Just to clarify, so if I tell my Defender crowdsurf over one of my units that is adjacent to it, the Defender will only be able to use one out of its two movement points in this turn? (Because as it is now, your crowdsurfing would count as 1 MP, and you could then click the Defender to move 1 additional space)
@oneadamleft that is pretty much exactly how I won our last game! Sorry to find out it’s all a bug!
The crowdsurf would be part of his move action, same as moving one space. The defender could continue moving after if he has move points left over. His move would be considered complete when you perform another action (use an ability, tap, or move someone else).
So, I would like to continue with another talking point to keep the conversation going and it kinda comes back to @Harti’s initial point about Brutes being the sole center of attention in the early game. It feels like everything at this stage revolves about attacking the enemy brutes and trying to keep yours as safe as possible.
Like in Outwitters, action efficiency is key to winning and Brutes accomplish that in two ways: They are both very action efficient in taking enemies out (e.g. unboosted Soldiers/Motivators in one action) and force the opponent to spend many actions to take them out.
The following attack combinations take out an unshielded Brute (8HP), not accounting for later abilities like Inspire and Hard Surf:
- Brute + Brute
- Brute + Soldier MultiSlash (MS)
- Brute + 2 power attack (2pa) + 2pa
- Brute + Motivator Shout + same Brute (starting from 2VP)
- Brute + Motivator Intimidate + 2pa
- Soldier MS + Soldier MS + Soldier MS
- Soldier MS + Soldier MS + 2pa
multiple 4 action combinations
- Intimidate + MS + Intimidate + MS
- MS + 2pa + Intimidate + 2pa
- 2pa + 2pa + 2pa + 2pa
- MS + MS + Shout + MS (>=2VP)
- MS + Shout + MS + 2pa (>=2VP)
- Brute + 2pa + Shout + 2pa (>=2VP)
and for a shielded Brute (10HP):
- Brute + Brute
- Brute + Motivator Shout + same Brute (starting from 2VP)
- Brute + Soldier MS + Soldier MS
- Brute + Soldier MS + 2pa
multiple 4 action combinations
- Brute + Soldier + Shout + Soldier (>=2VP)
- Brute + 2pa + Intimidate + 2pa
- MS + MS + MS + MS
- MS + MS + MS + 2pa
- MS + MS + Intimidate + MS
- MS + MS + 2pa + 2pa
Note, that without using a Brute yourself, there are no 2-action combos to take out an unshielded Brute and there are no 3-action combos to take out a shielded Brute. And again, similar to Outwitters, since stats can only be integer values, changing something by 1 up or down, will have huge effects and the potential to make a unit either useless or completely overpowered.
What about other ways to deal with them that doesn’t involve just taking them out efficiently? Actually, all of the Captain powers seem to be good at dealing with Brutes. Hypnotize makes having a Brute on the field a liability for your other units, the Fire Trap(?) is really good in combination with Soldier’s Push, returning to spawn pool forces the Brute to walk all the way back from the start (which given the length of the games matters a lot), Snowstorm completely prevents Brutes from walking before 8VP and one damage to alle enemies changes the tables above alot! However, all those tools, as well as Inspire, become available far too late to be useful in the Brute vs. Brute competition in the beginning.
All of this might change with other units being introduced to the game, which open up different answers, and maybe this is just a symptom of the unit choices we have at the moment, but for now I feel that there is no alternative to the Brute vs. Brute fights in the early game. I don’t feel I have played enough of the game yet to convincingly say that Brutes need changing, but I have been thinking about two potential changes:
a) Reducing the Brute’s HP to 7. This barely changes what combos can take out an unshielded Brute, but it makes it a bit easier to deal with shielded Brutes.
b) Increase the Brute’s HP even further (maybe 10-12 HP?) but only give one Brute to each player. This embraces the Brute as the ultimate fighting unit, but limits the amount of damage it can do since there is only one.
What do you think?
TL;DR: Brute vs. Brute fights are a necessity right now since that is how the damage numbers are structured. An eye should be kept on this dynamic.
Those two solutions are actually verbatim in my notes right now. I’m so deep in stadium decor I haven’t had a lot of play time with Alex to discuss it, but a 6-7HP brute is likely to happen.
Sounds good, but let’s theorycraft a bit. Does this really tackle the underlying issue?
- Can still only be beat using three actions (or two with Penny’s power), or two if you use a Brute. This is no different from now (the only difference is that you can use a Runner/Defender instead of a Soldier for the second attack).
- If buffed to 9 HP, it can only be taken down by three actions from Soldiers (unlikely to be deployed at the same time), one Brute and two other units, or two Brutes.
- Can be beat using two actions from Soldiers, possibly leading to more interesting and careful loadouts (but also possibly to increased FTA because P2 may have to waive deploying a Brute in the loadout phase while P1 can set up double Brute, Soldier, Defender and just go from there).
- If buffed to 8 HP, it’ll require three attacks from at least two Soldiers, or two attacks if it includes a Brute. I guess this is somewhat fine and fair (because you expend 1 action to buff it in the first place).
All in all, I think 6 HP sounds like a good way to go… it may be required to give the Soldier a better means to attack, or make Motivator’s Intimidate a passive starting at 2-3 VP.
7HP provides a few more unit combinations that can take an armored brute out (the buffed state is where I’m feeling an imbalance). “1 damage attack + Brute + Soldier” and “Brute + any pair of 2 dmg characters” both become a possibility where they weren’t before. The fact that a brute is required in all these combinations is a possible problem, though. The sniper and pacifist both have anti-brute qualities, and we definitely want a no-brute loadout to be competitive.
Without having experienced the Sniper and Pacifist first-hand, it is hard to say whether the reliance on Brutes is just a side effect of the mirrored load-outs we are seeing right now (and that is just the way this particular matchup plays out). Also any change to the Brute’s HP will of course have to consider how much damage the Sniper can deal.
As you both pointed out, 7HP doesn’t actually change much for the unbuffed Brute, but makes taking out buffed Brutes a bit less convoluted.
While 6 HP certainly eliminates the need for Brutes to take out other Brutes efficiently, it just feels very weak all of a sudden.
The point about the Motivator is actually a really good one. It feels like Intimidate is only useful in some edge cases (again, with Penny’s power it opens up some interesting possibilities), but would be so much better if it was passive and would help immensely with taking out Brutes. However, the Motivator is such an essential part of the mid-game right now, that I don’t know if it needs any further help. Also, you would almost never open up with a Motivator right now and it seems like weird design to have a unit with no abilites at 0 VP.
So after playing with the balance changes a bit, I feel that Brutes feel somewhat clunky now - which is generally a good thing compared to the nightmare they used to be.
Now if the enemy knows how to use a Defender’s ability I’d even go so far as to say Brutes are in kind of a bad spot now. Shielded Soldiers (Outwitters, anyone?) are melting through my Brutes and they can’t fight back efficiently. Is upping Super Melee to 6 damage an option?
Good to see my triple soldier strategy is leaving such an impression
The balance change certainly changed a lot and I think it is overall much better now - the dynamic is so different, I have problems imagening how we ever considered the 1 AP Brute Melee to be an okay thing to have in the game!
I agree that Brutes seem to be much less relevant, but I still find them useful. Even with the clunkiness at least one of them consistently gets deployed as an opener for both players. I think upping super Melee to 6 damage is probably going too far - the fact that taking out Defenders is a significant investment is a very important dynamic imho (and whether or not Defenders are still around at end game makes a huge difference because of the wall ability).
I agree though, that Soldiers right now seem the crucial unit to kill/keep alive as they have the undisputed highest damage output per action point (notice: the thing that the Brute previously had) - at least until Runners with Hard Surf show up. (Hard Surf is such a cool ability - damage without using AP!)
Another side effect of the Brute’s melee costing 2 action points is that I find myself using the Motivator’s shout much less, but I think it is still useful in some edge cases.
Edit/Followup: Come to think of it, the Motivator’s Inspire significantly reduces the value of enemy Soldiers while alive, while previously the Brute stayed the best unit even against Inspire.
Oh, did my Motivator placement hinder you that one turn?
So with the start of Apex Cup I probably got more games in last week than I did in the entire time before. Overall I think the game feels very good right now and strategies seem very diverse, especially playing against different people.
I see all 5 units utilized in most of the games. Even some previously under-utilized abilities seem quite ok right now:
The Motivator’s Intimidate is still a weak option for generating damage, but since the overall damage per action point is much lower than before, it is an acceptable backup option for taking something out.
The Brute’s Toss (is that what it is called?) is also a much more attractive option now it doesn’t have to compete with dealing 5 damage. It might also be that players have just gotten better at positioning and paying 1 AP to break the movement rules is worth more now?
The only ability I’m a bit worried right now is the Motivator’s Shout, as the combo of shouting at a Brute to get two 5 damage attacks is gone. There are some edge cases where it is useful though and I wouldn’t know how to change it. And besides, it fits the Motivator very well.
One thing I like in particular about the direction Hex Gambit is going, is that damaging units without taking them out seems quite useful, unlike in Outwitters, where you almost never should commit to an attack unless you completely kill a unit. Especially the fact that the Soldier’s abilities can hit multiple targets, seems to naturally make sure that there will be units with different amounts of HP on the board, which changes up the damage calculations a lot.
Coming back to Harti’s point about the Soldier/Brute balance, I’m still not sure anything needs to change right now, but if something were to change, I would prefer reducing the VP requirement for the Motivator’s Inspire rather than upping the Brute’s damage.