Sunday, 13 August 2017

Errata 2017 - the Rundown

There are a few mechanical fixes in the errata, you can ignore the majority of those since they're just clarifying how a particular mechanic works.  This blog post is aimed at covering the most interesting changes going on.

The addition of a new type of sub-faction to the game is pretty big.  Ronin type profiles are profiles that have the ronin symbol and can be used across multiple factions.  The next set of releases (GenCon) are of small groups of ronin: the Blood Brothers and Sworn Sisters.  The story is that the Blood Brothers are on the run for some crime they committed on the mainland of the setting, and the Sworn Sisters are chasing them down.

Back to the mechanics of ronin though!  You can't take them in themes, so ronin profiles are usually ahead of the power curve for their rice cost.  That also means you can't take them in an Ordered for Battle warband, as that is still a theme.  So if you bring ronin, you're fully committed.

Yukio Koshimori and the Golden Sentinel profiles have been changed to ronin profiles.  Yukio has been condensed into the Silvermoon Trade Syndicate version, and the Golden Sentinel now has an additional wound track (you can take 2) and is ludicrously good for their rice value.  There's a new Golden Sentinel sculpt that will be available at some point after GenCon.

Slight change to the Bodyguard trait.  It now triggers on action declaration, so Fear has some interaction with being able to trigger the Bodyguard now.  If the bodyguard (the model, not the trait) wants to use Bodyguard to save a model from an enemy Fear-causing model, then the bodyguard will have to pass a Fear test first.  This makes the unique effects of the Jade Mamba and Takashi Retainers actually do something.

The model with Command can't target itself now.

This trait now does a lot more on the whole.  Certain factions would construct entire warbands using 2+ Ki profiles so the old Leadership wasn't doing anything.  Now the +1 bonus (remember that it applies to the model with Leadership too) makes most Fear values less intimidating.  It raises the value of just about all the models with Leadership.

Now applies to anything with a built-in move in addition to all the previous actions.

Notable Balance Changes

There are other changes, but they're almost not worth mentioning since they don't change what's brought to the table.

The biggest change for me is that the Kappa is a ronin profile and brings all the baggage associated with it.  No longer can I abuse the yokai in themes.  Sad, sad times.

Claws of the Dragon theme (Prefecture)
You can now bring Shinobu the dog in the theme.  People can stop moaning about not being able to bring Atsuchi & Shinobu on the forums.  It's actually quite a big change since Shinobu can perform scenario actions and can also teleport around the board.

Elixir of Vigor
Now a Prefecture only enhancement card.

Rigtheous Warriors theme (Temple)
No free kami anymore.  Hurrah!  It was such a stupid theme benefit.  Instead Master Monks get cheaper.

Mo Ises (Cult)
Rice cost reduced to 6.  He doesn't feel heinously expensive for what he does not.

Alphas theme (Savage Wave)
Fear 6 changed to Terror and you have to choose a different Oni each turn.  This makes assaulting the scary Oni each turn a lot easier.  Fear 6 was one of those weird values that could often stop samurai and monks

Kaihei Alpha
The "Alpha tax" has been dropped and it gained Dodge (1), so expect to see a number of Kaihei warbands proliferating with Savage Wave players as the full Kaihei pack improves its value.  You could see a shift towards a much earlier aggression style of warband construction from the Savage Wave, but we'll have to see, it's definitely one of the least played factions at a competitive level.

Mari Jung
She's gained Order, and with the change to Leadership the pirate queen has received a buff.  Nothing that really helps herself out though, so we'll have to wait and see how much of an impact the addition of Order brings to her.  It means she'll be further back for most people instead of trying to lead the charge and sacrificing the odd kaizoku.

Queen of the Waves theme (Jung)
The inclusion of ronin kami allows me to continue using the Kami of Reflection, which is amazing against swarms and is the anti-Ki tech I like to bring.  I did ask for this change with the introduction of ronin, so hurrah!

He's gained an additional place effect, which can be used when a model (friendly or enemy) moves into BtB with the big shisai.  This significantly increases his ability to survive.  I'm still probably never going to use him though.

Shepherds of White Mesa theme (Tengu)
The second most popular theme in the game has had quite a few changes.  The free kami has been changed to friendly kami healing 1 Ki on turn 3.  This is pretty big for Kami of the Strong Western Wind or the Kami of Reflection.

The other big change is that the Slow unique effect needs to be applied to a different model each turn, and your opponent chooses.  It's a big of a waste against high model Cult warbands with a bajillion Small Rat Swarms, but low model count warbands could suffer.

The Winners & Losers

I feel that the Prefecture of Ryu came out the best in this errata, simply because everyone else lost the Elixir of Vigor.  They can also use a lot of ronin profiles with no real loss of options during warband construction, but that's more of a "who won Wave 36?" thing than the errata.

Other contenders for being in the black this errata are the Cult of Yurei and the Savage Wave, both of which saw heavy discounts for an underused model.  Mari Jung made off like the pirate queen she is this errata: Leadership got buffed, her theme still allows the inclusion of ronin kami, and she gained an additional trait.

The Temple of Ro-Kan and the Tengu Decension ate the nerf bats on the most common themes, but it's not surprising.  Both themes were stupidly overpowered with the free kami.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Iterative Process

My experiments with the Jung Pirates continue.  I've started to branch out and use cards I was generally skipping over.  I built a combo play with using Arata, Queen of the Waves, and the Taunt enhancement - it's pretty self-explanatory if you know what the cards do.  I don't really like Arata though, as the Impetuous really makes me grind my teeth.  Taunt on the other hand, functions as a very useful, activation-free way to skew an enemy model's dice and helps me deal with the "higher model count, roll all defence dice" meta.

The main power of the Jung Pirates is the sheer number of low rice cost profiles with decent Melee stats.  They may not be as amazing as Kyoaku-Han but the Jung are only a tiny sliver off.  I don't really leave home without taking double Kohanin and Sho as the baseline for my warband.  You get a lot of bodies for not a lot of rice.

Here's my current iteration of my Jung Pirates warband:

Queen of the Waves (theme)

Mari Jung + Taunt
Kami of Reflection
Kohanin x2

Hotei's Blessing
Kamikaze (1)

Lua can be shifted out for quite a large number of different models, but I just like how much hitting power and durability he brings to the warband.  I really like the Queen of the Waves theme.  The reroll can be used on either player's dice and allows Suiren to really flourish.  The place effect is well... it's a place effect so it's extremely powerful.  Between the place effect and the reroll you can really put into motion the means to delete an enemy model.

I quite like the Kami of Reflection as Ki-based assaults are a glaring weakness in Jung Pirates warbands, and since I play primarily against Cult, I get a LOT of offensive Ki tactics thrown at me.  It's also decent at holding its own in a fight so far between Parry (1) and Durable.

My plan is to get that particular warband fully painted by the end of the month - it shouldn't take that long, but I've been working on other projects.  So far I'm 50% complete with Suiren, Sho, and both Kohanin done.  The kami will take about 30 mins, and most of the other models have significant amounts of paints on them already.  I do like rocking up with the fully painted warband, this is a game that really benefits from it.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

UK Masters 2017

The UK Masters have come and gone.  As a tournament it was tremendously smooth except for an incident where two players filled in the other's sheet thinking it was their own.  This year I chose to forgo playing in the event and opted to help judge and do general legwork running the tournament.

We saw a number of really quite unexpected themes appear this year: two players ran Claws of the Dragon Prefecture warbands, one ran Lords of Izu Ito, and Jack Holking even ran a Bastions of the Mountain warband.  The usual suspects were there in abundance of course, Righteous Warriors and White Mesa were the two most popular themes.  No surprise given that they give a free 4 rice model.

I was a little surprised no one brought the Jung Pirates though, as their warbands are pretty easy to build, though most people build very unsophisticated warbands with them.  I have only just started to fit all the pieces together recently to make some cool combos, so I think they'll appear next year once the player base develops their warband construction.  There were no ninjas this year either, but that was not surprising given how recently repeated ranged attacks were nerfed and how most people seemed to be building warbands that heavily relied on Hail of Steel and Shurikens.  It's another faction where warband construction is still evolving.

Chris Hales won again this year with his Alphas Savage Wave warband.  He was the only Savage Wave player too, though he did have to dodge a few bullets.  He managed to avoid a Death and Decay Cult warband, and his VIM avoided the Dim Mak from Master Enos despite being on fewer dice.  Other than that though, his warband looked heinously difficult to deal with, having 3 oni in it and a decent amount of expendable chaff.  He even brought 2 copies of Unearthly Rage, which is something I wasn't expecting to see.

After the tournament there were some spoilers about the Minimoto Clan: release roughly slated in for GenCon next year.  They wear metal armour, and one of them will have Armour (4).  They also bring their smiths to battle and that will have some form of mechanic associated with it.  Of course there will be a bear at some point, it may even have armour.

I did get to spend a good deal of time chatting with Gordon and Jason of GCT though, and it was nice getting the scoop on what's in the future.  I also got to bounce some ideas off them, which were well received but I think they're things for the fairly distant future.  A common player discussion point was whether there was so much errata now that a new edition of Bushido would be on the table, so I think that's been added to the GCT list of Things To Do.