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thinkbomb

Home brewing a replacement deck for SUBVERSIVE TACTICS

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Everyone knows it's the NO FUN deck. Which sucks since its an entire deck removed from play. (Especially since our group has a very low min/max tolerance) 

...

Currently drafting a home brew replacement.  Ideally it would aim for that same thematic angle (strategic indirect hinderence) without being a suffocating oppressive deck (because "end of round, hero suffers strain, lulz" is a terrible card, for example).

 

What I would like to ask: what mechanics would you leverage to pull this off? (Deploys, threat, strain, hidden, etc) 

I have a rough draft ready. But I'd rather get some blind suggestions to see if I missed anything.  (I mean, if I post the draft first I would get critiques on the draft itself rather than avenues to explore) 

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I think this is tricky. Kudos for being willing to give it a try, though.

The problem is that the thematic angle of Subversive Tactics (which you describe as "strategic indirect hindrance") is always going to be at risk of being not much fun. Military Might makes troopers stronger, Technological Superiority gives them gadgets... Subversive Tactics makes the heroes worse. Which isn't much fun for the heroes.

(And actually this is a phenomenon I see elsewhere in the same game / game engine. Descent is very similar to IA, but in Descent, the blue attack dice has an X which means the attack misses. In IA, the same mechanic is the Dodge on the white defence dice. Seeing your opponent roll a Dodge can be frustrating, but it's much better to think "****, my opponent dodged!" - if you're charitable, you can celebrate their success - rather than "****, I failed!", lamenting your own failure. It's a subtle psychological improvement for an almost identical mechanical effect).

So... if you want to interfere with the heroes' abilities, but without making them feel like they're being prevented from being heroic... that's difficult. But based on the white Dodge vs. blue X example, a high-level guideline would be to hinder their abilities by improving your own - letting your figures react to and annul what's being done to them - rather than just saying to the heroes, "that awesome action you were about to do? Nope, can't do it." What that means in practical terms, I'm not sure. But hinder them in a way that doesn't just switch off their powers and you might be onto something.

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31 minutes ago, Bitterman said:

I think this is tricky. Kudos for being willing to give it a try, though.

The problem is that the thematic angle of Subversive Tactics (which you describe as "strategic indirect hindrance") is always going to be at risk of being not much fun. Military Might makes troopers stronger, Technological Superiority gives them gadgets... Subversive Tactics makes the heroes worse. Which isn't much fun for the heroes.

(And actually this is a phenomenon I see elsewhere in the same game / game engine. Descent is very similar to IA, but in Descent, the blue attack dice has an X which means the attack misses. In IA, the same mechanic is the Dodge on the white defence dice. Seeing your opponent roll a Dodge can be frustrating, but it's much better to think "****, my opponent dodged!" - if you're charitable, you can celebrate their success - rather than "****, I failed!", lamenting your own failure. It's a subtle psychological improvement for an almost identical mechanical effect).

So... if you want to interfere with the heroes' abilities, but without making them feel like they're being prevented from being heroic... that's difficult. But based on the white Dodge vs. blue X example, a high-level guideline would be to hinder their abilities by improving your own - letting your figures react to and annul what's being done to them - rather than just saying to the heroes, "that awesome action you were about to do? Nope, can't do it." What that means in practical terms, I'm not sure. But hinder them in a way that doesn't just switch off their powers and you might be onto something.

Thanks a ton for that insight.  That's a really good way to look at it.  ?

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39 minutes ago, Bitterman said:

So... if you want to interfere with the heroes' abilities, but without making them feel like they're being prevented from being heroic... that's difficult.

Exploit Weakness is a good example of how to accomplish the same effect as the dodge (although allowing an attack for Exploit Weakness is a little overblown for 2XP). Don't restrict the heroes by loading them up with strain, but give the opponent (conditional) bonuses for certain things the heroes do. Perhaps require the imperial player or figure to pass some kind of attribute test.

I think it would be best to create a totally new imperial class deck and leave Subversive Tactics behind. Just use it as an inspiration to create a new deck.

Edited by a1bert

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1 hour ago, Bitterman said:

And actually this is a phenomenon I see elsewhere in the same game / game engine. Descent is very similar to IA, but in Descent, the blue attack dice has an X which means the attack misses. In IA, the same mechanic is the Dodge on the white defence dice. Seeing your opponent roll a Dodge can be frustrating, but it's much better to think "****, my opponent dodged!" - if you're charitable, you can celebrate their success - rather than "****, I failed!", lamenting your own failure. It's a subtle psychological improvement for an almost identical mechanical effect

I realize this is off topic but you reminded me of Descent’s predecessor, the original Doom.  If you rolled an X with that attack die you had to roll it again, and another X meant the weapon breaks.  For a game that was sided against the heroes to begin with that meant you had no chance of succeeding.  I never played Descent, so I don’t know if there was any similar mechanics.

On topic, I think Prey Upon Doubt made this deck seem interesting.  Giving the heroes an alternative to taking strain felt like the game could still be fun.  I think you’ve got the right idea with the “strategic indirect hindrance.”

Maybe what you need ways reduce heroes movement points, or how much is recovered from resting.  Something like “Exhaust this card when a hero performs a move to choose an imperial figure with line of sight to that hero.  Roll up to two dice from chosen figure’s attack pool. Reduce the number of movement points gained by the number of surges rolled.”

I think you should keep the idea of making the heroes worse because that’s the kind of deck you trying to replace.  Just avoid the (to use you very applicable word) suffocating aspects.

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4 hours ago, a1bert said:

Don't restrict the heroes by loading them up with strain, but give the opponent (conditional) bonuses for certain things the heroes do. Perhaps require the imperial player or figure to pass some kind of attribute test.

Yeah - just thinking aloud here, how about something like:

Imperial-Class-Card-Tactical-Subversion- Imperial-Class-Card-Tactical-Subversion-

Not for a second suggesting that those abilities are in any way ready for play (one or both of them should probably say "Exhaust this card to..." for a start), but they fulfill the idea of "hindering the heroes" without actually stopping the heroes doing what they want to do. Not, "haha, you're full of strain and can't take extra movement, SUCKS TO BE YOU!", but "are you sure you want to use strain for extra movement when it means I can move one of my figures to a better position?" That sort of thing. And in each case, it could sometimes be really useful for the Imperial player - shooting someone just after they rested could be really painful - but sometimes, if they're clever, the Rebel players can mitigate the problem - if you rest somewhere where no Imperial figure has line of sight to you, they can't attack you.

[edit] Huh... and I just realised that the first of those is almost identical to the existing Exploit Weakness card (only more restrictive and worded less well). Oops.

Edited by Bitterman

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Is there already an Imperial class deck that removes hero strain? Kind of in keeping with what a1bert said, I think it's more interesting to give the Imperial bonuses against heroes that use lots of abilities, instead of just adding strain. If the Imperial has to remove strain to use those bonuses, it could result in an interesting push-pull of both sides having to decide when to optimally use their abilities. I'm imagining something like: "once per activation, you may remove 1 strain from a hero in your line of sight to gain one movement point", or "remove 3 strain to perform an extra attack". But that might be really hard to balance.

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59 minutes ago, ricope said:

Let's get the balls rollin...

Drew some inspirations from existing classes and units

DOJ78wl.png

 

I like the ideas behind these suggestions a lot. Some of the expensive cards may be a bit too good, for example 4xp1 would be potentially 8 tokens if each Hero attacks once, more if they double attack (and less if they don't attack, but 4 attacks per round is somewhat realistic estimate, and that is not even considering that healing also grants tokens. Thats potentially 8+ damage per round. On the other hand I really like the fact that this can be countered by killing units with offensive tokens, and this in turn can be countered by using less offensive tokens and more defensive ones. So, great card by design, might just need some numbers tuning.

I would also maybe add some positining requirement, like that the figures who gain tokens must be within 3 space of the target of the attack. This would bring an additional positioning challenge to Imperial, and additional counterplay options to Rebels, which would reward good play from both sides. 

The 3XP card which says that if a Hero activates first they are stunned seems fairly niche, but again, idea is pretty neat. I wonder if it would be OP if it said something like "At the beginning of round, name a hero. Unless they activate first they become stunned."

The starter might be annoying, as its something Rebels must remember each turn while its a card that isn't in front of them. On the other hand, it would become a habit soon. 

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Hmm... My thoughts;

Starter: Who chooses if its a block or evade? Imperial Right? Otherwise this is too easy for the Rebels to use.

1xp1: make this similar to Bitterman's "Don't Strain Yourself"

1xp2: Less powerful than Reactive Defenses - Shielded. Suggest boosting it a little.

2xp1: This has the possibility of completely undoing the Hero's rest. Hardly fun for the Rebel...

2xp2: This can be hugely impactful, and usable every turn. Maybe make it an action to use it?

3xp1 & 2: Seem ok.

4xp1: Works nicely with two prior abilities. Maybe make the second part an exhaust or it will happen every single time the Rebels attack and if given to the target the token can be used on that same attack that just happened. 

4xp2: I like this one. EDIT: Should be an exhaust ability though...

Edited by Majushi

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2102869437_subversivetacticspreview.thumb.jpg.dbb631b36ac03205f37c265e5b01b06d.jpg

So this is what our group cooked up, taking into account all the suggestions from here and boardgame geek as well.  We ended up leaning more into play/counterplay stuff and things to force strategy shifts (like was said above).

... granted, a couple of these cards are ugly word salads.  But that can get fixed if the concept's ok.

Any rate, I'll explain the INTENT behind these changes below.  (acknowledging i may have missed some marks).

  • Prey upon Doubt, just a reword.  False sense of control to the Rebel player.
  • Savage Weaponry, Bleed is really powerful, and having a group of backline stormtroopers dishing it out feels nasty.  So changing the attachment buff for melee and ranged is more a choice put on the Imperial player.
  • Hot Landing, it's either an ambush or a sprint-to-position, depending on where the deployment point is in relation to the heroes.  Wasn't sure if it would be 1 or 2 threat, but the notion is that unease of getting jumped.
  • Exploit Weakness, with it no longer being a strain deck, this card isn't going to be as guaranteed.  It's still a 2 pt free attack, though, hence the "no surge" nerf
  • Maintain Pressure, word salad, needs to get cleaned.  But an issue with defining the card as "strain to move" is that rebel players frequently waffle on what they're going to do (like, surge 1 then attack then surge 1 ... or ... 2 surge move interact ... or ...?).  So just giving it a flat 2 mp to Imps and off any bonus movement (lots of agile characters) should clean it up. // the other one is more of a cheeky situational insult.  Sure, it's only a single action, but that can really screw up a plan.
  • Executioner, it's a clean, if boring, design.  ... not sure if it should just be direct damage or "add damage to results" tho.
  • No Quarter, 2nd half is the old card ... but without guaranteed shutdown heroes it needed a boost.  First half came from someone in the group, the idea is simply "rebel players don't get to use their phalanx to protect soft targets".  So it's up to the Imperial player to come out swinging.  (2 or 3 rounds was debated).  given how strong the new half was, the threshold for the 2nd half was changed to 3 strain (so it's potentially avoidable by the rebels).
  • Propaganda Towers, from VGoss at Board Game Geek entirely.  Sorry for the word salad, but you place a destructible anywhere accessible on the map.  If it survives Empire gets 1 influence.  Even if you never get that influence, you're creating a nasty distraction for the Rebels on time sensitive missions.
  • Rule by Fear, it's a conditional threat level increase (rebels can kill all leaders before end of round) ... which, again, is a tactical distraction.  Likewise the deplete is more for those who own all the big boxes: Massive Figures for fear.

 

Any rate, there's all that.

Edited by thinkbomb

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1 hour ago, ricope said:

Let's get the balls rollin...

Drew some inspirations from existing classes and units

DOJ78wl.png

 

doodoo, time to reply and comment...

starter = If I were a rebel I'd never remember to nullify this effect.  ^^;

1xp1 = that is an awful lot of tokens to be constantly putting on this card.  And if the rebel players are anything like they are in my group, there's going to be a small mountain of strain tokens on this card by the end of a short mission (constantly strain-moving).  It's a lot more granular over-time control, which is nice, but that's a lot of token micromanagement.

3xp1 = should this be an either-or?  both feels pretty strong

4xp1 = min/maxing this would dump all the tokens on priority enemies (deploy a vader? he gets all the tokens).  not sure if intended or not.

4xp2 = kinda thinking this would snowball in the empire's favor pretty quick

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The starter card: Rebels choose the effect. It's not entirely useless because it must be decided before everyone sees the dice result

1xp-1: I think @Bitterman's suggestion is way too strong, Imp figure gets MP everytime Rebel strain-move meaning they can always keep up, this is very powerful for 1xp. I was attempting to halve it

1xp-2: I think this is fine as it is due to the other xp cards. This card is not meant to be rushed

2xp-1: I would not change this, this is the exact same card and text as SubTac's 2xp "Exploit weakness"

2xp-2: for 2xp it should be fine, I specifically worded it as "damage suffered so far", so  you'd usually heal no more than 2-3 damage, also synergizes with 4xp-1

3xp-1: 

1 hour ago, Quintus515 said:

At the beginning of round, name a hero. Unless they activate first they become stunned

this is a very different ability though: "I don't want you to activate first" vs. "I want you to activate first"

4xp-1: the intent is to heavily discourage Rebels from shooting (and killing) Imperial figures. If we compare the other 4xp class cards like Adaptive Weapons from TechSup or Find the Weakness from Precision Training, I feel it's a reasonable power curve. Don't forget each figure can only have a max of 2 power tokens

4xp-2:

28 minutes ago, thinkbomb said:

kinda thinking this would snowball in the empire's favor pretty quick

the intent is to heavily discourage Rebels from resting

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