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benjaminography
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PostSubject: Alternative Warband Rating Systems   Sun 13 Aug 2017 - 6:19

Has anyone ever developed/experimented with alternative approaches to the warband rating system?

This is just based on a conversation I was having the other day, and we toyed with some ideas - but didn't come up with anything definitive.

The basic premise we had was setting each HERO and HENCHMAN group to having separate ratings, which are added up to form the total warband rating. We did conclude that this would never be a way of 'balancing' the game (its the wrong game for that!) - but could bring an interesting dynamic to scenarios, especially between vastly mismatched players...

One possibility is having scenarios that could require a "points match" game - so you have to field matching warband ratings. You may end up with a handful of experienced warriors outnumbered by fresh recruits - you might have to split henchman groups possibly.

Another option is bringing in 'support' options for the warband with the weaker rating - so depending on the campaign setting, the warband might have a believable patron, who might send a handful of skeletons or city guards to help them out. They could be less obvious supporting tactics, like allowing for casting rerolls or flexibility on rout tests. These could add a nice narrative flavour to a game. We imagined that these would be available to the player, and if not used, would contribute to the 'underdog' bonus at the end of the game.

It would ring well with encampments, and campaigns where you may elect to 'split' your warband across a campaign where you are having game 'rounds'. So for instance I might split my Beastmen to attack two different gangs on the same game night, but in two different city locations.

Food for thought.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternative Warband Rating Systems   Mon 14 Aug 2017 - 0:17

There was a letter in Town Cryer with a similar idea to part of yours -- allowing an underdog warband to take extra henchmen sent by the warband's 'patron' to balance ratings for a game. It's not a bad idea (playing with a badly outmatched warband can be a pretty miserable experience, which really isn't the point of gaming) but I suspect is a situation where you need a GameMaster to manage the system.

I like the idea of allowing gameplay effects for the underdog too; it's a nice alternative to extra henchmen & could be narratively useful as well as fun. Another alternative is allowing a hired sword or two to join an underdog (where suitable) for a game. Again, this can fit with a narrative -- a group of (relatively) law-abiding mercenaries attacking beastmen might be joined by a road warden, cultists may be assisted by a warlock, & a hopeless cause could get a troll slayer!

If you're willing to go through the complexity of it, something like the Necromunda rating system might be a useful way of rating each hero & henchman group. There the rating was the value of the model plus the cost of its equipment plus its experience. This wouldn't be perfect (you'd have to figure out the rating value of equipment with variable costs, & which might be over-priced for character, for a start; & the experience rating wouldn't properly reflect its value against equipment unless you introduced a multiplier...) but might go some way to reflecting the value of a group. As it is, a zombie has the same effect on rating as a heavily armed Gor, which might mess up using individual/group ratings for 'split' warbands & underdog bonuses.

As I say, there'd be a lot of fudging & forcing before a rating system like that 'worked' but it might be a start.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternative Warband Rating Systems   Mon 14 Aug 2017 - 5:25

I've always seen two issues with the rating system, also.

First is how rating is based only in experience and warband size. Take two heroes of the same kind, one with +1Ld, +1I, +1WS and equipped with mace and dagger, and another one with +2A, +1R and equipped with halberd, helmet and rabbit foot... both having the same rating doesn't make any sense. Problem is, adding rating points to specific advances and equipment is tricky, would make having armor even less atractive than it is, and calculating the band rating after each match a big mess.

Second is how having lower rating doesn't bring any significant advantages to the game. That may be easier to solve, reducing the underdog gap to get extra exp. points and increasing scenario advantages to lower rated warbands.

Of course a better rating system will be much welcome, as long as it doesn't make the post game slower and keeps things simple.

Having a GameMaster, like Rhydderch said, helps a lot. We usually play with one to act as referee and keep things balanced, and sometimes just throw neutral dice rolls. During my last campaign, the Undead player got really lucky and got a Demigod Vampire with tons of equipment who wrecked solo entire warbands. The GameMaster ended up allowing lower rating warbands to hire Marianna Chevaux for free when facing him. Not that it completely solved the issue, but at least it made other players less likely to avoid playing with the Undead dude.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternative Warband Rating Systems   Mon 14 Aug 2017 - 12:36

I'll check out the necromunda system - funnily enough that was my 'gateway drug' into miniatures when I was a kid, but I never played it as it was way too complex for me at the time.

You're both totally right about the GM, or at the very least a diplomatic set of players can make the dire situation fun at least. I guess any ruleset designed to alleviate it is more of a guideline.

bitxo - You're point about the discrepancies between comparative ratings would be a problem. I think for the system to work, you would need to take a step back and integrate it much further into equipment, advances and injuries.

Tuomas Pirinien said that the pricing of equipment was as much narrative as it was balanced. What if, as well as a GC cost per item, everything also had a POINTS cost too (like in warhammer)? It would allow currency to be narrative idea (which could vary throughout a campaign/setting/era), and points/rating to be an objective calculation. Injuries, Skills and Characteristic enhancements would also follow the same POINTS system appropriately. It could get a bit tiresome calculating all of this - but digitised warband rosters would solve that easily.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternative Warband Rating Systems   Tue 15 Aug 2017 - 21:17

Hmmmm, our group had lots of discussions about this too. How some very powerful warbands had surprisingly low WRs, and people started to get frustrated.

What we did (as part of our large-scale tinkering with the rules for our group), was to add to WR:
+5 if the model's hiring cost is between 61-80gc;
+10 if the cost is 81-100gc;
+15 if the cost is 101gc or more.

If a model is Large, it already adds +20 to WR, and the values above are considered included.

This helps balance things a bit for more powerful models like dwarves, elves and of course Ogres, but of course still doesn't help to balance warbands' difference in equipment.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternative Warband Rating Systems   Thu 17 Aug 2017 - 7:19

Oh a topic i can contribute to Smile

As a group we changed our rating system 3 years ago to include all the gold costs of a model + 5 for each point of experience(hire + gear + 5 x exp).
For swords for hire we went with their initial gold cost and all their pay + 5 for each point of experience(hire + n x pay +5 x exp).
For the underdog table it is roughly 5 times the experience.

This works fine, but you have to exclude manually a few items like chaos armour you get from the shadow lord, spell books or the long rifle. Otherwise your rating doesn't represent your strength properly.
Sword for hire are still a bit fiddly as they are a way better then their cost reflects, as it is also the case in the original rating we went with it (and yes we tried to include the gear cost but this made the more geared up guys bad as they boost your enemy with exp). So we limited them to 3 per warband (an early 666 ogre bodyguard is still misleading the rating).

In 3 campaigns and 3 campaign days everybody was satisfied with the results.
If you do this, it is a bit of extra work and you need to have an excel sheet (I include mine at the end, it is in german but shouldn't be a problem to translate it quickly in every desired language).
If the extra work is worth it, I don't know. For me Mordheim doesn't need to be fair to be fun. But then we always have an umpire for the campaign to even out the worst match ups.
My sheet, pretty beat up but still running.
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PostSubject: Re: Alternative Warband Rating Systems   Fri 18 Aug 2017 - 17:00

Ahhhh excellent - thanks for sharing the spreadsheet.

I think the paradigm seems to be having a rating system that is taking more into consideration, and pushing bigger more representative numbers.
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