Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Miniature Musings - Balance and Variety in All Quiet

After my All Quiet AAR was posted last week, SinSynn (of House of Paincakes fame) commented and asked about a few aspects of the game:

SinSynn wrote:
"I've been curious about this game for a hot minute now....but it was pretty obvious right from deployment who was gonna win that one!
Do the Martians not have troops? Can they only run the Tripods?

This looked like a bunch of 40k Imperial Knights going up against some random Guardsmens with a single Leman Russ and a few chimeras. Really lopsided. Also had a bit of 'gunline versus assault army' feel, since the poor humans could only win by gunning down the Tripods before they hit their lines.

There's certainly a bunch of potential for coolness with War of the Worlds kinda stuff happening here, but that Martian army looks like the most optimized thing available, while the more interesting, balanced force just got stomped the heck out. The outcome was never in doubt...

Game balance is definitely one of my top priorities when I'm interested in a new system. Too many years of playing 40k just broke me. I'm always on the lookout for a cool new thing. One batrep obviously won't tell me everything, so I'd certainly like to hear more 'bout this game...It does look cool, but I hope there's more variety on the Martian side of things...
Thanks fer the batrep!"

When I realized how long my reply had gotten, I thought, 'Why not just turn this into a blog post? I'm lazy enough to do that.' Lo and behold, this week's update:

My reply:
"Actually, according to the guys I was playing with (who've played the game 2-3 times already) this was the first Martian victory they've seen!

Martians can field 'Lobototons,' basically human zombies controlled by Slaver tripods, but for the most part tripods are the mainstay of the alien invaders. As for Martian variety, you have your Assault tripods (and the rarer Veteran Assault), which are the core of a Martian force. Scout tripods have lighter weapons, but can move faster. Grenadier tripods act a long range artillery. Slavers can control Lobototons (which can either be ranged or close combat) or Drones (of which there are four varieties. Regular Drones, close combat Drones, artillery Drones, and anti-tank drones). There are also three types of Tripod yet to be released, which are the Slaver, Dominator, and Overseer.

However, for all the shininess of the tripods, they have some major weaknesses. While they have very strong armor, they're easy to hit, and once they're hit they become easier to deal damage to thanks to the following damage chart (available and essentially unchanged from the Kickstarter draft rules):

-1-5. The Tripod is damaged. The Tripod’s Amour stat is reduced by 1.
- 6. The Tripod is damaged and crippled. The Tripod’s Armor stat is reduced by 1. In addition, every time the Tripod wishes to move, both players roll a die, and the highest scoring player can move the Tripod up to the score rolled number of inches. If both players roll the same the Tripod does not move.
- 7. The Tripod is damaged and its weapons disabled. The Tripod’s Armor stat is reduced by 1. In addition, every time the Tripod attempts to shoot both players roll a die, and the highest scoring player selects the target up to a maximum range of double the score rolled number of inches. The target must lie within range and line of sight of the Tripod, but otherwise any unit from either side can be selected as the target. If both players roll the same the Tripod does not shoot.
- 8. The Tripod is badly damaged. The Tripod’s armor stat is reduced by the score of a D10. If the Tripod’s armor stat is reduced to zero or less as a result it is destroyed as 9 below.
- 9. The Tripod is destroyed and crumples to the ground in a heap of tangled metal!
- 10+ The Tripod is destroyed and explodes in a spectacular fashion! If there are any other units within 6” of the destroyed Tripod, whether Human or Martian, then these are all caught in the explosion. Each unit suffers 3 attacks with a Power level of +2.

Since the turn sequence for the game is move-shoot/assault-move, human tanks can easily scurry out of cover, fire, and retreat. And human infantry starts the game hidden and dug in, which means not only do the Martians need to get close to 'see' them, but they're also harder to hit. And while rifles might not do much, they do have grenades that can hurt tripods in close combat, and massed machine gun fire can chink off enough armor to make a Martian commander worry. In fact, I probably would have lost more than a single tripod in the woods if the Scout hadn't exploded. They're aren't that great in close combat, preferring to fire they're weapons where the humans can get too close. 

Also, this scenario encouraged - demanded, really - that the Martians get in close. In others, the Martians are actually the defenders, which I kind of want to see. 

As for the humans, they can get some pretty cool stuff - different varieties of infantry (thanks to some free PDFs that are coming out) and tanks, including the Land Ironclad - a monster miniature that looks to be about the same size of a Baneblade, but in a 18mm scale game! The British are also being released, and they have different vehicles, like the oddly shaped Monotank, and Tesla Cannons. The Germans and French are also slated to release in the future, and as this is still WW1 period Earth, I'd expect to see some human tensions escalating into full-on war. Also, we should be seeing Venusians in the neat future, and Underdwellers (basically Morlocks) later on. So the variety in game-play should be increased exponentially."

So those are my thoughts. But, if you've played All Quiet at all, feel free to leave your own impressions and thoughts on the game in the comments. The game has definitely gotten its hooks into me, and I'm interested to play more. 

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