As you're probably aware, this year's balance path will be released progressively in three parts, here's the first one.
It includes the Rulebook, the Arcane Compendium, and the WIP LABs in Alpha and Beta (thus KoE, VS, SA and DE).
The new versions, to be considered in beta as usual during the yearly patch, are available already in the download section.
And here are the release nots!
As with each year, this is a pre-gold release. We need your feedback to make final updates before we lock the books "gold" again at the start of next year. There are not a lot of point changes at this pre-gold stage because we believe design changes will steer the meta enough.
This year we updated the Rulebook with the following additions:
-All existing errata, and clarifications, were put into it
-Added new Special Rules that are used in more than 2 Army Books
Note that there is practically no rule change for the players on the table. You don't need to re-learn anything new to play the game.
Some Paths got spells changed or switched where we thought it would be appropriate, to help minimize RPS factor of those spells or promote more Apprentices. Most spell changes were either a simplification (wrath of god, portent of doom), lowering of extreme outcomes/RPS (the wheel turns, cascading fire), reducing power level of overused spells (wrath of god, totemic summon), or replacing an underused spell (speaking on tongues, portent of doom). All in all, we hope that this will bring more variety into the magic phase,in terms of which paths are used, which spells are selected, and even cast.
However, there are four big changes for the game inside Arcane Compendium:
Old Druidism was seen as too RPS, with Oaken throne spells being devastating, without Oaken throne they were sometimes 'meh'. And the most troubling part was the Attribute, which affected how armies played, players were casting Druidism spells only for the Attribute, such was its strength. With this in mind, we redesigned it to be less complex, less RPS, and not heaving Attribute which promotes one particular play style (strong Characters/Cowboys/Monsters in the case of the old Attribute).
This weapon was too high eliteness and made several Character builds max eliteness while their army books cannot control the price. We decided to nerf it -> this will make Army Book have the most elite items and thus give a more unique flavor to armies. With removing Divine Attacks on Blessed Inscriptions we were now left with two 'to-wound weapon' concepts in Arcane Compendium, one reroll to wound and one +3 Strength. We decided Arcane Compendium does not need two to-wound concepts and removed one of them. We believe that price can do the rest.
We wanted to remove it for years and this year we decided to do it. The problem with this Banner is that it changes the role of a unit, sometimes it is even a crutch for some units. In the dataset we found 6 unit entries that practically take this Banner more than 60% of the time. Banner is almost always taken on AP0 or AP1 units. We want players to use their high AP army options against armored targets and not use their low AP (cheap) units with Rending Banner as an all-purpose general tool.
We tried to find a suitable replacement but non of the proposed (re)designs showed prospects. All new designs would either have the same problem or would create a very niche banner that would rarely be used. Note that some LAB with suitable flavor could have this kind of banner added to it in the future.
Book of arcane mastery
This item has caused problems with new designs multiple times in LAB books, and it keeps being a staple in many lists where it contributes to making the master+adept combo the standard magic setup. In an attempt to break this as the standard set-up, and find a design that is less likely to cause problems in future design, this item has been redesigned from the ground. It will not be a mirrored magical heirloom (the bearer knows one more spell that is not hereditary). Between this new Book of Arcane Mastery and Magical Heirloom, it should also show us the perceived strength of the army's Hereditary depending on which item is more taken.
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