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Theory Crafting: Generic Upgrades for All Factions


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While thinking about some potential ways to give certain factions a shot in the arm (looking at you, Guild), someone in my group brought up the idea of generic upgrades that aren't faction-specific. The concept is having upgrades that provide generic boosts which can be purchased by any faction.

 

Depending on the strength of the bonus, we could be looking at upgrades that range from 1-3 SS. Some examples include: +1 DF/WP/MV (max. 7), +2" Ranged (max. 12"), +1" Melee (max. 2"), +1 Armor (max. +2 Armor), additional triggers to give Blasts/ignore Armor/give Poison/etc., good Ruthless/Terrifying... the possibilities are endless!

 

Obviously this runs the risk of making good models better, but I would argue that committing too much to a single model carries its own risks. Yes, models like The Valedictorian don't need any help (maybe even a nerf), but sinking more SS onto an already expensive model could be putting all eggs in one basket.

 

What are your thoughts on something like this? Could this be an easily-implemented way for Wyrd to give aid to the crews that need it?

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Part of the problem with this, is not all factions are equal. Therefore a generic change is worth different amounts to different factions. 

Some factions already have a high amount of Ml 2" ranges, and so an upgrade that increased the ml range to 2" is worth less to this faction, and in fact would lower that factions power. (and some models, like Corvus Rook, would gain a huge power if you could increase his melee range).

Even a simple action like Collier Pistol (rg 12" 2/3/4 damage spread)would be poor in Guild, Outcast and Bayou that typically have better guns already, but could be quite popular in neverborn or Ressers. 

There is certainly some upgrades that you could make faction generic, but there are quite a few areas that it imbalances more than it would balance. 

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I absolutely agree that different factions will look at some upgrades differently, depending on their strengths/weaknesses. That's actually something I'm counting on. If factions/models don't need it, then it's more than likely they're already in a good place. Conversely, having an option to give a slight boost to other models might see a rise in previously "unplayable" models becoming viable.  I think making them open to all factions would mean that players could cherry pick what they needed on a game by game basis.

 

In your example with Corvis Rook, a +1" to melee would be a significant boon, but is it worth adding 1-3 SS to his cost? Maybe, and that's the fun!

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Interesting idea... You have to be careful when you design something that can be use across all factions 

1) Increase in the game complexity

2) Homogenized faction. If you give a gun to everybody, suddenly you removed faction specificity. Crew / deck building game must have diversity so you have a different game experience.

3) Easy puzzled solving. Again when you build a list, it's like doing a puzzle... If the solution is too obvious or if you can easily work tou way around faction weakness, the game experience will be diminished... And you'll probably see the same list more often (this is also a problem with versatile/upgrade that are too good or just answer a wide range of problems in faction... Looking at you Serena and LLC)

4) Super hard to design well and balance. It's obviously easier to design something super narrow (an upgrade that can only be use by one model in the game for example... Somehow they fail that with Nexus, but it's an other story) than something super wide. You idea is the widest we can imagine since it can fit on every models in the game... You have to account for possible combo and game balance  for all of them (for example this is why artifacts are harder to design in MTG than colored spell). 

Still, this idea might work... I just think the risk are higher than the reward.

Also, Guild is fine 😋

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3 minutes ago, OhBee86 said:

In your example with Corvis Rook, a +1" to melee would be a significant boon, but is it worth adding 1-3 SS to his cost? Maybe, and that's the fun!

In the case of Corvus Rook, adding +1" to his melee is probably worth 5 or 6 ss. But that is because of Slippery. For very few other cases is it worth more than 1 or 2 ss (I would guess). 

 I also think that most of the time you would see these upgrades on the models you currently see being played rather than them bringing new models to playability. (See Lead lined coat for example. Armour 1 would make a lot of models more playable, but what happens is it gets put on the best model you have, that you would probably hire even without the upgrade existing).  Putting all your eggs in a good basket is risky, but its better than putting all your eggs in a bad basket. That's why the current upgrades have the extra minion clause to try and encourage them on models other than the best. I'm sure that you could make upgrades that made some models that were considered poor playable, but most of those would either only work in a very small number of cases, or would just be used with the current "always hires". 

 

In part I'm drawing on the M2E campaign system, that allowed you to "upgrade" models, and in the most part you just made your good models better, and some things that are fine on some models are broken in combination with other abilities, which means that you can't easily give either option out as a hirable option for all models. 

But that's only my opinion, it's not automatically right, so carry on. 

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18 minutes ago, SEV said:

Interesting idea... You have to be careful when you design something that can be use across all factions 

1) Increase in the game complexity

2) Homogenized faction. If you give a gun to everybody, suddenly you removed faction specificity. Crew / deck building game must have diversity so you have a different game experience.

3) Easy puzzled solving. Again when you build a list, it's like doing a puzzle... If the solution is too obvious or if you can easily work tou way around faction weakness, the game experience will be diminished... And you'll probably see the same list more often (this is also a problem with versatile/upgrade that are too good or just answer a wide range of problems in faction... Looking at you Serena and LLC)

4) Super hard to design well and balance. It's obviously easier to design something super narrow (an upgrade that can only be use by one model in the game for example... Somehow they fail that with Nexus, but it's an other story) than something super wide. You idea is the widest we can imagine since it can fit on every models in the game... You have to account for possible combo and game balance  for all of them (for example this is why artifacts are harder to design in MTG than colored spell). 

Still, this idea might work... I just think the risk are higher than the reward.

Also, Guild is fine 😋

You make very valid points. Game balance would biggest the biggest challenge, and Wyrd would have to take great measures to ensure generic upgrades don't swing already strong factions/masters into the realm of game-breakingly strong.

 

I especially like your point about the "puzzle solving" aspect of list building. That is easily one of my favorite aspects of any game. Malifaux's design means that I'm constantly considering the game state, so I'm always trying to solves an ever-changing puzzle! Us gamers are an peculiar bunch, amirite?

 

My hope would be that any design changes don't create a situation of auto inclusion, but rather a circumstantial shot in the arm. Fighting Dreamer? Maybe a +1 Wp on a single model is worth 3 SS. Facing down C Hoffman? Throw an extra poison on something to get around armor. Ideally these don't completely counter a list, but provide some additional support to lists that don't have a feasible answer.

 

I think one of the issues I'm seeing with the state of the game is that there are definitely models/masters that get played more than others for various reasons. Maybe giving a single model a targeted boost could make something that's underplayed more viable.

 

Very insightful response, by the way. Thank you!

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24 minutes ago, Adran said:

In the case of Corvus Rook, adding +1" to his melee is probably worth 5 or 6 ss. But that is because of Slippery. For very few other cases is it worth more than 1 or 2 ss (I would guess). 

 I also think that most of the time you would see these upgrades on the models you currently see being played rather than them bringing new models to playability. (See Lead lined coat for example. Armour 1 would make a lot of models more playable, but what happens is it gets put on the best model you have, that you would probably hire even without the upgrade existing).  Putting all your eggs in a good basket is risky, but its better than putting all your eggs in a bad basket. That's why the current upgrades have the extra minion clause to try and encourage them on models other than the best. I'm sure that you could make upgrades that made some models that were considered poor playable, but most of those would either only work in a very small number of cases, or would just be used with the current "always hires". 

 

In part I'm drawing on the M2E campaign system, that allowed you to "upgrade" models, and in the most part you just made your good models better, and some things that are fine on some models are broken in combination with other abilities, which means that you can't easily give either option out as a hirable option for all models. 

But that's only my opinion, it's not automatically right, so carry on. 

Adran, I really appreciate your take on this theory! You bring up a lot of good points, and I'm glad to have posed this query for the discussion potential alone. Your opinions are greatly valued!

 

Rook's Slippery definitely makes my proposal for increased range a tricky one. I'm glad you pointed this out. I imagine there will be many cases where a single model throws the balance way out of whack. I actually think that's what happened with Guild; Agent 46 is such a threat that the rest of Guild had to be designed around him.

 

Your point about a good and bad baskets is spot on, and that meta aspect could become a game in and of itself. If I see my opponent field a heavily-invested model, I might prioritize locking it down/taking it out, and my opponent might bank on that. 

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2 minutes ago, touchdown said:

I think homogenization would be the 2nd biggest problem after broken combos. If I can put armor on the Viks, they're a lot more like any standard beater than glass cannon edge of your seat

What if there were restrictions on the Upgrades? For instance, you could only have one of anything that gives a straight stat buff, adding an ability could be plentiful (2), and adding a trigger could be plentiful (3).

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Interesting discussion topic, however from a consistency standpoint, it would undermine a design goal of 3rd edition. 2nd edition had upgrades galore, and while I personally liked that system, it had many detractors, and made entry to the game confusing and overwhelming for new players. Certainly design goals can be changed as more information comes out, but in this case I don't see that being all that useful. Adding generic upgrades would be going back to a design paradigm they explicitly rejected.

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1 hour ago, Fetid Strumpet said:

Interesting discussion topic, however from a consistency standpoint, it would undermine a design goal of 3rd edition. 2nd edition had upgrades galore, and while I personally liked that system, it had many detractors, and made entry to the game confusing and overwhelming for new players. Certainly design goals can be changed as more information comes out, but in this case I don't see that being all that useful. Adding generic upgrades would be going back to a design paradigm they explicitly rejected.

That's a very good point. 2E, while enjoyable, was definitely a logistical nightmare in some cases. It also fostered many NPEs, because new players were being asked to keep track of some many things that could vary drastically from one game to the next, even with the same Master.

 

The main reason this conversation came up was because our group seems to rarely use the faction-specific upgrades. It obviously depends on the situation, but most players prefer to just have the 2 SS. We got to talking about workarounds and upgrades people would want to take. One thing left to another, and now here we are.

 

What if certain upgrades couldn't push a model over a certain SS cost? Like, max 10 SS after the upgrade? Something to prevent the monster models from becoming too powerful.

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You could try limiting it by station, like a set of "Minion Only" generic upgrades.  I feel like it would just be better to tweak and rebalance the models themselves, though, rather than adding upgrades on top of them.

I thought the upgrades in 2e were pretty interesting, and it could be some incredible design space, but I don't think I would really want that whole extra layer to come back to 3e.  Maybe as something optional at some point?  Like a reverse 'Dead Man's Hand', trying out crazier ideas for the future, but not affecting "normal" play.  But even if you did that, it would probably be more interesting to keep those ideas tied to factions or even specific models, rather than be completely generic.

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1 hour ago, OhBee86 said:

That's a very good point. 2E, while enjoyable, was definitely a logistical nightmare in some cases. It also fostered many NPEs, because new players were being asked to keep track of some many things that could vary drastically from one game to the next, even with the same Master.

 

The main reason this conversation came up was because our group seems to rarely use the faction-specific upgrades. It obviously depends on the situation, but most players prefer to just have the 2 SS. We got to talking about workarounds and upgrades people would want to take. One thing left to another, and now here we are.

 

What if certain upgrades couldn't push a model over a certain SS cost? Like, max 10 SS after the upgrade? Something to prevent the monster models from becoming too powerful.

What Factions do you all play? As an Arcanist I want max copies of every Upgrade every game...

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8 minutes ago, Mycellanious said:

What Factions do you all play? As an Arcanist I want max copies of every Upgrade every game...

If I had upgrades as good as any of those, I'd max them out too!

 

I play Ten Thunders and Guild, and none of the upgrades for those factions are anywhere as good as Arcanists'. I'm not saying they don't have their place, but I usually prefer to have 2 SS instead of a mediocre upgrade.

 

This is kind of my point. I rarely find that I chose my upgrades for anything other than VERY specific situations. Arcanists and Bayou, for instance, have upgrades that are good for every game. Free SS, free summon, free focused, etc can be used in all games, and I want something like that for all factions.

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3 minutes ago, OhBee86 said:

If I had upgrades as good as any of those, I'd max them out too!

 

I play Ten Thunders and Guild, and none of the upgrades for those factions are anywhere as good as Arcanists'. I'm not saying they don't have their place, but I usually prefer to have 2 SS instead of a mediocre upgrade.

 

This is kind of my point. I rarely find that I chose my upgrades for anything other than VERY specific situations. Arcanists and Bayou, for instance, have upgrades that are good for every game. Free SS, free summon, free focused, etc can be used in all games, and I want something like that for all factions.

TT has some of the BEST Upgrades in the game. Trained Ninja is absolutely insane. Two of Guild's upgrades I think are good and situational, but LLC is an Upgrade you take 2 of every game. Just Armor 1 by itself gives you more than 2ss worth of reduction over 5 Turns. 

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34 minutes ago, Mycellanious said:

TT has some of the BEST Upgrades in the game. Trained Ninja is absolutely insane. Two of Guild's upgrades I think are good and situational, but LLC is an Upgrade you take 2 of every game. Just Armor 1 by itself gives you more than 2ss worth of reduction over 5 Turns. 

LLC is usually the only one I take, but I don't take the others unless a specific situation calls for it. I'll concede that my post didn't give Trained Ninja the respect it's due, but I would still argue that it can be pretty circumstantial.

 

To circle back to my original point, I that the inclusion of upgrades that boosted generic stats as opposed to offering solutions to specific situations would help elevate weaker models.

 

When it comes to balance, I assume that every model starts off at a baseline. Let's just say for the sake of argument that a standard minion with no flair has stats like:

4SS cost with 4Df/4Wp/4Mv/4Wds. Melee and Ranged @ 4, no triggers. Each thing added to the model adjusts their cost, meaning every boon has an intrinsic value. So if I wanted to give that same model Armor +1 or Melee @ 5, now it's a 5SS model. Bearing in mind that these adjustments aren't applied in a vacuum, couldn't the same formula be applied to generic upgrades?

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55 minutes ago, OhBee86 said:

To circle back to my original point, I that the inclusion of upgrades that boosted generic stats as opposed to offering solutions to specific situations would help elevate weaker models.

I think if you're trying to "elevate" weaker models, it's just better to address the individual problems specifically, and avoid possible problematic interactions.  You would need to target generic upgrades so specifically to avoid them benefiting already-powerful models that you would essentially end up working on "specific situations" anyways.

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Upgrades are notoriously hard to balance, and I can't imagine it'd be possible if they were generically available to everyone. Mayyyybe if they were 'minion only' or similar, but even then there is a huge spread of minion diversity.

Would much rather see a campaign where you can get these sorts of upgrades. It'd be a neat variant, but I don't think it'd be a balanced variant.

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10 hours ago, OhBee86 said:

Depending on the strength of the bonus, we could be looking at upgrades that range from 1-3 SS. Some examples include: +1 DF/WP/MV (max. 7), +2" Ranged (max. 12"), +1" Melee (max. 2"), +1 Armor (max. +2 Armor), additional triggers to give Blasts/ignore Armor/give Poison/etc., good Ruthless/Terrifying... the possibilities are endless!

I like this idea. Maybe not for competitive play, but it would be a cool way to do narrative campaigns. Like if your dude survives he can get 1ss worth of upgrades for the next game of the campaign. Maybe negative ones too so your little warband "evolves" during play.

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3 hours ago, Greatfrito said:

I think if you're trying to "elevate" weaker models, it's just better to address the individual problems specifically, and avoid possible problematic interactions.  You would need to target generic upgrades so specifically to avoid them benefiting already-powerful models that you would essentially end up working on "specific situations" anyways.

I definitely think this is the true way, but sometimes it can be difficult for companies to implement changes that fully address the issues a game may be having. I'm not saying this proposal is the best solution, or that it will be perfect out the gate in terms of balance. What I am saying is that it puts some control in the hands of the players to be able to make small adjustments on the models they think need help.

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1 hour ago, Thatguy said:

I like this idea. Maybe not for competitive play, but it would be a cool way to do narrative campaigns. Like if your dude survives he can get 1ss worth of upgrades for the next game of the campaign. Maybe negative ones too so your little warband "evolves" during play.

if I recall correctly, Wyrd actually published a campaign along these lines during M2E. Players could buy upgrades for their models that carried over from game to game.

 

Some upgrades were similar to the generic upgrades we have now, and others were single-use items. Deaths also carried over, so it was kind of a battle royale concept. It was a ton of fun. You became attached to certain models, so it was epic when they succeeded and tragic when they fell.

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1 hour ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

I think one issue with stat upgrades is there tends to be increasing returns to stats rather than diminishing.

Stat 5 is a little better than 4, 6 is a lot better than 5, and 7 is just a completely different level.

That's a very valid point. There's no way a static point cost would be equal for all recipients. Going from 4-5 is hardly worth 2 SS, but going from 6-7 definitely is.

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17 hours ago, OhBee86 said:

Adran, I really appreciate your take on this theory! You bring up a lot of good points, and I'm glad to have posed this query for the discussion potential alone. Your opinions are greatly valued!

I just realised that recently I've answered a lot of this type of thread recently with problems as to why it won't work, and I don't want to put people off posting them, just because the inital feedback looks bad. I certainly don't intend it to be bad, but constructive, I do know the medium of text is not always the clearest for getting over intent. 

6 hours ago, OhBee86 said:

That's a very valid point. There's no way a static point cost would be equal for all recipients. Going from 4-5 is hardly worth 2 SS, but going from 6-7 definitely is.

There was a M2 upgrade that did this, it was a greater boost for lower df models, but even then it was almost always put on models with a high DF to make it even higher. Likewise, the +2 df boost from Francisco almost always went on a high DF model to make it untouchable, rather than on a low DF model to bring it up to the same level. That might not always be the tactically best option, but there is something about the make up of the human mind that seems to make that the default option for that kind of upgrade. 

The M2e campaign was very much along this sort of line. It was fun to do, but it wasn't balanced.   

13 hours ago, OhBee86 said:

When it comes to balance, I assume that every model starts off at a baseline. Let's just say for the sake of argument that a standard minion with no flair has stats like:

4SS cost with 4Df/4Wp/4Mv/4Wds. Melee and Ranged @ 4, no triggers. Each thing added to the model adjusts their cost, meaning every boon has an intrinsic value. So if I wanted to give that same model Armor +1 or Melee @ 5, now it's a 5SS model. Bearing in mind that these adjustments aren't applied in a vacuum, couldn't the same formula be applied to generic upgrades?

I'm not sure that this is true as a concept.

To give an example of it I'm going to go to Magic. There is a big difference between what is a good 1 mana blue creature, and a good 1 mana white creature. The colour of the creature applies its own template to the model.

This has a similar case in Malifaux. The generic Guild model will come with a gun and a melee attack. The generic Neverborn model will not have a gun attack, but more speed. Adding Armour to a faction where armour is already the main defence (ie arcanists) is much less effective than adding armour to a Neverborn, who typically don't have armour and so it isn't normally facing crews designed to deal with armour. You can't easily compare models across factions, because you will see some models that are not commonly chosen in their faction, that would be an almost autopick in other factions. 

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