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TOPIC: Let's Delve Into Shadespire

Let's Delve Into Shadespire 13 Oct 2017 10:31 #255651

Ok, I think it releases later in the month, and there are plenty of cool previews up on Warhammer Community, plus its own neat site:
warhammerunderworlds.com/

...so let's go ahead and get the conversation going.

The sculpts look great. I think I'm in for a core, the skeletons and the ironjawz for sure. We'll be modding the base game Stormcast so the main dude wears a helmet and the Ironjawz 'ardboyz are fantastic models. Far better than the ancient 'ardboyz currently available separately. I'm not as wowed as most by the skeletons, but they're cool enough. I look forward to using them in my FEC faction.

Now, the game itself, well long term...I have reservations. I see two big problems:
1) I fear that as the game goes on, there are going to be cards only available in warbands one may not be interested in. This is a similar problem as what I understand X-wing has. This means $30 (guessed MSRP) outlays for a few cards and the hassle of selling off the minis.

2) My bigger concern...these sort of collectible, competitive games are cyclical. I doubt these first-wave warbands are viable in 2-3 years. Either because of ruleschanges, cards cycling, whatever. You see this in CCGs all the time. Only recent releases are legit in organized play. I could be wrong, but I doubt GW will simply sell card packs to update their older Shadespire warbands....particularly as the years roll on and the number of warbands grows (if the game is a hit). With cards tied to models, I don't see this as clean as something like BB where a team's models can be used under any ruleset. It seems one will need to keep buying into Shadespire. This takes the most wind out of my sail. Feels like these warbands come with an expiration date...

I could be wrong on this, but I think the best way for a minis gamer to approach the game is as a source to get cool models for AoS and have a fun game to play on the side. I think looking at this as a long term game is going to mean jogging the release treadmill. And that may be exactly what they want with the somewhat FFG model of this title.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 13 Oct 2017 10:49 #255652

I love this game, which I think everyone knows. I just received the Orks and Skeletons but haven't played with them yet.

I think your concern with #1 is smaller than you think. You are correct that neutral cards will be present in later packs that you may want to include. However, the significance of a couple of upgrade cards is much smaller than in X-Wing.

In X-Wing, I can't really run a TIE Intercepter competitively without Autothrusters and Push the Limit because those cards influence my very play and the effectiveness of my ship from the get-go.

In Shadespire, however, you don't draw 1/3-1/2 your included cards every game. So if you're including a key card or two there's a solid chance you'll never even see it. You can mitigate this randomness somewhat by mulliganing your starting hand, but that's a cost as any of those cards you lose you won't get back (you don't cycle decks in Shadespire). I have mulligan'd once in eight games thus far, but most of the time I don't want to part with my entire hand just to hope to get one or two better cards.

Now, i think it could be possible that a strategy develops where a deck relies on a set of neutral cards (say 5-6) and even drawing one or two may feed into a specific strategy. But I still can't imagine it feeling as egregious as X-Wing.

I also think you'll be able to find the cards on Ebay for cheap as people buy the packs for the minis. The expansion packs are looking like they'll be $20-$30 bucks at most (they're cardboard blister packs meant to hang on a rack).

I have no idea on number 2. I know X-Wing made an effort to improve earlier ships to keep up with the meta. I don't plan on playing Shadespire competitively so this isn't a huge deal for me.

EDIT - One thing that's kind of annoying. There are set pieces (think MMO's) where this piece of armor confers this benefit, but it also grants you a secondary positive effect if you have another piece of equipment from this set on the warrior. There's a single set right now scattered about the expansions.

I think this idea is cool and irritating at the same time. Again, I think the negative side is small though as you need to luck into drawing those set pieces for it to have that effect.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 13 Oct 2017 10:58 #255654

I've got a preview copy and the game is indeed very good. The sculpts are not, to my mind, quite up to the usual standard of GW figures. Partly that's down to what feels to me to be slightly softer plastic, partly it's the snap-together nature. Being able to get up and running fast is a huge boon for non-modellers but several of the figures have slight but noticeable gaps along the join.

As to your concerns: yes, of course these are worrying. All the more so given that we know GW is happy to plough any field for profit, no matter how dirty. However, I see several reason to be quite hopeful that Shadespire won't get to the "must have card" state.

First, a lot of the cards are faction specific, and many of those are figure specific. I haven't counted up but at a ballpark estimate, maybe three quarters of the base game cards can only be used with one of the two included warbands. So when you buy a box, your main gain is figures and cards that'll be useless for anything else you want to run. That leaves much less wiggle room for single, overpowered cards to encourage other gamers to buy.

Second, deckbuilding has an unusual rule that you can only have one copy of any given card in the deck. I can see why this is done - it's to stop people farming certain objective conditions - but it does reduce the tactical utility of building a deck around combos or, indeed, around one or two specific cards. You need to be aiming at an overall coherence instead of hinging of special cards and holding out for them.

So I really don't think this will be too much of an issue: the mechanics seem quite resistant to it. Overall power creep among warbands is a far bigger worry for me, especially because GW has form there with army book releases.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 13 Oct 2017 19:09 #255695

If one bought the core set, the ironjawz, and deathrattle...and willing to pass dice...could this be four player? if not, what would be missing that would require a second set?

edit: forgot the boards...
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 14 Oct 2017 11:13 #255706

Anyone know if the models are made in Nottingham or China?

Also, I hope GW, or some 3rd party, makes modular rubble terrain to go in the blocked hexes.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 14 Oct 2017 19:09 #255725

Heroscape tiles and terrain are your friend here, methinks.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 16 Oct 2017 03:29 #255761

Love the idea of 3d terrain for this. Can't imagine GW won't ha be thought of it.

I played a bunch more times over the weekend and doubt is starting to creep in. It's fast and fun but aspects of the design seem really sloppy. There's a card that nets up 5vp if you've elminated the enemy which is the most OTT win-more card ever. There are other VP cards which are super circumstantial and can net you points on chance that's out of your control. Sure you could take them out of your deck: but what are they doing in the game to start with?

The worst thing though is the inspired Stormcloaks. They start out with 1 defence dice and when they roll it they've got a 50% chance of becoming inspired. That means they have 2 dice for the rest of the game which makes them super hard to hit. Plus if they rolled that 50% they probably didn't take any damage in the initial attack. I've seen a couple of games where successful first turn defences lead to no stormcloaks being killed for the entire game.

Luck, sure. And the game is very fast so you can just re-rack. But that seems so easily avoidable mechanically that you wonder why it wasn't just avoided.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 16 Oct 2017 03:59 #255762

Don't the Khrone dudes have cleave which cancels are shields? Means the Sigmarines have to roll critical in defense?
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 16 Oct 2017 06:49 #255763

Sevej wrote:
Don't the Khrone dudes have cleave which cancels are shields? Means the Sigmarines have to roll critical in defense?

Some do, after they're inspired themselves. And there are cards that add the effect to your attack. But the Sigmarites still get the inspire from just rolling the shield, whether it's cleaved or not. So it's often still an uphill climb.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 16 Oct 2017 08:34 #255765

So I'm gathering that this is decent, if not good, game design that needs a bit more tweaking before it can claim the title of "tournament ready game"?

Is it just shy, or more of a broad gap?

Doesn't matter too much to me since I'm not interested in tourney play, but I do like a lean game that is tight. *like yo momma*
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 16 Oct 2017 09:09 #255770

It is random, but I don't share in the same level of concern for Matt's criticisms. Even with higher defense, attack beats defense more often than not and I've won quite a bit with the Bloodreavers. It's much easier for the Khorne dudes to gain support, which increases odds to hit. I've also tuned a couple of Khorne decks to take advantage of their superior numbers (objectives focused on keeping the opponent off your board and being aggressive) and it works very well.

Luck can also be mitigated with objective draws due to a mulligan at the beginning, and spending actions during the game to draw more cards.

To me, this is perfect as a more sophisticated Gorechosen with much more variety and a deeper level of choices. If you're expecting this to be a whole nother type of game than Gorechosen then I think you'll be sadly mistaken.

To play 3-4 player you need another board, which you could make yourself or photocopy I suppose. When building decks again with the expansion factions, I did notice it's kind of difficult to build more than two decks, as you only get two copies of the objective cards in the base game. So, for instance, you can't place a card that's "Control Objective 3" in more than two of your built decks. This means you can't really have a built deck for every single faction unless you make concessions on what objectives are included (You could legally still build decks for everyone, but you'd be constrained in choices).

The Skeletons seem to be the coolest faction thus far. They have a leader (Warden) who can spend actions to resurrect fallen allies. They come back on your board with full health (and seem to still retain upgrades). He can also issue a command that allows two of your warriors to move.

They also have some faction upgrades that slow opponents down or make it easier to hit if you have more skeletons dead and off-map (thematically their arms are reaching up from the dirt to aid/hinder).

Their playstyle is very different and the opponent needs to decide how much effort they're going to spend to take out the Warden. Skeletons only move 2 which is extremely slow, adding another dimension to their play. Very interesting. Skeletons become inspired when they've been resurrected, which is a cool mechanic.

The Orks play a little similarly to the Stormcast Eternals, but have some more ferocious cards. They also feature 4 figures which makes them feel a bit different. They may be my least favorite faction but they're still interesting.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 16 Oct 2017 09:11 #255771

Colorcrayons wrote:
So I'm gathering that this is decent, if not good, game design that needs a bit more tweaking before it can claim the title of "tournament ready game"?

Is it just shy, or more of a broad gap?

Doesn't matter too much to me since I'm not interested in tourney play, but I do like a lean game that is tight. *like yo momma*

Well it's early days yet: I've played it maybe 6-7 times and I've only just started looking at deck building. Be interested to see what other people who've played make of it.

The thing is though that it's one of those games that's so fast and furious and fun that it almost doesn't matter about the balance. If your game falls apart on turn 1 you just have a laugh and start over and add another tale of heroic failure to your gaming life.

But ... if I'm right about it then it's hard to escape the nagging sense that a few weak design choices have made what could have been an all time great into the merely good.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 16 Oct 2017 10:22 #255779

MattDP wrote:
Colorcrayons wrote:
So I'm gathering that this is decent, if not good, game design that needs a bit more tweaking before it can claim the title of "tournament ready game"?

Is it just shy, or more of a broad gap?

Doesn't matter too much to me since I'm not interested in tourney play, but I do like a lean game that is tight. *like yo momma*

Well it's early days yet: I've played it maybe 6-7 times and I've only just started looking at deck building. Be interested to see what other people who've played make of it.

The thing is though that it's one of those games that's so fast and furious and fun that it almost doesn't matter about the balance. If your game falls apart on turn 1 you just have a laugh and start over and add another tale of heroic failure to your gaming life.

But ... if I'm right about it then it's hard to escape the nagging sense that a few weak design choices have made what could have been an all time great into the merely good.

That's why I have gorechosen. It fills the niche where its just as fun to be on the receiving end of tragic melee as it is to give. Like dungeon quest, but with actual interaction between players.

I don't think I need a more complicated version that offers the illusion of greater granularity and agency.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 17 Oct 2017 04:36 #255812

Colorcrayons wrote:
I don't think I need a more complicated version that offers the illusion of greater granularity and agency.

IDK. I haven't played Gorechosen but I'm not sure that it is an illusion. There might not be as *much* granularity and agency as desired but that doesn't mean it's not *greater*. One of the most fun things about Shadespire is working out how to make the most of what fate deals you each turn in the form of your hand of cards. That's agency.

Over on TOS, someone made the following observation:
At the NOVA seminar, GW said they've been playtesting each warband hundreds of times. So, I'm pretty sure they have it figured out.

Now, I wouldn't entirely trust GW to make the most their playtesting based on their previous track record but this does at least suggest they're taking the mechanics and balance of this thing seriously. It's just too early to be making blanket judgments on whether it's fit for tournament play and suchlike. My concerns are just that: concerns. Time and experience, especially once we hit wider release, will bear out whether they are valid. I hope they aren't.
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Let's Delve Into Shadespire 17 Oct 2017 09:16 #255820

It's funny in that GW's goal with Shadespire is twofold - first they want to bring in casuals, perhaps board gamers, and show them this wide world of miniatures games. This is the same function X-Wing kind of has. Additionally, they fully intend for this to be played competitively with GW support. They want people to fall down the rabbit hole of building decks and forming leagues.

I think the game does an admirable job of capturing both, at least from my limited view of the core set and two expansions. It's better than X-Wing in this regard as the stripping away upgrades to a deck that you draw from - and don't typically draw the entire thing over the course of the game - reduces the likelihood of broken builds and combos. This will be much friendlier to casuals as you won't be required to use certain upgrades to make factions work. This does undercut the competitive nature of the game by throwing in a large dose of randomness, but the game at least feels like there's enough choices and control from a player perspective that one single die roll or card draw does not decide your fate. It gives you this control by forcing you to build decks that are more robust and all-around useful, as opposed to hinging on a specific card.

When I've lost this game these questions have popped into my head:

-Did I deploy my board right for the interaction of our strategies?
-Did I push the pace properly or slow it down as needed?
-Did I activate the right units at the right time?
-Should I have mulligan'd and redrawn objectives hoping for shorter term ones?
-Perhaps I should have tried to build more support instead of being so aggressive

The luck factor is most prominent if someone spends actions near the end of the game drawing objective cards and catches a break, drawing one or two they can score. Other than that the game feels less random than Gorechosen and much more strategic.
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