Guard Towers 12 months on

Just had a great time this weekend at the Welsh Masters 2024.

Lots said about that else where. Great event.

Last year we used a lot of guard towers and the feed back was all very negative. This year we we had a few on tables. Most people didn’t want to use them and just agreed they were obstructions - which I think was fine. But my one game my opponent was up for using it.

Sadly I still feel that they are such a missed opportunity.

This game I put Kruger in the guard tower. Which makes many auras of effect and gives him an impressive def 21, can’t be meleed or charged and a spray 14.

That was pretty silly. Part of that might be a Kruger issue.

It did mix the game up and made it more intresting. It was the only bit of 3d terrian on the tables - which was a great thing.

The rules were silly. I would greatly prefer for guard towers to be less impactful and more prevalent.

I suggest make them just have 12 boxes - but when they are destroyed they become. Rubble. All models I. The guard tower must be placed in the rubble. If you can’t fit them all those models are destroyed!

This way guard towers could get used and be fun, while not being death traps or such negative experiences.

What do other people think?

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I like Guard Towers and Bunkers more or less as-is. (Nobody ever goes on the lower level of the bunker, but that’s fine.)

Just put Guard Towers on tables if you want to see more of them; it’s as simple as that. There’s no need to agonize over if they’re good/if other people are taking them/whatever.

It is tautological but true: people will use them more if they use them more.

The “Kruger issue” is just a Kruger issue. He’s a very strong model as-is. Your opponent should have gotten to the Guard Tower first, assuming it was placed in a more-or-less central location.

Guard Towers need to be placed in meaningful places (such as where it can become scenario terrain), and there should be LOS-blocking terrain on the table so it doesn’t become a shooting gallery.

I dislike the “12 boxes and rubble” suggestion. Twelve boxes is incredibly low. It’s so low that there are solos who can suffer more damage than that and be fine.

There are two additional problems with that suggestion as well. First: it’s much simpler to just remove the terrain and occupying models from the table than it is to try to replace the terrain piece.

The second and biggest issue is: it’s a retail product sold as a Guard Tower. You can’t errata in a big chunk of accompanying terrain because it wasn’t sold that way. It would be the same as “Patch Notes: There are now 13 models in the Black 13th unit. Please visit this link to buy more models if you wish to continue fielding the unit.”

I would love to see Guard Towers updated and made more viable. At the moment they are extremely punishing to certain types of armies and lists. A few simple changes would make them more interesting and dynamic.
For example, removing the “Bar the Door” rule and allowing melee armies to deal with the models inside, instead of just the tower, would be nice.
Allow models to enter from anywhere on the first floor as well. It’s pretty open.

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You can’t errata a thing that was sold? I don’t understand.

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I can only assume Michael meant that you can’t just start packaging a rubble template with new prints (leaving existing purchases in the dust).

But, I mean…take the top part of the tower off. Put a “Rubble” token next to it. The edges are obstacles. Done.

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Two quick points:

Removing Bar the Door makes no thematic sense (“Sir, we forgot how to close and lock the door to our secure building!”) and leads to a lot of other complications.

Consider: does one single enemy model inside the Guard Tower completely shut down all shooting, because all the models are in melee with that enemy model and thus cannot target anything else?

Likewise, removing “no melee” makes the Guard Tower nothing but a deathtrap. No one would ever enter a Guard Tower. In addition to the aforementioned engagement conundrum, you get into eye-rolling situations such as “I’m 2 inches away from the Guard Tower. I’m gonna melee your snipers on the top floor.”

“Fix” that by changing the “measure to the base of the tower” part and just check melee range like normal, right? Nope. Now you have to try to disassemble the terrain and measure distances to models in the middle of play. That’s an incredible hassle and it’s going to result in serious practical problems.

The Guard Tower rules work pretty well as-is. The only thing I’d change is the “cannot be charged” part. I tried arguing for that a year and a half ago (because without charging, I think a poorly-placed Guard Tower is just a bit too safe and a bit too durable), but if you want it, you go fight with all the people who loudly complained about how it shouldn’t be able to be charged. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t think i have met anyone who likes them how they are.

I’ve met lots of people that like the idea of something like the model.

“Oh yeah, tower sounds cool.” “Oh the rules, that’s not fun.” “I don’t want to use that as a guard tower can it just be an obstruction.” Seems like the common progression of what I’ve experienced. Which I think is a real shame, as they are cool models.

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I’d like to see some alternate rules, officially backed by PP, that might be more popular and fun.

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I wasn’t saying melee outside to in, rather allowing melee within the tower.
As to engaging range and such, if you are on a floor you can fight anyone else on that floor. It allows a unit to body block the door until a space gets made, and makes it less likely for an entire enemy unit to go in. Rather, it would allow combat solos to shine.
As to it not being able to be Charged, I 100% agree that it should be able to be Charged and argued for it at the time as well.

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This seems to be the attitude towards a lot of terrain features. The more complex the rules, the more likely people are to want to dumb it down. Yet then there are complaints that terrain is just in the way and people would like it to be more interactive. Sometimes it feels like people just can’t make up their mind on what they want terrain to be.

All too often, if it’s not a forest, hill or wall, it’s an obstruction because people can’t bother with anything more complex.

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Yeah. I think people do hate change, and crave change.

I think simple is better for this kind of thing. I want the tables to look good and be fun. These models could help or hinder, and its attitude and good rules that need to be right. Not just one thing.

I think the boxes are fine, but not being able to charge them doesn’t make sense. Lots of infantry require a charge to get to the point they can even hurt the Arm 18 meaningfully. Arm 22 vs shooting is too much as well.

The real problem is thematic. Explosive AOE weapons like rockets and mortars and grenades and explosive fireballs should be good at blowing up buildings. Flame throwers and dragons breath and gouts of noxious goo should also be good at killing the occupants. In the case of grenades and flamethrowers, it’s sort of the origin of the weapon in the real world. But in guard tower rules, the building takes no extra damage and everyone inside gains resistance.

I would love to see a niche for sprays ala any spray that touches the building template can make an attack against everyone inside.

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I feel like I encounter this attitude a lot. :rofl:

I have, at various points, encountered experienced Steamroller participants who were unaware of the rules for Burning Earth, or Acid Baths, Storms, and Quicksand.

Not a dig at those players, mind you, but it’s something that strikes me as very odd!

I try very hard to use every terrain type in the book, and so far I have (I think) …13 of the 16 types represented locally?

Really gotta get around to working on the Dust Devils, Rubble, and Tall Grass…!

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Replying to both of these, in brief:

Re: real world
Guard Towers have to have some rule that makes them attractive to use. Turning them into deathtraps for single-wound infantry (who already kind of have a really hard time living as-is) will absolutely lead to these terrain features not being used.
(Additionally, the types of weapons in your example are extremely common. Improving those weapons to function better against Guard Towers and/or their occupants is simply doubly penalizing the person who chooses to enter a Guard Tower.)

Re: sprays
Up until this edition, spray attacks were the best attacks in the game, period. The only defensive measure they have not consistently ignored in every incarnation is Elevation, and heck, Elevation was done away with for half of MK III. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sprays are finally at a place where they feel like they are competitive with other attack types instead of being simply strictly mechanically superior in every way.

I really don’t think they need to be better. :slight_smile:

Back in MKIV and maybe 2 (I’ll have to check my books) you could attack buildings and walls. They had Boxes and ARM dependent on the material. My friend used to use his Titan Canoneer to blow up walls all the time.
Adding in new things would fairly simple. We already have Hazards. Being able to apply the Burning Earth to a forest or something else makes sense.

Part of the problem with Guard Towers was that whenever a problem was found, the solution was “Well, this can’t happen to a Guard Tower.” AoEs, static effects, Sprays, Charging, etc. So the list of non-interactive things grew, rather than clarifying things in interactive ways.

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I really like your suggestions Dan, I’d love to try that out.

Our community tried with guard towers, we really did. People were enthusiastic about them and thought they’d be a fun addition. But the more we played, the more we realised they were just too strong to be a free element, and the sometimes unclear rules didn’t help.

Your example of krueger is a great illustration- his auras become huge, and his gun becomes spray 14! And if you want to kill him, you just have to destroy a model with arm 18 and more boxes than invictus.

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Idk man, we should penalize people who enter a guard tower. When we say people aren’t using them, I think we mean that people don’t want to put them on tables, not that people don’t want to enter them when they are on the table. It’s because they skew match ups in weird ways and are very very strong in certain matchups.

Aka, guard towers need more weaknesses because they are too strong.

Sprays as rays is definitely nerfed from other editions too. They do far less than they did before.

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Just sticking my beak in for a bit.

One of the things that puzzled me when Guard Towers first came out is if you just look at one sitting on the table, it looks by all appearances to be an amalgamation of already-existing terrain rules and features. The ground floor walls offer cover - possibly even LOS-blocking. The ladder offers access to the 2nd floor. The 2nd floor offers cover, again, as well as elevation, and possibly LOS-blocking.

If someone scratch built one of these, you could play it as-is using rules that are already present in the core text, without adding anything weird about melee ranges, sprays, AOEs, etc.

All of which is to say it seems like Guard Towers were a missed opportunity to elevate (hur hur) the use of 3D terrain in general, and familiarize players with the interaction between it and attackers/defenders using the already established baseline rules. If you want to then tack on some rules about it being destructible, targetable like a model, or whatever, fine. Add in Arcing Fire for models on the top or a ranged-weapon version of Range Amplifier, sure.

But all this bending over backwards to say this is how you measure range to/from models within it, sprays don’t interact with it, it has super-duper-Carapace, etc…I think it’s in part the introduction of these complications and the whole “Why doesn’t this just use terrain rules” components that sour the taste for many players.

2 Likes

Counter-arguments:

The first:
Why bother manufacturing something new if it’s “just the same old rules as all the rest of the terrain”?
If it doesn’t offer something new, what are the odds that players will buy it?

The second:
Okay, let’s pick on “measuring range” and assume that we’re measuring model-to-model like always. I want to attack one specific guy out of the 5 guys in the bottom level.
a) How easy is it to measure accurately to that model without disassembling the building? (It’s not.)

b) Does repeated disassembly lead to the potential for mishaps, of either the “whoops, all my models on the top floor fell out”, “I dropped the whole thing and really fubar’d the game state”, or “the models in the top floor shift when being moved/the top floor accidentally (or even ‘accidentally’) gets rotated 90 degrees when it’s put back into place, and now the sniper I wanted to kill isn’t in range” variety? (Yes to all.)

c) I contend that rules amounting to a handful of bullet points are hardly cumbersome or onerous to learn:

- Everybody inside has cover and elevation, gain Resistance: Blast, and can’t be hit by sprays
- Direct hit AOEs hit everybody on the same level
- No melee in or out
- Measure range to the building itself, not the models inside
- Models inside don’t interact with scenario elements, hazards, or templates
- 5 small or 3 medium-based non-Leader warrior models on each floor, maximum
- +4 RNG to ranged attacks for models on the top floor
- There’s a door and enemy models can’t enter if friendly models are inside
- You can target and destroy the building, but can’t charge it

That’s everything, right?

That list is reasonably comparable to other terrain types.