournament wins you can add: Idoneth, LoN, Stormcast, and FEC (18) to the list. If you go down to the 3rd place also Skaven, Slaanesh and Ironjaws (21). So ca. 20 out of 24 factions with a Battletome made it into the top 3. 

Looking at the situation right now compared to the start of 2020 it looks like this:

End 2020, start 2021: During the last 23 tournaments 12 factions (ca. half of those with a Battletome) have at least won one tournament. 21 factions were at least once in the top 5 (some are subsections of a Battletome). The 3 faction with the most wins are Seraphon, Stormcast and KO, with 3 wins each. 

1552028938_202021.png.c13024ab828330793adec4d360301051.png

If we compare this to the situation roughly a year ago (same amount of tournaments but a shorter period of time) we get this: 11 different factions won a tournament and 21 factions made it into the top 5. The 3 factions with the most wins were OBR 5, DoT with 4 and CoS with 3.

2020.png.62b4706ca29ac52b0a62939d743ca35f.png

Of course these are not 100% comparable (difference of time period, and slightly more Battletomes now), but as such it doesn't look like the situation has changed drastically. If at all, one could say that Seraphon are a big outlier which are overall outperforming everyone else. But in the latest tournaments they seem to be less dominant, and a year ago we had periods with strong factions like Tzeentch and OBR too

If we look at win percentage right now, the situations seems to be this (for in-person matches, but TTS is very similar according to The Honest Wargamer data):

1177974592_ScreenShot2021-03-17at15_23_27.png.61912291871cfa996d14bba5e4c7f4f5.png

This is taken from ListBot (http://aoslistbot.herokuapp.com/sotm/), measuring tournaments from March 2020 to March 2021. A similar list is done by DKHM:

EwixTBPXMAMZIOF.png.8849a7dcb0b6c8625d2c4d5076aef131.png

So how is the balance? If you look at the data, a big bunch is within the 45% to 55% win-rate. If you go to 40% to 60% then it includes almost everyone with an own Battletome. 

And again the big outlier which probably causes the most problems is Seraphon. They are very strong and are the most played faction in tournaments. There are 2 or 3 other strong factions, but I think it's hard to say that 6 factions totally dominate everything. Most factions are played within the 2% to 5% range, again the outlier being Seraphon. 

I tried to find older data to compare it to see if the situation is really worse than before, but sadly I couldn't find any. I have my doubts though, that something has fundamentally changed during the last several years (just because of how people talk about Slaanesh. FEC, DoK and so on). But older data would be really interesting to see. 

Edited by LuminethMage
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My entire dissertation was about how winrates in competitive games (specifically videogames) are often very misleading and give a skewed and inaccurate view on what "balance" is like. Indeed, with games like AOS and 40K it's an even bigger issue because it sort of ignores how the majority of people playing tournaments aren't actually hyper-comp meta chasing tryhards. The people placing in the top 10? Absolutely those people. But the vast majority of tournament attendees (in 40K at least) are either matched play gamers taking a slightly tougher list than usual, or they're casual guys who wanna show up, roll some dice, meet new people and have a fun weekend. (which is actually what all 3 types of attendee are there for primarily if we're honest)

Those last two types though tend to skew things because they're either making do with the models or factions they have or they're straight up taking bad lists and not playing at a high level either. I remember in the middle of 40k 8th coming across tons of Primaris-only Marine armies in tournies from all manner of different chapters, solely because the people playing them just wanted to play that army because they liked it and/or they didn't have anything else on hand. Because the meta of these games can change so much and be so ephemeral, alongside the inherent expense of keeping up with it, most of the top tier players don't even really own most of the models they bring to tables. They borrow or swap with other people. Great example last night of an Art of War 40k game; it was Nick Nanavati's Aeldari soup vs Richard Sieglers Necrons.... except Nick admitted that the only models in his army that he had actually bought and painted himself were the Harlequin Troupes. Everything else was originally someone else's model. I bring this up because in 40k right now you're even starting to see a divergence in what physical armies look like compared to TTS armies; a lot of the TTS tournaments have been far more cutthroat with some meaner lists on average, solely because people are capable of using whatever they want with no monetary/availability/painting limitations.

I'm not saying winrates are useless, but they shouldn't be seen as some absolute either. Taking overall, individual winrates AND tournament placings together allows you to get a more accurate view of a factions power. Are Space Marines in 40k now bad because they have a sub-50% winrate? Well, they're still consistently placing in top 4's and winning events so clearly they cannot be, but it's just clear that their prevalence means an increased amount of mirror matches and a higher percentage of """bad""" players piloting the faction.

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31 minutes ago, Bosskelot said:

My entire dissertation was about how winrates in competitive games (specifically videogames) are often very misleading and give a skewed and inaccurate view on what "balance" is like. Indeed, with games like AOS and 40K it's an even bigger issue because it sort of ignores how the majority of people playing tournaments aren't actually hyper-comp meta chasing tryhards. The people placing in the top 10? Absolutely those people. But the vast majority of tournament attendees (in 40K at least) are either matched play gamers taking a slightly tougher list than usual, or they're casual guys who wanna show up, roll some dice, meet new people and have a fun weekend. (which is actually what all 3 types of attendee are there for primarily if we're honest)

Those last two types though tend to skew things because they're either making do with the models or factions they have or they're straight up taking bad lists and not playing at a high level either. I remember in the middle of 40k 8th coming across tons of Primaris-only Marine armies in tournies from all manner of different chapters, solely because the people playing them just wanted to play that army because they liked it and/or they didn't have anything else on hand. Because the meta of these games can change so much and be so ephemeral, alongside the inherent expense of keeping up with it, most of the top tier players don't even really own most of the models they bring to tables. They borrow or swap with other people. Great example last night of an Art of War 40k game; it was Nick Nanavati's Aeldari soup vs Richard Sieglers Necrons.... except Nick admitted that the only models in his army that he had actually bought and painted himself were the Harlequin Troupes. Everything else was originally someone else's model. I bring this up because in 40k right now you're even starting to see a divergence in what physical armies look like compared to TTS armies; a lot of the TTS tournaments have been far more cutthroat with some meaner lists on average, solely because people are capable of using whatever they want with no monetary/availability/painting limitations.

I'm not saying winrates are useless, but they shouldn't be seen as some absolute either. Taking overall, individual winrates AND tournament placings together allows you to get a more accurate view of a factions power. Are Space Marines in 40k now bad because they have a sub-50% winrate? Well, they're still consistently placing in top 4's and winning events so clearly they cannot be, but it's just clear that their prevalence means an increased amount of mirror matches and a higher percentage of """bad""" players piloting the faction.

That sounds correct. But what do you do then? It's probably still the best data we have, and if you are right, it's fits better for our purpose (eg. we want to know how it's for the average guy not the top 1%). It's still better than personal experience or what you hear in chat groups. 

In terms of tournament wins - that's one reason why I showed the yearly comparison. The meta changed quite a lot during that time. Some factions went up, some down. Besides for short periods, no single faction seems to dominate everything. Even without a proper Winter FAQ it looks like we see changes already again (new Battletomes, BR, people adapt). 

For me, it all seems kind of alright-sh? Except for a few factions which seem to have been underpowered for long time, and should see some attention. 

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The issue for casual play power balance is that the difference between broken and useless is enormous and hard to see especially to casual players. By minor changes in listbuilding or even selection of factions, a quite hard rock-paper-scissors-effect occurs. People win as they favorite units are accidencially more powerfull than the enemies one. By simple faction selection a player can have a huge advantage over the others. Janky rules that can be easy outplayed on competetive level can dominate a whole casual meta as well. Concider many beginners also beeing tied to a certain list as they play often all models they own.

In addition, in casual meta people tend to pick models they like or that follow a theme, which is wonderfull, but also can make the game experience more awfull. I had already many casual games that were decided due to listbuilding and rolling for the battleplan. Khorne Mortals against Bonereapers with a single ballista? Set up models, call it a good game and shake hands as your important stuff is faster dead than you can charge anyway. Ogors or Nurgle StD vs Coalescend Seraphon? Don´t even bother putting models on the table.  It is even hard to balance out when both agree on a casual list. 

GW's lacking FAQ doesn´t improve this. 
 

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I have had AoS games where I was outmatched on the other side of the table, but I have always had some path to victory (I normally play khorne mortals BTW). The reason why is that AoS is all about your score at the end.

It rarely matters that I'm outclassed because I always make sure my list has elements for screening and scoring. I doesn't always work, but I at least feel like I'm playing and still get wins when I only have a few blood warriors left on the table. 

At the current power level I think the game is less fun, but still a playable game. I think if it gets much higher it will not be much of a game anymore. (I have found the game is fun if both players models get to kill the opponents stuff and no body is playing with the old version of fate dice and auto casting and auto charging all game)

That said there is a problem with "casual" balance in games I've watched. Simply for the same reason you see people noob stomping at friday night magic. Some people like to win and don't care about sportsmanship. I saw seraphon sweep a casual 1k points tournament because they knew they could build a summoning list that could bring in monsters and noob stomp all the other new players. It ruined the play experience of the opponents and messed up the community for a while.

However once the Seraphon player graduated to playing with people who knew the game he just got thrashed and literally quit seraphon to play lumineth.
I don't now if you can stop this sort of thing, because most armies probably have some thing that in casual games a guy that did his research can spring on players that they cannot deal with.

I think @LuminethMage's data is good, if an army is capable of taking a top spot it should be capable of playing in your local scene somehow.

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On 3/15/2021 at 4:45 PM, Enoby said:

In a few topics and just on other online spaces discussing AoS, there's always a lot of discussion on balance - some people believe that AoS is in a pretty good spot and much better than 40k, and others think AoS is in one of the worst states it's ever been in. 

So yeah, what do you think of the balance of AoS? 

Talking about balance on a WArhammer forum is our version of political arguments on twitter.  Best avoided and work on self-understanding the aim and goal of what you are trying to get out of this hobby/game.  

I once said no game is balanced and some nitwit retorted a bunch of other games not made by GW are perfectly balanced.  (so,.. hard left or hard right wing comment grounded in person opinion in a realm few here care about). 

Someone who says AoS is in the worst states ever loves their sweeping comments of doom.

What we want to aim for as a community is for less extremes.  They sell armies (really well in fact) but make it hard for new players to get in and find causal games enjoyable.  It makes few a skew meta which is a bumpy ride and people knee-****** reactions.  

I've played Slaanesh Daemonette-foucsed armies for a while now.  The first HoS book meant I had to buy a whole new army essentially and the more recent meant, if points go down it's got some legs.  I love painting the (Juan Diaz) models and against friends I enjoy playing the army.  But basically,.. that book has been a gong show for uh, nearly 3 years?  Probably not ideal for a community setting.  It sells models though.

We reasonably want things to be balanced internally but units have their day in the sun.  Glade Guard, Dryads and Treemen/lords were once the bane of the scene.  Now they are generally,.. poor performers or just gone (arguably replaced by Sisters of the Watch as a newer shinier kit).  I own a lot of those.  I've found ways to make some work and not be too bothered by others.  Anyone here long enough to remember Dual Hydras?  Pretty sure these days they are viewed as a bad unit.  GW makes a huge range of wide variety of things and comments often on the intangibles like better synergy that isn't pointed in (but appears to be now)?

At the end of the day, GW has moved towards a more frequent cyclical updating of points based on some level of engagement.  You don't go long (or several) editions waiting for any kind of change (wood elves updated every 10+ years) and things can be addressed.  It may not be perfect but it's moving in a better direction.  Getting two points updates a year (don't argue we didn't get one, that's a dumb move of GWs we get it) is drastically better than 8th ed when something came out and if it wasn't countered by a successive release we needed an edition change (5-year gaps).  

I would say the issue I have now is GW is struggling to pay attention to AoS in the aftermath of Covid and the 40k release being handled with less care than people expected.  

I guess I see it as things that improve then become ubiquitous and we keep moving that desire for more further up the dial to wanting more.  And I guess GW likes to throw curveballs in like Iron Hands or whatever....

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I just want to point out that when the claim is "six factions are not dominating everyone" and the first data set one uses to support that has the top 6 with 3x the number of placings as the rest combined, there may be a problem with the game's balance.

 

Narrative play is your friend!

Edited by NinthMusketeer
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6 hours ago, NinthMusketeer said:

I just want to point out that when the claim is "six factions are not dominating everyone" and the first data set one uses to support that has the top 6 with 3x the number of placings as the rest combined, there may be a problem with the game's balance.

 

Narrative play is your friend!

So, you think the complete data shows that OBR and Nurgle are dominating the tournament scene? Because they had 3 5:0 wins at one point in large events? Nurgle hasn't won a single event out the last 23. OBR one. Or even something like KO - they haven't had a single tournament win since last October - 15 events ago. They had 4 top 5 entries since then. That's dominating? So those 3 factions should get "nerfed"? 

There is one clear outlier, Seraphon. And the Seraphon Battletome is in other aspects pretty much what we want for everyone. Various play styles, a lot of feasible units etc. When they make point changes to Seraphon external balance will likely improve, but on the other hand internal balance might suffer. External balance is just one of the important factors. 

Tzeentch has similar issues, but less so than Seraphon. 

I think right now it's a bit difficult to judge how good GW is doing. We have seen that they want to improve balance via Broken Realms, and have made some bigger and some smaller changes so far. But because of the delays this is happening very slowly, and might lead up to an immediate release of 3.0 just when all the armies should be relatively balanced after they got attention in Broken Realms. 3.0 then of course will likely throw everything off again for a year or so. 

How you feel about this also depends on you personal situation. I think with so many factions, and other important factors, the general balance is pretty ok. Most of the factions are within 40% to 60%. They should strive of course to get most into the 45% to 55% bracket. But we also want interesting abilities and that sometimes our army feels powerful, and exceptional in some ways. 

But then I'm not super concerned about tournaments, and think that locally we have enough ways to balance things out most of the time. 

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Woa there, waaaaay overreacting, I definitely did not make any of those claims. I was not commenting on the veracity of your point, but rather raising that when such a skewed piece of data is used in support of the idea that certain factions are not dominating, there is a problem. Even considering the dearth of data due to Covid, were the balance situation remotely reasonable there would be a huge abundance of data sets better than that.

Perhaps ironically, if one feels so defensive as to create straw men over a perceived criticism that will always make me doubt the legitimacy of the position--a valid point needs no straw men.

 

To go on a related but separate tangent, the win % of armies at tournaments is already skewed towards 50. Because winners are matched with winners and losers with losers. The armies with high win % will disproportionately go against other armies with high win %, creating a negative feedback with rounds subsequent the first. To see the 'real' win rate, look at the data from first rounds only. I dare anyone to do that then say straight-faced that AoS does not have a balance problem.

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17 minutes ago, NinthMusketeer said:

Woa there, waaaaay overreacting, I definitely did not make any of those claims. I was not commenting on the veracity of your point, but rather raising that when such a skewed piece of data is used in support of the idea that certain factions are not dominating, there is a problem. Even considering the dearth of data due to Covid, were the balance situation remotely reasonable there would be a huge abundance of data sets better than that.

Perhaps ironically, if one feels so defensive as to create straw men over a perceived criticism that will always make me doubt the legitimacy of the position--a valid point needs no straw men.

 

To go on a related but separate tangent, the win % of armies at tournaments is already skewed towards 50. Because winners are matched with winners and losers with losers. The armies with high win % will disproportionately go against other armies with high win %, creating a negative feedback with rounds subsequent the first. To see the 'real' win rate, look at the data from first rounds only. I dare anyone to do that then say straight-faced that AoS does not have a balance problem.

I asked so that I can understand what you meant. If you really think that that piece of data alone is enough to say 6 factions are dominating, because doesn't do that to me. That's all. I find these things fun to discuss. My reply  wasn't meant to set-up a straw man or being defensive. This is a topic where you can reasonably disagree, exceptions alone differ. 

You also seem to have misunderstood my point. I think some factions are stronger than others. But besides Seraphon and maybe Tzeentch, none of them seem to be too out of hand to me. There are also have a few other factions on the other side of the spectrum which need help. 

What better data sets did we have before Covid? I've mostly seen win percentages and tournaments wins/placements since I pay attention to these. But I haven't found much older data at all. 

I think your point about win rates in first rounds make sense. You have the data for first rounds? Would be interesting to see that and how much it differs from the aggregated ones. And probably then you'd have to go down int specs etc. if there was no big difference. 

I don't think balance is as terrible as you seem to, but also not that it couldn't be better. 

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On 3/16/2021 at 1:43 PM, Neil Arthur Hotep said:

We should probably be considering both tournament an casual play as different ways to play AoS with their own standards of what good balance would look like.

For tournament games, I don' think it is realistic to expect every army to be viable. I believe this because in my experience with competitive games, I have never seen one succeed in making every option a player can choose equally viable in a competitive environment. I don't know of any TCGs where all deck archetypes are equally good, or any fighting games where all characters are. So I don't think we should expect all armies to be equally good in AoS competition.

So what should we expect from a balanced game? I think it's reasonable to expect that there should not be absolute outliers in mechanical strength. We don't want a situation where a handful of armies are in their own tier and make up a majority of podiums. I think we are in or trending toward such a situation at the moment. So that's definitely not ideal.

For casual games, we should want every army to be able to have a chance against every other army. And we should want many different lists to be reasonably playable. "Reasonably playable" does not mean "able to win in a tournament", though. Likewise, it also does not mean that we should expect be able to throw any random units into a list and have it be good.

Due to the amorphous nature of casual play, what makes good casual balance is also a bit vague. I think we should think of it as balance at a "tuned" level, where players try to optimize to a degree and do powerful stuff, but the lists are not necessarily built for maximum consistency and are often restricted to a non-optimal theme. In that regard, I think AoS is still doing fairly well. There are a lot of different playable options in most books at a 7-8 out of 10 power level, often enabling a variety of play styles.

looking at Tournament Meta, I think the problem is at some point that some builds are quite conflicting with the actual lore of the faction.

I mean we had stuff like multiple Abhorrant Archregent or Frostlords on Stonehorn. The first one is basicly a Emperor of multiple courts and the second is the leader of an Alfrostun. In both cases it is quite unlikely that their would be more than 1 of them in the same army (in case of Stonehorns that problem could even be bypassed because 1 Frostlord and 2 Huskards on Stonehorn are actually plausible to play).

It should be more importent that stuff that is reasonable from a lore perspectice should be balanced but stuff that could actually conflict with the lore should not be a result to debuff lorefriendly builds.

On 3/16/2021 at 1:56 PM, Beastmaster said:

But the tournament experiences do trickle down even to the most casual player I think. Even when I started out with a bit of list building and fantasizing about an army, my choices were formed in part by what I read on the internet about those units. And a big part of discussions about units is how they perform in a tournament environment.

I think here the problem is that for years if not decades the tournament community is the most vocal and that way new players are lead to a quite unhealthy way to play.

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