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The new hot combo and how to fix it


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In different online communities, I've been seeing what (I wanna believe) it's an oversight from Wyrd. The card draw engine with Koji, the new TT henchman:

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Ten Thunders has the following 3 models with Protection Money:

  • Koji
  • Katanaka Crime Boss x2
  • Lotus Eater x3

With Koji's ranged attack, it becomes pretty easy to exploit an aura that has no limitation to draw cards during Koji's activation without the opponent having any agency into that. I think that the important part here is that card draw engines that don't require any interaction with the opponent are bad for the health of the game, that was one of the reason that Bokors got severely nerfed.

In a Misaki list, Koji can spend his activation drawing 6 cards while shooting at someone like a Wokou Rider, who has Bulleproof, so he will be reducing the damage to 1/2/3 and get more benefits from having those scheme markers. KCB also get small benefits from this other that drawing cards.

I think that the previous scenario show how this interaction could be easily exploited (at the level of Yannick + Von Schill engineers or even worse), but this gets to an obscene level when used in a Shenlong's crew, due to the upgrade Wandering River Style (linked before). The upgrade moves a model and all scheme scheme/scraps/corpse markers that are close to the target. The main difference with similar abilities is that instead of just "placing" those markers back on the table, the ability puts them back by "dropping" them, which triggers "Protection Money" drawing 1 card per marker and model with that ability.

  • Koji + 1 Lotus Eater:
    • Koji shoots the Wing Golem (he reduces the damage from :ranged by 2 due to his aura): Draws 2 cards
    • Koji shoots the Wing Golem (he reduces the damage from :ranged by 2 due to his aura): Draws 2 cards
    • Aspiring Student 1 uses Four Winds Punch: Draw 4 cards
    • Aspiring Student 2 uses Four Winds Punch: Draw 4 cards
    • Shenlong uses his :ToS-Fast: action to make one of the Aspiring Students use Four Winds Punch: Draw 4 cards
  • Total costs (across 4 activations):
    • 2 Regular action
    • 2 Quick actions from the totems (1 chi token each)
    • Quick action from the master (1 chi token from the totem)
    • 2 points of health across up to 2 models
  • Total rewards:
    • 3x 6" pushes
    • 16 cards drawn

 

This starts getting even more out of control if you add more Lotus Eaters or other models with Protection Money.

My 2 cents for possible fixes:

  • Make "Taker's Bane" Enemy Only
    or
  • Remove the part that generates scheme markers from the action "Taker's Bane" and instead add a printed "Drop It!" trigger
    and
  • Change "Wandering River Style" to just "place" the markers instead of "drop" them

Additionally, to prevent future exploits of similar abilities:

  • Change "Protection Money" to "Once per Activation"

Since we're at it, both KCB and Lotus Eaters could use some love, because the main and almost only way for them to see play (specially the second ones) for the last 3 years has been to create an insane combo to draw cards.

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For the Koji Shenlong combo, worth noting it has a few variants depending on matchup.

The simplest version is just "totems run away scheme running with Koji and avoiding the fight" in which case you may 'only' be drawing 4-6 cards a turn. But 8 stones for that many cards is pretty established to be wildly powerful.

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I think that auras 'stacking' in general is a problem (like SSC getting 2ss from 1 killed model), but I agree the Koji draw engine is silly and needs to go/be nerfed. And I agree with Mr. Cackle, gremlins pay 9 stones for 2-3 cards a turn with Brin, Koji getting 4-6 just existing is nuts. It does look like the ranged-drop-enemy-scheme action should have been Enemy Only.

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40 minutes ago, Sigerick said:

Seems to me the options are to make Four Winds Punch push markers, make Koji’s gun enemy only, or make the marker drop enemy only.  Any of those would fit.

the most logical if they dont want to hurt the model besides just the card draw is just the last one

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So I played against this last night, and found it crippling.  I'll fully acknowledge I 1) made poor list building choices 2) didn't respect 4 Winds Kidnap with Up We Go 3) Had poor target selection 4) Played all together significantly worse than my opponent at what i consider "normal" for me

That said.  Shenlong has a massive flexible keyword that allows him to do many many things well, and combing that with near endless cards to cheat makes him a terrifying prospect to overcome.  In the 1 and a half(?) turns we played, i counted at least 20 cards drawn over the course of using the Koji/4 winds/totem/Shen combo.  I resigned roughly in the middle of T2, after I had lost my master (Title Viks), Taelor, and Hans was at 1 wound.

 

My opponent was able to use 13s 5 times in the first have of T2, while continuedly keeping his hand at 6 cards.  A hand of severes, coupled with Ch (+2 to duel total) left him consistently at a 19 or better on his attacks (or defenses) with Shen, while the 13s were able to be dumped into Futahso's/Wind golem's attacks without any recourse on my part.  

 

The 20 cards drawn include me spending a stunned AP on the viks to bonus action remove all scheme markers in range - so this name, had i not done that, would have been at least 4 higher; my opponent also elected to use Shen only attacking T2, rather than drawing another 12 (4 per attack) on his activation.
 

I resigned when he had killed my Leader and other primary beater, and still had a hand of severes (he told me as such) without even using the totems T2 to draw additional cards.  So, 20 cards (at least) drawn in a combined total of 21? activations in the entire game before we called it.  It was a legitimately unfun experience that had my opponent apologizing to me.

 

I do not know what the fix is; but something clearly needs to be change. Is it distruptable?  Yes, I could have dove Viks in 1st activation of the game and theoretically could have killed a totem or 2 and that would have cut the engine, but in my viewing, outside a extreme hyper alpha (which without a easy focus engine i did not bring) it is a coin flip at best to pull off.  If I had done so and it failed, now my Leader is inside his crew while he draws a dozen cards.

 

Does Protection Money need to 1) Not Stack? 2) Be Once Per Activation? or Koji 1) Enemy Only? 

 

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Just played a game of Tiri, and we kept being disgusted by the card draw there as well.

Uncapped card draw is something they should be super cautious about IMO.

I was against Perdita, who had better uncapped card draw... So it really feels like the game is becoming a race of "draw tons or be irrelevant." Which just makes for a miserable game when the flips don't matter because everything important can be cheated.

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1 hour ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

Just played a game of Tiri, and we kept being disgusted by the card draw there as well.

Uncapped card draw is something they should be super cautious about IMO.

I was against Perdita, who had better uncapped card draw... So it really feels like the game is becoming a race of "draw tons or be irrelevant." Which just makes for a miserable game when the flips don't matter because everything important can be cheated.

Is Tiri actually in the same league? I haven't played Nomad yet, been putting all my attention into Architect since that seems like the more interesting puzzle to solve, but I look at her and one the surface she doesn't scream "uncapped card draw". She's more like "Draw once per activation if you are able to get the set-up", which is a format we've had around since the M3E release with Keywords like Infamous and Tormented (running theme for dual faction Outcasts, apparently) and, admittedly more problematically, Transmortis. Even with Perdita I don't know if the issue is the card draw per se, it's that she has extremely strong uses for the cards with stuff like A Por El! that was originally designed around limited resources to play with suddenly being given free reign. Similar to the Von Schill+Yannic combo in that respect, in that a huge part of the strength of that combination isn't just that Yannic is drawing you lots of cards but that the effects that draw you cards are ones originally designed with the idea that they cost you resources to do, though I tend to feel like the card draw is a bit stronger and the effects a bit weaker in that instance.

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7 minutes ago, Azahul said:

Is Tiri actually in the same league? I haven't played Nomad yet, been putting all my attention into Architect since that seems like the more interesting puzzle to solve, but I look at her and one the surface she doesn't scream "uncapped card draw". She's more like "Draw once per activation if you are able to get the set-up"

A big difference with Tiri is she can do this without interacting with the opponent. Infamous at least is only ever card cycling, and Transmortis... Well, they were nerfed even with having to interact with the opponent :P

I'm not ready to call Tiri OP, but I certainly don't like the trend of adding a ton of card draw on top of a very powerful crew.

7 minutes ago, Azahul said:

 but that the effects that draw you cards are ones originally designed with the idea that they cost you resources to do, though I tend to feel like the card draw is a bit stronger and the effects a bit weaker in that instance.

The entire game is sorta balanced around the idea that card limitation is a factor. Card draw inherently breaks this after a point. Eventually with enough card draw, you're cheating every or most important duels. Then flips are much less relevant to the game.

Fun to be the one getting to just always do your thing. Not so fun to be on the receiving end, and a bit miserable when both players are doing it IMO.

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27 minutes ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

A big difference with Tiri is she can do this without interacting with the opponent. Infamous at least is only ever card cycling, and Transmortis... Well, they were nerfed even with having to interact with the opponent :P

I'm not ready to call Tiri OP, but I certainly don't like the trend of adding a ton of card draw on top of a very powerful crew.

The entire game is sorta balanced around the idea that card limitation is a factor. Card draw inherently breaks this after a point. Eventually with enough card draw, you're cheating every or most important duels. Then flips are much less relevant to the game.

Fun to be the one getting to just always do your thing. Not so fun to be on the receiving end, and a bit miserable when both players are doing it IMO.

I don't disagree with any of that, though I do think it's worth noting that while Tiri doesn't have to interact with the opponent (and I do think a lot of those Tomes on low TN tactical bonus actions should really be different suits to force more interaction, particularly on beaters like the Iron Matron) the opponent does get to interact with her.

 

With Jack Daw, unless my opponent is playing very cagey (and I don't usually pick Daw in pools where that's a particularly viable option) I usually assume I'll draw ~4 cards a round off of the Tormented ability alone. Daw1's bonus action can add another 2 or so in some match-ups. Tiri on paper feels like most games she'll be fairly comparable, once opponents are in position to ping off Shielded. There's a big difference in Turn 1 and it certainly makes Tiri way stronger at something like Cursed Objects where she can play at arm's length (though Zipp has this exact same advantage), but the general scope is pretty equivalent to crews that have existed since the start of the edition.

 

I think the existence of A Por El! is a significant component in what tips Perdita's card draw over the edge. Every card drawn, no matter how weak, is potentially another full AP (and maybe another card drawn...). It's not the only thing on Perdita's card that is a bit crazy, but I think the existence of older crews does indicate that there is a level at which a significant amount of Keyword-locked card draw is totally acceptable. Adding it to crews with very different design philosophies like the Ortegas, on the other hand, adds a context that makes that same card draw truly problematic.

 

And then the Shenlong thing completely blows all of this out of the water :D

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4 minutes ago, Azahul said:

 

 

I think the existence of A Por El! is a significant component in what tips Perdita's card draw over the edge. Every card drawn, no matter how weak, is potentially another full AP (and maybe another card drawn...).

A card is potentially:

  • A heal
  • A focused attack
  • A focus
  • A card draw

Once you get her engine running xD

So yeah I think we both mean the same thing - a crew that gets card draw AND other powerful stuff is pushing it, or can do really efficient stuff with that card draw.

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2 hours ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

A big difference with Tiri is she can do this without interacting with the opponent. Infamous at least is only ever card cycling, and Transmortis... Well, they were nerfed even with having to interact with the opponent :P

I'm not ready to call Tiri OP, but I certainly don't like the trend of adding a ton of card draw on top of a very powerful crew.

The entire game is sorta balanced around the idea that card limitation is a factor. Card draw inherently breaks this after a point. Eventually with enough card draw, you're cheating every or most important duels. Then flips are much less relevant to the game.

Fun to be the one getting to just always do your thing. Not so fun to be on the receiving end, and a bit miserable when both players are doing it IMO.

I completely agree with this post.  Excessive card draw crews are terrible for the game because they take out the key factor that makes games fun: the variance.  (For similar reasons, I really don't like pass token generation, but I'll save that fight for another day).  Too much card draw makes games all play out the same because you can cheat every relevant flip.

This is I think a long term problem for the game that requires long term thought, but Koji is such an extreme example of this problem that he's foregrounded the issue.  I have faith in the Wyrd design team to take a good look at their models and figure out how much card draw really is ideal for Malifaux, and dispense nerfs accordingly.  That'll have to happen over cycles of errata and design. 

Koji, on the other hand, can't exist in this state for too much longer.  Something has to give.  This isn't quite as bad as the McMourning2/Seamus interaction that got emergency errata'd, but it's close, and it's certainly worse than most other problems that demanded an errata fix.  

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One thing that would be really good is more card manipulation instead of card draw:

  • Adversary
  • Positive flips (like Pandora's new defense stat)
  • Blind cheating off the top
  • Well-versed ability (I was so down on this ability and now think it is amazing design)
  • Leverage for positives (pass token issues aside), etc.

I'd like to see more design for expending resources to manipulate your odds without guaranteeing like cheating fate. Although just straight positive flips are a bit boring, particularly if you don't need to do anything to make them happen.

For example, if it was determined that the Experimental keyword needs help with TNs... rather than give them card draw, it would be so neat to allow them to use poison to help with TNs by increasing their duel total or giving a positive flip to a simple duel or similar.

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Designing a strong crew with good card draw is rather easy. Designing a viable crew with limited or non-existent card draw, that's a challenge. I've been recently learning Reva2 and it is so fun and satisfying when you get the crew to work with very limited cards. Tull, Damian Tiri and Koji create absurd card draw but Koji is possibly the most problematic one as he gives bonkers card draw to a crew that was designed to work with limited cards (Monk). 

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2 things that I thought reading this topic:

1) Koji says to drop an enemy scheme, does that means that even if you shoot one of your model you'll still drop an enemy marker?

2) maybe making the scheme drop a trigger instead of making it authomatic can help?

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1 hour ago, Ozzac said:

 

1) Koji says to drop an enemy scheme, does that means that even if you shoot one of your model you'll still drop an enemy marker?

 

Enemy is from the point of view of the model its written on, so in this case who ever you shoot it's an enemy scheme marker to koji 

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Just throwing my two cents here after playing 10+ games with Koji in various masters. I don't actually think Koji himself is op... outside of a Shenlong crew. Having 3 activations in which you can refill your hand at the cost of 1 chi is a bit ridiculous. Students become way better pass tokens essentially. They bonus to FWP, Concentrate for a chi, and maybe walk if they are too far behind. I would like to see FWP changed to place not Drop.

Outside of the Shenlong draw engine he is 2-4 cards a turn which isn't super broken. And without Shen and the Students moving the markers all over the field, you are very easily leaving points on the table for your opponent. Even in Shenlong you have to be careful about this. For example Set the Trap is gimme points to the opponent.

Leaving enemy scheme markers around can also prove bad depending on the opposing crew. Arson, False Claim, Collette, Linh, Parker, etc. There is a long list of things that love having scheme markers to play with. 

Also never put Koji on the table if your opponent declare Crossroads 7. I've never seen models melt so fast in my life. 

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I agree that the Four Winds Punch engine is really problematic, but I think that a single 8 stone model taking two actions which essentially say "deal 1 damage to a nearby friendly, draw two cards" is still too good.  It's a mark of how much card draw creep is in the game right now that we're acting like Koji drawing 4 in an activation is reasonable.  It's really not.

Wyrd recognized that Bōryokudan needed to be enemy only to prevent abuse.  It boggles the mind that Taker's Bane didn't get the same treatment.  I think FWP should be fixed, but Taker's Bane should also be Enemy Only.  If it's not, the only time anyone will ever take Koji will be to shoot your own models to draw four cards.  All the rest of that awesome text on his card will be ignored.  If a model will never be used for its intended purpose, and will only ever be used in janky ways, that's a sign that model should be adjusted.

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For a bit of context on how strong that card draw is, I went undefeated in a World Series event last year using Lucius for 3 of the rounds.

Part of his sheer power is that the entire crew collectively draws 4-6 cards when you combine all the combos, and can take a TN of an 8 and a 4 to draw two cards for example.

Card draw is game breakingly strong. To get to that level of card draw should take your whole crew working for it, or master level card text imo.

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8 hours ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

For a bit of context on how strong that card draw is, I went undefeated in a World Series event last year using Lucius for 3 of the rounds.

Part of his sheer power is that the entire crew collectively draws 4-6 cards when you combine all the combos, and can take a TN of an 8 and a 4 to draw two cards for example.

That is a great point. There is a downside of a TN to draw cards in that crew. You have to give up something to get those cards. With Koji there is also a downside that keeps getting glossed over here again and again. You are putting scheme markers on the table for your opponent (In turn dealing a little bit of damage to your own model that can be healed with the trigger. A trigger, in my opinion, he should not have). Scheme markers normally equate to VP. Yes, you can remove those scheme markers, but you are putting resources into removing them. Keep in mind that your opponent can also make use of them. You are giving a resource to the opponent for those cards. The cards you draw may or may not equate to winning a duel. Which in turn, may or may not equate to VP. 

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7 hours ago, Azahul said:

Meanwhile Bandit players are over here in the corner wondering how on earth Koji managed to swing getting to actually place the dropped markers himself... and why they lost access to Protection Money too despite not being remotely as exploitable.

 

#unnerf Wanted Criminal. 

Dangit mate I was SPECIFICALLY trying to not think about this, for fear of having my blood boil and head explode in rage....lolol

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5 hours ago, Doomikov said:

That is a great point. There is a downside of a TN to draw cards in that crew. You have to give up something to get those cards. With Koji there is also a downside that keeps getting glossed over here again and again. You are putting scheme markers on the table for your opponent (In turn dealing a little bit of damage to your own model that can be healed with the trigger. A trigger, in my opinion, he should not have). Scheme markers normally equate to VP. Yes, you can remove those scheme markers, but you are putting resources into removing them. Keep in mind that your opponent can also make use of them. You are giving a resource to the opponent for those cards. The cards you draw may or may not equate to winning a duel. Which in turn, may or may not equate to VP. 

It is very doable to place the scheme markers such that they never score.

As for giving the scheme markers as a resource, the majority of the crews in the game can't abuse that.

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5 hours ago, Doomikov said:

That is a great point. There is a downside of a TN to draw cards in that crew. You have to give up something to get those cards. With Koji there is also a downside that keeps getting glossed over here again and again. You are putting scheme markers on the table for your opponent (In turn dealing a little bit of damage to your own model that can be healed with the trigger. A trigger, in my opinion, he should not have). Scheme markers normally equate to VP. Yes, you can remove those scheme markers, but you are putting resources into removing them. Keep in mind that your opponent can also make use of them. You are giving a resource to the opponent for those cards. The cards you draw may or may not equate to winning a duel. Which in turn, may or may not equate to VP. 

Scheme markers = VP only in certain pools, and only if you don't play carefully. For things like Set the Trap, you have plenty of ways to reposition your models (being Four Winds Punch) one of them.
 

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Also if need be, the Lotus Eaters can remove one (each) for free at the end of their activation, and heal too. Which means you have healing kits just sort of lying around. Koji can also turn them friendly, if need be.

A couple of pre-existing elements of Shen's crew synergize to make this new engine particularly egregious.

1) He has multiple totems. Since they can take the 4WP as a bonus, you're able to use your totems to draw cards, which is a significantly outsized effect for 2 stone models you get for free.

2) Chi means his crew is almost always capable of getting a higher stat in the flip. The order chi is added puts additional hand pressure on your opponent since some times it can change the Monk from losing to winning the initial flip, putting cheating first pressure on your opponent.

It also means that the monk model can usually be sure they can win the duel if they have a sufficient card in hand. A prospect much more likely if you're drawing a ton of cards.

3) Lotus Eaters are only six stones, so the engine tax is lower than it would be in Misaki (and much more efficient thanks to 4WP). Also, as mentioned above, they have the potential to remove the markers for free and heal, reducing the risk of keeping them around (when that exist even exists).

4) 4WP is itself an incredibly efficient action with no TN (though not without some complexity since its push is flat 6 instead of up to). It is also not limited in any way except for chi use, so if you want to spend master AP to take the action in addition to totems, you can.

5) The Monk keyword has access to cheap and effective healing, thereby reducing the cost of shooting your own people. The Low River Monk is very affordable, and Shen has access to healing through Low River Style. Maybe you don't want to swap styles and lose 4WP, but if you're running Shen2, you can turn one of the Lotus Eaters into a healer by giving it Low River Style.

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