Is Like Grapes Better Than Balloons? (edited)

RT Grapes

Edited for clarity.

The test was partially successful, more in the right direction than wrong.  As I wrote about here, we planned on playing a couple of games testing out fixes to the Zentraedi battlepods and commanders. As a recap, the health of all Zentraedi units was increased by one point and the damage to the two most common weapons increased by two points each. While these changes were minor, they had a bigger effect on the game than expected.

Health Bump

Adding one point to Health did not keep the battlepods from exploding in one hit (like grapes as my boy said), but did cause me to consider whether I shot at them one time or multiple times, in case my boy tried to reduce the damage.  This meant that instead of destroying three to four a turn, I destroyed one or two on average.  This allowed my boy more time to maneuver and shoot, which leads to…

Damage Bump

Increasing the damage done by the two most common Zentraedi weapons by two points was a step in the right direction.  Prior to these games when any of my figures took damage I did not care. After all, when I have 15 points of Health losing 4 or 2 points leaves me lots of room.  Now, that 6 points made me pay attention.  Tack on 4 more and I was looking for cover.

Here is the big take away-He lost all of his figures, I lost two, and the other two were one-hit away from being destroyed.  This is a drastic improvement over previous games, where I might lose one figure and the other three were lightly or undamaged. This time each game was challenging and felt closer to balanced than any game prior.

But..

The battlepods still were one hit wonders. However in greater numbers (we played single squad games) the fact that more weapons have to be aimed at each battlepod may be that balance we are looking for.  The bigger issue was command points.  When one side had them and the other side does not (or has a much smaller pool) the balance is shifted into unbalanced again.  Without command points reducing damage is impossible, given that a chance to reduce damage is written into the rules as a balance factor, not being able to reduce damage makes survival harder than it should be.

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5 thoughts on “Is Like Grapes Better Than Balloons? (edited)

  1. Pingback: Robotech RPG Tactics Final Thoughts | Speaking Out on Life

  2. Jason

    I’m still awaiting my copy, so I don’t yet know exactly how command points work, but 1) they seem to be a big part of the game and 2) the Zentradi seem to get them only from the commander. Could a command point fix be had by either adding more command pods or by house-ruling that a Zentradi “sergeant” can also have command points? I’m not sure how army and squad building works, so that might negate this idea.

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    1. Ankoku1331

      According to the rules (pg 13): “Each player gathers a number of command points equal to the number of mecha they currently have on the battlefield, plus the total leadership value of all of their surviving mecha on the battlefield.” Which for a Regult Attack Squad should equal 10 for the mecha plus 4 from leadership for a total of 14 command points. But, according to Life is Cheap (pg 25), which all Regults (Battelpods) have, “Mecha with this ability do not generate any command points toward their player’s command pool when calculating the total number of command points available for his army each turn.” Which means that a Regult Attack Squad, which is considered a core squad, has 5 command points: 1 for the Glaug and 4 from leadership.

      Compare that to a Valkyrie Squadron which gets 6 command points, one per mecha plus 2 from leadership. On the surface, not much of a difference, except those 6 command points only have to cover 4 mecha while the Zentraedi’s 5 command points need to cover 10 mecha. The very first game we played where the Zentraedi got 14 command points still resulted in the Zentraedi losing, but they lasted longer.

      Squad building is picking a card with a pre-selected amount of mecha. Then purchasing any upgrades that you want. Not much to the whole process. Giving the Zentraedi more command points may be a way to balance out the two sides. The Zentraedi would get more chances to save individual mecha, which could translate into more attempts to eliminate the UEDF side. Once you get your set, and if you run into the same issues we did, give that a try and let me know.

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  3. Jason

    Finally got a game in tonight, and I would say that I think the Zentradi seem to be the more powerful faction and I don’t think I’d buff them. In a 150 point game, I ran 4 valkyries led by Rick Hunter and backed up by the area defense squad. He ran a recon squad and a battle squad. My opponent started the game 18 mecha and 13 command points. I found that even with missiles that I just didn’t have enough shots to deal with him. By mid game he had sacrificed both Glaugs and the Recon Pod, along with a solid helping of regults in exchange for 3 Valkyries and 10 damage to Rick Hunter. The Gluags were very hard to hit, my VF-1As needed 5s to hit and he had anti-missile missiles that he could swat my missiles down with on a 4+, no command points needed.

    His remaining pods advanced in pairs in close formation and took out my destroids with massed fire. On one turn he had three pairs of pods that didn’t have to move and so took advantage of the accurate and focused fire rules. It was just a crushing weight of attacks and I simply didn’t have enough command points to dodge or roll with it all. Most of the time I needed a roll of 6 for my destroids to dodge anyway, because of their low piloting skill.

    Anyway, The game was pretty close. He had 5 pods left on the table. 2 of them untouched and the remaining three each with only 1 MDC left. I feel like with different luck or tactics that the battle could have turned the other way, but I definitely don’t feel like it was pure luck that he beat me.

    So, I wonder if the Zentradi bad luck that you experienced may have been due to an imbalance issue with the core box forces, rather than with the game as a whole. Maybe try an expansion pack or two for the Zentradi? Maybe try switching sides and see if you can get better results with them than your opponents did?

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    1. Ankoku1331

      Glad you are enjoying the game. I was a Kickstarter backer thus I got extra units with the box that showed up at home. We switched sides after each game, that is how I teach people, especially my family, to play a game.

      “So, I wonder if the Zentradi bad luck that you experienced may have been due to an imbalance issue with the core box forces, rather than with the game as a whole. Maybe try an expansion pack or two for the Zentradi?” Doesn’t that seem like a problem to you, that you are suggesting that someone purchase more stuff because the stuff provided in the core box set may not balanced?

      Again, glad that you are enjoying the game and that you are having different experiences than we did. If/when our wave two materials arrive we will pull out the game again.

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