No stinger this time around. We got stuff to talk about! Stuff like Stunties!
First though, we need to mention a couple things. First of all, this will (probably) be the last regular article in this series. By popular demand I'm going to look at some more new and returning teams adjusted this paradigm, but they'll be shorter on average and focused on the teams rather than rule analysis and design.
Second of all, for this article in particular, we're going to be talking about a whole lot of things in vague terms. It's a lot of work to make something like a Star Player roster! More work than I'm willing to do, frankly. For a lot of this stuff I'll focus more on the high concept and theory behind it, rather than actual mechanical decision making. You've been warned!
That all said, let's start off with plain old inducements. All of the following are good as is:
- Bloodweiser Babes
- Extra Training
- Wandering Apo(or Igor)
- Halfling Master Chief
These inducements are safe, both to use and to play around with. What does playing around look like? Well, stadiums for one thing. Chef aside, all of these could make for good stadium enhancements. Another potential way to play is to give some teams the ability to alter their costs. 50K Bribes? That goes into this category as well.
Choose between a fireball and a lightning bolt for 150K. This thing is better for some teams than others, but I think it adds more then it takes away from a league environment. We're keeping it! However, I do think that's there's some potential here for filling niches and building on themes that we aren't quite hitting yet. That brings us to...
Okay, so, I know what you may be thinking, but here me out here. What I'm talking about here is not BB2016 racial wizards. Those are bad. And not good. But the core concept? That you get a different wizard based on the team you're playing? Well, at the very least it sounds good on paper. So let's set some ground rules:
- The cost must always be between 100K and 150K.
- Assume 120K base cost and balance up or down as necessary.
- Must be weaker than a regular wizard, with advantages in conditional scenarios
- Teams who use the regular wizard more effectively should have more niche racial wizards
- There will be a maximum of 9 racial wizards, one per template team
- Both Racial Wizards and Regular Wizards will be available independently of one another
Let's sum up the above now. Racial Wizards are cheaper and weaker than regular wizards, with availability based on whichever template team the team is most associated with. So all Elf teams get the same Racial Wizard. All Empire teams get the Empire Wizard. But Khorne gets the Chaos Wizard, even though mechanically it more closely resembles Norse than Chaos.
Also note that I said a maximum of 9 Racial Wizards. I think there's an argument for not giving Lizardmen their own Wizard. Most teams based off of their template are more strongly associated with another team and Lizardmen themselves are, as established last time, already the best template team. Nothing is set in stone here, but we're going to strongly consider skipping on the racial with Lizardmen.
Now, lets build exactly one racial Wizard, just to give you an idea of what we're looking at here. I present the Orc Wizard:
- WAAAAGH! - You may take a second Blitz Action this turn. You may activate this Wizard at any time before you have taken a Blitz Action
Is this good? Yes, definitely! Is it better than a Lightning Bolt? Well it depends who's holding the ball, but probably not. What it does do is present a lot of potential for interesting plays.
This is just a footnote really. Mercenaries are good as-is. I would like to explore slightly reducing their level up costs, but it's not necessary for this game I'm laying out. Something for another time.
Star Player Design
So hey, let's talk about actual Stars instead! Or more accurately, the design thoughts that go into them.
The way I see it, there are three kinds of Star Players, with a fair amount of overlap between them.
First, there are the legacy star players. These stars don't properly reflect current players or teams, but they have become timeless within the game and are worth keeping around because of it. If any of these stars are a problem then their costs should be increased; we want to avoid changing their skills and statlines because those are things that make them, them.
Second, there are Star Players who straight up break player rules. These are the Willows and Mighty Zugs of the game. These players are weird, but weird can be interesting and they often fill niches on the teams they're included on. It's worth considering skill changes for these players, but most of them overlap with legacy stars and cost levels have to be considered.
Last of all are the Positional Stars. Each of these stars took a player from their host team and then built it up into a legend. These are the Griffs and Chainsaws of the game. They are also the place where most of the new stars should go. Not every positional has an associated star, nor do I think all of them should, but we can definitely afford more than we presently have.
Now lets shift gears a sec. Remember those template team wizards? We want to apply the same principle here. Teams should have star players from their own team of course. But the majority of the rest of their stars should come from other teams who share a template with them. This way we can use our Stars as a way to reinforce the team themes and groups. What more, it also naturally lends itself to some balancing concerns.
Like, Elves? Turns out most Elf teams have similar needs and restrictions in Star Player access. Well it's a good thing then that we can reinforce their Elfiness and fulfill those needs at the same time.
The last thing to note is Star cost and distribution. I think that 8 to 11 is a good range for the number of stars each team should have access to. We don't want too many or else it can get overwhelming. As for costs, well, that's a touch more complicated. There's no real upper limit on the cost of a star player; it just sort of needs to go where it needs to go. But there should to a lower cost limit. Some existing stars are better than others in this regard (I'm looking at you Skaven Stars). As a rule of thumb, non-secret weapon, non-stunty-only stars should have a cost no less than what it would cost to actually build that player. That hopefully seems like a pretty reasonable restriction, but CRP6 Skuttlespike still manages to fail it.
Stunty Teams and You
So. Stunties. They are objectively the best teams in the game. But they are also sort of the worst.
The average stunty team has a much higher component of luck to its success or failure. It is more arbitrary than other teams and feels as such. Further compounding issues is the average power level of one of these teams, which is decidedly lower than the non-stunty equivalent.
Now lets take another look at our design goals from the very first one of these things:
- The game should be fun to play!
- Taking reasonable risks is fun
- Interacting with your opponent is fun
- Scoring is fun
- Teams should feel different from one another
- It should feel like anything could happen
- Randomness should feel risky and not arbitrary
- Rules should be simpler than they are now (they're really complicated!)
- Where rules are complicated, they should be designed to reinforce each other and reduce dissonance
- Keep new mechanics to a minimum
- Nerf dominant strategies
So, the bolded goals? Stunty teams run into potential risk with all of them. That's a pretty big deal! Do we really want them if they're going to fly in the face of our mission statement?
That was a rhetorical question. The answer is yes, of course, obviously.
Because here is the thing: Stunty teams are not for everyone, but they do add a lot to the game. These are teams with an expectation of a low power level, dicey success rate and non-standard mechanics. For the right kind of player they are the perfect vehicle for challenging themselves, or for forgetting about success or failure and just embracing pure, silly fun.
For the right designer, they are the perfect way to try out new mechanics and choices in a safe manner. These teams ensure a safe way to experiment and create a better game.
Also maybe I'm just a little biased.
Next is the part where you let me know your own ideas for Stars, Wizards and more generally inducements!
There's going to be a bit of a break after this, before we come back with new and new-ish teams to look at. Look forward to it!