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Hammer of the Emperor: The inevitable power creep question


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#1 KommissarK

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 06:01 AM

Alright, been flipping through Hammer of the Emperor (HotE). Overall I'd say pretty nice; players certainly should be happy.

Anyway, as with any of these new books, it always seems to raise the question of power creep. How bad is it in this book, and as a GM, what should I be concerned with?

Overall, I like the new regiment options (as always, I'm a bit sad to see new chargen features though, as those are more difficult to apply to an existing game). The drawbacks certainly were needed, and overall, they seem to be reasonably weighted (although some of the "cheaper" versions are hardly that bad of a drawback vs. something like say condemed or Doomed, and even Doomed is pretty tame once players accept the fact that the game is going to feel like a meatgrinder, it practically rewards that style of thinking).

The cavalry rules are pretty nice, and I'll say quite a few of the associated talents are pretty crazy (felling on a charge?!). But given the inherent risk of basing your combat style on a mount that is going to die at some point, I think its pretty fair.

The new talents are pretty effective as well. Although quite a few of them seem to eat fate points, which I think helps balance alot of them. I saw things like Overkill and kind of balked, then saw it ate a reaction. It does appear to try and help players choose a weapon of mastery (e.g. the Las Weapon Mastery talents), but it doesn't seem too broken when compared to other talents of a similar tier (Fearless would seem pretty broken too if it was added in a new book).

Vetran comrades is probably one of the few "must haves" in that it basically doubles the effectiveness of a comrade, as well as opening access up to alot of the new comrade orders. But still, it doesn't seem that broken.

My main issue currently is with how the advanced specializations work. Or more specifically, the new options a PC gets every 2500 XP. More specifically, the option to switch around, with reasonable frequency, ones own aptitudes to fit whatever seems to be most effective for leveling. That, or the option to get +5 to a stat. That seems like a pretty broken way to handle this. Especially given that its actually handing out free skills and talents too. Obviously, this is a point GM and Player must come to an agreement on, but still, RAW it very easily allows for a very high level of power gaming.

Personally I would of liked advanced specialities to have a stronger set of pre-reqs, as well as a cost to purchase. And have those provide bonus talents, new speacialty options (comrade orders etc.). Perhaps provide a series of talents that are inherently reduced in price as if they had one of the aptitudes (e.g. a Sharpshooter specialization could class the user as already having 1 of the two aptitudes requred for a set of talents, like Deadeye Shot, making it signifacantly cheaper to access). Instead we now have a set of options that dramatically improve XP efficiency.

As a side note - anyonce catch the wording "eligible specializations," and how the book says Guardsmen careers can go to any in HotE, but makes no reference if Support Specialists can do so? It makes sense that a Sanctioned Psyker or Tech-Priest can't go Brawler or Scout, but what about Storm Troopers? Also, realize, this book is giving +5 WP to psykers every 2500 XP (for free btw, just have to hit the xp milestone), with apparently no upper limit.

Is is this any worse than say the Crimson Guard or the BoM Battle Sisters that start DH play with power armor? From what I can tell, I'd say its nowhere near that bad and overall quite enjoyable.

TL;DR = I am trying to get a single thread going to discuss game balance and the long term ramifications of what has been added to OW from HotE.



#2 MILLANDSON

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:55 AM

I remember this from playtesting - Support specialties can't select any new advanced specialty or standard specialty, they can only select the +5 for a characteristic.


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#3 KommissarK

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 08:24 AM

MILLANDSON said:

 

I remember this from playtesting - Support specialties can't select any new advanced specialty or standard specialty, they can only select the +5 for a characteristic.

 

 

Thats what it reads like (they definitely can't switch between stuff in the core book). But there is a distinct lack of any information regarding the (in)eligibility of Support Specialists taking the Advanced Specializations in the book. Or maybe I'm not reading the right part - I have a bad habit of skipping around and filling the blanks in my head.



#4 MILLANDSON

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 08:48 AM

KommissarK said:

MILLANDSON said:

 

I remember this from playtesting - Support specialties can't select any new advanced specialty or standard specialty, they can only select the +5 for a characteristic.

 

 

Thats what it reads like (they definitely can't switch between stuff in the core book). But there is a distinct lack of any information regarding the (in)eligibility of Support Specialists taking the Advanced Specializations in the book. Or maybe I'm not reading the right part - I have a bad habit of skipping around and filling the blanks in my head.

Yea, the whole thing for swapping to either Advanced or Basic Specialties is only for Guardsmen PCs, not Support Specialties. It's because they are all pretty set in what they are, where as a Guardsman might be asked to retrain for a different duty if required by the regiment.


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#5 Magus Black

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:36 AM

 

Since the PDF wont be out for a few weeks I’ll ask: are there options for expanding the roles of the Support Specialties?
 
You know for uncommon characters like Guant who is a Commissar-Colonel (essentially a Commissar/Sergeant) and much common ones like Bone `eads, Stormtrooper Sergeants, and the like.  If not then it seems like the lack of being able to use those Advanced Specialties will likely result in Support Specializations becoming far weaker and less versatile (and therefore likely to fall out of favor) as the game goes on.


#6 HappyDaze

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:40 AM

I imagine that in the future we will see products that have Advanced Specialties specifically aimed at Support Specialists. the ones in Hammer of the Emperor are intended for the common Guardsmen, but that doesn't mean that all of them will be. After all, more cruch sells more books, especially as it's something people will likely want.


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#7 HiveFleetStorm

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 02:27 PM

i think you'll see the support spec. in Enemies of the Imperium. And if you aren't playing a 17500+exp campaign, there won't be to much of a power difference between commom guardsmen and support specs.



#8 Malachai

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 07:01 PM

There are no advanced specialites which give new skills. They change the aptitudes of the character, change their specialist gear, and give a new talent. This talent is in compensation for the free +5 you'd get for redidcating.

When switching to another guardsmen speciality, it mentions that you only change your aptitudes and gear. It makes no mention of the talents and skills. I'd assume that you don't get them. The talents and skills native to the guardsmen specialites seem to represent the core training they've acquired in specialist training boot camp (or whatever).This wouldn't be gained by suddenly being reassigned/taking up a new position.

 Maybe you should get one talent of your choice to balance against the advanced specialties? Or perhaps they mean to discourage just switching around your specialties by making the adv. option more attractive. 

It still should be clarified. 

 



#9 borithan

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 04:43 AM

I do think the +5 for not changing specialities is a bit unthought through. Players, if they don't change specialisation, can get characteristics up to fairly rediculous levels this way. The advances were capped to +20 in previous games for a reason (Ascencion aside, but even then it is only +30). However, this allows a character, by 10,000 xp, to get up to +40 in a characteristic (+20 normal, +20 if you put all your non-change of specialisation bonus into that stat) . Ok, it would be one stat, but that is just absurd.

I am not calling it broken, as it would be very heavily specialised and so i am not sure it is necessarily unbalancing, but it breaks the idea that a certain level of characteristic means something. 30ish is meant to be average, 40 ish is meant to be very good and 50ish is meant to be just about the natural human maximum. With this even unaugmented humans characters can easily get 70+ in a characteristic, quite easily.

If it was capped at only choosing each characteristic once for the bonus, or even capped at twice , it would be more reasonable. However, as there is no xp cost for the specialities I do realise they had to essentially give those that didn't want to exchange something as compensation, especially as otherwise it is just "whoo hoo, free talents!"



#10 SwiftFox

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 05:36 AM

borithan said:

I do think the +5 for not changing specialities is a bit unthought through. Players, if they don't change specialisation, can get characteristics up to fairly rediculous levels this way. The advances were capped to +20 in previous games for a reason (Ascencion aside, but even then it is only +30). However, this allows a character, by 10,000 xp, to get up to +40 in a characteristic (+20 normal, +20 if you put all your non-change of specialisation bonus into that stat) . Ok, it would be one stat, but that is just absurd.

I am not calling it broken, as it would be very heavily specialised and so i am not sure it is necessarily unbalancing, but it breaks the idea that a certain level of characteristic means something. 30ish is meant to be average, 40 ish is meant to be very good and 50ish is meant to be just about the natural human maximum. With this even unaugmented humans characters can easily get 70+ in a characteristic, quite easily.

If it was capped at only choosing each characteristic once for the bonus, or even capped at twice , it would be more reasonable. However, as there is no xp cost for the specialities I do realise they had to essentially give those that didn't want to exchange something as compensation, especially as otherwise it is just "whoo hoo, free talents!"

Yep, there's an obvious problem here.  I have come to the opinion that the +5 bonus may have meant to be a Characteristic Advance and not just a random +5, thus maintaining the max +20 to a Characteristic.  This makes further sense to me considering that most of the Support Specialists have 4-6 Characteristic Aptitudes (minus the Storm Trooper, which has only three and that the Guardsmen Specialties have 4-5 Characteristic Aptitudes.  If the +5 bonus for staying with your speciality is a Characteristic Advance, you have a lot of different places to slot it in and it grants the advantage of a player saving up to purchase more difficult advances.



#11 Werewolf_nr

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 06:58 PM

I am most concerned by the lack of options given to Support Sepcialists, but I think that will get handled in the next book or two.

So my runner up is the bizzare combos that you can get moving to new specialties when you get to keep your old comrade advances. At first glance, the "everybody gets a personal medic" build. Take Medicae with the Field Treatment advance, then move to Commander and take the Born Leader leader upgrade X number of times. Now you have X+1 comrades, that can all be your medic proxy.

I'm curious what other broken builds everyone can come up with.



#12 Malachai

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 07:25 AM

 



 

Werewolf_nr said: Published on 5/17/2013 - 00:58:01

I am most concerned by the lack of options given to Support Sepcialists, but I think that will get handled in the next book or two.

So my runner up is the bizzare combos that you can get moving to new specialties when you get to keep your old comrade advances. At first glance, the "everybody gets a personal medic" build. Take Medicae with the Field Treatment advance, then move to Commander and take the Born Leader leader upgrade X number of times. Now you have X+1 comrades, that can all be your medic proxy.

I'm curious what other broken builds everyone can come up with.

It specifically says under "multiple comrades" on the commander page that you can only issue one specialty order per turn. pg 63



#13 BaronIveagh

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 10:33 AM

Malachai said:

It specifically says under "multiple comrades" on the commander page that you can only issue one specialty order per turn. pg 63

Which conflicts with the Sergeant's special rule that lets him apply all orders to all comrades within vox range.



#14 SwiftFox

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 01:51 PM

I think the rule on Comrade orders for Commanders was specifically written in for the non-Sergeant Guardsmen specialties.



#15 Routa-maa

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 11:22 PM

BaronIveagh said:

Malachai said:

 

It specifically says under "multiple comrades" on the commander page that you can only issue one specialty order per turn. pg 63

 

 

Which conflicts with the Sergeant's special rule that lets him apply all orders to all comrades within vox range.

Also pointing out that only one Ranged Volley Order or Close Quarters Order can be issued.

Remember the difference between Order and Sweeping Order. Order affect one comrade, Sweeping Order affects all comrades in range. Pc can issue only one sweeping order per turn.

After rereading the Vox-Tech from Sergeant I can see where this confusion is all about. RAW it's correct to say that all orders are affected by it. But I GM it that only Sweeping Orders can affect other players characters.


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#16 Kiton

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 11:29 PM

The Plasma expertise and mastery talents are a pretty nasty "feat tax". Even with both of these, the weapon's one of the worse options available, particularly with its lowered stats from when it was finally worth using back in Black Crusade, and does nothing to help the issue of a Best Quality model still auto-missing when other guns would hit [something that could be fixed if Overheat was removed, rather than 'downgraded', by the Best Craftsmanship effect, but we're still stuck on the ranged weapon craftsmanship values we had back in Dark Heresy].



#17 Face Eater

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 02:37 AM

So I've read much of the book now. And a lot of it I love. 

In response to the OP. You're right, for the most part. I don't think this is really power creep. 

I'm can't mention a single RPG where you couldn't make a better character after the players guide. Traditionally It almost sets it a new level with a lot more character options. In this case it does the same for your regiments which I think was well done. The downsides give it a lot more character and there a whole bunch more types and doctrines. I can't really say if the costs and it's not exhaustive but i don't think that's possible.

What might cause problems is that these advanced specialities don't seem to be applicable to Support specialities and that's unbalancing the characters. They might have a plan to include support specialities in the next book but that means that that until then we don't really have a fully balanced game. And that's an unfortunate result of them picking a the smaller format in my eyes. It's better for the first source book to give as general a boost to all classes when you introduce new character building rules.






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