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Like a Boss

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Someone mentioned something about how internal game balance is non-existant in Tannhauser due to the fact that there isn't any point value to characters, or any simular measuring of powers and ability, therefore some powers are grossly overpowered, while others seem very bad.

This isn't what this post is about though, however it is related. I want to take a look at the 3 "bosses" of the factions (as pr. june 2011), because the last time I played Tannhauser, it struck me that there is something really wrong here.


The "bosses" in question are: John MacNeal (union), Hermann von Heizinger (reich) and Zor'ka (matriarchy)

These characters are obviously meant to be the chiefs of their respective teams and their immense powerlevel really shows that they are something quite special. Before the redux of the rules, Heizinger was the weakest of them, but he still had the power to automatically kill any memeber of the union team with his Sha-Na-Ra skull. MacNeal was very good due to his googles and a team that loaded up on smoke, and Zor'ka was downright broken, due to her immense number of dice and the really powerfull abilities of her magnifier (remember, it hit an entire path back then)

Now, with the new rules, the characters have changed, although I think Heizinger and MacNeal actually still do the same thing they did back then. So what about Zor'ka? We'll get to her.

Heizinger was initially meant to be a support piece. He could use his Patmos amulet to move enemy characters within range of Zermann, or into unfavorable positions for ambushes by Yula or Eva (or the ever insane Stosstruppen). He was also able to use his hermetica to give an edge on any path and for backup he could take out any union character with his skull, or heal himself with his ring. His rank didn't do much back then, so his "mental" pack was never used.                   Heizinger was a support character, but he wasn't really that good due to his frail health and the fact that the hermetica didn't really work that well when they had to be placed. Most games he was just a tac nuke to take out MacNeal ... he proved even worse when Novgorod came along because the matriachy had very high mental stats and wouldn't become killed by his abilities. More often than not Heizinger had to stay home and watch powerhouses like Gorgei or Wolf take his place on the team.

What changed?: He became good. The change of the hermetica abilities meant an immense change for Heizinger. They changed form quite bad to extremely good, and I would say that due to the way the dice system is, the stamina hermetica is directly broken! It can be almost impossible to hurt the Reich when you play matriarchy when Heizinger has this token. The union has it a little better against it, since they deal more damage, but his patmos amulet works very well against those now. It's not fun for Barry to get shot by MacNeal ... Not fun at all!

Sha-Na-Ra has lost some power, since Heizinger has fewer dice with it now than before, but Eye of Tages is better, and his Marquis-General rank does something now. Also the "shock" roll changes have made Heizinger more resistant (before he was just stupidly frail) ... I've really come to like Heizinger now, he is a very strong piece and a brilliant leader model for the Reich.

MacNeal was the posterboy for what the union was about before. He had the goggles to kill virtually any other model in the game (save Zor'ka) singlehandedly as long as someone threw smoke for him. Union tactics became quite boring back then, because you'd just dump smoke and hope it didn't backfire due to the Heizinger + Zermann combo. Other than that union didn't fear anything. However you'd always either give MacNeal his combat or his mental packs, his stamina pack was useless.

What changed?: Smoke was changed from rediculously overpowered to quite bad ... and flashguns got worse. But somehow MacNeal became even better.  MacNeal's powers are just insane. With his combat pack he is probably the character in the game that deals the most damage ... It's just the fact that all his equipment is good and that 3 out of 4 of them works in perfect conjunction. He still has a bad mental stat, so he will most likely also kill Barry (if Heizinger gets his will), but he is also the best the union can field. When MacNeal fires his flashgun he gets 6 dice, he gets to re-roll the two lowerst dice (significantly enhancing his chances of getting a 10) and add+2 to any single die ... oh, and if he scores a 10 he gets 2 additional dice ... That and the ability to go into overwatch as a free action once per game makes for a very dangerous piece. He does have a weakness though and that is a fairly poor stamina combined with complete lack of close combat weapons. It's very fair in my opinion.

Zor'ka, the legendary leader of the matriarchy forces was really a force to be reckoned with before the new rules. Her statistics alone was insane due to the sheer number of dice she rolled and her magnificer ability was nuts. She could easily take down a close combat fighting reich team singlehandedly and with an entire team dedicated to keep her alive, the matriarchy was really a good team. I think I normally used her combat pack, since she could raise the voivedes, which was quite usefull (and still is) but really all her packs where good, and it didn't really matter which one you took as long as you got her magnifier and solid statline of 7s.

What changed?: The magnifier was changed and so was the dice system, leaving Zor'ka really, really bad. The magnifier is still good, on paper. It's a close combat weapon that hits both the guy she pummels, but also all non-voivode characters within 3 of that model ... thats all very good ... apart from one thing. Zor'ka only has 4 dice in close combat (like everyone else), and she doesn't have any way of getting more dice.                                                                      Now, there is something mathematically wrong with the system here. Characters like Eva are good in close combat because strafe gives her an extra die, she can hit from 1 away AND she has an ability on 10's. (maybe even two, if she has critical hit as well). Zor'ka hits on 3+, 2+ if Irina has the right lithany, but it never ever matters because 4 successes on a combat roll just isn't very good. Consider Zor'ka against a Reich team led by Heizinger with the Stamina Hermetica. Zor'ka attacks one of the weak reich characters, like Heizinger. She uses 1 command point to raise her stat by 1 so she'll have to roll 2+, lets just, for arguments sake say that she doesn't roll a 1 and scores 4 successes. Heizinger declares that he wants to use 1 command point to raise his stamina to 5. Now he has a 6/10's chance on each of his dice for a success, he only rolls 3 dice, due to the hermetica, but he already have a success. He will most likely make the roll with at least 1 success, so he will take 2 damage, but he can still shake 1, so Zor'ka, a close combat maniac will with a very good roll from her side manage to deal 1 damage to one of the weakest (in terms of stamina) characters in the game ... it gets really pathetic when she tries to attack something that isn't a frail old man.

To make matters worse, the ENTIRE matriarchy team is designed to support Zor'ka, but it's just completely futile with the new rules because she's so horrible. I've ordered Oksana, and I really have high hopes for her, because as it is right now, the matriarchy is just sitting in their box and waiting for something to help Zor'ka so she can actually deal any damage at all.


I really hope that someone from FFG looks through this post and considers a bonus token for Zor'ka, because I love tannhauser and I think the new rules are very good due to the new abilities of characters, it just seems like matriarcy got the short end of the stick in the redux and thats a pity, because I really liked the idea of an entire team revolving around a very strong piece.

Thanks for reading this very long post ... thoughts are very welcome





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You're correct on many points but MacNeal only rolls 5 die :P

Anyway Zor'ka may have lost much of her power from the old rules, which is good since she was so overpowered it was just ridiculous. And yes, Hermann's stamin pack is a hard-counter against Zor'ka, just like his mental pack is a hard-counter against Union. But all is not lost, Zor'ka to begin with is really hard to kill and when she attacks she almost always do 4 damage, or at least 3. Hermann negates on of those successes and then you have to roll dice for the other 3 (in the case of 4 successes), and with the dice you block 1 or 2 damage, so 1 or 2 damage is left, 1 can be taken care of with CP and the other on goes through, even if you manage to block all damage with the use of CP, that means you've just spend onnCP which could have been used to other things so even if Zor'ka dosn't deal that much damage she forces the other player to either take damage or spend CP so her role is now as a CP farmer.

And if you just hit Hermann with enough attacks he will go down, just like Zor'ka and Asteros does. Also, I wouldn't say Zor'ka is weak now, she is balanced and 4 damage (which is what she usually does) is very strong and have a good chance to do some damage.

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