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Subject: Should Ork combat card "Sea of Green" be nerfed? rss

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Alex B
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The last couple of games, Sea of Green (above) has been a perennial favorite (for the Ork player)and groan-inducing play (for everyone else). Early game, it's a great card, because in small battles (one or two units), an extra reinforcement almost always triggers the second half of the card ability. On the attack, the card is pretty much an automatic first round play (again, in small battles), with no counter possible (except rolling more eagles).

Our games tend to be aggressive and short, so lots of small battles are common. The card doesn't seem radically overpowered, but it does seem better than many tier-0 upgrade cards, because it has 2 icons and no conditions for its ability to trigger.

A possible change I considered was making the second half (the rout effect) trigger on Nobz (Boyz wouldn't work, since the reinforcement token would always meet the condition). But maybe it's not a big deal - maybe it's just an annoying card, and everyone has to learn to live with it. What say you?
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Craig Rebbechi
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I've found the card was incredibly OP, but we were also playing re-inforcement tokens wrong (adding dice to the combat) so once we got that cleared up we were fine.

Apart from the routing, it simply adds another meat shield to the fight, which seems pretty thematic to me when it comes to orks.
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Andy Day

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I don't know If it's OP. but it's annoying to see the card in every. Single. Battle. Yet orcs don't always win.

This post is funny because Sea or Green has triggered my ire for the entire FS combat system. You go through the whole ritual of secretly drawing cards and secretly picking them at the same time... Yet when you know EXACTLY what card your foe will pick, you cannot really do anything about it. The Ork player doesn't fret about what card might smite his SoG play. Because nothing they play can really trump the Ork card.

So SoG has showed me that the game isn't a cat and mouse strategy game like Kemet or A Game of Thrones. The cards don't mitigate luck. They magnify it. Because the player who draws the right combination of cards and rolls the right combination on the dice wins.
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Joshua Schutte
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The Wyrd Boyz card is even worse. Orc have some of the best cards for early combat. I think they fall off at the 3 city level though. I think the game is so complicated/long it's close to balanced as I've seen everything win one way or another. With out detailed logs of plays and wins everything else is just conjecture.
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Genestealer Patriarch
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Biker Nobz is more of an automatic choice for Orks in our games. The reinforcement from SoG is handy, but generally the Orks don't tend to have more unrouted units. If they do, they are likely to be winning anyway. And the opponent will almost always spend the aquila if they have one, since the unit is more valuable.
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Dan Heck
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I don't see why this card is a big problem in particular. Meganobz is often a better turn-1 play I think...even without any Nobz. Orks are probably winning a lot of early fights because that is one of their key strategic strengths, which are balanced strategically in other ways...not because of this card.

To break it down, this card gives you a gun and a shield, a reinforcement token which is conditionally worth 1 morale or 1-2 "shield tokens" as it absorbs a hit, and a rather conditional morale swing from 0-2 (assuming it triggers, you aren't up to the point of having die limits and your opponent doesn't have a surplus unrouting effect, the units aren't already routed when this triggers, etc.) Best case scenario, it's a decent wide-spectrum card with a morale lean: gun, shield and three morale (2 from routing a 2-morale unit, and 1 by giving you another unrouted Ork Boyz). So 5 symbols, tilted toward morale. On average, I think it's probably a gun, shield and a morale...although it can end up worse if your reinforcement gets routed, and it can also end up better.

I'd add that you probably want to play shields or maybe guns early on, since they persist throughout the fight...morale only really matters at the end, and people can still play cards to counter your routing effect if you don't play it last. So as a conditional morale-leaning card that uses routing, SOG is usually better to hold until late in the fight.

To look at this another way, on average, SOG is often just Veteran Scouts..but a bit less reliable. Taking more conditional effects into account, Veteran Scouts gives you a tactical retreat option and 0-3 combat tokens of your choice. SOG conditionally nets you 0-3 morale, or 0-2 morale and the equivalent of 1-2 shield tokens if you use your reinforcement as a meat shield. Personally, I like Veteran Scouts more...I think tactical retreats can be really useful for moving units around for free, and I'd often rather choose between guns and shield tokens than have a reinforcement token. But they're probably comparable in power.

Or compare SOG to Wraithguard support: this card reliably gives you a shield and two morale, or lets you try for a shield/gun, and it also reliably lets you reshuffle two dice. If you're not going for a shooting victory (a decision that you control, and usually a good one), that reshuffle effectively nets you up to two free shields. Plus, if its secondary conditions are all met (which is pretty unlikely), it might also net you one more morale. (The point here is that the Wraithguard conditional effect is really just gravy here.) So Wraithguard support is reliably worth three symbols (and you have some control over the third one). Taking more conditional effects into account, it can easily be worth 4-5 symbols, and it might be worth up to 6 in just the right early-game circumstances (you have a routed unit, a morale die and a wraithguard). Overall, I think Wraithguard support is generally a better card. I think it gives you what you want more reliably, gives you more control over what happens, and has a higher potential upside.

When considering how conditional SOG is, I'd note that there are a lot unrouting cards that let you deal with the card's secondary routing effect, and expenditure of reinforcement tokens is likely to settle a lot of early fights anyway. (The player that uses more tokens on that fight is likely to win.) Once that is taken into account, there's also a "win more" element to the card's secondary effect which means that it is often wasted ... if someone is investing more reinforcement tokens in the fight, this card is particularly unlikely to turn things around on the morale front. So you are only really sure to get this effect when you'd win anyway, which means you don't actually benefit from it. (Winning by 1 morale is just as good as winning by 2).

In most cases, I'd much rather play Meganobz first; it usually does a nice job of protecting me while also making my opponent more vulnerable in later rounds. As Orks, you're going to need to rout/kill some units if you want to win on morale. And opening with more shields is usually very helpful...definitely better than opening with morale. Then, if I want a morale card, I'd go with Waaaagh. That's reliably going to do what you want, when you want morale, netting you 4 or 5 morale most of the time, plus throwing in some gun tokens for good measure.

Tl;Dr

Orks are good at early game skirmishes because of Ork boyz. That's probably why they're winning, and that's fine; this is balanced strategically in other ways. Specifically, the other factions generally get a lot more secondary utility out of their combat cards; Orks mainly focus on winning, and get very few secondary benefits. SOG is actually kind of weak, compared to other 0-command cards...and it is probably better as a last round play, not a first round play, anyway.
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Alex B
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Great analysis. But I disagree on a couple of points, notably the comparison with Veteran Scouts. V.Scouts is intensely conditional: you have to roll those eagles, and whatever probability says about the likelihood of that happening, it's not something you can count on in your game plan. SoG auto-fires, even with all routed units.

(In fact, Sea of Green is almost a hard counter to Veteran Scouts when played on attack: if you play V.Scouts against SoG, you have to spend an eagle to prevent a rout, which is the very eagle you need for both of V.Scouts' abilities.)

I also don't think SoG can be thought of strictly in terms of morale; the rout ability is also good, because it isn't keyed to having a specific unit unrouted and it can prevent the opponent from triggering his own card abilities. Worst case (for you), they have to spend an eagle, which can really screw up Ultramarines and Chaos (due to having a lot of morale die triggers).

Anyway, good discussion. I'm not sure what I think of it yet. It sure is annoying though (even when you're the one using it - as I did in my last game!).
 
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umbral Aeronaut
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This surprises me as I believe Sea of Green to be the weakest card in the 0-city upgrade tier for the Orks. WAAAAGH! and Meganobz both offer a larger number of permanent combat tokens as well as automatic card abilities that go well above a single reinforcement token (which you will probably be drowning in as the Orks since both sides of your home sector tile have a Reinforcement dominate token on them). In addition, the routing ability on Sea of Green is no stronger then the routing abilities on other faction equivalents, like Mark of Slaanesh and Wraithguard Advance. In fact you could easily make the argument that Sea of Green is a heavily nerfed version of Mark of Slaanesh... just take a second and compare the cards!

I think that what OP and similar posters are experiencing is that even though Sea of Green is weak-ish on paper compared to similar options that other factions get, the Ork ground combat early-game has enough natural advantages (the statline on Ork Boyz, the complimentary strengths of Ork Nobz to support those Boyz, the existing cards in their starting combat deck) that it doesn't even matter that much and the card play is mostly incidental to battle outcomes that are already pretty one-sided before the die roll.

An "even" battle between Ork level-0/1 ground units and another faction's numerically equal force isn't even. What you should probably do is stop trying to fight early-game Orks in evenly matched fights on the ground, unless you are absolutely certain that you have a combat deck advantage. Tech up against the Orks and dominate them in space, or prepare for inevitable disappointment since you'll be playing straight into their natural strengths.
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Paul Dawson
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Sea of Green is a great card for Orks early game. With that card other players will soon know that they risk being routed and defeated when they only have equal numbers. You can rout a unit straight up if they don't roll a morale dice, and that generally means the fight cannot be won from there.

That being said it only has 2 icons, and late game is usually thrown out - Party Wagon is a far superior round one play, so it does have limited usefulness.

I've played a lot against a very good Ork player, and he always takes it first, every game. Just makes it very hard to stop the Ork spread since they get a free reinforcement token every fight, whereas you have a limited pool. You have to pick and choose one spot and hammer them. Don't spread out and try and fight them on all fronts, it plays totally into their hands.
 
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Zenphos Ruby-Eye
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Sea of Green is a very potent card for many reasons. But mainly its versatility in all situations.
It forces your opponents to always bring more units than the orcs have, or use their reinforcement tokens. So drains opponents of their resources.
Great as a defensive card, as it means your actual units can survive fights and retreat as you kill off your reinforcements.
Is worth a massive 3 hit points and 2 morale in space.
And finally if you have Waaagh, well 2 SoGs followed by a big Waaagh is going to put a massive dent in anyone's power armour.

 
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