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Subject: Fixing Issues Part 2: Unit Balance rss

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Eric Pietrocupo
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Now that we probably played much more games of SC than before and that my solo variant allow to play even more often, I was thinking if there was a few tweaks that we could do to make the game more balanced while keeping the same kind of gameplay.

This thread focus on unit balance. After playing a lot of games with protoss, I have realized that some technology cards or units are simply worthless. Now the other thread that propose change to the assist units might solve some of the issues with assist ability.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/13545890#13545890

For now, I'll speak about protoss, because I know them better, but I want to get feedback from other players about other races. I know that starcraft is a very unflexible game, so the changes needs to be minimal. The way I intended to fix units would be to use translucent labels on the cards to add abilities. This way, it would not be too ugly. I intend to keep the information on the dashboard to stay the same.

Now Lets Talk protoss.

The second most useless unit is the carrier, the first being the corsair. The problem with carriers, is that they are simply strong attack units and increase carrier capacity simply raise that. But most of the time, it's not worth the effort to build them because you could use scouts that can target the same units, that are lower in the tech tree and that are cheaper to produce and maintain.

The easiest way to fix this would be to power up the increased carrier capacity cards. My first idea would be like reavers, is that they add ground/flying splash damage (no collateral). Makes sense because a carrier should be able to attack multiple units. Else giving a support bonus of somekind to other skirmish could be another solution.

The corsair is not very useful because they can only attack air units. For 1 resources more, you could build a scout that attacks both. If the corsair cost 1 resources less, now it might be wroth it. Valkyries has the advantage of having flying splash damage, which counter their effect of attacking only in air. Finally, the "Disruptive web" tech is also useless, because if prevent ground units from attacking, but corsair cannot attack ground itself, so why would it attack ground units anyway. It could be more useful if used to support any skirmish like proposed in the other thread. Else adding flying splash damage to corsair cards could be the solution. It would make them work like valkyrie and Devourer.

Another problem that all protoss units have is that they cannot take advantage of the support system since they have less units in play than the opposing players. So units will always fight alone. Either support should be used in a different way, or either prices should be reduced so that their number of units matches the nb of units of other players. Still, there might be lacking of miniatures, but that could rebalance things up (cheaper but limited). The biggest problem is that it would change the dash board.

Another thing that came into my mind for "Observers". Since we are planning resources in advance, it might not always be possible to plan ahead that you need to keep aside 1 gas to use observers. My idea would be to pay in advance the spendings. For example, you could collect 1 gas with any action to place a gas token on the observer card giving you 1 charge any time you need it. So you could plan recharging your card during your resources planification. Cards from other faction with similar use could do the same.

Else if the new way to use assist is used, it should fix most issues with the other protoss tech cards.

Quick toughts on other races:

Yamato gun: I seriously think they should have "colateral damage" since this unit should be a base buster.

Any suggestions and comments are welcomed.



 
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Aurélien Defossez
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I didn't play the game enough to talk about balance, but your arguments seem fair enough.

larienna wrote:
Another thing that came into my mind for "Observers". Since we are planning resources in advance, it might not always be possible to plan ahead that you need to keep aside 1 gas to use observers. My idea would be to pay in advance the spendings. For example, you could collect 1 gas with any action to place a gas token on the observer card giving you 1 charge any time you need it. So you could plan recharging your card during your resources planification. Cards from other faction with similar use could do the same.

This is a great idea, and I think I'm gonna apply it for my next game.

Other than that, I'm all ears to get balancing ideas, but one think I don't like in games is to have to reprint cards or change a card's content. Changing a unit cost can be done, because we can add an overlay, but adding splash damages on a card is less easy without any rewriting. Players would have to remember the change and it'll be just a mess.
 
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Guido Gloor
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Collateral damage in general should have been applied to a card or two of the base game. It doesn't make sense to have nukes that don't do collateral damage.
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Quote:
Other than that, I'm all ears to get balancing ideas, but one think I don't like in games is to have to reprint cards or change a card's content. Changing a unit cost can be done, because we can add an overlay, but adding splash damages on a card is less easy without any rewriting. Players would have to remember the change and it'll be just a mess.


I would be thinking other wise. If you add stuff without replacing/removing rules, Print on some translucent labels and it will appear as an extra line of text. If you cards are sleeved, it should not disturb the shuffling. In the end it should look very subtle. I never tried it but it looks achievable.

While changing cost requires re-labelling over the current values.
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Quote:
Collateral damage in general should have been applied to a card or two of the base game. It doesn't make sense to have nukes that don't do collateral damage.


I did not realized that.
 
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To say that Carrier is useless, you would have to say the same about Battlecruiser, which has exactly the same standard Combat cards. However, Carrier shares them with units which are more rarely combined with - Reaver and Archon - while Scouts share cards with such useful and more often seen units like Dragoon and Corsair. So that by resigning of Carrier you'll make even 4 of your 20 Combat cards useless. And that is mostly not an option, you need to utilize a deck as well as possible.

A real problem is that air-focused Protoss simply cannot hold their own against air-focused Terran. The reasons are Valkyrie and Science Vessel. Flying Splash eats resources invested in fleet while EMP Shockwave neutralizes most dangerous countermeasures like Archons and Psionic Storm. Even Dark Archon's Feedback won't work because it will be canceled every time.

For now the only reasonable option I could give a try is a combination of Dragoons and Corsairs which:
- uses non-shared standard Combat cards and few reinforcement cards
- is cost-effective comparing to other options

In fact, Corsairs are best if used against air-focused players. They can capture and defend air-only areas with lowest cost possible. If you decided to use Carriers, you shouldn't skip Corsairs too because sooner or later the enemy will deploy own flying units against them. Against ground units they may also help with their Disruptive Web.

It is true that Protoss units rarely use support but it is compensated by higher attack and health values of units. Those of course won't help if you're a defender, because you'll be outnumbered by cheaper units. That's one more reason to play aggressively at all times; defending-only Protoss is a dead Protoss. If you capture enemy areas one by one, they won't build enough units to deal with your stronger units.


If anything could be changed in favor for Protoss fleet, I'd do the following things:
- make Feedback immune to EMP Shockwave if Dark Archon is on attacking side: this would make Archons profitable at all against Terrans,
- limit Flying Splash Damage of Valkyrie in a following way: This splash damage cannot destroy a Carrier, Guardian, Devourer or Battlecruiser unit. I'm not sure if Zerg units should be included. On the other hand, Science Vessel can add its Irradiate Ground/Flying SD to it. With such limit, Valkyrie can still destroy 3 types of units for each race by its own Flying SD. With +2 support and high attack values it should still be very useful.


Regarding other suggestions:

Observers: your idea is quite good, but IMO it should not be implemented, comparing it e.g. with Terran Scanner Sweep, which has to be researched again every time it was used and you can't have two such cards simultaneously. Storing resources on this card can make things too easy.

Yamato Gun with Collateral Damage: Obsolete and unfounded. It can be used on single target and once per a fairly long time. Besides, Mengsk can already do Collateral Damage with Battlecruiser and even without that tech, if only he chooses right leadership card.

Mind Control: It definitely should be fixed because enemy can avoid it simply by playing lowest available minor health value card - unit has to survive the skirmish to be stolen. So that this card should use additional phrase: Both you and your opponent have a final attack value of 0 in this skirmish. Unfortunately, you can't use Mind Control combined with Stasis Cell of Arbiter, which would give the same result. However, Mind Control itself is so expensive that you should have it guaranteed. Besides, the way that ability works practically excluded own losses in an original game so that it should be kept. Otherwise, it should be rewritten like the following: You have a final attack value of 0 in this skirmish. Your opponent uses minor attack value. Second sentence is of course optional.
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Quote:
To say that Carrier is useless, you would have to say the same about Battlecruiser, which has exactly the same standard Combat cards.


partially true, terran still have more units on the board allowing them to use the BC as support if they have no cards in hand.

Thematically, it makes more sense that carrier can attack multiple units since they have fighters spread around. The only way to do that in the current rules is with splash damage. Another idea could be that they add support value to other skirmish.

Quote:
So that by resigning of Carrier you'll make even 4 of your 20 Combat cards useless.


This is why I suggested on the other thread to use golden research order to remove a card from your deck.

Quote:
A real problem is that air-focused Protoss simply cannot hold their own against air-focused Terran.


Never have a chance to experience that.

Quote:
In fact, Corsairs are best if used against air-focused players. They can capture and defend air-only areas with lowest cost possible. If you decided to use Carriers, you shouldn't skip Corsairs too because sooner or later the enemy will deploy own flying units against them. Against ground units they may also help with their Disruptive Web.


I have rarely seen air focused player, but I agree that for air-only areas, corsair could be interesting, but I found scout way more versatile.

Quote:
limit Flying Splash Damage of Valkyrie in a following way


In fact I find the flying attack only unit pretty weak unless they have splash damage or something else to compensate. I was looking for corsair to have splash damage to fix this. Else using disruptive web in other skirmish like suggested in my first thread could make the tech useful.

Quote:
That's one more reason to play aggressively at all times; defending-only Protoss is a dead Protoss.


I might be true, but the limited nb of units makes the players feel defenseless and has a tendency to camp. This is why I suggest that experimented players use protoss, else they camp all game long tech-ing.

Quote:
Observers: your idea is quite good, but IMO it should not be implemented, comparing it e.g. with Terran Scanner Sweep, which has to be researched again every time it was used and you can't have two such cards simultaneously. Storing resources on this card can make things too easy.


It's just to make the accounting easier. I don't see how game breaking it could be since resources on the card are like dead resources that cannot be used for anything else.

Quote:
It definitely should be fixed because enemy can avoid it simply by playing lowest available minor health value card


Never had a chance to use dark archon for the reasons explained in the first thread. But I can see your point, there might be something there to fix

I made a lot of protoss suggestions so far because that is the race I played most, but are there other issues with other races? I doubt they are all perfect except protoss.
 
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larienna wrote:
partially true, terran still have more units on the board allowing them to use the BC as support if they have no cards in hand.

Thematically, it makes more sense that carrier can attack multiple units since they have fighters spread around. The only way to do that in the current rules is with splash damage. Another idea could be that they add support value to other skirmish.

Cost and a number of Protoss units don't exclude using Carriers as a support at all. But for that you have to be an attacker.

Carriers never could either deal Splash Damage or attack multiple targets at all. The only side effect of using them in numbers was a swarm of Interceptors covering the screen and causing difficulties with unit management.

I really don't see a single reason to upgrade Carriers at any way. The only drawback of Protoss flying units is a lack of Flying Splash Damage without support Combat cards. If any Protoss unit should receive it, that would be a Corsair. But considering its cost, it could be too powerful buff for it.

Perhaps adding Flying SD to a single card (instead of two such cards like those for Devourer and Valkyrie) would be enough to make that balanced. Similar thing has been done to Vulture, which has single Ground SD card even without Spider Mines. IMO it should be card no. 20 with 8/6 values, other two have 7/7 and 8/8 vs flying units.

Other thing worth considering, even better than my suggestion of limiting Splash Damage, is described here (click).

larienna wrote:
It's just to make the accounting easier. I don't see how game breaking it could be since resources on the card are like dead resources that cannot be used for anything else.

If that's the reason for it, just remove unused tokens at the start of each Regrouping Phase, which will exclude a possibility of accumulating resources for further rounds.

Regarding my suggestion of Mind Control, it shouldn't reduce attack values if unit is immune to it, of course.

The other Protoss card which could be improved: Hallucination. For now it cancels enemy normal Combat card whatever it is, so that opponent can guess when you would like to use it and simply play a weaker card to discard it later. While it's an interesting card which represents well a situation known from the original game (you could guess which units are illusions), that risk makes it rarely worth of resources and effort. The player using that tech could have an option to decide if he want to cancel used card while skirmish is resolved and cards are just revealed.

Well, excluding issues mentioned above, I don't see a need to change anything for other units and races. They aren't supposed to be 'perfect' and still you do have means to counter every tactic your opponent could use. The things I could else remind here come mostly from a wishful thinking about existing rules.
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Eric Pietrocupo
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The limited splash damage for corsair would be interesting. I wasthinking on doing it on all cards, but nothing really force to do it. So 1 or 2 cards could be nice.

Quote:
For now it cancels enemy normal Combat card whatever it is, so that opponent can guess when you would like to use it and simply play a weaker card to discard it later.


With the option of using assist cards in any skirmish, that would be solved because the player will not know which skirmish will be hallucinations.
 
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Oscar Korz
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cyb3k wrote:
The other Protoss card which could be improved: Hallucination. For now it cancels enemy normal Combat card whatever it is, so that opponent can guess when you would like to use it and simply play a weaker card to discard it later. While it's an interesting card which represents well a situation known from the original game (you could guess which units are illusions), that risk makes it rarely worth of resources and effort. The player using that tech could have an option to decide if he want to cancel used card while skirmish is resolved and cards are just revealed.


This is not a very good strategy if the Protoss player has also researched Psionic Storm, which my group pretty much always does when they are building High Templars. You would be risking another unit (due to PS's splash damage) in hopes that you will get to replace your combat card.

There's also the possibility that it could be the Any +1 health reinforcement card.
 
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Calixtus Ashley Wee
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Hallucination has been used to great and clever effect by me before, summarily allowing me to win the battle against an Ultralisk that was forced to use the minor values of a card, and would otherwise have defeated me, since Psionic Storm was insufficient to bring it down.
 
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