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External army balance issues in N4

Discussion in 'Access Guide to the Human Sphere' started by Zewrath, Jun 2, 2021.

  1. Ugin

    Ugin Well-Known Member
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    Gotta say the same here, the game has gone through so many dynamic changes, regarding the basic rules and the the faction features.
    My game experiences have not been that sufficient, so I cannot say much so far.
     
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  2. Koval

    Koval Well-Known Member

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    This is definitely the truest thing in this thread. Personally, I would like to see TTS events move away from the 2-list format, but there are people who would disagree with that.
     
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  3. Mob of Blondes

    Mob of Blondes Well-Known Member

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    I always wondered why "15-or-maybe-more" order lists, instead of maximum 15 orders usable per turn (eg, horde starting with 27 can only use 15, just pile the used tokens somewhere and stop once you reach 15). The first makes things more samey, the second allows a bit more variety (a la N3 and earlier) while still keeping time under control.
     
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  4. RobertShepherd

    RobertShepherd Antipodean midwit

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    I always get a bit frustrated whenever someone claims that an impetuous activation has the full value of a regular (or even irregular) order, but setting that aside I do really wonder what the game would be like if rather than a trooper cap they'd gone with an order cap - even as simple as possible a one like "an army cannot spend more than fifteen regular or irregular orders in a turn".
     
  5. Diphoration

    Diphoration Well-Known Member
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    I think N3 list building was a lot more streamlined and samey. No order cap did not create more diversity, it created a lot less.

    Listbuilding was about how many orders you can cram in a list, you'd sort by point cost and go up the list. You could use the same build plan for literally every faction.

    At least now, you can take some niche (and a bit overbloated) profiles, without cutting into your strongest force multiplier (order counts). In N3, if you took a bloated profile, not only were you cutting points away from your other troopers, but you were also cutting orders away from your list.
     
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  6. Mob of Blondes

    Mob of Blondes Well-Known Member

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    The factions had a bit of variation or "personality", so maybe faction X always used lists Super-Xa, Super-Xb, etc, but faction Y was better with something else. Now everyone gets similar toys sooner or later (OK, not everyone, but things are not so faction defined), link teams full of wildcards, and if bloated can be replaced with something better (23 orders... <_<) they still get parked in the shelf.

    Also notice that I was pondering to still limit orders, not go back to uncapped, just in way with more freedom to differentiate faction styles. So you could take the one bloated or two lean units, but would not get extra orders in the big scheme of things. The decision would go around equipment, skills, wounds, mobility, etc.
     
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  7. Vaulsc

    Vaulsc Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the mention.

    I'm running an infinity league with 45 players in it right now. There are no faction balance mechanisms in place and nobody has to run their list past me. However there are imposed fixes to the terrible ITS rules around dropping 'limited insertion' since N3 and having to tell your opponent the WIP of your LT at the start of the game.

    Meme-league is a side-event with only 8 players in it. We polled people on various ways that lists could be fairly even when the aim is to write a very bad list, and chose the method of running the lists pasts me first. This is less of an N4 balance concern, and more of a solution to the problem that people don't agree on what a 'meme-list' actually is. Some people think it's the perfect nomads list with one 'silly profile' mixed in. Other people think it's a whole list full of silly profiles (which is what we're going for in the event).

    You're right, there is demand for an event that encourages people to run things other than the optimal stuff. However, the normal league is more popular than meme-league and we are seeing a good spread of factions.

    Having said all that, I LOVE balance-whining, so let the salt flow. Good luck getting any good progressive movement from CB though.

    And don't watch his cat video. Watch my video of a girl being reduced to tears after someone takes out her obvious LT with pitcher/spotlight/guided fire and wrecks her in one turn.

     
  8. Kwisatz Haderach

    Kwisatz Haderach Zelenograd Shasvastii
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    If there was no paper-scissor-rock mechanics in the game - all armies will be same and identical. Everybody will take same models and archetypes , etc.
    Infinity is very hard game to master, you HAVE to know your army/list prons and cons to push it to the limits.
     
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  9. 1337Bolshevik

    1337Bolshevik Spite alone holds me aloft

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    Git gud scrub lmao
     
  10. Mahtamori

    Mahtamori Well-Known Member

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    Rock paper scissors is the most basic fundamental design of asymmetrical design. For more complex games it's very simplistic and for games that take more than a couple of minutes you probably need to avoid using it more than as a guide to avoid hard counters. Regardless of which the take away shouldn't be that RPS-like mechanics exists, but rather that those mechanics are kind of busted and there's a lot of factions that don't participate very well in them.
    It's not like it was great during N3, either;
    Camo spam wasn't really countered by anything because the designed counters were order in-efficient
    Order spam wasn't really countered by anything because order economy is what drives the game
    Hacking was countered by hacking
    Heavys and TAGs were countered by hacking
    Very hard AROs was countered by camo or some setups that were somewhat less rare than the very hard AROs were.

    There's of course more, as is due in a game of high complexity, but these are enough to highlight the absurdity. Fundamentally, if camo counters hacking and hacking counters HI, then HI should counter camo if following an RPS approach. If expanding it to RPSLS or beyond, each point needs an increasing amount of strengths as weaknesses. E.g.
    Camo beats hacking and order spam
    Hacking beats heavies and entrenched units*
    Heavies beats camo and entrenched units*
    Order spam beats hacking and heavies
    Entrenched units* beats order spam and camo

    * This is a bogus unit concept that doesn't quite exist, but if it did the Kamau sniper would be in this category and probably be the post child for it.

    Which is, of course, leaving out units that don't fit the moulds; the somewhat expensive and mildly competent units without stand-outish abilities and without a specific task; basically anything that's 15+ points and doesn't have special equipment like camo or an HMG.

    Basically, what I'm trying to say is that one type of design shouldn't be in a position where it counters more than it is countered by, but Infinity has a long running issue where this simply isn't the case and what balance there is exists on a macro level and my main worry is that we're seeing the game lurching closer to WMH 2nd edition with the fallacy that the game is balanced as long as each faction can take a list that brings it to a level.

    --

    Edit: as for the pandemic, I've been using TTS as an opportunity to challenge my preconceptions and avoid factionalism that comes from playing the same thing all the time. It's proving educational and providing nuance to play from my opponents' factions' perspectives..
     
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  11. Zewrath

    Zewrath Elitist Jerk

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    Entirely false.

    You're conflating different subjects.

    Paper-scissor-rock mechanics are things like MSV2 to shoot a Noctifer that have just previously revealed itself.

    Paper-scissor-rock MATCH-UPS is an entirely different and negative subject because just like a scissor wil always lose to a rock some armies/lists will almost always lose to another army/list (this isn't LITERALLY true 100% of the time, obviously).

    Starcraft have 3 very different armies with loads of paper-scissor-rock mechanics but ZERO paper-scissor-rock match-ups, while Hearthstone have very few aper-scissor-rock mechanics but loads of paper-scissor-rock match-ups.

    It's greatly exaggerated, the core mechanics of this game is not that hard to grasp nor to master and mostly the greatest skill gap between opponents is how you deploy, pick turn order/deployment and sticking to a proper order investment in regards to the mission.

    Given your bait profile name and low-iq response, I could ignore this but you're also simultaneously liking a post from a person who is claiming to play 2-3 games a week since the launch of N4, where in that same post he admits (despite his abnormally high rates of games) only have encountered several of the complained about units and mechanics once or twice.
    I don't even know what to say to that, because I'm not sure I should be baffled or impressed by the 4D trolling.

    Just in case you are actually not trolling though, I suppose I could bring an equally worthless level of response:

    Git on my level, lowbob.
     
    #31 Zewrath, Jun 3, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2021
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  12. xagroth

    xagroth Mournful Echo

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    yeah, and another in White Banner (this time not a character behind a paywall of a box with 3 almost useless models, because duplicates...). ISS remains, for some reason, with just the Sophotect :/

    In a way, yeah, and in another, it wasn't as evident. Camo lists are (and will, always, be) a chore to deal with, specially in "limited insertion" games, and there are not a "scaled" tool to deal with them (sniffers were somehow intended for that, but... it was much more efficient for the camo player than the discover player anyway). Model spam is... impossible to truly counter. By definition, quantity can be better than quality as long as you don't care about casualties (there is a reason IRL logistics are THE most critical part of a war): you can be more places at once, you suffer less each individual loss, etc... However, in this regard I think N4's change to crits has mostly solved this (SMGs are an even bigger problem now).
    Smoke spam has been nerfed a lot with the MSV1 buff, attacking Impetuous troops because: no cover, range, possible fireteam. While Eclipse smoke is working as intended ("I pass through there"... kinda like an extra for Cautious Movement), regular smoke has been diminished.

    Sensor gives a +6 to discover. Granted you can discover in the ZoC of the Sensor Troop... but you have to ferry that troop to where it can do it for more than a single camo marker at a time (which tend to be a little harder: the opponent knows what you are doing, and might sacrifice an ARO troop to remove that Sensor troop... which tend to be a specialist remote of PH10 and 16-17pts of cost. Or a Deva Sensor in a Haris with Parvati and a Yadu/Asura).
    Given the same amount of proficiency for both players, it is not as easy and clear-cut as you make it seem.

    Remember you can spotlight as an ARO. This makes it really efficient, since the threat of a Guided AP+EXP str15 template tens to force resets...

    Kiuutan with Pheroware in Tohaa maybe. In Spiral he will also carry EM mines. And both will have the frog (ARM9/BTS9 Total Inmunity) and the Symbiont, making it a pain to dislodge if you place the kiuutan where he can threat an enemy fireteam, for example. At the very least, it is a very good speedbump.

    The problem with that is simple. You have no way of knowing what will you face. This means you have to be ready to have two Speculo Killers and 1-2 mines in the face of your DZ, an Avatar with 13 orders behind it, Morans in the middle of the table ready to send Koalas and project a repeater network for IMM/ISO/Marked states, smoke combo, melee specialists, Total Inmunity missiles (Bearpode, dog warriors, McDog...), enemy parachutists entering from your own DZ, the Total Inmunity 2 wounds crazy smoker melee killer that is Duroc, a TO Tag, infiltrators in your face, "reusable mines" (Andromeda, for example), a PARA heavy list, an EM heavy list, a full camo list, a mimetism-heavy list with 1 wound each, a HI or TAG centered list, a...
    Not all at once, evidently, but you can face any of those in a tournament, and place enough specialists to score, and enough killers to remove enemy ARO so the specialists can score, and enough ARO so you don't need to inmediately concede all advance to the enemy...
    It is, essentially, impossible to cover all of those necessities. Specially in a game with a base that is a d20 in a blackjack mechanic, meaning the randomness is the highest I've ever seen in a game.

    Well, cheapening HI and TAGs make bringing AP a necessity, since "fishing for crits" has been also nerfed with the 15 troops limit... On the other hand, the crit effect can be impredictable, taking down a 1W+NWI Total Inmunity troop in a single ARO.

    However, while in N3 there were more rules and gear... I think we have more variables to contend with in N4.

    While having a fixed amount of orders (usually depending on points, possibly alive at order recount) would bring a kind of equality to players, it wouldn't really solve some inherent advantages to cold, indifferent spam. The rules would need a review in any case, but point values would need one also, since I have the feeling the ranged weapons count for most of the cost of the model (making things like 5-6pts Morlocks with EM melee weapons soooo eficient).

    There is a difference between a rock-paper-scissor, and a three variation of rocks, papers and scissors, all mixed. And not knowing what will you have in front of you, while being limited to only have access to three of the nine parts.
    Also, that means testing is frigging hard. And looking at CB's demo videos... well, I think that suffices...

    That aside, a lot of people misunderstand what makes a veteran player good. It is not *only* memorizing unit profiles (frankly, unless you have a very good memory, or access the Army builder mid-game, gross estimates are what one gets in that department). It is the gestalt of what you have, knowing what to take from your opponent, and, specially, deployment and economy (of orders, skills, and troops). It doesn't matter if you can predict your opponent list, point costs and even Hidden Deployed troops if you spend too many orders removing what you think is critical, and get unable to win (forcing a tie, sure... but wave goodbye to winning the tournament).

    And then there come the dice rolls...

    foxhole-able troops in Shasvastii and Tohaa differ. However, they get no fireteam bonuses, making the Kamau (and frankly, any long-range that has MSV2, mimetism, and access to Fireteam bonuses).
     
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  13. Mahtamori

    Mahtamori Well-Known Member

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    Aye, but the reason I say it doesn't exist is that Sapper (or similar abilities) don't provide a major advantage and doesn't provide a major disadvantage. Not unless you play the three specific sectorials that can bring Kamau Sniper, Bolt Sniper or Grenzer MSV Sniper into a core, at least, but three profiles in specific sectorials don't really make an archetype and there's a lack of designed counters to them (that aren't also universally good against everything)
     
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  14. Lareon

    Lareon Well-Known Member

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    I like your analysis, but I feel I don't agree with it.

    My thoughts about the subject: as I stated in another thread, I feel we're still in a "rollout" period, where the N4 mechanics are not fully grasped, and often clash with the N3 mindset. Partially because the pandemic that limited the number of games worldwide, but still there are themes that need to be revised in this new version of the game.

    You made some quote examples to raise your point
    but it's very easy to counter them with quotes from N3:
    • "I don't play HI and TAGs, what's the point fielding them when they can be killed by a couple critical hits?"
    • "Hackers are useless, they bring almost nothing on the table and there are too many KHD around"
    • "I don't want to play with a Ghazi spam-list. The jammer is too powerful"
    • "I'm not playing if I have to play against an Avatar list" (sorry, it was too tempting. lol)
    And so on. The point is the game changed, the mindset not yet. We're playing a new game with old values. What was easily countered in the previous version need a rethink on the tactics and the lists on this one. And vice versa. Hackers are now really oppressive in the game, and if in N3 they were countered by a "whatever", now maybe a specialized hunter-seeker need to be included. HIs were sparse in N3 due how the crits worked, now they had a sudden resurgence in N4, immediately countered by hacking networks. This caused a shift in the tactics and how to assess the dangers in the field, and maybe it will change again in the future with new meta. Camo, TO Camo, ODD were much more difficult to counter in N3, but they now face a new danger caused by how the shotguns work noe, much more common and affordable that the other tools dedicated for this role.

    Still, I could partially agree with your analysis, but there's another important point to consider: we're playing for objectives, not for the kills.
    Aside few ITS missions that require indiscriminate killings, the great slice of missions in Infinity is played on objectives. The point is not "how to kill the invincible enemy unit" but "how can I delay it enough to win this match"? And this opens up new ways to counter a rock-paper-scissor mindset. I don't need to kill the enemy Jotum, I need to starve him of orders, to give him obstacles so he should spend part of his turn to overcome them (instead of playing for objectives), to let him chase my units while I play on another point of the table. This breaks the concept of a rock-paper-scissor match up, because is not a game of direct confrontation, it's a time and resource management one.
     
  15. Hachiman Taro

    Hachiman Taro Inverted gadfly

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    While I kinda agree with the OP that N4 seems a bit.more hard counter-y -even if the argument seems a bit hyperbolic and anecdotal - this TTS meta thing is something I'm even more interested in.

    Whats the solution? Organised casual TTS play in certain time windows? List swapping during events? League events with more ad hoc match making? I'm imagining TTS matchmaking could evolve to something all its own rather than ape-ing the structure of a 2 day IRL event instead streching over 5 weeks online. Like imagine if we had a robust online ELO tracker (Like ASOIAF already has via the site ASOIAF Stats) - then a TTS event could be X games played at any time over Y period with any player, with the winner being the biggest gainer of ELO. Just as an example off the top of my head.

    Is there a better way to structure TTS events to be more meta / play experience positive?
     
    #35 Hachiman Taro, Jun 3, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2021
  16. RobertShepherd

    RobertShepherd Antipodean midwit

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    This is a really good question and I'm really not sure. It's easy to see why TTS has evolved the way it has; you need a degree of formal organisation to bring together a community spread across twenty different timezones, which leans toward a league structure, which leans toward competition, which leans toward ITS, which etc etc. Winston Churchill's quote on democracy comes to mind.

    A band-aid fix could be to shift toward some kind of on- and off-season model where you encourage a longer informal downtime between shorter competition events - perhaps something like one month off, three weeks on (i.e. three-round events) to shorten the iteration cycle and reduce competitive pressure that's selecting against experimentation. Shorter events wouldn't produce clear winners from large player pools but frankly I think that may be a feature and not a bug in this case.

    But, this would be more work for organisers, of which there are only so many with only so much spare time. Maybe there's a more innovative solution. Perhaps the answer would be to have more, smaller online communities running individual leagues but with more cooperation and communication between communities? They're tending toward large and siloed at the moment, just from observation.
     
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  17. Surmelk

    Surmelk Well-Known Member

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    The non-ITS leagues on TTS by Ral, Vaul and several others are doing a version where only factions, not lists are locked.

    So you can tailor your list after knowing mission and oponent, in some cases also after seeing table.

    This at least offers some possibilities for counterplay
    - facing a nomad player - better be prepared for hacking
    - facing some adrianna - better have an answer to camos.

    Some of the organizer are also having different brackets; one for ITS competitive, one for casual and one for beginners
     
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  18. QueensGambit

    QueensGambit SecUnit

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    Interesting questions indeed. Speaking for myself, I like it when TTS events follow the same format as ITS events, because I don't want to play two different games. The game I play is one where we have to run imperfect lists, because we only get two lists for 3-5 missions and all opponents. I like that - it's more interesting than running fully optimized lists for each game. And I also like playing the same game online as I play in-person.

    But @RobertShepherd is absolutely right that playing the same two lists for five weeks is a slog. Even if I like my lists, after the first week I'm already thinking about improvements, and chafing that I can't test them out.

    The only solution I've been able to come up with is this:

    Each round, the TO selects 3-5 missions. Each player then has to submit two lists. Once lists are submitted, the TO then selects one of the missions and announces pairings. You select one of your two lists for the game in the usual way, after seeing mission, table, opponent, and classifieds.

    That would replicate the ITS system where you have to design two lists to play multiple missions. It wouldn't be perfect, though - you could look at the previous round's results and see who you would likely be paired with for the next round in Swiss pairings, so you would still be able to tailor your list to known opposing factions.

    So, maybe also let players switch factions to avoid tailoring? Each round:
    1. Announce pairings.
    2. Each player confidentially submits their faction for the round.
    3. TO announces five missions.
    4. Players submit two lists.
    5. Announce one of the five missions as the mission for the round.

    Logistically awkward! But I think it would fully replicate ITS list selection, despite being weird in a lot of ways. And it would avoid list fatigue.
     
  19. Diphoration

    Diphoration Well-Known Member
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    One thing that I also find really shocking, and I think the massive echo chambers of online groups is a big part of it, is how little conversation there are about how to counter certain things.

    Most dicsussion go like "X is OP, this should be nerfed" and most suggestions people give is "take Y thing, avoid taking Z thing", but there are basically no conversations on the applications in-game. I think BIGGEST part of what makes a strong player is the in-game micro-decisions, and there are barely any sources that explains how to use them in a given scenario.

    There is an exercise we did a couple of times in my meta, and I think I'd like to make it a weekly thing. Where we think of a problematic mechanic, launch TTS, everyone gets in the game. Then we simulate the problematic and find which micro-decision we could do to best solve it. I highly suggest everyone do this. It helped me learn a lot of very niche application that greatly improved my game.

    The thing with N4 is that you can do some really powerful things and piloting the powerful thing is a lot easier than countering them, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. You can mitigate a lot of the strong things to then counter-punch with your powerful angle.

    I wonder how many people who spend their time complaining about mechanics actually save their deployment game states on TTS (or take pictures IRL) and re-analyse all their decisions in the post-game? And analyse it in an angle of "What could I have done better?". Even most battle report will often fall in the trap of saying "If only I get luckier here" or "omg this is OP". In reality, the vast majority of time, if the player did some better micro-decision on previous orders, they could've greatly mitigated the impact of what tipped the game.
     
  20. Rejnhard

    Rejnhard Well-Known Member

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    Reading this thread I get the idea that it's less case of Infinity getting more hard-countery, but more like the universal counter strategy was removed from the game. This universal counter being "lots of troops/orders+autowound crits".
    A lot of the things listed that are supposedly OP or hard to counter wouldn't bother crit-autowounding trash spam.

    Who cares if one of your 6 point galvegians gets spotlighted/GMLed or Phenowared?
    A tag? bog it down with bodies then easily kill it (old crits) when extended.
    Linked Kamau sniper? Drop 5 Yuan-Yuans behind his back.
    bazzilion cheap LIs don't care about oblivion either.

    My point is - Infinity was always very "countery". You just didn't always need a specific counter to a specific thing because one could always fall back to the universal counter - "just throw more bodies at it" (which was true also in N2, though less practiced due to smaller and less competitive meta). Spam was the universal gear-check passer, and spam is no more. Now that you can't field as much trash and trash is worse at killing anyway, specialized/niche tactics start showing their teeth.
    Maybe these "teeth" need to be filed/blunted a little, or maybe people need to adjust. I don't know. What I do think is that going back to throwing 5 point irregulars at each other would be a step back for the game. I know it is not what the OP is suggesting, but I do think that the removal of spam is the actual cause of perceived problems in the game. They were always there, just kept in check by spam.
     
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