Visions in the Flames: The Flames, Extinguished

As we come upon the release of the 1.5 Night’s Watch and Free Folk Updates this Friday, let’s take a look at just what to expect moving forward in a Post v1.5 world.

Bannermen! Over the last few weeks we have taken a look at what the future holds for both the Night’s Watch and the Free Folk, and come this bloody Valentine’s Day, the full roster of updates will be available. This, combined with the previous Stark, Lannister, and Neutral changes officially mark the end of our v1.5 Update.

There are some remaining items to discuss, however!

The first, and perhaps most important, is touching on the actual updates themselves. We spoke about this when we initially announced them, but to make things full circle, we’ll touch on them here at the end as well. Essentially, its re-capping the exact reason why we wanted to do these updates to begin with, and that comes down to our overarching philosophy that wargames by their very nature are a full-investment hobby. You’re not just picking up a random box of miniatures to move around the table - you’re investing your energy and, most importantly, your hobby time into the game - From collecting, to painting, and perhaps actually playing the game as well. And with this comes personal investment - whether its in the characters you love, a faction’s tactics and playstyle, or just cool looking miniatures… And one of the worst feelings in the hobby is “I really like these guys… But they just don’t perform on the battlefield.” This is always something we strive to avoid, and it the primary reason behind our updates.

You should always be able to play what you think is cool and not feel bad about it.

We would rather have a healthy game-state, and as many viable options as possible, since we have the power to make corrections, rather than let things just linger.

With that being said, we want to make it exceedingly clear that we do not take making such updates lightly, with the 1.5 Update coming roughly 18 months since the games debut. Such updates are also not something to expect to happen with any frequency. We took the 1.5 opportunity to group all our modifications and changes together into one lump sum, and we’re satisfied* with the results. Moving forward, the plan would be to evaluate the current game-state roughly once a year and monitor if anything needs adjusting.

Primarily, this would focus on whatever releases occurred over that period (if, in fact, anything even needs addressing). We’re not going to make any changes until sufficient data and feedback has been gained, and that only occurs with proper time. Tempering expectations is also important, and a secondary item to mention is that, in the future, it would be unlikely to see the level of changes that occurred with 1.5 across the initial four factions - as most of the underperformers were victims of pre-release/initial-wave meta expectations and projections.. As we mentioned, now that the game is out and booming, the broader image of how things have developed has become all the clearer.

Ok! Before we spend too much time waxing poetic you might have noticed that asterisk* back there (quite observant).

As mentioned, we’ve been very satisfied with the results of the 1.5 updates for the Starks, Lannisters, and Neutrals, but now that they’ve been out in the wild for some months there are a few items that caught our attention. From a design and development standpoint, it was frustrating because these items were exactly the ones on our list as far as “trouble spots” went when it came to the overall updates, and the ones we went back and forth on numerous times with playtesting and balances. While we did say we don’t want to give the perception of constant micro-changes, in these specific instances we felt it was healthier to address these items while we’re still introducing 1.5 changes, rather than allow them to potentially affect the meta until the next round of evaluations (which, again, ideally wouldn’t be for a long, long time).

With that being said, let’s look over the specific items from Stark, Lannister, and Neutrals that are getting one more tweak as we complete 1.5.

FLAYED MEN

When we initially spoke of the Flayed Men, we mentioned the specific area of their kit that needed addressing was their sustain, which put them in a very unique role in the game- one we didn’t really want available across (nearly) all factions. Even with the changes we made, the unit still lingered in this role of “cavalry with the ability to sustain prolonged combats”. While their defensive skills had taken a hit and were at a fine level, they still kept their offensive sustain, which naturally removed the inherent “drawbacks” that similar heavy cavalry endure.

Essentially, the Flayed Men could still fill too many roles across too many armies. We’ve further focused them into the role of similar heavy cavalry- aka devastating charges, but issues if bogged down and/or trapped in combats. We haven’t pushed them fully in that direction, as they do maintain significant Attack Dice, but, as you can see, we have indeed moved their raw offense into a decidedly more focused point.

LORD VARYS, THE SPIDER

Times have been tough for the Master of Whispers. 1.5 saw his effect toned down and his points increased. While, independently, either of these changes would have been suitable, we did err on the side of caution (as one does with spiders) with the updates. It does seem we hit him a bit hard, however, so we’ve reverted him to Cost 4, feeling that changing to his actual Ability to allow more counterplay, rather than just being “powerful and expensive” was the better option.

TYRION, THE GIANT OF LANNISTER

Brief one here. Tyrion was updated in 1.4 as one of our initial modifications, but even then, he is seeing little play, and that primarily came from 3 points being a hefty investment when it comes to Attachments. We’ve spoken at length about that specific topic across numerous 1.5 articles, so we won’t repeat it all here, but long-story-short we’re cutting the Giant’s point cost from 3 to 2. His combination of Abilities is indeed powerful, but with one of them requiring additional set-up and the other requiring him to be in the thick of the fight we feel this is a good trade-off.

HOUSE UMBER GREATAXES

As a general design rule, we have a problem with “no brainer” choices, which was the space the original Greataxes inhabited - They were just too good at too many things. 1.5 quelled that quite a bit, but not quite to the level we wanted. This is actually a case of a unit functioning rather fine but, once introduced into the larger scope of its Faction, coming out just a bit too far ahead of where we want it to be. With the Greataxes, they were still proving to be simply too reliable in their chosen role. That might seem a strange thing to say, but what is meant by it, in this specific case, is the inherent drawback/weakness of the unit (only really becoming a threat in prolonged engagements) was just a bit too easily mitigated by the assets available to the Starks.

We’ve reverted the unit’s Speed back to 4, but also removed the “+1 to Hit while engaged” part of Executioner’s Fury, as we felt the raw damage potential, combined with their almost non-existent Attack Die degradation, sufficiently enforces their role of “deadly-grinding-steamrollers.”

SANSA STARK, LITTLE BIRD

Sansa has endured a lot as a character, most notably losing her precious direwolf Lady at a very young age… And things never really got better for her from there. Much like what we mentioned with the Greataxes, many Stark armies began with “Sansa is my first 3 points”. This was due not only to being a very cheap NCU, but also the fact that, almost universally, being able to search and claim a Tactics card as you need it is very powerful. While we’re more a fan of buffing underperformers, we do acknowledge the overperformers as well - no choice, for any army, should be an auto-include. This is actually reverting Sansa back to one of her original forms (way back in the Kickstarter!), as we wanted to keep her role as a “cheap NCU” option for the Starks, rather than increase her points and keep her ability the same. Additionally, modifying her trigger didn’t change much in her tactical use, thus, the reversion to only being able to return cards from her discard pile - a.k.a. things she has already seen done - a.k.a. Repeating the Words.

And with this, loyal Bannermen, we’ll be concluding our talk about the remaining 1.5 modifications. This Friday will see the release of the Night’s Watch and Free Folk Updates, so join us then. Of course, we might have “misspoke” just a bit about the “extinguishing of the flames”. That was in specific regards to the 1.5 Updates… There are still so many Visions we have left to witness… The flames of the future burn ever brighter…

Visions in the Flames: The Flames, Extinguished

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