Welcome lady-nerds and gentlenerds, it's finally that time we've all been waiting for - the announcement of the 0.99 update! This update will be the final BETA update before the 1.0 release, which is planned for some time in April.
In the weeks leading up to this release we've given you sneak peeks hinting at what is to come. Due to the possibility of last minute changes we decided not to release too much specific information (such as point costs), however you'll now have the possibility to see the new changes for yourself and we're all very excited about that.
When discussing these changes please remember to do so in a civil manner. We very much appreciate constructive feedback, but an outright nerdrage should be avoided. Should the need arrive we recommend keeping a pillow nearby, so you can scream into that.
The Rules Team and Balance Board had a massive task to undertake during the last two months. This involved:
Each ABC team were tasked with preparing for the review by flagging issues in their book, and the BB/RT did the same, which was followed by a roughly 2 hour Skype conference between ABC/RT/BB
Some of the books were easier to review than others, however several of the Army Books had 3-4 hour Skype conferences that lasted well into the night. For the record, these Skype conferences are what you have been listening to in the sneak peeks.
After each review the ABC members were allowed to make 10-15 counter proposals the RT/BB had to then analyze and evaluate and give feedback on.
All of this had to be done with careful planning so that several books could be dealt with all at once.
The RT also had to update both the Magic Paths and the Rulebook during this phase.
Some of those Army Books had no less than 80 flagged items. During the skype conferences not only were the main army special rules and thegeneral army concept discussed, but also every single unit and update was evaluated. You can be sure the teams did what they could in the little time they had to discuss all of this and remain sane.
Some words from the Rules Team:
The task of balance is a major one, and no one can expect perfect balance within so little time. It's easy to overlook something. It's easy to make wrong calls. But time and tournament results will tell all, and from this information we can only further improve.
Due to this 2 month update process the rules have been left mostly untouched for a longer time than ever before, and this has allowed us to get some hold on what works in the army books and what does not. With this, all books have seen lots and lots of updates. Points cost have been adjusted both for the sake of external and internal balance.
For external balance, there is a very important point to keep in mind when reading the updated books. The target power level of all books was NOT the average of the previous v0.11 version. ALL armies (with very few exceptions) have seen the power level of their best units tuned down. During the previous beta phases we saw an obvious power creep in pretty much all army books. We do not believe in endorsing this, but rather that we need to undo it. Keeping the power creep will only lead to a never-ending spiral of stronger and stronger units, a so-called arms race. We want a game where even the regular core human soldier can participate in a meaningful way. Remember: while your army is less powerful overall (at least compared to the best build in v0.11), most other armies are also weaker.
We have also tried to move away from very one-sided builds (many flying monsters, extreme shooting lists, etc.). The outcome of games with such lists are often determined before deployment. We do not believe these types of games are very fun for both players, and that it makes T9A to a less interesting game.
For internal balance there has been an overall push towards promoting the usage of small to medium unit sizes, especially for infantry. This is done by reducing the initial cost of the unit, and increasing the cost of additional models. In most cases (but not all) the aim has been to keep the cost of units unchanged for around 2/3 of their maximum size. Above this and you will have to pay a couple of extra points, and below this you get it a bit cheaper. Please keep this in mind when you look at the units, because some units have had their point per model raised, but this impact is lessened due to the decrease in starting size cost.
There are some completely redesigned units, which for one reason or another didn't function very well and therefore needed a much bigger update than simply points costs. There are also some completely removed options/items, which are mostly things that saw little play or caused balance problems. Where possible the removed entries have been replaced by new options/items.
With all that said we're also aware that balance is still not perfect, but we're certain this is a step in the right direction towards a better and more balanced game. In the coming month the balance work continues. Army book committees will focus on improving the internal balance, and here community feedback is very valuable. Play as many 0.99 games as possible and deliver the feedback on the appropriate forums. We're very interested in knowing what units you'd never leave home and what units you'd never bring to the table.
For future updates we've decided to restructure and organize the team a bit differently. As some of you might've noticed we've received a considerable number of new Balance Board members. Some of the old BB members will now work as RT members and the newly formed BB will consist of representatives from many communities. Their task will be to focus on external balance, which for the upcoming change will mainly revolve around finding overpowered builds. The ABC members for whom this may concern will then be expected to find a solution.
Likewise, the ABC members have received new instructions on how we'd like to proceed with internal balance. This will allow for a better overview of items that are overused, underused and right in between (which is the goal). During this final phase, before the release, we will generally be looking at small tweaks and keep large scale redesign to a minimum if possible.
Now, onto something more exciting: Rulebook changes!
During the time since the last release, a number of problems with the rules have been addressed. Changes include:
How to maximize models in tricky multiple combat situations has always been a complicated business. A clear priority list, along with descriptive images, have been added in an attempt to resolve this once and for all.
After the combat
There have been two changes to the post-combat sequence. First, we are going back to rolling pursuit moves and catching fleeing units BEFORE moving the fleeing unit. Moving the fleeing unit before rolling pursuit move sometimes resulted in the weird situations where units very far away from the combat had to take break tests.
Also, we have added a new manoeuvre that any unit can do after a combat: a reform. This was because units sometimes were unnecessarily limited with their combat reforms due them being "locked" in sub-optimal positions after the combat, However, in order to avoid abuses with combat reforms into single file units (so called "conga lines") two restrictions are given to a unit that does this manoeuvre: they do not count as scoringin that player turn, and they cannot charge in the following player turn. However, you are still allowed,to make a post combat pivot, which allow you to charge in the following turn.
With the new wizard apprentice and wizard master system added during the previous update, a few item-combinations allowed for a total of +4 to cast, which gave a very big advantage. To limit this there is a now a rulebook rule that states that no casting or dispel modifier can be more than +3. There are some exceptions to this, such as overwhelming power, dispelling bound spells and a few one use only items.
Some price adjustments have been made for balance reasons. Items that saw very little use have been removed. Some items have some updated rules, such as Gem of Fortune (does not work on large targets) and Essence of a Free Mind (cheaper, but you can only choose between two paths). There is also one new magic weapon, "Hero's Sword", meant to boost mediocre fighting characters.
The Biggest change here is Unstable. Units with this rule now get something for being steadfast, to make unstable tarpits on par with non-unstabletarpits. The effects of Hellfire were reduced for balance reasons, in that there are fewer hits and you get save against them. A New special rule was added: "Sweeping Attack", meant to streamline the wording and effect of all these "fly over a unit and do damage to it" rules spread among many armybooks.
Who is the winner?
Clarifications have been made to secondary objectives, and Breakthrough has been streamlined with other objectives. Due to popular demand, the victory points table has been updated from a 10-0 scale to the more commonly used 20-0, and along with this the importance of secondary objectives has been reduced slightly. Scoring units have also been updated. A BSB is no longer scoring, only unit standards are.
Along with these bigger changes, there are numerous minor classifications or tweaks.
You can find the dwarf beta review here
And obviously all the rules (for free) here:
April sees the release of version 1.0 which will no longer be in BETA