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Winnu balance and cruiser II

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There has been quite some discussion about balance issues for the Winnu

On most metrics they seem very underpowered. 

 One quick and dirty fix has been to suggest that instead of a starting technology they may have any technology. The purpose of this post is to consider this and what I consider to be the major issue with it.

The suggestion is that they should always take Cruiser II

 At first glance it seems like an obvious solution. Their racial goal is to get to Mecatol. This will allow it easily. We must consider what happens if you give them the capital planet for free. They don't need any particular strategy card to pull this off as such they can take whatever they want. And the obvious one to take is imperial. They get to the centre and get a Victory Point. They activate imperial and get a second Victory Point. It's then the start of round 2. No one else wants Imperial. That's a third VP. For basically doing nothing. 

They can dig in and try and hold but whether or not they do is irrelevant -they are already 30% up on the Victory points they need to win the game.

 Imperial in my opinion is the only one of the 8 strategy cards that is not an obvious pick in the first round or two. As such there should be little competition for this card. 

In conclusion I wonder whether this was the initial design for the race and it was discovered at the last minute that this is far too good. I think they need help but this is not it

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I would obviously prefer a race redesign. And this is indeed the problem. I faced it when trying to make the Lazax playable from Mecatol in 5 player. They were either too good or too bad. And not fun. Aything that improves the chance of them actually benefiting from their abilities improves their early lead. 

I am less concerned with this early lead. First it is already possible just less likely. And second they seldom result in long term victory. Especially with the Winnu being so weak in every other way. After the 3rd round Imperial will be a sought after choice as a catch up mechanism for claiming two public objectives per round. I expect a Winnu victory to still be difficult once the table stop them in their tracks.

However I am open to more suggestions.

Edited by Dweomer

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23 minutes ago, Network57 said:

Are you allowed to take the same strategy card 2 turns in a row?

Haven't seen anything to prevent it. 

Even in TI3 the only SC you couldn't take twice in a row was initiative, because that explicitly said you couldn't. 

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28 minutes ago, Forgottenlore said:

Haven't seen anything to prevent it. 

Even in TI3 the only SC you couldn't take twice in a row was initiative, because that explicitly said you couldn't. 

Hmm. Right you are, apparently. I thought you couldn't.

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I would not count for the rest of the table to automatically leave you Imperial every turn. They get to deny the Winnu a VP but, more importantly, to draw a Secret Objective of their own... That's a VP too yo. I'd say Imperial will be one of those strategies that will see play every single turn and certainly preferable to Diplomacy, Warfare and even Trade in many situations.

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I'd suggest you read some of the game write-ups on BGG. In one of them the Winnu player got to MR on the second turn and controlled it for the entire game, and never was able to get the Imperial SC because the other players kept taking it to prevent them from getting the VP. It's a good write up and to me speaks to the fact that the Winnu are not weak and don't really need a redesign before the game is even released (to those of you unlucky  enough to not have scored one at GenCon).

The ability to take any starting tech is powerful - it let's you play Winnu different than somebody else. The fact that you alone have A/B wormholes to MR if you don't control it is also very powerful. You have lots of ways to get into the conflict and take control of the planet. Also, being able to take MR and drop a SD and PDS, then produce using that SD to instantly boost your fleet or ground forces seems really good and in line with the advantages of other factions. Correction: The SD and PDS are placed after the tactical action is resolved.

Edited by IndyBart
Typo and corrected info

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I think that is fair. While the Winnu look weak, we need to play them as written to see. Maybe we are missing something. 

However my point is not 'these guys are weak'. My point is: if you make the pick any tech you like change,  this will be the result. 

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Considering there ability is basically "you can easily get victory points", They should be weaker in most other aspects. There main problem is that they are very much a "feast or famine" race. If you can take MR by turn 2 and if you are able to hold it, you can realistically expect it to net you 2-3 VP over the course of a game and between this and your home world, you will likely dominate the agenda phase.  In addition, you can turn MR in a great production-planet with your race tech. All of these should makes up for there other shortcomings.

Your problems really start if you can't get or hold MR, since now pretty much all your ability are useless.    

I think they can be strong, if you play them right, but I fear they might be a bit boring to play. 

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I am eager to read the game reports to help guide the discussion. But I have been disappointed with previous balancing done by FFG. And I will be severally let down that any race is not fun and amazing. After twelve years of the community playtesting the game in all sorts of incarnations (and it is fundamentally the same game) I expect mind blowing exciting game play from every race. 

Anyway, I restate my points until we have more game data to discuss:

  • they can already possibly take Mecatol first turn. Cruiser II only makes this much more likely.
  • until they win you the game VPs are worthless to your economy and military.
  • Imperial will be taken to claim 2 public objectives in mid to late game.
  • Lazax Gate Folding is fragile and expensive. There are better ways to guarantee a second round landing.
  • choosing your own basic tech is not really a choice when you must get to Mecatol as fast as possible. It will be Antimass Deflectors every time.
  • finally the Winnu are the weakness faction in the game by any objective means

Note that their ability to build a free space dock (Reclamation) cannot be used in the same tactical action to build on Mecatol. If it could it would be substantially better. Assuming a round two landing, it will most likely be used on round 3 without Warfare -- again assuming the mighty JolNar don't land on Mecatol first:

  • Reclamation: After you resolve a tactical action during which you gain control of Mecatol Rex, you may place 1 PDS and 1 space dock from your reinforcements on Mecatol Rex.

 

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Ahhh, I'll have to update my previous point about Reclamation. It would be a much better ability IMO if they were placed after the ground combat step of the tactical action, which would then allow you to produce on MR.

As far as always taking Antimass Deflectors every time, I think that's debatable.  If I'm sitting on resource weak/influence strong planets near my home base, I'm more likely to take Sarween Tools so I can roll into a Hegemonic Trade Policy. Especially since you won't need the influence to take MR.

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13 hours ago, GrooveChamp said:

Seems like they're really screwed if they get stuck with a red system between them and Mecatol, especially a super nova.

If you have a wormhole on your starting hand you will probably still be fine since other players tend to dump there's next to MR. If that doesn't work, you will have to rush Gate Folding.  

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After a lot of thought, I now believe the Winnu abilities just need reworking. There is no easy fix to their current 'Mecatol or bust!' design which is fragile and not fun. As much as I dislike having to change printed material, I am thus brainstorming changes.  Here is the first iteration. And yes this is also partly to keep busy killing time until I get my copy!!!!!!!  :)

Additional ability:

  • Lazax Heritage: While you DO NOT control Mecatol Rex; you do not need to commit ground forces to take control of an empty planet.

Replacement ability for Reclamation:

  • Abandoned Lazax Outposts: When you spend a command token to resolve the secondary ability of the "Construction" strategy card, you may resolve the primary ability instead. 

The first ability is intended to give an incentive and open the possibility of the strategic decision to not rush Mecatol (faster expansion). However if they do decide to rush it, it will almost guarantee they can take Mecatol on round 2 before any other race like the JolNar (just a cruiser). One side effect is the increased chance the Winnu could take Mecatol on round one. But it would require them being able to select Warfare or Tech (for Gravity Drive). This is a significant increase from their current highly unlikely perfect start of getting to select Warfare and then hoping for: Trade->move carrier+ begging transaction with neighbor  for1TG->Tech(buy Gravity Drive)->Warfare ->Mecatol. Importantly though, they would be unable to select Imperial and take Mecatol first turn (unlike starting with Cruiser II) significantly slowing their early VP rush.  And deliberately delaying or completely ignoring taking Mecatol should be a wiser choice to quickly expand their economy or snipe planets off neighbours who do not garrison space or the planet with ground forces. 

The second ability change is intended to make Reclamation less specific to Mecatol. This is again, an incentive to make the decision of when/if going to Mecatol possible. If they ignore Mecatol they will still have a strong ability to back up their miserable starting position. The one side effect is they may stock pile PDS like no other race can. If they do decide to go to Mecatol the PDS will help defend the homeland. 

Both their racial techs I think would remain as is to avoid changing any other components. 

Both these changes might be too good. But whatever just having a thought about how to make them better and more fun :) 

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The other thing to consider when looking at factions is their starting home world. L1z1x is not nearly as strong in production if it starts with a 3/2 planet instead of a 5/0 planet. Winnu start with a 3/4 planet making it one of the better starting worlds for influence which would give them a slight advantage during the agenda phase.

If you are making it easier for them to claim planets by not dropping ground forces for early land grab, do you modify their home world at all?  Do you change the flexibility of their starting technologies and give them a starting blue and yellow technology instead?

I notice you've focused a lot of 'fixing' the Winnu, but what other faction need a boost and what would you do to fix them? Personally I think Sar-Dakk N'orr needs some serious help, especially when they are getting curb stomped by most of the other faction in the early game.

What faction are too powerful and could use a nerf? As it stands now, it's totally feasible for Universities Jol-Nar to bust our Warsun upgrades on the second turn which seems pretty powerful. How would you adjust them to be more fun?

Edited by IndyBart
typo

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I am currently only brainstorming ideas on how to make the Winnu more fun and viable. Because on paper they look boring and weak.  I am doing this from the position of not having played the game yet though. It's possible their design is fine as is. But brainstorming helps pass the time while I wait ? I do not think it is possible to pass judgement on any other faction so early. None stand out to me like the Winnu. Enough of the game has changed that it requires actually playing.

As to your specific points, I do not see the Winnu homeworld influence as much of a factor. Resources are critically more important in my opinion for jump starting a faction's economy. Politics is also subjective and determined more by the will of the table. But more importantly changes to system tiles is strictly not possible. I do not want to change any printed components if it can be avoided but system tiles or planets - never.

 

 

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My current thoughts are that they should be allowed any tech that has 0, 1 or 2 prerequisites. That way they can have XRDs, DSCs or a host of other options, but can't rush Mecatol with out effort.

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We played our third game last week and the Winnu were part of it. I have to agree that they seem incredibly limited. Basically, you start with one tech and a crappy fleet, so your options are either "take Mecatol Rex immediately" or "lose." And once you take MR, you become an immediate target.

Personally, I think any rebalancing of the Winnu should be less about giving them more power and more about giving them more versatility. I'm okay with the idea that they have an easier time taking MR than other races, but that shouldn't be the alpha and omega of what they do.

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My first look at the Winu were something like Humans 2.0. I guess they were the 4-arms lackeys. At first they were only a story element in why mecatol still holds so much influence. However in the expansions they were supposed to be a jack of all trades master of none and no real theme type race. Even Federation of Sol with their massive ground spamming abilities seem more alien than a standard race with nothing too special like dreadnoughts +1 or fast research.

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Instead of hinging their entire gameplay around Mecatol Rex, I would have liked to see a race of movers and shakers... a motivated, cunning people who have their hands in everything and make things happen, politically or otherwise.  A nice ability to reflect that would be not having to spend a Command Token to perform secondary abilities (or being able to spend an Action Card to do it, or something).  Powerful, yes, but could be balanced with the right effort.

Might have to design my own race.

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My second iteration brainstorming of a full redesign. The themes I am trying to push are:

  • Lazax clout - planets remember the Lazax and the Winnu and easily fall under their control.
  • Relatives - the Custodians are biased to them for taking Mecatol
  • Lazax inherited technology - they have some distinct tech advange
  • Mecatol - taking Mecatol early is an option but not forced on you

I'm also trying to gameplay wise, play up taking Mecatol (or choosing not to) and maintaining control of planets in general. I also like the idea of threatening with their flagship. And I wanted one really unique ability with the Entanglement.  The one problem is I have no idea how good not having to land ground forces on some planets is. It is great for taking Mecatol and early expansion should be fast. But later it would be weak without something like Light Wave Deflector where it suddenly will get much stronger.

Tech:

  • You start with any 1 technology ignoring up to two two prerequisites.

Racial:

  • Blood Ties: You do not have to spend influence to remove the custodians token form Mecatol Rex.
  • Focused Research: After another player discards the custodian token from Mecatol Rex: gain one technology ignoring all prerequisites.
  • Lazax Legacy: Invasion: you do not need to commit ground forces to take control of an empty non hazardous planet. 

Racial Techs (2 of the following brainstorming example. Might think up more of them).:

  • Lazax Temporal Entanglement YR - Exhaust this card after an opponent resolves any ability that targets one of your components or planets: resolve the same ability targeting a component of that player.
  • Lazax Sentient Exosphere R - Enemy ships in systems with planets you control lose Bombardment. Every planet you control has SPACE CANNON 9.
  • Lazax Transwarp Catapult BB - Exhaust this card after an opponent has activated a system containing one of your ships; move one of your ships from any unactivated system to that system.

Regardless of what people think power wise I'm trying to come up with fun distinctive abilities. 

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