One issue I’ve had with Warcaster is getting my head around how to evaluate the power level of a unit for list building.
In other games the models have a cost that determines how much of that unit can go in your list, but in Warcaster cost is much more complicated.
One player can literally have a list with a cost of 18 points with nothing but 1 point solos and another can have a list with a cost of 51 points or more with only 2, 3, and 4 point models and they’d both be pretty equally terrible.
So how do we evaluate if a model is costed appropriately? Vassal Reavers and Exalted Paragons both cost 2 points, but they are on completely different planets for power. Is cost the best lever to adjust to even them out? Or if not, what is?
Good question! I would also point out that terrain layout would be a factor as well given the units you cited.
I’m under the impression that in theory each unit has its niche so even a less impressive unit can have its place since you’re going to redeploy units based on need that changes throughout the game. Likewise, the Exalted Paragons are required for their Cadre’s champion, right? So there’s a different sort of opportunity cost going on with them.
I’ve got the game, got my sets, but haven’t had a chance to play. So I can’t really offer much educated opinion here so much theorycrafting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen play testing for units/models to see where they shine and such, plus why you’d pick X over Y in lists (or more to the point, when buying).
DC isn’t really a balancing factor even where it is different. In the end, you should take
- solos to maximise your extra activations
- squads for scoring
- warjacks / vehicles tend to be the best for killing, and get the best support cyphers / abilities
At extremes like heavy warjacks needing dc4, it can be a lot more difficult to bring them into play, but otherwise there isn’t much difference between dc2 and 1. The decision is more: do I need a solo or unit right now?
Ideally, each unit would be balanced against others in its category by having a unique advantage, and you choose which is best for current situation. Right now, do I need a Weaver, a damage sponging marauder, or the support / repair of a grafter?
In practice, the balance isn’t always there, especially in squads. Most factions have at least 1 squad outclassed by the others. But there is plenty of choice, and most units have some reason to make it into a list.
Tbh DC numbers are an imperfect balance measure because unlike in other games with traditional points scales higher DC is paid for once when summoned and while its harder to bring them out again, rhey cant be removed from the battle completely.
There are better ways to balance units in this game, also DC can be one. And the way we know is generally theough playing stuff a lot and seeing what feels above the curve and what feels like you dont see in play.
Well if you think of points in a typical wargame as “if it’s stronger, you get less of it” then DC does represent some of that as you described.
My group has for example been playing Exalted Paragons as DC 3 for the last few months and we’ve found they feel appropriately costed at that level. But it’s really tricky to figure out where the line between DC costs lies.
This is a good observation. Unlike regular point cost games where you buy a 4-point model and put it on the table, in Warcaster you may never have an opportunity to put the DC4 model on the board because you need your ARC elsewhere or your opponent manages to knock ARC off your StargÅte. Or you may be able to instantly deploy it back after it gets blown up - again something you couldn’t do in “points-buy” systems.
Units with a higher DC tend to have a bigger impact on the table, and more durability too, but you get fewer opportunities to bring them in when you need them. The most powerful model in your list won’t do you much good if it spends the whole game in reserves.
Pretty much this. DC isnt about 1-1 value. Think of it more as opportunity cost to deploy on the table. How much arc can you afford on a given gate, provided the other needs you have, like charges on other units in play or in your well to power furies.
Then of that amount, how much is worth unit X vs Y?
Its easy to get a solo deployed.
Its relatively easy to deploy a base squad or light jack
Its relatively harder to deploy a light vehicle or squad + attachment.
Its hard to deploy a heavy.
Theres some rough correlation there - a heavy or vehicle will be faster or have more attacks and upper potential vs a solo, but its far from 1-1. Plus, all the firepower in the world will still lose you games if you deploy and charge heavies but have no scoring units.
Even the most ineffectual squads are valuable for their ability to score Primary scenarios.
Skirmish is alot less balanced because anything can score, and the board is small, giving outsized value to jacks, especially heavies.
Some folks are working on fan-fixes to this, though.
My problem is that within a faction there’s definitely a power curve applying to the selections available, and without the ability to adjust point costs you end up with clear winners and losers in the faction.
Vassal Raiders are categorically superior to Vassal Witch Hunters in most scenarios for example. So if you can’t make Witch Hunters cheaper to compensate, your only lever is to change stats, which is a much messier thing to balance.
But you also get clear winners and losers WITH a points scale too.
Witch Hunters, I agree, are utterly useless and never worth taking. Literally everything is better than Witch Hunters. But outside of that, its much less obvious. Plus, I think some slight tweaks in rules makes Witch Hunters fine. Points are just one way of balancing, but not the only. And we all know points are never perfect, either.
There is some power creep. The talons and relikon are very strong, and having two of those squads is probably a good move. But right now they are gated in a 2nd cadre purchase. So thats a real barrier. Besides, I get good use from reavers + raker, and raiders aint bad. They have uses.
Agree, its one of the reasons I wish we had an app for Warcaster. We could get offical buffs and nerfs like in a video game, and have them automatically reflected in our rooster.
Yeah, an app would be fantastic. Wonder if they have one in the works. Probably too busy with Warmachine for now.
I’m not sure if there’s enough ROI to warrant it. Honestly, while I like the new Warmachine app? Looking back it would’ve been nice to have War Room 3 that covered all their games.
That said, I don’t seem to recall Warcaster being marketed as a competitive game like Warmachine was.
I do like the Thousand Worlds book having all the units to that point. I really like Mantic’s approach for Deadzone with each new big book having all updated stats.
I have two cadres because the champion aside the two units in the AC cadre are far superior to the vassals. I would have loved to have had the vassal solo give vassals something and make them viable. Instead we got another completely self sufficient solo.
In skirmish, absolutely. In Primary missions, the DT cant score. But reactivating reavers and giving them sidestep does help you score.
The reactivation scores the points, the sidestep on a single attack does next to nothing. It requires an enemy to be in the perfect spot to leverage and only gives you one inch. If (for example) she gave vassals +1 MAT or RAT while within a radius of her, then that would be worth it.
I wasn’t referring to the Devine Tempest in the cadres, I was referring to both units in the Cadre being far superior to the vassals.
The raker and its couple attacks sure does appreciate it.
Theoretical, they could better adjust DC this way. The could increase the max pool of arc and adjust tye cost of cyphers and units respectively. This way there is more wiggle room for the amount of DC needed to deploy. But this would most likely require a cap on how much arc you could put on a cypher and i dont know how the would impact the amount of charged units on the field.
Think balance with DC is also weird because WNM plays more like a CCG - Skirmish hybrid.
One model being able to move 1” is a more than a little underwhelming.
Maybe allowing them to use phase sequencer without needing spike would have been great.
The Phase Sequencer DID cross my mind. Its just a worse Flight.
What spike would you give them then?
I play/collect mostly AC so if I was to change the Vassels if would be based on the 3 general play styles of AC. Melee, Cyphers, and debuff.
Vassel Reaver: Spiking would cause the fusion saw reduce the ARM by 1 (non stacking) during this activation. I think Vassels need to be a unit that can demolish anything if in full force, charged, and in range. ARM 2 already makes the squishy enough to die to anything.
Vassel Raiders: increase the RAT to 4 and reduce the power of the spiker to 2. When spiked suceesful attacks inflict corrosion. Makes them more of a debuffing squad, and once corrsion is applied the reduced ARM will compensate for tye reduced power.
Vassel Witch Hunters: I think an easy and interesting buff to hex would do the trick. When an attack lands the VWH can spike to hex a unit. When a unit is Hexed any beneficial cyphers on them are removed, AND the opposing warcaster can not play cyphers on this unit until the end of the pulse round/activation (which ever is more balanced)
Vassel boss: If all Vassel unit would get phase sequencer while being change i would give the vassel boss a 10 or 12 inch AOE stealth on all Vassel units.