The Alpha Solo Beta

Hmmm. Maybe calling the original solo creature release alpha, then releasing it as a beta, wasn't the best way to do things in a clear way. But the creatures released here are quite awesome, and should allow us to answer the question as to whether a single creature can be an entire warband. While they are not yet legal, we hope that some play testing and your advice will allow us to will place these creatures in good legal stead.

There are a couple issues with a solo miniature band. One is balance, and the other is making it an interesting piece that sparks debate and challenges a player to use it correctly. Balancing is, admittedly, hard in the 150 to 200 point range, particularly when one tries to balance a solo monster against warbands that have many figures.

Moreover, we considered that some player might actually want to play these creatures as super titans in a 200 point band. In the end, these creatures are around 150 points, and may use several items to give a warband building like effect. Each solo monster can use five, in fact - but this is allowed only when going solo. Since no single combination of items will be optimal against all opponents, it should spark debate as to what is overall the best combination.

The items are flexible as well. We released items with them that we think will be interesting not only for use with the solo monsters, but perhaps also for creative players who may find uses for them with other pieces as well. In any event, you can find the goodness that is your beta play test.HERE[/b].

Comments

Laurian's picture
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7 July 2011
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Thanks a lot for the new solo monsters. A great week for DDM!

plastic finn's picture
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These are really intriguing! Cannot wait to test them.

Question: Is the Shadow Beholder supposed to be Aberration instead of Aberrant? Only asking because of the item in the set and history of the beholders of recent years.

tried's picture
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Yes, it could be either - Aberrant = Aberration

See page 24 of the Battle Rules.

plastic finn's picture
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There it is. I had either completely missed that or (more likely) forgotten it. Thanks tried!

Ira's picture
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27 May 2013
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Tried and I had the longest discussion about the balance of Tactical Delay. I'm particularly eager to hear feedback on that item's cost-to-power balance.

Also curious to know about Well-Trained Eye and Eats Prey Alive. Looking forward to hearing what you all think!

bshugg's picture
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11 July 2011
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I'm rusty on the rules on Tactical Delay. It looks like it does 2 things:

1. Lets you skip one turn of activating each time you activate it.
2. End of turn it untaps all check boxes if you score VP.

So basically you get to have your solo monster activate 5th or so each round as long as you are scoring VP. Am I reading this right?

If so its neat but really gains its value in 5 figure formats. 8- 10 figure bands will still activate most of its hitters after the solo goes.

Now on first reading I thought it also refreshed all abilities on the solo figure as well when you scored VP. That seemed a lot stronger!

bshugg's picture
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Both solos look very cool but my untested opinion is that most tuned banned with average rolls will eat them for lunch. A bit of bad luck or a band with out high attacks could get decimated though for sure. The gold looks a bit more viable but the beholder looks a heck of a lot more fun.
I dislike that the beholder HAS to take Well-trained eye or just loses to some bands. It should have some sort of local blind sight (maybe ranged 6) so it doesn't just fail on its own.

I would increase the # of items solos can carry to 6. It's not going to warp anything but I did some # crunching and there were times where you hit the 5 limit but had points left over. Feels bad to be in that spot.

Can you carry 2 of the same item? Don't recall if that's in the rules but doubles or triples of some of these would be nutty.

For items:
Minor Wall of Force: Can the beholder even use this? It's aberrant not Aberration. Was this errata'ed to be the same thing? If it can its a must have.

Eat's Prey Alive: This is 1 of 2 that makes the the Shadow Gold Dragon even look playable. It's either above the power scale or the others are below.

An Eye for Speed: #2 of abilities above the the power scale or the others need to be tuned upwards.

Plan "A" : Very strong on beholder

I would like to see a 2nd page of these to make the solo monsters a bit more varied in design. My first though when these were posted were monster templates like 3.X edition that you slapped on to add a package of abilities to a monster. Something like:

Fiendish:
20 points
Gains DR 5
Resist 10 cold, Resist 10 fire

Celestial:
20 points
Gains DR 5 vrs evil targets
Resist 10 electric
Loses evil subtype
Gains [ ] Smite evil: +10 on attack verses evil target

"Of Legend"
40 points
Gains +30 HP
+2 all defenses
Gains regeneration 10

etc.. Clearly not balanced in any way but would be fun to play with.

tried's picture
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[1] You can take multiples of the same card. (Effects don't stack if used at the same time, but could be used at different times.)
[2] Aberration = Abberrant as per rules.
[3] Would consider 6 items.
[4] An eye for speed: Item might be made Unique.
[5] Unlikely to have 20-40 point items like this (which are great ideas that have a campaign card type of feel, but not super easy to track - easier to release variant cards for each figure, I would think.)
[6] You are absolutely welcome to suggest additional items.

bshugg's picture
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So the solos weren't legal at GenCon but if they were I planned on running:
Shadow gold
Eats prey alive
Buried dragon horde
36 points of fodder to hit 10 activations

Buried alive forces them to come to you and the dragon eats them. Seeing how easily people were able to hit my 31 AC human fighter lords Im sure it would have been a slaughter (of the shadow dragon)

Ira's picture
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27 May 2013
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I think it's tough for the solo creatures to be super competitive in 200/10 or even 200/8 formats, but I think they can be much more playable in 200/5 or 200/2 formats. It's natural that some creatures will be better or worse in different formats. For example, I think Human Sellswords are still quite good in 200/10 or 200/8, but they are much worse in 200/5 and basically unplayable in 200/2.

To find out if the solo creatures are balanced, I'd rather see them playtested in 200/5 or 200/2 formats. Please let us know if anyone tries them in such a format.

tried's picture
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An original version of the Shadow Dragon had INSUBSTANTIAL instead of conceal.
he had 10 fewer HP, but I have been assured that without a dedicated build to beat him, he was in fact essentially unbeatable.

Laurian's picture
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So this is probably my fault Smile
When I was testing the Shadow Gold Dragon it had not only "insubstantial" but also AC 32 and both attacks had the effect "weakened". Most of his enemies did only 5 damage to him when they had hit them. Maybe he should get the "weakened" effect again? Would also fit to his second champion power.

javierpra's picture
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25 July 2015
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First off, I'd like to say thank you so much for keeping DDM going. I've gotten so much value and enjoyment out of my miniatures because of you guys.

Are there any plans to move the new sets (ie. Tyranny of Dragons, Rage of Demons, and Elemental Evils) under the "Rules and Cards" menu? It can be a little time consuming to go through the archives to find the sets.

-J.P.

tried's picture
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Yes!
its not high on the list, but its on the list and will be done.

javierpra's picture
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Great! Thanks for the response Tried. If you guys need any volunteers to help with the site let me know. I have a resume if you like. Thanks again for all you do.

-J.P.

plastic finn's picture
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I've tested these both some, and as is the case with all the titans, they do not fare well against conditions. Especially Shadow Gold, with only one activation, gets into trouble quickly when flying solo, even in Arena 200.

That said, I really like it's chances in Gladiator 200 or any 500, as Ira also mentioned. And it could definitely work better in 200 Arena with some Shadows as allies to start with.

While they have to have a weakness, I started thinking if something alike to Amulet of the Titans could be ok on them, as a one-use thing if not more.

The Shadow Beholder especially is really fun to play. Kudos for making these both as different and interesting in their own way. I'm sure they'll see a fair amount of play whether kept as is or boosted a little. At this point it seems obvious they're not too strong. AC 31 and 30- defenses get hit all the time by strong bands, even with Conceal 6. It is a feat in itself that this kind of balance was accomplished in design and development, as they're definitely a threat without being an auto-win against anything strong.

DarkDestoyer's picture
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27 September 2016
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In the old days of minis, I had a 4 creature army that was undefeated. My friends tried for 3 months to come up with an army to beat it.

Ira's picture
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@Plastic Finn, just to confirm, you remembered that the Solo creatures get to roll 2d20 for all saves and keep the higher result?

@Javierpra, please note that I keep all the files in a convenient location on my site, including items, restats, etc. http://irafay.com/DDM/downloads/browse

plastic finn's picture
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7 July 2011
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Thanks for checking that, Ira! Yes, I did. It is essential to the survival against the mentioned conditions, good design.

I've seen some unlikely bad rolls when saving, but against a powerful warband it only takes one time of two <10 rolls and it's done. This is, of course, speaking of Helpless or Stunned mostly. The two saves help (or it is likely) with everything but those two conditions cause trouble even before the save/-s since you may have activated for the round already while the opponent still has most of the warband left to beat you down.

Another thing that easily does them in is radiant damage (Vulnerable 10). This, I feel, is proper, since encouraging Good-aligned warbands (as most often is the case with radiant) in a somewhat Evil-dominated field seems like a good thing.

I wish I had time to test more, but right now I don't. I still have a feeling these two will do very well in 500 as they are.

bshugg made really good points about these and it was good to hear some interesting facts about the development process, too. Has anybody else played them - any experiences to share?

FriendlyAlienist's picture
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7 July 2011
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When playing Shadow beholder, every critical by opponent always strikes my best guy ;D

...and how about keyword Shadow for these guys?

novato's picture
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7 July 2011
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34 weeks 10 hours

Oh my bad...

wondering was a new AI system to play solitaire Sad(

Solo its the only way to play for me, so want to use my dusted mini again!!!

bakterius's picture
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7 July 2011
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19 hours 16 min

I played Shadow gold dragon this weekend. Army: shadow dragon + item AN EYE for SPEED (149+10), Nightwalker sinister (70), dread wraith (70), Skull lord (41), Wight Barrowlord (41), 2x Spectre, Barovian (2x47), Strahd Zombie, Relentless (16), 2x skeleton (2x4) 499 pt 10 activations. Conceal 6 can avoid easy, opponent army hit me all time.. so dragon is dead too soon. I summon only one Shadow and i have luck with initiative and i can blast again. 3 champions powers vanish with dragon death... No chance for beter defenses or insubstantial with fewer HP? (Shadow keyword? Smile )

plastic finn's picture
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7 July 2011
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Thanks for reporting bakterius. Always interesting to hear experiences... and you make good points.

It's definitely not a "tank" type unit in Epic play. I see it more as a behind-the-frontline skirmisher that needs someone else - a blocker or two - to take most of the opponents melee attacks and allow SGD to stay as much on the outside as it can.

Maybe a build not so much focused on SGD would work? In some contexts it could. At least that's what I've been thinking after trying it a few times as the single 120+ figure in the wb.