Wednesday, February 22, 2017

KoW - Pricing of Magic Artefacts

One of the hardest things for the Rules Committee to balance must be the pricing of Magic Artefacts, largely because not all recipients are created equal. For instance the value of the (current) Ensorcelled Armour on a Dragon Lord is much greater than it is on a Swarm Crier.

It's Sometimes A Matter Of Perspective

There are three common approaches to addressing this conundrum:
  • Pricing at a Single Value;
  • Restricting Who Can Use An Item; and
  • Tiering the Cost.
In the first approach, the item has a value placed on it based (most likely) on its average utility. In this approach it is accepted that there will be winners and losers (see above Ensorcelled Armour example) but hopefully over time things will average out.

The second assigns who can take the item. Again using Ensorcelled Armour as the example, it is designed for Heroes rather than for units (or Monsters). The problem emerges when boundaries are blurred e.g. Hero (Monster). The rules say that Hero (Monsters) can definitely take artefacts but to me this looks like an area where Alessio didn't fully think through the consequences. One potential fix is to restrict Ensorcelled Armour to Heroes with De 4+ or less.

The final approach is more complicated, though not more complex. That is to have some form of differential pricing e.g. Ensorcelled Armour on De 4 or less is 20 points but is 70 points on De 5. There are numerous examples through the rules where differential pricing may provide a "better" outcome. For instance, Caterpillar bestows Pathfinder. It costs 20 points. Where do you get most bang for your buck, putting it on a Troop or on a Horde?  Similarly, it is of far greater value on certain types e.g. Cavalry over Infantry. Extending the example to the extreme "Where is Caterpillar most useful, on an Infantry Troop or a Cavalry Horde? And where do you get most value for your 20 points?"

The rules writers have taken the approach of a single value, no doubt acknowledging that there are winners and losers? Where the discrepancy is too great they have then partially implemented the second approach. I'd contend that there are cases where the third approach would produce greater fairness but I understand that this has to be balanced against increased complication.

Sometimes though a mix of the first two approaches doesn't necessarily work. I'd surmise that the ubiquity of Ensorcelled Armour on a limited cohort of Heroes has led to the removal in the upcoming COK Organised Play book. If you are going to rely on the first two approaches then you need the blunt instrument that is the Banhammer.

For v3, I'd hope that we see some consideration of Approach 3 for a limited group of items (and as part of an overall approach reliant on the first two methods). That would allow items to remain on the list of Magical Artefacts but further restrict the "no-brainer" solutions. 

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