Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Past and Present of The Other Side: Moving on from the stumbles during launch

            A couple of weeks ago, I went to Indianapolis to attend Gencon. I recommend it highly. It’s a good place to meet interesting humans and play games you would never have heard of otherwise. I can’t recommend it enough to those of you who’ve never had a chance to attend.

Also, sometimes there are nerdy burlesque shows. If you're interested in that sort of thing.

            The first day of the convention was The Other Side’s Champion of Earth tournament (or something like that. I can’t be bothered to hunt down the title.) It was a two-commander tournament, which I haven’t had a chance to play in before. There was a pretty clear choice for who to bring for leaders of my King’s Empire, as Kassa and Margaret are head and shoulders (or used to be. More on that later) above Charles. The rest of the lists were going to stay fairly set for most of the games (having a limited model pool will do that). Two squads of Royal Rifle Corps are standard issue. If I have Kassa then I will have the King’s Hand (plus he’s pretty good as an anchor point.) And I’ve seen all kinds of people speaking highly of the South Wales Borderers, so they were going to be standard as screener units and to provide some melee punch. I painted the Field Intelligence Corps squad to use in Set Traps. I have a pair of Motor Scouts for objective running, but they have to get bumped out during Pitched Assault, as there aren’t that many objectives to run and they give up 2 VPs when they die. And I have Infiltrators for…various purposes. They’re probably one of the strangest squads in the game, in that they have absolutely no business being as important to the outcome of games as they are. On paper they’re…well, paper-thin. They can’t shoot for beans. Their armor is trash. And yet, somehow, they always find themselves right in the middle of the most important parts of the game every time. It’s bizarre.

            Anyways, I got in 3 games with the other three Allegiances over the course of the tournament, which was pretty cool. Round one was played against Steven’s Gibbering Hordes in Scavenge. It wasn’t as bad of a match as the last time we played at Adepticon, but Hordes are squishy and so it’s easier to get my guys to Glory by wiping out fireteams from his feeder squads. He got caught out in the open with his Alpha Crawler early, who I managed to take down. Things got a little exciting when Horomatangi suddenly appeared in my deployment zone right behind my gunline, but the Hand managed to put enough of a scare into Steven that he had to pull him back. I took that one down with a Crushing Victory, and I was well on my way.

            Next round put me up against Phiasco’s Abysinnians in Pitched Assault. Both of us were looking to rely on shooting and avoiding combat, so we spent much of the first turn…not fighting each other. I got out to an early VP lead, which was kind of a double-edged sword as the Tactics discount paired with the Lord of Steel meant Jon could buy his whole tactics deck on, like, turn 2 or 3. And that sucked. He attempted to overcome the deficit by throwing one of his bikers into my line and suiciding him with Detonate Soulstone. This is usually quite devastating, but by circumstance he ended up not clearing whole fireteams efficiently with the blast (though he took several chunks out of many of them) and discovered that the scenario punishes you for sacrificing your own models, particularly ones like the bikers that are worth 2 VP when they die. However, Jon played well the rest of the way and was closing the gap up at the end of the game. I ended up winning, but only just and I don’t really care for how the game was going at that point anyways. He moved his Lord of Steel to claim one of the objectives and I started activating Margaret Belle to flip it back before he’d decided he was done, so he moved the Lord of Steel into the center of the marker instead of the side to prevent it. Then I misunderstood when the round ended…it was a shit show. I wasn’t happy with how I played it. I’ll do better next time hopefully, but I’ve got to find something to do with Electrocutioners with Experimental Armor. Every shot I put on them just bounced off. If anybody has some suggestions, I’ll take them.

I still protest that these Cultists are far too cheerily painted.

            Last round I played a Burning Man army that was very well constructed and executed. I think. I honestly haven’t played them enough to know for sure. I mean, it wasn’t 10 Rhinos so how good could it be, right? We were playing Set Traps, so now was the time for the Field Intel Corps. They managed to get to glory and pick up a few points in the late turns, but were otherwise unimpressive. We called this game for time at the end of 3 or 4, and I had been playing from behind from the start (unsurprising, as Cult excels in this Operation). The real damage was done with the Cult Stratagem that lets them interact without spending a Tactics token, as it dropped on Turn 2 and catapulted them to a massive lead (and countered my use of Capture the Flag to swap one of his markers to score for my team.) Things were flipping the right way score-wise at the end of the game, but I was starting to get overwhelmed on the combat front. I don’t know if I could have saved it if we’d played to the end, but I think I could at least have made it closer and I would have been excited to see how it turned out. In any case, I lost but had a good time playing, which I’m fine with.
            I ended up taking 2nd in the tournament, with Phiasco winning and the Cult player in Third, because ToS scoring is weird. I really didn’t care for that, and hopefully they’ll fix it in the next version of the tournament rules. If you go undefeated (as the Cult player did) you should win the tournament, regardless of the VP situation. But I got in 3 more games of KE, found out that I’m not as in love with the Borderers as I thought I would be (they did very little in the tournament) and learned some things to hopefully play better next time.

Also, I’ve reached the end of my patience with something, and I need to get it off of my chest. I’m over people telling me that they don’t play this game because of how the Kickstarter turned out.

Like, I get it. It sucked. It was slow. They didn’t meet their deadlines. The models showed up with bent gun barrels. Sometimes you got a Horomatangi instead of a King’s Hand. Things went poorly. I get it. But for christ’s sake, all of the models from Wave 1 are out now. You can get them if you want them badly enough (I know some of the distributor stuff isn’t fixed yet and who knows about international shipping, but you can find them online if you want them.) The rules set is pretty tight outside of some model balance problems, and an errata document has now been released to fix the major problems. rumors abound that a balance errata is coming soon to correct some of the problems. And the game is effing fun. Like, a lot of fun. I don’t care for army scale games generally, but I like this one because it plays more like a skirmisher like Malifaux. In fact, it’s kind of the best of both worlds for army and skirmish. You can play it fast. The armies are very, very, different in play style, so you should be able to find one you want (hell, the three commanders from the Hordes give you three very different play styles all on their own). If you want more complexity, the Cult will give you plenty of headaches as you try to puzzle out what the best move is on each turn (“If I use Adeodatos to drop my Breachling here, it’ll appear next to my Stalking portals there and then immediately teleport again, landing in the enemy’s formation and exploding to blast half of them to hell in one activation. Or I could just send a rhino in there I guess.” If, like me, you sometimes appreciate not having to give yourself a brain hemorrhage every turn, King’s Empire are effective without being as complicated. But still, no matter how many times I hear people tell me the models look cool, the rules sound good, the game looks awesome, still I hear “yeah but nobody plays it around my area, and the Kickstarter really put a bad taste in my mouth, so…”


The game won’t grow if people can’t move on from this. You want to have people in your area that play? You gotta recruit them! The game isn’t gonna build itself, and the more people cling to this negativity, the harder that’s gonna be. Grrrr. The game stumbled out of the gate. It’s time for the people who don’t want to play the game to move on, and those of us who like it to step up and promote it. Cuz the game’s gonna flounder if we don’t give it a push. So let’s push this thing for all it’s worth, ok?

*end rant*

            Anyways, after the convention ended, a new errata document came out addressing the balance problems the game has had with some of its models after release. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

-Kassa doesn’t get to draw as many cards anymore. She draws one card from her spare parts ability when an asset flips to disabled, and then draws another when one flips to repaired. So, essentially, it cuts her card draw in half. Probably the way it was supposed to work in the first place. Makes me sad, but needed to happen. Also, emergency repairs and its trigger specifies that you’re to flip disabled assets, which means she can’t start the card draw chain on her own. So, this will make buying Overwatch on turn 1 and then filling my hand up with Kassa no longer an option.
-Margaret now only teleports 8” unless she spends a tactics token. That kinda sucks, but I think she’ll still work the way I was using her anyways. It just reduces her ability to cross the board in one turn.
-The artillery team gets to shoot without line of sight now, which it should have had in the first place. Heavy shelling now does need Line of Sight for…reasons. I guess. Also when it’s in Glory it has a crow trigger on the main gun to create a 120mm marker of hazardous terrain. Cool, but it’s gotta get to glory in the first place, which is tricky as they still have an AV of 3 v. Df. We’ll see, but having no Line of Sight requirement on the main gun at least gives this a chance of being useful.
-No double dipping on tactics tokens with the Keep Calm and Carry On stratagem. That seems like a change to working as intended rather than as written, so fine.

- The Mechanized Infantry’s increasing AV ability only counts for the target you were shooting at. If I’m interpreting it correctly, that means just the fireteam you’re shooting at, not the whole sqad. If I’m wrong about that let me know.

-No more placing a portal marker in your opponent’s deployment zone with The Approaching Convergence. Would have been nice in a certain game I played recently.
-The rhinos got nerfed, which we all saw coming. Fire Nova only goes out 4” instead of 6, and Consumed by Magic now reduces the value of non-Tomes by 5 rather than just counting them as 0. Which is good. They needed it bad. I hope it’s enough to stop them from being so whacky (and stop people from bitching about them.)

Gibbering Hordes got the most changes, which is appropriate. They needed the help.

-First, non-commanders that get eaten by the Horde’s abilities don’t count for scoring anymore. This is a good thing, as they are now playable in Pitched Assault.
-Stuff you bring back with Endless Numbers gets a Reinforcement token to give them some increased resilience. Shoot those guys down quick before they get a chance to reinforce, or get out of their way.
-Heavy Rains got the same treatment as the Burning Man portals asset, so no putting a Tide Pool in the enemy’s deployment zone and having Horomatangi pop out of it and eat my fine British Soldiers, Steven.
-Shark Tooth Necklace now lets you add suits in addition to a plus flip for attacks, so beware the Frenzy.
-It’s not all good news. Devouring Eel Regeneration ability now reduces damage by 1 for each token you discard, rather than auto reducing damage to 0. Probably a good thing, as the eels were right with the Rhino in terms of unkillability.
-Relics of Ancient Malifaux is limited to once per activation. I’m sure there was an exploit of some kind to do it over and over again that this is fixing.

            There’s nothing in here I disagree with, really. I didn’t think Margaret’s change was absolutely necessary, but you can always spend the tactics token to do like you used to. I wish they would have boosted Charles rather than nerfing the other two, but what’re you gonna do? Lob artillery shells, I guess. The artillery team costs 3 scrip, so I guess they may be worth at least trying out now. The Burning Man rhinos needed to happen, and the Hordes needed boosting. All of this is fine. I guess Abyssinia was basically perfect and balanced, so bully for them. In any case, the balance has now been addressed. 10 Rhino lists are not going to be a thing anymore, hopefully. Hordes are playable (they always were, but I’m talking to the trolls in the comment threads now.) So, if you’re reading this and you were thinking about giving the game a try, I encourage you to do it. If you were going to sell off your stuff, maybe give it a second chance. And if you’re still playing ToS, good for you. Now let’s get out there and help the game grow. I like it a lot, and I don’t want to see it fail.

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