Got together with our play testing group last night to try out some of the new Inborn traits and features planned for the Epic Heroes supplement. As most of these traits are still in the early stages of development, it's expected that a lot of them are going to be ironed out or changed as the game develops and grows.
For my play test, I decided to make a 3-man Elite force using my old Confrontation Wolfen as the basis for the models. The main focus of this force is to truly stress test the Brute trait, which has not yet been released for public play testing but we are currently using in closed testing.
Ashiok, Hunt Alpha (Commander), 157 pts
CBT 6, CMD 6, CON 5
Commander, Brute, Marksman 2, Sharpshooter
Bow, Knife, Light Armor, Helmet
Grimgris the Brutal (Veteran), 185 pts
CBT 6, CMD 6, CON 6
Brute, Kung Fu 3, Myrmidon
Throwing Edge, Light Armor, Helmet, Lucky Totem
Brennok, Keeper of Songs (Veteran), 183 pts
CBT 6, CMD 6, CON 6
Brute, Hack and Slash, Myrmidon
Great Cleaver, Knife, Light Armor, Helmet, Lucky Totem
Force Total: 525pts (500 pts + 25 pts for painted model and force theme)
Opposing me was a Horde force of 13 goblins all using the Runt trait, which is available through the Epic Heroes play test traits available at http://www.brinkofbattle.com
. Unfortunately, I do not have the full list for the goblin force, but the average model in the force was CBT 3, CMD 2, CON 3 with most of them armed with either Spears/Shields or Short Bows. The goblins with the Short Bows also had the Dirty Bastard trait, allowing them to fire into melee with friendly models.The Outcome
As I had initially suspected, an Elite force centered around the Brute Inborn Trait is an extremely tough nut to crack. I made it through the entire game without losing a single model while I had taken out over a third of the goblins before they were routed. Here are my observations regarding the play test:
1) The Brute Trait combined with the high stats of my force made them utterly unstoppable. My Commander was Shocked on two separate occasions, but only because he was standing out in the open taking shots from archers. My two melee-focused models each got into the mix with multiple opponents and never even took a scratch, where they consistently dismantled anything that attacked them.
2) The Runt Trait has way too much stacked against it for the benefit it provides. Yes, it allows you to function at CBT Full against ranged attacks that originate from 20" away, but the loss of Hustle or the ability to take Traits that increase your movement means that once you get within that 20", closing the gap is very difficult. Once the goblins were close enough for Runt to no longer be a factor, they never made it anywhere near my Commander.Suggestions
1) Brute may need to be toned down a bit. The combination of +1 to Resistance checks, needing an 8 to Wound, and having to be Shocked three consecutive times makes actually removing a Brute very difficult. I was playing against a novice player, but Joe had similar troubles dealing with Brutes after he built models specifically to handle them.
I think one of the three major benefits provided by Brute needs to be dialed back. Either drop the inclusion of Toughskin, keep Toughskin but move the 8 needed to Wound down to 6 like the Durable trait, or only require two shocks like a normal model.
Oddly, Fearsome didn't have as much of an effect as I expected it to, though most of the close combat was happening right next to the goblin Commander, giving the models involved a boost.
2) Runt needs either be made better or made cheaper. One thing we considered is that the model could always just get a straight +1 to Defense against Ranged Attacks. Something else that occured to me is that they could keep the benefit up to 10" if the movement penalties are to stay.
Also, one suggestion I made when discussing after the game was to make the trait a 0 cost Trait like Craven (also available in the public test rules on the Brink of Battle site) since the benefit is seemingly outweighed by the drawbacks.Other Oddities
Being as we were playing with massive models (brutes) against small models (runts), there were several sizing-oriented questions that came up.
Should Runts be harder for Brutes or other larger models to hit because they are so much smaller?
All the goblin archers had Dirty Bastard - would the randomization change because the goblins in close combat are so much smaller than the wolfen?
Should the Runt or Brute abilities affect Reach or prohibit purchase of certain weapons. For example, should Runts be able to take Long Bows or Pikes?
These are all little issues that don't really affect the gameplay overall, but were still consdierations that came up during play.Further Observations
As I touched on earlier, the other game being played was between a player with an Elite force organization very similar to mine (werewolf models, two brutes) against a Standard force that was designed with the knowledge that the Brute trait would be a factor. The Standard player was unable to down either of the models with the Brute Trait, even with his two heaviest hitters locked in combat with one of them.
We will be meeting up to play again this weekend, where some of the players will be bringing a different selection of forces to see how other Inborn Traits stack up. I personally will be bringing the same force outlined at the beginning of my post to see how Brute continues to perform in the face of other abilities.