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Rathnard

Fixing The Other Side

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(I'm posting this in non-pink because this is a wall of text! ;) )  

 

Okay, so before I go further I should probably make it clear that I LOVE The Other Side. I have painted Companies for 3/4 Allegiances (I’m still painting the 4th) and thoroughly enjoy it every time I play. TOS is one of my two favourite games, and I’d even go as far as saying that I prefer it to Wyrd’s flagship game – Malifaux.

 

That said…the game has issues. And importantly, I see it driving away players who would otherwise be interested in playing TOS. This was most obvious in a tournament I ran. Of the 8 players, 4 of them were either new or had only played one game before today. Of those, two were on board for playing more, and one more had some reservations about playing it in the future (I didn’t get to talk to him in detail about that). But the last one… he had gone from excited about playing TOS in the morning, to completely disliking it after three games. I don’t blame that last player. He’d had some poor luck, but his complaints with the game rules were completely justified. In fact my talk with him is what motivated me to post this thread.

Basically, I want TOS to thrive, but there’s aspects of the game that’s holding it back.

 

What Needs Fixing.

I think the biggest issues with the core TOS rules come down to aspects of the game that feel unfairly powerful, non-interactive or harshly punish players that aren’t prepared for it. This can be an issue for any player, but more importantly it seems to be something that’s actively driving away new players who try the game for themselves. Specifically, the two I’m thinking of are Hazardous terrain and the Area rule.

 

Hazardous

Hazardous terrain (including, by extension, severe terrain) is the kind of thing that can just cripple squads with little warning. One bad flip could wipe out a fireteam, and to make things worse it’s the opponent who controls (and cheats…) that hazardous flip. In a sense it feels very non-interactive. If you’re forced to move a squad through something Hazardous, you’re left to look on while your opponent gleefully flips, then cheat the damage flip to decimate your fireteams. You’re basically losing models before your opponent even takes a shot at you, which creates a very negative experience for the player who was only trying to move their units around.

 

Area

Area attacks have a similar issue to Hazardous. With the nature of the game as it is, it can be very hard not to bunch your squads up (especially if you’re trying to avoid rushing through Hazardous terrain). And when you do, any enemy Area attacks tend to do an excessive amount of damage to those units. Hell, just this afternoon I had a squad of Electrocutioners annihilate a full squad of Rifle Corps, Samantha Thrace and seriously damage Charles Edmonton. This was the second activation of turn 1, and it pretty much sealed the game for me. Now you could say that I was lucky (I was), that my opponent should have focused down the Electrocutioners first or that he shouldn’t have bunched up as much as he did (correct on both counts…at least IMO). But making that kind of mistake shouldn’t result in literally half his army getting wiped out. It should have hurt him, sure. But the power of Area attacks shouldn’t be such that you can wipe out an entire squad in one activation because your opponent was careless.

 

The Fix

So how would I fix this? Well, both the Hazardous and Area rules need to be toned down, and made much less punishing for the unsuspecting player.

For Hazardous you could prevent your opponent cheating the flip, or limit the damage sustained to losing only one model (like area currently is). But I think players themselves need a way to mitigate damage from Hazardous terrain, albeit at a cost. Ideally I’d like to see players make the damage flip for their own units, and be able to cheat that flip (thus providing another use for low cards). They could also (or instead?) spend a tactics token to prevent taking damage, or you could remove the damage component altogether and give them a pinned or shaken token (opponents choice) if they fail the Hazardous flip.

For the Area rule, one option could include preventing players from cheating the area flip, but it doesn’t help low-armour units that are already disproportionately hurt by the Area rule as it is. So instead, maybe a simple cap on the damage would help? For instance, change the Area rule to having the attack affect one additional Fireteam in LOS and 3”, with the player flipping damage at Strength 0 and only being able to remove one model from the second fireteam?

 

Other Stuff

IMO Hazardous and Area are the two biggest issues with TOS. But there’s certainly a few other things I’d like to see changed or improved. So here’s a list of random suggestions;

 

#Releasethestarterbox

TOS desperately needs something new. The fabled starter box, complete with Guild and Court of Two Allegiances has been hinted at for years now. I know it’s supposed to be finally arriving in Q4 of this year, but it can’t come soon enough. I know of at least 2-3 players who are interested in the game but not the current Allegiances. They’re waiting on Guild or the Court of Two to finally arrive before trying TOS for themselves.

 

Crossover rules

It honestly surprises me that Wyrd hasn’t yet done more to allow players to use Malifaux models for TOS, and visa versa. Sure, there’s something to be said for creativity, and allowing players to proxy things however they want (for instance, I have a Kings Empire company made entirely from Malifaux Guild minis). But I feel like packing unit cards for both systems with a select few units could go a long way in fostering interest across game systems. For instance Gupps could double as alt Egg Clutches in TOS, or Binh Nguyen could become an alt Datsuba in Malifaux. These kinds of things should be really easy to implement (at least relative to sculping new models…right?), and it seem like a simple way to generate more interest in, and attention toward, TOS.

 

Immolated Rhino

Even after the errata, it’s just too difficult to kill. Once it flips to Glory this thing is near-impossible to stop, especially if your opponent keeps stacking shaken tokens on it like they should. To be honest I’m not yet convinced that a near unkillable Rhino is all that bad, given its reduced murder potential post-errata. But I would certainly like to at least remove the anti-morale ability. On a tank like the Rhino, it just seems that little bit too unfair to deny half the tricks that would help deal with it in genuinely creative ways.

Maybe the Devouring Eel should also be here, but I can’t comment on it because I’ve never seen it on the table. ;)

 

Noodle Wyrm

Point for point, the Goryshche (Noodle Wyrm) isn’t as tough as the abovementioned rhino. But it’s still pretty damn tough! I’m undecided as to whether this is a big enough issue in TOS games. But if it needs addressing, I’d absolutely start and end with the Fast Regeneration Asset. The randomness of this asset is such that it often either does nothing, or makes the Noodle Wyrm all but invincible. Basically the asset is too random, even for the Cult, and thus it creates a negative experience for either the player using the Wyrm, or the opponent. At this point, my suggested change to Fast Regen would be for it to instead say that the Goryshche gains a reinforcement token every time it is forced to flip an asset (including Fast Regen itself. That should retain the Noodle Wyrm’s constant regeneration vibe, but make it a little more consistent and easier to kill… IF you put enough effort into stopping it!

 

That’s it for now. In the meantime I’m curious to hear other peoples thoughts on TOS – what you like about the game and what you’d like to see changed or improved upon. Like I said above, TOS is one of my favourite games and I’d really love to see it’s player base expand!

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Hazardous is a damage nob in the game that is critical to the gibbering hordes. I'm not saying it can't be adjusted but one faction has a commander centered around it's interaction. The punishing part of that interaction is it activating upon entering and upon activating in hazardous terrain. That is indeed in many games too much dmg. TOS is a game where you can shape outcomes, that's why you buy your hand and aren't given it. That said I can see this interaction needing some further examination.

Area I'm afraid I don't quite by as it's mitigatable through positioning and only does a maximum of 1 dmg. It's strong but it's also on a limited amount of weapons. I am not convinced area is a problem mechanic. Because it's capped already. 

 

The rhino is really hard to kill. Can't argue that if it's proving too difficult to peel off the table then yeah likely needs a look.

 

Noodle worm. Ive not played against it enough to have a strong opinion on it.

 

Abyssinia- still needs some of their incidental card draw removed. Remove the draw from the engineers.

 

Rail gunner brought down to str2 base.

 

 

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In my opinion, the first thing they should do is demonstrate a commitment to the game by actually releasing something.  Not just announcing a future indeterminate release, like they've done with the starter set.  Until Wyrd shows this isn't a dead game, it'll be an uphill struggle to get people to buy in.  Dual-Allegiance adjuncts (or Guild/CoT) may be a good way to go.  They'd be releases with minimal financial investment, and an interesting development that doesn't yet exist in the game, but logically would at some point.

Second on their list should be facilitating, as far as possible, a smooth transition for Malifaux players into TOS.  One such method would be harmonizing terrain trait names insofar as it is possible.  This will mean necessarily re-writing that section of the rules and issuing new cards for the impacted units.  Then, they should make a short document meant explicitly for people coming to TOS from Malifaux detailing the changes between the games.

Third, talking more about TOS in their Waldo Weeklies or integrating Earthside material into TTB could help with exposure.  Maybe reaching out to the major Malifaux podcasts and offering to provide materials for review.

 

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I would be cautious with further nerfs/buffs at this point since the community is still so small. It's hard to know what's meta related and what isn't.

I agree that anything that would make the game more visible would be great! 

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On 7/18/2020 at 10:13 AM, Rathnard said:

Crossover rules

It honestly surprises me that Wyrd hasn’t yet done more to allow players to use Malifaux models for TOS, and visa versa. Sure, there’s something to be said for creativity, and allowing players to proxy things however they want (for instance, I have a Kings Empire company made entirely from Malifaux Guild minis). But I feel like packing unit cards for both systems with a select few units could go a long way in fostering interest across game systems. For instance Gupps could double as alt Egg Clutches in TOS, or Binh Nguyen could become an alt Datsuba in Malifaux. These kinds of things should be really easy to implement (at least relative to sculping new models…right?), and it seem like a simple way to generate more interest in, and attention toward, TOS.

Remember what we've heard about the two player starter box being Lady Justice vs. Kirai?  🤔

I think the big sticking point for cross over models would be dual basing, though.

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I think the biggest issue for TOS right now is getting the game going and doing a relaunch. The game has insane potential (it has really cool rules and of course it could use some tweaks but its very enjoyable and more complex than it seems) but I think the KS was kind of a mistake :(

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20 minutes ago, trikk said:

I think the biggest issue for TOS right now is getting the game going and doing a relaunch. The game has insane potential (it has really cool rules and of course it could use some tweaks but its very enjoyable and more complex than it seems) but I think the KS was kind of a mistake :(

Maybe not entirely a mistake if it let the project happen in the first place, but I'm inclined to agree a bit due to a couple of things. The first one is that the hype cooled off between the Kickstarter and people receiving the models (Which really isn't Wyrd's fault, that's just how KS works). The other factor is that those of us who have TOS here all got it through KS and we found ourselves swimming in plastic :}

I love that the models are pre-assembled, but getting everything painted is a daunting task, heck, I'm still painting! It's different than going to the store and getting a box or two, going back home and feverishly bringing the models to life. So right now we're split between people that have nothing and people that have too much!

Of course these are opinions based entirely on my subjective experience and my conversations with others down here that are into TOS, but I do think that the Kickstarter serving as a launch could have complicated the marketing aspect of the product.

As a game, if I had to pick between ToS and M3e and decide which one is "better", I really couldn't. I truly believe this is one of the absolute best systems on the market with absolutely gorgeous art and sculpts. I hope there is some kind of ToS revival project in the works!

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I agree. Also: in between the KS and the release WH40k 8th edition had its premiere which kind of stole a big part of the non-skirmish market.

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I would love to see something new for gencon sale, maybe a new adjunct for each of the factions. Or even a dual adjunct would be interesting. 

I agreed with area being a non cheatable flip. And would also suggest having the Area flip being at a -# based on distance away from original target. 

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I believe the game needs a hardware update. The system itself is one of the best rulesets out there, but the quality/price ratio of the miniatures is just abysmal. I was lucky to get a second-hand Kickstarter pack for cheap, but the minis themselves are so unbelievably low quality that I wouldn't be able to justify paying MSRP for them, especially considering the amount you need for bigger games and any kind of variety on the table. I'm personally not comfortable recommending the game to new players until the miniature problem is fixed and there is a clear indication that the game isn't abandoned (the latter is problematic since the original designers of the game have left Wyrd as far as I understand).

An app and proper releases would also help, obviously.

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Time for some replies! Yeah, it's been a couple of weeks, but that's pretty much a reflection of my life right now - getting some time to type up a long-winded reply is not easy with two demanding kids! 

On 7/19/2020 at 10:33 AM, rancor709 said:

Hazardous is a damage nob in the game that is critical to the gibbering hordes. I'm not saying it can't be adjusted but one faction has a commander centered around it's interaction. The punishing part of that interaction is it activating upon entering and upon activating in hazardous terrain. That is indeed in many games too much dmg. TOS is a game where you can shape outcomes, that's why you buy your hand and aren't given it. That said I can see this interaction needing some further examination.

Area I'm afraid I don't quite by as it's mitigatable through positioning and only does a maximum of 1 dmg. It's strong but it's also on a limited amount of weapons. I am not convinced area is a problem mechanic. Because it's capped already. 

I think the issue with Hazardous and Area isn't so much that it's broken. After all, an experienced player can limit the effect it has on their army and prioritise killing those Grenadiers, Doomseekers etc if it's really going to cause trouble. The problem, IMO, is how much of a negative experience it can be for a new player.

Losing most of a squad from some bad hazardous flips, or most of your army in a single activation vs Electrocutioners (I've seen both) is not a fun experience. A new player suffering those effects feels like they have no control over the outcome and it's not going to encourage them to stick with the game system. So it's not for balance that I'm advocating for a change, but to limit those potential "feels bad" outcomes that can drive new players away.  

The Abyssinian nerfs I can't really comment on, mainly due to limited experience but also because I just don't like those mech infantry models. I can see the potential of card draw though, especially if you abuse it! 

On 7/19/2020 at 3:57 PM, LeperColony said:

In my opinion, the first thing they should do is demonstrate a commitment to the game by actually releasing something.

... 

Second on their list should be facilitating, as far as possible, a smooth transition for Malifaux players into TOS.  One such method would be harmonizing terrain trait names insofar as it is possible.  This will mean necessarily re-writing that section of the rules and issuing new cards for the impacted units.  Then, they should make a short document meant explicitly for people coming to TOS from Malifaux detailing the changes between the games.

Third, talking more about TOS in their Waldo Weeklies or integrating Earthside material into TTB could help with exposure.  ...

Agreed on most points. The Gencon news has helped alleviate concerns that the game might be "dead". We know they're waiting for the right time to release the starter box, and I completely understand the reasoning. It just sucks that aside from an alt Charles last Easter, there's been nothing new for the game for what, at least a year now? At the absolute least I'd love to see Binh and Thrace get a release - they're the only models left from the initial book and I'd really, really like to finally get my hands on Thrace. 

I hacve to disagree on rewriting the terrain rules for TOS - IMO it's an excellent set of rules I'd I'd be sad to see it go just to make it more like Malifaux. I like the idea of an intro document for new TOS players coming from Malifaux. That's definitely something I'd like to see when they relaunch the game. 

 

On 7/19/2020 at 11:02 PM, Saduhem said:

I would be cautious with further nerfs/buffs at this point since the community is still so small. It's hard to know what's meta related and what isn't.

I agree that anything that would make the game more visible would be great! 

Ironing out the obvious issues is certainly warranted, but like I said above I feel like Area and Hazardous needs to change not for the sake of balance, but removing negative play experiences for new players.  

On 7/19/2020 at 11:31 PM, solkan said:

Remember what we've heard about the two player starter box being Lady Justice vs. Kirai?  🤔

I think the big sticking point for cross over models would be dual basing, though.

Dual basing is indeed a consideration when looking at crossover models. Alot of players would be happy to magnetise, but that shouldn't be a requirement to using a model in both systems.  

On 7/19/2020 at 11:55 PM, trikk said:

I think the biggest issue for TOS right now is getting the game going and doing a relaunch. The game has insane potential (it has really cool rules and of course it could use some tweaks but its very enjoyable and more complex than it seems) but I think the KS was kind of a mistake :(

It's hard to say whether the Kickstarter was a mistake. It enabled Wyrd to get the game out with 4 full allegiances, after all. Was there a better way to do it? I dunno...maybe? It's all conjecture anyway. The game hasn't taken off as quickly as we all hoped, and the best that can be done right now is to look to the future - how to promote it and get it into as many hands as possible.   

On 7/20/2020 at 12:12 AM, Saduhem said:

,,,
As a game, if I had to pick between ToS and M3e and decide which one is "better", I really couldn't. I truly believe this is one of the absolute best systems on the market with absolutely gorgeous art and sculpts. I hope there is some kind of ToS revival project in the works!

I actually consider TOS to be the better game. But that might be where I am as a gamer right now. I've got enough going on in real life that a crunchy, rules & combo-intensive game just doesn't appeal like it use to. Hence why my favourite games at the moment are TOS and Kings of War. The fact that both systems offer awesome conversion & basing opportunities helps too of course. ;)

On 7/20/2020 at 5:21 PM, Clockworkpirate said:

I would love to see something new for gencon sale, maybe a new adjunct for each of the factions. Or even a dual adjunct would be interesting. 

I agreed with area being a non cheatable flip. And would also suggest having the Area flip being at a -# based on distance away from original target. 

Well Gencon sale aside (we "only" got an anouncement about the App and delayed release of the starter... which is something at least), I do really like the idea of a small release like a new adjunct for each allegiance. Maybe that's something they'll do to expand the current Allegiances at a later date? 

On 7/21/2020 at 3:50 AM, Lucidicide said:

Always love hearing what you have to say, @Rathnard

Thanks! :)

15 hours ago, Seadhna said:

I believe the game needs a hardware update. The system itself is one of the best rulesets out there, but the quality/price ratio of the miniatures is just abysmal. I was lucky to get a second-hand Kickstarter pack for cheap, but the minis themselves are so unbelievably low quality that I wouldn't be able to justify paying MSRP for them, especially considering the amount you need for bigger games and any kind of variety on the table. I'm personally not comfortable recommending the game to new players until the miniature problem is fixed and there is a clear indication that the game isn't abandoned (the latter is problematic since the original designers of the game have left Wyrd as far as I understand).

An app and proper releases would also help, obviously.

The models have definitely been controversial, but I actually think they're not nearly as bad as alot of people make out. The detail is on par with other mini lines and the variety of poses is fine for a company scale game. The price is fine, I think, even below what it could be. Especially compared to other mini lines of comparable detail.

As for quality - that seems to vary alot between allegiances...

Cult and Gibbering Hordes both have consistently great quality sculpts. Mold lines aren't too bad and while there's gaps, it's nothing that's too difficult to fix. IMO the only problem model is the Alpha Crawler, who leans forward a little too heavily, making him tough to keep upright without some serious pinning. 

Kings Empire is the Allegiance I've had the least hand-on experience with, but from what I gather the main issues come down to some of the rifles/flags on the Royal Rifles & Intel Corp being bent, and attaching the horses to the base for the cavalry.  

Abyssinia is the most problematic - the long spears on the mech infantry/Lord of Steel often need un-bending and the titans are either too small (Dreadnought) or fragile legs (the other two?). 

 

I won't deny that the above aren't issues, but I think it's the kind of thing that can be avoided in future releases. I think stuff like long-barrelled rifles or horses that are attached to the base by tiny points can be avoided, with some forethought by the sculptors.  

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