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Tarkand

Game Balance: In Hindsight

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So I finished my Deathwatch 'chronicle' last weekend. We had a lot of fun and we do plan to come back to it at a future date, but we're switching it up with another game system for a little bit.

Now while I had a lot of fun with DW, the system has quite a few balance problem in my opinion, I'd figure I'd post those here and see what other thoughts and heck, maybe even hit on something that FFG hadn't thought about, you never know.

 

The game is at it's most balance at Rank 1, Renown Rank 1:

At that power level, the players are already a match for most of the thing in the mainbook and even most of the stuff in Mark of the Xeno (barring some of the most over the top stuff). As requisition rank increase, players quickly start to flat out ignore their opponents Armor ( '8' is more or less the average armor for Elite opponents) and their damage increase dramatically as well. This is of course combined with Skill/Traits that you can buy with xp, making them even deadlier.

While it is fun for the players to feel powerful and get new toys, it can be boring for them if they steamroll everything and it can get frustrating for the GM to always have to figure a way to challenge his players. After the 5th time your players encounter enemies at maximum range hidden in bunkers it starts to get old too.

Damage is extremely 'swingy'

While the weapon Errata helped this a lot, the issue still remain in many case. A good example of this: A player is hit by a plasma cannon... after Toughness and Armor are dealt with, he suffers 2d10+2... so anywhere between 4 wound (meh, flesh wound) to 22 wounds (HOLY **** I'M MELTING!) in one hit.

Damage is 'too much'

Once the Assault Marine got a pair of lightning claws (and those are in no way the worst offender as far as melee weapons go) and the Tactical Marine got a Barrage Plasma Gun, pretty much any elite enemies died in 1 round of attack. While I can certainly gives similar damage potential to the bad guy as well, having a 'Whoever hits someone first win!' battle just isn't all that cool. It also make Charging a bit of a trap... you charge, get parried/dodged and then get totally torn apart by the guy's multiple attacks (Both our Librarian and Assault Marine quickly realised that charging was a bad idea...).

Hordes are boring to fight against

Pretty much says it all. When fighting Hordes, a lot of your option go away. They are practically impossible to miss. You can't dodge against them or do anything different (stun, knockdown, grapple, etc). The combat essentially grind down to rolling dices and the GM/Players doing their best to come up with cool, non-repetitive way to describe gunning down/cutting up 5 people with one attack.

As if it wasn't enough, they are heavily afflicted by the 2 'damage problem' - most attack do enough damage to inflict magnitude on them as soon as they hit, so rolling damage is all but a waste of time (unless they are behind an absurd degree of cover) and it doesn't get any more swingy than those guy! A Magnitude 20+ Horde with Lasguns can do anywhere between 5 and 32 damage with 1 attack! This make it extremely dangerous to give them better weapons, as you can create a situation where the Horde can do anywhere between no damage to one shot-killing a player.

Too easy to 'max out' attack abilities

You can expect most players to start with 45+ in their main fighting skill. If you go with pointbuy, they will have 50-55 (possibly 58 with a Deed). Right off the bat, most guns will give you +10 for short range in the majority of fight and +10 for Semi-Auto (or +20 if you're not using the Errata, you crazy crazy person). Smart players will make it a priority to raise this skill fairly often, so you can expect them to get up to +10-15 fairly quickly (most people I've seen buy the first +5 right away with starting xp anyway) - aside from some key skill/trait at some ranks, this is the wisest use of your xp at first.

And then of course, you add in Wargear. Motion Predicator, Exceptional/Mastercrafted weapon. Pretty soon, everybody had 80+ to hit... the Assault Marine in my group had  98(58 base + 20 from xp + 5 exceptional weapon + 5 PA History + 10 Frenzy)! Add Balanced and Defensive Weapons, and many of them could not miss a Parry. This is a big part of 'the game is more balanced at rank 1' - at that level, the Marine can miss :P.

This created situation where the only way to damage the players is to saturate them with attack (more then they have Reactions...) in order to make sure something got throught. Added with the damage problem mentionned above, this helped create the 'I attack, you die!' scenario. Most enemies have crappy dodge after all and even parrying 1 attack doesn't do much when the others coming for you can all kill you anyway.

 

All those problem pretty much merges together to create one 'big problem':

After rank 1, it becomes increasingly difficult to build proper encounters. It's all about juggling between how many opponents you need to put for the battle to be fun and challenging... without totally swamping them. And even so, because of the swinginess of some attacks, sometime even a well planned combat can go somewhere totally unexpected.

Battles were often either frighteningly easy cake walk or left the player wondering if anybody wrote down the license plate of that Titan that just walked all over them. There was very little middle ground and I did find myself ending games early in some occassion because I knew the characters simply needed their Fate points to survive the next encounter.

 

Now, none of this is game breaking. We played over 20 game session, my players got their characters to Rank 4 and Renown 3. They got to play around with a lot of the cool stuff and and had some epic battle and good story and a surprisingly amount of deep roleplay for a game about genetic killing machine. They are ways around most of those problems and experience DM should get out of it fine (right off the bat, proper use of cover mitigate a lot of the damage problems - when it come to ranged attack anyway)... but there has got to be a way to make things smoother for everybody involved.

This is not a 'haha! this game suck thread!' far from it. More of a 'This is what I noticed, do with it what you will.'. I love Deathwatch and we will be coming back to it at some point.
 

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Tarkand said:

So I finished my Deathwatch 'chronicle' last weekend. We had a lot of fun and we do plan to come back to it at a future date, but we're switching it up with another game system for a little bit.

Now while I had a lot of fun with DW, the system has quite a few balance problem in my opinion, I'd figure I'd post those here and see what other thoughts and heck, maybe even hit on something that FFG hadn't thought about, you never know.

 

The game is at it's most balance at Rank 1, Renown Rank 1:

At that power level, the players are already a match for most of the thing in the mainbook and even most of the stuff in Mark of the Xeno (barring some of the most over the top stuff). As requisition rank increase, players quickly start to flat out ignore their opponents Armor ( '8' is more or less the average armor for Elite opponents) and their damage increase dramatically as well. This is of course combined with Skill/Traits that you can buy with xp, making them even deadlier.

While it is fun for the players to feel powerful and get new toys, it can be boring for them if they steamroll everything and it can get frustrating for the GM to always have to figure a way to challenge his players. After the 5th time your players encounter enemies at maximum range hidden in bunkers it starts to get old too.

 

Have you ever considered mag X Elite tier-based hordes? Or throwing 20 Nid Warriors at your Kill-Team? Also: have you considered reducing requisition points? The problem with rules as-is, it lends itself to pitting fully maxed out rank 4 Marines vs. enemies that will get overwhelmed.

 

Tarkand said:

Damage is extremely 'swingy'

While the weapon Errata helped this a lot, the issue still remain in many case. A good example of this: A player is hit by a plasma cannon... after Toughness and Armor are dealt with, he suffers 2d10+2... so anywhere between 4 wound (meh, flesh wound) to 22 wounds (HOLY **** I'M MELTING!) in one hit.

 

I like that. Damage should be like that which is why I reject the new 1d10 basis and why I Riigheous Fury every rolled 10. The 4 wound with a plasma cannon would be the result of a near miss.

 

Tarkand said:

Damage is 'too much'

Once the Assault Marine got a pair of lightning claws (and those are in no way the worst offender as far as melee weapons go) and the Tactical Marine got a Barrage Plasma Gun, pretty much any elite enemies died in 1 round of attack. While I can certainly gives similar damage potential to the bad guy as well, having a 'Whoever hits someone first win!' battle just isn't all that cool. It also make Charging a bit of a trap... you charge, get parried/dodged and then get totally torn apart by the guy's multiple attacks (Both our Librarian and Assault Marine quickly realised that charging was a bad idea...).

 

There is no easy fix to this. Whoever hits first is how DW works. One way to mitgate it is to introduce the WFRP 1E crit system where crit damage isn't cumulative. The most pressing issue then is to rewrite True Grit. Otherwise I expect it to work.

 

Tarkand said:

Hordes are boring to fight against

Pretty much says it all. When fighting Hordes, a lot of your option go away. They are practically impossible to miss. You can't dodge against them or do anything different (stun, knockdown, grapple, etc). The combat essentially grind down to rolling dices and the GM/Players doing their best to come up with cool, non-repetitive way to describe gunning down/cutting up 5 people with one attack.

As if it wasn't enough, they are heavily afflicted by the 2 'damage problem' - most attack do enough damage to inflict magnitude on them as soon as they hit, so rolling damage is all but a waste of time (unless they are behind an absurd degree of cover) and it doesn't get any more swingy than those guy! A Magnitude 20+ Horde with Lasguns can do anywhere between 5 and 32 damage with 1 attack! This make it extremely dangerous to give them better weapons, as you can create a situation where the Horde can do anywhere between no damage to one shot-killing a player.

Fighting hordes needs strategies. Hordes need horde actions like "Hunker down!" or "Surround!". Players need to act to counter such strategies and get themselves into a position to inflict damage. It needs to be as much as a battle of wits as raw power. It mustn't be a case of "Lol, Astartes!"

Tarkand said:

Too easy to 'max out' attack abilities

You can expect most players to start with 45+ in their main fighting skill. If you go with pointbuy, they will have 50-55 (possibly 58 with a Deed). Right off the bat, most guns will give you +10 for short range in the majority of fight and +10 for Semi-Auto (or +20 if you're not using the Errata, you crazy crazy person). Smart players will make it a priority to raise this skill fairly often, so you can expect them to get up to +10-15 fairly quickly (most people I've seen buy the first +5 right away with starting xp anyway) - aside from some key skill/trait at some ranks, this is the wisest use of your xp at first.

And then of course, you add in Wargear. Motion Predicator, Exceptional/Mastercrafted weapon. Pretty soon, everybody had 80+ to hit... the Assault Marine in my group had  98(58 base + 20 from xp + 5 exceptional weapon + 5 PA History + 10 Frenzy)! Add Balanced and Defensive Weapons, and many of them could not miss a Parry. This is a big part of 'the game is more balanced at rank 1' - at that level, the Marine can miss :P.

This created situation where the only way to damage the players is to saturate them with attack (more then they have Reactions...) in order to make sure something got throught. Added with the damage problem mentionned above, this helped create the 'I attack, you die!' scenario. Most enemies have crappy dodge after all and even parrying 1 attack doesn't do much when the others coming for you can all kill you anyway.

 

Not enough negative modifiers. You get the size modifier and the range modifier if you want to hit a Hammerhead zooming buy (making it very easy) but no negative modifier if it has been dive-bombing by. You don't get enough negative modifiers for wounds in 40K RP. Again use the WFRP crit system might slightly mitigate that: marines will die harder but more often have various wounds.

Tarkand said:

All those problem pretty much merges together to create one 'big problem':

After rank 1, it becomes increasingly difficult to build proper encounters. It's all about juggling between how many opponents you need to put for the battle to be fun and challenging... without totally swamping them. And even so, because of the swinginess of some attacks, sometime even a well planned combat can go somewhere totally unexpected.

 

The latter is okay in my book. The rest is true.

 

Tarkand said:

Battles were often either frighteningly easy cake walk or left the player wondering if anybody wrote down the license plate of that Titan that just walked all over them. There was very little middle ground and I did find myself ending games early in some occassion because I knew the characters simply needed their Fate points to survive the next encounter.

 

Now, none of this is game breaking. We played over 20 game session, my players got their characters to Rank 4 and Renown 3. They got to play around with a lot of the cool stuff and and had some epic battle and good story and a surprisingly amount of deep roleplay for a game about genetic killing machine. They are ways around most of those problems and experience DM should get out of it fine (right off the bat, proper use of cover mitigate a lot of the damage problems - when it come to ranged attack anyway)... but there has got to be a way to make things smoother for everybody involved.

This is not a 'haha! this game suck thread!' far from it. More of a 'This is what I noticed, do with it what you will.'. I love Deathwatch and we will be coming back to it at some point.
 

 

I agree with your analysis overall. If damage is a problem though, simply increase enemy armour. If the book says Armour 8 give it armour 11. It's a particular nasty specimen. DW is a taxing game for the GM anyhow. Special care must go here in preparation of a game unless you are willing to wing it from start to finish. You need to estimate what capabilities your group approx. is going to have and what the fight is roundabout going to look like. And you need proper staging. If you know that a combat is a do-or-die 1 combat round affair, handle it like that. Don't give the players any different impression leading up to it. If in D&D the players have to climb a steep surface, they'll know it's hit-or-miss also and that a failed roll might mean the end.

 

How to stage prolonged combats in DW? High armour, medium Wounds, medium damage.

 

Alex

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I strongly feel that Deathwatch V2.0 needs to free itself from the WFRP system and get a specially designed system intended to deal with the needs of a Marine gaming.

Deathwatch aptly demonstrates just how far out of the comfort zone of that system it is.

The WFRP system, famous for adjudicating the adventures of ratcatchers with one leg, the pox and learning difficulties, was never intended for combat heavy games featuring high powered opponents using the best gear.

This new system would feature-

1: Satisfying combat. For a game as combat heavy as a Marine game is likely to be combat need to be fun.

2: Simple for new players. There can't be many new GMs and players who can look at the massive stat blocks of a typical Deathwatch adversary and know what they need to roll to hit. For what should be the default starting game (its 40k so we play Marines) this is unacceptable.

Basically I think they should do a DnD4e port.

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There are some issues with the system, but the base is solid enough. I'm really looking forward to Black Crusade for those core system tweaks we've glimpsed in the demo adventure.

Other than that, I think the best way to increase the tension in a combat-heavy Deathwatch session is to fight smarter, not harder. I've played some DW games when GMs were making stuff up as they went, and the fights were as binary as the OP described them - either the Kill-Team won initiative and killed everything dead or it didn't and was up for a heavy beating. Then I played through the first part of Emperor Protects, and it was much more interesting, because the fights could be approached tactically, and a well chosen strategy could mean the difference between a victory or a TPK.

Stress objectives beyond the immediate annihilation of opposition, prepare all encounters beforehand, introduce mini-objectives into each battle, and you can make even much weaker enemies challenging, and keep the game fun and exciting.

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Morangias said:

Other than that, I think the best way to increase the tension in a combat-heavy Deathwatch session is to fight smarter, not harder. I've played some DW games when GMs were making stuff up as they went, and the fights were as binary as the OP described them - either the Kill-Team won initiative and killed everything dead or it didn't and was up for a heavy beating. Then I played through the first part of Emperor Protects, and it was much more interesting, because the fights could be approached tactically, and a well chosen strategy could mean the difference between a victory or a TPK.

Stress objectives beyond the immediate annihilation of opposition, prepare all encounters beforehand, introduce mini-objectives into each battle, and you can make even much weaker enemies challenging, and keep the game fun and exciting.

Well, I have only modest experience with DW so far (about 6 sessions), but I think Morangias described rather well how fights should work for DW. As combat is such an important feature in DW, the fights should be tactically challenging in many ways and opponents should be played rather intelligent. Though, I do not expect Hormagaunts to have a greater tactiyal finesse, but most of them (and other smaller Tyranids) should have some predator-like apptitude how to attack a potential prey. If they are led by bigger synapse creatures though, they should be fearsomely effective and tactically able. This is even more true for the Tau. Use Tau with very effective hit-and-run tactics; swarm them with Kroot and shoot them with rail-guns from the distance. Chaos Space Marines should be as able and flexible in their tactics as the kill-team itself.

Do not let the enemy be dumb mooks, except if the story expects them to be. And do not be deterred by the fact that a Marine can lose 22 wounds with a single hit. Combat is deadly and should only seldomly be a prolonged slug fest (except if both sides are heavily entrenched, though this is not Astartes-style imo (except Imperial Fists maybe)); besides most Apothecaries call you up soon enough even then.

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I think a lot of the people replying are flat out missing the point.

I'm actually a bit insulted that this has turned into 'USE TACTICS LAWL!' too. You guys don't know me, don't know how I play and you're making a rather wide range of assumption here. And you know what they say about assuming.

Didn't you guys read that we played over 20 games and had fun or something? My players fought Hordes, mix of Hordes and Elites, Master opponent, Master and Hordes, Master and Hordes, great quantities of Elites and so forth. I DM and play 4e D&D as well as play several wargaming game - I understand the value & importance of interesting terrain, positioning and combined attack.

The finale of the chronicle ended up with a fight against the BBEG on top of a Reaver class Titan (who was walking and trying to shake the combatant off) while the other half of the group was in a hangar, covering the Apothecary as he tried to disarm a Magna-Melta bomb that was to blow up the planet when the Titan entered the warp gate a few hundred yards off.

Multiple class of opponents? Check. Interesting and varied terrain? Check. Unique mechanism designed and added to make the fight more interesting? Check.

All I can answer to most of the replies is a big whooping 'HERP DERP!' I mean seriously...

Here's the thing - even if the Hordes are playing smart, and using tactics... it doesn't change the fact that you cannot dodge their attack in CC. It doesn't change the fact that everytime you hit them, you essentially do magnitude damage. It doesn't change the fact that none of the more exotic combat maneuver work on them.

Also, I'm going to go and flat out say it - the small, super mobile, superbly equipped and super resilient kill-team has a lot more tactical tool at its disposition than the big, slow, poorly equipped (usually anyway), squishy horde. If your players are being constantly outplayed and outmaneuvered by Hordes... you are either the reincarnation of Sun Tzu, an extremely cheap DM who create terrain that overly penalize the players and advantage the NPC in every fight or your players are has dumb has a bag of bricks.

No matter which tactics you use, the fact remains that once people start connecting with each others, all the problems I've mentioned above come back to the forefront.

Using tactics doesn't change or address any of the issue I mentioned above. This doesn't mean that the game isn't fun, tense and challenging (quite the contrary) - my main gripe is that it's a pain in the ass to properly design encounter because WE, the GM, have to do the balancing act that the game system should already have done for us.

You are of course, more than allowed to say 'Yeah, but I like it that way' - like AK-73 said, he likes the swingy damage... who am I to tell him swingy damage sucks? All I'm saying is that swingy damage add a big level of uncertainty that make planning harder - and I don't think anybody can disagree with that... but to suggest all of a sudden the problems will magically disapear if I use tactic instead of lining up the bad guy in a barren field and have them charge no matter what is flat out insulting.

 

Have you ever considered mag X Elite tier-based hordes? Or throwing 20 Nid Warriors at your Kill-Team? Also: have you considered reducing requisition points? The problem with rules as-is, it lends itself to pitting fully maxed out rank 4 Marines vs. enemies that will get overwhelmed.

I quite often throw a lot more elite than is 'logical' lore wise at my players. Those guys are more or less buffer. I mean, if my players can kill X amount of bad guy per turn, reason stand that if I want to make the fight more interesting, I need to use X2 or X3 bad guys. When I design an encounter with Elites, there's always a couple 'meat bag' who's sole purpose is to absorb and die from the first few attacks in order to make the fight last longer and be more interesting. I had no choice, as Epic as the idea of '5 DW marine vs 5 equally bad ass Chaos Marine' is, those fights are extremely lackluster in this game system.

I have not lowered requisition. It kinda suck to tell your player 'Alright, you earn 3 Renown, which should take most of you to rank 3!' and the next game be all like 'Right. You're only getting 25 req for this one, deal with it'. It makes me the GM come off as the bad guy more than anything else.

At this rate, I might as well hand pick gear for my Kill-Team.

That being said, it would indeed fix the problem. But ideally, future version of the game will just have better balanced wargear instead.

Not enough negative modifiers. You get the size modifier and the range modifier if you want to hit a Hammerhead zooming buy (making it very easy) but no negative modifier if it has been dive-bombing by. You don't get enough negative modifiers for wounds in 40K RP. Again use the WFRP crit system might slightly mitigate that: marines will die harder but more often have various wounds.

All too true. And what Negative Modifier do exist are easy mitigate. The easiest one, darkness, is a non-factor for the Kill-Team... but not for a lot their opponents. Shooting the lights out or cutting the power is a great way to start a fight against a lot of opponents - going to rag on Hordes again here, but most of them do not see in the dark... shooting the lights out or just engaging them at night is a great way to lower their effectivness even further. Mag-boots can also make a lot of 'slippery floor' issue a non-factor (assuming the ground is metal), etc.

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hey Tarkand!

Glad you like playing genetically modified killers, too...but, what's yer point?  You stated in the OP that you were providing us your opinions/assessment of the game, to take as we will; we provide some unsolicited yet intended-to-be-helpful assistance; you get insulted...??  What am I missing?

You stated in your OP that this was not intended to be a 'frag the system and the designers' thread; but, it seems clear, that's what you've just turned this into.  Please clarify.gran_risa.gif

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Tarkand said:

Here's the thing - even if the Hordes are playing smart, and using tactics... it doesn't change the fact that you cannot dodge their attack in CC. It doesn't change the fact that everytime you hit them, you essentially do magnitude damage. It doesn't change the fact that none of the more exotic combat maneuver work on them.

 

And they shouldnt. As I said: fighting hordes shouldn't be so much about the actual fighting but also about the strategy of fighting. How do we get into melee? Or should we attrite them from range? Can we flank them? Would a jump pack assault be best? That only comes into play if the hordes have enough capability to shut down the mindless attack solution. Hordes get interesting when the players know they can't win a fair fight. There is no crunch for the strategy of combat, I suspect due to Ross and the other folks being nice guys but not having studied real world warfare much (I could be wrong).

As it stand fighting hordes is a bit mindless.

 

Tarkand said:

Also, I'm going to go and flat out say it - the small, super mobile, superbly equipped and super resilient kill-team has a lot more tactical tool at its disposition than the big, slow, poorly equipped (usually anyway), squishy horde. If your players are being constantly outplayed and outmaneuvered by Hordes... you are either the reincarnation of Sun Tzu, an extremely cheap DM who create terrain that overly penalize the players and advantage the NPC in every fight or your players are has dumb has a bag of bricks.

No matter which tactics you use, the fact remains that once people start connecting with each others, all the problems I've mentioned above come back to the forefront.

 

Again I see it like this: suppose we run Final Sanction and the players need to cross the main bridge to Fabrica. They should be outgunned and unable to survive a head-on assault. Because that means they need to come up with solutions.

But that's a different in-game puzzle. We're not talking about D&D-style combat here but employing warfare tactics (choose the right tactic and mopping the horde will be easy, choose the wrong and you'll have a fight you will find hard to win). That's what you get for having a military elite game. DW is void of it, okay, you can't expect the average gamer to have any expertise in that (nor any interest, I guess) but to me it's where it starts to get interesting.

At least the game should support some layman's maneuvering against hordes and by hordes against kill-teams.

 

I guess the basic point is: after a few sessions the game becomes too predictable.

 

 

Tarkand said:

Using tactics doesn't change or address any of the issue I mentioned above. This doesn't mean that the game isn't fun, tense and challenging (quite the contrary) - my main gripe is that it's a pain in the ass to properly design encounter because WE, the GM, have to do the balancing act that the game system should already have done for us.

Yep. But there is ways to mitigate it: AP should be in the range so that they players can penetrate it with Z points per hit on average. Then wound points should be Zx#hits you want the enemy to survive. Similar for enemies' damage output. If you do that once for your group, you can better measure what a combat with the NPC will go like. Not every GM will want to do the math though (but it's not lengthy nor difficult).

 

Tarkand said:

You are of course, more than allowed to say 'Yeah, but I like it that way' - like AK-73 said, he likes the swingy damage... who am I to tell him swingy damage sucks? All I'm saying is that swingy damage add a big level of uncertainty that make planning harder - and I don't think anybody can disagree with that... but to suggest all of a sudden the problems will magically disapear if I use tactic instead of lining up the bad guy in a barren field and have them charge no matter what is flat out insulting.

One of the reasons I like uncertainty in my games its because my player's reactions are often too predictable to me as I have played with them for decades now. The additional random element of how about an encoutner will go adds suspense to my GMing enjoyment.

 

Tarkand said:

Have you ever considered mag X Elite tier-based hordes? Or throwing 20 Nid Warriors at your Kill-Team? Also: have you considered reducing requisition points? The problem with rules as-is, it lends itself to pitting fully maxed out rank 4 Marines vs. enemies that will get overwhelmed.

I quite often throw a lot more elite than is 'logical' lore wise at my players. Those guys are more or less buffer. I mean, if my players can kill X amount of bad guy per turn, reason stand that if I want to make the fight more interesting, I need to use X2 or X3 bad guys. When I design an encounter with Elites, there's always a couple 'meat bag' who's sole purpose is to absorb and die from the first few attacks in order to make the fight last longer and be more interesting. I had no choice, as Epic as the idea of '5 DW marine vs 5 equally bad ass Chaos Marine' is, those fights are extremely lackluster in this game system.

As it is, it's more interesting if it's 10 CSM against 5 DW. And not against the fluff, btw. Similar with Nid Warriors or 30 Genestealers. If you want an interesting fight with 5 CSM vs 5 DW marines, the CSM need "special abilities". You need to pull such surprises to put the KT on the backfoot and then watch them try to regain footing (and die trying ;) or retreat.

But honestly in which system is it different as soon as players understand the exact capabilities (set of stats) of the enemy they are facing? In D&D only fights against the more obscure enemies are interesting (because I don't know their abilities). Fights against default Orks, Goblins, Zombies, etc are boring.

 

Tarkand said:

I have not lowered requisition. It kinda suck to tell your player 'Alright, you earn 3 Renown, which should take most of you to rank 3!' and the next game be all like 'Right. You're only getting 25 req for this one, deal with it'. It makes me the GM come off as the bad guy more than anything else.

At this rate, I might as well hand pick gear for my Kill-Team.

That being said, it would indeed fix the problem. But ideally, future version of the game will just have better balanced wargear instead.

 

 

Well, if it's a problem to you (and your players might agree), talk about it to them openly. Don't just decide that. Mention it as one possible solution, maybe your players will get inventive in trying to keep their toys and come up with other ideas to make the game more interesting.

Personally, I don't think it's unbalanced. Again think of the toys you can get in D&D at higher levels. In fantasy I have been always the stingy GM. A magic weapons should be both rare and powerful. I don't like D&D's +2 magic swords, +2 magic swords everywhere.

 

 

Tarkand said:

Not enough negative modifiers. You get the size modifier and the range modifier if you want to hit a Hammerhead zooming buy (making it very easy) but no negative modifier if it has been dive-bombing by. You don't get enough negative modifiers for wounds in 40K RP. Again use the WFRP crit system might slightly mitigate that: marines will die harder but more often have various wounds.

All too true. And what Negative Modifier do exist are easy mitigate. The easiest one, darkness, is a non-factor for the Kill-Team... but not for a lot their opponents. Shooting the lights out or cutting the power is a great way to start a fight against a lot of opponents - going to rag on Hordes again here, but most of them do not see in the dark... shooting the lights out or just engaging them at night is a great way to lower their effectivness even further. Mag-boots can also make a lot of 'slippery floor' issue a non-factor (assuming the ground is metal), etc.

 

Well, the most common negative modifiers in other rpgs that 40K RP is missing out are wounds and speed. Of course recoil but that's a non-issue. Also I'd like to state again that for hordes I apply a negative to hit modifier when they are in cover instead of the normal cover rules. Callibrate until you're satisfied with the overall level in to-hit difficulty. (Hitting a Bunker slit should be extremely difficult but if anyone can do it, it's a (Devastator) Astartes).

 

Alex

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Zappiel said:

hey Tarkand!

Glad you like playing genetically modified killers, too...but, what's yer point?  You stated in the OP that you were providing us your opinions/assessment of the game, to take as we will; we provide some unsolicited yet intended-to-be-helpful assistance; you get insulted...??  What am I missing?

You stated in your OP that this was not intended to be a 'frag the system and the designers' thread; but, it seems clear, that's what you've just turned this into.  Please clarify.gran_risa.gif

I thought I was pretty clear when I said: but to suggest all of a sudden the problems will magically disapear if I use tactic instead of lining up the bad guy in a barren field and have them charge no matter what is flat out insulting.

Being told 'Other than that, I think the best way to increase the tension in a combat-heavy Deathwatch session is to fight smarter, not harder. I've played some DW games when GMs were making stuff up as they went, and the fights were as binary as the OP described them - either the Kill-Team won initiative and killed everything dead or it didn't and was up for a heavy beating' or 'As combat is such an important feature in DW, the fights should be tactically challenging in many ways and opponents should be played rather intelligent.' implies denial that there is a problem (which is fine, to each his own), but most importantly, that I'm not playing my adversaries smartly, not using tactics, not drawing out battle map and making up scenario every session, etc - in short, I'm being called a poor GM by people that doesn't know me. And yes, I do find that insulting.

 

Yep. But there is ways to mitigate it: AP should be in the range so that they players can penetrate it with Z points per hit on average. Then wound points should be Zx#hits you want the enemy to survive. Similar for enemies' damage output. If you do that once for your group, you can better measure what a combat with the NPC will go like. Not every GM will want to do the math though (but it's not lengthy nor difficult).

Yeah, and I guess did that. I could tell that one enemy would probably go down in one blow and that another would survive two hits from a player from Player X, while Player Y might be able to kill both for example.

I suppose the way I see it is that the damage system is simply too brutal as is. While it might be more 'realistic', the image of an epic fight, trading blows with the bad guys and doing all those cool stuns and flips and stuff... just doesn't translate well to how it really goes down in DW. Look at some of the Marine vs Marine fights we see in the Black Library book for example... those aren't 1 round affair, but that's usually what happen in DW. Dichotomy between my views (and I believe, the lore's) of what 40k battle should be and how DW represent it. 

I also personally don't find '1 hit, 1 kill' fights to be the most satisfying. Master enemies are actually fun specifically because they can actually survive getting roughed for a few rounds. Allowing them to do cool stuff and actually engage in a fight.

If nothing else, DW would benefit from further categorisation - not all Elite or Master are equal after all. Huge difference between an Ork Nob or a Carnifex in killing power and durability, yet both are Elite (if I'm not mistaken).

 

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Tarkand said:

Zappiel said:

 

hey Tarkand!

Glad you like playing genetically modified killers, too...but, what's yer point?  You stated in the OP that you were providing us your opinions/assessment of the game, to take as we will; we provide some unsolicited yet intended-to-be-helpful assistance; you get insulted...??  What am I missing?

You stated in your OP that this was not intended to be a 'frag the system and the designers' thread; but, it seems clear, that's what you've just turned this into.  Please clarify.gran_risa.gif

 

 

I thought I was pretty clear when I said: but to suggest all of a sudden the problems will magically disapear if I use tactic instead of lining up the bad guy in a barren field and have them charge no matter what is flat out insulting.

Being told 'Other than that, I think the best way to increase the tension in a combat-heavy Deathwatch session is to fight smarter, not harder. I've played some DW games when GMs were making stuff up as they went, and the fights were as binary as the OP described them - either the Kill-Team won initiative and killed everything dead or it didn't and was up for a heavy beating' or 'As combat is such an important feature in DW, the fights should be tactically challenging in many ways and opponents should be played rather intelligent.' implies denial that there is a problem (which is fine, to each his own), but most importantly, that I'm not playing my adversaries smartly, not using tactics, not drawing out battle map and making up scenario every session, etc - in short, I'm being called a poor GM by people that doesn't know me. And yes, I do find that insulting.

 

Yep. But there is ways to mitigate it: AP should be in the range so that they players can penetrate it with Z points per hit on average. Then wound points should be Zx#hits you want the enemy to survive. Similar for enemies' damage output. If you do that once for your group, you can better measure what a combat with the NPC will go like. Not every GM will want to do the math though (but it's not lengthy nor difficult).

Yeah, and I guess did that. I could tell that one enemy would probably go down in one blow and that another would survive two hits from a player from Player X, while Player Y might be able to kill both for example.

I suppose the way I see it is that the damage system is simply too brutal as is. While it might be more 'realistic', the image of an epic fight, trading blows with the bad guys and doing all those cool stuns and flips and stuff... just doesn't translate well to how it really goes down in DW. Look at some of the Marine vs Marine fights we see in the Black Library book for example... those aren't 1 round affair, but that's usually what happen in DW. Dichotomy between my views (and I believe, the lore's) of what 40k battle should be and how DW represent it. 

I also personally don't find '1 hit, 1 kill' fights to be the most satisfying. Master enemies are actually fun specifically because they can actually survive getting roughed for a few rounds. Allowing them to do cool stuff and actually engage in a fight.

If nothing else, DW would benefit from further categorisation - not all Elite or Master are equal after all. Huge difference between an Ork Nob or a Carnifex in killing power and durability, yet both are Elite (if I'm not mistaken).

 

 

 

The easiest way to make battles last longer, of course, is to up armour by 1 or 2 points. If integration of DH or RT is important instead deduct 1 or 2 from Weapon Damages but you'll have to apply all of that to NPCs too.

Carnifex should definitely be classed as Master-tier. It should take a whole KT to take one down.

 

Alex

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ITT:

Tarkand: Fights in DW are not tactical enough, it's all rocket tag.

Me: Well, tactics work and eliminate rocket tag reasonably for my group.

Tarkand: You imply I'm a bad GM, and I'm offended.

Chill, man. I didn't even aim my post at you personally nor give you any advice. You gave your opinion on what doesn't work for you, I gave my opinion on what works for me. Maybe your group is so much better at tactics than mine. Or maybe my GM is actually better at constructing encounters than you are. We'll never know, because we don't know each other, nor our respective groups' playstyles. It's opinion vs opinion. Who's a better GM was never a question until you decided it was and proclaimed yourself offended.

I thank you for your in-depth analysis of the game, but respectfully disagree with some of your conclusions. I'm sorry that you decided to take it personally. Since I still have no idea how I might have offended you, I will try to abstain from commenting on your posts in the future to avoid offending you further.

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I believe that a great deal of power abuse can be had with the strategic assets within Rites of Battle.  Imagine playing the demo game Final Sanction with access to those and having the players blow their requisition on them?

 

Simulated play log

4 marines are lounging within a Rhino loaned to them by an allied chapter, debating what to do next.  Outside is the faint pitter-patter of stub shots bouncing uselessly against the armour of the Rhino, as well as the faint screams of Heritics being mowed down by bolter fire provided by the Rhino.

"so...what`s next?  The squad of assault marines which were so generously loaned to us made short work of the rebels assaulting the PDF base.  Looks like this rhino should have this spaceport cleared out soon and the reserve company should begin mop up operations."

(Another marine answers nonchalantly).  There were reports of a heavy rebel presence around the rag markets, but a navy torpedo put an end to that.  I doubt there are many surivors, but if there is, it would be great to have one and have him interrogated. 

" Taking over the governors palace saw some fighting, we should thank those marines who helped us clear out those genestealers, any news on the broodlord?"

" haven`t heard back from the temple assassin we sent out.  She will vox me once the target has been eliminated"

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Captain Ventris said:

Well, I'd rule that you don't get any assets, because your transport was blasted, and there are no other Imperial forces on Avalos besides.

Aye, it does surprise me how many GMs don't seem to realise that any/all requisitions are down to whether they allow the PCs to have access to what they ask for - just because they can ask to have a squad or two of allied Marines fight with them doesn't mean there are any such Marines in the area - same with orbital strikes, etc.

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MILLANDSON said:

Captain Ventris said:

 

Well, I'd rule that you don't get any assets, because your transport was blasted, and there are no other Imperial forces on Avalos besides.

 

 

Aye, it does surprise me how many GMs don't seem to realise that any/all requisitions are down to whether they allow the PCs to have access to what they ask for - just because they can ask to have a squad or two of allied Marines fight with them doesn't mean there are any such Marines in the area - same with orbital strikes, etc.

Peterstepon has a point though, Final Sanction is an engineered situation that mean's you don't have any support, if it wasn't it would suffer the issues he mentioned.

So for all other missions you have to take this into account, either all your missions take place where you aren't supported (not outside the bounds of possibility for DW but if you move around a fair amount that's going to seem like a GM fudge) or the GM takes into account any possible scenario that the players can come up with. 

It's a nice touch, it sets up the whole imperial war machine thing and the power of the astartes but the book didn't go into ramifications and it's us IMHO. I won't go into could's should's etc this isn't (well didn't intend to be at the start).

 

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AluminiumWolf said:

I strongly feel that Deathwatch V2.0 needs to free itself from the WFRP system and get a specially designed system intended to deal with the needs of a Marine gaming.

Deathwatch aptly demonstrates just how far out of the comfort zone of that system it is.

The WFRP system, famous for adjudicating the adventures of ratcatchers with one leg, the pox and learning difficulties, was never intended for combat heavy games featuring high powered opponents using the best gear.

This new system would feature-

1: Satisfying combat. For a game as combat heavy as a Marine game is likely to be combat need to be fun.

2: Simple for new players. There can't be many new GMs and players who can look at the massive stat blocks of a typical Deathwatch adversary and know what they need to roll to hit. For what should be the default starting game (its 40k so we play Marines) this is unacceptable.

Basically I think they should do a DnD4e port.

 

Good point, it does feel more like a DnD game than the other WH40K RPGS and the focus needs to be worked like.

Not sure I agree on the DnD port though. Not played 4th Ed but I've not heard good things about it and just rolling d20 instead of d100 isn't automatically better, they'd both suffer some of the same issues in translation. Whatever system you use just needs a more work on it.

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 As for the rest of you, chill out we get the point. Long story short: there's a number of things succinctly put in the OP that is makes for a difficult RP which may or may not have been adjusted or fixed by DM's already to one degree or another as per any number of other threads.

Anybody else care to share their experiences with the system from their own campaigns? Does anyone want to start another thread (or add to existing one.) about what they did to get rounds a specific short comming?

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I believe that just about any system reliant on dice rolls will have a tendency towards wild fluctuations in performance from all parts involved. Space marines receive many bonuses to mitigate that, and indeed choosing the proper tactics wisely will tilt the odds in their direction. But there's no tactic to prevent a bad dice roll, it's really no different from any other game based on chance. At least with DW you have a well-defined percentile.

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I have to say, while the system could do with some tweaks and fine-tuning (and I'm really hopeful about Black Crusade in this regard) I don't see the need to drop the base system. In my experience, it does it's job very well.

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I don't think the system is the problem... but the power gap between Renown 1-2 and Renown 3+ weapon is simply too wide. Going from a Chain Sword to a Power Sword is nowhere near the upgrade of going from a Power Sword to a Power Fist/Lightning Claw.

As such, they cannot increase SM's toughness/armor to a point where they are untouchable by RT/DH character, despite the fact that it's possible to deal 1d10+42 (or more really) damage with a Lightning Claw... which pretty much 1 shot any non-Master level opponents. Than again, if you make it so the guy can survive hits from Lightning Claws, you make him impervious to any lesser melee weapon (and most firearm) as well.

This is an even bigger problem when you try to mix and match the other system with this... I'm not familiar with Ascension level character, but I know that Rogue Trader character would be dead 3 time over from such a blow. From what I heard, the 3 system don't really crossover that well anyway, they should probably just do away with the idea.

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Tarkand said:

...

This is an even bigger problem when you try to mix and match the other system with this... I'm not familiar with Ascension level character, but I know that Rogue Trader character would be dead 3 time over from such a blow. From what I heard, the 3 system don't really crossover that well anyway, they should probably just do away with the idea.

It's a matter of understanding and acknowledging that Space Marines are a level of magnitude greater than a normal human, no matter how exceptional that normal human may be. They are supposed to be able to do what a normal man cannot. That discrepancy, no matter how many people want "balance" can't exist if you want Space Marines to be what the fluff tells us they are. A "balanced" marine would be nothing more than a big dude in power armor and he would be very boring. That is the fear I have about Black Crusade, that they have balanced so much that everyone is too similar and CSM's are going to be nothing more than the big dude in power armor due to balancing them against a normal human. 

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Tarkand said:

I don't think the system is the problem... but the power gap between Renown 1-2 and Renown 3+ weapon is simply too wide. Going from a Chain Sword to a Power Sword is nowhere near the upgrade of going from a Power Sword to a Power Fist/Lightning Claw.

As such, they cannot increase SM's toughness/armor to a point where they are untouchable by RT/DH character, despite the fact that it's possible to deal 1d10+42 (or more really) damage with a Lightning Claw... which pretty much 1 shot any non-Master level opponents. Than again, if you make it so the guy can survive hits from Lightning Claws, you make him impervious to any lesser melee weapon (and most firearm) as well.

This is an even bigger problem when you try to mix and match the other system with this... I'm not familiar with Ascension level character, but I know that Rogue Trader character would be dead 3 time over from such a blow. From what I heard, the 3 system don't really crossover that well anyway, they should probably just do away with the idea.

 

The problem isn't the odd Power Fist. The problem is that the kill-team as a whole upgrades, so you have 2 power fists, a master-crafted storm bolter with vengeance rounds and Firestorm Multi-Melta. It just adds up.

Question: do we GMs want a DW were midgame every PC jacked up like character model? Or shouldn't there be a mix of standard DW infantry weaponry (which is very good especially with special ammo) plus a great weapon here and there.

From a players perspective powerful weapons all the way is best; it's also best for inner balance so that one or two PCs don't outshine all others. From a game world and mission balance perspective a fair mix is preferable, I think.

If you want the mix, the players themselves have to divide the available requisition among them or else you'll get into trouble as a GM; you only have to intervene if some player never gets the good stuff. But that means you have to cut down on req points so that there is only enough req for the basic gear (special ammo, upgrades, etc) and not enough for power fists for everyone. Either that or adapt the req cost of power fists accordingly.
The other way of achieving a mix is increased PC fatality where new PCs get less renown.

 

Andf you're not willing to aim for a mix, you'll have to live with a KT being an army unto themselves mid-game and further.

 

Alex

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So, Tarkand,  you were looking to be insulted and you were...congrats!  But, just to clarify, no one here was insulting you intentionally - you sought out and found the insults you feared, creating the insults out of thin air and the good intentions of your fellow posters.

So, now, the problem is not the game, but the toys the players get at higher levels...ok....don't know how to answer THIS ONE without insulting you a thousand times worse than you've been already.....

So, what to do?  Do I dare suggest to you the obvious solution?  Or will that insult you?  How can I help someone who spits in my face?

And you now mention mixing and matching with the other systems....hmmmm.....lottsa advice I could give here, too; but.....how not to insult you?  You say you know your sh!t, so, not sure what to say that you won't be mortally offended by.....any help would be hot...sorpresa.gif

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In case you hadn't noticed Zappiel, there is a conversation going on here and you're not adding anything to it, you're just being a smart ass. But I guess as long as you're having fun.

 

ak-73 said:

 

Andf you're not willing to aim for a mix, you'll have to live with a KT being an army unto themselves mid-game and further.

 

 

It basically come back to what I said earlier - it put the job of balancing the system on the DM, which arguably, should be on the game designer.

The fact that a typical DW 'monster' entries are pretty complex - they have tons of skills and talents, and you'll often need to flip back and forth in the mainbook to get a good grasp for what the enemy can do - make me believe that they probably didn't intend for the game to be 'rocket tag'. There is certainly a bit of a dichotomy between the fluff of the game/setting and the way things play out in the RPG. And from what I gathered on this thread, I'm certainly not the only one raising an eyebrow at some of the stuff in the system either.

But then again, I don't know how much playtesting FFG does, neither do I know what they actually wanted to do with this game system - maybe this is what they wanted. An extremely brutal system where offense totally eclipse defense. Maybe the game designer enjoy system where getting hit once mean instant death for most combatants. And if that's the case, if it was done on purpose, than I simply have different taste and I'll need to adapt, change the system or move on.
 

ItsUncertainWho said:

 

 

It's a matter of understanding and acknowledging that Space Marines are a level of magnitude greater than a normal human, no matter how exceptional that normal human may be. They are supposed to be able to do what a normal man cannot. That discrepancy, no matter how many people want "balance" can't exist if you want Space Marines to be what the fluff tells us they are. A "balanced" marine would be nothing more than a big dude in power armor and he would be very boring. That is the fear I have about Black Crusade, that they have balanced so much that everyone is too similar and CSM's are going to be nothing more than the big dude in power armor due to balancing them against a normal human. 

 

 

I agree a 100%.

I have the same concern about Black Crusade, and the mini-adventure they published didn't really put me at ease. The adventure tackled the issue by giving enemies a 'better' attack against a Chaos Space Marine or having npc require 'more' of the CSM (i.e. Kill 2 servitor in a duel instead of 1). That being said, from the preview, CSM do seem to be just as bad ass as their loyalist counterpart and it's going to be quite a challenge for would be DM of Black Crusade to run their games... especially since Chaos Followers don't really have that much of a reason not to turn against each other whenever they see it as advantageous.

I don't personally run crossovers games. But considering how '1 shot-1 kill' Deathwatch gets, it would seems a bit suicidal to add players from the other game systems in there... they'd essentially have to duck and hide as soon as the fighting got started, for fear of dying from a stray bullet. The characters are on such different scale after all, and as other have said, it's quite possible that the WHFRPG system which DW is built on simplies break down at a certain power level.

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