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Subject: Fan Army - Shadow Team 7 rss

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Dallas Tucker
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I have been thinking about doing an army like this for a while, and finally decided to give it a try. This is totally untested (I just made it this morning). If you have any ideas for improvement, please let me know. I will update this when I work on it more (and no promises as to any timeframes ).

Shadow Team 7 Rules:

HQ - take 2 damage to initiate a battle
Rogue Tiles - When drawn, the opponent of your choice places it on the board and has control of the piece. If a battle is started this way, your turn does not end. Draw a piece to replace the Rogue piece.
Field Medic - The Field Medic may prevent all damage from one attack against the connected unit, and place a damage marker on the Field Medic instead.

Background (I don't know too much about the story of NH, so this may not fit at all)
At a secret base located underground in WV, the US was working on a project to make super soldiers - who could change appearance to blend into any group of people, and who could physically and mentally outperform even the most exceptional humans. The disaster caused the facility to activate some units ahead of schedule, in order to secure supplies for the base, with the goal of making it self sufficient. However, Shadow Team 1 went rogue. The newest team to be activated, Team 7, has the task of hunting down these traitors - they know too much to be allowed to survive. Team 7 has been trained for this purpose, and they must not fail...



Breakdown:

1. Heavy Gunner (1)
2. Netter (1)
3. Pistol Guy (1)
4. Machine Gunner (1)
5. Sniper (2)
6. Close Combat Specialist (3)
7. Light Trooper (4)
8. Heavy Trooper (5)
9. Field Medic (3)
A. Rogue Commander
B. Rogue Tactician
C. Rogue Gunner
D. Rogue Sniper
E. Rogue Short Ranger

1 Push
4 Move
1 Grenade
2 Sniper
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Michał Orzechowski
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It looks pretty strong... But I should test it to make final verdict. Lack of modules and battle tiles looks even more intriguing. I don't know that I fully understood the action of rogue tiles. If i drawn one of them, it's like my opponent tile, and even in battle Rogues hurt my other soldiers? Can't I just discard them?

Ah, can you add mini-wound symbols on the HHQ special abillity? Like on the Steel Police HQ or this guy:
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/190/7stacjarozrywka.jpg...
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Andrew Tullsen
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I had the same initial reaction, but once you realize that you are down 5 tiles, and your opponent is up 5 tiles, that is pretty huge. I think that these are actually quite underpowered.

Once you draw the rogue tiles your opponent places them (and you draw replacements, then you discard) is my understanding.

I would: make one of the rogues "not rogue" and change one of the weaker units to a special action tile that allowed you to change control of one of the rogue tiles.
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Dallas Tucker
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Orzi wrote:
It looks pretty strong... But I should test it to make final verdict. Lack of modules and battle tiles looks even more intriguing. I don't know that I fully understood the action of rogue tiles. If i drawn one of them, it's like my opponent tile, and even in battle Rogues hurt my other soldiers? Can't I just discard them?

Ah, can you add mini-wound symbols on the HHQ special abillity? Like on the Steel Police HQ or this guy:
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/190/7stacjarozrywka.jpg...


As Andrew said, the Rogue tiles are essentially an opponent's tiles. The instant you draw one, your opponent gets to play it, and then you draw a tile to replace it. If a battle happens from them placing a Rogue, you still get your tile draw and your turn.

Thanks for the bit about the Steel Police. I didn't notice that symbol before. I will add it to the image.

Howitzer_120mm wrote:
I had the same initial reaction, but once you realize that you are down 5 tiles, and your opponent is up 5 tiles, that is pretty huge. I think that these are actually quite underpowered.

Once you draw the rogue tiles your opponent places them (and you draw replacements, then you discard) is my understanding.

I would: make one of the rogues "not rogue" and change one of the weaker units to a special action tile that allowed you to change control of one of the rogue tiles.


I have actually waffled back and forth between considering the army under/overpowered as I was designing them and in thinking since then. Because you can battle on any turn (taking 2 damage), you can put out some damage quickly if you drawn some of the higher damage guys. Just one Heavy Trooper will give you a +1 damage advantage per battle for 2 battles (i.e. - if you draw one on your first turn and battle, then do it again on your second turn, you come out two points ahead). Multiple Heavy Troopers could really add significant damage to the enemy.

On the flip side, the Rogue tiles are quite good, and giving the opponent 5 extra units may be too strong.

A tile to change control of a Rogue unit is an interesting idea, and I will look into that when I am testing.

Thanks for the feedback.

EDIT: Here is the HQ image with the damage marker added. Should I put two markers on there, on over the other, to represent two damage, or is one enough as a symbol that you need to take some number of damage to activate the ability? Is the marker about the right size (I am still waiting to get my hands on a physical copy, so I can only compare with internet images)?

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Michał Orzechowski
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I think there should be two markers. Steel Police has one symbol of wound, but they received one damage for using their special abillity. Just to made everything clear

And yeah, instant tiles that bring back the rogue tiles to legitimate owner is a good idea! It could change situation on the battlefield dramatically (and give the opponent an additional problem, "where should I put the rogue, to not interfere when it will be taken over").
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Dallas Tucker
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I was afraid you would say that. Below are two options. Which do you like better, or what would be better than these?


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Michał Orzechowski
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I think the top one looks nicer, but it's just my opinion. Overall I really like the concept of your army - it seems to be pretty original without bringing a tons of unnecessary skills.
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It's always nice to see a new variant army, from a new designer, so thanks for sharing! I do think you should playtest it before going through the effort of creating nice looking tiles with new symbols and everything. In my experience the majority of tiles doesn't survive playtesting.

I do have some initial questions, something for you to think about:

The HQ ability and rogue tiles seem to be the biggest 'new' thing about the army. But they seem to work in opposite directions. Not only would you not want to battle when a rogue tile just got placed, but with so many unit tiles the board will fill up so fast, you wouldn't need the ability to start a battle. Why did you go with this combination?

Similarly, the high number of toughness units and the field medics seems an odd combination.

A third odd combination is the high number of mobile units and move tiles, and the fact that this army will fill the board really quickly. The pushers won't have much room to push, either.

What if you run through your tiles much faster than your opponent, because of the rogue units?

Why are the rogue tiles superpowerful? Aren't you afraid that playing a game with this army becomes a fight of Shadow Team 7 vs. Rogues, regardless of what the other army is?

Why two snipers and a grenade? Don't you think it'll lead to games with little interaction?

What do you want this army to do? At the moment it's extremely powerful, extremely mobile, extremely tough, and has a high number of nets and ranged attacks. What's its focus?

There's a unit that deals 6 ranged damage in one direction, with toughness. And a rotating triple net unit. Is a single unit dominating the game something you want?

Why are your fastest (melee) units the mobile ones? Don't the slow ones and ranged ones need mobility more? Do you expect to use them against the opponent's HQ, for defense, to kill off powerful units and modules, or what?

If I were you, I'd start to think about your HQ ability, and work from there. What does it mean? Mostly, that with few instant action tiles, the board fills up quickly. That means you probably don't want units with toughness, or the board stays full. You probably also want the rogue units for a different army. And you don't want mobile units. You will want ranged units. Perhaps the castling instant action tile instead of moves. Mines and transporter units might be interesting options. You want some heavy hitters, to attack opposing tough units and to be able to deal more damage than you receive with your HQ ability. And so on. You won't be able to imagine and predict all the consequences, that's what playtesting is for.

You could also start with the rogue units idea, and figure out what works well with that. Maybe make tiles that go back to your draw pile, so you don't run out so quickly. Think of a HQ ability that makes use of the extra enemy tiles. Make them very different from your regular units, maybe slow and melee while your other units are fast ranged. Perhaps go heavy on instant action tiles, and skip modules altogether, to make room for the extra rogue tiles.

Figure out what you want the army to do, and make that the focus. Make tiles that add to that theme, and get rid of ones that go against it. Playtest to see what works the way you want it too and what doesn't. Worry about balance and whether it is over- or underpowered later.

Good luck, and have fun! Making your own armies can be a very fun an rewarding experience. Keep us updated!
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Dallas Tucker
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Thanks for your post! I really appreciate all the things you have given me to think about. I will try to answer them tonight, and share my thoughts about the army's design.

EDIT:

Ok, here are my thoughts behind the design.

I started with the idea about having the Rogue units.
I decided that I couldn't put too many in the army, because it would be bad to draw multiple Rogue units. I also didn't want to put too few, because then the army idea is pointless.
In that same vein, I decided to make then super units - it adds to the 'cool' factor. Using the Rogue mechanic allows me to make super units, because I can build in some counters to them that a normal army wouldn't have (if they were just regular units).

I then looked at the starter NH armies, just to get exact numbers of different things (action tiles, units, unique pieces). Because I was giving the opponent 5 extra units, I figured that I shouldn't include too many modules, because I would need extra units to combat them (so I went with 0 modules).

I had designed two or three units when I started thinking about the HQ. Since I wasn't using modules, I didn't want the HQ to be module-like. I thought about Steel Police, and I was also thinking about action tiles, so the idea of being able to initiate a battle with the HQ seemed nice (I originally put its cost at one wound, but I don't think it can reasonably be that low now - it is a powerful ability).

Since the HQ is the battle tile, I could use the 8 action tiles for other things. Since the opponent gets extra units, I figured that putting in two extra instant kill tiles wouldn't be too much. I had originally thought about doing 2 Grenade/1 Sniper, but then I remembered how disappointed I am almost every time I draw the grenade tile as Borgo - it is mostly useless [I will likely cut back on one of these tiles, but I will see how playtesting goes first]. For the five other tiles, I just like the 1 Push/4 Move amounts. I do not like the castling tile very much, so I just included regular move tiles. (After all, I want to enjoy playing with this army ).

So, these ideas left me with 21 units to make. Since the general backstory idea is a special forces-esque unit, I decided to include some snipers, some field medics (which are probably overpowered in their current state), and some shooters. I also wanted some heavy weapons guys, and some close combat guys to round out the team.

When designing the units, I had to keep in mind that I have 0 modules (beside the field medics). This is a big deal. Modules are very good, because they help an army be flexible. If you are fighting against Borgo, the + Initiative tiles become very useful, but less so against Neojungle. Against New York, added damage modules help, while added Initiative module do not do as much.

Because I wanted to keep the number of units high, since my opponent will have an inflated number of units throughout the game, I need to keep the units in this army flexible. This need for flexibility is another reason for the Move tiles. This is also why there are the 3 Initiative, Mobile melee units. This army cannot get to 4 Initiative at all, and a lot of pieces are at 2 Initiative (because making them faster would probably be overpowered), so I needed something to be able to take care of problems flexibly, without being too strong (and maybe they are).

As for some of your questions, I do not think that the board will fill up as quick as you think it will. With the ability to battle whenever it is advantageous, without the loss of a tile, I think that battles will happen more frequently. In fact, I worry that games would be over too fast.

I am concerned about cutting about 2 turns off of the game because of the 5 Rogue tiles. I like your idea of including a unit that returns to the hand.

The 6 power ranged guy was an early design, and I think that he is probably too strong as well. The rotating netter, well, he is strong, but so are the Rogue units, so I think that it shouldn't be too bad.

Anyway, a lot of this is speculation, and I hope to do some testing in the near future, to get some actual results. I just wanted to give some of my thoughts about the design of the army in response to some of your thoughts. I will be pondering the alternate HQ ideas and Rogue ideas you wrote about in your last few paragraphs. Thanks for your input.
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Dallas Tucker
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I was able to test the army out today against each of the first 4 armies. The results:

Borgo 4, S7 2 (Final Battle, Borgo had 5 tiles left)
Outpost 1, S7 0 (Final Battle, Outpost had 2 tiles left)
Hegemony 0, S7 4 (3/5 of the way through the tiles)
Moloch 0, S7 6 (Final Battle, Moloch had 0 tiles left)

The only change so far is to change the Heavy Gunner (3 strength ranged attack in 1 and 0) to a unit with 1 melee + 1 ranged in two adjacent sides, with Int of 2, and a return to hand on death ability. I made the change after the game versus Borgo (I just tossed the Heavy Gunner in the first game because it was overpowered, as I and others had thought).

The first two games were very close, while the second two were not as close as the scores show.

Some observations, lessons, and ideas going forward:

Having the HQ be your only means to battle makes having it get netted an interesting situation.
2 life to start a battle seems pretty balanced, though it is a strong ability indeed. It definitely puts a lot of control over the flow of the game into the S7 player's hands.
The board only filled up two or three times total.
Not being able to get faster than 3 initiative means that every opponent's 3 initiative unit will get a hit in.
The medic was useless in some games, and seemingly unbeatable versus Moloch. I may need to reduce its toughness by one, or reduce the number of medics by 1 (I think that I prefer the latter at the moment).

The S7 HQ probably inflicted 10 damage on itself in each of the games. this shows that the other teams weren't really able to push a ton of damage through directly, but their plays required a response in the form of a battle.

The game against Borgo had a mostly clear board all game. The draws were pretty normal.
The game against Outpost was mostly full all game. Outpost got all 5 Rogues pretty early, but wasn't able to draw enough battle tiles before S7 clawed its way back in the final two or three turns.
The game against Hegemony wavered back and forth, but then S7 took control, and Hegemony had a Move, Battle, Battle draw, and that sealed the game. Only 1 Rogue tile was revealed this game.
Moloch can usually win by turtling, but I think that they probably need to be played aggressively against S7. Moloch did not really stand a chance. I think all 14 damage to the S7 HQ was from choosing to do battles. The Air Strike tile was drawn early, and would have made a huge difference midgame.

I think that I need to reduce the Heavy Trooper number by 2, and add two more tiles - probably weaker ranged units.

The Grenade tile was mostly useless, as I expected, but almost saved the game versus Outpost. I might just drop it. I could add another Rogue unit, and then not reduce the Heavy Trooper amount.

Having a tile to retake a Rogue unit is probably too strong, but I am keeping it in mind.

It gets very interesting near the end of the game, if it is close, because it can be hard for S7 to push the damage through because of the cost of initiating a battle.

The Rogue units cause some complex board situations, which I enjoy. There are a lot of options for both players throughout the games, with interesting decisions on both sides a lot of the time. S7 really caused me to rethink how to play my units. (I have played at least 700 games with the base armies, so I am pretty familiar with their styles, but against S7, things were very different).

As of now, I think the army is somewhat overpowered, but it is not excessive.

I am going to try to test against the expansion armies soon, but probably won't be able to do so tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, and any further comments.
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Interesting! Some things I didn't expect at all; shows you the value of actually playing with an army.

I'm curious, though. Why was the HQ ability used so much in your testing games? I'd expect the superior strategy to be to get an early advantage by battling at an opportune moment, then never use the HQ again, putting the pressure of battling with the opponent. Or failing that, go full defense and use the HQ to steal a win at the end. Giving your opponent 10-14 free damage seems unnecessary. If you're behind in damage output, you don't want to battle, and if you're ahead, you don't need to battle. If you manage to stick a Heavy Trooper, forcing the opponent to waste considerable resources to get rid of it seems more valuable than a 1 point net gain in damage by battling. The low initiative too, and the presence of rogue units, suggests defense over racing for damage. Could you tell us a bit more about the games you played?

Good to hear than you enjoy the complexity of the army. Complexity for complexity's sake is something I'd never ever do; my designs are far more minimalistic and utilitarian. But if your approach works for you, then great! I always enjoy seeing others come up with stuff I never would have considered. It also means you can safely skip half of my thoughts and advice.
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Dallas Tucker
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Well, your advice was solid. I am pretty sure I am going to change the HQ ability, and just focus on the Rogue aspect. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the games didn't feel very much like NH, because there was not too much of a build up of tension in the games. The ability to battle whenever meant that S7 was able to take out pesky units and whatnot right away. The second is that balancing the army will take a lot more work. I would rather just balance the Rogue part, and do another army later centered around the HQ ability, as you suggested.

As far as why I battled so often, it was mostly because I could usually gain board position without losing more than 1 point total (relative to the opponent) in the exchange. Being able to battle on turns 3 and 4 help keep the board clear, and it just continues from there. For example, I felt that I would lose against Borgo if they were allowed to set up a lot of 3 Int and above guys around the board. S7 was ahead until the very last turn, when the Rogue with the three ranged damage was drawn.

I should try to play them defensively, like Moloch, and see what a difference that makes.

I played two games against Borgo with the HQ ability being 'take 1 damage to move a unit', but the ability wasn't very good (I changed all the Move and Push tiles to battle tiles). S7 lost to Borgo by 4, and then by a lot. Both of the games felt more like NH, with the tension of waiting for a battle tile. I just need to find an appropriate HQ ability (so, if anyone has suggestions, I am open). I will probably still test a few games with the Battle ability, and play very defensively, just to see how it feels.

EDIT:
Here is the updated version that I will be working on:


It is streamlined a bit, removing some of the smaller melee and ranged attacks that didn't really make a difference and just crowded the unit images.

I will let you know how it works in playtesting.
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Michael Grankin
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Two ideas for HQ ability

1. Rogues had some implants in them to control their behavior. However, that were old prototypes and they didn't work well. Still, you can spend a lot of energy (harm your HQ) and send a command to Rogue. After that, an effect of Move tile is applied to any Rogue on board (move/rotate). This way you can interfere to some extent with enemy plans about your Rogues, but it is not as powerful as having complete control over them.
I have a feeling this ability will work better as an Action tile, though.

2. Similar to Net of Steel, but applicable only to Rogues. Harm your HQ and disable any Rogue on board (presumably through their sophisticated augmentation). Again, it feels like this will work better through Action tile, replacing one of the Snipers, for example.
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Michael Grankin
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Great idea for the army, but I see no particular reason to keep it within 35 tiles. What's wrong with 35+5 setup since rogues go to your enemy anyway? Hand depletion would be even. This way you can add back modules. Modules = variability and flexibility. With modules you will be able to get rid of that bunch of overpowered units as well.
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Dallas Tucker
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Thanks for your ideas. I am thinking of adding modules back in, because the army was pretty boring with only units. I came up with an idea for modules last night that I like: blank modules. Using the little tokens from Babel 13, you get to choose what the module is when you play it. Sigma 7 will have access to a limited number of the tiles, and I am not sure what the distribution will be (probably 2 of the +1 Initiative, Melee, and Ranged, and 1 of the Double Attack phase).

I am on the fence about making an ability to directly hit the Rogue units, but the idea of a sniper replacement (and the backstory for it) seems good. I will try that out.

As far as 35 tiles goes, it seems appropriate to do it that way. To me, going up to 40 is like adding an extra syllable or two to a line in a haiku. I would like to design an army within the standard restraints of the game. It just means that I need to work on the design to make it not be too fast.

As a secondary reason, I am looking to get the final tiles through
Andrew Tullsen
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, and I think only 35 tiles fit on a page, so it will make it easier to order.
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