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Necron list: Issues

 Post subject: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:41 pm 
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I'm going to have to take a step backwards on the 'crons. The big issue has been Living Metal, but to decide that I need a handle on other issues. The appropriate way is of course to test stuff and play games, but although I've played a lot of games with Necrons I'm not going to take my experience and generalize it to everybody. So, more "pointless" discussion!

My experience with the Necrons has varied over time. When I started playing them, I learned the ins and outs of the list at the same time as my opponents, and the list was very different from other EA lists, but also looked to be very balanced. They did things differently, but (apart from a few teleport haters) everybody thougth the games were even and interesting.

Then I finally grokked portal-engage-portal (call my slow if you want). I overwhelmed my regular opponent who hadn't seen it coming, and took some time adjusting. I brought it to Gothcon, where at least one opponent hated it (but he mostly whined about how he'd rather play epic 2nd ed instead). I didn't take them to Spielen in Berlin Epic II, but others did and got 2nd and 3rd (and spawned the Necrons in Tournaments thread). They didn't like the 'crons at all. At this point the 'crons looked pretty overpowered, and EUK had just recently relased their own list with the nerfed LM rule.

But now my regular opponents have mostly adjusted to the Necrons. They all play Eldar for some reason, but now I'm struggling to win with the 'crons. Even against a newish player. At the same time we have JTGs experiences in Australia where the 'crons won one tournament and after that they have failed completely.

All this also matches what I've heard from the orignal playtesting crew, that 'crons overwhelm unprepared opponents, and then fade away as those opponents adjust. So this is were I'm currently at:

- The Necrons are almost unacceptably good against unprepared opponents. A guy bringing Necrons to a tournament where people haven't played them before is very likely to dominate the tournament and leave a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. You often see only the good sides of Fearless-Phase Out (the Monoliths shrug off attacks and get to teleport next turn) and not the bad side of Phase Out (Necrons hemorrhage VPs).

- Against experienced opponents the tricks stop working, and it becomes clearer that the list is a bit one-dimensional - portal assaults or bust. They are at a big disadvantage in draws due to Phase Out. Still capable of winning games though.

- The LM rule is clunky and can be either overpowered or meaningless depending on the opponent's army

- Pylons are very easy to suppress, and is the sole source of AA and a big part of long range firepower.

What I'd like to do:

- Change to new LM
- Move Pylons out of the support section, maybe give them Leader
- Possibly give Necron Warrior phalanxes more firepower (Particle Flail platforms), but I'm looking at doing that in the Tomb World list first.

But given that feedback has been that the Necrons are overpowered, underpowered and totally fine, depending on who's answering, and that my own experiences support all three positions, I'm not sure what it would do to balance.


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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:43 pm 
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I really don't see any of these as being neccessary, save perhaps leader on pylons.

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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:41 pm 
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Add Sentry Pylons to the Gauss Pylons so that they can soak up more Blastmarkers.

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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:34 pm 
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Irrespective of balance, I do think the perception issue is worth addressing. Almost all the special rules are positive in-game effects, and the list is just chock full of "it's like that awesome thing you already know about, but better" and "you know that special rule you have? yeah, it doesn't work on me". Players hate things that make their stuff less good, or robs them of something that makes their army unique. Combining phase out with teleport for example. Teleport with portals. Living metal. Allowing portals to be re-entered. AA that is 90cm AND TK.

I am quite happy to believe that Necrons are not OP, that's not the issue. It's just that the advantages are very conspicuous, and the disadvantages quite subtle. Who knows, maybe some of the "whaaaaat!?" effect can be reduced simply by being more explicit in the list itself about the disadvantages. For example the Phase Out rule does not directly reference VPs; even if it is part of the very next rule, the reader's brain might not directly associate one as a counter balance for the other.

To be fair, you could say the same about a lot of the Eldar special rules, but maybe they are just a bit more elegant, less extreme and the weaknesses of the army more obvious.

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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:13 pm 
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Leave the Raiders list broadly as-is. It's finished.
Do a modern necron list.
Imho.

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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:59 pm 
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No one wants one. New Necrons are perceived as an ill concept. My list Sautekh list lies dormant.

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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:24 pm 
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Corey's voice echoes from the past... He used to say two things repeatedly:
1) the Necrons are not overpowered, and once a player learns their tricks they have a hard time winning.
2) the Necrons are a one trick pony. They don't have the dynamic play that other armies do.

Ulrik, not to discount how you feel but your frustration is nothing new.

The Necrons can be played successfully in a fresh way, but to do so requires a lot of thinking outside the box, a robust model collection, and a level of play that most Necron players don't bring to their game. Am I saying that Necron players are bad Epic players? No. However, I do believe most players get used to the relative safety that certain tactics bring (in and out of the portals, for instance) and tend to fight the same way every game.

Also, Necron players typically don't have huge collections, so they are stuck with a limited number of list types which limits tactics. How many people have played heavy amounts of Destroyers in their lists? Or started the game with almost everything on the board? Or played to defend the flag? My guess is very few.

However, I think you are trying to solve something that may not need solving. You have a wide variety of results and experiences with the army that averages out to be rather even when viewed from afar. How is this a bad thing?

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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 4:19 am 
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Moscovian wrote:
Necron players typically don't have huge collections, so they are stuck with a limited number of list types which limits tactics. How many people have played heavy amounts of Destroyers in their lists? Or started the game with almost everything on the board? Or played to defend the flag? My guess is very few.


This is where playing online epic over Tabletop could make a big difference to playtesting efforts as you don't need to own any Necron models at all to be able to play any combination in the list in playing online. If someone pops up in a discussion and claims that in their playgroup the other side of the world Necrons are the most powerful all-conquering army you can play then and determine how true that is.

I suggested Ulrik try getting some online games in with us to help get a better picture and understanding. There's not a Necron army in Tabletop yet but I plan on doing an army pack for them in around a couple of weeks.


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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:46 am 
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Fantastic idea, GlynG.

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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:25 am 
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GlynG wrote:
Moscovian wrote:
Necron players typically don't have huge collections, so they are stuck with a limited number of list types which limits tactics. How many people have played heavy amounts of Destroyers in their lists? Or started the game with almost everything on the board? Or played to defend the flag? My guess is very few.


This is where playing online epic over Tabletop could make a big difference to playtesting efforts as you don't need to own any Necron models at all to be able to play any combination in the list in playing online. If someone pops up in a discussion and claims that in their playgroup the other side of the world Necrons are the most powerful all-conquering army you can play then and determine how true that is.

I suggested Ulrik try getting some online games in with us to help get a better picture and understanding. There's not a Necron army in Tabletop yet but I plan on doing an army pack for them in around a couple of weeks.


Yeah I plan on trying table top out as well for necrons so I think it's a great idea.

I have been in discussion with Ulrik and Lord Aaron about doing a new-dex necrons list. The plan was for Lord A to be subAC, but due to RL he will not have the time.
I have therefore accepted the position when Ulrik asked. I'm focusing available hobbytime right now on a upcoming september tournament, but will try to post a first list in october/november for feedback. Tabletop could be a great tool for me, so if you do necrons GlynG and have the opprotunity then I would greatly appreciate it if you did some of the newer units as well.

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:22 pm 
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Moscovian wrote:
The Necrons can be played successfully in a fresh way, but to do so requires a lot of thinking outside the box, a robust model collection, and a level of play that most Necron players don't bring to their game. Am I saying that Necron players are bad Epic players? No. However, I do believe most players get used to the relative safety that certain tactics bring (in and out of the portals, for instance) and tend to fight the same way every game.


I think this might go back to how Necrons stomp all over new opponents. I think that's an even bigger issue, to be honest - I'd much prefer a design the the Necron player was the one who had to figure out his army, not his opponents. As it is now you can get complacent because you figure out how to play them and win a lot (maybe enough to feel a bit bad about it) and at some point you stop winning. This could create a weird start-stop-start dynamic to learning how to play necrons.

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However, I think you are trying to solve something that may not need solving. You have a wide variety of results and experiences with the army that averages out to be rather even when viewed from afar. How is this a bad thing?


Because the swings are so extreme. The goal isn't for the Necrons to win 50% of all games, it's for each individual game to be as exciting and tactically challenging as possible. Around a 50% win rate is a necessary condition for this, but not a sufficient one - as it stands quite a few of the victories are blowouts vs new opponents, which are no fun for them and shouldn't be fun for you. (What, you enjoy pwning n00bs? Go play on xbox live! Then they can't punch you for being obnoxious.)

If necrons are underpowered or balanced between two veteran players is actually a bit immaterial for this. The way to fix it is to nerf some aspect of the army, but that would have negative consequences for games where both players know the necrons. Like Kyrt says, the advantages are obvious, but the weaknesses are subtle. I'm a bit stumped on how to address this.

GlynG wrote:
I suggested Ulrik try getting some online games in with us to help get a better picture and understanding. There's not a Necron army in Tabletop yet but I plan on doing an army pack for them in around a couple of weeks.


I'll definetly play a bit (not too much, though - i hate reserving an entire evening for internet stuff. Did enough of that when I raided in WoW, if I'm making plans I want to meet people face to face.)

On to different stuff: Apart from more high-level issues like the overall balance issues, I think Pylons are a bit of a problem - vulnerable to suppression, sole source of AA and taking up both a support slot AND war engine points allowance. Quick fix is to give them Leader and move them out of the support slots (letting Necrons rely less on the Warrior phalanxes who specialize in portal assaults). Is it worth testing this and changing it, or should the list be left alone?


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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:26 pm 
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Ulrik wrote:
If necrons are underpowered or balanced between two veteran players is actually a bit immaterial for this. The way to fix it is to nerf some aspect of the army, but that would have negative consequences for games where both players know the necrons. Like Kyrt says, the advantages are obvious, but the weaknesses are subtle. I'm a bit stumped on how to address this.

Kyrt's comparison with Eldar is apt - initially the Eldar were viewed as overpowered and had a very high win ratio. Once played extensively this impression was modified, then the special rules were overhauled slightly which left them very slightly under-powered (IMO) - the E_UK answer of paying +25 points to add Spirit Stones to certain formations seems to be about right.

I suspect that a similar approach may be needed here but it will require more familiarity with the list both by players and their opponents - and this includes trying different strategies, tactics and army compositions where possible as Mosc says.


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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:30 am 
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Ulrik wrote:
GlynG wrote:
I suggested Ulrik try getting some online games in with us to help get a better picture and understanding. There's not a Necron army in Tabletop yet but I plan on doing an army pack for them in around a couple of weeks.


I'll definetly play a bit (not too much, though - i hate reserving an entire evening for internet stuff. Did enough of that when I raided in WoW, if I'm making plans I want to meet people face to face.)

Then arrange to play people serially over a few or more nights, playing a turn at a time and then saving the game. With online play you don't have to play an entire game at once if you don't want to.


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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:33 am 
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Ginger wrote:
I suspect that a similar approach may be needed here but it will require more familiarity with the list both by players and their opponents - and this includes trying different strategies, tactics and army compositions where possible as Mosc says.

How are people finding playing with an against the Epic-UK Necrons out of curiosity? I can see the results that are up on the site but that doesn't tell all the story.


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 Post subject: Re: Necron list: Issues
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:55 am 
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Ulrik, I think your attempt to build any list around learning curves is only going to result in your frustration. You are talking about stripping the army down and starting from scratch. I hate to say this but IMO what you are desiring at the very best case scenario shouldn't be done and at a worst case can't be done.

The tournament environment provides a fair place to play against Necrons because each army is most likely to be built to deal with a wide variety of opponents and experience levels. The list accomplishes this goal.

I suspect you are going to continue to dwell on this though. If I am right, I'd say the starting point is to make a list of everything that the Necron are awesome at and terrible at, then build a list just-for-you that mitigates the good and bad. Don't look at it from a fluffy perspective but pure numbers only. When it is done, see what the list looks like.

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